Consider the following two statements:
- We do not have good reason to believe evolutionary theory to be true.
- Scientific irrealism holds.
Now claim (2) entails that science does not give us good reasons to believe propositions to be true. Moreover, the following claim is uncontroversial:
- All the good reasons for believing evolutionary theory to be true are scientific in nature.
But here is an oddity about discourse in our society: There is a lot more outrage against scholars who assert (1) than against scholars who assert (2).
Is there a justification for such a differential attitude?
An explanation for the differential attitude is that those who assert (1) frequently are motivated by religious considerations, while those who assert (2) are rarely motivated by religious considerations (unless they accept occasionalism, like many Muslims, or they are led to (2) by way of (1)). But unless one has a good argument for why it is inappropriate to accept or deny a scientific claim on religious grounds, this explanation of the differential attitude is no justification. Certainly it isn't be a necessary truth that it is inappropriate to affirm or deny scientific claims on religious grounds, unless necessarily God doesn't exist: for if God exists, then he in principle could reveal facts that are of purely scientific interest, or facts of religious interest that entail facts of scientific interest.
Maybe, though, the explanation is like this. If someone asserts (1) by itself, we assume that she doesn't hold (2) (just as someone who says that Elbonians are not human is assumed to think non-Elbonians are). But in fact the only good reason for holding (1) is (2). However, simply the fact that someone believes something for a bad reason surely doesn't justify the kind of outrage that is involved here. After all, one might believe (2) for very bad reasons indeed.
Personally, I deny (2). As for (1), my views are rather complex—I accept common descent and natural selection as a major force, I accept that Behe-Dembski style arguments fail to establish Intelligent Design, but I am also convinced that we do not know that every event in the evolutionary history of every animal was naturalistic.