Skip to comments.Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism
Posted on 07/16/2007 1:53:40 PM PDT by MatthewTan
Is The Design of Modern Science Defective?: A review of Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism
[Editor's Note: This post was written by a Discovery Institute legal intern, Guillermo Dekat. Mr. Dekat is a law student at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the Air Force Academy.]
A review of Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism By: Cornelius G. Hunter (Brazos Press, 2007)
In law, one who sells a product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user is held strictly liable for the physical harm to the injured party. One way for the injured party to win a case is to successfully argue that there is a design defect in the product. Put another way, the plaintiff is entitled to damages because there is something wrong with the blueprints for the product. At this point, expert witnesses are found to testify to the design's integrity or its defectiveness.
Perhaps the most common blind spot that inhibits the proper functioning of a product is the quite literal blind spot we experience when driving our cars. If modern science and the pre-suppositions that support it were an automobile, then Dr. Hunter's new book would be the testimony of an expert witness who has found a significant design defect. The defect has created a blind spot that is not necessary for the proper functioning of science.
Dr. Hunter begins his book by pointing out the design defect: "The problem is that religion has joined science." (Hunter, 2007, pg. 9) He goes on to explain that, while today's science is thought to be empirical and free of theological premise, nothing could be further from the truth. Dr. Hunter examines the complex interaction between religion and science in history and arrives at what may be a surprising conclusion for many: the modern design of science is based on theological naturalism, a phrase he uses to describe the restriction of science to naturalism for religious reasons.
But Hunter goes further and refutes a common argument that naturalism is a result of atheism or empirically based findings. Instead, he lays the responsibility for naturalism at the doorstep of theists, who were largely thinkers inside the church hundreds of years ago. Hunter explains that theological naturalism is not opposed to religious ideas, because the philosophy is itself religious. It makes theological assumptions for a number of different reasons and then mandates a non-intervening "god." This mandate allows the stream of thought to necessarily flow from theological naturalism to methodological naturalismthe idea that science ought to pursue naturalistic explanations. According to Dr. Hunter, this philosophy of theological naturalism predated the theories that we argue about today.
Dr. Hunter then makes the connection between the philosophies and the blind spot that was created in science:
The problem with science is not that the naturalistic approach might occasionally be inadequate. The problem is that science would never know any better. This is science's blind spot. When problems are encountered, theological naturalism assumes that the correct naturalistic solution has not been found. Non-natural phenomena will be interpreted as natural, regardless of how implausible the story becomes . Theological naturalism has no way to distinguish a paradigm problem from a research problem. It cannot consider the possibility that there is no naturalistic explanation for the DNA code. If a theory of natural history has problems and many have their share the problems are always viewed as research problems and never as paradigm problems.
(Cornelius G. Hunter, Science's Blind Spot: Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism, Brazos Press, 2007, pg. 44-45)
Dr. Hunter follows theological naturalism through many of the significant ideas of science in the modern era and analyzes how the blind spot affected the results. However, he doesn't just analyze the problem, for Hunter also suggests another design that will not produce such a blind spot. His suggestion is moderate empiricism in lieu of the heavy reliance on the assumptions of theological naturalism. Hunter explains that moderate empiricism is not a new idea; it was used by Boyle and Newton and pursues the experimental sciences largely unhindered by axioms or historical science frameworks. He sees this method being used by the intelligent design theorists and applauds them for it.
As an expert witness, Dr. Hunter excels. Not only does he examine the current design of modern science, he also offers a design that will address the defect and allow science to function properly. Perhaps it may function even better. With his testimony complete, the jury is out. Will the scientists of today and the next generation choose to drive an automobile with this defect, or will they choose a different design, one without this blaring blind spot? Regardless, they would all do well to read Cornelius G. Hunters' Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism. Posted by Guillermo Dekat on July 15, 2007 12:23 AM | Permalink
Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism (Paperback)
by Cornelius G. Hunter (Author)
Book Description Had evolutionists been in charge, they wouldn't have made the mosquito, planetary orbits would align perfectly, and the human eye would be better designed. But they tend to gloss over their own failed predictions and faulty premises. Naturalists see Darwin's theories as "logical" and that's enough. To think otherwise brands you a heretic to all things wise and rational. Science's Blind Spot takes the reader on an enlightening journey through the ever-evolving theory of evolution. Cornelius G. Hunter goes head-to-head with those who twist textbooks, confuse our children, and reject all challengers before they can even speak. This fascinating, fact-filled resource opens minds to nature in a way that both seeks and sees the intelligent design behind creation's masterpieces.
