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Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:02 pm
I wrote a short story called "The Truth of Science." In it, a God-hating lawyer, named Clara Owen, is indignant that Dr. Nick Johnson, a Biology teacher and a Philosopher of Science, that God could have Intelligently Designed the Big Bang and the universe. In the story, both arguments are valid; yet, one, in the end, is more consistent with the truth of science than the other. Meanwhile, both individuals, one from legal background and one from a scientific one, battle in court. Regardless of whether or not one likes the ruling, the argumentation is likely to hold the reader's attention until the end of this story.
The Truth of Science
Judge Sam Bench glanced at Attorney of Law Clara Owen before fixing a brief stare of Dr. Nick Johnson, who received his doctorates in Biology and the Philosophy of Science from Yale. Judge Bench measured his words carefully in his hands, then spoke: "I'll be deciding this case today based on whether arguments are valid and whether they are sound. If either one of these fails the test, I will count the argument as defective. Now, the issue before is entails whether or not Intelligent Design is allowed to be spoken of in a Biology class or if it is inappropriate on the basis of science. I'll hear arguments by Ms. Owen first and then refutations by Dr. Johnson afterward. Ms. Owen, you have the floor."
Attorney at Law Clara Owen rose from to her feet and stood in front of the court. "Today, I will prove that science suggests that everything can be explained by the physical universe, proves theories, and makes things simple by allowing observations which are always right to be, well, right. God, on the other hand, is mysterious and cannot be properly analyzed. I'll let you hear what I have to say and show why it is improper to speak about an immaterial Being in a subject which discusses only hard facts."
"When speaking of origins, science looks for material explanations to questions such as how did something arise, how does it continue to survive, and so on. So, therefore, my first argument is simply this. Premise one. Science demands that all topics are addressed by material explanations. God, however, is immaterial and, therefore, is not subject to physical explanations. We can't be selective about how we explain things. We must be consistent. Premise two. The subject of origins is a topic. Conclusion: the subject of origins can be addressed by material explanations."
"I also would like to point out that all scientific observations prove certain facts. For example, science has proved that the Earth is round and it also orbits the Sun. Scientific laws, though, don't make arguments from from authority, which is what the Bible does. How can we prove something if its sole basis is 'God said so.' We can't. So, I'll summarize my second argument now. Premise one. All scientific observations prove certain facts. Premise two. We observe the Earth is round and it also orbits the Sun. Conclusion: we are certain of the fact that the Earth is round and it orbits the Sun."
My last argument is one from probabilities. Let me lay out the argument. Premise one. If something has always been observed to act in a specific manner, it will always act in a specific manner. Premise two. Opposite poles of magnets have always been observed to attract each other. Conclusion: opposite poles of magnets will always attract each other. How, though, do we analyze God's behavior in terms of a consistent test? How can we if He is Everything."
"To conclude, I have shown how science's emphasis on materialism, veridicality, and observation help us know what is true in the world. Please keep our science classrooms free of myths. Thank you."
"Okay," said Judge Bench, I have heard from Ms. Owen. Dr. Johnson, I want to hear why you disagree with her."
Dr. Johnson stood up slowly and centered himself in front of Judge Bench. "I do not know what to say. Ms. Owen gave a complete caricaturization of the Philosophy of Science. She also presupposes that nothing but the material universe exists. Well, even famed atheist and theoretical physicist Dr. Stephen W. Hawking admits that "Everything breaks down at the Big Bang." If one is honest, then one must at least be agnostic in admitting that one does not know what comes before it. This implies that a God could have created the conditions to set off the Big Bang. And, if Ms. Owen does not know what existed before the Big Bang, then how does she know whether there is an immaterial branch of the universe that no one can know about? Aren't we allowed to ask questions in science, even if they challenge atheistic beliefs?"
"Now, when I negate Ms. Owen's three Barbara syllogisms, which take the form All P's are Q's, I want you to notice the following things: science is limited to observations of the physical realm, science proceeds by falsification, not verification, and science is based on deductive reasoning, rather than inductive reasoning. Let's take a look at what Ms. Owen had to say before remarking on it."
"Mrs. Owen believes that all topics are addressed by material explanations. However, holding this view is a matter of personal preference. It is not a scientific prerequisite to assume that nothing but matter exists. In Sir Karl Popper's 'Logic of Scientific Discovery,' we are told that science deals with a process whereby former theories are disproved in search of better ones, which, in the future, are falsified for ones with yet better explanatory power, ad infinitum. It does not touch upon the subject of whether or not God exists. The disproof of God, according to Popper, is not the concern of scientific hypothesization and testing. The importance of the scientific method involves disproving theories such as the Earth is flat or the Sun orbits the Earth. Dr. John Lennox, a Christian apologist who attained a Philosophy of Science Ph. D. from Cambridge University and a Math Ph. D. from Oxford, points out that Sir Peter Medawar, a Philosopher of Science, says that science cannot address literary concerns, which touch upon issues of human emotion. Dr. Lennox also believes scientific laws describe what occurs in certain situations rather than causing those scenarios to occur. Origins cause things to happen whereas hypothesization of them seeks to explain such phenomena. One comes first; the other describes what happens afterward. Ms. Owen wants both cause and effect to be simultaneous to each other and that's not how scientific exploration is done. So, my refutation to topic number one is that some topics are not addressed by material explanations."
