A Pastor Reflects on the Scientific Method

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April 24, 2010 Tags: Pastoral Voices

Today's video features Daniel Harrell. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

In today’s video, Daniel Harrell reflects on the rigors of the scientific method, reminding us that what gives scientific discoveries their weight is not the individuals who make them, but the methods of science themselves, which instill in us a level of confidence.  

Harrell points out that we often trust the methods of science with our own health by taking prescription drugs in confidence, but are unwilling to trust the corroborative evidence of biology, paleontology, cosmology, chemistry and anthropology.

"It's as close to a scientific fact as we can have", says Harrell.  To dismiss the evidence for evolution without examining it closely, he says, is "just irresponsible."

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Daniel Harrell is the Senior Minister of Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota. Before stepping into this role, Harrell served as associate minister at Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts for over twenty years. He is the author of the book Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith, and is author of the forthcoming book How To Be Perfect: One Church’s Experiment with Living the Book of Leviticus.


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Glen Davidson - #11169

April 26th 2010

Imo it would do you some good, Glen, to regularly uplift religious faith in your posts at BioLogos,

It would do you some good to not to attack without cause or truth.  That is clearly not a way to uplift religious faith.

i.e. more than just defending ‘science’ from a naturalistic and predominantly reductionistic position. I for one don’t learn much when you speak in that way.

That is a sad admission from you.

Glen Davidson


Kendalf - #11308

April 27th 2010

Glen, you wrote: “Find out what an ad hominem actually is”

Ad hominem circumstantial: “Ad hominem circumstantial points out that someone is in circumstances such that he is disposed to take a particular position. Ad hominem circumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a source. This is fallacious because a disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false.”

Guilt by association: Guilt by association is a version of the ad hominem fallacy in which a person is said to be guilty of error because of the group he or she associates with. The fallacy occurs when we unfairly try to change the issue to be about the speaker’s circumstances rather than about the speaker’s actual argument.”


Kendalf - #11309

April 27th 2010

You wrote:

It appears that your concept of science comes from creationism and is intended to disparage the sciences with which creationism disagrees…

Insinuating (w/o evidence) that my view stems from “creationism” influence and speculating on my intentions has no bearing on whether my statement is true or false. So why play this “guilt by association” card? I’ll leave it to others to judge if your comments of this sort add anything to the discussion.


Kendalf - #11310

April 27th 2010

I wrote because it is a mistaken view of reproducibility

Perhaps you didn’t care to follow the link I gave. I’ll quote it for you:

Reproducibility…refers to the ability of a test or experiment to be accurately reproduced, or replicated, by someone else working independently. The results of an experiment performed by a particular researcher or group of researchers are generally evaluated by other independent researchers who repeat the same experiment themselves, based on the original experimental description. Then they see if their experiment gives similar results to those reported by the original group. The result values are said to be commensurate if they are obtained (in distinct experimental trials) according to the same reproducible experimental description and procedure.

How is this different from my earlier statements? Do you disagree with this definition? If so, what is your definition of reproducibility, and why should I accept your definition as the definitive one?


Kendalf - #11311

April 27th 2010

You have responded as if I have made a statement decrying everything to do with evolution. But my primary point was quite modest: not every aspect of evolution is reproducible. You seemed to take this to mean a denial of all of evolution. But my point is not an extreme view, nor one reserved only for creationists (eg see the first line of this).

I cited one specific example: the evolution of bacteria flagella. And while you are free to go off on your views of evolution vs creationism and ID and expound on other lines of evidence for evolution, none of this refutes my primary point. If you can demonstrate that the evolution of bacteria flagella has been reproduced experimentally, I—and I’m sure Behe too—would be curious to see it.


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