Re: Wall Street Journal: The Church of Darwin By Phillip E. Johnson

Stephen E. Jones (
Tue, 24 Aug 1999 05:43:51 +0800


On Fri, 20 Aug 1999 11:47:49 -0400 (EDT), Marcio Pie wrote:

MP>I was very skeptical when I began to read this article, but I must admit
>that Phil Johnson has raised a very pertinent point. Modern scientific
>method "assumes" that all factors influencing the results are
>naturalistic-materialistic and then uses the results of their analyses to
>corroborate those assumptions. It looks circular to me, but I would like
>to know more opinions about that.

It not only "looks circular", it *is* circular. Materialism-naturalism is a
fundamental *assumption* of the "modern scientific method", not a finding
of it:

"The most interesting aspect of any argument is not what it explicitly
states, but what it implicitly assumes. A rationalistic culture teaches us to
think that truth is the product of a process of logical reasoning. When we
are dealing with intermediate or detailed truths, this model is correct. The
model breaks down, however, when we try to apply it to the fundamental
premises themselves. This is because logic is a way of getting to
conclusions from premises. By its very nature, a logical argument cannot
justify the premises upon which it rests. When these premises are
questioned, they have to be justified by a different logical argument, which
rests upon different premises. We may follow this process forever, and we
will still never encounter anything but another logical argument, which will
itself be based upon premises. But then what is the ultimate premises, the
Archimedean fulcrum on which intellect can sit and judge all the rest? If we
try to answer that question by employing logic we lapse into the absurdity
of circular reasoning. Reasoning has to start somewhere. Any attempt to
justify the ultimate starting point necessarily fails. Because it only
establishes a different starting point. Hence, the really important step in any
argument is apt to be the unexplained, unjustified, and often unstated
starting point." (Johnson P.E., "Nihilism and the End of Law", First Things,
March 1993, No. 31.

MP>Also, if we *assume* that God influenced directly evolutionary processes,
>can modern scientific method detect that influence?

*Before* "modern scientific method" can detect the "influence" of "God" it
must *first* have a philosophy that can does not rule out in advance the very
possibility of that "influence" of "God", before it even looks at the evidence.

For example, Dennett admits that the "modern scientific method" cannot, from
the empirical evidence alone, "rule out the earlier historical presence of
rational designers":

"Indeed, all the biologists I have queried on this point have agreed with me
that there are no sure marks of natural, as opposed to artificial, selection.
In chapter 5, we traded in the concept of strict biological possibility and
impossibility for a graded notion of biological probability, but even in its
terms, it is not clear how one could grade organisms as "probably" or "very
probably" or "extremely probably" the products of artificial selection.
Should this conclusion be viewed as a terrible embarrassment to the
evolutionists in their struggle against creationists? One can imagine the
headlines: "Scientists Concede: Darwinian Theory Cannot Disprove
Intelligent Design!" It would be foolhardy, however, for any defender of
neo-Darwinism to claim that contemporary evolution theory gives one the
power to read history so finely from present data as to rule out the earlier
historical presence of rational designers..." (Dennett D.C., "Darwin 's
Dangerous Idea", 1995, pp317-318)

But Dennet just rules it out in advance as a possibility on materialistic-
naturalistic *philosophical* grounds:

"...-a wildly implausible fantasy, but a possibility after all." (Dennett D.C.,
"Darwin 's Dangerous Idea", 1995, p318)


"Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, of bold, often ill-founded
extrapolations, a pseudoscience has been created. It is taking root in the
very heart of biology and is leading astray many biochemists and biologists,
who sincerely believe that the accuracy of fundamental concepts has been
demonstrated, which is not the case." (Grasse P.-P., "Evolution of Living
Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation", Academic
Press: New York NY, 1977, p6)
Stephen E. Jones | |