As long ago as the first century in the story of Christianity, Paul advised Timothy to avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called (1Tim 6. 20). Most translations after King James substitute the word ‘knowledge’ for ‘science’. Commentators in the NIV footnote the word saying that it refers to an early form of Gnosticism which taught that salvation would come by knowledge. It may be an oversimplification to say that Gnosticism was an early overlay of Platonism on the truth, but that is its essence. The result is an utter perversion of the Gospel which turns Christ into a phantom and denies the reality of life on earth. Further, Gnostics regarded knowledge as superior to faith and the exclusive possession of an intellectual aristocracy. Salvation came by knowledge, not faith.
The Interpreters Bible exegesis for 1Tim 6. 20 suggests that the phrase means no more than it says. But beware of heretics who profess to have some knowledge which contradicts Christian faith. Whether the word has a more special meaning, or one more general, the lesson is the same. It’s easy to fall prey to the siren song of those we consider our intellectual betters. Their world knowledge, coupled with scientific knowledge is intimidating. Our faith can be shaken when scientific truths are expressed as absolutes and appear to be in conflict with scripture. The ways we have dealt with the problem have not always been fruitful. We have often characterized scientists as impertinent, irreverent atheists, or we decry their pronouncements as mere worldly wisdom, which is foolishness with God. Generalizations like these are dangerous and not helpful, they suggest to many we are ignoramuses.
Scientific discoveries as they apply to problems of the human condition by the efforts of inventors, engineers, physicians, and others, have undeniably improved the quality of our lives—just think of modern heating and air conditioning, the automobile, the telephone, computers and airplanes. Many of us would not be alive today but for modern medical advances. We have benefitted from bypass surgery, hip and knee replacement, organ transplants, chemotherapy, radiation and magnetic resonance imaging. We live in a world of technological marvels, many of which we take for granted. Scientists have been our benefactors however much we choose to diminish or even ignore their importance to us. Scientific inquiry ought to be a disciplined effort to find the answers to questions that human curiosity provokes, and it is a mistake to demean it. The discoveries made from the application of the scientific method to the mysteries of the universe are astounding. Consider that physicists were able to infer from experiment and calculation the existence of the atom without ever having seen it. Moreover, they are able to deduce that it is not the smallest individual particle of matter in the universe, but a system, organized like a tiny solar system, when rent asunder produces enormous energy, making possible the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants.
It’s an easy step to think of scientists as infallible, and their discoveries as truth. But science is no more than systemized knowledge derived from observation, study and experimentation in order to determine the principle of what is being studied. What we need to remember about science is that it is not truth, but only the quest for the truth. For example, what is known about the atom is only an approximation of truth. There are parts and particles of the atom either not identified, or not yet understood. Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery and exposition of what were thought to be the immutable laws of motion in the universe were shown by Einstein not to be immutable. Einstein died without having discovered the whole truth about his more sophisticated theories; so the search for truth goes on. Conclusions of physicists, chemists and mathematicians, if they are true to the paradigms of the scientific method, are always tentative, never considered by them to be the final word, but only capable of being tested against the empirical world. Scientific progress comes not just from confirming hypotheses, but by searching out falsifying evidence that reveals the need for a better, or even different explanation. In large part the work of scientists is the continuing attempt to prove themselves wrong. Tested by this premise, evolutionary biology is a science falsely so-called. The view that evolutionary biology is not a science, but a philosophy or religion is no longer held solely by Christian fundamentalists. Darwinian evolution is being exposed by men of secular intellectual repute as a wrong view of science where the desire to be right supersedes the truth.
One combatant in the war against evolution is Philip E. Johnson, a distinguished professor of law at the University of California/Berkley, and former law clerk to a Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court. His quest in Darwin on trial, Intervarsity Press, 1991, was to investigate whether Darwin’s theory was based on a fair assessment of scientific evidence, or was it just another kind of fundamentalism. He concludes that Darwinism is in reality a religion; in the eyes of its disciples and the god we must worship. He demonstrates in great detail the lack of evidence required to support such a theory, along with an abundance of evidence to refute it.
