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Are Scientists Biased by Their Worldviews?

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April 2, 2013 Tags: Science & Worldviews

Today's entry was written by Deborah Haarsma and Loren Haarsma. You can read more about what we believe here.

Are Scientists Biased by Their Worldviews?

Note: Previous excerpts from Origins framed the conversation on creation, evolution, and intelligent design and argued for the reliability of historical science. In this excerpt we consider another aspect of reliability: what role does religion and philosophy play in the practice of science? Do the worldviews held by scientists affect their conclusions?

Just what is a worldview? A worldview, or world-and-life view, is often defined as a belief system that a person uses to answer the big questions of life. These questions include the origin of the universe and of humanity, the purpose of human existence, the existence of God, and how one should relate to God. In this context, atheism is not the absence of religion. Rather it is a belief system that answers these questions differently than a God-centered belief system.

We’ve seen repeatedly that scientists with very different worldviews can work together comfortably on a professional level. They collaborate on experiments, share theories, listen to each other, and reach agreement on scientific results. How can scientists who have such fundamentally different worldviews so often come to the same scientific conclusion?

Some people have suggested that science, by its very nature, is independent of worldview. Good scientists, they say, are simply objective; when they enter the lab, they set aside all prejudice and beliefs. But the history of science shows that worldview beliefs frequently do influence scientific choices. Besides, the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth is, in itself, a worldview belief.

Worldview Beliefs Necessary for Science

All scientists, regardless of their particular worldview, hold certain philosophical beliefs foundational for doing science. Some of these are listed in the left-hand column on the chart below. These fundamental beliefs cannot be proved from science itself. The fact that science actually works lends support to these beliefs, but the beliefs themselves come from outside of science, perhaps from culture, or religion, or simply the scientist’s personal choice. Today these beliefs may seem obvious, but for most of human history, people did not hold to all of them. Animists, who believe that gods inhabit many aspects of the physical world, would have very different views of cause and effect and the regularity of nature. Plato and Aristotle developed logical and beautiful theories about the workings of the natural world, but they got some answers very wrong because they did not place enough priority on doing experimental tests. Even today, people who follow astrology or new age beliefs would disagree with some of the beliefs listed in the left-hand column.

Consider some Christian theological beliefs that come from biblical teachings about God and the world. We’ve listed several in the right-hand column on the chart. Notice how each Christian belief on the right naturally gives rise to the worldview belief on the left. For a Christian, biblical teachings about God and the natural world provide ample support and motivation for doing science and a basis for understanding why science is so successful. Christians doing science are not acting as if God doesn’t exist. Rather, they are acting on their belief that there is a God—not a capricious God, but the God of the Bible who made an orderly world and who still governs it in an orderly fashion.

This also helps us understand why Christians who are professional scientists usually come to the same scientific conclusions as scientists with other worldviews. Although scientists with other worldviews do not share with Christians the beliefs about God and the meaning of human life listed in the right-hand column of the chart, they do share the beliefs in the left-hand column. Sharing that common subset of beliefs with Christians means they can work together as professional scientists and reach consensus. This would not have surprised John Calvin, a theologian and church reformer from the 1500’s, who wrote, “All truth is from God, and consequently if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it, for it has come from God” (Calvin’s Commentaries on Titus 1:12).

Worldview Beliefs Needed for Science Christian Beliefs
Humans have the ability to study nature and to understand, at least in part, how it functions. Humans are God’s imagebearers in this world (Gen. 1:27). Thanks to the abilities that God has given us, we can understand, at least in part, how the world works.
Events in the natural world work by natural cause and effect. For example, a tree falls because the wind exerts a force on it, not because it wanted to fall, nor because a forest god made it fall, nor because it simply was fated to fall. There are no nature spirits, no capricious gods, no fate. There is only one God (Deut. 6:4) who created and rules the world (Gen.1) in a faithful, consistent manner (Ps. 119:89-90).
Natural phenomena are repeatable; they are regular across space and time. Scientists will find the same experimental result in laboratories all over the earth, and will find the same result today as they found last week. This consistency allows the phenomena to be studied using logic and mathematics. God has established natural laws (Jer. 33:19-26) and faithful covenants (Gen. 8:22) with the physical universe. So we are not surprised to discover that nature typically operates with regular, repeatable, universal patterns.
Observations and experiments are necessary to build and test scientific models that correctly describe natural phenomena. Logic and deduction alone are not sufficient to build an accurate understanding of the natural world. God was free to create the world in many ways. Humans are limited and sinful. We are unable to understand God’s ways completely (Job 38). So our scientific models based on logic and deduction must also be tested by careful experimentation and observation, comparing them to what God has actually made.
Science is a worthwhile use of human time and resources. Studying nature is worth doing because we are studying the very handiwork of God (Ps. 19:1). God has called us to study his creation (Gen. 2:19-20; Prov. 25:2) and to be stewards of it (Gen. 1:28-29; Ps. 8:5-8).

Worldviews and Science Influence Each Other

Worldviews and science can also interact in less healthy ways. One unhealthy interaction happens when someone rejects a scientific conclusion without examining the data carefully because that conclusion seems to conflict with his or her worldview. Alternately, someone might believe a model not because scientific data actually support it but because it matches his or her worldview beliefs. For instance, some practitioners passionately believe that certain kinds of alternative medicine therapies are effective in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. They want the therapies to work because of their worldview beliefs, in some cases even claiming that their therapies are scientific when the scientific data are against them.

This is where the self-correcting features of the scientific process can help: scientists of differing worldviews challenge each other, forcing each side to make a stronger scientific case for its models and inspiring each other toward creative thinking. They invent new technologies and new experiments to support or disprove competing models until they reach a new consensus. The competing models and original arguments may have begun, at least in part, because of worldview beliefs, but eventually the experiments and observations push the scientific community toward a consensus shared by scientists of many different worldviews.

A number of Christians today accuse the scientific community of having an atheistic bias on issues of origins without first carefully examining the evidence that has led the scientific community to its conclusion. This is an invalid accusation for several reasons:

  • First, many scientists are not atheists. When the scientific community really does have a consensus, it represents the professional judgment of people with many different religious views, including many Christians.
  • Second, recall the idea that all truth is God’s truth. Regardless of the worldview beliefs of the person who discovered the scientific truth, if it is true that knowledge is a gift from God.
  • Third, we should not be quick to deny a scientific result simply because it disagrees with what we already believe. An apparent conflict should certainly prompt us to demand a solid explanation of the scientific evidence. But a quick rejection does not give sufficient respect to God’s revelation in nature since it denies that new truths may be learned from it.

