Saturday, April 09, 2011

No News is Good News

The Good News is invisible to anti-evolutionists and anti-theists.

I’ve been talking with James Knight about why people find it so difficult to see that “law and disorder” science can never arrive at a final explanation in the deeper sense of providing aseity. There are probably several reasons for this, the “Luddite Effect” being one of them.

Other effects may have something to do with the abstruseness of scientific explanation which prevents people seeing what’s actually happening: The general “data compression” effect of physical explanation, if naively extrapolated, could wrongly be construed as showing that eventually it is possible to get something for nothing. Another possible effect making it look as though scientific explanation trivializes problems away may be down to the likely fact that human (and animal) perceptions are wired up to take most notice of interruptions in the status-quo i.e. a change is newsworthy, no change can be ignored. Thus no change in the status quo registers as "nothing there". We know, of course, that in an absolute sense something is there, something rather than nothing and we can see that reality entails an irreducible a logical discontinuity, the Grand Logical Hiatus as I call it. But it seems that people only see a discontinuity if it is plastered across the time axis as an explicit change in the temporal status quo. Change and difference is something which cries out for explanation, whereas it is tempting to feel that the uniform, the common place, and the boring, do not. Therefore if all change can be explained in terms of some sort of status quo such as unalterable Quantum Mechanical laws, then one might be tempted to think that the holy grail of science, a “complete explanation”, has been reached. However, what is more difficult to see is that even a static status quo has a discontinuity in "logical space" - discontinuities in time are easier to perceive than discontinuities in logical space.

The reason I raise this matter is not just because atheists like Richard Dawkins claim to be intellectually satisfied by scientific explanation and thus are responding to the array of factors I mention above. Ironically it is also the anti-evolutionists who think similarly; they too, I suggest, subliminally feel that evolution is in danger of providing intellectual satisfaction without God and thus as I have said before they cannot come to terms with evolution. This is something I have actually pointed out several times in this blog, but if you look here on Uncommon Descent you will find a fine example of it where you will read:

While there is little doubt about the desire of theistic evolutionists to maintain their commitment to theism, it is pertinent to ask what follows logically from the scientific acceptance of some forms of theistic evolution, especially those that claim that it must be understood within methodological naturalism where all evidence of God’s handiwork is excluded from science by definition……What follows logically is a silent God and a loud Darwin.

My guess is that what prompts this kind of response to “Darwinism” are the sort of effects I have identified above: Science has the psychological effect of masking the sheer unwarranted contingency of the cosmos; in particular evolution gives the impression that form and function are fully explained. And yet as I have said elsewhere, evolution, if it has occurred, is likely to require far from trivial mathematical preconditions. The trouble is that these preconditions are logically abstruse and not as “in yer face” as a God who poofs stuff into existence “as is, just like that”. These preconditions are likely to register as “no news” in the human psyche and therefore for the anti-evolutionists they are bad news.

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