Consensus Science Bunk

by Sal on February 14, 2008

in Culture

I am an avid reader of National Review Online’s The Corner.  I typically find it a source of good intellectual discussion based in conservative principles, respectful dialog, and good common-sense.  Even when I disagree with what some of the posters of The Corner say, I still find the arguments interesting and well thought-out. 

Two days ago, however, I read a post by John Derbyshire that seemed the antithesis of what the Corner is usually about.  A few days ago, Ben Stein posted an entry on his blog entitled Darwinism:  The Imperialism of Biology?  In it, he points out how the theory of Darwinian Evolution is steeped just as much in culture and momentum as it is in science.  Derbyshire in his response, falls prey to conventional wisdom that all science is empirically based, and that Evolution is supported by the vast body of biological and scientific knowledge.  But Derbyshire goes beyond that, and accuses Stein, by all accounts a rather brilliant man, of losing his marbles.  Derbyshire argues that only the “consensus” of scientists should be taught in schools, not other, alternative theories.  Truth be told, Darwinism is the “consensus” much in the same way as global warming is the “consensus” of scientists.   
I attended Providence College in Providence, RI.  One of the hallmarks of that school is its 2-year, 5 credit per semester Development of Western Civilizations Program.  In it, students are emersed in the philosophy, theology, literature and history from the dawn of civilization through the present.

One of the things that struck me while taking that course is how much of science is really based on a philosophy rather than empirical data.  Of course, things that Derbyshire points out in his post, such as Newtonian Mechanics, Plate Tectonics, and Blood Circulation are based on empirical evidence, and they have a reasonable claim to scientific fact.  Other scientific theories are based just as much on a philosophy of materialism as true scientific evidence — in fact, there was a major correlation between Darwinism, Freud’s psychology theories, and Marxism in how all of those ideas evolved and played off of each other.   

Darwin’s theory on the Origin of Species was that random mutations of species caused a process of evolution from simple microbes to complex human beings.  The problem with Darwinism was that the idea of natural selection is itself scientifically unprovable on its face — it asserts a randomness that is philosophically-based on a materialistic-worldview espoused by Marx and others, rather than any empirical evidence or any use of the scientific method.  If Darwinism were simply a scientific theory, it would assert “Creatures evolve over time by change”.  The theory would then be tested by looking at the fossil record, experiments in mutation, etc.  Darwinism, however, asserts that creatures evolve over time by random changes (i.e. no Divine intervention or genetic code).  Additionally, the lack of evidence found since Origin of Speciesis staggering.  There is very little in the fossil record to support transient species, there is nothing to explain the Cambien explosion, and the mutations he spoke of have not been found to occur naturally in nature. 

I’m not advocating a preaching of a theistic creationism in public schools, but Darwinism is rooted in just as much faith as the creationist beliefs.  It is a philosophical quasi-scientific “truth” that has permeated our culture so far as to take on an almost religious context in and of itself.  Like global warming today, scientists who do offer up alternative scientific theories to evolution (backed by evidence, no less), are ridiculed, ostracised from the scientific community, and their work is not even examined.  The consensus of scientists cannot be changed if the body of scientists is unwilling to consider alternative theories. 

Like Global Warming, the evidence vastly shows that Darwinism is a scientific fraud, a philosophy passed off as science, yet so many people, including Derbyshire, take it as Gospel because of some idea of scientific “consensus”.  That was the point that Ben Stein was trying to make, and I think he made it effectively.  In a Western Culture where Marxist ideas have permeated our education system to such a degree, it is no wonder that Stein’s going against the tide was met with such resistance. 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan February 14, 2008 at 9:28 am

I completely agree. While I believe evolution is a measurable phenomenon, I also believe that Darwinism is a bunch of crap. If it were true, we would easily be able to find many pieces of evidence of a “missing link” between our ape-ish ancestors and ourselves. Even if mutations randomly (or magically) appear, there would be a long transition period before the entire species developed those traits or died off due to competition. Yet, since 1859, science is still looking for that “missing link” which according to Darwinian logic, should be everywhere!

Also, I see the benefit of using concensus in science because science can be pretty subjective on occasion. Yet, what is that consensus based upon: theories that keep governments funding the scientist’s projects and cushy lifestyles, or sound fool-proof empirical evidence? If the global warming alarmists are true in their hearts they would also be fighting hard against the #1 most potent greenhouse gas of them all (even more than CO or CO2): water vapor! But they are not. They’d also try to ban cows because the sheer amount of methane greenhouse gas they produce daily trumps the average SUV’s polluting commute to and from work. But they don’t here in the US or Europe as far as I know (they have certain laws in Australia though).

I think science has tried to replace religion in the minds of many who feel that they are too logical to believe in the supernatural. Yet, science and religion do different things for our psyche. To break it down, science tells us what, why, or how, while religion tells us for what purpose. They can coexist just fine and even compliment each other (we do have ethics in science, don’t we?).

Yet to many there’s a lot of “God in the gaps” where if something is unexplanable, God must have done it. I believe that’s the wrong philosophical approach because you’re setting God up for failure as science evolves and breakthroughs made. Yet, science is doing the exact same thing, putting “science in the gap,” which is also destined to see science fail, especially in the area of astrophysics and quantum mechanics: some of those theories make any religious dogma seem tame and logical to the most avid atheist– multiple mysterious universes, zillions of dimensions, theoretical subatomic particles, dark matter/energy which we can’t see, measure, or calculate, etc. Give me a break! You want me to take that stuff seriously in the name of science? However, they could all be true or none could be true, but those scientists are just making stuff up as they go along hoping one theory will fit. huh.


rightonoz February 14, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Sorry guys, but you’re both wrong on that.

