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Atheist and Darwinian Science and Story Telling, part 2 of 9 | True Freethinker

Miscellaneous Examples:
In the essay Scientific Cenobites I provide many, many quotes such as the following regarding wishful speculations, storytelling, narratives, myths, ethos, and philosophizing in the name of, in the guise of, science.

Franklin M. Harold, emeritus professor of biochemistry at Colorado State University, wrote:

We should reject as a matter of principle the substitution of Intelligent Design for the dialog of chance and necessity…but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”1

Roger Lewin referencing John Durant, Oxford University:

“‘Could it be that, like ‘primitive’ myths, theories of human evolution reinforce the value-system of their creators by reflecting historically their image of themselves and of the society in which they live?’…‘Time and again,’ observes Durant, ‘ideas about human origins turn out on closer examination to tell us as much about the present as about the past, as much about our own experiences as about those of our remote ancestors’….These peaceable theories of human origins, like the best-in-man idea, become ‘a mirror which reflected back only those aspects of human experience which its authors wanted to see….This is precisely what we would expect of a scientific myth.’”2

Glynn Isaac wrote:

“If any of the rest of the scientific community is inclined to snigger at the embarrassment of paleoanthropologists over all this [the identification of theory as narrative], pause and reflect. I bet that the same basic findings would apply to the origin of mammals, or of flowering plants, or of life…or even the big bang and the cosmos.”3

David Pilbeam wrote:

“‘A major change is a growing realization that many evolutionary schemes are in fact dominated by theoretical assumptions that are largely divorced from data derived from fossils, and that many assumptions have remained implicit.’ Nevertheless, argument disguised—probably unconsciously—as objective description is still to be found in the literature.”4

Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall wrote:

“science is storytelling, albeit of a very special kind.”5

Richard Lewontin,

“does acknowledge that scientists inescapably rely on ‘rhetorical’ proofs (authority, tradition) for most of what they care about; they depend on theoretical assumptions unprovable by hard science, and their promises are often absurdly overblown.”6

Lewontin has written:

“Only the most simple-minded and philosophically naive scientist, of whom there are many, thinks that science is characterized entirely by hard inference and mathematical proofs based on indisputable data.”7

John Horgan, writing in Scientific American, makes an some interesting points about the artificiality of science as opposed to what actually occurs in nature:

“But as researchers continue to examine the RNA-world concept closely, more problems emerge. How did RNA arise initially? RNA and its components are difficult to synthesize in a laboratory under the best conditions, much less under plausible prebiotic ones…no one has yet come up with a satisfactory explanation of how phosphorous, which is a relatively rare substance in nature, became such a crucial ingredient in RNA (and DNA). Once RNA is synthesized, it can make new copies of itself only with a great deal of help from the scientist, says Joyce of the Scripps Clinic, and RNA specialist. ‘It is an inept molecule’…

Rebek’s experiments [on synthetic organic molecules] have two drawbacks, according to Joyce: they only replicate in highly artificial, unnatural conditions, and, even more important, they reproduce too accurately. Without mutation, the molecules cannot evolve in the Darwinian sense. Orgel agrees. ‘What Rebek has done is very clever,’ he says, ‘but I don’t see its relevance to the origin of life.”8

Writing in the journal Nature, G.H. Curtis, Drake, T. Cerling & Hampel make the following statement in reference to the spread of dates yielded in attempts to date the KBS Tuff:

“Furthermore, the interpretation of the 40Ar/39Ar isochrons that yield multiple apparent ages from a single phase, such as Fitch and Miller have obtained on KBS sanidines, is uncertain. Their interpretations rely on oversimplified and unproved models of the diffusion of argon in solids, both in nature and in the laboratory procedure necessary to make an age determination. For this reason we feel that their results, even when they are reproducible to high precision, may be an artifact of experiential procedure, and thus not geologically meaningful.”9

Is it any wonder that Richard Lewontin (Harvard University Professor of zoology and biology) wrote?:

“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 a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.”10

Is it also any wonder what happens when the scientific method concludes something which goes against one’s preferred theory? Well, “Skeptic of the Year” and evolutionary paleontologist Dr. Paul Willis besmirches experimentation that produces results that he did not like as he referred to “Simply going to laboratory setting, in a contrived laboratory setting.” To this his debate opponent, creationist Dr. Carl Wieland, responded:

“It’s valid in science, this is the best you can come to as far as experimental evidence is concerned. Surely, people should be commended for trying to emulate in a laboratory these sorts of things.”11