13 September 2005



Science is based upon a process known as the Scientific Method. All science uses a modified form of this.

  1. Obersvation / Question - the scientist observes (notices) something s/he wants to learn more about, or comes up with a question he wants answered. For example, it rains on cloudy days. Why does it rain on cloudy days?

  2. Hypothesis - a guess as to the reason behind what he observes. The clouds are made of Super Crows, and when they shit it rains.

  3. Prediction - subtly different from hypothesis, it is the testable results expected if your hypothesis is true. If I look at a cloud with a telescope, I should be able to see the Super Crows.

  4. Experiment - carrying out the test implied by your predictions

  5. Conclusion - assessing whether you were right, how good the experiment was, etc. I didn't see any Super Crows, but I accidentally left the cap on the telescope, so I think that's why, and I need to try again.

You'll note that the key to this whole process is the ability to perform a test, experiment, or observation that can verify or deny your hypothesis. Some things are impossible to test, or impossible to prove false. There is a pink elephant somewhere on Earth. It's really damned hard to go everywhere on the Earth, and even if you could and you missed him, maybe he snuck to Nepal while you were in Japan, and then snuck back to Japan when you left for Antarctica. Johnny's got a crush on Melissa. You ask him if he's got a crush on her. If he says yes, you've proven your hypothesis true. If he says no, he's in denial to himself, or isn't admitting it to you, proving your hypothesis true. It's impossible to prove your hypothesis false.

Either of these cases are unfalsifiable - impossible to prove false through an experiment. A whole class of things that fall under "unfalsifiable" are the supernatural, including any higher powers and their effects, such as God, Creationism, and Intelligent Design (ID). I'm not saying ID is wrong, I'm saying it's untestable. There is nothing we can do to determine whether God created Adam and Eve, or just helped evolution along, or even only started the ball rolling with the Big Bang and then took a seat in the sidelines (sometimes called the Clockmaker Hypothesis).

  • Science requires the process of testing.

  • ID is impossible to test.

  • Logical conclusion: ID has no place in science.

Once again, just to make sure you get it, science does not say Intelligent Design is wrong, science says it is unable to say anything about it. Science admits a total failure to address the issue of God, and leaves it to the churches, the atheists, and the ACLU to duke out.


Matt Jones said...

Indeed. Although there is quite a bit of stuff in Creationism that is falsafiable, and is false. And that is just from the science end of things, not the mention that it doesn't actually line up with the Bible, exegetically speaking.


zandperl said...

What's "exegetically" mean?

As I understand it, when the Bible is taken literally there are actually three conflicting creation stories, where the order in which things were created was what varied. But I've only read Genesis the one time, and I'm not sure where I put my Bible...

One of the unscientific creationist hypotheses that gets my goat is that of God faking the geological record. Namely, the Earth is only some 5,000 years old, but God put dinosaur skeletons and radio isotopes and sedimentary layers in the ground to *look* like it was billions of years old instead. That kind of reasoning brings us back to Descartes' "I think therefore I am" solipsistic questioning of reality.

When did progress become a bad thing?

Matt Jones said...

Exegesis means "Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text." Biblical scholars employ exegesis to attempt to determine what the Bible means, more specifically, what it meant in the original context.

Often time Christians get charged with "picking and choosing" what parts of the Bible to follow. Often times this is the case (and not a good thing) at other times it is just that Exegesis has led us to believe that some parts were to be taken literally and some to be taken symbolically/metaphorically or that some passages were meant for all times and others were meant just for their particular readers. As you can imagine this is a daunting task, but quite interesting.

What many Christians (and non-Christians alike) don't often realize is that taking a literal interpretation of the Genesis account is just as much an interpretation as believing that the "days" were not literal. Exegetically speaking, the creation account is not meant to be literal days. The confusing part is finguring out what is literal and which is more poetic.

Young Earth Christians (and I am amazed how many there are) I think are severely misled. They seem to think that science has to fit with their idea of what they think the Bible says. But by doing this they are throwing away scientific evidence and therefore lose any sort of credibility in that community. The Bible also tells us that God doesn't lie, so why would he tell the earth is really old when it is actually 5000 years old? Doesn't make sense to me.

zandperl said...

Ah, I did know that some people seem to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to enforce, and I also knew it was possible to tease out who the author was of a section and what their purpose was in writing, however I never put the two together to think that some authors meant to be literal and some didn't.

You say Young Earth Christians try to force science to fit the Bible. They probably see ID-believers as forcing the Bible to fit the science, which they think is even worse. I'm sure IDers and Christians who believe in evolution have lost any credibility in the hard-line Christian community. Myself, I'm not sure which is more threatening to science, because at least Young Earthers don't really stand a chance of corrupting the high school science standards!

As for God lieing to / deceiving mankind, well, there are groups like GodHatesFags.com who unfortunately believe that God has already chosen those who are saved and has actually "hardened the hearts" of others. But that's as extreme as some ACLU cases where they want to ban Santas in malls or whatever it was. Now _that's_ hardline! I'm all for taking "God" out of the Pledge of Alleigance (it wasn't there in the first place, it was added in the 50's), but even I like Christmas carols!

Matt Jones said...

Exegesis is a big issue. Some want to make things literal whereas others want it to be a literary device. It can't be a simple method of picking and choosing. The problem is that it takes a lot of work so most people will just believe what they think they are supposed to believe even if it isn't actually Biblical.

The Artful Dodger said...

Another problem with Intelligent Design is that it assumes that in order to achieve complexity (like the diversity of life seen in nature), you need to have a complex design. They assert that complex life could not evolve from simple natural selection, and that there has to be a supernatural force behind it.

If you go to my blog, I have a nice post refuting this assumption. You don't need complex design to achieve complexity!