From the Back Cover In this thought-provoking book, Cornelius Hunter shows that modern science has in fact been greatly influenced by theological and metaphysical considerations, resulting in the significant influence of what he calls "theological naturalism." Naturalism is therefore not a result of empirical scientific inquiry but rather a presupposition of science. This bias is science's "blind spot," and it has profound implications for how scientific theories are evaluated and thus advanced or suppressed. In the end, Hunter proposes a better waymoderate empiricismand shows how Intelligent Design fits into such a method. "Continuing the theme from his previous two books, biophysicist Cornelius Hunter surveys the history of science to reveal the real source of modern scientists' opposition to intelligent design. Turning popular opinion on its head, Hunter convincingly argues that scientists who oppose intelligent design do so for theological reasons, not empirically based arguments. Science's Blind Spot is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand why those who oppose intelligent design are becoming more entrenched as the evidence for it continues to build." Guillermo Gonzalez, Iowa State University "This book is a scholarly, yet easily understood, description of how difficult it is to work outside the dominant paradigm. Hunter provides a perceptive analysis of how we got to be where we are, and why `theological naturalism' is an overlooked but critical issue in understanding the current face-off between religion and science. There is a depth of perception here, an insight into our most unexamined assumptions, that will boggle the mind of anyone conversant with the issues. This book will richly reward all those who read it, whether they are new to the debate or hardened veterans of the science wars. The author has a great gift for clarifying arguments that have long been misunderstood or overlooked." Gene Bammel, professor emeritus, West Virginia University; author of Everyday Philosophy
About the Author Cornelius G. Hunter (PhD, University of Illinois) is formerly senior vice president of Seagull Technology, Inc., and is currently engaged in molecular biophysics post-doctoral and engineering research in Cameron Park, California. He is adjunct professor of science and religion at Biola University and author of the award-winning book Darwin's God and its follow-up, Darwin's Proof.
They did make one major discovery. Theres an awful lot of morons out there willing to part with their hard-earned money. These DI hacks are laughing all the way to the bank.
And of course, materialism is metaphysics not a scientific fact so what’s wrong with challenging it? There are so many fake sciences these days that I am tempted to relaunch my Anti-ismism Institute of Higher Scoffing.
I mean, so many things are just accepted as fact because they manage the rather meager feat of surviving more then one human lifetime. Once that happens it because “the way things have always been” and becomes unquestioned and unquestionable dogma.
It is really very hard to feel more sympathy for one fake science over another. Unless one is, like, more fun or something. The Forbidden Sciences have always been the best sciences. Anything the New Inquisition wants to destroy seems like a hoot!
Life seems too short to believe what a bunch of stuffy, boring, anti-fun cultists want me to believe to be socially acceptable.
I mean, Darwinism, really, other then that funny fish with legs that makes me laugh, what does it contribute to my life? How does Darwinism bring more joy into my life? And how would believing in it make me a better person? And if it is something I have to believe in, is it science or is it faith?
I mean, how do I know if anything is real if I can’t experience it for myself? If I get my facts from somebody else, that is reality at least once removed. ID and Darwinism are pretty much the same except ID seems to have more joy behind it. It makes the Universe seem like a friendly Universe and I’d rather live in a friendly Universe then a cold indifferent one or even a hostile one.
A secondary benefit is there are fewer IDists to annoy me, which whenever a cultish belief gets too many people I just find it vexing. Don’t you find it vexing? Everyone all insisting everything is the same? Where is the joy in that? And if there is no joy in it, it doesn’t have much purpose. Because life is joy and joy is life. That is all I know and it seems to be all I need to know.