"As I said in my first argument, the objective of science is to falsify defective theories and seek corroborative support of newer and better ones. Ms. Owen's comments suggest that scientism--the conviction that science can explain everything--is correct. Well, if scientism is correct, then Ms. Owen must use the scientific method. And, if Ms. Owen must use the scientific method, then she must structure her arguments in a way acceptable to the scientific community. And, if she must structure her arguments in a way acceptable to the scientific community: then, she must seek to negate effects. According to Sir Karl Popper's "Logic of Scientific Discovery, these are modus tollens arguments. They take following form: if P, then Q; not Q; therefore, not P. However, Ms. Owen's Barbara syllogisms are structurally deficient scientifically, as they strive to affirm causes. When stripped of their quantifiers, Ms. Owen's arguments look like this: if P, then Q; P; therefore, Q. In other words, Ms. Owen's arguments do not seek to negate effects! The conclusion is that Ms. Owen's arguments contradict her scientism, and all logical contradictions are false. If the structure of her arguments are defective, that is a problem for her, because, in order for an argument to be acceptable, it has to be both valid and sound. Ms. Owen fails even the first test set forth by Judge Bench."
"Notice that, in the first premise, I avoided using the vague term 'origins'; rather, I described what the conditions for the origins are. I then used illustrations she used in her second premise to clarify the information I presented in my first argument. I was accused of introducing a vague God into science, yet I have to listen to Ms. Owen talk about origins without giving an instance of it. We must be judged by the same standard; you can't have one for atheists and another for theists."
"Now, let me get back to the topic of falsifiability. How does it work? Well, someone will look carefully at the Flat Earth Theory, and reason that, if the Earth is flat, a person who begins traveling in one direction should not eventually reach the same direction which he or she started from. Now, suppose a person begins traveling in one direction and reaches the same direction he or she started from. This means that the Earth is not flat. One corroborated theory for this occurrence is that the Earth is elliptical. Ms. Owen should know better than to suggest the Earth is a perfect sphere, as the effects of gravity distorts it so it takes on an elliptical shape. Now, the Earth might lose its shape and flatten over time so that the corroborated theory no longer holds in the future. Galileo Galilei looked at the second issue of importance, one which stated that, if the Earth is the center of our solar system, then the Sun orbits the Earth. Nevertheless, Galileo's telescope found that the Sun did not orbit the Earth. Therefore, the Earth could not be the center of our solar system. Galileo proposed that the Earth orbits the Sun instead, a theory which has centuries of support. There is danger, though, in saying this will always be the case, as alterations in cosmic conditions could cause the geocentric model, proposed by Ptolemy, to become a reality."
"Before closing my second argument, let me say that certain creationists, such as Chess Master and Chemist Dr. Jonathan D. Sarfati, realize that the so-called 'flat Earth models' and 'geocentric models' in the Bible either seem that way because they are either used as referential points or spoken of in such a way figuratively. Dr. Sarfati's 'The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11' suggests that superficial analyses of Scriptural passages lead to errant conclusions. For example, flat Earth and geocentric references might demonstrate the perspectival view of the observer in relationship to the phenomena he is actually observing. Let me borrow from astronomy to provide an illustration. When a person falls into a black hole, he will approach it and it will eventually devour him. Time will speed up in the process. But, one observing a person entering a black hole will never witness him entering it--the witness will observe an image of the victim outside the black hole. And, insofar as time is concerned, it will slow down. The moment when the black hole swallows the victim will never be witnessed. In this case, we have one phenomena, but two different experiences, which can be explained by Einstein's Laws of Relativity. This example did not originate from me. It came from quantum physicists. Please remember, too, that when the Bible seems to promote flat Earth and geocentric models it can actually be using figures of speech instead. It is impossible to 'sit on top of the world' or 'have eyes in the back of one's head,' but people are generally knowledge about what they mean: ecstasy and acute awareness."
