Sunday, January 11, 2015

In Practice, the Origins Debate is Often Misinformed

Strong Beliefs, Weak Knowledge

When it comes to the origins debate, it sometimes seems that everyone is an expert. Consider international business consultant Greg Satell who shared his wisdom yesterday, at the Forbes website, in a piece entitled “How The War On Science Affects Us All.” Satell begins with the centuries-old demarcation problem which attempts to define what is and isn’t science.

On the surface, the term “scientific” seems to be a fairly arbitrary distinction.  After all, both alien hunters and SETI scientists are both engaged in a search for truth, but the difference is that the work of scientists, when properly done, is reproducible and testable and that makes all the difference. Science matters not because of its greater truth, but its lesser solipsism.

So real science is “reproducible and testable.” The army of philosophers working on the demarcation problem can now put down their pens—Satell has solved the problem. No matter that Satell’s finding immediately fails on his own example. Why is the SETI scientist’s radio recording of 3.1415 “reproducible and testable” while the alien hunter’s video recording of a saucer flying overhead is not?

Satell next tells his readers that skeptics doubt evolution because after all, “no one actually saw humans evolve.” Satell gives no references or examples because there are none, at least none from any serious skeptics. This straw man argument tells us more about Satell than about skeptics.

Satell next moves to the topic of the age of the Earth, explaining that “The bible says that the earth is several thousand years old.” Again no reference is given because the Bible doesn’t actually say this. That is one interpretation. And while it may well be correct, it nonetheless is an interpretation. There is no passage that says “the earth is several thousand years old,” and that is an important distinction.

Unfortunately such ignorance, misrepresentation and inaccuracy unusual. Too often the topic of origins is informed by simplistic Warfare Thesis stereotypes and straw men rather than informed judgment. People will always disagree but let’s at least be knowledgeable in our disagreement.


  1. But the French are now learning that there are real consequences in scientism, and the believe that there is no God whose commandments we have to follow.

    1. Is that seriously a reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks? The guys that yelled "Allahu Akbar" as they murdered a bunch of people?

  2. Really weird, too, once allegiance is sworn to "science" so defined, is the common practice of speculating all manner of cause and effect that "explain" why plants or animals evolved their particular characteristics. For example: ..."flower-trap separation evolved because carnivorous plants are often short and need to project their flowers well above ground level to make them more attractive to pollinators."
    This hypothesis attributes "purpose" and "strategic thinking" to the supposedly mindless and purposeless evolution/creator.
    Not only frustrating, but sad...

  3. Good thread.
    What is "improper science"? Is that NOT science or science of a lower caste as determined by this satell.
    If science is so specialized in its office then why does this Satell know anything?
    Testable/repeatable eh! Well you first! If evo is true you should have aplenty. list the top three!

    Satell accuses creationists etc of being at war on science.
    That sounds like fighting words!
    I accuse that its a false accusation, ignorance or malicious hmmm, against countrymen or fellow humans done in order to compel obedience to certain conclusions in origin subjects.
    i accuse that they see no war from "us" except in this and so its not a war against science at all.
    If we agreed with their evolution stuff would we still be at war ?? Or would they drop the charge right away?
    Its an inaccurate, unjust, unintelligent, portrayal of their opponents
    Yet since they don't see the error of evolutionism then they are being consistent in their quality control of investigation and conclusions.
    Seems that way from Canada.