Another unhealthy interaction occurs when science is misused to argue for a particular worldview. For example, atheists—both scientists and nonscientists—have a long history of loudly claiming that the results of science prove that atheism is true. When atheists make such claims in their writing and speaking, they are seldom careful to differentiate where the science ends and their worldview claims begin. They tend to thoroughly mix scientific results with their worldview claims so that it is difficult for a non-scientist to tell the difference. This type of writing and speaking has caused the entire scientific community to acquire an atheistic reputation, even though only a few scientists mix atheism with science in this way.

The Haarsmas delve deeper into the intersection between science and worldviews throughout Chapter 2 of Origins. Next week, we’ll look at an excerpt that compares different Christian interpretations of Genesis 1.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources), 2011. Reprinted with permission. To order a copy of this resource please call1-800-333-8300 or visit our website www.faithaliveresources.org.

Want a free copy of Origins?  For a limited time, donations of $50 or more will receive a  copy of the book! Plus, from now through April, your gift will be doubled thanks to a matching grant from a generous donor. You can learn more here.

 


Deborah Haarsma serves as President of The BioLogos Foundation, a position she has held since January 2013. Previously, she served as professor and chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gifted in interpreting complex scientific topics for lay audiences, Dr. Haarsma often speaks to churches, colleges, and schools about the relationships between science and Christian faith. She is author (along with her husband Loren Haarsma) of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (2011, 2007), a book presenting the agreements and disagreements of Christians regarding the history of life and the universe. Haarsma is an experienced research scientist, with several publications in the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.
Loren Haarsma earned a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University and did five years of postdoctoral research in neuroscience in Boston and in Philadelphia. He began teaching physics at Calvin College in 1999. His current scientific research is studying the activity of ion channels in nerve cells and other cell types, and computer modeling of self-organized complexity in biology and in economics. He studies and writes on topics at the intersection of science and faith, and co-authored Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design with his wife, Deborah.

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Lou Jost - #78092

April 2nd 2013

“For example, atheists—both scientists and nonscientists—have a long history of loudly claiming that the results of science prove that atheism is true” Actually, very few atheists say that. We say that there is no good scientific evidence for god. That is not proof of the non-existence of gods. Science rules out neither gods nor leprechauns nor flying spagetti monsters. But until there is good evidence of any of these things, we should not incorporate any of these into our worldviews.


Eddie - #78097

April 2nd 2013

Lou:

You are speaking of careful, thoughtful atheists with some intellectual discipline.  But in fact there is a large crowd of vulgar, ideological atheists, who do argue, for all practical purposes, that “science has disproved God”—you can find them in pubs, on blog sites, at meetings of local Rationalist Clubs and Ayn Rand admiration societies etc.  This sort of atheism tends to be spread informally, around the dinner tables of families, on social occasions, etc., rather than through serious books.  But it’s a real part of American popular culture, and has been since the 19th century.  And frankly, I find it just as vulgar and uninformative as the stupidest forms of literalist fundamentalism.

I say this not to affirm the perspective of the article above (to which I have many objections, not least of which include its use of Biblical passages), but merely in response to your comment that “very few atheists say that.”


melanogaster - #78226

April 6th 2013

“But in fact there is a large crowd of vulgar, ideological atheists, who do argue, for all practical purposes, that “science has disproved God”—you can find them in pubs, on blog sites, at meetings of local Rationalist Clubs and Ayn Rand admiration societies etc.”

That’s a fascinating association, because in American politics right now, it’s the theologically incoherent people who call themselves fundamentalist Christians who also follow Rand. As a biologist, I know plenty of atheists, but I don’t know a single one who can’t see through the hooey of Rand.

“…And frankly, I find it just as vulgar and uninformative as the stupidest forms of literalist fundamentalism.”

You seem to love calling other people “vulgar” and “vile.” Why is that?

“I say this not to affirm the perspective of the article above (to which I have many objections, not least of which include its use of Biblical passages)…”

Oooh, let me guess your objections!

“This is where the self-correcting features of the scientific process can help: scientists of differing worldviews challenge each other, forcing each side to make a stronger scientific case for its models and inspiring each other toward creative thinking. They invent new technologies and new experiments to support or disprove competing models until they reach a new consensus.”

You’ve repeatedly denied this bit of reality, Eddie. In Eddie’s world, they don’t do experiments—they write books for laypeople and have what Eddie calls “proper scientific debates” and someone (you, Eddie?) chooses the winner!

“The competing models and original arguments may have begun, at least in part, because of worldview beliefs, but eventually the experiments and observations push the scientific community toward a consensus shared by scientists of many different worldviews.”

I can see why your rhetoric-only worldview would object to this. No new experiments for you or Behe! No predicting the results of the experiments done by others, either!


Eddie - #78236

April 6th 2013

Every single Randian I have met in my life has been either an atheist or agnostic.  I have never met a Christian who endorses the views of Rand.  Nor could a Christian do so, as Rand’s view of life is repugnant to just about everything Christianity stands for.  

Oh, there might be some ultra-right-wing Republicans or other right-wing folks who love Rand, and call themselves Christian.  That proves nothing.  There are theistic evolutionists who reject any suggestion that God did anything (that is, anything that made any difference to the outcome) in the evolutionary process, and think that this view is Christian.  Lots of people think un-Christian views are Christian.

“As a biologist, I know plenty of atheists.”  Interesting.  Why not just “I know plenty of atheists?”  The extra words confess a lot about the ethos of modern biology.  And based on some surveys I’ve seen, where Ph.D.s in mathematics are 3 times less likely to be atheists than Ph.D.s in biology, the natural question to ask is:  what is there about biologists that makes them tend to be atheists more than mathematicians?  And one possible answer is:  “The central theoretical perspective of modern biology.”  And gee, what is that?


melanogaster - #78311

April 8th 2013

“Nor could a Christian do so, as Rand’s view of life is repugnant to just about everything Christianity stands for.”

I absolutely agree. Doesn’t that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?

“Oh, there might be some ultra-right-wing Republicans or other right-wing folks who love Rand, and call themselves Christian. That proves nothing.”

Might be SOME? One of those people ran for vice president and 47% of voters, including a huge majority of those who ID themselves as evangelical Christians, voted for him. That proves a lot about the theological incoherence of what passes for Christianity in the US nowadays.

