Against the claim that Darwin only challenged orthodox religious explanations, I pointed out that many historians and commentators on Darwin argue the contrary: namely, that Darwin’s work, Origin of the Species, faced a variety of resistance, only part of which stemmed from religious doctrine. Undeniably, Darwin challenged orthodox religious accounts of life on earth (origin and maintenance); and religious doctrine was a big factor in the thinking of most people. But more importantly to the history of biological science, Darwin’s evolutionary science also challenged prevailing theories and beliefs of secular scientists and other people who did not base their views on religion at all. The idea of fixity of life species was a far broader idea than just something gotten from religious doctrine.
Let me use the analogy of human high jumping. Although the height that human high jumpers have achieved has risen dramatically in recent decades (now over 8 feet), there is a limit (a physical limit to how high a human can jump). So possibilities of yet higher jumps remain. But the book is not wide open on these possibilities, as long as we’re talking about human physiology. You won’t see anyone ever high jumping 50 feet! But maybe someone will someday achieve a jump of 9-10 feet. The same thinking applies to the limits and possibilities of scientific knowledge. Yes, scientific knowledge is not a completed story. Yes, more remains to be told (discovered). But what remains, when it is disclosed, will come under the category of nature as we now know it. There is no reason for claiming that among those possibilities not yet disclosed are supernatural realities (the sort you yearn for). That would be like claiming that because human high jumpers are still setting new records, one will eventually jump over a 100 foot barrier unaided!
Where humans, in general, fail in their ability to think critically is in the area of controls. Endless cause and effect errors and wrong conclusions have resulted because of our failure to consider the many variables in a situation.
Where people in general fail in their ability to think critically or scientifically is in the area of controls. Endless cause and effect errors and wrong conclusions have resulted because of our failure to consider the many variables in a situation. Testimonials, anecdotes and biased data gathering make up the evidential backbone of pseudoscience, paranormal beliefs, religions and quackery. But testimonials and anecdotes do not a science make.
“Look, if I found a watch on the beach I would obviously know that all of its parts didn’t fly together by accident. I would know that there had to have been a watchmaker.” Response: It sure looked that way….until 1859. Then came along Charles Darwin and On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Over the years that followed, scientists increasingly demonstrated that God was no longer required as an explanatory factor for all of the design in nature. Instead, life on Earth turned out to be a four billion year old story of random genetic errors followed by an automatic, blind selection of the more fit and extermination of the less fit.
Astronomer, Fred Hoyle, commented that, because of what appears to be a “monstrous series of accidents,” our universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for the evolution of life. In fact, says Hoyle, our universe looks just like a “put-up job,” as though somebody had been “monkeying” with the laws of physics.”[
The Cambrian is an ancient period in geological time that lasted from 542 million years ago (mya) to 490 mya. It is the earliest time in geological history that plant and animal fossils appear in abundance. During the Cambrian a menagerie of multicellular life “exploded”,. . . . Creationists love the Cambrian “explosion”. To them, it proves that all the major types of animals (phyla) suddenly materialized, being instantly created by God.
I read a statement (“We create history by our observation, rather than history creating us.”) like this one and I ask: who has gone insane, the great physicists or me? But it is not just the theoretical physicists and cosmologists who try my sanity of late. The philosophers also have their role in this mad comedy.
In 1988, a survey was reported involving more than 2000 college students on 41 campuses across the country.[i] About 40% of these students (62% in Texas from a different survey[ii]) said they believed that human life originated in the Garden of Eden in the last 10,000 years, and that the worldwide flood described in Genesis was literally true, and that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.
In the opening paragraphs of their recent book on scientific cosmology, The Grand Design, Steven Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow declare that “philosophy is dead.” As an unqualified general statement about all philosophy, this is a very questionable statement; but even more surprisingly, the authors show by their theorizing in the book that a form of philosophy that surely is not dead; namely philosophy as done by scientists themselves.