Thursday, June 10, 2010

Francis Collins: Evolution Versus Faith Conflict Unnecessary

The reason why the warfare myth is so enduring is because it is so useful. For the evolution camp it allows dismissal of skepticism as religiously motivated. Francis Collins continued this theme last year at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life. His message is summarized by the Pew Forum report on the event as follows:

Francis S. Collins, the former director of the Human Genome Project, discussed why he believes religion and science are compatible and why the current conflict over evolution vs. faith, particularly in the evangelical community, is unnecessary. Collins, an evangelical Christian, talked about his path from atheism to Christianity and his belief that science provides evidence of God. He cited the Big Bang theory and the fact that the universe had a beginning out of nothing. He added that the laws of physics have precisely the values needed for life to occur on earth and argued that would seem to point to a creator.

Conflict over evolution vs. faith? The perpetuation of this two-dimensional strawman (evolutionists are merely following the scientific data, skeptics are religiously-motivated fundamentalists) is unfortunate, but convenient for Collins. Here is a Collins' quote from the Pew Forum transcript of the event:

There are certainly voices out there arguing that you can't have both of those; you've got to take your pick. You either are going to approach questions from a purely scientific perspective or a purely spiritual perspective, and the two are locked in eternal combat. I don't happen to agree with that, so perhaps I should say a bit of a word about how I got there.

Voices out there arguing that you either are going to approach questions from a purely scientific perspective or a purely spiritual perspective, and the two are locked in eternal combat? Amazing. I suppose there are such voices, but dwelling on them conveniently misses the scientific absurdity of evolution.

And note that Collins disagrees with the straw man, not the use of the straw man. When a historian disagrees with the warfare thesis, it means he believes it is not an accurate description of the relationship between religion and science.

But when the evolutionist disagrees with the warfare thesis, it means he is using the contrived idea to argue for evolution.

20 comments:

  1. It is interesting where Dr. Hunter's mind goes. He supposes that this disagreement is with a nonexistant argument and so it must be a deliberate tactic to give credit an unfounded position. The argument does exist, though. Creationists deny evolution. I've seen evolutionist and athiest used synonymously in the comments of some previous posts here.
    Instead of agreeing/disagreeing with the compatability of faith and evolution, he takes the oportunity to cast doubt on Collins' and all evolution supporters' motives, creating his religion drives science strawman. A similar tactic to the one this post is about. No wonder his mind went there.

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  2. There are at least 2 problems with Collins. First, he believes NDE is actually science. It is not science. NDE is nothing more than a collection of just so stories of an atheistic creation myth. Second, he needs to keep his mouth shut with respect to Christianity and stop trying to spread his “propaganda” to other Christians. He first need to earn the right to speak with Christians by first convincing a Darwinian prior like PZ Myers that this conflict is unnecessary.
    === quote ===
    Myers: FRANCIS COLLINS??!? WTF? So this is the guy we're all supposed to be grateful to for showing us how Christianity and evolution can be reconciled, and now he's going to be a talking head for some creationist propaganda? Thanks, Francis. I guess I've been too kind.

    Myers: I do think that the processes of science are antithetical to the processes of religion -- personal revelation and dogma are not accepted forms of evidence in the sciences ... The whole philosophy of critical thinking and demanding reproducible evidence arms its proponents with a wicked sharp knife that is all too easily applied to religious beliefs.

    === end quote ===

    If he can’t even convince his fellow NDE comrades, I don’t see any reason why we should listen to anything he has to say.

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  3. If you read the whole piece by Collins, and come up with his REJECTION of the blue bolded piece as somehow damning, that is quite an interesting work of logic.

    As I've said before, the fact that entities as disparate as PZ Myers and Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins and mainstream Churches can agree on the science of evolution absolutely refutes your point that evolution is and is motivated by an (atheist?) religion.

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  4. RobertC:

    ===
    ... absolutely refutes your point that evolution is and is motivated by an (atheist?) religion.
    ===

    Atheist religion? Strange ... Was that before or after I said atheism is irrelevant?

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  5. "Atheist religion? Strange ... Was that before or after I said atheism is irrelevant?"

    I didn't see the statement "atheism is irrelavent" in your post. Nevertheless, it is a common claim of the commenters on your blog, and anti-evolution in general, that evolution=atheism.

    I also put the (atheist?), since I don't know what you personally advocate. Read my statement:

    As I've said before, the fact that entities as disparate as PZ Myers and Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins and mainstream Churches can agree on the science of evolution absolutely refutes your point that evolution is and is motivated by an religion.

    Without (atheist?) as you wish.

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  6. RobertC:


    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/08/real-problem-with-atheism.html

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/03/religion-behind-skepticism-of-evolution.html

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  7. Sorry, I don't have your posts from months or years ago memorized. I suppose, then, my comment should read:

    As I've said before, the fact that entities as disparate as PZ Myers and Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins and mainstream Churches can agree on the science of evolution absolutely refutes your point that evolution is and is motivated by an (theist?) religion.

