Cautionary tale for Darwin Day: Darwin and the bounds of true science
|February 11, 2014||Posted by News under Culture, Darwinism, News|
Tomorrow, and the liturgical colour this year seems to be red.
But now back to 1857:
My dear Dr Gray
I must thank you for your two very valuable letters. It is extremely kind of you to say that my letters have not bored you very much, & it is almost incredible to me, for I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.
Which would have been fine. If we don’t speculate, we don’t have any ideas to sort through.
But, a century and a half later, a mass following develops for whom “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” (Dawkins 1986) Many of them go into evolutionary biology.
Now Darwinism is consensus science in biology. Speculation is limited to jamming nature into his ideas, whether or not she fits. And his followers, given their emotional commitments, are just the people to do it.
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had…
Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.
ASA executive director Randy Isaac explicitly encourages Christians to accept “consensus science,” and to trust specially informed experts. In an editorial in the American Scientific Affiliation Newsletter, he wrote,
One of the most important aspects of scientific methodology involves that of scientific consensus. Recognizing that every one of us as a scientist has subjective biases or incomplete knowledge that might influence our scientific understanding, the scientific community has developed a focus on consensus. When diverse scientists with expertise in a given topic, working from many different perspectives, independently obtain data and analyses that confirm a particular theory, and they come to substantial agreement among themselves, there is consensus.
Integrity in the science classroom means accurately reflecting the state of consensus at any given time.
The ASA respectfully listens and fosters discussions of such ideas, but in the end, the standards of consensus science and the basic creeds remain the appropriate criteria for assessing our progress. In all things, we seek a better understanding of what God has revealed to us through his Word and his creation.
A creed for people who never had an idea worth defending in their lives.
By contrast, the editors of the Cambridge journal Philosophy, published by the Royal Institute of Philosophy (2010), remind us that “scientific consensus is sleep inducing, intellectually speaking.”
Oh wait, that isn’t a contrast. These philosophers are just people who don’t want to go to sleep. Not like the others.
Hat tip: Daniel Quinones
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