Try checking out the real world sometime.


Lou Jost - #78336

April 9th 2013

Eddie, I think the most common rational argument that people give for a deity is the argument from design. Biologists understand why this argument is invalid; blind processes can produce the appearance of design. That’s probably why more biologists (who have actually been exposed to  the evidence for this) than mathematicians (who usually know nothing of the details of biology) are atheists. Exposure to evidence matters.

Regarding Rand, the Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a vocal Christian, is also a vocal Randian. One person proves nothing, of course, but this guy’s thinking was regarded by the party as non-fringe, otherwise he wouldn’t have been the VP candidate


Eddie - #78354

April 9th 2013

Lou:

You persist in stating contestable conclusions as facts, e.g.:

“Biologists understand why this argument is invalid”

which should be more cautiously stated as:

“The majority of biologists believe that this argument is invalid.”

As for your point about biologists, it is interesting that medical doctors, who certainly have more hands-on knowledge of living biological systems than a good number of academic biologists (many of whom deal mainly with theory, equations, etc.), appear to be—from the various surveys I’ve looked at—less likely to be atheists than academic biologists.  Our own Jon Garvey here is an example—undergraduate science degree followed by medical degree, Cambridge education, and 30 years of clinical experience.  He finds the arguments for design in nature a bit more persuasive than you do.  As does Dr. Michael Egnor, a pediatric neurosurgeon with something like 2,000 operations to his credit.  And my chiropractor certainly has hands-on knowledge (pun intended) of the skeletal, muscle and nerve systems of the body, and he is of the opinion that they point to design.

You can’t get away with making out that “people with hands-on experience of biology know more, and therefore will be atheists.”  Indeed, specialists in evolutionary theory often do very little hands-on work with animals and plants.  Dawkins was all theory, about selfish genes, etc.  Coyne’s work is mainly theoretical.  And a good number of geneticists who swear by evolution have made their whole careers studying precisely one animal—the fruit fly.  I’d say that any good farmer has more experience of nature in its breadth than that.  By contrast, look at John Sanford, former Cornell (Ivy League) plant expert and holder of something like 30 agricultural genetic patents—he surely has some solid empirical knowledge of nature, and he supports ID.  And Michael Denton, as not only a Ph.D. in biochemistry, but also an M.D., and much research on the genetics of cancer to his credit, has some decidedly empirical knowledge of how life works as well.  He, too, makes design arguments. You can read them in Nature’s Destiny.

You are also overlooking that fact that not all design arguments have to do with biology.  Many physicists have suspected, based on the evidence, that the universe is “set up”—Hoyle’s famous remark is just one of many you can find among thoughtful physicists.  Polkinghorne is another man who had a very successful career in physics before becoming a priest, and, while he does not hold to ID in the strict sense, holds to “near ID” in the sense that he thinks the universe is suspicously well-organized.  

If you want to say “the majority of biologists believe”—that’s fine.  But you are trying to give the impression that people who really deal with living organisms “know the score” and agree with you; in fact, many people quite as well-trained as you in the life sciences do not read the score the same way that you do.  You’re entitled to your own judgment but you can’t speak for “science” as such or “biology” as such.

As for Rand, I’ve already said that people hold all kinds of contradictions in their heads.  If someone thinks that Rand’s philosophy is compatible with the Sermon on the Mount, there is nothing I can do about that.  Nor am I very impressed with Republican Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the past 30 years.  (Or for that matter with Democratic ones.)  But the utter dysfunctionality of the American political system is not the right topic for this site.


Lou Jost - #78356

April 9th 2013

Eddie, biologists know more about the theory of evolution than any other group, and hence are much less likely to be convinced by the Argument from Design as it applies to life. I agree with you that the Fine Tuning argument is an interesting argument for design, in fact the only interesting argument. I hope we can argue about that some day.


Eddie - #78362

April 9th 2013

Lou:

Biologists may know more about the theory of evolution than others (meaning, they know more about what other biologists theorize about evolution); but they know only a tiny fraction of the causes of the phenomenon of evolution.  They therefore need all the help they can get, from other sciences—mathematics, physics, engineering, information theory, etc.  And precisely because people trained initially in those other sciences aren’t steeped in a particular biological approach and particular orthodoxies about mechanisms, they can offer fresh perspectives.

If you can make the time to read Denton’s second book when you get home from the Amazonian jungle and have access to bookstores again, you will find that some people think the fine-tuning argument does not stop with physics but extends all the way from the Big Bang to the human brain.


melanogaster - #78370

April 10th 2013

“...which should be more cautiously stated as: “The majority of biologists believe that this argument is invalid.””

No, Eddie. This isn’t about belief. The majority of biologists find that the evidence is inconsistent with this hypothesis or argument, or that the argument is scientifically useless, as the argument makes no specific empirical predictions.

Why do you have to keep on pretending that our scientific conclusions are somehow equivalent to your weak religious belief?

“As for your point about biologists, it is interesting that medical doctors, who certainly have more hands-on knowledge of living biological systems than a good number of academic biologists (many of whom deal mainly with theory, equations, etc.), appear to be—from the various surveys I’ve looked at—less likely to be atheists than academic biologists.”

Irrelevant for two important reasons:

1) Scientific training for physicians is optional.
2) Very few academic biologists deal mainly with theory. Biology is a much more empirical science in reality than it is in your fantasies.

“Our own Jon Garvey here is an example—undergraduate science degree followed by medical degree, Cambridge education, and 30 years of clinical experience. He finds the arguments for design in nature a bit more persuasive than you do.”

But he’s never DONE science, correct? Why do you keep desperately trying to pretend that degrees and training are more important scientific qualifications than actually doing original science?

“As does Dr. Michael Egnor, a pediatric neurosurgeon with something like 2,000 operations to his credit.”

Irrelevant. How many experiments does he have to his credit? Has he even done a clinical study comparing/contrasting experimental with control patients? Note that clinical reports are not studies.

“And my chiropractor certainly has hands-on knowledge (pun intended) of the skeletal, muscle and nerve systems of the body, and he is of the opinion that they point to design.”

Well, that clinches it! You’ve got to be desperate to use a chiropractor as an example.

“You can’t get away with making out that “people with hands-on experience of biology know more, and therefore will be atheists.””

Sure we can, because it’s true, and you are engaging in sophistry and fabrication.

“Indeed, specialists in evolutionary theory often do very little hands-on work with animals and plants.”

Wow, Captain Obvious! So specialists in theory specialise in theory?

