Reject the Scientific Consensus? How Do You Justify THAT?

What reason goes in that blank? What could possibly go in that blank? If you’re a layperson in a particular scientific field, how could you reject that field’s scientific consensus, where it exists, as the best provisional explanation of that aspect of nature?

People do reject the consensus—mostly Creationists, in my experience—but I can’t begin to understand the thought process that justifies this conclusion. People reject radioisotope dating who aren’t geologists, reject the Big Bang who aren’t cosmologists, and reject evolution who aren’t biologists.

You might think that evolution is a remarkable claim. Perhaps even that the evidence isn’t there (though the fact that you’ve only dipped your toe into the water would scream out as the obvious explanation). What I can’t imagine is concluding, based in that “research,” that the theory of evolution is flawed. On what grounds could someone reject the consensus of the people who actually understand this stuff, the people who actually have the doctorate degrees and who actually do the work on a daily basis?

I often hear people handwaving justifications. I recently mentioned a debate in which the Creationist speaker demanded that we follow the evidence. That sounds strange until you translate that into what he meant: give yourself license to weigh scientific conclusions yourself and discard the ones you dislike.

When science and scripture conflict, Ken Ham of the Institute for Creation Research tells Christians that they shouldn’t go with the discipline with the remarkable track record for telling us about reality. Instead, discard that and go with faith.

We should be very wary of any idea about life that has a consensus among non-Christians. Sadly, many Christians listen to the ideas of secular scientists and try to add these to the Bible. This shows that they have the same problem as the non-Christian—they don’t want to submit to God’s Word.

These same people wouldn’t dream of telling a surgeon how best to approach a particular operation or a pilot how to fly a plane. But they seem quite happy to read a Creationist book and reject any consensus in biology, geology, or cosmology that steps on their theological toes. Can these science deniers possibly be so self-important as to pretend to be the Judge of All Science®, anointing the correct science and rooting out the false?

Creationists’ arguments often defeat themselves. Ask them how they make their conclusion and few will say that they’ve evaluated the scientific papers themselves. Rather, they will point to Creationist “scientists” from the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis (AIG), or similar organization. Apparently, they think that the conclusions of competent scientists is important. Fine, then be objective and look at the consensus of experts on that subject.

You’d think that organizations that constrained their “researchers” with statements of faith, as both the ICR and AIG have, would be disqualified from scientific discourse for being biased. Similarly, it’s baffling that many Christian scholars like William Lane Craig feel comfortable pontificating on science

  • when they have no scientific credentials to do so,
  • when they celebrate the consensus and use it to support their argument when it suits them (Big Bang) and then reject the consensus when it doesn’t (evolution), and
  • because they, too, are bound by statements of faith.

When they say that evolution is nonsense, I always ask: is that the facts or your statement of faith talking? (More in my post “Can Christian Scholars be Objective?”)

Science deniers often raise three objections.

  • The scientific consensus is wrong sometimes. Yes, it is. The consensus is not immutable truth but a provisional approximation to the truth. This doesn’t change the fact that the consensus is the best guess at the truth that we laypeople have.
  • Demanding that laypeople accept the scientific consensus in all cases is the Bandwagon fallacy. No, it isn’t. The bandwagon fallacy (argumentum ad populum) says that “a million Chevy owners can’t be wrong”—if the majority believes it, it must be true. Note the differences: I argue that the consensus is our best bet, not that it is invariably true. Also, the scientific community is a group of experts of which laypeople are not members.
  • Okay, then it’s the Argument from Authority fallacy. Wrong again. The scientific community is quite different from a single authority. (I’ve written more about this fallacy fallacy and the role of consensus here.)

Sorry, folks—science is not a democracy. When it comes to the scientific consensus, no one cares what we laypeople think. Creationists have done an impressive job in deluding Americans so that, 150 years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, 40% still think that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

This deluded thinking becomes a bigger problem when policy makers are able to adopt it. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia) called evolution, Big Bang theory, and other disagreeable aspects of science “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said about climate change, “I don’t think we can control what God controls.” Todd Akin (R-Missouri) has famously odd views on conception and evolution. Each has training wheels on their understanding of science, but all three are members of the House Science and Technology Committee.

Science deniers get high marks in Machiavellianism 101, but the American public’s childish relationship with reality puts us in a poor position to handle the challenges of the 21st century.

Evolution is one of the most robust and widely accepted
principles of modern science.