    Point still stands.

    I still would like to see a refutation of Collins' actual points regarding science and religion, not just picking on the conflict he sets up merely to dismiss.

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  8. RobertC,

    Christians are certainly not immune to getting influenced by politically correct hogwash in order to make their faith seem less radical to the non-believer. Accommodating hogwash backfires in the long run. The Catholic church in Galileo's time was accommodating the politically correct hogwash (not the scripture) and it has been used against the church in general when Galileo was shown to be correct.


    Take the example of the "Global Warming" scam. It is a current case in point on how a lot of folks from all different backgrounds can believe a lie.

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  9. "The Catholic church in Galileo's time was accommodating the politically correct hogwash (not the scripture)"

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was defending belief held from antiquity. The Church also defended a literalist interpretation of Scripture, and cited 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5 in their defense.

    I'm not sure how that amounts to politically correct hogwash, regardless of the political and personal contributions to the conflict.

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  10. RobertC As I've said before, the fact that entities as disparate as PZ Myers and Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins and mainstream Churches can agree on the science of evolution absolutely refutes your point that evolution is and is motivated by an (atheist?) religion.

    This is just stupid logic. When you have 2 complex, highly entrenched and diametrically opposing worldviews like atheism and Christianity/religion, it can’t be defined by one or a few individual crossovers. Collins is being used by Darwinists as useful idiots to make exactly the kind of arguments that you are making. When Collins’ religion outweighs his usefulness then he can expect the steel-toe boots from Darwinists like Myers.

    Furthermore, what do you think Myers, Dawkins and Collins really agree on? At best Collins seems to be promoting some sort of quasi NOMA view. There is no evidence that Myers or Dawkins accept this kind of science. Collins has a huge problem of cognitive dissonance, on this I would agree with Myers.

    More importantly, Collins’ personal belief is irrelevant with respect to Darwinism. IMNSHO, Darwinism is atheistic period. It doesn’t matter if you are personally an atheist or not, if you subscribe to Darwinism then you are subscribing to an atheistic system. And in that sense it is antithetical to Christianity.

    I challenge you to define methodological Darwinism and explain to me how it is not necessarily atheistic.

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  11. "This is just stupid logic."

    Well, lets examine your logic. You have to be right on the following:

    1) That evolution, is, on face atheistic.
    2) That, therefore, all the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all the religious organizations that accept Evolution are liars or mistaken, and being used by 'Darwinists.'
    3) That evolution is false.

    "I challenge you to define methodological Darwinism and explain to me how it is not necessarily atheistic."

    Evolutionary biology is an investigation into the natural processes the descent of species from a common ancestor, tracking their change and diversity over time. It neither requires a deity, or the lack of one. Hence theistic evolution, and why scientists with diverse personal beliefs can agree on the science.

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  12. Teleological_blog,
    Thanks for demonstrating how this evolution vs. Faith conflict is no canard.

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  13. RobertC Well, lets examine your logic. You have to be right on the following:

    No, this is your logic. I’ve never connected your lists in that way.


    RobertC Evolutionary biology is an investigation into the natural processes the descent of species from a common ancestor, tracking their change and diversity over time. It neither requires a deity, or the lack of one. Hence theistic evolution, and why scientists with diverse personal beliefs can agree on the science.

    Yes, you betray your own deceptive thinking. You said it is an investigation into the “natural processes” of NDE. A fuller description as accepted by virtually all Darwinists is that Darwinian science is the investigation of all event by naturalistic causes. The introduction of an intelligent cause and certain God would is excluded a priori. That is atheistic. In case you object to this definition, go ask your atheistic friends who know a lot more about science than you do, friends like Myers, Dawkins, Forrest, Miller, Provine, etc..

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  14. teleological blog-

    My list precisely reflects your statement.

    Science has no means of investigating non-natural processes. This is non-theistic, not atheistic.

    Interestingly, we seem willing to dispense with the supernatural in so many fields. We don't teach that God causes earthquakes and hurricanes in Earth science. God may, and Pat Robertson believes so, but this is outside of the realm of science. In forensics, investigators look for non-supernatural causes. Sure, we can't rule out a demon did it, and planted the data-but try that defense in a courtroom.

    Is the presupposition of natural causes in these cases atheistic, or non-theistic?

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  15. "Collins is being used by Darwinists as useful idiots to make exactly the kind of arguments that you are making. When Collins’ religion outweighs his usefulness then he can expect the steel-toe boots from Darwinists like Myers."

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Your ignorance is just staggering. Collins is one of the most successful geneticists in the world and director of the world's largest scientific agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Myers is a complete failure as an independent scientist who apparently couldn't even get a single NIH grant before he had to move to a minor university where he's only a teacher and a blogger.