I do find rather amusing that people can get so upset over a book review and seem to ignore the book or pretend there is no book.
If a book review is written by someone a Darwinist finds lacking, does the book exist? Ah, now that’s metaphysics!
You are close, but still a little off.
Naturalism is an assumption that science makes. It amounts to an approach whereby scientists will deal with things that can be perceived, and leaves the supernatural (that which can't be perceived) to other disciplines. Is there anything wrong with that?
And what if there is a supernatural, that can't be perceived by science? Well, that's for theology and other related disciplines to deal with. What's wrong with that?
The problem we are having is that the Discovery Institute has embarked on a program of trying to push religion (in the guise of ID) into science classes because the earlier version of religious belief, creation "science," was prohibited by the US Supreme Court.
This is the problem I have with ID. Its not science, its thinly disguised religious belief pretending to be science and pushed by a large PR budget.
I know, but what doesn't pretend to be science these days? I've always found the scientific belief that consciousness is an epiphenomena of matter to be untenable. Stupid even.
They cannot explain something so they marginalize it. But if this were the case, nothing would have any meaning whatsoever. My typing here would not be directed by my mind but is some eddy in the material sea that whirls this way and then next it whirls the other way.
It is like a poster covering a wall but when the poster is removed, there is no wall. So, what was holding the poster up? Well obviously the poster is an epiphenomena of the wall. But there's no wall under the poster. Well, that's because you took the poster down.
Once again it's not a fact that consciousness is an epiphenomena of matter. It's not even a belief. It's just the high priests of science insisting it is so. No real or serious or joyful person could believe such nonsense and yet it is forced on us as something that is real.
I don't see how having a little religion snuck in between the science could hurt things more then science has already hurt itself by trying to pass off stupidity as wisdom.
Science is self correcting.
It sometimes takes a while, but so far its our best method of keeping back the darkness.
Religion is based on divine revelation; how is one to verify that? And what if my revelation tells me something different from your's? And if our two revelations differ, how is a third person going to differentiate between the two. It really comes down to belief, with facts being discarded when necessary.
At least science has data and facts to fall back on. As new facts are discovered, the theory and explanation can gradually improve. That's the self correcting part of it.
They cannot explain something so they marginalize it. But if this were the case, nothing would have any meaning whatsoever.
Science cannot explain something so you marginalize science?
Perhaps next year, or the year after that an explanation will come along. Look at the huge list of things formerly unexplained which science has explained. Lightning and germs come to mind. Both were satisfactorily explained by science, and removed from the "unexplained/maybe supernatural" category.
Science is doing pretty good, and a lot better than most other realms. Give it a chance.
This is subjectivism. I recall Chief Dan George as an Indian Chief ( in a stretch ) on an episode of Doctor Welby. They were flying in a light plane on a medical mission, and the pilot expressed doubt that the weather would hold up. "Well, what do the clouds say?" asked the Chief. This was his version of meteorology - direct experience.
I share your complaint re consciousness. Cf. Schroedinger’s essay, What is Life?, where he references the “bankruptcies of rationalism.” I learned a word from him - “hylozoism”, literally “material animism”, the doctrine that matter itself is endowed with soul. My opinion is that this is the only alternative to dualism, and a necessary consequence of epiphenominalism
I understand what you are trying to say, you hold a romantic notion of what science is supposed to be. But today the facts are data are hostage to the political agendas and quasi-religious fanatics.
You know, I think Einstein said something about time being a persistent illusion and if this is so, and I believe it to be, then reality is less then an illusion.
I came across an interesting quote by Max Planck when looking up something on the nature of reality, and I think one must concede that science can only ever hope to be a subset of reality but I digress...While trying to find this quote again I came across two other quotes by Planck, well, actually the man was a profound genius and I’ve found many, many quotes by him now looking for the original but this one...
Anybody who has been seriously engaged is scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: ‘Ye must have faith.’ It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with.
And then this one!
“There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. The mind is the matrix of all matter.”
