Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I try to stay out of it...

Among the very long list of discussions I try not to waste my time with is the Evolution/Creation debate. I haven't seen any new developments in the debate since 9th grade... and I first started to care in... 9th grade. That was ~6 years ago now. So, for more than 5 out of less than 6 years, I've seen the same ideas expressed in the same words, and I just don't care any more. Now... for at least 4 of these nearly 6 years, I've realized that the question is not one of "logical conclusion", but of analysis from core values. Allow me to explain.

Science is an attempt to objectively observe and hence explain our universe. Since the only objectively observable part of our universe is the natural, science is conducted in the naturalist realm. Further, since a mathematical proof requires agreed upon axioms, and well-defined operations, and these cannot be established in a concrete, non-theoretical system (read: the universe), the strongest support for a theory is its repeated observation in nature.

Observation of a theory requires more than observing a specific phenomenon; it requires the prediction of related phenomenon, along with valid reasoning as to why the theory can account for both. Also, it is required to not contradict currently accepted theories.

An example. The constant cycle of the sun, moon, stars and planets around the earth would lead one to initially believe that the celestial objects rotate around the earth. There is, here, one unexplainable phenomenon: the planets do not circle the earth in any sort of logical pattern. If we then say the earth circles the sun, which creates days (one phenomenon), years/seasons (a second), and the planets revolve around the sun (a third), we see that this theory is "stronger". That is, it accounts for more with fewer observations. A stronger theory is not necessarily a more correct one; however, when Newton's Laws and Kepler's Laws are taken into account, the theory is nearly uncontestable.

Another example, Both Einsteinian Relativity and Quantum Mechanics were difficult to accept due to their clash with (then) currently accepted theory. Their strength and consistent observability are the factors which allowed for their acceptance.

Science, as a way of knowing, suffers from the fact that it is a strict rationalist system with no possibility for proof. For a naturalist, then, the only theory which can begin to account for the evidence in the fossil record and otherwise, is evolution. The core values, the system of analysis they use, forces the acceptance of evolution.

Faith, on the other hand, is also an attempt understand the universe. It is, however, a vastly different way of knowing. Rather than empirical evidence, it is based on a priori revelation, and subjective experience. It suffers from other flaws than science. The flaws of faith are much more complicated, although hardly more numerous than those of science, and relate primarily to the subjective nature of faith.

Faith, unlike science, does not attempt to objectively collect data, so is not bound to accept a naturalistic, or for that matter "observable" theory. Thus the discrepancy. Further, when a person of faith attempts to view the evidence with a scientific eye, they start, naturally with their faith-based assumptions, rather than scientific assumptions. Evolution, then, does not present itself as a stronger theory, but creation does. It is not an unscientific way of thinking, but an unscientific starting point that "leads creationists astray".

It would be wonderful if people on both sides of the debate would take the time to actually research where their opponents' views come from, rather than just assuming everyone thinks the same way, and calling each other idiots for not seeing the "obvious" conclusion.

On another note, most of what Darwin said (before The Descent of Man) is really not that hard to accept, even from a creationist perspective. Mendel's gene theory is also absolutely acceptable. Modern Synthesis, then, is also acceptable. It is when modern DNA theory, and genetic mutations begin to enter the picture that things get shaky. Even speciation through mutation (assuming the data fits) can fit within a Christian perspective, the problem is once you accept speciation through mutation, there is nothing, save an argument by authority, preventing the conclusion that everything has evolved.

Anyway, You'll not see me write anything on this topic again for years, because, well.... I've been hearing both creationists and evolutions refused to try to understand what the other camp is trying to say for almost 6 years now, and it's a waste of breath...

No comments:

Creative Commons License Cory Knapp.