The Overreach of Evolutionary Science

Pourbus_Francis_BaconThe scientific method was pioneered by men like Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a devout Christian who believed in the supernatural, yet was able to outline and test some founding principles upon which scientific discoveries could be made to learn more about the natural world and its processes.  Through the use of objective methodologies to observe and predict theories concerning the natural world, wonderful discoveries have been made and life on earth for humans has been measurably improved.  We have also been able to learn quite a bit more about the world around us.  Yet observing the world around us, how it works, and according to what laws it operates cannot tell us precisely how any of these things originated.  On this question, nature is silent.  There are many signs pointing to an Intelligent Designer, like the uniformity and universality of its laws, and the overall order and harmony of nature.  Yet we cannot learn much more than that from nature.  Here is where evolutionary science is flawed.  It attempts to connect the dots of the observed phenomena in nature to provide a theory of origins, but it cannot accurately reconstruct the origin of anything of significance in the universe (separate classes and species of animals, stars, natural laws, etc.) because there were no modern scientists present to observe when the universe was formed.  Science was never meant to answer such a question.  If natural scientists were honest, they would admit that although the universe points to a universal Creator and Designer, for the answer as to how precisely, how long ago, over what length of time, and in what order it was all created, we have to look elsewhere.  Science was not designed to answer those questions, and so it cannot.  The natural world doesn’t tell us.  The answer to this question requires supernatural revelation.  For scientists to try to answer the question, “how did it all get here?” is to step beyond their available data, operating principles, and field of expertise.  In evolution, natural science has bitten off more than it can chew.

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Categories: Apologetics | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Overreach of Evolutionary Science

  1. “In evolution, natural science has bitten off more than it can chew.”
    Religious doctrine that is not based solely on faith will fail.
    Very briefly faith may be defined as “belief without evidence.”
    Faith is not “belief in spite of evidence.”
    Consider Matthew 14:22
    Those who lack faith challenge science.
    You don’t have to be an atheist to believe in evolution.

  2. Did you get the point of my post? I hope it was sufficiently clear, but maybe not. I’m not challenging natural science. It is very, very useful. I’m making a point that the question of origins is beyond its field, and truly belongs to theology (another branch of science.) Do you disagree? Why or why not?

    ‘Religious doctrine that is not based solely on faith will fail.
    Very briefly faith may be defined as “belief without evidence.”’

    This may be your definition, but it is not the Christian definition of faith. And it does not reflect my faith.

    Faith as Christians believe is described in the Bible:

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 KJV

    “You don’t have to be an atheist to believe in evolution.”

    That is true. I would never say that you have to be an atheist to believe in evolution.

  3. Thank you for your courteous reply Highplainsparson.

    I believe I understood the point of your post; “…observing the world around us, how it works, and according to what laws it operates cannot tell us precisely how any of these things originated.”
    Theology, the study of God and religious belief cannot explain origins in a way that can be independently verified for the same reason you state that science cannot determine precise origins. There were no observers. Lack of information is simply lack of information. This is no reason to forsake an attempt at understanding through discovery using the scientific method.

    “I’m making a point that the question of origins is beyond its field {the field of natural science}, and truly belongs to theology (another branch of science.) Do you disagree? Why or why not? ”
    I will give you an opportunity to rephrase your question.
    Theology is a formal course of study, as is English Literature and Physical Education.
    Science as a “formal course of study” is not to be confused with the natural sciences which employ the scientific method.
    Theology has nothing to do the scientific method has no calibrated standards or metrics and limited means for testing and verification. Theology can make no prediction of outcomes (or origins) as the physical sciences can. Theology can make any claim and does not provide the tools for verifying or falsifying claims as the natural sciences do. Theology is not constrained by facts: data which can be measured to a known degree of certainty, therefore there is no degree of certainty that can be applied to claims of theology.

    I support investigation and verifiable understanding of man and nature by theologians and scientists alike. Georges Lamaitre was a scientist and theologian who opened the doorway to greater understanding of the origin of the cosmos.
    I understand the Websters definition of Faith M-W 2b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof, but I often shorten the definition to “belief without evidence.”