That’s one of the most lame tautologies I’ve ever seen, Eddie. Obviously, specialists in evolutionary BIOLOGY typically do very much hands-on work, and they greatly outnumber theorists. You really should get out in the university more, because very little of what you write conforms to reality.

“Dawkins was all theory, about selfish genes, etc.”

All? Sorry Eddie, I’m going to have to call you out on that one. Here’s just a partial list that demolishes your attempt to write off Dawkins as all theory:

R.Dawkins (1968) The ontogeny of a pecking preference in domestic chicks. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 25, 170-186 R.Dawkins & M.Impekoven (1969) The ‘peck/no-peck’ decision-maker in the black-headed gull chick. Animal Behaviour 17, 134-141
J.N.M.Smith & R.Dawkins (1971) The hunting behaviour of individual great tits in relation to spatial variations in their food density. Animal Behaviour 19, 695-707 R.Dawkins (1971) A cheap method of recording behavioural events for direct computer access. Behaviour 40, 162-1731

R.Dawkins & M.Dawkins (1976) Hierarchical organization and postural facilitation: rules for grooming in flies. Animal Behaviour 24, 739-755 B.Partridge, R.Dawkins & C.Amlaner (1978) Voltage-controlled oscillators: inexpensive alternative to analogue-to-digital convertors. Behavior Research Methods and Instrumentation 10, 712-714

Would you mind explaining how in particular, Dawkins’s two methods papers are “all theory”? For crying out loud, Eddie, is there any fabrication that is beneath you?


Eddie - #78374

April 10th 2013

Fruitfly:

You clearly don’t understand the normal range of meanings of the English word “believe.”  To say:  “I believe this is true” is not the same as to say “I know this is true”.  But more and more I no longer expect people with Ph.D.s in the natural sciences to have any grasp of anything outside the narrow range of their scientific specialty—not even of the English language.  

As for the rest, I was addressing Lou, not you, and he doesn’t need your help to answer me. 


melanogaster - #78371

April 10th 2013

“Coyne’s work is mainly theoretical.”

Utterly false. Read the papers listed in his cv. If so much of your case is based on blatant fabrications, you’ve got a problem.

“And a good number of geneticists who swear by evolution have made their whole careers studying precisely one animal—the fruit fly.”

So what? Geneticists who study other systems also accept evolutionary theory at the same rate as fly pushers.

“I’d say that any good farmer has more experience of nature in its breadth than that.”

Not in terms of relevance to understanding evolution.

“By contrast, look at John Sanford, former Cornell (Ivy League) plant expert and holder of something like 30 agricultural genetic patents—he surely has some solid empirical knowledge of nature, and he supports ID.”

Shouldn’t we look at how many similar people don’t? How is number of patents a relevant metric?

“And Michael Denton, as not only a Ph.D. in biochemistry, but also an M.D., and much research on the genetics of cancer to his credit,…”

No, not that much. His better papers have nothing to do with cancer. But then unlike you, I’ve read them.

“… has some decidedly empirical knowledge of how life works as well. He, too, makes design arguments. You can read them in Nature’s Destiny.”

Perhaps you should read it, as he surely doesn’t agree with you:
“So the sharp discontinuities, referred to above, between different organs and adaptations and different types of organisms, which have been the bedrock of antievolutionary arguments for the past century, have now greatly diminished at the DNA level. Organisms which seem very different at a morphological level can be very close together at the DNA level.”

He backed waaay off his assertions of his first book. You’re afraid to look at the DNA level without rhetoric, aren’t you?

“If you want to say “the majority of biologists believe”—that’s fine.”

I think I can safely speak for Lou in saying that it’s not about belief for us. It’s about science and evidence, while you reject the evidentiary part unless you think you can twist it to rhetorical effect.

“But you are trying to give the impression that people who really deal with living organisms “know the score” and agree with you;…”

Well, that would be the truth…

“...in fact, many people quite as well-trained as you in the life sciences do not read the score the same way that you do.”

No, only a tiny handful do. You haven’t even bothered to show that any of your handful of outliers is as well-trained as Lou in the life sciences. Moreover, you’re not allowing for experience. Is it because your career has ended with training?

“You’re entitled to your own judgment but you can’t speak for “science” as such or “biology” as such.”

He’s far more qualified than someone who claims that someone who published methods papers is “all theory.”

“…But the utter dysfunctionality of the American political system is not the right topic for this site.”

But it’s tied to the utter dysfunctionality of much, more likely most, of American evangelical Christianity, which is the very reason Biologos exists.


Eddie - #78375

April 10th 2013

Fruitfly:

I have read Denton’s book, with great care, and extensively annotated it.  I am fully aware of the difference in his views between the two books.  I have said nothing anywhere on this site that denies the assertion he is making in the passage you quoted.   But that you could read the book and not “get” the fact that the whole book is one long argument for design tells me that your reading comprehension is incredibly low.  If Lou reads the book, he will not have that problem.

No, it’s not American evangelical Christianity that is the cause of the dysfunctionality of the American political system.  It’s the fundamental moral weakness of modern American society, which puts private ambition above the public good, and the goals of political parties above the goals of the nation.  Americans, who used to be a strong, free, people, deeply moral as well as deeply religious, have become weak and enslaved to their own passions.  The Founding Fathers would be ashamed of modern Americans and the political system they tolerate.  They envisioned a nation of people constantly engaged in virtuous public activity, not preoccupied with private consumption and pleasure and employing political parties to maintain and advance their class or factional interests.  And they saw science as something for the public good, not for the advancement of the careers of scientists.  There’s a deep moral vacuum in the modern American way of life, and, while some forms of evangelical religion only exacerbate the problem, they are not the cause of it.  America’s political problems will never be solved until Americans—including Ph.D.s awash in research grants which enable them to live in very nice houses while many other Americans are losing their houses—stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the good of their country.  JFK’s famous speech is still pertinent.

For you to praise “the very reason BioLogos exists” is the height of insincerity.  You have proved time and again by your actions, by the sneering and belittling way you treat other human beings, that you are not a Christian.  You therefore aren’t interested in BioLogos’s Christian mission at all.  You’re only here because it provides a forum for you for bashing ID people and creationists.  You are merely using BioLogos, not advancing its purposes.  Please don’t intimate that you do what you do for BioLogos.  As the blonde heroine’s father said in the movie Ivanhoe:  “Richard, for all his faults, was for England.  John is for John.”

