XFiles Friday: Good science versus bad faith

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 5)

Geisler and Turek are really hitting their stride now, and as I read over their section entitled “Good Science vs. Bad Science,” two words come to mind: bad faith.

It is commonly believed that the so-called creation-evolution debate (now often called the intelligent design vs. naturalism debate) entails a war between religion and science, the Bible and science, or faith and reason…

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The creation-evolution debate is not about religion versus science or the Bible versus science—it’s about good science versus bad science. Likewise, it’s not about faith versus reason—it’s about reasonable faith versus unreasonable faith. It may surprise you to see just who is practicing the bad science and just who has the unreasonable faith.

Do tell. If there’s anything surprising about the creationist screed that follows the above intro, it’s the degree to which the authors are willing to distort the facts, appeal to fallacious reasoning, and in general try to deceive and mislead the reader into concluding that good science is bad science and that naive superstition is good science. They’re not even trying to get it right; they’re presenting their arguments in bad faith.

Logically, there are only two types of causes: intelligent and non-intelligent (i.e. natural).

Right away they’re misleading their readers. First of all, they’re not defining what “intelligent” means, in any quantifiable or measurable terms, so how can they divide causes into intelligent causes versus non-intelligent? It’s a meaningless criterion. Instead of giving us a scientific distinction that can be objectively measured, they simply appeal to intuitive, superstitious animism. “It doesn’t seem to have been created by any natural process that I’m familiar with, therefore some intelligent being must have designed it.”

Notice the implicit flattery here. “You, dear Christian reader, are so wise and so knowledgeable that you can tell just by looking at something whether it is or is not possible for nature alone to produce it. Other people have to devote years of study and hard work to understand all the intricate and subtle mechanisms of biology, but you, being so spiritually enlightened and broad-minded, just seem to know it all instinctively. You do not need to have any respect for the academic qualifications of those who are experts in their fields, because your knowledge is so superior, and theirs is merely wrong. You are wiser than all your teachers, because you agree with us.”

Unfortunately, on the question of first life, Darwinists like Dawkins and Crick rule out intelligent causes before they even look at the evidence.

This is one of the most commonly-repeated lies that creationists tell. It’s not that Darwinists rule out intelligent causes before they look at the evidence. They rule out intelligent causes because they look at the evidence. Sure, there are some who are unabashedly materialistic, and who will proudly tell you that the material universe is all there is, and supernatural explanations are rightly and properly off the table. However, there are plenty of others who look at the same evidence, open-mindedly, and still come to the same conclusions. That’s why we have theistic evolutionists. If the scientific evidence happens to be consistent with the beliefs of the materialists, that’s not the materialists’ fault, and it’s certainly not a sign that the materialists are ignoring the evidence. That’s just the way things happened to work out.

Unfortunately, creationists don’t have any actual evidence in favor of their own preferred conclusions, so Geisler and Turek have little choice but to drive on with their slanders against scientists, buttressed with snippets of quotes carefully selected and removed from their original contexts so that, surprise surprise, it sounds like the scientists are all in a tizzy about the “facts” not supporting their “presuppositions.” And for good measure, they throw in Fred Hoyle’s (now dated) ideas about panspermia, that perhaps life on earth could have been designed by aliens.

Big misstep for Mssrs. G and T. If you’re going to launch into a tirade about how evolution is the result of scientists being unable to let themselves consider the possibility of intelligent design, you really shouldn’t cite examples of scientists considering the possibility of intelligent design. Once again, Geisler and Turek have exposed their own lie. It’s not that scientists won’t consider intelligent design, it’s that ID has been considered, and has been found wanting. Not because of any metaphysical/philosophical bias against intelligent designers, but because the evidence isn’t really consistent with that possibility. No matter how attractive our psychological makeup may find superstitious animism, simply ascribing complicated things to unknown persons is not the same thing as finding evidence that these mysterious designers actually exist.

In short, this whole section is nothing but a long appeal to the ad hominem fallacy: evolution is wrong because some of the people who agree with it are materialists. What’s particularly ironic about this is that Geisler and Turek themselves are just as materialistic about creation versus evolution. The whole reason they’re bent on denying evolution is because they do not believe that the creation story could be true if God were merely the Creator in some spiritual sense. No matter how much they voice their contempt for materialism, the bottom line is that they take it for granted that material reality is the only genuine reality, and that unless divine Creation is materially true, it is not really true at all.

And therein lies the rub. If divine Creation was indeed a material event in the material universe, then the material evidence ought to be available to even materialistic scientists. Never mind any alleged bias against the supernatural, because you don’t need to even get into the supernatural. Just provide the material evidence that supports the material reality of material Creation—if you can. Geisler and Turek can’t, and so they have to resort to double-talk, slander, and distortions to try and make good science (and good scientists) sound bad.

It’s bad faith, in both senses. Creationists aren’t being honest in the things they say (bad faith in the first sense), and the only reason they’re making the argument at all is because they have put their faith in a God who does not show up in real life (bad faith in the second sense), forcing them to resort to speculations and misdirections in order to try and suggest that billions of years ago, somewhere, something unknown might somehow have done something vaguely similar to what they believe God is supposed to have done. That’s as close as they can get to finding “evidence” that God actually exists in real life, and it falls miserably short of adequate. Hence their rage, and bad faith, against scientists.

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