From Uncommon Descent, the abstract of a paper by Alex Rosenberg, warning even materialists not to question Darwinism.
There is only one physically possible process that builds and operates purposive systems in nature: natural selection. What it does is build and operate systems that look to us purposive, goal directed, teleological. There really are not any purposes in nature and no purposive processes ether. It is just one vast network of linked causal chains. Darwinian natural selection is the only process that could produce the appearance of purpose. That is why natural selection must have built and must continually shape the intentional causes of purposive behavior. Fodor’s argument against Darwinian theory involves a biologist’s modus tollens which is a cognitive scientist’s modus ponens. Assuming his argument is valid, the right conclusion is not that Darwin’s theory is mistaken but that Fodor’s and any other non-Darwinian approaches to the mind are wrong. It shows how getting things wrong in the philosophy of biology leads to mistaken conclusions with the potential to damage the acceptance of a theory with harmful consequences for human well-being. Fodor has shown that the real consequence of rejecting a Darwinian approach to the mind is to reject a Darwinian theory of phylogenetic evolution. This forces us to take seriously a notion that otherwise would not have much of a chance: that when it comes to the nature of mental states, indeterminacy rules. This is an insight that should have the most beneficial impact on freeing cognitive neuroscience from demands on the adequacy of its theories that it could never meet.
This might have been written by a Catholic Inquisitor at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. “Don’t demand that our theory be empirically adequate, or you’ll be sorry”. We have only to look at the stories documented in the movie “Expelled” to see how sorry. You can watch it on Youtube here, in full.
And more from a later post by Casey Luskin, on Uncommon Descent.
the true purpose of Rosenberg’s piece is to warn people not to challenge Darwin or they’ll suffer the same castigation as Darwin-critic (and atheist) Jerry Fodor. Rosenberg writes: “When a philosopher advances a purely a priori argument to show that a well-established scientific theory is fatally defective, it is usually safe to assume that the problem is the philosopher’s and not the theory’s.” Translation: If you question Darwin, expect trouble–and the trouble will come from me and other defenders of Darwinism. Given the logic we see being used to defend Darwinian theory, perhaps the philosopher isn’t the problem after all.
And of course, a major part of Rosenberg’s warning is to claim that Fodor’s arguments against Darwinism lead to “damage with harmful consequences for human well being.” And just what is that damage? Well, as Rosenberg puts it, it is lending support for religion (though he can’t bring himself to put it that nicely).
[ ... ]In any case, this tarring and feathering of Fodor is just the latest frustrated attempt by hardline Darwinians to discourage people from using design terminology. It’s a hopeless effort, because try as they might to impose speech codes on each another, they can’t change the fact that nature is infused with purpose, which readily lends itself to, as Rosenberg calls it “teleosemantics.”
And finally, a word from the master of Darwinish debate-avoidance, Richard Dawkins:
“My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.” — p. 287, Blind Watchmaker” (1986)
Again, these are the words of a fundamentalist. You better agree with his theory, whether the evidence is for it or not.
Here is Richard Dawkins in a video clip explaining that even if life were designed, then he knows without any evidence that aliens who evolved by Darwinian processes are the ones who did the designing:
How does he know that the aliens evolved without being able to see their fossil record and run experiments on their genetic coding? Because when it comes to Darwinism, no evidence is needed. And if you don’t buy into his little religion, then he’ll “destroy” you. And he doesn’t mean destroy you by debating, because we know that the coward refuses to debate his religion in public.
And what about Darwinist Richard Lewontin: (and by “science” he means “naturalistic science”)
“Our willingness to accept [naturalistic] scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our own a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, not matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.” (Richard Lewontin in New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, p. 28)
This is what Darwinism really amounts to: a faith commitment. A fundamentalist faith commitment, that allows no dissent. It is absolute.
Darwinism beyond the level of simple micro-evolution has never been observed or tested experimentally. And what’s more – the proponents of Darwinism do not want their theory to be subjected to criticism or testing. It fulfills a religious purpose, and therefore they are very concerned that it not be taken away from them. They are fighting against having to care what God thinks, and they will strangle any good experimental science that shows that their religion is wrong. You can see the same fundamentalism at work in the atheistic war against the experimental science that confirms the Big Bang theory, which describes the origin of the universe out of nothing.