 


melanogaster - #78406

April 11th 2013

“I have said nothing anywhere on this site that denies the assertion he is making in the passage you quoted.”

Sure you did, Eddie, when you ignorantly claimed that hooves and flippers were a big deal.

“But that you could read the book and not “get” the fact that the whole book is one long argument for design tells me that your reading comprehension is incredibly low.”

Where did I say that I did not “get” that? And why would “get” be in quotes?

“No, it’s not American evangelical Christianity that is the cause of the dysfunctionality of the American political system.”

Your reading comprehension is terrible, Eddie. I am pointing out that they are intertwined and feed each other. It’s an evolving system with emergent properties, not a hierarchical mechanism—just like vertebrate development, which you are afraid to study while making sweeping, false claims about how it works.

“It’s the fundamental moral weakness of modern American society, which puts private ambition above the public good, and the goals of political parties above the goals of the nation. Americans, who used to be a strong, free, people, deeply moral as well as deeply religious,…”

You need to get out in the world more, Eddie, as the US has practiced many deeply immoral foreign policies that fed private ambition above any public good—as well as domestic ones.

“…And they saw science as something for the public good, not for the advancement of the careers of scientists.”

That’s the way I see it. You don’t seem to see that most of the biologists in the USA and the world do biomedical research. You know, to alleviate human suffering and all. Shouldn’t Behe be doing that, since he claims that we don’t understand P. falciparum evolution?

“…America’s political problems will never be solved until Americans—including Ph.D.s awash in research grants which enable them to live in very nice houses while many other Americans are losing their houses—stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the good of their country.”

Yes, those Wall Street bankstas have nothing on those scientists who do biomedical research—NIH and the HHMI are the only agencies that give sizeable grants—because they live in very nice houses and can’t help but produce massive amounts of data that you are afraid to examine because they don’t support your faithless, wishful thinking? ID produces empty rhetoric, while we produce new information.

“JFK’s famous speech is still pertinent.”

Those NIH grants do a lot for the country. But why would a Christian limit his vision to just his own country?


Merv - #78093

April 2nd 2013

I wonder if we aren’t too generous when we are always asserting that “science works”.    When we say that we are only speaking, of course, of the parts that actually do.  We are leaving out all the misadventures, the wrong-headed directions, the lost careers sacrificed on a conviction that just didn’t turn out—the “undergrowth of science” if you will (a title of a very good book about just this sort of thing.)  So when we say “science works”, what we mean is that the parts that have worked ...  work; which is, of course, a mere tautology.   Of course it works.  We discarded all the stuff that didn’t.  But this is where the real strength of science is ... in its relentless pursuit of workability (with the non-scientific assumption that this is the best road to objective truth).   I’ve heard it said that science glories in change while religion glories in the eternal.  But this is too simple; as science also strives for enduring truth—those laws like gravity with a universality on which we can capitalize.  And religion for its own part also embodies, embraces, sometimes even demands change—so while the dichotomy illumines a valid point, it is limited in its scope.   

Are we also too generous when we concede essentially that science “is one” while religions “are many”?  Again, granting that this is even completely true, what does it really tell us?  Perhaps the most universal things science has are the language of mathematics, the interface between math and measurement (standardized units), and a general agreement about many of the obvious philosophies listed on the left side above.  Beyond these things (and yes they are substantial) science may branch out into many flavors and competitions—either theories in direct competition or else competition to be the first to publish or tweak or overturn an existing theory.  We nod, smile, and call this essential to a healthy scientific process.  Fine.   But the moment we see any religious disagreement or different thriving camps of religious thought, it is enlisted as evidence of disunity and dysfunction of religion in general.  The latter often has sacred writings and texts to which they appeal (in other words—language and with it: story, metaphor, historical narrative, claim of authority).   Here I think we can high-light something qualitatively different about mathematics.  I recently corrected a Wikipedia entry on a mathematical topic.  While nearly everything else written can have a citation demanded of it (where is that source?), my correction needed no such justification because the topic was simple enough that anyone with a bit of geometry knowledge could work out the truth of it for themselves.  In short, my “source” should anyone demand justification would be the proof itself and it would matter not if I was a math drop-out or a math Ph.D.  because credentials and authority are irrelevent if the math itself is accessible.   But again, religion has its equivalent kinds of “easy questions” that nearly everybody is going to agree on because of their axiomatic quality, and some of those will overlap with what science also leans on in the left column above while others may have nothing to do with science.  

If we drop our insistence on seeing things as “prize-fight” rivalries, and accept that there are different tools and trades which accomplish very different kinds of things in and for life, one can come out from behind their intellectual fortresses (prisons?) and start exploring again.

-Merv


GJDS - #78120

April 3rd 2013

Some of the best scientific research is done when various scientists disagree not only with each other, but are dissatisfied and demand more from standard theory (long standing well accepted theory) - indeed the converse is usually the case - the fewer scientist disagree and are disatisfied with a theory, the more likely that area stagnates.

As for theists and atheists and each of their worldviews, my personal experience has been one of equanimity on beliefs - in fact politics, academic freedom and grant competition are a far greater source of friction than any religious/anti-religious views that I know of. It may be that this differs in the USA?


Lou Jost - #78122

April 3rd 2013

GJDS, this comment is very welcome and helps me understand your comments criticizing me. If you had lived in the US, I think you would see  that it is very different here, and maybe you would not think I am quite so crazy for wanting religion to have less influence in the public sphere. Every week it seems there is new state legislature proposed to support some particular religious agenda. Just a few days ago, Republicans in North Carolina proposed legislature declaring that North Carolina has the right to declare a state religion….


Merv - #78125

April 3rd 2013

As Lou notes above, I think it must be more “religiously intense” over here, GJDS.   I have never traveled to Europe, but I have heard many others comment on their observations of the same.

Lou, you may have some strange bedfellows in your desire to have less religious influence in the public sphere.  As a Mennonite (Anbaptists have a history of regarding the state with suspicion at best—and take a dim view of what has happened to Christendom ever since Constantine) I share in your desire in this.  

-Merv


Lou Jost - #78137

April 3rd 2013

Nice to hear. I think the founding fathers were mainly concerned with protecting minority religions when they framed the Establishment Clause. Religious people should be the loudest in supporting separation of church and state.


