How Richard Dawkins’ (ir-)religion hinders scientific progress

See Jonathan Wells on his book, The Myth of Junk DNA – yes, it is a Darwinist myth and he nails it as such.  As I read the article I thought of how bias can get in the way of scientific discoveries.

The conventional wisdom is that religion and science are at odds or are at least “non-overlapping magesteria.”  Philosophical naturalists like to posit that religion impedes scientific progress.  That is a false dilemma, of course, because the notion that God is orderly and that we can think his thoughts after him drove early science and is still logical.

But look what happens when atheistic assumptions get in the way of science:

“The amount of DNA in organisms,” neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins wrote in 1976, “is more than is strictly necessary for building them: A large fraction of the DNA is never translated into protein. From the point of view of the individual organism this seems paradoxical. If the ‘purpose’ of DNA is to supervise the building of bodies, it is surprising to find a large quantity of DNA which does no such thing. Biologists are racking their brains trying to think what useful task this apparently surplus DNA is doing. But from the point of view of the selfish genes themselves, there is no paradox. The true ‘purpose’ of DNA is to survive, no more and no less. The simplest way to explain the surplus DNA is to suppose that it is a parasite, or at best a harmless but useless passenger, hitching a ride in the survival machines created by the other DNA.” (The Selfish Gene, p. 47)

Dawkins’ worldview caused him and many others to “know” that this must have been “junk” DNA. Who knows how many important scientific advancements were delayed because of bias like this? Christians know that there are natural and supernatural forces in the world, and that the composition of the universe screams out design. Even Dawkins concedes that it appears to be designed.

More from the link:

Collins also wrote that intelligent design is a “God of the gaps” position that is doomed to collapse with further advances in science (p. 193). But Collins has it exactly backwards: He and other promoters of the myth of junk DNA have put their faith in a “Darwin of the gaps” argument that must now retreat in the face of new advances in genome research.

Truly open-minded scientists wouldn’t assume that the “junk” DNA was evolutionary baggage.  They would have considered that perhaps it had another function put there by an intelligent designer.

Scientific progress can be negatively impacted by bad philosophy — just not always the kind people assume.  How many other discoveries are hindered by the false Darwinian worldview?

P.S. This topic always reminds me of a funny bit in an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa finds a phony fossil of what appears to be an angel.  The episode cleverly skewered both sides of the debate – though mostly against Christians. (Sadly, this is one of the last episodes Phil Hartman did before he was killed. He played the attorney Lionel Hutz).  I loved this line from the judge presiding over the trial:

As for science versus religion, I’m issuing a restraining order: Religion must stay 500 yards from science at all times.

If only the (ir-)religious bias of Dawkins et al had a restraining order against it!

The truth and “the truth”

I always enjoyed this bit from The Simpsons with Phil Hartman playing Lionel Hutz, Real Estate Agent and how it played on the concept of truth.

Lionel Hutz: Marge, I had a lot of calls about you.  Customers love your no-pressure approach.

Marge: Well, like we say, “The right house for the right person.”

LH: Listen, it’s time I let you in on a little secret, Marge.  The right house is the house that’s for sale.  The right person is anyone.

M: But all I did was tell the truth.

LH: Of course you did!  But there’s the truth [shakes head ominously side-to-side] and the truth [nods head up and down with big smile].  Let me show you. [Shows pictures of houses]

M: It’s awfully small

LH: I’d say it’s awfully . . . cozy.

M: That’s dilapidated.

LH: Rustic!

M: That house is on fire.

LH: Motivated seller!

Here’s the definition of truth:

1 .  the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.

2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.

In egghead philosophical circles those definitions are referred to as the correspondence view of truth.  It is also the definition that five-year olds intuitively know.  And it is the real version.  The problem is that some highly intelligent people try to mangle the concept of truth to mean all sorts of other things.  Some people mock those who hold to the correspondence view as if we are ignorant or old-fashioned. 

But I’m quite confident that the correspondence view of truth will always be demonstrably accurate compared to other views.  Here’s why: If you want to convince me that your view of how truth works you’ll unwittingly use the correspondence view to do so.  You’ll try to tell me that your version of how truth works is what corresponds to reality, and you will prove my point every time. 

Truth matters, and those who try to distort the plain definitions of it usually have ulterior motives.  As noted in a highly recommend and  more detailed perspective by J.P. Moreland:

Postmodernism denies the correspondence theory, claiming that truth is simply a contingent creation of language which expresses customs, emotions, and values embedded in a community’s linguistic practices. For the postmodernist, if one claims to have the truth in the correspondence sense, this assertion is a power move that victimizes those judged not to have the truth.

But note how the Postmodern must go on to prove that his definition of truth corresponds to reality.

I completely agree with Moreland’s closing:

For some time I have been convinced that postmodernism is rooted in pervasive confusions, and I have tried to point out what some of these are. I am also convinced that postmodernism is an irresponsible, cowardly abrogation of the duties that constitute a disciple’s calling to be a Christian intellectual and teacher.

. . .

Faced with such opposition and the pressure it brings, postmodernism is a form of intellectual pacifism that, at the end of the day, recommends backgammon while the barbarians are at the gate. It is the easy, cowardly way out that removes the pressure to engage alternative conceptual schemes, to be different, to risk ridicule, to take a stand outside the gate. But it is precisely as disciples of Christ, even more, as officers in His army, that the pacifist way out is simply not an option. However comforting it may be, postmodernism is the cure that kills the patient, the military strategy that concedes defeat before the first shot is fired, the ideology that undermines its own claims to allegiance. And it is an immoral, coward’s way out that is not worthy of a movement born out of the martyrs’ blood.

Postmoderns will admire you for seeking the truth, but they will mock and revile you for claiming you found it.  They are proud that you can’t know things, though that is just a smokescreen for lying, cowardice or laziness.

Also see There is no truth except these five things, which highlights how postmoderns continually make truth claims while denying they do so.