And this is a very good one too but I’m afraid it will pierce the heart of your romanticism:
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
Sadly, I cannot find the one I was looking for and now even forgot the tiniest bit of it because these are so exciting! The second one says that matter is an epiphenomena of mind, which makes infinite sense. In fact, it says there really is no matter except for the illusion of matter created by the mind.
The final one shows why science is more of a religion, the old priesthood has to die off before new, innovative ideas are accepted and by the time they are accepted they are already old and cliché, as a McLuhanite might point out.
Don’t you find this terribly exciting? Oh my, it is much, much more exciting then the dull old arguments of the Darwinists.
To me it suggests the Big Bang as it is conceived, never actually happened. The Universe just woke up from a long nap one day, discovered it was sentient, and started building things out of itself. One day, it wondered what the experience of not believing in itself would be like and created a scientist to disprove it’s existence. Eventually, in order to deny the existence of the Universe, the scientist had to invent the Whack-a-Mole game.
Of course the scientist is also the Universe so he has to whack himself quite a few times, thus inducing brain trauma and not soon thereafter we get the dogma that consciousness is an epiphenomena of matter, as inanely ludicrous as that is.
Maybe it’s not exactly what happened but it seems close enough to form a cultish belief system out of. And once one is capable of doing that, well then what more do facts and data matter?
I have always advocated that the best way to teach Darwin would be to place a copy of THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES on top of a greased pole wrapped in barbed wire out in front of the High School ... because more people would read it that way!
Of course, Evolution was a Forbidden Science at its introduction. Perhaps its sojourn as orthodoxy is temporary, in which case you may look forward to taking it up at some future date.
Darwin's Black Box:
The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
by Michael J. Behe
Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference
The Battle of Beginnings:
Why Neither Side Is Winning
the Creation-Evolution Debate
by Delvin Lee "Del" Ratzsch
Science and Its Limits:
The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective
Etremely interesting discussion. And I am glad to see that there are still men in the scientific community who are willing to look at the metaphysics of science.
What can it tell us? What are it’s limitations? Is it time-invariant?
It is interesting that there is somewhat of an agreement on the circular reasoning aspect of it. Science is a procedure based on a set of givens.
And it will not allow anything into it’s domain that doesn’t agree with the givens.
The givens being that there is a “causative conclusion” that can be derived by repeatable demonstrations.
If there is any failure of science (rather I should say shortcoming) it is that causative IS NOT the same as repeatability.
Here’s an example, since Independence day just passed.
I unstring a bunch of firecrackers and put them in a box.
I light a match and throw it in the box.
The match simply burns out.
I light another match and throw it in.
A huge bunch of explosions occur!
Now, there is no doubt the match was causative. There is also no doubt that it DID NOT repeat. I know some of the scientific oriented will give me a thousand reasons why this is not really “science” or whatever, but I maintain my position.
A person prays for a relative, and the relative gets well.
Another person prays for their relative, and the relative passes.
Now, JUST BECAUSE this does not seem to be repeatable, that DOES NOT imply that the first persons prayer was not “causative”.
Now, even if everything that is “Knowable” was somehow recorded, we are told that there are things we can never know. Godel said that. Heisenberg said that.
A. S. Eddington addressed the issues in a brilliant essay called “The Domain of Physical Science”. He admits the limitations of science, and explains that it is not sciences fault. Science MUST because of it’s boundaries and methodologies, EXCLUDE AND NOT ACKNOWLEDGE things that cannot be tested or modeled with its methods. Eddington calls it the difference between the emperical and the mystical.
There is no question that the set of (knowable&unknowable) things is larger than the set of (knowable) things. In my opinion, spectacularly larger. For instance, a little math will tell you that the number of states (velocity, momentum, position, angular momentum) in 18 grams of water is a fantastically huge number, 10^^200 or so. And 18 grams of water is a mole, you could hold it in your mouth!
It’s almost as if science needs to be triadic, instead of binary. Maybe (True False) needs to be replaced with (True False Maybe).
But then it would not be science. It would be something else.
Which, by itself, DOES NOT mean that it would be wrong, or would not work.
