Darwinism – Science or Secular Religion?

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In the early 1930s, Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler set himself the task of battling the cult of science of his time. To his private students in London – mostly teenagers from Orthodox homes who attended public school – he first emphasized how circumscribed is the realm of science, and how little it has to say concerning the ultimate purposes of life.

Next Rabbi Dessler would show the inherent bias from which scientists too suffer. As one of his closest talmidim from that period, Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, puts it, “So successful did this method [of revealing the hidden premises and bias] prove that one of his followers, if faced with a conflict between a widely held contemporary view and a tenet of Torah, instead of putting himself on the defensive and groping for apologetics, will immediately endeavor to bring to light the bias, individual, social and otherwise, which has given rise to the divergent viewpoint.”

Rabbi Dessler emphasized how the slightest self-interest is sufficient to prejudice the outcome of any decision-making process, and that this applied no less to scientific judgments than any other. He demonstrated the point by taking what might be a prototypical scientist for his example:

“Think of a person who, by the power of his intellect alone, wants to re-examine some fundamental problem – such as was the world created for a purpose. . . . Let us assume that the person possesses a keen intellect, is well-educated and well-informed. However, so far as character is concerned he is pretty average. He has never seriously tackled his moral failings. . . . [Now let us say that] we are talking about a very comprehensive problem . . . . On the solution will depend whether he will be obliged to struggle constantly with his baser desires, . . . or whether he will live with no restraints on his desires apart from those he deigns to place on them. . . .” Can we seriously believe, Rabbi Dessler asked, that he will arrive at a true conclusion merely by the exercise of his intellectual powers?

Scientists themselves have admitted their own susceptibility to various forms of bias. In his classic work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn describes scientists’ resistance to abandoning a given paradigm until an acceptable alternative is proposed, no matter how much countervailing evidence has accumulated. Scientists are uncomfortable moving from a position of purported knowledge to one of ignorance. Stephen Jay Gould, one of the leading neo-Darwinists, discusses in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory the ways in which social and career incentives cause scientists to fail to fully grasp the import of the date they observe.

NOWHERE IS THE BIAS OF SCIENTISTS on more prominent display than with respect to the ever roiling debates over Darwinian evolution. Supporters of Darwin often find it convenient to obfuscate the extent to which they view his theory of natural selection among random mutations as a full refutation of all religious belief. But others are more candid. Richard Dawkins, perhaps the best known present day defender of Darwin, famously claims, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” George Gaylord Simpson, another leading Darwinist, states the meaning of evolution: “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.”

Cornell University’s William Provine plays the role of the prototypical scientist in Rabbi Dessler’s example, proclaiming, “a world strictly organized in accordance with mechanistic principles . . . . implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws. ”

These scientists cannot claim that these views are merely the outgrowth of the overwhelming empirical evidence in favor of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. That theory rests not on empirical observation but on a priori assumptions. In a 1981 lecture at the American Museum of Natural History, Colin Patterson, the chief paleontologist at the British Natural History Museum, observed that both creationism and Darwinian observation are scientifically vacuous concepts, which are held primarily on the basis of faith. Patterson related that he had asked the members of an evolutionary morphology seminar at the University of Chicago to tell him just one thing about evolution that they knew to be true. The response was a long and embarrassed silence.

The scientific naturalism of the Darwinists – the belief that everything can be explained by natural, material forces — is ultimately founded on rhetorical legerdemain that has nothing to do with science. First step: exclude all non-natural causes as a priori inadmissible. Second step: If Darwinian evolution were true, it would explain the observed taxonomic similarities between different living things. Third step: Since no alternative explanation currently exists to explain those phenomena, Darwinism must be true. (This step, to which Darwinists inevitably have recourse whenever the holes in the theory are pointed out, Philip Johnson astutely notes in Darwin on Trial, is the equivalent of preventing a criminal defendant from presenting an alibi until he can produce the real criminal.) Fourth step: Since Darwinism is true, all explanations based on non-natural causes are vanquished. Note how that which was a priori excluded at the outset is now deemed to have been somehow disproved.