"One more thing and I'll finish my second argument. I don't believe God acts like Thor to create thunder. Rather, I believe that an Intelligent Designer created the Laws of Static Electricity which makes thunder and lightening possible in the first place. A good referential point is Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen's (Dr. Bahnsen is a Calvinist preacher, Christian apologist, and U.S.C. Epistemologist) debate with Dr. Gordon Stein, an atheistic physiologist. Dr. Bahnsen got Dr, Stein to admit that the laws of logic, which scientific laws are based on, are immaterial. Dr. William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist, scholar, and philosopher, also argues that numbers and other abstractions can't come about by themselves--they demand that an Intelligent Mind create them in the first place. Back to the main concern: some scientific observations cannot prove certain facts. The physical cannot prove the non-physical. Theology requires presuppositional and deductive arguments which are not clad in materialism. If certain scientists want to be skeptical about knowledge and apply science to religion using the same criteria, then they must approach it with the attitude that they might be wrong about theism rather than assuming that it simply does not exist."
"Lastly, let's take a look at the argument which states that, if something is observed to act in a specific manner, then it will always act in a specific manner. Let me backtrack first and apologize for my error in calling Ms. Owen's third argument a Barbara syllogism. Argument three is not a Barbara syllogism but a situation whereby an existential truth results in proclaiming it a universal truth. Sir Francis Bacon declared this type of inductive logic to be acceptable within the realm of science. However, Sir Karl Popper's 'Logic of Scientific Discovery' rejects the employment of inductive thinking within the realm of science. The reason is this: probabilities have no definitive truth-value. Part of them might be true and part of them might be false. Scientific laws, on the other hand, must be written in a way that hypothetically express their claim to universal truth. If one part of the law is discarded in what Wikipedia calls 'an unsophisticated scientific model,' then the law disintegrates. Wikipedia pointed out that, despite earlier claims that the European model of swans predicted whiteness in the pigmentation of swans, this theory was disproven when black swans were observed in Australia. In Sir Karl Popper's 'Logic of Scientific Discovery,' we read that people are unjustified in holding that all swans are white is an unchanging scientific truth, as the existence of one black swan can falsify that belief. When applied to magnets, yes, magnets with opposite poles will attract each other, but, when heated to a certain temperature, they lose that attraction. So, there are cases when something is observed in a certain manner, such as magnets, and it does not always act in a specific manner, such as losing attraction as a consequence of being heated beyond a certain point."
"Unfortunately, Ms. Owen asks how can we test for God's existence within the scientific realm? I have answered that: Dr. Craig suggests that the existence of abstract objects, such as numbers--concepts which, as Intelligent Design advocates note, are universally agreed upon by all societies--cannot simply exist in an environment void of context; they must exist in a contextual setting. Who thought of such universal things? The answer, by default, must be God, as humans have no capability to think beyond the existential level with absolute accuracy."
"Let me wrap up by referencing the pact which Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, who is an atheistic paleontologist, made with Pope John Paul II concerning how to deal with the conflict between science and religion: let science and religion be separated by what is called Non-Overlapping Magisterial, or NOMA for short. In the NOMA model, science has its domain and religion has its domain and the two should not intersect. The problem with this is twofold: one, some scientists try to explain origins in a completely materialistic way that snips out God from the cosmological picture of development and, two, if one pushes evolution far back enough, as Dr. Craig constantly reminds us in his debate with atheists and agnostics, the questions of beginnings will still have to be answered. Not to touch on those topics demonstrates a lack of scientific inquiry on the part of those who advance that particular tactic. In sum, science focuses on material tests and ignores those which do not, science seeks to disprove rather than to prove hypotheses, and science promotes deductive, rather than inductive, thinking. When the questions of origins come about, though, people can speculate. Maybe our history came about via a natural causal chain. I disagree with this theory, but at least I won't try to silence it. People who hear the theory of Intelligent Design should show their opponents the same courtesy. When questions transcend science's scope, shouldn't we all try to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each other's position. This is the difference between learning and political indoctrination. Thank you."
Dr. Brown gathered his papers and spoke: "Ms. Owen, to me, your rejection of the origins question seems politically driven, as your representation of the Philosophy of Science was inaccurate and scanty at best. Your statements were rather vague and you took potshots at Christianity in every one of your arguments. While I am an agnostic, and disagree, with Dr. Johnson's worldview, I agree with his presentation by the way he disproved your arguments while, at the same time, making his seem tenable. His presentation was more more illustrative than yours when giving names and facts, and clearly demonstrated that his entertainment of Intelligent Design does not violate the scientific method as recognized by leading scholars in the field of the Philosophy of Science to do so. Rather, his arguments affront the atheistic worldview and the belief that religion is not to be taught in school. Well, I find that Dr. Johnson is not trying proselytize and that atheists have no no right to silence another's Freedom of Speech because they do not like what that person says. Dr. Johnson has fulfilled all of his obligations in arguing his case to me; you, Ms. Owen, though, have not. It is therefore a ruling of this court that I will allow Dr. Johnson to speak about Intelligent Design in class, although he is limited to discussing events that happened prior to the Big Bang. Case dismissed."