Firstly, the laws on cow methane production are in NZ. While it might as well be another state of Australia it is still an independent country with Comrade Clarke as P.M. and a bunch of loony lefties in government. There is some evidence that methane production is a danger, however there is a larger picture to be researched before going crazy on that one – Think if they banned farting! Just to throw in another loony point, you know how we’re all being told to use more ethanol – the loss of food producing land to grow corn for ethanol causes greater de-forestation and more ultimate pollution (production, transportation etc)than the use of fossil fuels (but hey it sounds good) and the hybrid cars require production of greater quantities of harmful product and have a horrendous pollution effect at the end of their life cycle – but hey it sounds good again!

I have to strongly disagree on Darwinism not being measurable and based on empirical evidence.

Much of what you say is used by the Creation Science wacko’s to attempt to have thinly disguised religion taught as science. (not accusing you of that)

If you dismiss Darwinism on the basis of the missing link then you should dismiss almost the entire bible and a Roman Catholic/Anglican doctrine as a ‘bunch of crap’ (your words not mine). It is after all based on a faith that has almost no supporting fact. Now I firmly believe in the right of anyone to have absolute belief in a faith that has no scientific basis, but to attempt to dismiss science that does, despite your protestations have proven evidence undermines your own belief in the unprovable faith in God.


Mike February 14, 2008 at 10:08 pm

As for faith being unprovable, Thomas Aquinas shot that down centuries ago.

Back to Darwinism, the absence of a missing link is important because that undermines the theory based on the theory’s own terms. Under Darwinism, organisms adapt to their environments gradually to the point where something new appears. For that to happen, there needs to be a series of successful mutations that occur gradually and presumably leave a fossil record. However, these transitional fossils simply don’t appear.

When you follow the argument by its own terms, it becomes clear that the theory fails. As for the objections being faith based, where is the evidence?


Dan February 15, 2008 at 7:10 am

Glad to see that Derbyshire understands science a fair bit. Alas for Stein though, who doesn’t understand science too well, and I’m not sure you do either.


Mike February 15, 2008 at 8:57 am

I’m pretty much where Ryan and the Catholic Church are on this for the reason stated. I’d like to point out one thing however. Those who buy into Darwinism have a hard time explaining why they think the theory stands. They merely invoke the word “science,” accuse others of not understanding or being theocratic, and then move on. No explanation. No nothing.

I find that those who accept unproven theories on global warming and disproven assertions on embryonic stem cells also use this tactic of invoking “science” without commenting on the specifics. Those who are accused of “not understanding” science, even in this discussion, have shown that they are in fact the ones who do.


Dan February 15, 2008 at 10:01 am

“Those who buy into Darwinism have a hard time explaining why they think the theory stands.”

You haven’t studied much biology, have you?


Mary February 15, 2008 at 12:59 pm

“You haven’t studied much biology, have you?”

Thanks Dan. You just proved Mike’s point exactly – acussing others of not understanding “science” (i.e. biology) without commenting on the specifics. It’s the classic defense used by those drinking the darwinism kool-aid.

You haven’t studied much about Ad-hominen logical fallacies, have you?


Sal February 15, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Dan, my skeptisism about Darwinian natural selection comes percisely because I have studied the subject and found the empirical evidence to be lacking. I used to be a proponant of the theory and bought into the kool-aid of the science — until I took a critical look at it and found it lacking, not because of any religious view that I held, but because it lacked empirical evidence.

Oz, there is a huge difference between science and religion. Religion does not claim to be empirically based, but rather a based in a combination of human reason and of faith. Science, on the other hand, claims to be empirically based, yet does require faith in certain tenants. I don’t reject science, as a matter of fact I embrace it. What I do reject is a faith-based “theory” that tries to pass itself off as science, which is what evolution is if you examine the evidence and the facts.


Cannon February 23, 2008 at 12:36 am

I may be too late, but I’m at work, bored, and interested in the debate (albeit a week delayed).

Stein (and Sal, by extension) are right on in pointing out the shortcomings of Darwinian Evolution. At the very heart of scientific inquiry is a healthy dose of skepticism. Without that, we would still believe that the Earth is the center of the universe, fruit flies are born from rotting meat, and disease is caused by an imbalance of fluids in the body. These theories were all based on science. In their day, all held the “consensus” of scientific thought. Yet all were challenged by intrepid thinkers who dared challenge consensus.

Funny thing about “consensus” in science. When consensus actually exists, one need not say so. No one talks about the “consensus” of the Big Bang, or the “consensus” of Newtonian motion. Why is it necessary to so brand skeptics of evolution as Creationists or religious nuts?

As an aside, my religion neither requires nor predisposes me to challenge Darwinian Evolution. My Church’s position is generally supportive of the theory. Rather, my skepticism is based on scientific study. I believe that the holes in Darwinism can (and perhaps, one day, will) be addressed by more scientific study. Sadly, the evolution argument has been characterized as a science-versus-faith debate. It need not be so. I believe that the debate has been so framed to discredit the skeptics. The practical result, however, is the stifling of genuine scientific advancement.


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