— American Association for the Advancement of Science

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Tim Taylor

    I’m no bioethisist… but I know murder is wrong. I’m not a police officer, but I know I shouldn’t steal. Why do people with a PhD at the end of their name suddenly take the place of god in society? Do I have to agree with everything they say just because they are the “experts”? If I disagree, does that automatically make me ignorant? I went to college. I have a B.S. in biology from San Diego State (not that THAT would matter: I could have a string of PhD’s in multiple fields, but if I disagree with the prevailing view point I would be considered just as ignorant as the bible thumper who made it through 8th grade). I’m not an expert, but I CAN think for myself. There was more than one college professor with whom I did not think that every word out of their mouths was Gospel truth (gulp! Can you BELIEVE that???). I do not have faith in Big Bang or in Evolution. I think the “evidence” is sketchy at best and there are a lot of holes in both theories. I understand the problem evolutionists face: there is NO alternative to Big Bang/Evolution (well, there are alternatives, but steady state and spontaneous generation look bad) so you have no choice but to “believe in” them (yes, scandalous words to a sophisticated Scientist… but in the end I think “belief” sums it up nicely). I don’t believe in Big Bang/evolution. But for those of you who do, don’t be so smug as to think that somehow you are better, smarter or more enlightened because you do. You have looked at the same evidence I have looked at and come to a different conclusion. Really, thats the end of the matter. Or it should be.

  • jonathanhakim

    I am a huge proponent of evolution and climate change science, and I heartily agree with the consensus in both of these fields. (I’m not quite a layperson since I do hold a degree in science and once worked in the field, but my only experience in those two fields has to do with a little bit of work in early origins of life, so to a degree I’m still relying on the consensus and informed people I trust rather than my own work.) I’ll also add that the ICR is an extremely easy target, and not one that I ever want to be considered as being on the same side of a scientific debate.

    However, I disagree with the logic of the argument here. The basic idea is “if the experts say it then you can’t logically disagree unless you too are an expert”. But that’s simply an appealing version of the Appeal to Authority logical fallacy, which you mention but falsely distance yourself from. As the wiki article for that theory states, “while authorities can be correct in judgments related to their area of expertise more often than laypersons,they can still come to the wrong judgments through error, bias, dishonesty, or falling prey to groupthink. Thus, the appeal to authority is not a generally reliable argument for establishing facts.” Scientists, like any other group, can sometimes fall into groupthink, and can be subjected to the same biases. Being in a general consensus does not exempt them.

    As you mention, there have been numerous times in history where denying the scientific consensus puts you on the right side of the “truth”. A layperson can sometimes intuit this when most scientists have not. There were certainly laypeople who, for example, thought that the universe likely had a beginning before most scientists thought so. They may have recognized a bias in scientists against a finite universe without needing to have the same scientific credentials. Nothing should force them from accepting the consensus just because all the people with the Ph.D’s, as you say, fall on the other side. The very manner in which those Ph.D’s are obtained can at times be part of the problem.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      No, this isn’t the Appeal to Authority fallacy. I’m not appealing to Dr. Jones who’s way smarter than either of us (and agrees with me). I’m pointing to the entire body of scientific knowledge on that subject and the gatekeepers of that knowledge. Big difference.

      Yes, the scientific consensus can be wrong. I’m not saying that it’s never wrong, just that that’s the way to bet.

      There were certainly laypeople who, for example, thought that the universe likely had a beginning before most scientists thought so.

      And I can predict that the next coin flip will be a heads. I might be right. But do I have any good reason to convince you that my prediction is accurate?

      • jonathanhakim

        They could recognize a widespread bias in the community that would likely be pulling their interpretations in the wrong direction. They could be convinced by the scientific work of a minority within the field which has not been accepted by the majority, perhaps for non-scientific reasons. They could have logical philosophical reasons for believing that the scientific consensus was likely to be proven wrong. Or they might intuit it based on their own observations of the world. There are several reasons for an amateur to be right in certain instances where scientific experts are wrong, and although I would agree that this would usually put the amateur on the wrong side of the truth, it would be foolishness to paint every such choice with the same brush and insist on conformity without even analyzing the particular situation.

        One quick example – about a year ago research came out suggesting that neutrinos might travel faster than the speed of light. My scientific background on neutrinos is weak – just what I remember from Introduction to Quantum, Advanced Quantum, a bit here and there in Introduction to Relativity, and the occasional academic article I read here and there. Some initial reports of the discovery made the scientists involved sound quite confident, and other scientists chimed in sounding supportive. (Some others…not so much.) But the second I heard about it, I told everyone I knew, “No, no way, no chance, it’s an error”. I knew very little about the science, but philosophically I felt that the speed of light is far too definitive of a barrier, and could certainly not be being surpassed in that manner. And sure enough, I was soon enough proven correct – it was a stupid calculation error. I did not feel the least bit presumptuous to have so dismissively contradicted experts in the field – the philosophical underpinnings of my opinion were far stronger than the data than underpinned theirs.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          They could recognize a widespread bias in the community that would likely be pulling their interpretations in the wrong direction.

          And what is your algorithm for deciding the cranks from the insightful who actually understand where things should go better than the experts? I’m still at a loss for a reasonable conclusion to the sentence, “Even though I’m a layman, I reject the scientific consensus on topic X because …”

          They could be convinced by the scientific work of a minority within the field which has not been accepted by the majority

          Like Velikovsky? He was quite popular.

          You still have the bizarre situation of you, a layman, sifting through the evidence and coming to a supportable conclusion that the consensus is wrong. I’ve never seen this to be a reliable route (an ego-stroking route, yes, many times).

          Since science apparently always corrects itself rather quickly (even if it’s a decade, that’s instantaneous from a historical perspective), I’m happy to let science figure it out and let me know.

          They could have logical philosophical reasons for believing that the scientific consensus was likely to be proven wrong.

          And some smart guy within the field will point this out, and the scientific community will come around if they’re wrong.

          You’re searching for a solution to a non-problem. Since your motivation is opaque to me, tell me what issue you want to reserve the right to judge.

          I would agree that this would usually put the amateur on the wrong side of the truth, it would be foolishness to paint every such choice with the same brush and insist on conformi ty without even analyzing the particular situation.

          Then we agree. I’m not sure what we’re arguing about then.

          the second I heard about it, I told everyone I knew, “No, no way, no chance, it’s an error”.

          You called a coin flip correctly. Not very impressive.

          I knew very little about the science, but philosophically I felt that the speed of light is far too definitive of a barrier, and could certainly not be being surpassed in that manner.

          Who cares about your or my opinions about the barrier imposed by the speed of light? We’re laymen.

          Look–if you want to stay up to date on the literature, that’s great. Let’s just have some humility, OK?

          And sure enough, I was soon enough proven correct

          Now, the challenging part: show that your opinion (which also immediately came to mind in the minds of many who are actually in this field) was worth taking. The crystal ball reader might’ve also called it right.

          it was a stupid calculation error

          I heard it was extra coils of fiber optic cable that delayed one signal.

        • jonathanhakim

          I think your commitment to appeal to authority, at least one narrow category of authorities, is far too deep-seated for you to actually understand what I’m saying here.

          What I am arguing is your idea that only experts in a particular field can have insight into that field, or that scientific experimentation is the only means via which insight is gained. But, of course, if you only accept scientific authorities and dismiss every counterexample as a “coin flip”, then you’re Begging the Question – how can I provide every counterexample if you automatically assume that every counterexample must be luck?

          As far as science always “correcting itself” within a decade, Mendel (30+ years) and Chandrasekhar (25-45 years), among many others, would beg to differ. Ideas like a static universe and a static earth were held in the scientific consensus for centuries before they were shown to be wrong (in the case of continental drift, it took 50 years for it to become the consensus after the first scientist proposed a strong case for it.) And sometimes, such as with Semmelweis, that failure to correct came with tragic consequences.

          And yes, failing to account for the length of the cable in their calculations was the error. That’s why it was a calculation error. It’s seems rather silly to blame the cable itself for their mistakes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think your commitment to appeal to authority, at least one narrow category of authorities, is far too deep-seated for you to actually understand what I’m saying here.

          I both reject the appeal to authority but am under its thrall? Wow—I’m pretty messed up, apparently.

          What I am arguing is your idea that only experts in a particular field can have insight into that field

          Didn’t say that.

          dismiss every counterexample as a “coin flip”

          Seriously? My point is that hard to understand?

