Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Rom 1 reply, 40: Ray Comfort spotlights the blind faith commitments of ever so many adherents of evolutionary materialism

Recently, Evangelist Ray Comfort of Australia (who produces the The Way of the Master TV series) did a series of on-campus interviews of both students and professors (including the somewhat notorious P Z Myers) on what they know regarding directly observed evidence of body plan origin level Macro-Evolution. Comfort, a Creationist, of course speaks in terms of "kinds," such as dogs vs cats, i.e. essentially the taxonomic Family and up.

Let's pause and watch:

(For wider context, I suggest a glance at the recent KF post here, and you may want to look at the following F/N with a list of links.)

So far, the video has had 616,455 hits on YouTube and has stirred quite a controversy, [56,842 comments, and just over ten thousand each thumbs up and down . . . ] prominently featuring the accusation that Comfort has snipped the respondents out of context. There are demands for unedited, raw video. 
(BTW, Comfort is doing essentially what the likes of Michael Moore and even TV news crews have been doing for years. And on the specific point he is asking about, he is dead right in what he has set out to do: show that there is in fact a lot of blind faith that has transmuted an inference that lacks an observationally warranted mechanism, into a perceived fact believed on the perceived authority of the Science and Science Education establishment.)
However, given the very specific challenge he is putting on the table -- to show that so-called Blind Watchmaker mechanisms of chance variation and differential reproductive success leading to claimed incremental descent with unlimited modification has been actually directly observed to give rise to novel body plans at or above roughly the taxonomic family level -- it is known that there is no such direct observation of the claimed capacity of such asserted evolutionary mechanisms. 

And indeed, some of those interviewed acknowledge this point.

So, what Comfort is doing is first of all highlighting that there is no mechanism demonstrated per actual observation, that has the capacity being claimed for macro level evolutionary changes. 

Second, he is directly documenting by interviewed examples, the way that an inference in absence of empirically demonstrated mechanisms adequate to do what is claimed, is often being taken at face value as FACT (a very different thing from an inference) by many students and members of the public on faith in the authority of the dominant school of thought on biological origins.

Third, he is showing by further interviews that the professors the students are relying on do not in fact have the direct observational evidence for their claimed mechanisms that many imagine they have.

Underlying all of this is the force of the damaging admission made by Richard Lewontin in a January 1997 review of Carl Sagan's last book, when he said:
the problem is to get them [--> the general public] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world [--> notice the unjustified close association if not equating of the one with the other . . . ], the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of [a priori materialistic, cf. below] science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [--> Which, to a priori materialists is all of reality; self evident is here being misused, what is really going on is thinking in a materialistic, question begging circle confused for accurately seeing reality directly] . . . .
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we [--> the materialistic, Scientistic elites] are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [“Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Emphases and comments added. NB: If you imagine that I have "quote mined" Lewontin here and/or that his appeal to Kant justifies the censorship being described, I suggest you read the fuller cite and notes here on.]
  Similarly, we note how the US National Science Teachers Association Board declared in July 2000:
The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .
Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .
Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000.]
No wonder, ID thinker Philip Johnson, replying to Lewontin in November 1997, remarked:
For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
. . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]
Whatever the merits and demerits of Comfort's video, he is to be commended for spotlighting the ideological aspects of the dominant evolutionary materialist frame of thought, and particularly the lack of direct observational support for the claimed capability of key mechanisms. Hardly less significant is the highlighting of confusion of inference for fact, and the blind adherence to the aura of authority attaching to the lab coat.

We need to do some serious reflection on such issues. END


F/N: Some useful onward readings:

The Intelligent Design issue: