In the previous post we saw that evolutionists vigorously oppose intelligence-based arguments despite overwhelming evidence of design in DNA. Why are they against taking up design arguments? Are they just trying to be difficult? Not really. One reason for their opposition is natural science’s long held commitment to a philosophical tradition known as naturalism.
Naturalism is the belief that natural science should concern itself with only natural causes. Natural causes are those that can be explained by physical material and/or forces of nature. Naturalism has served the natural sciences quite well. It has given us insight into the particles of nature and the forces governing those particles. Despite its successes it is not a “one size fits all” approach for understanding everything.
In my book Truth and Science I reveal how naturalism is not a good fit for understanding certain human behaviors. Take, for example, love and altruism. According to naturalism, love and selfless acts of kindness are caused by nothing more than electrochemical processes. Naturalism assumes that choosing to be loving or charitable toward others for the sake of being kind is illusory. We don’t really choose to behave this way – we are driven by our biological makeup to show kindness. In fact, there’s no such thing as love and kindness in the true sense of the word because our behaviors are determined by laws of nature acting on our biology. Thus we are unable to freely choose whether to act with kindness toward another human being. Of course most of us realize that this naturalistic interpretation of human behavior is inaccurate. We are agentic beings with the power of moral agency – the ability to choose right from wrong. Moral agency not only imbues our acts of kindness with meaning, it also makes us accountable for the good and bad we do.
Likewise, naturalism is ill-suited for understanding the origins of biological information. By following the naturalism approach when explaining the origins of information, scientists are hopelessly caught up in an ongoing charade of chicken-and-the-egg. Which came first? DNA? RNA? Proteins? In reality none of these “first” models adequately explains the origin of information. They merely displace the problem of where information came from because their models rely on the pre-existence of information-bearing structures. An adequate model will never be found, but the search for an evolutionary model that explains the origin of biological information continues. I’ll give these people an A for effort, but at some point they ought to give heed to what Einstein said about doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.
There is a larger reason why evolutionary scientists won’t consider intelligence. Invoking intelligence brings up the idea of a supreme being which, you’ve probably guessed, leads to God. These people can’t possibly entertain the idea that biological information came from the Lord. As one prominent evolutionary biologist put it, “We cannot allow a divine foot in the door [of science].”
Why is science so god-unfriendly? It may surprise you to read that it has not always been this way. At one time science was god-friendly. Some of the best scientific minds openly acknowledged the Lord’s contributions to their discoveries, or they openly admitted that they were studying the handiwork of the Lord.
In 2009 I gave a presentation at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference. My presentation was on distinguished scientists from the 1600s who acknowledged God. Against the beautiful backdrop of the Provo Canyon I talked about how individuals like Isaac Newton (1642–1726), Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), and Robert Boyle (1627–1691) showed us what it means to acknowledge the Lord. Consider the following examples taken from their scholarly writings.
The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. (Isaac Newton)
May you long enjoy those blessings which are sent to you not so much from the stars as from God, their Maker and their Governor. (Galileo Galilei)
[P]henomena that discover admirable wisdom and manifest designs in the corporeal world do themselves afford a solid argument, both of the existence and of some of the grand attributes of God, with which the rest that properly belong to him have a necessary connection. (Robert Boyle)
This sort of communication is no longer accepted in science. Today there is a sense that Deity does not belong in science. When did science become so god-unfriendly? The change took place during a movement known as the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that took place during the 1700s. During this time scholars promoted reason and science as the only reliable sources of truth while downplaying faith-based beliefs. By marginalizing the influence of religious beliefs, Enlightenment scholars made it unfashionable to recognize Deity in science. Thus science was transformed into a purely secular endeavor, a tradition that continues to this day.
Historians Palmer and Colton described the transformation of science from a deity-friendly environment to a deity unfriendly environment in the following way: “The older Christian view seemed no longer to be necessary.” As a result, “Thinkers provided [scientific] theories of society, world history, [and] human destiny . . . in which Christian explanations had no part.”
The secularization of science did not go unnoticed by prominent individuals living back then. William Gladstone (1809–1898) was a deeply religious man and influential prime minister of England during the late 1800s. Having noticed science’s growing secularism and the threat it posed to other disciplines, he urged: “Let the scientific men stick to their science and leave philosophy and religion to the poets, philosophers, and theologian.”
Queen Victoria of England (1819–1901) also issued a warning. She stated that “Science is to be greatly admired and encouraged, but if it is to take the place of our Creator . . . I call it a great evil instead of a great blessing.”
President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) cautioned against the consequences of excluding Deity from scientific discourse. He warned,
In all the great discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanics, and in all material advancement of the age, the world says, “We have done it.” The individual says, “I have done it,” and he gives no honor or credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth, but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge his hand in all things.
I was surprised that my presentation was not well received by several of the conference attendees. It turns out that their concerns were not pragmatic (i.e., doubting whether it was possible to make science God-friendly). Rather their concerns were paradigmatic (i.e., thinking that science is supposed to exclude Deity). I could tell that exclusive naturalism was alive and well among LDS scholars.
From a young age we’ve been deceived into thinking that Deity has no place in science. (I am not saying that science should hypothesize God as a cause. What I am saying is that science should be willing to recognize that we are studying the handiwork of deity.) This is one reason why evolutionary biologists won’t consider intelligence as a source of biological information, even though the evidence for intelligence is right there, staring at them in the face!
The Apostle Paul taught the principle of divine design in his epistle to the Romans. He wrote that ever since the creation of the world, the power of the Lord has been clearly manifested in the things that are made. In fact, so plentiful is the evidence for a divine Creator that those who choose not to believe “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
I stand with Paul and declare that scholars who deny the role of intelligence in the creation of biological information are without excuse. Saying that intelligence has no place in the study of the origins of biological information because it might invoke deity or it does not fit in with the naturalism model of science is intellectual gobbledygook of the highest order.
 Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons”. New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997. Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Lewontin_Review.htm
 Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (New York: Snowball Publishing, 2010, original work published in 1687), 440.
 Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger, Preamble.
 Robert Boyle, A Free Inquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996, original work published in 1686.), 104.
 R.R. Palmer, Joel Colton, and Lloyd Kramer, A History of the Modern World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965), 299.
 Brian Silver, The Ascent of Science (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 130.
 Silver, The Ascent of Science, 130.
 Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith. Compiled by John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939), 270.