A. S. Eddington, The Domain of Physical Science from the collection Science, Religion, and Reality ed. Joseph Needham, The Macmillan Company Press, 1928
Correction: re: the prayer example
in fact because the experiment was not repeatable, it DOES imply it is not causative.
But implication is not proof. The word imply should be PROVE.
Amen. I saw the same show. I thought, "Yet another dogmatist posing as a scientist."
You've fallen for the very belief that such people have always tried to promote: The scientist as noble, clear-eyed, dispassionate revealer of truth.
The truth is that the intellectual tool of science is designed only to make sure that one's measurements be as accurate as one's technology permits, that one's measurements use the appropriate tool for the quantity to be measured, and that one's conclusions follow logically from one's premises.
If one works very diligently, then one may be able to separate what one hopes or believes is out there from what actually is out there. That is, one may be able to systematically eliminate one's misconceptions about what is out there in the world by the practice of science and, as a result, be able to exercise control over it and then use it for one's ends. This is the power of science.
The choice of both premises and ends, though, lies outside the field of science because science is limited to reasoning and experimentation based on measurable quantities. The biggest error of the past three centuries has been the assumption that since everything that can be measured exists, nothing exists if it cannot be measured. The belief is that since measurement is but the extension of our senses by technical means, there is nothing that exists apart from that which is open, at least in principle, to our senses; ie, "seeing is believing" or, ostrich-like, "If I can't see it, it doesn't exist." Accordingly, personality, thought, love, and free will are just smiley faces we put on biochemical processes that are irrevocably part of a chain of cause and effect that we only think we control.
The funny thing is that there are some people who feel comforted in believing this who at the same time ridicule people who believe Jesus rose from the dead because of the testimony of others who witnessed it. They claim that their witness cannot be trusted because1. something like that cannot happen,The answer to the above is, of course,
2. it cannot happen since they've never observed it,* and
3. if it doesn't happen more than once and they haven't witnessed it themselves, then anyone else claiming to have done so must either be insane or a liar. And then they abuse the word "science" by claiming 1-3 to be scientific.1. that the most they can say is that, given the usual nature of things, it doesn't happen, not that it cannot happen if given sufficient cause, and that if it did happen, that would be, in and of itself, evidence that the cause was outside the usual nature of things. Stating categorically that there can be no sufficient cause "because biology teaches us..." is just naked arrogance trying to use science as a fig leaf;The retort to 3, because they cannot argue with the first two, would be that 'history' or 'one's life' are not truly 'things,' but simply labels slapped arbitrarily somewhere along the chain of natural events that exist on their own without rhyme or reason and that sticking on these labels is just an attempt by weak people who lack the bravery to see things the way they really are to provide a feeling of meaning where is none--yeah, sort of like the people who use the label of "science" to claim to have the only true way of separating fact from fiction as well as the only means by which to define 'fact' and 'fiction' ?
2. that plenty of things happen that one has never witnessed or had any idea that they could happen,
3. that there are plenty of things that happen only once--the history of one's life, for instance, beginning with one's conception--that are nonetheless real.
* or observed by anyone they trust, meaning 'by anyone who believes what they believe', meaning 'if you've claimed to have witnessed this, you're no longer someone I can trust,' meaning, 'only that which I believe is true or can possibly be true,' meaning, 'I, and those like me, are the sole arbiters of truth,' meaning, 'if you don't fit in with the program, then you're an enemy,' meaning, 'if you don't accept the tenets of _____, then you're the enemy of truth and since we accept the tenets of _____ and we are human, then you are also the enemy of mankind." And how is this any different from any other form of tribalism?
I always wondered what the Italian was for "Bill the Cat." I guess I know, now.
It is sort of an alchemy, isn't it? A bacteria is transmuted into a fish or maybe a plant first, and then that is transmuted into a amphibian which is transmuted into a lizard which is transmuted into a bird which is transmuted into an ape which is transmuted into a man.
But much like the age of prophecy in the Bible, at some stage this just comes to an end and things start just being what they are and men are never transmuted into angels. Well, not that we know of.
