On the side of the Angels.

Posted: July 13, 2006 in Intelligent Design, Theo/Philo



I maybe naive, but when two groups of people hold polarised views about a subject, the law of non contradiction helps me to smell propaganda in the mix somewhere.

I define propaganda as the ‘news’ of the victor, the ‘news’ of the dominant worldview, which in regard to this post is metaphysical naturalism.

Lawrence Krauss has published an article called ‘On the side of the angels’ in last weeks New Scientist.
Krauss begins on a note of, what this blogger can only describe as petrified coproliteSplitting arrogance.He says ‘The popular debate about intelligent design has, I am happy to say, discredited fundamentalists who want to censor science for religious reasons. It has also exposed pseudo-scientific organisations such as the Discovery Institute for what they are. Nevertheless, in pitching misguided evangelicals against the scientific community…’

Who are these discredited fundamentalists? Within the Intelligent Design Community there is every shade of belief and none, so which fundamentalist does Krauss have in mind?Or is he using the word ‘Fundamentalist’ as a put down to the Discovery institute?The Discovery institute is a small body who has the guts to go up against the Evolutionary machine,something I think would of pleased Feynman.

Intelligent design does not seek to censor science for religious reasons, it seeks to have the possibility of design considered as a cause for the complexity molecular biology has uncovered in the last fifty years. A complexity Darwin was completely unaware of at the time ‘The origin of the species’ was published.

A complexity that Darwinian evolution has not been able to pin a cause to; except for using phrases such as “vast amounts of time” and “Trial and error” mumbled into the Darwinian/Dennettian beard. The tail and the donkey have yet to come together.

Perhaps Krauss was referring to the Dover trial –since when does the legal process decide what theory should be considered and what theory should be shelved?

Richard Feynman in his book ‘The meaning of it all’ says something that perhaps more need to ponder upon, especially when Science becomes dogma:

“This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences and, I believe, in other fields. It was born of a struggle. It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure. And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the thing fall away. I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.”

Krauss then goes on as if Michael Polanyi had never cast objectivity down, as if positivism was alive and well, he says ‘Anyone choosing …to validate their belief in God, or as evidence that God is irrelevant, is doing so from their own religious convictions, and not from science.’

It’s worth remembering that Science is not conviction neutral; all science is done with a worldview in mind, the experimenter influences the data we collect and the data we don’t collect. Belief in Science as completely unsullied by conviction, as a pure pursuit yielding Truth with a Capital ‘T’; seems to be unsupported by the data and so rather than making Science and Religion different –they begin to look similar.

More importantly the theories we construct are also influenced by the onboard worldview of the Scientist, however conscious or unconscious of their worldview they happen to be.

Why shouldn’t scientific theory be used to back up belief, why should belief not have to wrestle with the data?

There is a lot of Krauss article that I agree with such as: ‘whatever one’s personal views about religion, it is undeniable that scientific understanding alone does not encompass the range of the human intellectual experience.

I, along with Krauss don’t believe ignorance is synonymous with faith; accepting that Science like any pursuit is subject to subjectivity, I do believe we must wrestle with the data and our convictions.

From a Christian point of view (the only POV I have), the recent history of the church is one that has shied away from intellectual pursuits –due to the attack on the church coming from humanism. This timidity is unnecessary and damaging. It is possible to be an intellectually satisfied Christian.

  1. island says:

    Krauss believes in stuff like, many-worlds and uncertainty, so he doesn’t recognize the kind of purpose in nature that falls from physics like, perpetually inherent thermodynamic structuring in a finite bound and closed universe, which is all that we actually have empircal evidence for.

    Contrary to Krauss’ cutting-edge theoretical opinion, nothing has been settled in this matter, so Einstein’s view of purpose in nature is still a valid possibility, and General Relativity with a cosmological constant is still the most conservative mainstream approach to explaining our expanding universe, and the most natural extension for this model is also finite bound and closed.

    What I’m getting at is that you can’t circumvent this kind of natural explanation to presume that cosmolgical evidence that we are not here by accident can possibly constitute an inferrence for intelligent intervention, as long as the more likely possibility exists that we are here by non-accidental means because there is some physical need for it.

    I have to say that Krauss seems to contradict this “anticentrist” position in his recent interview with the “Edge” third culture.

  2. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Island,
    thankyou for your interesting post.Regarding the multiverse idea (of which I know very little)it seems that the popularity of this idea coincides with a postmodern approach to what is true Truth.Many truths many universes.It also looks like a ‘get out of jail’ free card in regard to the problem of fine tuning.
    The inference for design attempts to give a answer to why we and everything else is here, why we have the characteristics we have.It is an interpretation of the data so far harvested.It challenges the assumed closed universe at a metaphysical level,and offers an alternative to only being able to answer ‘How’ questions.
    Inferring design infers a designer,this means neccesity is ruled out.Its ruled out because it cannot account for the information content we see.
    To quote from http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/1285#more-1285
    ‘Natural mechanisms are all highly self-ordering. Reams of data can be reduced to very simple compression algorithms called the laws of physics and chemistry. No natural mechanism of nature reducible to law can explain the high information content of genomes.’

  3. island says:

    Well Mike, you did not pay attention, because the physics that I gave does allow science to answer the why questions, in a law-reducable manner since LaPlace’s demon is valid in that context.

    …and you can’t circumvent this kind of natural explanation to presume that cosmolgical evidence that we are not here by accident can possibly constitute an inferrence for intelligent intervention, as long as the more likely possibility exists that we are here by non-accidental means, because there is some physical need for it.

    When I say “cannot”… I simply mean that you can believe whatever you want to, but your explanation is NOT the necessarily preferred theory.

    You can’t use cosmological evidence that we are not here by accident to infer intelligent intervention without direct proof, or you’re just prayin…

  4. John says:

    Hi, Im from Melbourne Oz. These related essays give a unique perspective on the ALL important relation between science and conventional exoteric religion.

    1. http://www.dabase.net/dht6.htm
    2. http://www.dabase.net/dht7.htm
    3. http://www.dabase.net/noface.htm
    4. http://www.dabase.net/christmc2.htm
    5. http://www.dabase.net/rgcbpobk.htm
    6. http://www.aboutadidam.org/lesser_alternatives/scientific_materialism/index.html

  5. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi John,
    thanks for the post and the links, I will get to check them out,as soon as I have understood Islands claims.
    Island I have to say that I am paying attention, but still remain a clueless on several points.I’d like to understand your points so could you answer this questions (in easy non physist terms)?
    1.What evidence do you have that the assumption that goal-oriented structuring in nature requires an intelligent agent, is a false asumption ?

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