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Scott Walker’s evolution question has been hashed over quite a bit. Themes that I’ve read include relevancy to the presidency (is that a good band name? or some sort of L. Frank Baum chant?), fear of the creationist’s inquisitional powers in the classroom, the hypocrisy of the question, and the ulterior motive of either tripping up or exposing Scott Walker as a rube.
Was this question a nascent litmus test of belief in science as a replacement for a belief in God for the office of president? But no matter, because….
Esqueleto believes in science.
I point all this out to introduce you to the only [BANNED!] TedX talk I’ve ever seen that held my interest. And that is Rupert Sheldrake at TedX Whitechapel talking on the theme of Science Set Free. He starts by pointing out that science is operated under the purview of philosophical materialism (“I believe in Science!”), and then describes ten dogmas that are held by this philosophy. He makes a powerful claim about how science will be set free once it is released of philosophical materialism.
I point all this out to introduce you to the little book which has gripped my interest most fervently over the last couple weeks: a 60-page tome called Nihilism by Fr. Seraphim Rose. Yeah, yeah, I can hear your fingers moving to click **next post**. Wait! This is not your run-of-the-mill Johnny-come-lately agog at how bad things are now and it’s all because of Nietzsche. No, he clearly shows how truth’s visage has been tortured and blackened by increasingly astigmatic goggles over the last 600 years, and suggests a way forward.
I thought some folks here might appreciate delving into these shout-outs. If you start at the end and work backwards, perhaps you’ll have a different view of the Scott Walker evolution question.
Update: I’ve added an excerpt from Nihilism. The book is significantly more important and foundational than one of its outworkings, Science Set Free. Perhaps I could summarize the below as such: We all have faith in something, and we all claim to know things, though with respect to absolute truth, many folks hedge and claim to be uncertain whether they know or can know anything. Thus the search for truth is abandoned, and piddly trivialities like class, race, gender, nation, or comfort become substitute quests. Four centuries of thought have further clarified that not only is there no truth, but that there is no Revealed Truth, and thus we arrive at the despotism of science over practical life. In fact, it is humbling to think that no truth is available outside of revelation. Indeed, it is not logic which counters Divine Revelation, but a counter revelation: Nihilism.
In actual fact, however,–whether it be from simple naiveté or from a deeper insight which they cannot justify by arguments–most scientists and humanists undoubtedly believe that their faith [in science] has something to do with the truth of things. Whether this belief is justified or not is, of course, another question; it is a metaphysical question, and one thing that is certain is that it is not justified by the rather primitive metaphysics of mosts scientists.Every man, as we have seen, lives by faith; likewise every man–something less obvious but no less certain–is a metaphysician. The claim to any knowledge whatever–and no living man can refrain from this claim–implies a theory and standard of knowledge, and a notion of what is ultimately knowable and true. This ultimate truth, whether be conceived of as the Christian God, or simply as the ultimate coherence of things, is a metaphysical first principle, an absolute truth. But with the acknowledgement, logically unavoidable, of such a principle, the theory of the “relativity of truth” collapses, it itself being revealed as a self-contradictory absolute.
Only in “critical” or “pure agnosticism” do we find, at last, what seems to be a successful renunciation of everything else and ends–if it is consistent–in total solipsism. Such agnosticism is the simple statement of fact: we do not know whether there exists an absolute truth, or what its nature could be if it did exist; let us, then–this is the corollary–content ourselves with the empirical, relative truth we can know. But what is truth? What is knowledge? If there is no absolute standard by which these are tot be measured, they cannot even be defined. The agnostic, if he acknowledges this criticism, does not allow it to disturb him; his position is one of “pragmatism,” “experimentalism,” “instrumentalism”: there is no truth, but man can survive, can get along in the world, without it… the least one can say [about such a position] is that it is intellectually irresponsible. It is the definitive abandonment of truth, or rather the surrender of truth to power, whether that power be nation, race, class, comfort, or whatever other cause is able to absurd the energies men once devoted to the truth.
Four centuries and more of modern thought have been, from one point of view, an experiment in the possibilities of knowledge open to man, assuming that there is no Revealed Truth… the conclusion of this experiment is an absolute negation: if there is no Revealed Truth, there is no truth at all; the search for truth outside of Revelation has come to a dead end… the multitudes demonstrate it by looking to the scientist, not for truth, but for the technological applications of a knowledge which has no more than a practical value, and by looking to other, irrational sources for the ultimate values men once expected to find in truth. The despotism of science over practical life is contemporaneous with the advent of a whole series of pseudo-religious “revelations”.
The critical mind hesitates at this point. Must we seek from without what we cannot attain by our own unaided power? It is a blow to pride–most of all to that pride which passes today for scientific “humility” that “sits down before fact as a little child” and yet refuses to acknowledge any arbiter of fact save the proud human reason. It is, however, a particular revelation–Divine Revelation, the Christian Revelation–that so repels the rationalist; other revelations he does not gainsay.
Indeed, the man who does not accept, fully and consciously, a coherent doctrine of truth such as the Christian Revelation provides, is forced… to seek such a doctrine elsewhere… To one who gropes in this darkness there is but one path, if he will not be healed of his blindness; and that is to seek some light amidst the darkness here below. Many run to the flickering candle of “common sense” and conventional life and accept–because one must get along somehow–the current opinions of the social and intellectual circles to which they belong. But many others, finding this light too dim, flock to the magic lanterns that project beguiling, multicolored views that are, if nothing else, distracting; they become devotees of this or the other political or religious or artistic current that the “spirit of the age” has thrown into fashion.
In fact, no one lives but by the light of some revelation……
The whole food of Christian Truth, however, is accessible only to faith; and the chief obstacle to such faith is not logic, as the facile modern view has it, but another and opposed faith. We have seen indeed, that logic cannot deny absolute truth without denying itself; the logic that sets itself up against the Christian Revelation is merely the servant of another “revelation,” of a false “absolute truth”: namely Nihilism.