NOTE: I originally wrote this on another forum as a simple response to a Christian’s assertions concerning the movie “Expelled” and why it was unfair that some in academia lost their jobs for suggesting that Intelligent Design might have some validity. I reworked it a bit for posting here.
Naturalists believe, based on a long line of repeatedly confirmed evidence, that the species originated as Darwin originally surmised, through the process of natural selection, as that theory has been expanded by more recent science, including gene theories – what’s called the modern synthesis.
Spiritualists believe that the origin of species is explained by the use of magic, that some supreme intelligence conjured us up out of thin air, at the snap of his fingers (OK, that’s a metaphorical description, but it is the essence of the belief). Magic defies all known laws of nature, so it has to be, by definition, supernatural. Spiritualists look at the world in awe, and figure that the natural explanation doesn’t suffice, so there has to be some magic behind it.
Now, clearly, there is a very bright line of demarcation between these two outlooks. Naturalists say that nature, i.e reality, is all there is. There is no higher plane of existence. What You See IS What You Get, in effect. Only the natural laws work in reality, and magic doesn’t exist. There has never been any evidence that it has. What we call magic is really controlled illusion. No magician can snap his fingers and make rabbits appear in top hats, out of nothing.
Spiritualists say that magic is a fact, that it occurred in the past, and can occur in the present, though as hard as they pray, they don’t seem to be able to conjure up any of this magic in any way that we can observe. Has anyone ever noticed that God seems to have performed an incredible amount of magic in ancient times, based on ancient texts, (such as parting the Red Sea, inflicting plagues, knocking down walls, destroying sinful cities, etc.) but that there is a complete lack of such miracles these days? He seems to be relegated to putting his picture on grilled cheese sandwiches to impress us. He has the ability to, say, rebuild the World Trade Center with a snap of his fingers, but has refrained from such displays of power, unlike in ancient times. But I digress.
If an academic, one who is hired to pursue and teach science to the next generation, suddenly said “I think we ought to look to magic as a possible explanation for this phenomena” (that’s ID in a nutshell) he would be first looked at as if he’d lost his senses, and if he persisted, he would be admonished, and eventually his career would go down the toilet, because his chosen career was to study the natural laws of the universe, not magic (theology). So IF he lost his job for such a reason, well, then he should have, because he was the one who chose a different career path.
People like Ben Stein and other religious based commentators are advancing an agenda. That agenda is to weaken science as an explanation for reality, in hopes that in the process they strengthen religion. The problem is that they are putting religion under a microscope, and more and more people are seeing the agenda for what it is. So the ironic result is that they weaken their own religion, because if anything, religion cannot survive focused scrutiny. It holds its power only so long as it continues as a personal belief of the individual, based on faith, and assumes that individual must not question his own belief. Religion through the centuries has discouraged introspection and knowledge seeking, in favor of blind adherence to dogma. It’s the only way it can survive.
So any attack on science and naturalism is really a defense of religion.
It is often asked why theists can’t accept that god used evolution as the process he chose to create the world. Many do. Catholics for instance. But to those who believe in the fundamentals of their religion, science is a threat to dogmatic belief. It has the potential for destroying faith. “This way lies madness’ is what they see in science, because it offers nonreligious explanations for those things that were previously explained as coming from god. Incrementally, they see religion losing every time a scientific explanation is accepted until eventually religion falls into the dustbin of history.
And you know what? They are right.