Colin Patterson was right that the Darwinian theory of life developing through trillions of micromutations, sifted by natural selection, is not scientific. A scientific theory, as defined by Karl Popper, must be falsifiable. When Einstein introduced his General Theory of Relativity, for instance, he offered at the same time a series of bold predictions based on the theory and by which it could be tested.

Instead of constructing such tests for their theory, Darwinists start by assuming the truth of theory and then looking for corroboration, a travesty of Popper’s definition of science. Studies of the fossil record, for instance, that fail to buttress the theory are deemed failures and never published. Gareth Nelson of the American Museum of National History describes the process by which Darwinian “ancestors” are picked: “We’ve got to have some ancestors. We’ll pick those. Why? Because we know that they have to be there, and these are the best candidates. That’s by and large how it has worked. I’m not exaggerating.”

According to Darwin, whales, rats, human beings, dophins and tigers all descended from a common small mammal. But the claimed creative power for natural selection has never been observed. The argument for such a power is based on wild extrapolation from the observation that black moths fare better vis-à-vis their natural predators against a sooty backdrop and light colored moths do better against a cleaner backdrop. The fact that different traits within one species may provide a comparative advantage in certain circumstances, however, is a very far cry from proving that natural selection can create new species or account for the vast differences between different species of mammals.

Nor have the Darwinists shown how natural selection could have produced complex systems based on interaction of many separate parts, none of which parts would offer any comparative advantage by itself. The human eye, hemoglobin, the avian feather, the poison of the blowfish (in which neither the poison nor the delivery system would confer any advantage absent the other) are just a few of the large number of examples that cannot be explained. The best Darwinists can offer in response are what Harvard professors Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin call “just-so” stories about how each of the postulated (but never observed) changes in each part of the system conferred some advantage.

Darwin’s theory of gradual change through micromutations filtered through natural selection is filled with holes. Darwin’s theory predicts a vast number of transitional types. But those transitional types are largely absent from the fossil record. Species and groups of species appear suddenly in the fossil record rather than at the end of a chain of evolutionary links. Gould calls the rarity of transitional forms “the trade secret of paleontology. Admits Niles Eldridge, “We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports the story of gradual adoptive change, all the while knowing that it has not.”

Darwin himself stated “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive mutations, my theory would absolutely break down.” But the fossil record fails to provide, according to paleontologist Stephen Stanley, a singe example of “major morphological transition.” Moreover, leading prominent geneticists and mathematicians have concluded that the number of necessary mutations to produce complex systems, like human sight is impossible.

So despite themselves, latter day Darwinists have had to introduce major leaps, or “saltations”, into their account of the development of life. Thus University of California geneticists Richard Goldschmidt hypothesized that stable macromutations must somehow be possible, and paleontologist Otto Schindewolf speculated that the first bird somehow hatched from a reptile egg. To account for the problems in the fossil record, Gould and Eldridge developed a theory of punctuated equilibrium, which again introduced large scale changes.

The result, however, was to save Darwin only by rejecting his abhorrence of saltations – i.e., by introducing a deus ex machina in the middle of his naturalistic theory. The terrible choice facing would be defenders of a purely naturalistic account of the development of life is, as Eldridge put it, between maintaining Darwin’s theory, despite its notoriously poor fit with the facts, and positing models that require the “embrace of a rather dubious set of biological propositions.”

That scientists are willing to engage in which such wild speculations, absent any mechanism explaining the large jumps in developmental stages they posit, only shows how deeply engrained is their bias in favor of purely natural causes. Some form of Darwinian evolution is, Philip Johnson puts it aptly, the “creation story of scientific naturalism.”

