July 26, 2015

In Their Own Words XXXIII: The Cult of Evolutionary Science

[Another post in an ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological / philosophical quotes scientists or those in academia make.]

Here is something for readers to chew on this week. I say chew because this is going to be a dense read with a great payoff in the end for the reader. I thank Greg West from the The Poached Egg apologetic website for the premise behind this post.

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” ~ James M. Tour - Layman’s Reflections on Evolution and Creation [Website]

This quote comes to us from none other than James M. Tour one of the ten most cited chemists in the world. In short he is a highly recognized and awarded scientist respected for his scientific work. He is not a run-of-the-mill quack, he is a man at the top of his scientific field and is highly revered. He is also a Christian. So it is ironic and unusual that this quote is part of a scientific dissent of a long standing scientific theory that is foundational for much of biological science. Professor Tour, along with over 700 other scientists took a step back in 2001 of signing the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”, which contained the aforementioned comment. The entire list of signatures can be found here in PDF form. It is expansive and impressive with the institutions represented and the positions held.

Tour is a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in nanotechnology. Dr. Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Materials Science and Nano-Engineering, and Professor of Computer Science at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

What is he saying here? He is saying something profound and impacting about the theory of evolution, specifically macroevolution or very specifically speciation. Speciation being the supposed process by which an existing species "descends" into two or more descendant species. If one goes on to his website they will find that he is an adherent to microevolution (which even I will admit is probably true and can be observed in nature). I believe this is exactly what Darwin observed in the finches on the Galapagos Islands. What Tour turns a severely critical scientific eye to (and so do I) is macroevolution not small adaptations in within species (microevolution) such as those observed by Darwin.

He has also specifically stated that he felt the explanations offered by evolution are incomplete, and he found it hard to believe that nature can produce the machinery of cells through random processes. He has also corroborated and quoted other highly revered scientists and cited their statements on his website. Among them the following.
“One of the oldest problems in evolutionary biology remains largely unsolved; Historically, the neo-Darwinian synthesizers stressed the predominance of micro-mutations in evolution, whereas others noted the similarities between some dramatic mutations and evolutionary transitions to argue for macro-mutationism.” ~ David L. Stern “Perspective: Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Problem of Variation,” Evolution 2000, 54, 1079-1091 
”A persistent debate in evolutionary biology is one over the continuity of microevolution and macroevolution — whether macro-evolutionary trends are governed by the principles of microevolution.” ~ Andrew M. Simons “The Continuity of Microevolution and Macroevolution,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology 2002, 15, 688-701

In short, what are these men alluding to? Simple. They are totally skeptical that the validity of micro-evolutionary processes being extended and applied to macro-evolutionary process. They believe Darwin and those that adhere strictly and religiously to Darwin's original theories are reaching too far. Said another way, they might be biting off more than they can chew.

These learned men believe it is not scientifically warranted nor does the evidence prove out marcoevolution. This is not your atypical creationist/evolutionist argument over who gets control of our educational system or who controls the tenants of science. This is a deeply rooted doubt in the minds of many men at the top of their field. If they are doubting the validity of a theory that is foundational or meat-and-potatoes to biological science…so should we.

Tour goes on to state that he simply does not understand, chemically, how macroevolution could have happened. He then poses the a challenging question which is hinted at throughout the article: 

Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? 

Tour states that if there is anyone that does understand he would like to sit with that person and be taught. He invites them to meet with him to discuss it. It appears he is so certain that no one else knows, he has challenged them to provide an answer. 

So to summarize: To not be able to answer even a fundamental assumption about an entire branch of science therefore puts the entire rest of that branch in question. It must be understood that any assertions in the field of biological evolutionary science about scientific truths are then based on a flawed fundamental precept(s). Anything built upon those flawed foundation then becomes dubious and untrustworthy. I'm not sure about you the reader but this sounds strangely akin to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and the story of the wise and foolish builders.
Matthew 7:24-27 ~ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Darwin as I have stated in other posts never actually addressed the actual origin of life in his inaptly named book On The Origin of Species. He wasn’t that stupid. Nor have any since the time of Darwin. At least no adequately enough to satisfy the likes of Tour. That means all later assertions are tenuous and threadbare. What is even more interesting is that so few in evolutionary science attempt to address this overarching theme or theory. Why? 

Because most are too busy in their compartmentalized little aspects of the evolutionary chain in a highly specific study. It is also because evolutionary theory at higher levels stops being an issue of science and becomes more about philosophy and epistemology. In other words, macroevolution is philosophically and epistomologically assumed based on virtually no proofs. That my friends is a violation of the scientific method. They're breaking their own rules in route to arguable conclusions. 

Therefore, by definition they cannot be wholly considered scientific conclusions...they become primarily philosophical ones. They are reinforcing their flawed philosophy not proving things out scientifically. Said another way: In order to draw conclusions, a scientist uses the scientific method which is a rigorous standard that has four steps: Observation/experimentation, deduction, hypothesis, falsification. Please note I said falsification, not verification. If a theory falsifies or fails any of these tests then a theory is damaged. Macroevolution fails at the deduction step. Evolutionary theory cannot logically arrive at their conclusions as they claim as shown by Tour because they either skip previous foundational steps or those steps are not complete as Tour has said. Therefore we only arrive at more philosophical reinforced assertions, not scientific conclusions or proofs.

According to Tour this willingness to assume the unproven as become almost Draconian in the scientific/academic world. He mentions in his article that in the last few years he has witnessed a dismaying trend towards the unfair and almost radical treatment of scientists that do not automatically accept macroevolution in a precursory manner.

What’s Tour really saying? He’s saying science has become dogmatic and unbending about evolution. They are religious in their zeal to adhere to something in faith because the truth is…they have very little evidence to back up their philosophical assertions. Science therefore has become a religion/faith. Tour is correct, with little or no a posteriori knowledge to support what they believe…they are making a leap of faith. 

All this to say this...

When so-called educational and scientific institutions and their tenured professors/scientists are no longer free to inquire and question the validity of statements of other men (supposedly peers)…they have then become institutions of fundamentalist dogmatic religions that refuse to allow for any unorthodox inquiry or alternate opinions. They have also abandoned the scientific method and praxis of peer review.

That my friends is a cult...as in a religious cult. 

A cult by definition (and there are many) is:
  1. A group of people claiming allegiance to a specific identity (Science, Scientists).
  2. Who embrace a doctrinal and dogmatic system (as stated in article).
  3. Who often embrace some form of works to achieve a given end that usually ends in a closer proximity to leadership or deity.
  4. Are generally taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization (peer reviewed journals, academia).
  5. A system of beliefs characterized by unfounded unorthodox or spurious beliefs.
  6. There is often great devotion to a person (Darwin), idea (evolution), object, movement, or work as a film or book (On the Origin of Species).
  7. The devotion is often not founded in fact or data but rather emotion and pathos (as stated in article).

Here are five signs that you might be involved in a cult.

  1. All your friends believe just like you do and think exactly the same way you do.
  2. Nobody questions or is allowed to question authority.
  3. The source of authority is usually consolidated in a single person or extremely small group of people with special knowledge.
  4. There is no independent accountability of a leader or organization's authority to another person or organization. They are not beholden, held accountable outside of their own little “clique”.
  5. Doctrine or dogma is not to be questioned. If you do question it you are ostracized, demonized or shouted-down if you attempt to question.
  6. Secret or special knowledge only a few can know or truly understand. Usually some form of Gnosticism.

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