Sunday, October 23, 2005

Intelligence Transcends Science

In my last post I discussed the very real limits of science's powers and how they prevent Darwinism from saying anything meaningful about the real cause of particular genetic novelty. It bears repeating that in neither that post nor the present am I by any means arguing with the scientific theory of Darwinism (or "evolution" as the historically and philosophically unschooled call it) in these posts. My intention is merely to show how irrelevant evolutionary theory is to our culture at large, and thus that the whole "evolution vs. ID" flap is a tremendous waste of time.

The main point of my writing here is to remedy a fault of the last post by showing just how unextraordinary it is that science says "chance" (i.e., "we don't know") when the actual cause could well be an intelligence.

To illustrate this ordinariness, let's take an example. Let's say a post-modern anthropologist is monitoring your home power consumption. When your family goes on vacation you have one of those automatic switches to turn the lights on at regular intervals, so naturally the anthropologist sees that the power varies in a regular way (and could even find a mathematical function to describe it). When your family's at home (say, during the summer), on the other hand, the power consumption is erratic, seemingly random with all your comings and goings (outdoor activities, home repair, household appliances, etc.).

The way many scientists interpret data these days, the anthropologist might interpret the regularity to indicate an intelligence at work (or at least a kind of order) when you're on vacation, but no intelligence when you're home! So if he were asked when you are at home, he might give you the exact opposite of what is actually the case.

Of course, he could tell the truth, if he included more information in his research: say, by observing your comings and goings from your home.

This backward result is an inseparable part of the nature of science. The great virtue of science is that we can see all kinds of new things if we methodologically limit our considerations. I wouldn't be a scientist if I didn't believe it to be a very powerful type of human knowledge—but it is very limited. Notice in the example that the scientist only draws from a narrow amount of information, excluding other, non-quantitative data. With the limited amount of information, it is no surprise that he doesn't arrive at the full truth in his conclusions.

In general, if we insist that only those things exist that we can measure (put a number on) that we can deal with scientifically, then there's no wonder we conclude that the most important things at life don't exist!

Science generalizes from regularities. It doesn't attempt to explain particular events in themselves, but only particular events as part of a larger, overarching pattern. But intelligences act in concrete situations in light of particular facts; these particulars are necessarily excluded from science's limited scope. Scientific generalizations necessarily exclude at least one intelligence: the scientist's. So is it any surprise that science excludes other intelligences?

Anthony Rizzi, to whom I owe a great intellectual debt, discusses chance in a way that highlights the constricted considerations inherent in science:

Chance is the intersection of two independent lines of causality. If an asteroid is set on a path by an explosion somewhere far from our solar system that ends by intersecting the path of the earth, which was independently set on its path by another event, one calls it chance. In the empiriometric system of Newtonian physics, it can be thought of as initial conditions on the equations of motion. Take a simpler but, in principle, equivalent case. Think of two balls on a pool table. they will only hit if given certain velocities and starting positions. If they hit, the fact that they hit is what we call chance in the true sense. In such a case there is no cause in the system (pool table plus balls). There is no being in the system that can be considered responsible for the collision. hence, it appears as an irrational element. Even in this case, however, as one can readily see from the principle of causality, there must be a cause. In the case of our pool ball, someone shot one ball at the other. In the case of the asteroid, God [ultimately] set the initial conditions. Hence, even in the most extreme possible ontological case, chance is a relative term. Absolute chance is a complete irrationality: being coming from non-being.

Darwinism (as Dawkins calls evolution) relies on random mutations for the genetic novelty on which natural selection works. As we've seen, randomness or chance is always relative to the limits of one's considerations: a larger, more encompassing frame can always include the explanation. The scientific theory of Darwinism (properly speaking) says nothing about the cause of the mutations behind genetic novelty, but only that it can't speak of them. Only when Darwinism becomes an unscientific ideology does it arrogate to itself the denial of causation.

Darwinism, like any scientific theory, casts a very broad, but coarse net. Its failure to capture the slippery eel of intelligence indicates nothing about the presence or absence of intelligence.

Anthony Rizzi, The Science Before Science: A Guide to Thinking in the 21st Century (Baton Rouge: IAP Press, 2004), 256.

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