Faith or Science and-or BOTH
Like the monolith in the 1968 movie ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’, many people today regard science as a shining, monolithic spire of truth rising above the landscape of human ignorance and superstition. Because of that, I often talk with people who fully apply all their critical thinking skills, and their full Internet-searching abilities, to see if they can discover a weak link in evidence for the truth of Christian beliefs. However, they have a complete, unquestioning faith in science. That makes for one of the great scientific mysteries of the ages. Moreover, they come to this ‘faith’ by reading and repeating what the establishment says they should believe and this is done typically by publishing a series of narrowly focused technical papers based on their own experimental research which generally does little to advance the subject matter. And what is worse, they are not explaining the preexisting evidence in a new or more coherent way.
As a software developer who has spent the last 20 years of my career working within the medical, physical therapy, insurance and oil and gas industries, I consider myself knowledgeable in various aspects of science and the deductive scientific method. I have become increasingly appalled and even shocked at what passes for science in a wide variety of disciplines. It has become a mix of good science, bad science, creative story-telling, science fiction (the multiverse), scientism (atheism dressed up as science), citation-bias, huge media announcements followed by quiet retractions, massaging the data, exaggeration for funding purposes, and outright fraud all rolled up together. In some disciplines, the problem has become so rampant that the “good science” part is drowning in a mess of everything else. I will cover each of the above problems in another article.
One must first understand what constitutes good science if you are going to criticize it. Good science, requires very little faith and should be trusted as far as we can trust anything that human beings try to do well.
The heart of good science is the scientific method. I have criticized Wikipedia on my blogs many times (it is very liberal and left-leaning). On this subject, though it has a good description of the scientific method. First, on the basis of a question, observation, or known laws of physics, draft a possible answer, explanation or “hypothesis.” Next, advance a falsifiable prediction on the basis of the hypothesis. Then, experimentally test the prediction. If the prediction is falsified, modify or abandon the hypothesis. If it is verified, the hypothesis is strengthened and lives to see another day.
Modify or abandon the hypothesis seems to be a major problem in academia today. It is part of the ‘political correctness’ running rampant today in society and in ‘higher education’. Nobody is wrong anymore, and certainly do not wish to admit that they were wrong, or had a wrong idea, or spent time researching something that was not productive and goodness gracious wasted money from a governmental grant.
Avoid a double standard in how you apply your critical thinking skills; scientific claims are not above question. When you see a scientific claim, see if there is actually experimental verification of a falsifiable prediction. You might be surprised at how often a falsifiable prediction is not tested or even mentioned. Look for the use of creative stories, or words like “suggests” or “may have” to make up for a lack of substance. Investigate whether evidence that does not support the hypothesis or prediction is being ignored.
Above all, have a clear understanding of the scientific method and consider how well each claim adhered to that method. Coming up, I will look at the specific types of problems listed in the second paragraph, with examples, of corruption in 21st-century science that are in contrast to good science and the scientific method.
Why am I doing this? I will be showing, eventually, that we can come to conclusions about our past and our future using a variety of scientific methods using both inductive and abductive (a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation) reasoning.