If you haven’t heard, Richard Dawkins has a problem with religion. He says his primary complaint with religion is that it makes people stop asking questions. Dawkins:
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
My religion never had this effect on me. In fact, every bit of science that i learn about feels like I am learning something about the character of God. That’s important to me.
It may be the case, and this is only a theory, that science in the modern day falls more in line with Dawkins’ assertion, than does religion, at least in Western countries. And by science I do not mean the scientific process, or empirical, direct evidence. I mean the mere label of science and its effect on the laymen. As long as the headline reads, “Study shows” or “scientists say”, there’s not a whole lot of consideration that goes into whether there are holes in the conclusions. Another problem is that much is lost in the translation between scientific journal and popular media headline. Of course, many times the scientists are correct.
Humans, and thus scientists, are very good at producing tests and using empirical evidence to draw conclusions about specific, short term phenomena. They are not so good at extrapolating these observed phenomena far into the future or the past. Consider a game of chess between world class players. Chess involves no chance, and today’s best players have played so many games and studied chess to such an extent that they know the correct response to all opening moves. But they do not extrapolate dozens of moves into the future as is sometimes believed. They only consider the board as it is in front on them, and perhaps 5 moved ahead. The possibilities become so complicated as a player looks 10-20 moves ahead, that it becomes a waste of precious time, as the clock ticks in professional matches.
And so comes my major problems with the science of global warming and Darwinism: The extrapolations conducted by the most powerful chess minds on the planet are dwarfed by the extrapolations made by evolutionary scientists and global warming theorists. It’s not even close. Besides the obvious problem with looking millions of years into the past through the lens of theory, there are logical problems that are difficult to clear up, in the case of evolution for instance; ie irreducible complexity, the Cambrian Explosion, the problem of speciation etc. Really throwing a wrench into the works are recent studies that show Lamarckian Evolution is real. It seems the sins of the father really are laid upon the children.
These two new studies are unique in that the environmental change that triggers the effect–enrichment or early abuse–occurs before pregnancy. “Give mothers chemicals, and it can affect offspring and the next generation,” says Larry Feig, a neuroscientist at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, who oversaw part of the research. “In this case, [the environmental change] happened way before the mice were even fertile.”
In Feig’s study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment–given toys, exercise, and social interaction–for two weeks during adolescence. The animals’ memory improved–an unsurprising finding, given that enrichment has been previously shown to boost brain function. The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment.
I’m not proposing we cynically disregard everything coming from the world of science. That would be foolish. I am asking that people use their own brains, and look at studies and articles in popular outlets with a critical eye. Scientists do not always adhere to scientific processes or thought. The classic case is outlined in this WSJ article, talking about the collapse of the fat consumption/disease dogma that was prevalent for 6 decades in America. In fact, it seems scientists may have had it exactly wrong. Animal may be good for us. And institutional and political momentum can play a huge role in science: Once a scientist, politician or pundit makes a claim, it’s difficult to go back on the issue. By the time millions of dollars and political capital are spent spreading “the truth”, the damage is done and no one wants to admit that maybe they contributed to damaging people.
But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.
In fact, even back then, other scientists were warning about the diet’s potential unintended consequences. Today, we are dealing with the reality that these have come to pass.
Then there are the problems inherent in positivism. The economist EF Schumacher explained:
The architects of the modern worldview, notably Galileo and Descartes, assumed that those things that could be weighed, measured, and counted were more true than those that could not be quantified. If it couldn’t be counted, in other words, it didn’t count.
Or Werner Heisennberg, the discoverer of quantum mechanics:
The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence. But can any one conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear we would probably be left with completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies.
In other words, science should be as much concerned, maybe more, with what is hidden, as with what is obvious.
In the case of global warming, I perceive a severe lack of consideration by scientists that there’s a lot they can’t know about what determines climate. These climate scientists boldly state their recordings (some of which they made up, as we know), plug their numbers into their computer models, see that the models don’t get the predictions correct, and then lay a guilt trip on us for questioning “science”. They fail to consider what they have not measured.
Darwin was a great scientist, and not only because of his powers of perception, but because he was an immensely honest man who wanted to see the truth. In his book, The Origin of Speiies, Darwin wrote two entire chapters (chapters 6 and 9) that addressed why he may be wrong. He calls the addressed arguments against his theory, “grave”, or in other words, powerful. Imagine that from Richard Dawkins. I’ve read these chapters, and indeed they are so powerful they actually strengthened my belief that Darwin’s theory is wrong. The foolish thing that many scientists like Dawkins do today, is make their opponents out to be unintelligent people, unthinking idiots. When Darwin synthesized his theory, he presented it to the most prominent biologist in the world at the time, Louis Agassiz of Harvard university. Agassiz is considered one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as follows:
Louis Agassiz, (born May 28, 1807, Motier, Switz.—diedDecember 14, 1873, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.), Swiss-born U.S. naturalist, geologist, and teacher who made revolutionary contributions to the study of natural science with landmark work on glacier activity and extinct fishes. He achieved lasting fame through his innovative teaching methods, which altered the character of natural science education in the United States.
Darwin had immense respect for Agassiz and hoped he would back Darwin’s belief. To Darwin’s dismay, Agassiz rejected the theory of evolution.
Every great scientific truth goes through three stages. First, people say it conflicts with the Bible. Next they say it has been discovered before. Lastly they say they always believed it.
Then there is also the recent evidence, discovered by world-renowned Chinese JY Chen. Chen found that the fossil beds from the Cambrian era show that Darwin’s tree of life is upside down. That is, the number of species has not increased; the tree narrows at the top. Many Chinese scientists believe that the fossil record shows a sudden apearrence of complex life without an evolutionary lead-up. When Chen lectured in America on his findings, he asked his sponsor why none of the scientists in the audience asked any questions about how all this impacted Darwinism. His sponsor said it was probably because scientists in America are afraid to question Darwin. Chen responded: “In my country we cannot question the government. In America, you cannot question Darwin.”
The scientism of today is leading to the closing of our minds. In the areas of computer science, math, and engineering, we’re doing very well, because testing theorems in those fields yields immediate feedback. But the name-calling coming from some against alternate theories in biology and climate is really just subterfuge. The name-callers don’t want to debate the facts in many cases. They just want opponents to go away. The accusations that dissent stems from a hatred of science is just not true. Dissent stems from the knowledge that scientists and journalists are human, and that they have biases and are prone to misinterpret data just as are the rest of us.