Eddie - #78127

April 3rd 2013

But Lou, the kind of thing you are talking about has almost zero effect on the way most Americans actually live.  Yes, extreme conservatives and reactionaries propose all kinds of legislation, but everyone knows that they don’t have a chance of surviving court challenges, even if the legislatures should pass them—which is extremely unlikely.  The most extreme thing you get is some school board in a backwoods town passing some watered-down antievolutionary bill, involving a bureaucrat reading a four-paragraph statement expressing some minor doubts about Darwin to a Grade 9 biology class—before the biology course proceeds as usual, with the usual textbook (the “alternate” textbook being available not in the classroom but only in the library, and clearly optional).  And even that is challenged in court, and thrown out.

As for the rest, secular humanism rules the nation.  School prayers were banned 50 years ago.  Not long ago a Ten Commandments statue was ordered moved out of public space by the courts.  Same-sex marriage is being permitted in state after state.  Abortion is legal, thanks to the courts, and despite the fact that many Christians consider it to be murder.  The courts are overwhelmingly loaded with judges of a left-leaning secular education, even when they are Republican appointees, as the Dover Trial proved (a Democratic appointee couldn’t have sounded more secular humanist than the Dover judge did).  The mainstream media—public television stations, all the major private networks and almost all the major newspapers and magazines, are in the hands of the secular left.  Only talk radio is controlled mostly by the right and shows any steady sympathy with religious causes.  90% of all NAS members self-identify as atheist or agnostic; the US professoriate is overwhelmingly secular in the state colleges and Ivy League etc.

The idea that religion controls the public agenda in the USA is simply laughable.  It often thunders and blusters as if it can control the agenda; but it cannot.  When the Founding Fathers clearly endorsed the idea of a Creator of nature in American’s Founding document (the Declaration), but it is illegal to even hint at the existence of such a Creator when discussing the origin of nature in science class, it is clear who has insitutional power, and it isn’t the Christians.

More specifically, religion has zero effect on the way you do your science.  You don’t get edicts from Deans or granting agencies telling you how to write up your wilderness research, ordering you to make sure you mention God, Christ, etc.  Your colleagues are overwhelmingly secular and your grants, tenure, promotion, etc. are based on the quantity and quality of your research, not your religious views, which could not possibly be discerned from your population genetics equations.  Indeed, in the humanities and social sciences, it is much more common to find discrimination than in the natural sciences, because in the former subjects it is harder for a scholar to hide his personal views.  And I can tell you from experience that if you teach in a secular university, and you are teaching philosophy, theology, English literature, etc., the discrimination is all the other way—Christians are actively opposed and denied employment, grants, etc. 

I’m not defending the politics of the religious right, but the fact is that they don’t see themselves as persecutors; they see Christianity as persecuted by a relentlessly secular humanist university-judicial-media-political establishment, and their belligerence is an overreaction to that.  You are giving GJDS a one-sided view of what American life is like, based on a few celebrated battles over evolution in the schools etc.  In fact, any secular humanist scientist feels very comfortable at Harvard or Cornell or Stanford or any state university, and any secular humanist editor or writer or producer fits right in at the CNN, the New York Times, the New Republic, or the PBS.


Lou Jost - #78131

April 3rd 2013

Eddie, I have to disagree with most of what you just said. You are wrong that these are all harmless publicity stunts (though some certainly are). You have probably never watched a Texas Board of Education meeting. As an ex-Texan I have followed their proceedinhs for decades, and they are not a pretty sight. This is the board that sets statewide school textbook standards, and because Texas is such a big market, some publishers write their nationwide texts to satisfy the Texas standards. These guys not only deliberately undermine science education when it conflicts with their fundamentalist religious beliefs, they also revise history and social studies to match their right-wing conservative agenda. This affects a vast swath of American youth, and thus helps steer the future course of the US.

Then there is the House Committee on Science. I referred elsewhere to one member’s comment that the Big Bang, enbryology, and evolution were “lies straight from the pit of hell”. Most of the Republicans on that committee are biblical fundamentalists who deny evolution. This is the committee that guides national policy on science and technology, and oversees funding agencies. If you think these people are powerless, you have not been watching closely.

The complaints by the religious right about “persecution” and the separation of church and state are largely complaints about losing Christian privilege. I doubt they would like Muslim texts on government monuments. They might object to Mormon texts as well. They might even object to texts from Christian sects that were very different from their own. Some day some states in the US may have a majority that favors a religion quite different from yours. I think Utah is already majority-non-Christian (if I may consider Mormonism non-Christian). What then? What will you say when they put quotes from the Book of Mormon on the statehouse monuments and the entryways of public schools? Or inscriptions praising Allah in City Hall?

Science and philosophy departments certainly would not look favorably on hiring a young-earth creationist. Not because he is a Christian but because this belief demonstrates an inability to think clearly and understand the basics of science. You probably wouldn’t hire a flat-earther to teach your kid geology or astronomy, would you? The more abstract and less fundamentalist the Christian, the less it matters for academic hiring, and I think it is quite rare that someone would be discriminated against just for being a Christian.

Lou


Eddie - #78134

April 3rd 2013

Lou:

I don’t claim inside knowledge of what is said at policy meetings in Texas.  Nor do I agree with much of the fundamentalist religion in Texas or elsewhere.  But I would ask you to concentrate not on the aims of certain individuals or religious groups, but on the actual policies that get passed.  Have there actually been creationist books approved for the Texas high school science curriculum, for example?  Has creationism been put on the science curriculum, so that teachers are forced to cover creationism along with Darwinian evolution?

I’ve only followed the political side since 2005, but from what I’ve seen, the only policies that have ever been passed at the state level in Texas (or any other state) have mandated that evolution be taught in a critical fashion; I’ve seen no announcement of any policy that forces high schools to cover creationism or even ID in science class.  

As for the House Committee on Science, I presume that it has Democrats as well as Republicans on it, and that of the Republicans, some of them are Catholics, Episcopalians, etc., who are not fundamentalists.  And in any case, “evolution” hardly makes up most of “science”; the vast majority of scientific teachings are not objected to by even the narrowest of fundamentalists.  There are many fundamentalists with Ph.D.s in physics, chemistry, engineering, computer programming, mathematics, economics, etc.  There are plenty of fundamentalist doctors, nurses, druggists, dentists, electricians, etc.  The idea that fundamentalists are “against science” merely because they do not accept some of the inferences made in the historical sciences (evolutionary biology, cosmology, etc.) does not hold water.  And my understanding is that the main “Christian” concern about scientific research concerns things like biomedical ethics—experimentation on human subjects, the use of stem cells, etc.—not creation doctrine.  And Christians are hardly alone in expressing concerns about some of the Frankensteinian potential of biomedical technology.  Jews such as Leon Kass and Hans Jonas have done the same.  So if there are Christian voices on the Committee on Science, urging caution regarding some applications of reproductive technology, I think that’s a good thing.