The scientists could have spared themselves the effort of saving Darwin, for the effort to preserve a purely mechanistic universe ultimately breaks down in any event over the origin of life itself. Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle has described the chances of fashioning a living organism by accident from the pre-biotic soup as roughly equivalent to that of a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and fashioning a Boeing 747. Even the simplest one-cell bacterial cell makes a spaceship seem low-tech by comparison.

Hoyle also discovered that the carbon, the basis of all organic life, could only have been created in the original solar pressure cooker because of the perfect nuclear resonance between two sets of simpler elements. His conclusion: “A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”

Just what we always believed.

Published in Hamodia, January 11, 2006

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22 Responses

  1. Charles B. Hall says:

    This essay appeared on the aish.com web site; I contributed comment #16:

    http://www.aish.com/societyWork/sciencenature/Charlie_Darwins_Angels.asp

  2. Chaim Cohen says:

    “Rabbi Dessler emphasized how the slightest self-interest is sufficient to prejudice the outcome of any decision-making process, and that this applied no less to scientific judgments than any other.”

    So a propagator of the self-serving notions of Rabbinical Judaism comment on self-interest.

    There is no inherent conflict between Darwinism and Orthodox Judaism’s creation tradition. What we have here is nothing less than ignorance coupled with fear. Fear of being forced to do exactly what the sages of yore did with their lives; namely the debate and examination of new ideas and realities followed by the reconciliation of these with the sacred traditions and laws of our forefathers. However, this requires a familiarity with the subject matter. Shame on these latter day critics for their lazy and cynical attitude towards the glory and science of G-d’s universe.

  3. yvonne pennink says:

    Is it the case that what is spoken of is matter? Darwinism is a theory. Theories change over time, and this one is not that old.

    Creation is not matter. It is rather a certain ordering of matter. A piano has a limited number of notes, matter, with an unlimited range of creation, of music, not matter, beyond the sound.

    Scientists have observed that they can influence the outcome of experiments. That is not done, most of the time, consciously, or deliberately. The influence comes from mind, but not conscious mind. Not from will, but from “belief” in an outcome.

    So, science has unravelled the components. It has not unravelled, yet, where life comes from, that I know of. Artificial intelligence exists, but robots are not alive, and they must be programmed.

    It is amazing what people can do, what the mind can accomplish. But creation is often not a conscious process, but rather appears to come from outside of us, and we are just conduits.

    If there is a mind behind all of this, it is probably not an individual mind, but an universal one, of which we are all part. R. David Aaron says something strikingly similar to what Jesus supposedly has said, namely, I am G-d, we are all G-d. We are part of an Universal Mind. R. Ginsburgh is very close to saying something similar.

    What Darwinian theory is about, I think, is matter. Beyond matter is Mind, Spirit and Life. It is within us and beyond us. It is Immanent and Transcendent. We call this G-d. Nature has a certain programming behind it, a script. Torah is a Script (Guide) for living for human beings. Moses physically wrote the script (?). But it was given to him.

  4. Ruth Goldberg says:

    The strongest scientific argument against evolution, I think, is in Michael Denton’s book, Evolution a Theory in Crisis. He brings up some points that I have not seen answered. Specifically, one of the problems he addresses is that the same organ, in creatures that supposedly evolved, develop from different parts of the embryo and different genes. Another problem is the apparent circular method of dating fossils. Often, the strata in which fossils appeared are dated based not on some neutral method but based on the fossils that appear in them. He brings up many different problems with evolution. Denton is a scientist and agnostic.

    In his later book, Nature’s Destiny, Denton appears to embrace the idea of directed evolution, seeing a designer in the perfect balance of our world. His arguments for design are very logical and based on detailed evidence. Personally, I wondered whether he was under pressure as a scientist to accept evolution and allowing for direction was his compromise, because he doesn’t answer many of the problems he had raised in the first book.

