Wrong. These are not the reasons why evolutionists are evolutionists. True, these can be important influences in science. Science is an endeavor that is, for better or for worse, done by humans. And so social pressures, funding requirements and post modern tendencies can all influence conclusions and beliefs. But if you think these are the key drivers behind evolution then you don’t understand evolution.
The common theme here is that all these reasons amount to ulterior motives. Like conspiracy theorists we imagine ulterior motives because we can’t believe that legitimate reasoning could be involved. But, in fact, that is the reason. Evolutionists are evolutionists because they are absolutely convinced of evolution. They have arguments and evidence, and they have reasoned it out. There are no simple, ulterior, motives driving people from widely differing backgrounds to subscribe to such dogma.
Believe it or not, if you want to understand evolutionists all you need to do is listen to them. If you read the evolution literature you will see why evolutionists are evolutionists. For they have explained it over and over and over again. People from different continents, cultures, and centuries have repeatedly given the arguments and evidences. And though the scientific evidence grows over time, evolution’s themes are quite consistent. Very simply put, evolution wins because the alternatives lose.
Evolution is mandated because the god(s) would never have intended for this world. They must have allowed the world to arise on its own. Perhaps they initiated motion and instituted the natural laws, but like Aristotle’s Prime Mover showed little interest thereafter.
Evolutionists will complain that they don’t recognize this description of their thinking. But when they make the scientific-sounding argument that duplicated errors in different species proves common descent they are, in fact, resting on an enormous metaphysical foundation. This is true of all the arguments and evidences that prove evolution to be a fact. Evolution fails to explain the biological world and is constantly surprised by the scientific evidence. But it must be a fact—our religion demands it.
Evolutionists insist that science must be free of subjective, metaphysical premises. Faulty scientific theories must not be protected, they warn, just because we prefer them. But these are precisely their practices. Evolutionists judge themselves, for they violate their own rules.
Evolution protected from the evidence
Because evolution is underwritten by metaphysical dictates it is not empirically vulnerable. Evolution is robust to contradictory evidence and failed expectations. All of the scientific problems—and they are enormous—are taken to be mere research problems. Evidence cannot question whether evolution occurred, only how it occurred.
Also, because evolution is proven by its underlying metaphysical dictates, it is to those dictates which evolutionists return when challenged. Every argument that proves evolution to be a fact is metaphysically laden. And so if you question the fact of evolution, you will be answered with one form or another of evolution’s metaphysics.
Consider, for example, the recent comments of one evolutionist. I suggested that scientific theories should at some point be discarded if they are excessively faulty. If a theory produces a long list of false predictions, then it should be rejected. Technically it is true that we can know for sure. No matter how many false predictions have been made, theories can always be rescued with patches, reinterpretations of data, and heroic assumptions. But in practice, when the probabilities become low, theories are no longer taken seriously. Certainly scientists are not shy about casting out the flat earth model or geocentrism.
But revealing just how well protected and impenetrable evolution is, the evolutionist appeals to this tiny ray of hope for his theory. And after having thus neutralized the devastating scientific evidence, he returns to his metaphysics. Sure there may be evidential challenges but, he insists, we must judge evolution by comparing it to the alternatives (for example, creation or design ideas):
What Cornelius fails to understand is that this complaint [of false predictions] still fails. To invoke modus tollens, the conclusion has to follow deductively from the premises. Having many predictions that were “probably bad,” would at best make the theory less probable. …
Theories make predictions using a set of several premises. For example:
If theory T and A and B and C and D and E and F then with some probability we expect X.
What conclusion can we draw from this?
Is the theory improbable? Perhaps, but this also depends on how sound the premises A-F were. If X didn't happen and we find out that A was a bad assumption then we can now say that T and (new A) and B and C and D and E and F then with some probability we expect Y. In this way, theories can make bad predictions and still remain viable. Would the theory, after a certain number of bad predictions, become false by modus tollens? Obviously not, even though Cornelius likes to pretend so.
What I wrote above might seem like a cop-out, allowing any theory to survive any kind of test and, in a way, this is true. One can continue changing ones premises (but not inventing them out of thin air the way ID would have to do to make predictions) indefinitely and the theory would still not be false by modus tollens. This is why it’s important to COMPARE theories.
So in spite of the evidence evolution is a fact because it is better than the alternatives. After all, we must compare theories, not merely judge them according to the evidence. But evolutionists also say that creation and design theories do not qualify as science because they are not strictly naturalistic. So evolution can only be judged in comparison to the alternatives, and the alternatives are disqualified from the start.
And even if we were to compare evolution with creation and design, the victory would only mean that evolution wins over the particular theories of creation and design that were tested. It would not establish evolution as a fact as evolutionists claim.
Unless, that is, if we knew all the possible theories of creation and design. And in fact, evolutionists do assume just this. For example, when the evolutionist writes:
Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce. No one understood this better than Darwin. Ernst Mayr has shown how Darwin, in defending evolution, consistently turned to organic parts and geographic distributions that make the least sense. —Stephen Jay Gould
he is deeply immersed in his metaphysics. There is nothing wrong with comparing theories. But when such comparisons are used to proclaim the winner to be a fact, then you know metaphysics are at work.
But why stop with comparisons? If even the best theory is scientifically lousy then shouldn’t we think harder about the problem? Shouldn’t we at least be tentative? Should we hide behind philosophical shenanigans or should we face the scientific evidence straight on?