          I don’t dismiss a contrary hypothesis as a coin flip. I’m saying that when a nominally unqualified person has a contrary hypothesis, you and I as objective observers must decide whether this is just a guess (that would be right for no good reason and is therefore worth rejecting) or if this outsider actually brings unique, relevant, and accurate insights that make it actually worth more than the consensus view. Your job is to show us the algorithm for separating these two. I assume you’ll agree that the chaff here is of much greater quantity than the wheat—if indeed there is any wheat at all.

          you automatically assume that every counterexample must be luck?

          I don’t, I never said that I did, and I can’t imagine a careful reader of my previous comment thinking either one.

          As far as science always “correcting itself” within a decade, Mendel (30+ years) and Chandrasekhar (25-45 years), among many others, would beg to differ

          Good examples. What’s your point? And how is my point overturned?

          And yes , failing to account for the length of the cable in their calculations was the error. That’s why it was a calculation error.

          That isn’t what I’d call a calculation error, but I’m glad we’re on the same page on this point at least.

        • jonathanhakim

          I think this is the point where the conversation has moved from communication to game-playing. Neither of us has any good reason to be confused about what the other is saying, so lets leave it at that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I do indeed see game playing, but, bizarrely, you seem to imagine symmetry on this.

          I was hoping to see you wrap this up with, “OK, maybe I fired before I aimed on that Appeal to Authority charge; thanks for the conversation and the insights” or something equivalent. I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with, “Let’s just quit.”

  • jonathanhakim

    What if we’re merely talking about the historical consensus of secular history scholars? For example, the consensus in every relevant field of ancient history is that Jesus of Nazarath was a real person who was probably baptized by John the Baptist, almost certainly crucified by Pontius Pilate, and who very very likely had a group of followers who founded Christianity. Try and find a tenured Ph.D. in the field at any secular or religious university who disputes this, and you’ll have a tough time. Yet some relative laypersons dispute that Jesus ever existed. Would you paint them with the same broad brush that you’re using here?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Things get messy when we mix history and religion. There is no consensus within the field of religion, and unfortunately, this taints any study where religion and history overlap.

      For various reasons, I don’t argue the Christ Myth theory, including that it is not the consensus view.

  • jonathanhakim

    I think that Kodie doesn’t even actually know what you’re talking about when you discuss Biblical scholarship, Drewl.

    Kokie – if it helps you out, the academic Biblical scholarship that Drewl is discussing would be a significant field of historical study even if every single person on Earth today agree that God didn’t exist. Belief in Biblical literacy or faith in the “Christian” God is not a prerequisite – in fact, the majority of academic Biblical scholars certainly don’t hold the first, and quite a large % don’t hold the second. Calling them “fantasist nerds” seems to imply to me that you don’t even know who they are or what they are doing.

  • jonathanhakim

    Yes, the fact that Drewl is the only one talking about Oxford academics sort of emphasizes the fact that you and Kodie have completely failed to engage with what he’s talking about.

  • jonathanhakim

    “I also took a sociology class within the last few years where studies were cited that religion played no meaningful role in predicting divorce rates”

    That’s certainly not true. Catholics and Orthodox Christians, for example, are significantly less likely to divorce than the population at large. I know that at least a couple other faith groups fall significantly outside the average as well.

  • jonathanhakim

    You reminded me of a good point – a very large percentage of the strict libertarians I know, the ones who argue for no social safety net at all, are atheists.

    As you say, I believe that both atheists and religious believers are found across the political spectrum. But I find personal behavior to be a far more telling sign of personal belief than political affiliation. And just as private charity very often results in poor results, most government aid is also self-serving and has negative effects in the long run. Dismissing private donations as ineffective is ridiculous – bad private charity is ineffective, just like bad welfare and bad international aid.

  • Guest

    Why do you reject the consensus of most people in the world that there is a God?

    • MNb

      Because they can’t prove it;
      because they can’t provide evidence;
      because most of them cannot even provide arguments;
      because the arguments provided are lame;
      because they can’t agree about which or what kind of god.

      • Guest

        The same is true for evolution.

        • MNb

          Indeed, science never proves anything (conclusively, definitely, eternally etc.).
          There is an abundance of evidence for evolution: observed speciation, mutations and fossils. Nothing comparable for god.
          Evolution Theory (singular) is consistent and coherent. Belief systems (plural, because there are many) mostly aren’t.
          Evolutionary biologists largely agree about the content of Evolution Theory. Believers can’t even agree on something trivial like the name.
          So you’re talking out of the wrong end of your digestive system.

        • Guest

          There’s no abundance of evidence for evolution, there’s only an abundance of fraud and people getting upset whenever anyone questions their theory of monkey-people.

