Naturalism is true; therefore, evolution is a fact

At the conclusion of the series of essays on DarwinsPredictions.com, the author summarizes the viewpoint of Darwinists through the relevant philosophical assumptions.  The gist is that naturalism is seen as metaphysically true; therefore, through the process of elimination, evolution is true.  The question from this perspective cannot be, “Did evolution occur?”  It can only be, “How did it occur?”

The irony here is that evolutionists make naturalism unscientific according to their own criterion of testability. This is because naturalistic explanations are the only explanations that are allowed. They therefore cannot be tested because they are true by definition. The only testing that can be done is between different sub-hypotheses of naturalism. Gradualism can be compared with punctuated equilibrium, drift can be compared with selection, and so forth. But naturalism has been defined as the only scientific option available.

Imagine if the species were designed, as they appear to be. Imagine that the DNA code, the bat’s sonar system, the towering redwood trees, and the other biological wonders were designed. If this were true, it would never be allowed within evolutionary science. How can evolutionists claim their theory is a fact while simultaneously ruling out certain explanations? They can do this by allowing for only scientific explanations to be factual. The world outside of science may be beautiful, awesome, intriguing, enchanting, and so forth, but it is not factual. In a word, science deals with facts while non-science deals with values.

So the basis, the philosophical underpinnings, of their position is untestable, and is, therefore, unscientific by their own criteria. Science, it seems, lacks a definition apart from philosophical naturalism, which is held as a metaphysical truth…a metaphysical “truth,” which is untestable.

In the century and a half since Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, science has discovered a plethora of contradictory information. Many predictions of the theory have been falsified, including foundational expectations. The theory has consistently failed and as a consequence it has grown far more complex than anything Darwin ever envisioned. Evolution is not a good scientific theory and in this sense it is comparable to geocentrism. Both theories grew ever more complicated in response to the evidences of the natural world, adding epicycle upon epicycle.

In stark contrast to these evidential problems, evolutionists believe that their theory is a fact. Evolution is a fact, they say, just as gravity is fact. This remarkable claim is an indicator that there is more to evolution than merely a scientific theory. In light of the scientific evidence, the claim that evolution is a fact may seem to be absurd. But it is not.

The fact of evolution is a necessary consequence of the metaphysical assumptions evolutionists make. Metaphysical assumptions are assumptions that do not derive from science. They are made independent of science. These metaphysical assumptions that evolutionists make would be difficult to defend as necessarily true outside of evolutionary circles, but within evolution their truth is not controversial. All of this means that the scientific problems with evolution are relegated to questions of how evolution occurred. The science cannot bear on questions of whether or not evolution occurred.

Darwinian Psychology-Part II: Why we eat junk

There’s no doubt about it, the average American diet is atrocious.  Give us the 44 ounce softdrinks, Big Macs, ice cream, and snack cakes, and we’ll take that every time over a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables.  Obesity is referred to as an “epidemic” in America.  I agree with all of that.[1]  Here’s where I get off of the bus:

Maybe your mother didn’t cry, “Mangia!” when you ate dinner, like mine did. Still, you’re likely to whisper it to yourself. That’s because you possess a simple survival impulse: Eat until sated. Our neanderthink legacy is to store as much energy as possible, since calories were scarce and uncertain for most of human evolutionary history and our metabolism was set to guard against the possibility of starvation tomorrow. The problem is that eating more doesn’t sate us; we merely recalibrate how much we think we need.

Our evolved mind-set on food hinders us in several ways. Our instincts tell us to keep eating well beyond when we are sated. Worse, the foods we crave—calorie-dense fats and sugars—were once rare and valued as a bulwark against starvation; now they’re plentiful and harmful in excess. We don’t crave plants, precisely because they were more abundant in our past. And if we do manage to temporarily gain a handle on the gustatory Disneyland in which we live, our dietary rigor plummets once we’ve lost weight.(1)

So, the notion is that our Neanderthink makes us do it.  For the sake of argument, let’s say I concede this point for a moment.  What is the recommendation?

We’re good at rationalizations to avoid governing our food intake. We tell ourselves, “I can get away with eating this delicious morsel,” or “It’s too hard to deny myself this scrumptious ice cream.” By yielding to such urges, we ratchet upward the amount of sugar and fat we crave, because we are tampering with a hormonal system finely attuned to the lack of such concentrated energy. On the savannah, the sweetest confection was wild fruit.