  5. evets says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum –

    I’ve read the pieces by Berlinski and Johnson (as well as the ID guys like Behe and Demsbki). What Berlinksi does is fully in accord with Harry Maryles’ strictures. Berlinksi is questioning the validity of scientific theories on their own terms, without trying to advance a theistic argument or to squeeze God into the gaps in current scientific knowledge. I’m not qualified to say whether Berlinski’s arguments really hold water, but they do play by the rules of the game.

    The same can’t quite be said about Behe and Dembski. Behe’s contention that the human eye and immune system couldn’t have evolved in a Darwinian fashion may be sound scientifically (again I’m unqualified to tell) but he’s avowedly trying to introduce theistic beliefs into scientific discourse, to create a ‘God of the gaps’. He does this as a religious Christian; Dembski concurs with this approach, also as a religious Christian . As a religious Jew I appreciate their qualms about scientific reductionsim but I’m uneasy with the blurring of the boundaries between science and religion. This blurring can cut both ways.

    Philip Johnson, is also uneasy with a ‘God of the gaps’, but in his case the uneasiness comes from his creationist beliefs. He’s a compelling polemical writer and has made himself knowledgable about evolutionary biology, but his creationist aganda makes him an unreliable source for evaluating the soundness of Darwinian theory.

    Thanks for doing the piece. These science vs. religion matters are usually discussed in back and white fashion, each side setting up straw men to knock down — it’s good to seem some nuance.

  6. Seth Gordon says:

    It is rhetoric, not science, to claim that Darwinian Theory is intact either because there is not at present any other naturalistic theory to explain the development of life…

    There have been other naturalistic theories to explain the development of life. Lamarck believed that characteristics that an organism acquired during its lifetime could be passed on to its children, so that a short-necked animal reaching for higher leaves could give birth to a slightly-longer-necked animal; repeat over enough generations, and you get a giraffe.

    There was also a theory–I don’t know who propounded it, but Gould said it was popular in the Victorian era–that “races”, like individual human beings, had a life cycle of birth, growth, senescence, and death. They could illustrate this theory with the fossil record of dinosaurs, in which dinosaurs from early strata were small beasts, T. rex and other giants came much later, and then the entire superorder died out.

    Biologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had several naturalistic theories to weigh against Darwinian evolution. They eventually decided that Darwin’s theory fit the evidence before them better than any alternative, including the alternatives involving special creation.

    …or because failure to adopt Darwin’s theory would force us back to acknowledging considerably more ignorance than we currently wish to acknowledge…

    Every working scientist will always admit to ignorance of something that he or she is researching. That’s what motivates the research!

    …and would allow Hashem back into the picture through the back door.

    A scientist who is an atheist will not see Hashem anywhere, even in places where science gives no clear answers. One can always say “well, I don’t understand why that’s happening, but I’m sure there’s some naturalistic explanation. If I see a magician performing a trick and I can’t tell how it’s being done, I don’t have to believe that real magic is being performed. Same here.” And, as mentioned above, there will always be places where science gives no clear answers.

    A scientist who believes in Hashem will see Him everywhere, including the places where science has exhaustively explained what is going on. When Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion and Newton unified them with his laws of gravity, did this diminish Hashem’s role as “the King of the world, by Whose word the heavens were created, and all its legions by the breath of His mouth”? Was Hashem somehow less divine during the story of Esther than during the giving of the Torah?

  7. Bob Miller says:

    What is the method by which an objective observer would become convinced that an evident change in the animal or plant kingdom did not result from the shared built-in adaptability of the animals or plants now confronted with new stimuli, but instead resulted from a process that depended on mutation on some scale?

  8. David Miller says:

    I don’t understand. You indicate (correctly, IMHO) that people who are not well versed in Talmud have no right to pontificate about the essence of Judaism. So you admit that, by the same token, you are completely unqualified to challenge evolution? Yet you were “emboldened” by the fact that other similarly unqualified people did the same, and, in *your* opinion, came out well?!

