August 28, 2008
I am not suggesting that scientists have to change their rules about retaining and discarding paradigms. All I want them to do is to be candid about the disconfirming evidence and admit, if it is the case, that they are hanging on to Darwinism only because they prefer a shaky theory to having no theory at all. What they insist upon doing, however, is to present Darwinian evolution to the public as a fact that every rational person is expected to accept. If there are reasonable grounds to doubt the theory such dogmatism is ridiculous, whether or not the doubters have a better theory to propose.
To believers in creation, the Darwinists seem thoroughly intolerant and dogmatic when they insist that their own philosophy must have a monopoly in the schools and the media. The Darwinists do not see themselves that way, of course. On the contrary, they often feel aggrieved when creationists (in either the broad or narrow sense) ask to have their own arguments heard in public and fairly considered. To insist that schoolchildren be taught that Darwinian evolution is a fact is in their minds merely to protect the integrity of science education; to present the other side of the case would be to allow fanatics to force their opinions on others. Even college professors have been forbidden to express their doubts about Darwinian evolution in the classroom, and it seems to be widely believed that the Constitution not only permits but actually requires such restrictions on academic freedom. To explain this bizarre situation, we must define our fourth term: religion.
Suppose that a skeptic argues that evidence for biological creation by natural selection is obviously lacking, and that in the circumstances we ought to give serious consideration to the possibility that the development of life required some input from a pre-existing, purposeful creator. To scientific naturalists this suggestion is "creationist" and therefore unacceptable in principle, because it invokes an entity unknown to science. What is worse, it suggests the possibility that this creator may have communicated in some way with humans. In that case there could be real prophets-persons with a genuine knowledge of God who are neither frauds nor dreamers. Such persons could conceivably be dangerous rivals for the scientists as cultural authorities.
Naturalistic philosophy has worked out a strategy to prevent this problem from arising: it labels naturalism as science and theism as religion. The former is then classified as knowledge, and the latter as mere belief. The distinction is of critical importance, because only knowledge can be objectively valid for everyone; belief is valid only for the believer, and should never be passed off as knowledge. The student who thinks that 2 and 2 make 5, or that water is not made up of hydrogen and oxygen, or that the theory of evolution is not true, is not expressing a minority viewpoint. He or she is ignorant, and the job of education is to cure that ignorance and to replace it with knowledge. Students in the public schools are thus to be taught at an early age that "evolution is a fact," and as time goes by they will gradually learn that evolution means naturalism.
In short, the proposition that God was in any way involved in our creation is effectively outlawed, and implicitly negated. This is because naturalistic evolution is by definition in the category of scientific knowledge. What contradicts knowledge is implicitly false, or imaginary. That is why it is possible for scientific naturalists in good faith to claim on the one hand that their science says nothing about God, and on the other to claim that they have said everything that can be said about God. In naturalistic philosophy both propositions are at bottom the same. All that needs to be said about God is that there is nothing to be said of God, because on that subject we can have no knowledge.