It is rare for someone in academia to be overtly discriminated against “just for being a Christian” (the secular humanists, radical feminists, etc. who control the universities are far too worldly-wise to conduct themselves in ways that could lead to legal challenges), but it is not rare for someone to be discriminated against for doing the kind of academic work that a Christian would be likely to do.  For example, an orthodox Christian is more likely to think that the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle or Aquinas is true than to think that the philosophy of Derrida or Foucault or Gadamer or Dan Dennett or Richard Rorty is true; and that preference spells the doom of many a job application or grant application in philosophy, religious studies, etc., which departments are usually controlled by people with a strong preference for modern and inherently anti-Christian schools of thought.  And what about someone with Ph.D. in ethical philosophy from a good school, who has published several articles morally justifying capital punishment and morally condeming abortion?  Do you think such a person would have much of chance at any Ivy League university, or at most State universities, given that 85% of the faculty interviewing him for the job is almost certainly going to be pro-abortion and anti-capital punishment?  Do you really think that even “high quality of scholarship” will be enough to win him the job in such an ethos?

This is something you may not be familiar with, because there isn’t a “Christian” as opposed to an “atheist” way of sequencing a genome or inferring the nuclear structure of molybdenum, etc.  You people in the natural sciences don’t realize how lucky you are, that your private views on religion, politics, ethics, etc. are largely hidden from view when you present your work for peer evaluation; that’s not so in the humanities or social sciences.  And I can tell you that the secular university is not a friendly place for Christians in the latter fields—at least, not for Christians who believe in a full-bodied Christianity rather than the wishy-washy liberalism that currently dominates the mainstream Churches, where you can believe pretty well anything and call it Christian.  Christian faith can be segregated from mathematical skill and scientific techniques; it cannot be kept out of human matters.  And if you think that history, literature, philosophy, sociology, and religion departments consist mainly of people who are “neutral” and keep their personal “worldviews” out of their scholarship, you have another think coming.  The dominant ethos in the “arts” side of the secular university today is secular humanism; there is no “neutrality.”


Lou Jost - #78136

April 3rd 2013

That may be so; I really don’t know about the pressures on faculty in the humanities. Regarding TX, the last two years have seen a turnaround in the board and the standards for evolution are now normal. However, this required a lot of lobbying on the part of scientists.Remember that the recent governors of Texas (Bush and Perry) are religious fundamentalists, and the state legislature is famous for its remarkably backwards members.

Many of the Republican members of the House Science Committee are rabidly anti-science. The statement I quoted from Rep Broun, labelling the big bang, embryology, and evolution as “lies straight from the pit of hell”, and stating that the earth is only 10k years old, shows that his concerns are doctrinal rather than ethical. Several other members have made similar statements. I’m not privy to the committee’s deliberations so I don’t know what effect this has. But since the Republicans have a majority in the House, and since they tend to vote as a block on these ideological issues, this is something which should be taken seriously.


Eddie - #78142

April 3rd 2013

Lou:

I don’t deny that some politicians are motivated by narrow religious beliefs.  Politicians are elected by the people, and it’s not surprising if they sometimes advocate positions held by the people who elect them.  (And yes, this democratic reality sometimes leads to problems; but the alternative, rule by a caste of “experts” unchecked by democratic means, would be worse.) 

What I had in mind was the constant refrain by people like Chris Mooney that Republicans are “anti-science.”  But when these people list the examples of “anti-science,” after the usual young-earth, anti-evolution complaints, they go on to cite opposition to embryonic stem-cell research.  But the opposition to embryonic stem-cell research was not opposition to biological research per se; it was based on ethical beliefs about the ontological status of embryonic stem cells (which is obviously connected with the ethics of the abortion debate).  I’m told that other ways are now being found to do the same research, without using embryonic stem cells; as far as I know, no Christian groups have voiced opposition to these alternative methods.

I"ve also seen Republicans accused of being “anti-science” for opposing the extreme forms of the anthropogenic warming scare.  But many who are opposed to AGW-inspired policies do not deny that the earth has slightly warmed, or even that human activities play some role in the warming; the disagreement is usually over (a) how much warming CO2 emissions are responsible for; and (b) what is the appropriate economic/political/industrial response, especially in light of exemptions from controls granted by Kyoto to the world’s worst polluters, exemptions which give those polluters a huge economic advantage over countries forced to adopt strict controls.  Regarding (a) I claim no expertise, but I do know there are people with relevant Ph.D.s who dispute some of the assumptions in the models used to calculate these things; regarding (b) the issues are not scientific but pragmatic.  So if a Republican was opposed to the provisions of the Kyoto accord, either because he took the minority scientific view, or because he didn’t like the politics behind Kyoto, was he therefore automatically “anti-science”?  Not at all.  But it suited the purposes of the leftist intelligentsia to represent him so, because it added another example of “anti-science” to the list of Republican sins.   

Generally, it suits the purpose of polemical writers to lump unlike things together.  In the culture wars, rhetorical advantage takes priority over truth.  And I rarely seem to hear any reasonable, moderate people on the secular humanist side chastising their brethren for pulling these rhetorical dirty tricks.  They look the other way when it’s someone on their side who’s being less than intellectually honest.  (One rare exception was Ruse’s criticism of Dawkins’s irresponsible writing on religion.  I praise Ruse for that.)


GJDS - #78128

April 3rd 2013

It seems to me that the comments by Eddie are more realistic - I would also add that the debates/arguments/shouting matches I have become aware of regarding evolution in the USA blogs and other public space are strange to me. I have not seen any scientific thinking become such a source of antagonism and public bluster. That is one of the major reasons I have taken care to cite papers that have been written by evolutionists - and from the responses I have observed on this site, the criticism of Darwinian thinking in these papers is seen as offensive any ‘clueless’. This is odd by ant reckoning (ordinarily it would be seen as the outcome of outlandish statements by people such as Dawkins, but in the USA it seems as he has been outdone).

Just as a comment, evolution should be taught as a constantly modified theory in schools, and teachers should be made aware that the sciences should try and come up with something better. 


Lou Jost - #78132

April 3rd 2013

Evolution is indeed taught as a constantly modified theory. That is how science works.

