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Answers in Genesis: Part V – Philosophy and Morality

<–Intelligent Design Landing Page

As stated in the previous blog, Intelligent Design’s primary battle is against THE PHILOSOPHY of “Naturalism” and the PHILOSOPHY of moral relativism. To support this view with their own words, The Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document is liberally quoted in this blog.

“Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment.” Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy

Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudism (?) are apparently sources of moral decay. It’s funny how they refer to things by their founders name, instead of referring to the thing itself.

“Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.” Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy

By “materialism” they appear to aggregate elements of philosophy traditionally thought of as separate:

  • Dialectical Materialism
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • Psychotherapy
  • Scientific Naturalism
  • Metaphysical Naturalism
  • Cultural or Moral Relativism
  • Reductionism
  • Socialism
  • Utopianism
  • Social Darwinism

It’s interesting to note that virtually everything on here is related to politics, morality and philosophy. Even Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” idea is protested explicitly because of its philosophical and moral ramifications, NOT because of lack of scientific evidence for it.

“Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.” Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy

The Wedge Strategy represents the most honest Discovery Institute document to date. Where elsewhere phrased in more politically correct terms, here it is bluntly stated. To paraphrase, the Discovery Institutes purpose is to promote evidence that supports a THEISTIC understanding of the universe. I find it funny that the Discovery Institute was able to drop almost all Christian elements of Creationism, and yet they were still not able to get away from plain old Confirmation Bias. While this is acceptable in faith based systems, it is not acceptable in Science.

And There is an important point they are making. While the philosophy that best exemplifies the scientific method is “methodological naturalism”, this does not mean that science is the ultimate form of human experience. Believing ONLY in this philosophy negates much of what gives life meaning. Spirituality is important for psychological health. Art is crucial for the human soul. Ethics should be based on the will of the governed, and on justice. Morality should be based on experience, empathy, and the equality of all men. Human emotions like love, hope, and fear are best understood in a non-reductionist light. Consciousness is a higher order phenomenon that should be treasured.

“I think it’s an interesting part of knowledge [to have] a theory of evolution and a theory of creationism. People should be exposed to different points of view.” George W. Bush

Intelligent Design advocates object to what they call scientific materialism. The funny thing is, virtually everyone on the other side of the “battle” would agree with them on this. Those who practice science do not expect it to have all the answers, because it doesn’t. They turn to other things for meaning, including religion, family, art, community, philosophy, and even sporting events. There is no demon on either side; just normal people going about their lives, it’s just that some of use are “less superstitious” or “more secular”, depending on who’s describing the situation.

But to do science without practicing methodological naturalism is simply not honest, and does not work! Regardless of your personal beliefs, science demands rigor and confirmation. But by its very definition has a limited domain of knowledge available to it. To think that “this is all there is” demands as much a leap of faith as the one made by those who would force a Creator on science! So while the moral point is valid, their attack on a scientific discipline is ignorant and unnecessary.

“You got it backwards. Creationism is based upon science, reason and tons of evidence. Evolution is based on the blind acceptance of superstitions and fairy tales.” CRASH, Theology Online

And neither should G-d exist in the “gaps” of science, as if “He did it” is a good replacement for “I don’t know”. This is something ID supporters would have you believe; that the unsolved and weak sections of the Modern Synthesis are good indicators of a Creator. They should be very careful to claim these gaps for their own, science has a history of taking apart black boxes as quickly as possible.

“I often debate with evolutionists because I believe that they are narrow mindedly and dogmatically accepting evolution without questioning it. I don’t really care how God did what He did. I know He did it.” TexasSky, Christian Forums

It is deceptive to treat Intelligent Design as if it were a secular philosophy, because by definition it is not. In my next blog I will talk about the true source of Intelligent Design Creationism, the Christian Religion.

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2 Responses

  1. No demon on either side is a great line. For years, I have advocated a marriage between the spirit and business success. If you find spiritual beliefs contrary to science, then spiritual beliefs are viewed as measly superstitions and fallacies. This popular view is simply wrong. Science and religion operate under vastly different parameters. In my management book, Wingtips with Spurs: Lessons From the Ranch, I devote an entire chapter in this ‘business’ book to the connection of business success and aiming for a higher calling. In spite all of the majesty and awe that the scientific world inspires, science is not designed to answer the questions that religion asks. Nor should we use religion to fill in the ‘God of the gaps.’ Religion should embrace science as it improves our ability to explain how God put things together. Indeed, elites of organized religions hate the efforts to seek a scientific context for the appreciation of spiritual phenomena. They seek to control humanity with doctrine and dogma. Science in its intellectual, methodical, peer-reviewed processes can deepen our wonder and amazement at the power of God. Instead of warring factions, the two sides should encourage each other. I saw a newspaper headline recently that read, “Darwin vs. God, Round 2007: Kansas Declares Darwin Winner.” This is wrong on many levels. Splashy headlines are one thing; gross irresponsibility is another. I cannot stress it enough. God and science are not at odds. They never have been. Francis S. Collins, the scientist who lead the Human Genome Project, stated it best when he said, “Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced.” Michael L. Gooch, SPHR http://www.michaellgooch.com

  2. That last quote is key– he accuses “evolutionists”* of being “narrow-minded and dogmatic” while in the same breath essentially admitting that he is also narrow-minded and dogmatic. Is this the real problem– Creationists assume the other side is as “faith-based” as they are? In that case it is a religious war between “faiths”; they may as well be attacking Hindus or Muslims. (Hmmm. . . they mention a “broadly theistic understanding of nature”; what if science found evidence of an alternative creation myth, like one that matched the Mayans or the Egyptians? Would they accept that?)

    * (The term “evolutionist” always confuses me; the way they wield that word always sounds as if they mean some kind of religious sect or cult. “The Evolutionists have brainwashed my child!”)

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