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Science and Truth

25 September 2012, 14:59

There is no lie so outrageous that it will not be believed when told by someone in authority. When that lie claims science as its father, the lie becomes even more insidious, because science is defined in the following manner, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

There has been much in the way of diatribe on these pages, people from both sides of the fence indulging in name-calling, including the term, or let us say epithet, ‘liar’. Because we disagree. These are the same people who espouse the scientific method as their own, yet reject any findings not concurrent with what they see as the truth.

‘Evolution is fact, not theory, and the sooner people realise this, the better it will be for all concerned.’ Sir Julian Huxley, Cambridge Free Press, 1966.

‘The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.’  Stephen J Gould, Harvard University. Evolution’s Erratic Pace, Natural History Vol. 5, May 1977.

Two men of equal standing in the biological and anthropological community. Which one is right? It is a fact that people believe those in authority because they are in authority.

In an experiment conducted in the seventies, and again in 2009 by Derren Brown, volunteers were asked to participate in an experiment. They were in a booth, and in the opposite booth was an actor, visible to them at all times. He was wired up to electrodes, fake, of course. They were to ask him a question. When he got the answer wrong, they were to ‘shock’ him, increasing the amount of current with every wrong answer, until it was enough to kill him.

Eight of the ten volunteers went through with the experiment, going all the way, supposedly killing the man in the other booth. Why? Because a man in a white coat badgered them, and insisted that they had volunteered for the assignment. They were all greatly relieved to find him alive and well after the experiment, but they went through with it.

We accept authority.

So when someone with the authority of Julian Huxley or Richard Dawkins tells us that evolution is fact, we accept it. After all, they’ve devoted their lives to the study of the subject. They have papers published in peer-reviewed journals, how could they possibly be wrong?

And when we look at cells dividing and growing, as they do, it’s quite logical to assume that evolution would work on a similar principle. But if someone as highly regarded as Stephen J Gould, who still believes the theory, sees the problems inherent in it, why do we blindly rush to accept it?

‘The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages has been a persistent and nagging problem for evolution.’  Dr. Stephen J Gould, Evolution Now, Harvard University.

Is he being disingenuous with this statement, or is he merely stating his misgivings with something widely accepted as fact?

‘Life cannot have had a random beginning ... The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.’ Sir Fred Hoyle, Evolution from Space, 1981.

‘To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.’ Charles Darwin, 1872 

Questions and suppositions posing as answers, pretty much like Richard Dawkins’ explanation. It is nowhere near adequate to explain something as exquisitely formed as the eye. What it is, or seems to be, is a tortuous method of harmonising evolution with awkward questions, such as the paucity of the fossil record.

Stephen J Gould, surely the pre-eminent microbiologist working today, was recently excoriated for questioning, not evolution as such, but the data-gathering methods and, indeed, the conclusions drawn. He was treated as if he were a creationist! He was put on the rack and compared to Uri Geller!

Surely, if one is using the scientific method, the truth, no matter how awkward, is what we would hope to find? And if that truth were that Intelligent Design was explicitly seen in every stage of evolution, as some respected biologists claim, why would that be an affront to them?

So now we come, almost inevitably, to the Bible, and the trashing it receives almost daily on these pages. If these people applied their well-beloved scientific method to the study of this book they would find, to their surprise or horror, I don’t  know which, that Jesus lived. They would also find that the Gospels accounts are unquestionably true, that the Resurrection happened, and that there is therefore very little question of the miracle accounts.

They would find the Bible to be historically accurate, as well as marvellous in terms of fulfilled prophecy. If they used the scientific method.

We cannot use the scientific method to test for God. We cannot use the scientific method to test for the Big Bang. What we can do is look at the data, examine it ,and reach a conclusion by extrapolation, which is the scientific method.

Dismissing anything without first determining its veracity is anything but scientific, and smacks of the close-mindedness associated with the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages.

Or the comments on these pages.

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