    They entered these debates because, with something as complex and far-reaching as evolution, it is easy to point out minor difficulties which sound fatal to the untrained observer.

    (Also, many of these ID people are NOT disputing “descent with modification,” only the Neo-Darwinian mechanism for these modifications. They would agree that the evidence shows that creatures HAVE evolved, the only question is regarding HOW this happened. Why not put that in HaModia, rather than give the impression that they are against evolution in its entirety?)

    By your reasoning, does somebody who knows nothing about Talmud but concludes that (reform) Rabbi Ammiel Hirsh came off well in his debate with (orthodox) Rabbi Yosef Reinman have a basis for using second-hand quotes from rabbis, taken out of context, to prove that Orthodox Judaism is false?

  9. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    I’m fully aware of Harry Maryles’ point that it is no criticism of science to say that it limits its investigations to that which is empirically measureable. I do not expect or want scientists to start measuring, ala Yuri Gargarin, Hashem’s presence. And I’m sure that there can be no scientific theory that meets Popper’s criterion of non-falsiability that makes room for the Creator. Obviously any rules governing His intervention would be beyond our capacity to know or predict.

    My point was something entirely different. It is rhetoric, not science, to claim that Darwinian Theory is intact either because there is not at present any other naturalistic theory to explain the development of life or because failure to adopt Darwin’s theory would force us back to acknowledging considerably more ignorance than we currently wish to acknowledge and would allow Hashem back into the picture through the back door.

    David Miller’s questioning my competence to enter the lists in this debate strikes me as a much more telling point. Think how religious people feel when those without any familiarity with Talmud or other basic texts start pontificating about the essence of Judaism — something most of them would presumably not do with respect to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity if they had no science background. And I will further acknowledge that having done well in high school A.P. Biology (even if I could never figure out how to use a microscope) is hardly sufficient.

    What emboldened me in this case, as I’m sure most readers discerned, was Philip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, as well as a series of four articles by David Berlinski in Commentary on Darwin. In the latter case, I was able to follow the major dustups between Berlinski (a mathematician) and his critics in the scientific community. And, in my opinion, Berlinski emerged largely unscathed. I have not read all the subsequent literature on Johnson’s book, other than his own accounts of his debates around the country. And, of course, I knew that figures like Gould and Eldridge, and perhaps even Colin Patterson, would place themselves in the Darwinian camp, whatever doubts they may have raised about the neo-Darwinian thesis. But I do know enough of the psychology of the kind of people who get to be Supreme Court clerks and professors at leading law schools that they do not as a rule set themselves up for debates and criticism in which they are sure to be portrayed as fools and charlatans unless they are pretty sure that they are on solid ground and able to hold their own of the facts(though Noam Chomsky provides one obvious counterexample.)

  10. Mendy says:

    “Rabbi Dessler emphasized how the slightest self-interest is sufficient to prejudice the outcome of any decision-making process, and that this applied no less to scientific judgments than any other.”

    Can we exect the next article to address the “any other”? How is it that news and mussar are used
    to address others and ourselves.

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    I side with Harry Maryles and merely wish to echo his post. One can easily distinguish between scienctific discoveries,
    scientific theories, the scientific method and “sciencism”, which seems to be the primary target of R Rosemblum’s article. I
    think that R t H Weinreb’s statement as to the difference between belief and science hit the nail on the head on this issue. I
    do not believe that “attacking the messenger” aids anyone with legitimate inquiries or questions on this issue. One wonders why
    we do not see and read more about other valid approaches within Chazal, Rishonim, Acharonim or Baalei Machshavah including R Dessler ZTL that would allow for both the role of HaMchadesh Btuvo Bchol Yom Yamid Maaseh Breishis and the role of science.

