Science, Bias, and Presuppositions

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Again and again the themes of science, bias, and presupppositions kept cropping up all across the blogosphere today.

Across the Blogosphere (...I didn't even like that movie)

So, I have to talk about.

The first post was Mike Brotherton's rant against homeschooling. Well, not homeschooling, but the problems with "religious indoctrination" when it comes to science. Basically, he doesn't like "science fairs" where all exhibits should include a Scripture reference and relate all areas of science to the Creator of the universe. This is intellectually dishonest, and has very little to do with science, especially since the list of suggested topics contains a bunch of "why" questions... something which science can't answer. In short, we're starting with a presupposition and working toward it.

Then I hit a fascinating, and rather pointed, post by Stephen Douglas about Why Creationists are Creationists. He states that Creationists have a beef with Evolutionary Theory not on the grounds of science, but rather on the basis of their theological beliefs about the nature of the Genesis account.

Other people were talking about this as well, so I feel the need to jump in.

1. It's true: In the cited cases these are not science questions and have nothing to do with the scientific method.

2. From my observation, however, much of the study of evolution has been done largely apart from the scientific method as well: We simply can't 1. Use our experience to 2. Form a conjecture whereby we can 3. Deduce a prediction and then 4. Test--Wikipedia--when it comes to forming new species. Instead, we have to rely on other observations, ideas, and thought-experiments. We look through what we currently have and try to figure out why that may be the case.

3. While there is compelling research which is producing very interesting cases for an evolutionary origin of the many species we have around us--some of which is not questioned by anyone; like, the many variations of dogs we have--I'm fairly confident there are actual scientific reasons to distrust the hypotheses of full-blown evolutionism.

4. It is true that Creationists come at these questions with a strong bias, but I think there is true scientific inquiry in some cases. On the other hand, Evolutionists come at these questions with their own strong bias, but they too engage in true scientific inquiry.

We simply can't escape our presuppositions. They are the basis--the bias--from which we operate. I've been reading my dad's blog with much interest as he wrestles with some of the evidence that is out there. It has been very informative and I have been looking into things on my own a little as well. And in my findings I came across a guy who said that the fossil record is constantly revealing the "missing links" between the species.

My wife, an archeology minor in college, rolled her eyes. "That's ridiculous," she said. "The only reason they are finding that kind of thing is because that's the only thing that you can get a grant for. I'd have to see actual evidence, and not just hear about it from someone who wants to find that kind of thing. The field of archeology simply isn't that cut and dry. There is no motivation to find variations within a species, only to find new species because that's what makes the headlines."

This post is already way too long, but I think my point is this: Our presuppositions dictate our biases. We have them, but we should allow them to be challenged. The problem I see is that many people write off the other side as either willfully ignorant--I've heard "f-ing retards" more than once--or evil and mislead--I've seen the equivalent of "godless heathen" more than once as well. From what I've seen, there is yet little truly convincing science on either side.

Though, despite that bias, I'm willing to hear the evidence, and I'll try to keep my brain engaged when you start presenting your ideas.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

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