        • MNb

          “an abundance of fraud”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          The good old conspiracy theory. Makes you a loon like the people who enjoyed alien abduction and claim 9/11 was done by the American government.
          Thanks for solving my corollary problem you sucked out of your big fat thumb.

        • hector_jones

          Or it’s just a desperate grasping at straws, gish gallop, smoke screen, what have you, like when Al asserted that belief in god is the null hypothesis.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Next, “Guest” will tell us about the black helicopters and how the Trilateral Commission controls everything.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Evolution deniers–gotta love ’em!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      (1) Because it’s not a scientific consensus.

      (2) What consensus? Is there a consensus on the name of the god(s), for example?

      • Guest

        1) It’s still a consensus, and a lot of scientists agree with it.
        2) The consensus is that there is a God, not what his name might be.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          1) Wake me up when it’s a scientific consensus. I don’t care about a religious consensus because there isn’t one.

          2) So your religion is “there is a god or gods of unknown name(s), and we haven’t agreed on what their goals are or how to please them”? That must be a fun service–invite me sometime.

        • Guest

          Is the world going to end because some guy on the internet won’t believe in God? I think we can get along without you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Or, you could just change the subject. I didn’t even notice.

  • John B. Andelin

    Whoever wrote this article has no clue what science is. Was Einstein rejecting science when he challenged the consensus of Newtonian physics? Was Copernicus anti-science when he rejected the geocentric universe? Scientific truth is never established by a vote.

    • Greg G.

      The article is for people who are not on the cutting edge of research.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Helpful clarification, though I’m surprised that’s necessary. Thanks.

      • John B. Andelin

        I am a physician. I am not on the “cutting edge of research”. Nevertheless, I reject evolution because it contradicts science. Just because I disagree with the majority of biologists doesn’t mean I’m “anti-science”. I don’t have to be on the “cutting edge of research” to formulate an intelligent opinion. Were the many non-astronomers in the 1400’s who rejected the geocentric theory of the universe “anti-science”? If you would only consider the history of science, you would learn that the challenging of conventional dogmas is the heart and soul of science…and those challenges can be advanced by anyone.. not just a select few who are on the “cutting edge of research”.

        • adam

          Can’t wait for your Noble Prize worthy repudiation of evolution because it contradicts science.

        • Rudy R

          Just glad that you aren’t my physician.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m imagining John B. as a physician. He’d tell me that homeopathy was crap (or getting my diagnosis from tea leaves or any other outside-science claim), and then I’d tell him that I had my own opinion.

          And then I’m sure he’d be cool with that! I have an opinion, all of Medicine has another opinion, that’s 2 opinions. 50/50 chance that either one is correct, right?

          I imagine John B. giving the pilot of my airplane advice. Two opinions, 50/50 chance, right?

        • Rudy R

          I find it very odd that theists are not curious as to why the majority of those who reject evolution are theists. It just couldn’t be contrary to their theology.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’d imagine that the boat is unstable enough without them adding new worries to the worldview.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I reject evolution because it contradicts science

          And therein lies the problem. You are not a scientist, but you reject the overwhelming consensus of tens of thousands of scientists. How does that work?

          What’s a little shocking is that you of all people should know how little credibility to give to your evaluation since you realize how limited your experience is. Maybe Santa can give you some humility.

          Just because I disagree with the majority of biologists doesn’t mean I’m “anti-science”.

          Are you sure about that?

          I don’t have to be on the “cutting edge of research” to formulate an intelligent opinion.

          Form all the opinions you want. But when you see how lopsided the issue is, I would think you might want to reconsider your conclusion.

          Were the many non-astronomers in the 1400’s who rejected the geocentric theory of the universe “anti-science”?

          Things are a little different now that we’re in the era of modern science.

          If you would only consider the history of science, you would learn that the challenging of conventional dogmas is the heart and soul of science…and those challenges can be advanced by anyone.. not just a select few who are on the “cutting edge of research”.

          How do you determine the cranks from the people with the solid revolutionary opinions?

          Kidding! It was a rhetorical question. Obviously, you let the academy (in this case, the field of biology) evaluate the claim(s). That’s where new science comes from.

