A paradigm shift in the sciences?

The founding document of our nation's independence relies for its authority on the existence of the Creator, who is the author of all our rights and duties. Of the other major document, the Constitution, John Adams stated that it "was made only for a moral and religious People.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  Commitment to these underlying principles forms the philosophical bedrock upon which depends the legitimacy of our republic, its affirmation of inalienable rights, and the only hope for its continuance.

Physicalism, as a basis of agnostic science, threatens all that with the implied dictum that we are merely assemblages of atoms with no spiritual component.  No physicalist principle of science supports any claim that there are human rights.  Is there a scientifically valid alternative?

There was a time, not long ago, when atheism, or at least aggressive agnosticism, was the default assumption of science, an assumption that became adopted as public policy — for example, in prohibiting teaching about a divine Creator in public school classrooms.  Not even a mention was permitted in science classes.  It was considered unconstitutional.

Fortunately, the agnostic assumption of science is no longer the default.  This turnaround has not yet made the headlines, but it will.  It was brought about not by clergy or faith activists, but by established and credentialed scientists, and not by preaching sermons at revival services, but by applying the rigors of scientific discipline to the objective evidence.

Agnostic scientists are not waving the white flag, nor will they soon, but (to adapt a biblical phrase) the writing is on the wall.  No science department in any major university (with the possible exception of Iowa) has announced a sudden reversal in its policy, because there is still fierce debate.  That in itself, however, is dramatic news, because a decade or so ago, there was no serious, honestly moderated, debate in academia about divine creation.  Religious teaching did not belong in science, and that was that.

That is changing.  There has not been an overnight revolution, but there has been a gradual one.  A number of peer-reviewed books, by established and credentialed scientists, holding doctorates in their fields, have incrementally challenged the false and unscientific assumption called "physicalism" (it goes by other names also, such as materialism and naturalism) and demonstrated, by physical evidence, that this philosophy is in error, at least as a default assumption.

These books include Darwin's Black Box by Dr. Michael Behe, Return of the God Hypothesis by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, and The Privileged Planet by Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, among others.  Meyer has also written Signature in the Cell and Darwin's Doubt.

Briefly stated, the underpinning philosophy called Physicalism is based on the assertion that the physical world is all that there is.  More expansively stated by Materialism, it asserts that matter, space, and their associated forces and constants are the defining components of nature, which explain all phenomena, including consciousness.  Physicalism denies that the essence of spirit exists, certainly not in any consequential scientific sense.  Absurdly, it avers that free will is impossible.

Part of the problem with this defective philosophy is the failure of materialist science to do what science is required to do, which is to both explain what is observed and to make accurate predictions of future observations that will accord with those explanations.  As one example, it inaccurately made a classification of "junk DNA," as a vestigial leftover of evolution, which the competing philosophy correctly predicted would be wrong.  As it turns out, "junk DNA" is neither junk nor vestigial, but a necessary component of heredity.

The competing philosophy goes by several names, among which is included Intelligent Design [of nature] (I.D.).  I.D. has pointed out that the physical universe is so improbably suited to supporting intelligent life, and its arts and industries, that no reasonable person can conclude that this came about by chance.  It has to have been designed with purposeful intent.  Physicalists have countered with theories of multiple universes, but such theories do not increase the likelihood of a universe such as ours, but rather reduce it, since it is less likely that a multiverse could supply all the necessary properties needed.

The debate is all the more heated since the proponents of Physicalism are not content to debate, but rather, have adopted the leftist tactic of censoring the publication of evidence which weakens their case, they dismiss such evidence as unscientific.

This is a complex topic, which literally fills books, and cannot be adequately treated in this brief commentary.  This piece is not about proving one concept over another, but rather simply reporting that Physicalism is no longer the default assumption that we are required to make in the study and advancement of science.

Image: HD Documentaries via YouTube, CC BY 3.0 (cropped).

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