  12. evets says:

    The theory which Aaron mentions (that our life-sustaining universe comes into being through natural selection) highlights the current propensity to apply Darwinian thinking to every realm, in this case cosmology. It seems the Darwinian meme is proliferating; evolutionary theory proves eerily useful (sometimes legitimately) in providing answers for all sorts of difficult questions. As it makes inroads, however, into the study of culture, literature and human emotion it can seem grotesquely out of place, more crudely reductivist than the Freudianism of a few decades ago. That said, I agree with Harry Maryles that the proper religious response to creeping ‘scientism’ is not to call for the inclusion of the metaphysical in scientific theorizing, but rather to make clear the limits of that theorizing. Science must be relentlessly naturalist in all its assumptions, but these assumptions are strictly methodological. When the scientist conflates methodological with ideological materialism he/she is making a religious sort of leap, which is legitimate but outside the realm of science itself. The great majority of scientists are ideological materialists (as opposed to non-scientists who happen to accept Darwinian theory) and should take care to acknowledge the separation between methodology and ideology.

  13. Bob Miller says:

    Science in general is an “as-if”-based method. That is, it considers the phenomena it is capable of detecting as if no
    other kinds of phenomena could possibly exist. Its power is in telling us practical, exploitable things about the mechanics of regularly occurring physical phenomena. This has given it great credibility. Three penalties are paid for this power and credibility:

    1. We lose sight of the non-recurring or non-physical phenomena that science can’t address.
    2. We think that the regularity and laws we see have always existed in their present form, and try to extrapolate them back to earlier periods and fit all past events into their framework.
    3. We classify many things as science which are actually insufficiently worked out wishful thinking or guesswork

  14. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Heshy Grossman, I didn’t explain myself properly. I didn’t mean to slight the Shma. I just meant that it is not a tautology that has to be true, but something that is true and in theory could have been different. Therefore, a rational person lacking access to a revalation from G-d might not believe in it.

  15. Heshy Grossman says:

    Ori’s point about the Shema is simply not true. The Shema is not simply an article of faith, it is referred to as ‘Eidus-‘ – testimony. Our acknowledgment that G-d is One incorporates the principle that every aspect of life is part of one unified and harmonious existence, and the natural order of creation is perfectly parallel to the revealed order of the Torah. In other words: the laws and commandments of the Torah are physical expressions of G-dliness, and this Unity is expressed in varied dimensions, whether it be the observable phenomena in the created universe; the ongoing events in the developing history of the world, or the moral and spiritual obligations incumbent upon man, all are reflections of the same One Truth. For these reasons, Chazal point out that all of the 613 commandments are alluded to in the Krias Shema.

  16. Micha says:

    The origin of the universe isn’t part of Dawinism. A matter that must be dealt with is that numerous theories and experimental evidence all independently argue for an old universe.

    Rav Dessler himself writes of a period of creation in which time was simply immesurable. The concept of linear, flowing, time didn’t exist until the Eitz haDa’as. Therefore, scientists project the current notion of time onto the problem. But the Torah too, R’ Dessler writes, is projecting the 6 sefiros onto it. In other words, the concept of duration with respect to creation is so hazy that either 6 days, 6 millenia, or 13 or so billions years are all right — depending on how you look at it.

    See Michtav Mei’eliyahu vol II pp 150-154 (which I summarize on my blog and vol IV pg 113.

  17. David Miller says:

    I am often a fan of Jonathan Rosenblum’s articles, so it was disappointing for me to see him step out of his field of expertise and challenge biology.

    His quotations from scientists are taken out of context or otherwise misinterpreted and seem to be taken from standard creationist literature rather than their original sources.

    See the following references for details on how each quotation is misinterpreted:

    Colin Patterson:
    http://www.skepticfiles.org/evolut/missquot.htm

    Stephen Stanley:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part4.html#quote4.3

    Niles Eldridge:
    see his book The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism

    Stephen Jay Gould:
    almost everything he’s ever written. I wonder if Rabbi Rosenblum has ever actually read his books?

