Dinesh D Souza, The Greatness of Christianity: Table of Contents
Cf. Dinesh D’souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, at Amazon
“There is no such thing as philosophy-free science. There is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” —Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
IT IS TIME TO HIGHLIGHT a serious problem with our understanding of modern science. The problem is not with modern science itself, but rather with a faulty view of science: the idea that science is a complete framework for understanding man and the universe, so unscientific claims should be automatically rejected. Although this way of approaching knowledge is put forward as the very epitome of rationality, I want to show that it is profoundly irrational. It would be like trying to understand a murder solely through the laws of physics and chemistry. However indispensable those laws in figuring out which gun was used, and how long the victim was dead when the body was discovered, we have to look elsewhere to discover other crucial elements like why the killer did it. In this chapter we will see why the attempt to explain everything scientifically is inadequate and even unreasonable. Atheists who pursue this approach are ultimately an embarrassment to science.
Scientists like to think of themselves as reasonable people. They fancy themselves ready to follow the path of evidence no matter where it takes them. Indeed in no other field do people go around congratulating themselves so much on how rational they are, how strictly their conclusions conform to testing and experience, and how biases and prejudices are routinely removed through the process of empirical verification and peer criticism. Carl Sagan’s boast is typical: At the heart of science is … an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive:’2 Such is the prestige of science in our culture that theseclaims are widely accepted.
Yet the actual behavior of some scientists can be manifestly unreasonable. Leading scientists will sometimes embrace a conclusion even when the evidence for it is weak. These savants become indignant when an unsupported conclusion is questioned, and they even accuse their critics of being enemies of science. On other occasions, scientists show their unwillingness to accept conclusions even when a great deal of evidence points to them. In fact, they denounce the reasonable position and prefer to align themselves with unreasonable alternatives that are clearly less plausible.
Several years ago eminent science writer John Maddox published an article in Nature titled “Down with the Big Bang.” This is strange language for a scientist to use. Clearly the Big Bang happened, but Maddox gives the impression that he wishes it hadn’t. He is not alone. In chapter eleven, I quoted astronomer Arthur Eddington’s description of the Big Bang as “repugnant.” Eddington confessed his desire to find “a genuine loophole” in order to “allow evolution an infinite time to get started.” So one reason for resisting the Big Bang is to make room for the theory of evolution.
There are others. Physicist Stephen Hawking explains why a large number of scientists were attracted to the steady state theory of the origin of the universe: “There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang…. Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.” The same point is made by Steven Weinberg. Some cosmologists endorse theories because they “nicely avoid the problem of Genesis.”