I tend to think of the emergence of life on earth the way I am told to imaging the Big Bang, happening everywhere all at once. Time, being only an illusion, this is quite probably but when time becomes the persistent illusion we know it as today, mankind, while waiting for Darwinism to transmute him into an Angel starts trying to impose a chronological order on his origin but there is no epoxy strong enough to stick to an illusion. The Universe sticks its head out of the hole and and says "Here I am!" and the scientist tries to bat it down once again and makes the grand scientific discovery of government grants.
And the only facts and data that matter are those promoted by the state.
But you know, I think a lot of people became very interested in Reich and his work when the U.S. government banned his work and burned his books.
Maybe instead of doing all that work of getting Origin up on top of a greased stripper pole, you just need to organize a good old fashioned book burning. Much, much simpler but think of all the CO2 released into the air to add to the fake science of Global Warming(TM)? I guess it is six of one.
Of course, the greatest new scientific discovery is we can enslave people's DNA and patent that so long as they are unborn. That will bring greater big bucks then government grants ever did.
I googled a definition of "metaphysics" and got these:
A field of abstract thought and philosophy about topics not on the concrete or physical level of understanding. This includes subjects like existence, the soul, being, the supernatural, astral travel and psychicism.I hate to break this to you harshly, but that metaphysics stuff is not science. And the folks who are peddlin' that metaphysics stuff aren't scientists. Science is defined as a study of reality--of the natural world--that which is measurable or in some way observable.
"Beyond physics." The branch of philosophy that deals with first principles and seeks to explain the nature of reality and the origin and structure of the world. In recent times, metaphysics has come to include the study of phenomena such as reincarnation, astral travel, psychic people, chakras, auras, etc.
Knowledge of the First Principle and of degrees of Reality. Defined as such, it is different from philosophical speculation and it is not a human knowledge. Metaphysical wisdom requires an actual participation in the knowledge by which God knows himself. Integral Metaphysics Body of complete metaphysical doctrines: Neoplatonism (pre-Christian and Christian), Akbarian Sufism, Advaita Vedanta, Madhyamika etc. ...
The science that attempts to explain the nature of things beyond reality.
As a result, scientists left "metaphysics, philosophy, and other squishy subjects behind a couple of hundred years ago. And those poor ol' philosophers are still complaining, "What happen'? What about us? We were here first. Pay some attention to us. PLEASE!"
Here is your solution. If you think science is doing so badly by omitting those squishy subjects, well you have at it! Go where science refuses to go! Knock yourself out!
You can study magic, superstition, wishful thinking, old wives tales, folklore, what the stars foretell and what the neighbors think, omens, public opinion, astromancy, spells, Ouija boards, anecdotes, Da Vinci codes, tarot cards, sorcery, seances, sore bunions, black cats, divine revelation, table tipping, witch doctors, crystals and crystal balls, numerology, divination, faith healing, miracles, palm reading, the unguessable verdict of history, tea leaves, new age mumbo-jumbo, hoodoo, voodoo and all that other weird stuff.
The scientists will stick to science.
Paul said, “All flesh is not the same flesh” There is flesh of fowl, flesh of fish, and flesh of beasts, etc. He was arguing for the plausibility of our resurrection in the flesh by characterizing our presumed “resurrection bodies” as just one more addition to the variety of created flesh.
Nowadays, evolution or no, we understand that all flesh is the same flesh, being produced in the same way by the same genetic code carrying different instructions. This is an entirely materialistic understanding, and you and others who object to evolution as degrading to the spirit seem to have no such objection to this comprehensively materialistic ontology which embraces you and me as well as the fish, fowl, and beasts.
Compare and contrast Lucretius with Paul. Lucretius embraced radical materialism, and on that basis expressed a notion of the genome. “... we see that all things bred from fixed seeds by a fixed mother are able to conserve their kind as they grow. Assuredly this must come about in a fixed way.”
He’s expressing the notion that embryonic development follows natural laws. There are also some very interesting adumbrations of genetics in Aristotle.
Oops. For “ontology” read “ontogeny” = “individual development”. I knew I didn’t have the right word, but you know how it goes.