        • John B. Andelin

          With all due respect, I’ve heard all of your atheist talking points. Predictably, you assume a condescending posture when anyone threatens your worldview. You assume me to be scientifically illiterate because I disagree with your assumptions. Yet you cannot even articulate a basic mechanism whereby a genome can progressively gain genetic information over time. Mutations result in genetic corruption. That is an observed fact. Why should I believe in evolution when there is no scientific evidence that such a process ever occurs? All you have are philosophy-based arguments.
          You assume that since we are in an era of “modern science”, that the scientific community is immune to major errors. That is exceeding naive as well as arrogant. Those who believed in a geocentric universe were no less intelligent than people today. Likewise, human nature has not changed, and history is repeating itself. Evolution is a religion, and those who vigorously defend it do so because they are pre-committed to a worldview. Just like a belief in a geocentric universe, scientific darkness persists because intellectuals blindly adhered to unsubstantiated dogmas that conflicted with observable facts.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          you assume a condescending posture when anyone threatens your worldview.

          Well, yeah. You’re getting way too close for comfort, and I’ve got to use sarcasm and rudeness to keep you away. We both know that the facts are all on your side.

          You assume me to be scientifically illiterate because I disagree with your assumptions.

          No, not illiterate. Maybe arrogant is the word. And because you pretend that you get to be Judge and Jury of All Science, not because I have assumptions.

          Yet you cannot even articulate a basic mechanism whereby a genome can progressively gain genetic information over time.

          I have no fundamental objection to arguing about evolution, but I don’t have the time now. Search for more posts on evolution and Creationism. More importantly, you do see the inherent problem, right? Two amateurs debating a subject in which there are actually experts whom we can consult? Kinda stupid.

          You assume that since we are in an era of “modern science”, that the scientific community is immune to major errors.

          Wrong again. Wow—your batting average is getting down there. Maybe you shouldn’t open your big yapper until you know what you’re talking about. Maybe a little humility, like asking instead of declaring?

          Those who believed in a geocentric universe were no less intelligent than people today.

          And yet we have much more information.

          Evolution is a religion, and those who vigorously defend it do so because they are pre-committed to a worldview.

          Yes, I think one of us has precommitted to a worldview. I don’t think it’s me.

        • MNb

          “I’ve heard all of your atheist talking points.”
          Thirty years of study and still you pull off this enormous howler. Neither Francis Collins nor Kenneth Miller is an atheist. They are both practicing christians. Still they totally accept Evolution Theory and have made important contributions to it. Nah, after showing such blatant ignorance I’m not going to read your book even if you pay it for me. My time is too precious.

          “Why should I believe in evolution when there is no scientific evidence that such a process ever occurs?”
          Good question. Problem is just that there is plenty of evidence regarding speciation, fossils and mutations.

        • adam

          My world view is how can I engineer my life in the best possible manner using Real life and Reality as a guide.
          Science works reliably and is predictive.
          I dont assume that science is immune to errors major or not, but ignorance and ‘faith’ are certainly not only not immune but demonstratably poor predictors of Reality.

          Please demonstrate how YOUR view can threaten that?

          Religions are all over the place and the MAGIC that they promote as a solution doesnt work like described in the bible (or other holy books from other religions)

        • John B. Andelin

          I repeat. Scientific truth is NEVER established by a vote. If you believe that, you have no understanding of science.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But the scientific consensus is.

          The scientific consensus is the best approximation we laymen have at the moment.

          You got something better? Show me.

        • John B. Andelin

          I recommend you read my book, Evolution Mask of Science. It’s available on Kindle and at maskofscience.com
          I have studied this controversy for nearly thirty years. Most of the core arguments advanced to defend evolution are ultimately founded on attempted disproof of intelligent design. That is not science…that’s religion. Even Darwin feverishly argued that observations in nature contradicted God, although he did not entirely rule out God. Although the arguments have the appearance of science to most lay people, they are not. If you listen to the leading propoents of evolution today, such as Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye and others, they all insert references regarding their belief that nature appears “unintelligently designed”. You cannot prove a scientific theory by disproving God. The problem is, the only way evolution can be defended is by arguing religion. They cannot actually demonstrate the possibility of evolution. This book has only been out about a month. I have shared this with a numberl of my physician colleagues, and many agree with me. Two of them were sort of on the fence and have told me that they are now convinced that evolution is baseless as a scientific theory.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I recommend you read my book

          Why? Let me suggest a much better approach: you work with the scientific community. When they change the consensus, I’m there. Until that point, you’re a crank.

          Even Darwin feverishly argued that observations in nature contradicted God

          Words cannot express how little I care about what Darwin said. I get my consensus from today’s scientists.

