I have been in college classes for a while now, and the unnecessary dogmatism of the educational system has been getting to me. I think that it is especially noticeable in biology classes, because biology inevitably leads to single-viewpoint discussions of evolution, the origins of life and so forth. I don’t know how long this series will be, but I just thought I’d start writing stuff down and see where I ended up. Let me know what you think of the first installment.
The problem is not so much in the biology of evolution, but rather in the philosophy that goes with it. That philosophy is known as Scientific Naturalism, Logical Positivism, or Reductionism/Eliminativism (there may be some distinction between these, but as a layman I am unaware of it). Naturalism (I’ll use this for short) contains three key elements:
- An epistemology (theory of knowledge) that says that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that can tell us true things. This can be summed up in the statement “Only those statements which can be empirically verified have any meaning”. Which is to say that questions regarding things that cannot be tested with the scientific method not only cannot have a right answer, the question itself is meaningless babble.
- The Grand Story, as J.P. Moreland calls it, which is a naturalistic creation story of how everything came to be (the Big Bang) with a very large part of the explanation devoted to “molecules to man” evolutionary biology.
- the picture of reality that results from this naturalists creation story is physicalism. The physical, material cosmos is all there is, was, or will be. This leads to the conclusion that physical things in a very complex arrangement can appear to be metaphysical.