  18. Harry Maryles says:

    As an Orthodox Jew who believes in creatio ex nihilo, I never the less find myself in the uncomfortable position of defending a scientific approach which does not consider the concept of a supernatural Creator. Not because I adhere to science as more legitimate than Torah, God forbid, but because of an inherent objectivity that defines the discipline, if not the scientist who studies it.

    First let me say that for many of the reasons mentioned by Rav Rosenblum, I too believe that an unguided and random natural selection does not satisfactorily explain the origin of the species. As to whether there was an evolutionary process that determined speciation, that is an open question in my mind. But whether such a process was by the “Intelligent Design” of a Creator is beyond the scope of science.

    I therefore cannot accept the idea that it is disingenuous to exclude all non-natural causes as a priori inadmissible as Rav Rosenblum seems to suggest. Science by definition is the study of the natural, not the supernatural. The implication of rejecting non-natural causes as a priori inadmissible is one is blinding oneself to a more reasonable explanation of existence. But that is not so. What scientists would maintain is that they are simply looking for physical data in a physical world. To look for spiritual data in the physical universe is impossibility. There are no instruments to measure spirituality. So they do not look for those kinds of solutions to problems as they have no way of testing such hypotheses. This of course does not mean that one cannot have the conviction that God created the universe. One can indeed have such convictions; believe them with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, as I do. But such a belief is not provable in a scientific context and hence is not a valid consideration of science.

  19. ori says:

    Bad logic on my part above. Our hypothetical scientist doesn’t want to prove that there don’t have to be inherent moral or ethical laws. S/he wants to prove that there can’t be inherent moral or ethical laws.

  20. Aaron says:

    I recall a recent NY Times article on the debate between Darwinism and ID, where they collected various possible solutions to the questions on Darwinism. To the question of how could the universe have formed given the astronomical odds that are beyond human comprehension, the answer was that maybe a bunch of universes tried to form and just ours was successful. In other words,they basically admitted the problem, and came up with a ‘solution’ that they have no way of proving.

  21. ori says:

    Cornell University’s William Provine plays the role of the prototypical scientist in Rabbi Dessler’s example, proclaiming, “a world strictly organized in accordance with mechanistic principles . . . . implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws. ”

    True. However, a world with a creator does not imply that there are inherent moral or ethical laws. When we recite the Shma we tie G-d the creator to G-d the law giver, but that is a tenet of faith precisely because it is not logically required is the way that 1+1=2 is logically required.

  22. JewishAtheist says:

    With respect, you do not understand the theory of evolution.

    Supporters of Darwin often find it convenient to obfuscate the extent to which they view his theory of natural selection among random mutations as a full refutation of all religious belief.

    I personally am an atheist, but the majority of people who believe in evolution believe in God. Proof? Only about 10-15% of Americans are atheists, yet about 50% believe in evolution. Even 40% of professional biologists believe in theistic evolution, according to Gallup.

    Darwin himself stated “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive mutations, my theory would absolutely break down.” But the fossil record fails to provide, according to paleontologist Stephen Stanley, a singe example of “major morphological transition.”

    Your “but” has nothing to do with the quote, even if Stanley were right. There is no “complex organ” which “could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive mutations.” We don’t need a single fossil to prove that. Three pages earlier in Origin of the Species, Darwin writes:

    “Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.”

    Since his time we have indeed shown that (1) “the eye ever varies,” (2) “the variations be inherited,” and (3) “such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life.”

    If I could direct you to my post about the evolution of the eye, or just to this picture even, you will see an example of how a complex organ can evolve.

    (Short version, there are currently living animals with every intermediate stage from simple eye-spot (cells that can detect light) to a full eye: eye cups (from patella,) deeper eye cups (pleurotomaria,) pinhole cups (haliotis,) cups covered by a clear layer of cells (Turbo,) cups covered by a clear layer of cells bent into a lens (Murex,) complete lens eye (Nucella.)

    Similar intermediary forms can be found in currently living creatures for every complex organ we have.