They Can’t Have it Both WaysLos Angeles Times that God would not have created this world, while nonetheless claiming that he’s just following the scientific evidence. Or consider Jerry Coyne who goes into great detail about how this world would not have been intended by a creator, and in the next moment claims that these are scientific results. This sort of thinking goes back to Darwin and before, and it is foundational to evolutionary thought. It runs all through the evolution literature, but it doesn’t work. You can’t claim the high ground of scientific empiricism while relying on metaphysics to make your case.
A recent example of how evolutionists claim the high ground of empiricism, while literally at the same moment making metaphysical claims, came in the Nelson-Velasco debate. As we have seen Joel Velasco employed the standard metaphysical claims about how nature’s inefficiencies and dysteleology prove that it wasn’t designed and so must have arisen spontaneously.
Yet Velasco claims he was doing no such thing. In the middle of his list of nature’s flubs, Velasco explained to the audience that usefulness is irrelevant to his argument:
[39:48] There are many traits—some are useful, maybe some are not, but I don’t need to argue about whether they are useful or not. What matters is that they’re records of the past.
This was after he discussed useless yolk sacks and embryonic arches, and before he discussed birds that that can’t fly and cave dwellers with eye sockets. As Darwin remarked, approvingly quoting Richard Owen, “There is no greater anomaly of nature then a bird that cannot fly.”
Velasco follows the long tradition of evolutionary thought which insists this world would never have been intended by any being wise and powerful enough to create it. It is all metaphysical, but according to Velasco and the evolutionists, it’s just science. As he commented here, more recently, “I was not trying to rule out design or talk about teleology at all.”
But that is, in fact, exactly what Velasco talked about. Of course he was trying to rule out design and talk about teleology. That is why he showed the audience his long list of broken designs.
So why are evolutionists so confused about their own position? The answer is that it is a tendency of rationalistic thought to take your own axioms and assumptions, not as axioms and assumptions but as truisms. Evolutionists do not view their religious convictions as religious convictions because, for evolutionists, these convictions are just so obviously true. That’s why they are convictions, after all.
It is ironic that those who are most beholden to their metaphysics are those who are most oblivious to their metaphysics. As Alfred North Whitehead observed, people take their most crucial assumptions to be obvious and in no need of justification. These underlying assumptions are unspoken and undefended because, as Whitehead put it, “Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.”
That’s how Jerry Coyne can say, in all honesty, that it is a scientific conclusion that “No form of creationism/intelligent design can explain these imperfections.” He really believes it.
And while there is nothing wrong with holding such beliefs, what Coyne and the evolutionists fail to understand is that it is a belief. None of this comes from science.
From a scientific perspective evolution isn’t even wrong. But from a religious perspective evolution must be true.
Religion drives science, and it matters.