27 June 2000 “Negative” feedback:
Science should not be subservient to an ideology

In the 1940s, Marxist-Leninist ideology was the epistemological premise of what was euphemistically called “Soviet Science”, and the Russian Academy bestowed its highest honors on such dim lights in biology as T.D. Lysenko. All Western science, even Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, was denounced as invalid on the grounds that it was subservient to bourgeois capitalist imperialism. Now, Lysenko held that acquired skills and learning could be passed along genetically to one’s offspring, which was presumed to be very fruitful when a government is trying to solidify a totalitarian state. And Lysenko did support his hypothesis with convincing but carefully selected evidence. Eventually, however, this kind of endorsement was the undoing of the Russian Academy's credibility for reasons best described by Hannah Arendt in her book, The Burden of Our Time (London, 1951). Arendt wrote,
“Its members’ [the Communist Party’s] whole education is aimed at abolishing their capacity for distinguishing truth from fiction. Their superiority consists in the ability immediately to dissolve every statement of fact into a declaration of purpose.”

Now, Soviet Science and Creation Science stem from obviously irreconcilable beliefs. But they both rely for their meaning on the same epistemological foundation. Each is a circumlocution which presupposes our prior acqiescence to the aims of an ideology or an organization, and each requires its adherents to suspend disbelief in second-hand information for the sake of furthering a broader agenda. As unlikely as this similarity may seem at first, the premises of each of these disciplines are nevertheless both specifiable and purposive, which makes them equivalent as investigative methodologies. Whenever science becomes subservient to an ideology or an organization, it becomes instead a closed, axiomatic and circular deductive system, and all such systems cannot fail to prove their postulates. In any such system, regardless of its subject matter, every piece of contradictory evidence can be invalidated and every conceivable objection logically demolished, each in its turn, by reference to one or more of the core premises. But the flaw inherent in any axiomatic deductive system as a heuristic device for scientific inquiry is, ironically, this very same logical circularity, for it points to no new reality outside of its stipulated purpose. The premises of science, on the other hand, are unspecifiable.

— J.C.

Editor’s note: it is a matter of basic logic that all philosophical systems start from axioms or presuppositions that, by definition, are not themselves provable. These axioms determine the interpretations of data. Thus CMI often points out that all human investigation is biased in some way, i.e., there are presuppositions that affect the investigation [see Presuppositionalism vs evidentialism]. Please read Lewontin’s admission about the materialistic bias applied in much scientific reasoning today about origins — even before examining the evidence. So, please, let’s hear no more claims that atheistic evolutionists are the epitome of objectivity.

We must also point out the irony of J.C.’s using Lysenko and Stalinist Russia — Lysenko and Stalin were ardent evolutionists and anti-theists! So their example is a good lesson against the one-sided indoctrination of evolutionary materialism in today’s classrooms and total exclusion of a Designer — regardless of whether the evidence supports it.

Published: 1 February 2006