    I don’t understand the Jewish definition of faith in Hebrews you mentioned Christians believe but I don’t speak Hebrew so tracing the etymology is difficult;
    Yehudim in Moshiach (OJB) 11:1 Now Emunah is the substance of things for which we have tikvah. Emunah is the conviction of things not seen.

    Hebrews (KJV) 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    Please explain “substance of things hoped for”, I understand this to mean; wishes, wants, dreams and desires. Is that correct?
    and understand “the evidence of things not seen.” as confidence without evidence.
    The NIV version is more clear to me, but does it have the same meaning as the KJV?
    Hebrews (NIV) 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

    Finally natural science and the scientific method is the closest that humanity, regardless of belief, can come to a true(based in fact) understanding of nature- and this would include origins in nature.
    Being a Christian I’m sure that you support the pursuit of truth.

  4. “Theology, the study of God and religious belief cannot explain origins in a way that can be independently verified for the same reason you state that science cannot determine precise origins. There were no observers. Lack of information is simply lack of information. This is no reason to forsake an attempt at understanding through discovery using the scientific method.”

    There was one Observer. We have a firsthand account from the Creator which He has provided. This testimony is far greater than any bare speculations and conjectures based on limited data that remains.

    “Theology has nothing to do the scientific method has no calibrated standards or metrics and limited means for testing and verification. Theology can make no prediction of outcomes (or origins) as the physical sciences can. Theology can make any claim and does not provide the tools for verifying or falsifying claims as the natural sciences do. Theology is not constrained by facts: data which can be measured to a known degree of certainty, therefore there is no degree of certainty that can be applied to claims of theology.”

    Theology as a proper body of knowledge has its own methods of verification, and of distinguishing between true and false. Since it is a difference source and category of knowledge, you would not expect to follow the same methods as empirical science. Each body of knowledge has its own particular methodologies to arrive at certainty. A lawyer will reconstruct a crime scene to help a jury arrive at legal knowledge using a method different from that which was used to validate gravitational theory, etc.

    “Please explain “substance of things hoped for”, I understand this to mean; wishes, wants, dreams and desires. Is that correct?”

    It has to do with future outcomes. If you believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, this involves some hope, since it has not yet arrived, but you have reason to believe that it will. In the same way we can be sure that God will do in the future what he has promised based on his consistent track record of faithfulness to his promises in the past, even though the future is not here yet.

    “and understand “the evidence of things not seen.” as confidence without evidence.”

    It is confidence based on evidence, but not the visual kind. Not based on empirical observation, but based on rational deduction based on God’s character and promises. It parallels the first half of the verse–essentially the meaning is the same. This is common for semitic writers. By the way, the epistle to the Hebrews was written in the Greek language. But it is believed to have been written by the Apostle Paul, who was a Hebrew, writing to a congregation of Jewish converts to Christianity.

    “Finally natural science and the scientific method is the closest that humanity, regardless of belief, can come to a true(based in fact) understanding of nature- and this would include origins in nature.”

    But the scientific method uses experimentation and observation. Neither are in play when it comes to origins. The only way we can really know is if the Creator tells us, and then we can receive an account of creation based on His own testimony. This is the field of theology.

  5. “There was one Observer. We have a firsthand account from the Creator which He has provided. This testimony is far greater than any bare speculations and conjectures based on limited data that remains.”
    Surely HighPlainsParson, you are aware of the historical origin of the Old Testament, and that the original oral traditions were later compiled into the written word. It’s a beautiful story, but one cannot rationally take the allegory of creation in Genesis, especially the order of creation, literally given what we know of astronomy, physics and geology.

    “But the scientific method uses experimentation and observation. Neither are in play when it comes to origins.”
    Science isn’t solely based upon experimentation and observation, the true strength of science comes in its ability to predict. We predict planetary orbits using the tools of physics. These tools remain constant allowing us to predict results in the past, present and future. There are tools available on the internet that allow us to see what the night sky would look like to an observer at any point on Earth, at any given moment in time.

