Friday, February 15, 2013

Stephen M. Barr on Young Earth Creationism

“Creation Science”, which claims that the universe is only a few thousand years old, requires the abandonment of most of what we know about geology, astrophysics, cosmology, and biology, not to mention a certain amount of nuclear physics. Scientific knowledge is a highly reticulated structure of mutually supporting facts and inferences. Every well-established scientific fact is held in place by numerous links to other known facts, both closely related and seemingly distant.--Stephen M. Barr (From here.)

"There are two fundamentally different battles raging in the current debates about evolution. The first pits nearly the entire scientific community against creationists, who believe that they are upholding the veracity of Scripture by denying that evolution happened at all.

The second battle concerns not the fact of evolution but the standard neo-Darwinian explanation of it, and the issues at stake are primarily philosophical and scientific."--Stephen M. Barr (From here.)

Related reading: YEC Dogma is NOT BiblicalBetween Biblical Literalism and Biblical Illiteracy; Objections to a Fundamentalist Reading of Genesis 1-5; Biblical Anthropologists Discuss Darwin, Scientists Against Scientism

Five False Assumptions of Young Earth Creationists

Assumption 1: Genesis is history and should be read as a chronological account. (Response is here.)

Assumption 2: The Genesis “begats” list the first humans living on Earth. (Response is here.)

Assumption 3: Bishop Ussher's timeline is reliable and can be used to calculate the age of the Earth. (Response is here.)

Assumption 4: All the peoples and nations came from Noah’s three sons after a worldwide flood. (Response is here.)

Assumption 5: Skin color and linguistic diversity are the result of God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel. (Response is here.)

1 comment:

Alice Linsley said...

Steven Shapin's review of Michael Gordin's book The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe is worth reading. These closing paragraphs are especially relevant:

"If pseudosciences are not scientific, neither are they anti-scientific. They flatter science by elaborate rituals of imitation, rejecting many of the facts, theories and presumptions of orthodoxy while embracing what are celebrated as the essential characteristics of science. That is at once a basis for the wide cultural appeal of pseudoscience and an extreme difficulty for those wanting to show what’s wrong with it. Velikovsky advertised his work as, so to speak, more royalist than the king. Did authentic science have masses of references and citations? There they were in Worlds in Collision. Was science meant to aim at the greatest possible explanatory scope, trawling as many disciplines as necessary in search of unified understanding? What in orthodoxy could rival Velikovsky’s integrative vision? Authentic science made specific predictions of what further observation and experiment would show. Velikovsky did too. Was science ideally open to all claimants, subjecting itself to all factual criticisms and entertaining the possibility of radically new theoretical interpretations? Who behaved more scientifically – Velikovsky or the Harvard ‘suppressors’?

Gordin sides with those – like Einstein and a number of modern sociologists and philosophers – who doubt that universal and context-independent criteria can be found reliably to distinguish the scientific from the pseudoscientific. But here is a suggestion about how one might do something, however imperfectly, however vulnerable to counter-instances and however apparently paradoxical, to get a practical grip on the difference between the genuine article and the fake. Whenever the accusation of pseudoscience is made, or wherever it is anticipated, its targets commonly respond by making elaborate displays of how scientific they really are. Pushing the weird and the implausible, they bang on about scientific method, about intellectual openness and egalitarianism, about the vital importance of seriously inspecting all counter-instances and anomalies, about the value of continual scepticism, about the necessity of replicating absolutely every claim, about the lurking subjectivity of everybody else. Call this hyperscience, a claim to scientific status that conflates the PR of science with its rather more messy, complicated and less than ideal everyday realities and that takes the PR far more seriously than do its stuck-in-the-mud orthodox opponents. Beware of hyperscience. It can be a sign that something isn’t kosher. A rule of thumb for sound inference has always been that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. But there’s a corollary: if it struts around the barnyard loudly protesting that it’s a duck, that it possesses the very essence of duckness, that it’s more authentically a duck than all those other orange-billed, web-footed, swimming fowl, then you’ve got a right to be suspicious: this duck may be a quack."