Do you really continue to think that the papers you randomly quote-mined / cited, like the Nature Reviews-Genetics paper we discussed on another thread, said anything that undermined evolutionary theory? I explained to you that in fact it provided a beautiful confirmation of Darwinian theory. 


GJDS - #78140

April 3rd 2013

Lou, it is not ‘how science works’ and scientists do not live in fortresses, defending their favourite theory from being undermined. I have pointed out well argued papers by evolutionists, some of which bluntly state that tenets of Darwinism, such as natural selection (NS), are by themselves inadequate (e.g. if a species is selected as the fittest, NS ends there as a so called law of science). Others such as you accept the lack of mechanisms for evolution, while others talk of the arrow of complexity and the inadequacy of models that attempt to deal with it (this is only a quick summary and scattered example of the lacks of Darwinian thinking so do not get excited and start another argument - you can easily find my past posts if you wish).

To talk of Darwinian thinking as similar to bonding theory and quntaum mechanics is to indulge in the worst form of self-deception. In past posts I also gave examples where scientific understanding was inadequate and conservative scientist fought attempts to progress this to a better understanding (theory of acids and bases and solution chemistry). Your feelings for your favourite science may cloud your thinking (and why do Darwinians always use analogy to bolter their arguments?).

The difficulty is not how ‘Darwinian thinking works” as it plainly falls short of the mark. The real problem is the reluctance of evolutionists to seek a better theory - and this fairly tale of people (and religions) undermining it, is a response to threats to your belief system and not ‘how science works’ (spelling has not been checked).


Lou Jost - #78148

April 3rd 2013

I said “Evolution is indeed taught as a constantly modified theory. That is how science works.”  You answered “Lou, it is not ‘how science works’ and scientists do not live in fortresses, defending their favourite theory from being undermined.” How is that a response to what I said? I clearly stated that our theories are constantly subject to change; it is the opposite of living in a fortress defending a theory from being undermined.

Your quote-mining of articles is not a substitute for thought. And sure, there are scientists who criticize aspects of the theory, as there should be. To judge these, you have to actually analyze their arguments, and the responses in the literature.

Your comments lately have consisted almost entirely of strings of personal insults, without any serious argument. I’ll repeat what I have said many times to you: if you have some specific problem with evolution, or the idea of natural selection, let’s discuss it. Discussing something is not the same as throwing out random strings of quotes from articles, or filling comments with insults.


GJDS - #78149

April 3rd 2013

It seems that anything that criticises evolution or your take on atheism is an insult - perhaps you should reflect on your comments concerning various beliefs before complaining about being offended and insulted. You at least have the decency to admit that evolution is criticised in spite of your dogmatic stance(other atheist would show both of us what really insulting language is when this is said of Darwin). And oh yes, I am a practicing scientist with sufficient acknowledgement from my peers not to feel offended by your comments - and I am not a flat earther! As for your arguments and responses - enough is enough.


melanogaster - #78225

April 6th 2013

“I [Lou] said “Evolution is indeed taught as a constantly modified theory. That is how science works.” You [GJDS] answered “Lou, it is not ‘how science works’ and scientists do not live in fortresses, defending their favourite theory from being undermined.” How is that a response to what I said?”

I don’t see how it was a response to what you said either, Lou. I also notice that GJDS didn’t answer your perfectly reasonable question.


Merv - #78130

April 3rd 2013

Much of what Eddie says is probably a fair characterization indeed when we’re speaking of academia in the U.S.  But we still do live in a nation where the majority of citizenry is religious in some way or another, and presidents will probably not get elected unless they profess to be Christian.   (Even Mormonism was seen as pushing this a bit.)   So it isn’t any wonder that outspoken secularists still feel surrounded by threat.  

-Merv


Lou Jost - #78133

April 3rd 2013

Perhaps the differences between Eddie’s perceptions and mine stem partly from regional differences within the US. Texas is widely regarded as one of the worst states for religious interference. As evidence of the large regional differences, note that one of the most liberal states, California, passed a law (California SB1451, in 2010) to protect their own textbooks from being influenced by changes in standards made by the Texas Board.


Jim Clark - #78166

April 4th 2013

The authors mention only briefly the ultimate argument against their interpretation of how science works.  They wrote: “These fundamental beliefs cannot be proved from science itself. The fact that science actually works lends support to these beliefs…” 

Scientists’ degree of adherence to beliefs about the regular and natural state of the world is simply commensurate with the support for these beliefs from the success of science at explaining the world.  And there is such overwhelming support that to question these beliefs (hypotheses, premises, ...) is akin to arguing the world is 6,000 years old or that humans did not evolve from earlier species.  Our confidence in regularity and natural explanations is justified not by “proof” but by the same kind of supporting observations that have revealed the correct age of the earth and how humans evolved.

If one wanted a proof, it might go something like this: A. If the world was not regular, science would not work (predictions would fail, whatever, ...).  B. Science works (predictions do not fail, ...).  C. Therefore, the world is regular (not “not regular”).

Has someone come up with a model according to which science would work if the world were not governed by natural and regular laws?


Lou Jost - #80179

May 16th 2013

Well said.


Seenoevo - #78182

April 4th 2013

Kudos to Eddie (#78127, #78134, #78142). Well said. As an American with about half-a-century of American experience, I’d say his remarks are about 100% accurate.

p.s.

I did not intend the big bold text above. I copied it in a “civil” size, but when I pasted it I got the above result and was unable to change it. And I’m not going to retype it all.


Royal Ugly Dude - #78499

April 13th 2013

I think this entire site would greatly benefit from some historical study of the development of science—along the lines of Herbert Butterfield’s “The Origins of Modern Science”.  Too many discussions are caught up in the culture wars from the very begining.  

Unfortunatley for the blog authors, I think history vouches a much more simple definition of science.  The laying down of moral and philosophical enquiry into scholarship really was the driving force.  Science is not what anyone here would like to call it.     


Lou Jost - #78513

April 14th 2013

I don’t really understand your comment, but in any case, whatever the historical roots of science, the important thing in these discussions is what science is today: what it has grown up to become, not what it was when it was born. History provides perspective but it is not normative.


Royal Ugly Dude - #78597

April 16th 2013

To put another way, BioLogos has an “uncontrolled for variable”, the term science.   Why not spend some time looking into how it’s used today and where it came from.  

The readers would like to know more about devoted Christians like Boyle, Newton or Faraday.  They’d also be amazed at how natural history investigations slowly stopped describing things as good and bad, moral and immoral.      


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