Saturday, July 18, 2009

Implausible Deniability

Evolutionists claim their theory is a fact--every bit as certain as gravity and the round shape of the earth--and it is precisely this claim of certainty that reveals the heart of evolution. For there is a reservoir of metaphysics dictating evolutionary thought and mandating its certainty. Such certainty is not from science. Indeed, from the scientific perspective evolution is not a very good theory. Genetics, paleontology, comparative anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, adaptation, biogeography and so many other fields all pose major problems for Darwin's theory.

Science is not what motivated evolutionary thought. As one historian put it, Darwin and Wallace searched for a mechanism after they had become convinced evolution must be true. As usual, the science followed the metaphysics. Evolution's metaphysical motivations are not too surprising or even interesting--after all, theological and philosophical influences have always been important in the history of thought. What is fascinating about evolution is its denial of such motivations.

Evolution's metaphysics comes in several forms but it is ubiquitous. It may be subtle or it may be obvious, but it is always there. And it forms a distinct literary genre that is evident from its pre Darwinian roots to today's apologists. It is fascinating to see the same metaphysical truth claims foisted upon readers from the seventeenth century to the twenty first century. It is not the science that makes evolution a fact; rather, the science has been force-fitted to provide the required results.

But while evolutionists consistently make their metaphysical appeals, as they must, they also consistently claim to be free of any such non scientific concerns. No demonstration of the fact of evolution is free of deep metaphysics. Evolutionists appeal to these metaphysics, proclaim evolution to be true, all the while pretending to be doing "just science."

One defense evolutionists offer is that all this metaphysics is just an aside. Yes, they agree, evolutionists have made religious claims, but these arguments mainly are intended to persuade those fundamentalists who deny evolution on religious grounds. We're just using every argument at our disposal, they explain, but rest assured the science is in--case closed. After all, you don't see religious claims made in the research journals.

This argument is one of several variations of the denialism that pervades evolution. But it is not plausible for several reasons. Of course research journal papers do not argue for evolution--they presuppose evolution. Research results are interpreted according to evolution without a second thought. Research papers do not generally rehash arguments for the paradigm they work within. This would be like expecting research papers on quantum mechanics to explain why classical physics failed to explain blackbody radiation, atomic spectra and the other motivations for quantum mechanics.

The absurdity of this argument shows how desperate is the denialism. In fact, there is no bridge between the empirical scientific data and the claim that evolution is as much a fact as is gravity. Evolutionists consistently proclaim that their theory has this level of confirmation, but their claims hinge on metaphysical assumptions. Indeed, the more confident their claims, the more indebted they are to non scientific thinking. These are not side arguments--these are the arguments that mandate evolution, and they have been used for centuries.

What is fascinating about evolution is not its assumptions, arguments or conclusions, but its denialism. It reveals a profound internal contradiction. Religion drives science and it matters.