Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rom 1 reply, 31: A video challenge to the evolutionary materialist world-picture that is often presented in the name of big-S Science (cross-posted from Uncommon Descent)

I have chosen to cross-post from Uncommon Descent, as I believe we need to examine the issues raised in the video presented below (and as long since raised by Plato, too).

>> Our indefatigable Bornagain 77 has provided a link to a video documentary, The Signs:

(NB: Cf. notices at the linked. Of course, this is a challenge, showing it is not tantamount to endorsing everything claimed therein — such as, some claims on the Golden Ratio. {Added, 01:16: At the 1 hr 43 min mark, there is an Islamic declaration of faith in a context of an excessively dismissive discussion of the fossil hominids, which we should take due note of, and note the response to here, here and here [more details]. Also, from 1 hr 46 mins on there is an Islamic tract.} However, it is a refreshing shake-up to all too comfortable schemes of thought dressed up in the holy lab coat.)

We are doubtless familiar with the idea that Darwin’s theory provides a universal acid that eats up traditional worldviews and values, leading to a “Scientific” worldview in which Science is the fountainhead of knowledge, and values are radically relativised. We are then invited to enter the brave new world of atheistical scientism, and are told in school or college that anything else is mere superstition, a clinging to imaginary and dangerous demons that invariably lead us to savagery, for instance we are told that Science flies us to the Moon but Religion flies into buildings through terrorist attacks.

(What we are not told is how the leading Scientist in the Moon rocket programme had become an Evangelical Christian after moving to the USA. And of course the astonishing, moving moment when at Christmas 1968, the Apollo 8 Astronauts read the opening words of Genesis while orbiting the Moon, is conveniently forgotten. It is also not generally well-known that the Eucharist was celebrated on the Moon also. As to the long list of reformers and saints (I think here especially of Wilberforce and Buxton who led the Parliamentary fight against slavery, and of Gen. Booth of the Salvation Army as well as of Mother Theresa of Albania and India and the late Chuck Colson . . . ) who have helped soften our hearts and have led in movements of reformation, liberation and progress — including in science, we hear not the faintest trace. A telling, willful omission. The silence or diversionary tactics on the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot and the explicitly atheistical regimes they led, is also revealing.)

We need therefore, to understand that such evolutionary materialism (though it is now dressed up in the holy lab coat) and its corrosive effect on values, is nothing new. Hence, the significance of Plato’s critique in The Laws, Bk X, speaking in the voice of the Athenian Stranger:

Ath. At Athens there are tales preserved in writing which the virtue of your state, as I am informed, refuses to admit. They speak of the Gods in prose as well as verse, and the oldest of them tell of the origin of the heavens and of the world, and not far from the beginning of their story they proceed to narrate the birth of the Gods, and how after they were born they behaved to one another [he then subtly dismisses the mythology of the paganism of ancient Greece] . . . as to our younger generation and their wisdom, I cannot let them off when they do mischief. For do but mark the effect of their words: when you and I argue for the existence of the Gods, and produce the sun, moon, stars, and earth, claiming for them a divine being, if we would listen to the aforesaid philosophers we should say that they are earth and stones only, which can have no care at all of human affairs, and that all religion is a cooking up of words and a make-believe . . . .

[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

[[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .
How does Plato answer the materialistic cosmological claims that were so boldly put forth, in those days in the name of the Sophists [roughly, wise men]?

By making a cosmological design inference, while also defining the first cause as being the self-moved soul:

Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle?. . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

 [[ . . . .]

Ath.If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

Cle.You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

Ath. I do.

Cle. Certainly we should.

Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

[[ . . . . ]

Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things. 

Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?   Cle. Exactly.  

Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler? 

[[ . . . . ]

Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

So, now, in this, the Year of Our Lord, 2013, let us reflect on the case presented in The Signs, in light of developments in Science across the past century or so. What grounds our worldviews, why, and with what consequences? >>

So, again, whose report do we believe, why -- and to what consequences? END

PS: Here is my onward intent. I intend to do a little plundering of Egypt with this vid (consider it a bit of the back-pay due for the Muslim slave trade across the Sahara and/or the Indian Oceans from C 9 to C21, Muslim objectors . . . ), using what is helpful, giving due notice to the source.