Thursday, December 01, 2005

Heretics Today

In 1633 Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment for advocating the scientific theory of heliocentrism (the sun as the center of the Universe). This theory, which Copernicus inaugurated among medieval Europeans, was strongly opposed by the Catholic political establishment of the day. The official doctrine was geocentrism (the earth as the center of the Universe), although, a number of individuals in the establishment were open minded about heliocentrism.

A study of the legal and political events surrounding Galileo’s trial shows that the main reason for establishment opposition to helicentrism was the belief that it would diminish political power and authority. The actual scientific merits of the theory were never really an issue.

We now know that some of Galileo’s conclusions were flawed, even by the scientific standards of the day, but his observations made it impossible to support geocentrism. However, the establishment prohibited even the dissemination of Galileo’s observations, let alone his conclusions. The message to others was clear: don’t even think about challenging geocentrism.

This episode is often cited to support the idea of religious contempt for science. However, taken in a broader view, it is a classic example of suppression of competing thought by an establishment of power.

Fast forward almost four centuries. In our enlightened era, an establishment of power is doing everything possible to prevent serious debate of a particular theory accepted as scientific. Most of our schools are prohibited from even discussing certain observations, while the officially sanctioned doctrine is proclaimed to be unassailable fact. As in Galileo’s day, the establishment is less concerned about actual science than it is about losing power.

The firm entrenchment of Darwinist theory in our educational industrial complex is receiving some unwelcome competition from the heretical theory of Intelligent Design (called junk science in this link). The establishment’s opposition to questioning Darwinism smacks of the same stuff as the suppression of Galileo.

Tom Bethell points out here that the establishment’s main argument against Intelligent Design (ID) is that the theory is not scientifically verifiable. That is, there is no acceptable test currently available to determine whether it is true or false. But Bethell points out that supporters of Darwinism necessarily cut off the branch upon which they are sitting with this argument, because there is also no actual test available to determine whether Darwinism is true or false, either.
“Darwin's claim to fame was his discovery of a mechanism of evolution; he accepted "survival of the fittest" as a good summary of his natural-selection theory. But which ones are the fittest? The ones that survive. There is no criterion of fitness that is independent of survival. Whatever happens, it is the "fittest" that survive — by definition. This, just like intelligent design, is not a testable hypothesis. As the eminent philosopher of science Karl Popper said, after discussing this problem that natural selection cannot escape: "There is hardly any possibility of testing a theory as feeble as this." Popper was the first to propose falsification as the line of demarcation between theories that are scientific and those that are not; both intelligent design and natural selection fall by this standard.”
Scientist John P. Pratt takes a parallel vein here, where he discusses how public application of science has been twisted away from the actual scientific method. He says that a couple of lies have been very successfully perpetuated in our society. One is the secular myth that “[n]othing exists which cannot be observed.” The truth, of course, is that “science is the study of everything that can be observed, but true science makes no claim that it is the study of everything that exists.” Otherwise, we would have to conclude that atoms did not exist before they could be observed via a verifiable test.

Pratt says that those that use the shield of science to promote a secular or atheistic agenda use the sleight of hand trick of “focusing on the past and on the future, which are both areas beyond direct observation of the present, the realm of science.” This allows the “fabricat[ion] all sorts of complete nonsense about the origins of the universe, the solar system, the earth and all of the creatures that live on it. None of these theories can be tested, but that does not stop [them] from [being] proclaim[ed] as absolute truth.”

The National Center for Science Education represents the establishment view that Darwinism is an irrefutable fact. It has a humorous project called Project Steve, which attempts to show that scientists overwhelmingly believe that a Darwinist form of the theory of evolution is unquestionably true. Did you get that? They are counting scientists that *believe* that Darwinism is true. Perhaps they arrived at their conclusions by observing the scanty fossil record, but Hugh Nibley discusses here how easy it is to misinterpret the record and how established points of view influence conclusions. We have many examples in history of many people being wrong together while mutually supporting each other’s beliefs.

The fact is that there is *no one* on the face of the earth that can satisfactorily demonstrate macroevolution a la Darwin. There is no procedure currently in existence that can test the theory for success or failure. What we are teaching as solid truth in our schools is nothing more than the strong belief of people comprising the power structure of our education establishment. And exactly how is this basis superior to that of ID? Both systems require faith.

I’m not suggesting that we begin teaching ID in our schools. I am advocating that we take a serious, objective, rigorously scientific look at evolution as it is taught in our schools today and develop a rational policy without regard to the existing education power structure, the religion of secularism or any other religion. But we should not continue to disingenuously teach as scientific fact a theory that cannot be demonstrated as such.

1 comment:

Mark Wyatt said...

I would like to point out that your example of Galileo is miguided. No one to this day has even demonstrated that the earth moves. See my Geocentricity 101 series. Go to the blog after my name, and look for the following menu:

[b]Geocentricity 101: A beginner's Course[/b]
Geocentricity 101, Part I: Basic Principles
Geocentricity 101, Part II: Basic Physics
Geocentricity 101, Part III: Scriptural and Church Position
Geocentricity 101, Supplement: Discussion of Scripture and Church Position

Mark Wyatt