    You are delusional. The idea that a blogger who failed as an independent scientist can use and kick the director of NIH just demonstrates the extent of your delusion—rhetoric always trumps evidence.

    "I challenge you to define methodological Darwinism…"

    That's your job. It seems to mean whatever you want it to mean.

    If I use basic, materialistic scientific methodology to study a non-Darwinian evolutionary mechanism, is that still "Darwinism"?

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  16. RobertC My list precisely reflects your statement.

    Tell me, how does that list of yours reflect my logic in pointing out your erroneous logic that position of an individual (Collins) can invalidate 2 entire worldview.


    RobertC Science has no means of investigating non-natural processes. This is non-theistic, not atheistic.

    That is not what I said and that is not what your atheist comrades said. In their view of science it must rule out the God hypothesis a priori. Therefore even if there were evidence of a God or designer, it will not be accepted as science because it must by atheistic Darwinian definition must be a purely materialistic process. This is the reason why Darwinism must replace empirical science with myths and fairytales.


    RobertC Interestingly, we seem willing to dispense with the supernatural in so many fields. We don't teach that God causes earthquakes and hurricanes in Earth science.

    This is another demonstration of the stupidity of your logic. With these phenomena there is ample empirical evidence that these are products of material causes. Your caricature of Christians shows your ignorance of our beliefs. Christians do not rule out God or natural causation a priori. We follow the evidence wherever it takes us. We are not as close minded as atheistic Darwinists who would rule out God a priori.

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  17. Smokey, I suggest you stop smoking whatever it is that you are smoking. argumentum ad verecundiam

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  18. "With these phenomena there is ample empirical evidence that these are products of material causes."

    What is the empirical evidence that God did not cause Katrina to strike New Orleans? What is the evidence at any crime scene that shows a demon didn't commit the crime and plant the data?

    We reject those supernatural proposals and favor natural explanations. Not that God and demons neither have to exist or not exist to favor naturalism.

    Similarly, when we directly observe evolution, when the empirical genomic data organizes into a nested hierarchy best fit by common ancestry from a universal ancestor, when we observe random variation plus selection producing new functions, we are not rejecting God. We merely are stating a natural explanation for the data. Collins can personally read in theism, and Dawkins can see atheism. But to say evolutionary biology "must rule out the God hypothesis a priori" is silly.

    "This is the reason why Darwinism must replace empirical science with myths and fairytales."

    Is a statement that could only be made by someone totally ignorant of how science is conducted.

    And again, that naturalism is non-theistic, and therefore accepted by persons of diverse faith is more appealing than your belief that:

    1) That evolution, is, on face atheistic.
    2) That, therefore, all the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all the religious organizations that accept Evolution are liars or mistaken, and being used by 'Darwinists.'
    3) That evolution is false.

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  19. RobertC And again, that naturalism is non-theistic

    Take you argument to your atheistic comrades first.
    === quote ===
    Myers: I do think that the processes of science are antithetical to the processes of religion

    Barbara Forrest First, naturalism is committed to a methodological principle within the context of scientific inquiry; i.e., all hypotheses and events are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. To introduce a supernatural or transcendental cause within science is to depart from naturalistic explanations. On this ground, to invoke an intelligent designer or creator is inadmissible

    === end quote ===

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  20. Teleol-

    Classic quotemine from Myers. You surely wouldn't have posted it if you knew the context:

    "It is entirely correct that the scientific community is full of Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and agnostics and atheists, and I think that's reasonable and fair—we're even pleased to point out to the creationists that many of our leading lights have been and are religious (Dobzhansky, Ayala, Miller, Collins: it isn't at all difficult to find people who can do both good science and follow a religion in their private life). It is self-evident that scientists are not necessarily derisive of religion, and also that science as an abstract concept can't be derisive at all. However, I do think that the processes of science are antithetical to the processes of religion—personal revelation and dogma are not accepted forms of evidence in the sciences—and that people can encompass both clashing ideas is nothing but a testimony to the flexibility of the human mind, which has no problem partitioning and embracing many contradictions. There are also many scientists who are capable of suspending disbelief and reading fantasy novels with pleasure; that doesn't mean that magic is a valid way of manipulating the world."

    His and Forrest's statements echo my comments. Biology is non-theistic, and accepted by many persons of diverse faiths. Like courtroom forensics, meteorology, and geology, it cannot invoke the supernatural. That is beyond the realm of science. Personal revelation and faith are not part of evolutionary biology or forensics. That is all. Neither is saying we must reject the supernatural to proceed, just that we don't consider it as part of the naturalistic scientific inquiry. That some scientists believe in God, and others don't supports this.

    However, I guess you prefer to think scientists of faith are liars or insane.

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