In a past post, I said: “[Casey] Luskin reinforces what should be the obvious notion that science is not the impartial search for truth, but is also governed by important sociological and political factors (and spiritual of course) as well.”
When it comes to talking about ideas regarding the history of the world – and the highly abstract theories and models* that evolutionary thinkers depend on to tell these stories – there is no real reason to assume that what comes out of the scientist’s mouth has to do with truth. I am simply taking their own theory to its logical conclusion.**
Let me explain.
I am not saying that these persons can’t come up with plausible and somewhat reasonable-sounding explanations of why things are what they are and have come to be – and along with this, why what often appears to be the case, really is not the case (for example, why dinosaur bones that appear to be young by virtue of the fresh tissue inside of them are really 65 million years old or more***).
I am simply saying this: if we assume as true that which most modern scientists base their thinking on – that is, cosmological and then biological evolution – then what is really important is precisely what I mentioned above: that a person come up with plausible sounding theories about why things are the way they are and have come to be (and when it comes to scientists living in theistic nations, one’s ability to do this will be directly correspond to the readiness of a culture to disbelieve the writings that support these theisms, not by any “provable” scientific argumentation per se).
In other words, what really matters for these scientists expounding on survival of the fittest (that does not mean strongest, that means those who “fit” best with their environment and hence are able to pass on their genes to the next generation) is that they simply sound smart, possessing the requisite rhetorical and conversational abilities to convince a wide range of the population that they are contributing something of value.
Why do they not actually need to produce anything that has real value? The point is that they only need to be associated with those who do, and to borrow from the capital these fruit-producing persons possess. In other words, those who put forth evolutionary theory as truth can only do so because they parasitic on those who are essentially creative engineers and really do have some real connection with what is truth. Everyone will acknowledge that there must be a significant amount of truth in theories coming from men like Newton and Einstein because their theories have been clearly seen to be absolutely foundational in attaining practical inventions and results that everyone can experience.
This is truly powerful. And as neo-Darwinian thought tells us, with power comes the ability to not only survive – the power to fit into one’s environment – but to pass on one’s genes.
It does not matter if not every person claiming to be able to do historical science, (as someone like Ken Ham defiantly calls it vs. those who say there is nothing to such a seemingly sensible-sounding distinction) sees practical results coming out of their intelligence. It is simply the case, that as far as evolutionary theory is concerned, it is not only brawn, but brains that are essential for passing on one’s genes – even as certainly one wants to have both, because some women, for example, have a hard time looking past physical strength (yes, good looks help to). Enough people value these intellectual traits because they “know” – subconsciously if not consciously – that having them can make all the difference – especially as the intellectual arms race increases – so that their genes will be favored to survive. And it is very often the case that one only needs to appear as if one has the potential to come up with things that would be useful for helping one to survive, or better yet, thrive.
So that alone, according to the theory of evolution itself, is the truth – of course there is nothing intrinsic about things like beauty, justice, love and meaning. Therefore, it is not necessarily true that whatever comes out of the even the most respected proponent of evolution’s mouth has any actual basis in reality whatsoever.****
What will defeat this argument? Well, if we are talking about actually persuading the person holding it via reasons, to a large degree this will depend on the person’s confidence in their dogma. I might suggest this as a start though as something that might perhaps make a real difference (since I do believe that for many of us evidence which is public, relevant and convincing is important): specifically explain how certain scientific discoveries that everyone can clearly see are discoveries could not have been made unless the one making them had depended on evolutionary theories (see this short article from Philip Skell @ The Scientist as well questioning Dobzhansky’s dictum ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’ – update: also this from Nancy Pearcey).
* Of course, I think we all must give the nod to “common sense realism”: we are still be able to agree with most any other human being that knowing some basic facts or “truths” (little t) on the ground might have some obvious, immediate survival value, for instance, when we both immediately respond to the sight of the hungry tiger and run away. But the key question is this: why would our evolved (and evolving) reason and sense “equipment” be useful for anything more complicated and abstract than this – and if it seems to be, why should we trust it?
**The great Alvin Plantiga has done something similar, but my argument is a bit different. The first footnote features one such distinction.
*** based on their understanding of radiometric dating methods, the geological column, taxonomy, and sequences of “index” fossil.
****To briefly address another angle of this argument: why should we assume that any living being should be capable of producing complicated theories and models that are accurate representations of reality that have no obvious immediate survival value? Why should it matter whether our reason and senses can accurately map reality or not? What is ultimately important is that they exist to help us survive – and if this means they will “deceive” “us” (what are “we” anyway?) from time to time, perhaps that is for the best. In short, it would seem that the very act of constructing a theory to explain man’s existence belies an inherent theism within man which evolution is hard-pressed to justify.