        • John B. Andelin

          I am working with the “scientific community”. I’m not automatically a “crank” just because i’m not going with the flow. Was Einstein a crank until the consensus gradually changed as experiments proved he was right? He was branded by many of his peers as a crank. Thank goodness he questioned consensus. I’m afraid your logic is very common among those who don’t fully understand science. They simply accept the consensus on faith. If you look at the history of science, the “consensus” has collapsed over and over again. Truth doesn’t change…only opinions (consensus).

        • adam

          Why dont you just explain YOUR version of “science” to us so that we CAN understand and compare it with the science that scientists use?

          And please define ‘faith’ that atheists have.
          Here is the bible version for reference

        • John B. Andelin

          Maybe “faith” is an incorrect word. Faith is founded on evidence as well has hope. Regardless of how you interpret a passage of scripture, faith in God is not founded purely on a desire to believe. It is founded on evidence as well.
          Atheists have a hope in abiogenesis. They believe in a process for which they have no evidence.
          My version of “science”… a systematic quest for truth based on unbiased evaluation of evidence, including testing to determine if a hypothesis is valid. Evolution clearly fails that definition.

        • adam

          Then perhaps you shouldnt be using ‘faith’.

          I as an atheist have NO HOPE in abiogenises, that is just where the evidence leads.

          So how does one ‘test’ YOUR ‘god’?

          According to the bible, the Baal fire test is one way, but science beats ‘your ‘god’ in this hands down.

          the bible makes claims about ‘prayers and wishes’ that when tested FAIL.

          How does evolution fail in its quest for Truth?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Was Einstein a crank until the consensus gradually changed as experiments proved he was right?

          Einstein was writing papers in physics, and he had a doctorate … in physics. No, he wasn’t a crank. He was an insider.

          But if comparing your travails with those of Einstein helps you get through life, whatever.

          I’m afraid your logic is very common among those who don’t fully understand science. They simply accept the consensus on faith.

          I’m an outsider. I trust that the consensus is the best provisional statement of the truth that we have.

          Again: you got something better? Trot it out for us.

          If you look at the history of science, the “consensus” has collapsed over and over again.

          Wow, is that argument tired. Yes, science changes. Yet again: show me something better than accepting it when you’re a layman.

        • Darth Robo

          His book has great reviews on Amazon. He also knows most of the reviewers.

        • MNb

          “Most of the core arguments advanced to defend evolution are ultimately founded on attempted disproof of intelligent design.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA! And THAT’s the result of 30 years of study? Then I’m sure you haven’t read any scientific study. Evolution Theory correctly describes a large set of totally different empirical data, concerning ao speciation, fossils and mutation. It’s capable of making concrete predictions – and guess what? All those predictions thus far were shown correct. IDiocy describes nothing, explains nothing and predicts nothing.

        • adam

          “All of the major lines of evidence presented in defense of evolution are carefully evaluated. Most of these perceived “evidences” are philosophy-based and are therefore invalid.
          http://www.pulist.net/evolution-mask-of-science.html

          Only review listed.
          So WHY would anyone want to read this?

          Why dont you tell us about those that are not philosophy-based so that we cant get a measure of your credibility.

        • 90Lew90

          I just read the first line of your book. Seldom has the very first sentence of a book disinclined me to read much farther.

          “The general theory of evolution has become a widely accepted explanation for the origin and diversification of life.”

          No. No it hasn’t.

          [Edit] I gave you the benefit of the doubt and finished your introduction. You state that your target audience is people with no knowledge of science. You concede that you are unlikely to reach anyone with “an unrelenting commitment to Darwinism”, but you hope “those who are interested in the acquisition of truth” might be interested. You speak of the “popualr dogmas of secularism” and the “utter falsity of the evolutionary treatise”. You drop in the term “paradigm” which suggests you’ve probably picked up Thomas Kuhn (who, by the way, described Darwin as “particularly perceptive”) and run away with him. You portray scientists who subscribe to the theory of evolution by natural selection as well-meaning but befuddled folks who don’t really know what science is, and you dangle the carrot you know your target audience is looking for — intelligent design — but promise them they’re not going to get a bite of it.
          You say: “There is no need to rely on someone with a degree in a scientific field to instruct you of the history of life on earth.”

