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Sunday, October 28, 2007

David Warren on Darwin as a member of a new priesthood ...

Here's one of Toronto journalist David Warren's observations on Darwin, Darwinism, and its place in the philosophy of science, from a note sent to friends:
It is a wonderful thought: that "science" has been, unconsciously & semi-consciously, performing gigantic null-hypothesis experiments for the purpose of disproving the Christian faith -- or, "the claims of the Catholic Church," if we want to get personal about it. This observation is true as stated. And it carries within itself an intimation of the triumph of Christianity over "The Enlightenment" -- perhaps the most impressive adversary (including Islam) that Christianity has yet faced.

The theme ties in with something I've [said] about Darwin (specifically, I don't mean "Darwinism" here), somewhere. That you read early & middle Darwin & cannot help noticing that he WANTS to find evidence in nature that will not merely challenge, but destroy Christian claims. And the unwarranted philosophical assumptions carried throughout his Origin of Species & Descent of Man confirm that he thinks he has found it.

This does not make Darwin special, but rather typical of a broad class, or faction, of scientists, from the earliest Cartesian & Baconian era to our own. Among the physicists & cosmologists, for instance, there is the constant effort -- leading to the circular "string theories" of today -- to prove the existence of a material infinity. The desire behind this is to eliminate God: to systematically remove any dark corner where God might be "hiding." And practically, to provide infinite space & time for some sort of random evolutionary process to account for all the observed peculiarities of our (now demonstrably finite) universe.

These are not, for the most part, raging atheists. The ones I got to know in e.g. the particle physics community in the 1980s were the exact equivalent in current society of what I've called "Victorian parlour atheists." They are, as it were, Fabians, not Revolutionary Communists. They think of themselves less as members of the Atheist Party, putting their lives on the line at the religious battlefront, than as an atheist "priesthood" or "clerisy," sneering at the superstitions of the common people. Just as Christians -- they suppose -- once sneered at primitive Pagans. Progress for them is progress towards a scientific materialism that they, exclusively, will be able to interpret to the masses.

And many, not of this faction, are deluded, often wan & nominal Christians who simply do not grasp that if e.g. Darwin's premises are true (N.B. not Darwin's evolutionary theory, but Darwin's philosophical premises), Christianity cannot be true; or assume that every unbridgeable chasm will be bridged later. This may even be the majority: for I have found in all countries where I've stayed that people cope very easily with flagrant contradictions in their lives. Because at some level they do not cope at all.

This isn't linked anywhere but here's the link to Warren's columns.

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