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Still in the Dark
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Wendy Wippel

Confession time: My guilty summer pleasure, one I indulge in every Sunday afternoon, is bobbing around my pool in a giant floaty chair (with a giant diet coke in its cupholder), reading science magazines. Doubly stimulating (with both sensory and cognitive input), thus doubly entertaining.  Have you read any popular science lately? Then you know I mean entertaining.

Today’s magazine was Discover (JULY/August) which lists a table of contents of sorts on its cover. One of the cover stories was entitled, “How to Fight Science Skeptics”.

The article starts out very objectively, with an explanation that we are all programmed to think irrationally, particularly when the subject butts up against existing beliefs.  We all have what they call “cognitive biases”, which means that we are more likely to accept as truth things that support what we already believe.  Every human being has these cognitive biases.

That said, the article then shape shifts quickly into becomes an us- against- them (meaning the scientists against the moronic masses that don’t drink every Kool-Aid cocktail they mix up.) Which you could have pretty much guessed was coming, given that the word “fight” was used instead of a long list of other words they could have chosen, isn’t it? 

Like maybe, "converse with science skeptics?” “Persuade science skeptics?” Even “Debate science skeptics”?  Nope. It’s how to fight science skeptics. 

They have met the enemy. And it is us.  But that’s not news, is it?

As further attested by the article when it gets into their examples of how to fight us.

They begin by describing our supposed battle tactics:

1) We reject the science based on our own misguided interpretations of it, not the actual findings. i.e.  “People will say, well, if evolution is true, then we don’t have souls, or we should all behave like animals.”

This kind of reasoning, they say, occurs because that we can’t bring ourselves to look objectively at the actual evidence for evolution. Because our belief in God requires acceptance of creation, and the evidence for evolution “would bring our world view crashing down.”

Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard professor and foremost evolutionary biologist, said,

“The fundamental reason why a lot of paleontologists don't care much for gradualism is because the fossil record doesn't show gradual change and every paleontologist has know that ever since Cuvier. If you want to get around that, you have to invoke the imperfection of the fossil record. Every paleontologist knows that most species, most species, don't change. That's bothersome if you are trained to believe that evolution ought to be gradual. In fact, it virtually precludes your studying the very process you went into the school to study. Again, because you don't see it, that brings terrible distress."

Molecular biologist Francis Crick said,

"What is so frustrating for our present purpose is that it seems almost impossible to give any numerical value to the probability of what seems a rather unlikely sequence of events... An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.'

Francis Crick worked out the mechanisms of inheritance by DNA. Dr.Gould taught evolution at Harvard.

I don’t think they were science skeptics.  But they looked at the evidence and found room for debate.

Our second battle tactic, according to the “scientists” is, “amplifying” legitimate disagreements among scientists in order to discredit evolutionary science”. 

Translation: We seize on small scientific disputes as reason to dismiss the whole theory.

I think by “amplifying”, they pretty much mean just having the nerve to bring up the fact there is nowhere near consensus among scientists on the fine points of evolutionary theory, (like I just did with Crick and Gould), nor agreement between different lines of evidence.

Because we’re the moronic masses who have no right to poke holes in what evolutionists want to present as stone-cold consensus on evolutionary theory as absolute fact. 

(Despite the absolute fact that the universally accepted Scientific Method defines any existing scientific theory as something that cannot be considered absolute truth. Because further research always has a potential to prove any existing theory false.)

According to Discover,

Evolution is one of the foundations of modern biology, but biologists are still discovering details about how evolution works”…. Scientists “debate the nuts and bolts of how evolution works”; they don’t argue over whether or not it happens.”

Not true.  There are plenty of scientists who deny that evolution happens. They are just marginalized and ignored.

Discover goes on to that science skeptics bring up “gadflies”, (i.e., scientists whose views are out of step with the majority of the field), rather than the most trustworthy experts on an issue.

Ummm…..  That’s pretty much the way that science progresses.  The “one out of step” with the current theories often proves the current theory wrong.

The third tactic which science skeptics are accused of adopting is to actually have the audacity request equal consideration for the possibility that the world may have been created-- by a divine Creator-- in the public debate.  According to Discover,

“In most cases, this appeal is invoked to give false equivalence to a concept like intelligent design, which lacks evidence. If not counteracted, this approach can lend legitimacy to debates without scientific merit."

In whose opinion?

And, ummm…. Michael Turner, physicist at the Fermi Lab in Chicago, has pointed out that the odds of the universe being fine-tuned for life on earth makes the odds of it happening randomly very, very slight. His analogy, to be precise, was that precision required for life to exist on earth would be roughly equivalent to that of throwing a dart across the entire universe and hitting a bullseye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.

Those kinds of statements, coming from non-Christian scientists, in my opinion beg some public debate.

Fat chance.

Easily the most Entertaining aspect of the article is their suggestions for bringing us science skeptics into their fractious fold.

1) “Be a good listener and make a connection.” “Their arguments aren’t based on reason, but emotion.”

Translation: Pretend like you’re taking our point of view seriously.

2) “Figure out where they’re coming from and devise a frame that speaks to that… their beliefs are “tied to their identity or social group… convince them that “it’s gutsy and strong “to change their minds”. 

Translation: We’re too stupid to have examined the evidence and found it wanting. And we’re socially bereft enough to cave to anyone who acts like they like us.

3) Focus on the Facts

Again, fat chance. At least, when the facts are don’t fit their preconceived ideas.

The bottom line, according to these “scientists” is that “scientists” are the only ones who can actually evaluate the evidence, and then only if they’re scientists who will cheerfully dance the Darwin Dougie.

After all, there’s no such thing as a real Christian Scientist. (As far as they know.)

Both the editors of Discover and the authors of this particular piece of smug scientific journalism (using both terms loosely), have, ostensibly, thoroughly forgotten the thoroughly Christian origins of science.  

Despite the fact that Stephen Hawking wrote a book (On the shoulders of Giants) which re-publicized the work of the five specific “Giants” who were the founders of just about all we know about the universe we live in.

Namely, Copernicus, who said,

“after applying himself to things which he sees established in the best order and directed by Divine ruling, would not through diligent contemplation of them ... admire the Artificer of all things”.

Kepler, who described his work as;

 "thinking God's thoughts after Him"

Galileo, who said,

“I render infinite thanks to God, for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries…. the works of nature and of God are miraculous."

Newton, who said,

“blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and everywhere, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing."

Einstein, who said,

“A legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist."

The funny thing is that you can trace the evolution of the spin applied to this article through just a little bit little bit of paying attention. The article itself is actually entitled “Users guide to Rational Thinking". Cut through flawed assumptions and false beliefs with these strategies—including your own.  Discover’s actual Table of Contents adds the summary:

“It’s tricky talking to people who won’t accept facts as facts, and it’s tough to acknowledge our biases. But our guide is here to help”.

Then, finally, the plug for the article on the front cover, “How to Fight Science Skeptics.”  

They may not acknowledge their own biases, but they do make them hard to miss.  And, in doing so, miss the crux of the disagreement. 

It’s not the science we’re skeptical of.

Not at all.  It’s the “God is a fantasy” agenda-driven interpretation of the science that’s the problem. 

That and their zeal to squelch the voices of all those—scientist or otherwise-- who would dare to disagree with their interpretation.

Who is it that won’t accept facts as facts?

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Requiem for Reason

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