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23 August 2009

An Honest Admission

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

"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 counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." - Dr. Richard Lewontin

Basically, he is describing the difference between "science" and "scientism" (which he wrongly conflates with science). "Science" is simply a set of investigative principles that is, by its own admission, limited in scope and ability. "Scientism", on the other hand, is a philosophical underpinning which forms the basis of evolutionism, and which refuses to accept the limitations on science that are imposed by the fact that science can only deal with physical evidences. Scientism gets around the limitation by arguing for materialism - the unsubstantiated delusion that since metaphysical and supernatural evidences are outside the strict realm of science (as it presently exists at least) to investigate, that they therefore simply don't exist. It's sort of like saying that all those people who talk about China and show you pictures from there are just raving superstitious morons since you've personally never been there. "Science" knows its limits and accepts them, since it has no stake in doing otherwise. "Scientism" doesn't accept the limits, because of its fanatical need to eliminate the non-material. The former is legitimate investigation, the later is simply a not very well-thought out attempt at justifying atheism.

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