Monday, December 16, 2013

OOL and Science’s Blind Spot

Organic matter forms tar, biochemical bonds are unstable in water, pathways are entropically uphill, RNA enzymes tend to degrade

The problem with science is not that the naturalistic approach might occasionally be inadequate. The problem is that science would never know any better. Science’s blind spot is that it has no way of determining whether a phenomenon is naturalistic. You might think that scientific failures would provide a pretty good hint. If love defies logic then maybe there is something more to it. But for evolutionists failure merely indicates the problem is not yet solved. See the catch? Anything that defies explanation is automatically placed in the “Research Problem” category. So naturalism can never be false. It is untestable. Here is an example of this metaphysical mandate:

What God did is a matter for faith and not for scientific inquiry. The two fields are separate. If our scientific inquiry should lead eventually to God … that will be the time to stop science. [Maitland Edey and Donald Johanson, Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution, p. 291]

But how could their inquiries possibly lead to God if they make the assumption up front that “What God did is … not for scientific inquiry.”? If one is searching only for mechanistic solutions, then that is what one will find. God is ruled out from the beginning.

Evolution makes naturalistic explanations not simply the first choice, it makes them the only choice. And one can always contrive naturalistic explanations if one tries hard enough. The theory of evolution is an outstanding example of this. We are told that life must have arisen spontaneously, even though we don’t have any idea how it happened.

Consider, for example, the origin of life problem. Evolutionists say it is a fact that the most complex thing we know of—life—arose spontaneously. And yet from a scientific perspective this claim makes no sense. It is simply uncontroversial that science does not reveal the spontaneous origin of life to be a fact. Here is Steve Benner’s rundown of some of the basic problems:

We have failed in any continuous way to provide a recipe that gets from the simple molecules that we know were present on early Earth to RNA. There is a discontinuous model which has many pieces, many of which have experimental support, but we're up against these three or four paradoxes, which you and I have talked about in the past. The first paradox is the tendency of organic matter to devolve and to give tar. If you can avoid that, you can start to try to assemble things that are not tarry, but then you encounter the water problem, which is related to the fact that every interesting bond that you want to make is unstable, thermodynamically, with respect to water. If you can solve that problem, you have the problem of entropy, that any of the building blocks are going to be present in a low concentration; therefore, to assemble a large number of those building blocks, you get a gene-like RNA -- 100 nucleotides long -- that fights entropy. And the fourth problem is that even if you can solve the entropy problem, you have a paradox that RNA enzymes, which are may be catalytically active, are more likely to be active in the sense that destroys RNA rather than creates RNA.

Once again the science contradicts the dogma. Evolution is scientifically absurd but then again, it never was about the science in the first place. As Oxford professor and Anglican priest Baden Powell explained a century and a half ago, there are certain ground rules that science must obey:

So strong is the inductive assurance of this, that we may safely allow any such apparent exceptions to await their solution without in the least influencing our opinion of the soundness of the broad principle of the continuity of physical causes: a principle of that truly philosophical character which no exception in detail can subvert, or render, in some form, inapplicable or unfruitful. No inductive inquirer can bring himself to believe in the existence of any real hiatus in the continuity of physical laws in past eras more than in the existing order of things; or to imagine that changes, however seemingly abrupt, can have been brought about except by the gradual agency of some regular causes. On such principles the whole superstructure of rational geology entirely reposes; to deny them in any instance would be to endanger all science.


But however little we know of the laws or causes of these changes, one thing is perfectly clear, the introduction of new species was a regular, not a casual phenomenon; it was not one preceding or transcending the order of nature; it was a case occurring in the midst of ordinary operations going on in accordance with ordinary causes. The introduction of a new species (however marvellous and inexplicable some theorists may choose to imagine it) is not a solitary occurrence. It reappears constantly in the lapse of geological ages. It recurs regularly in connexion with those changes which determined the peculiar characters we now distinguish in different formations. It is part of a series. But a series indicates a principle of regularity and law, as much in organic as in inorganic changes. The event is part of a regularly ordained mechanism of the evolution of the existing world out of former conditions, and as much subject to regular laws as any changes now taking place.

In other words, not only does science lack the tools to test its assumption that all causes are strictly naturalistic, it consciously rejects any such possibility from the beginning. So it doesn’t matter how many scientific paradoxes and absurdities come with evolution, it must be a fact.

Religion drives science, and it matters.


  1. Here is a question I wish ID would tackle: "What are 'scientific laws?' Is that merely a term that is used to label the "cause" of things which happen in predictable patterns? But what causes these predictable patterns? To say "scientific law" is to not get to the bottom of the issue. Could it be that God is so intimately involved that certain things happen according to predictable patterns? It seems to me ID hasn't explored this ... and by using the term "scientific law" (which by its nature is inanimate) we cede that what makes the universe tick is something naturalistic. But is that so? I see this again and again in ID articles. I am not sure that Dembski's explanatory filter goes far enough. Yes, it may provide some evidence for design. But it does NOT provide evidence that all else is the product of "natural law" ... some undirected, naturalistic process. But we continually talk about the "limits" of naturalism ... as if naturalism is actually a true worldview. That is dualism at its finest. Either naturalism is true, or it isn't. I propose it isn't. But ID must ask these questions, and wrestle with them if we are to present a coherent argument for design.

  2. William Paley, 1743-1805, may have had Baden Powell in mind when he observed "The infidelity of the Gentile world, and that more especially of men of rank and learning in it, is resolved into a principle which, in my judgment, will account for the [failure] of any argument, or any evidence whatever, viz. contempt prior to examination."