    Another example of origins is disease. You are not well and see a physician and she runs tests to determine the cause of your illness. The tests identify the pathogen and the cure prescribed. It is not required to know the exact moment or origin of the pathogen, it is sufficient to identify the cause and treat the disease.

    Very few modern Christian doctrines attempt to refute natural science to support a literal interpretation of Genesis. They realize one cannot cherry pick what science to believe (medicine-human biology) and which to discard (evolutionary biology) as science is a self-substantiated interconnected web of knowledge built on solid foundations of facts based in evidence. Any religious doctrine that denies scientific evidence and understanding in favor of verifiably falsifiable claims supports falsehood in favor of truth.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions regarding your definition of faith. I am considering revising my definition to: “optimistic belief without evidence.”

    I support the quest of a true understanding of nature and humanity, whether by theology or science and as long as the goal is subservient to the truth and respectful of the truth the quest is beneficial.

    btw: for the sake of clarification to any reading the comments, I changed my user name Zampaz, to reflect my actual name; Sean Lynch.

  6. “you are aware of the historical origin of the Old Testament, and that the original oral traditions were later compiled into the written word.”

    Yes, God works in mysterious ways. He arranged and governed the transmission in such a way that the final written product was His inerrant word.

    “It’s a beautiful story,”

    Yes, and it’s also a true story. Though many have tried, no one has ever succeeded in proving one falsehood or alleged contradiction in the Bible.

    “but one cannot rationally take the allegory of creation in Genesis, especially the order of creation, ‘”

    Firstly, the literary form is that of a historical account, not an allegory. Secondly, what in the Genesis 1 account do you find to be contrary to reason?

    ‘literally given what we know of astronomy, physics and geology”‘

    Do you know what the word, “supernatural” means? At creation, God worked without and above the ordinary natural laws and means that we observe.

    “Science isn’t solely based upon experimentation and observation, the true strength of science comes in its ability to predict. We predict planetary orbits using the tools of physics. These tools remain constant allowing us to predict results in the past, present and future. There are tools available on the internet that allow us to see what the night sky would look like to an observer at any point on Earth, at any given moment in time.”

    Much of that is true, but none of the things we observe can help to explain where they came from originally. You can predict the path of a planetal orbit, and you can extrapolate to find its location 1000 years ago, but none of that tells you where the planet, its orbit, and the law of gravity itself came from in the first place.

    “Another example of origins is disease. You are not well and see a physician and she runs tests to determine the cause of your illness. The tests identify the pathogen and the cure prescribed. It is not required to know the exact moment or origin of the pathogen, it is sufficient to identify the cause and treat the disease.”

    Yes, but we are talking about origins. Identifying the pathogen and its cure does not tell you how the pathogen first originated in the world.

    “Very few modern Christian doctrines attempt to refute natural science to support a literal interpretation of Genesis.”

    Well, I do, because it’s meant to be taken literally. Moses, Jesus, and other Scripture-authors take it as literal in other portions of Scripture, and so must we, if we are going to believe the Bible at all.

    “They realize one cannot cherry pick what science to believe (medicine-human biology) and which to discard (evolutionary biology) as science is a self-substantiated interconnected web of knowledge built on solid foundations of facts based in evidence.”

    But evolution is not truly natural science, which is the point of this thread. Just this week they’ve had to revise the supposed human genealogy due to having found a new human fossil. It turns out that ancient humans were one species after all. But we Bible-believers already knew that. Not all that goes by the name of science is truly science in the sense you describe. So we must distinguish. That’s what I’m attempting to do.

    “Any religious doctrine that denies scientific evidence and understanding in favor of verifiably falsifiable claims supports falsehood in favor of truth.”

    To what falsifiable clams do you refer? I could just as easily, and actually on a better foundation, turn your statement around: Any scientific theory that denies biblical evidence and understanding in favor of verifiably falsifiable (by Scripture) claims supports falsehood in favor of truth.

    ‘Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions regarding your definition of faith. I am considering revising my definition to: “optimistic belief without evidence.”’

    Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow? And if so, would you describe your hope the same way?

    Nice chatting with you, Sean. May God richly bless and save you.