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, famously summed up what you need to know to consume healthfully: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The method by which we might hew to this Paleolithic regimen can also be summed up in seven words: “Dieting gets easier if you don’t cheat.”

So the question is, how do the recommendations actually follow from the just so story?  They don’t.  It’s just, “Don’t eat too much, and eat mostly plants.  Oh yeah, don’t cheat.”  But this goes back to the premise of my original post, and that is that the Darwinian Psychology narrative is thought to add scientific authority to whatever is being discussed.  Forget the fact that the conclusion does not follow from the premise in the article.  That is irrelevant to why these folks invoke a Darwinian just so story.  They think it adds credibility.  For me, they just prevented the story from being printed out and handed to my patients, which could have been beneficial.

The same periodical also published an article entitled, How to Be a Good Storyteller not long before.(2)

Perhaps they find these articles unrelated, but I found them to be very related:

Stories also entertain, educate, and instill moral values—sometimes all at once. We can all tell narratives, whether in the classroom, the boardroom, or the living room, but it takes practice to become a fine raconteur.

It seems the folks over at Psychology Today have been getting their practice.

—References—
(1) Neanderthink: An Outsize Appetite, Courtesy of Evolution, Nando Pelusi Ph.D., (11/17/08), Psychology Today
(2) How to Spin a Good Story, Brian Andrew, (10/20/08), Psychology Today

—Footnotes—
[1] I have a simple experiment which I use to teach my patients about their diet. This one has to do with sugar, and more specifically folks who are addicted to soft drinks. Go two weeks without any soft drinks (it actually doesn’t matter if it’s a diet soft drink or regular), and then go out and buy the biggest soft drink you can. Then it will be clear to you what it does to your mind and body. This is something that has worked in each case. In fact, the research shows that drinking just one diet soft drink daily increases the risk of being overweight to an extent that is greater than regular soft drinks, although not by much. One diet soft drink daily increases your chances by approximately 42% whereas one sugar filled drink increases your chances by 38%. It goes up with each additional drink per day.

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part X

And now that we do now know how life did arise (most humble apologies, I did forget about deep-sea hydrothermal vents (1), Mars (2), clay (3), and diamonds (4)–perhaps those will be tales for another day). But life does go on, and so it did–like a juggernaut, it did march inexorably toward sentience, self-discovery, and science (2). We do now take up this blind march at the Ur-Cell level, having thoroughly and irrefutably established that no designer was involved (praise Science). And, then did begin the long history of common descent (5). A long series of speciation and extinction did result in a wide variety of life forms from a common genome. Random mutations did occur, and the beneficial mutations did result in increased fitness for survival. Those organisms who were unfit for survival did die, and those who were more fit did live (praise Science). (Continued in Part XI)

(1). http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v336/n6195/pdf/336117a0.pdf
(2). http://www.space.com/searchforlife/aliens_all_001027-2.html
(3). http://dir.salon.com/story/books/review/2005/10/31/hazen/
(4). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25889356/
(5). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part VII

And all life forms did come from a single common ancestor. That simplest form of life that was able to form through unique conditions that did never exist before or since that time. Although we were a little overzealous in our initial thoughts about how life could have arisen, we have now developed more complex sets of facts that are clearly compelling, whereas all previous ideas were clearly false. We were confused and floundering for many years, but the great Stanley Miller and Harold Urey saved the day on May 15, 1953 CE. It was then that it was demonstrated that the primitive conditions of the Earth combined with electricity did give rise to certain amino acids. (1) We did later find that Miller’s conditions were not the same as we discovered in the early history of the Earth, but we were not daunted. We know what is true and what is false. We have no need for invoking a creator. Because Miller and Urey did demonstrate that 2 to 3 of the amino acids necessary for the 22 needed to form a protein, could arise under the right conditions. Then, we did find additional comfort in the experiments of Joan Oró, who did find that amino acids could be formed in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and water. He did also find that a large amount of the nucleotide, adenine, did also form. (2) Then did we learn from Saturn’s moon Titan, that an organic haze may have filled the early atmosphere of the Earth. Potentially did this rain down organic chemicals onto the early Earth. (3)

(1) http://www.issol.org/miller/miller1953.pdf

(2) Joan Oró

(3) http://www.pnas.org/content/103/48/18035.short