Johnson believes that one reason evolution has not been subject to a serious examination of its scientific evidence is because Darwinism has been taught in college to biology majors and post graduate students; its proponents have been preaching to the choir, so to speak. Those outside that intellectual hothouse have had neither the inclination nor opportunity to mount an effective challenge. This may be changing:
The Darwinists themselves have changed that
comfortable situation by demanding that the public schools teach a great deal more
‘about evolution’. What they mean is that the public schools should try much
harder to persuade students to believe in Darwinism, not that they should present fairly
the evidence that is causing Darwinism so much trouble. What goes on in the
public school is the public’s business, and even Creationists are entitled to point out
errors and evasions in the textbooks and teaching materials. Invocations of
authority may work for a while, but eventually determined protesters will persuade the
public to grant them a fair hearing on the evidence. As many more people outside
the biblical fundamentalist camp know how deeply committed Darwinists are to
opposing theism of any sort, and how little support Darwinism finds in the
scientific evidence, the Darwinists may wish that they had never left their sanctuary. (p.143).
The facts of life, Corgi Books, 1993, was written by a professional engineer and science writer, Richard Milton, who makes it clear that he is an agnostic with no fixed religious principals, but his life’s work has convinced him that the substantial scientific evidence needed to support Darwinism does not exist. One would almost believe that he writes the book reluctantly, because he says,
To dissent from the dominant scientific idea of the life sciences in the 20th century may seem both foolhardy and unnecessary. After all, how could so many important scientists be wrong? Surely only religious cranks question evolution. The earnest kind who want to sell you strange newspapers and eagerly seek conversations ‘about life and its meaning’?
My reason for setting out to re-evaluate the received wisdom of synthetic evolution
(Darwinism) is that something pretty nearly the opposite of these sentiments is actually
the case. Far from being the province of cranks, it is the non-Darwinian view that is
supported by modern findings. A very few. . .scientists were responsible for making
this synthetic theory preeminent in the natural sciences. They were able to do this in
an era when intellectual authority often counted as much as experimental accuracy or
innovation. And the principal findings that undermine the synthetic theory have come
from a new generation of scientists, less concerned with authoritarian theories
and more concerned with unraveling mysteries. (p.296)
One of his conclusions having to do with education of young children is as follows:
I believe we simply have to come clean
with students and tell them the truth. That the evidence for overall evolution is
fragmentary and often contradictory, that we have no satisfactory model of a
mechanism to drive the evolutionary process. . . We must also come clean over human
evolution and stop filling the classroom over-imaginative restorations and
reconstructions of ancestors that look part ape and part human in defiance of the
evidence. We must also point out the serious difficulties in dating techniques and admit
that we do not have a satisfactory model for the formation of the earth.
One of the best parts of a book that has many good parts is his analysis of methods used for determining the age of the earth, and the unreliability of those methods. Indeed, as he points out, much of the evidence supports a young earth theory.
The foremost apologist for Darwinism is Stephen J. Gould, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, a man of impressive intellect. In his considerable writings in support of Darwinism, however, are some startlingly revealing statements. In his collection of essays, The Panda’s Thumb, Norton, 1980, he explains what he believes to be the method by which Darwin came to his theory of natural selection. It came not, as Gould suggests, from observation of scientific data; rather, Darwin, having read the eighteenth century laissez-faire economic theory of Adam Smith, appropriates that theory to provide a mechanism for evolution. Smith argued that if an ordered economy providing maximum benefits to all is the goal, then individuals ought to be able to compete and struggle for their own advantages; from this struggle, after the elimination of the inefficient, the most desirable economic society would result.
Thus Gould says:
We know that Darwin’s uniqueness does
not reside in his support for the idea of evolution—scores of scientists had
preceded him in this. His special contribution
rests . . .upon the novel character of his theory about how evolution
operates. . .the theory of natural selection is a creative transfer to biology of
Adam Smith’s basic argument for a rational economy.
Adam Smith’s theory of economics has not been accepted by many economists. It is incredible that his theory, appropriated by Darwin to explain his theory of evolution, without benefit of substantiation by scientific observation, has been swallowed whole by scientists who ought to know better.
Phillip Johnson explains why the scientists are so gullible:
Darwinist scientists believe that the cosmos is
System of material causes and effects, and they
Believe that science must be able to provide a
naturalistic explanation for the wonders of biology
That appear to have been designed for a purpose. . .
Neither of these foundational beliefs is empirically testable. . .
In other words, Darwinism is at bottom a religion—and a false one at that. Evolutionary biology is pure fakery—a science falsely so-called.