    • You thoughts of kindness are welcomed and returned.
      “Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow? And if so, would you describe your hope the same way?”
      Hope is a feeling I don’t often find in being aware of the world around me. America is scientifically illiterate. Although I find little to hope for I do have a profound sense of awe, wonder, beauty, humility of smallness in understanding the sciences of the universe I am in.

      I am certain the sun will rise tomorrow because I understand the principle of conservation of angular momentum. This not a belief based in hope, it is a sure and certain knowledge which is based upon the sole assumption that the laws of physics remain constant throughout the universe and throughout time. the “laws” of physics. Laws which are not immutable written words but laws that are subject to change over time as understanding increases. For example the classical laws of physics which apply to the macroscopic world were changed at a deep level by Einstein’s realization that the speed of light remains constant and therefore the properties of time and space must change. Moving meter sticks are shorter and time passes more quickly in moving reference frames. This conflicted with Newton’s natural common sense assumption that time and space were constant. Einstein was right and GPS wouldn’t work without relativistic time effects being accounted for by satellite clocks upon which GPS location is based.
      “Do you know what the word, “supernatural” means?” Yes, supernatural means beyond nature.
      That which is beyond nature can have no impact on the natural world without in some way influencing the world and thereby becoming measurable. Thus if the supernatural were to become manifest it would no longer be supernatural.
      The supernatural is therefore constrained to the realm of the human imagination.

      “What in the Genesis 1 account do you find to be contrary to reason?”
      Read literally Gen 1:1 implies that matter (earth) is created before light.
      Genesis (KJV) 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
      The universe presents its own evidence of the history of the beginning of time and space approximately 13.8 billion years ago.
      Gen 1:1 is contrary to observation of the beginning of the universe evidenced by the the first light that lingers as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation. Light/energy existed before matter could condense. In the beginning spacetime/energy came into being, energy condensed as spacetime expanded and energy density dropped in the expanding volume of space time and as energy condensed into matter and anti-matter it annihilated until a small fraction of matter remained. This is what we understand so far based upon observation and our understanding of the physics of cosmology.

      “But evolution is not truly natural science…” Yes, it is. To refute the multiple lines of scientific evidence is to refute the truth based in facts which are measured to a known degree of certainty.
      It is very easy to be incredulous of many things if one lacks a fundamental understanding of the vast magnitude and proportion of time and is unable to deeply appreciate the meaning and magnitude of numbers. Consider that you could count to ten thousand in 2.7 hours and in a year you could count to 31 million, it would take a hundred years to count to 3 billion…the number of years that life has been around. Numbers, scales and magnitude are really important in science. In 18 milliliters, 360 drops, (3.65 tsp) of water there are 6E23 water molecules . That’s six with twenty three zeros after it. A billion 1E9 isn’t so big after all. If we started at the beginning of time could we count all those molecules? No, but we use Avogadro’s number daily in chemistry.
      We can’t easily grasp abstract numbers and timescales. Do we meet the challenge to our imaginations with incredulity and give up and turn it over to a supernatural or do we roll up our sleeves and dive into the challenge of expanding our understanding and imagination?
      I understand the incredulity of looking at life and saying; “This is so incredibly complex, there must be a designer.”
      But imagine natural selection, a game where success adds upon success and only success is being carried forward eon after eon through all kinds of changing conditions over billions of years. It’s like compound interest.

      Now, back to faith. Faith requires no justification and faith is in the best interest of society when it serves the truth. God either is, or God is not, and God requires no justification by doctrine of or the word of man. If God is the way, the truth and the life, then those who believe in God would cherish the evidence and truth of science found in nature. In the context of our cosmos there are between 10E22 and 10E24 stars. As a species we are tiny, tiny fraction of that cosmos, much less a proportion of mass than a single hydrogen atom in those 360 drops of water, and we live on a very small and fragile planet. We are the only part of the universe we know of trying to understand itself and each other. In all of time we are the only species on this planet capable of preventing it’s own extinction by war or by irresponsible destruction of our biosphere.

      I appreciate your giving me an opportunity to express my concerns and opinions. Together we can explore our appreciation of nature and mans relationship to the wonders of the universe. Peace be with you and yours.
      -Sean

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