The Imam Charles Darwin

No blogging from me today. Instead here's a longish, in some respects mind-blowing post from my philosophy of science guy. He's responding to the two posts below on the PA Intelligent Design case, particularly the 2nd --most recent one. (I hope I'm still friends with ninme after posting this. She comes from Scientist stock, and in those circles you question evolution at your peril, and my PoSG guy goes much further than I did.)
Your mention of Aristotle is exactly to the point of showing what is so --well, unintelligent about the Judge’s decision. Aristotle the pagan never read or heard of the Genesis creation account, but it was Aristotle who gave mankind the principles that made “science” possible. The major principles are two: first, the capability of reason to reach truth, and second, the constancy of “nature,” meaning that there are fixed constants in nature that endure unchanged over time or that transcend time. Thus he asks, what is a horse? and answers, that which is born of a horse. In other words, the species of animals are essentially constant. That changes take place within species, which we call “adaptation,” was well understood long before Darwin and has nothing to do with Darwinian evolution. Thus if a horse gave birth to something other than a horse, it would be recognized as a freak of nature, a monster outside of nature and science itself. Science could study this monster and perhaps explain what went wrong – and that is the point, that science knows that something did go wrong in such a case. The possibility of rational science, in other words, depends on there being unchanging “laws of nature.”

Moreover, Aristotle requires that scientific knowledge explain not just two causes of things – matter and motion (what we call “material”) – but four causes, including “form” and “purpose.” To know a thing scientifically, one must also know why it has the shape or “form” it takes, and also what its chief function is within the natural order. But this means that “design” is built into nature itself, and that design or “form” must be understood according to reason or by science (not by revelation). As a matter of fact, Aristotle does not demand that there be an “intelligent designer” in order to understand the natural order. For Aristotle the natural order is eternal; it has no beginning, or at least its beginning in principle cannot be understood by science. The creation accounts in Genesis and the biology of Aristotle are therefore very different, but it is clear that “design” refers to rational, scientific knowledge, not just somebody’s religious doctrine.

Darwinian evolution on the other hand is unscientific, even anti-scientific. According to Darwin, all the species change or evolve into other species. There are no enduring “forms” or design in nature. There is no guarantee that a horse will always give birth to a horse. There are no “laws of nature” that are constant and unchanging. Nature is a flux; it changes constantly, periodically, and upredictably. This of course means that it cannot be understood by reason. There can be no science of nature, strictly speaking.

The idea that science can come to know the truth about the natural order rests on the possibility that when scientific truth is discovered, you can predict what will occur in the future. I can know and predict that the sun will rise tomorrow at a certain time. That knowledge and predictability depend on science which understands the actions and characteristics of the heavenly bodies.

But this is entirely untrue of Darwinian evolution. According to his model, if you look back at past evolution, you can make sense out of the development (20/20 hindsight, so to say). But Darwinian evolution provides no knowledge about the future developments of species, what will survive, what will not, what will become more complex, etc. The lack of predictability is itself a strong indicator that this is pseudo-science, myth disguised in scientific dress.

What is most astonishing in the good Judge’s decision is that he has not read religion out of science; he has merely substituted one religion’s science for another’s. It so happens that in Islam, there is no notion of natural laws or fixed natures. Muslims believe that God is the direct cause of every event that takes place. If this horse gives birth to that horse, it is only because God willed it. He could easily will that this horse give birth to a mosquito…or vice versa. Some imam has said that even if there were natural laws of physics, it would be blasphemous to teach them in a Muslim school.

Christianity traditionally has been consistent with rational science because the Christian teaching is entirely different. Whereas God is the primary cause of everything that exists, it is nature that provides the secondary or specific causes of each thing, and God does not manipulate nature. Thus the laws of nature and the “forms” of each species can be studied and known scientifically, by the rational mind. Indeed – I hear the objection that Christianity claims God performs miracles, such as stopping the sun –“miracles” precisely are suspensions of the known laws of nature which God performs on rare occasions to make an extraordinary point. That’s why they are “miraculous”! In Islam, on the other hand, since nothing happens naturally, everything that takes place every day is a “miracle,” which means that there are no “miracles” because there is no “nature.”

The Darwinian evolutionary theory is virtually the same as this latter view. In his effort to dechristianize biology, therefore, all the Judge did was to Islamicize it. In other words, he has imposed his own religious preference on science, contrary to the First Amendment.