          Having said that, you make a pretty big deal of your own credentials as a pathologist, as you’ve been quick to do here. I’ve met creationist doctors before (well, one on an A&E ward, one still in training). I wouldn’t have expected the A&E guy to “instruct me of [sic] the history of life on earth” and only wanted the surname of the medical student at one of Ken Ham’s talks when I was interviewing her. She wouldn’t give it, dear Laura. I suppose she thought she might come a cropper if those befuddled teachers of hers found out she thought they were giving her duff information.

          With respect, I smell bullshit. But I’m no scientist.

        • 90Lew90

          Who wrote the blurb on your book at Amazon? The blurb that says it’s a “landmark book”? It’s unattributed.

        • Darth Robo

          Can you explain then why you had to have the term ‘gene’ explained to you?

        • Greg G.

          What science does evolution contradict? Do you think Ken Ham and his group is right?

        • John B. Andelin

          Mutations result in genetic corruption. It is mathematically impossible for mutations to improve the genome, because the number or harmful mutations so greatly supersedes any beneficial mutations that rarely occur. Furthermore, it would require the correct substitutions of hundreds to thousands of nucleotide bases in DNA to ever effectuate the sort of positive change that would have been necessary for evolution. This is because traits are defined by multiple units of genetic information. All of the examples of “evolution” that are sited, such as antibiotic resistance in bacteria, are irrelevant to evolution because none of these examples result in increased genetic information.
          As far as Ken Ham… I haven’t studied his claims. I don’t think it’s possible to prove creationism by the scientific method. The problem is, many intellectuals assume evolution only because they have arbitrarily excluded God from possibility. By excluding intelligent design, they are required to accept biological impossibilities.

        • Greg G.

          A stable population would have the birth rate equal to the mortality rate. The deaths from a deleterious mutations would merely leave openings for others to survive. A marginal creature only has to outrun it’s cousin with the bad mutation. A beneficial mutation would allow a creature to survive and reproduce better, with beneficial or deleterious being determined by the environment. A good mutation in the tropics might be deleterious in the Arctic. So deleterious mutations have minimal impact on the population as they are eliminated quickly while beneficial mutations increase like compound interest, mathematically. That’s evolution.

          Nobody goes to the doctor to have treatment for a beneficial mutation. Corruption doesn’t seem to be the correct word for a change.

          A gene can be duplicated. That doesn’t add information but it may be either neutral, beneficial or harmful. But one of those copies can mutate in subsequent generations to produce a protein that is either more specific or more generalized than the predecess. There is no reduction of information because the other copy exists. That can only be counted as an increase in information. AIUI, there are four basic types of protein structures and one type is like one of the other with an extra arm. That’s why it is possible to make animal hormones from plant proteins by chemically modifying a few locations on the basic frame. So it may be that all proteins are modifications of duplicate genes for just three proteins.

          Intelligent design proponents also have to deal with unintelligent design. The nerves to the throat for fish is a nice convenient run but in quadrupeds, the gill support structures are now shoulder support structures so that nerve wraps around the clavicle. It’s a poor design for creatures with necks. It’s unintelligent for giraffes. It would be stupid in an apatasaurus.

          Ken Ham runs the Creation Museum near Cincinnati. Earlier this year, he debated Bill Nye, The Science Guy. I only mentioned him to see what your position is as you hadn’t made any specific claims. We see lots of people with disagreements but there’s no sense in having a discussion before finding out where the other person is coming from. Even then, there are many with basically Christian beliefs that are unlike any you’ve ever heard.

        • John B. Andelin

          I understand your arguments. You are dogmatically stating that natural selection can weed out all bad mutations, even though intelligent human beings can’t even measure them. There is no evidence that natural selection has such power. Its capacity to create innovations in nature is founded solely on the pre-determined conclusion of evolution.

        • Greg G.

          I never said all bad mutations would be eliminated. I used the word “deleterious” which are identified as the ones that are so bad as to prevent reproduction. Bad mutations are in all populations and there are many ways to make them hard to remove such as being in close proximity to a beneficial mutation. If there is a low death rate, there are low selective pressures on bad mutations.

          There is no evidence that natural selection has such power. Its capacity to create innovations in nature is founded solely on the pre-determined conclusion of evolution.

          A life form has been discovered that only eats nylon. It could not have existed before nylon was invented in the last century. IIRC, it is only found in a stream near an old nylon plant. It required three simultaneous mutations. Any one would have disabled its ability to eat. Any two would still keep it from consuming food. That would keep it from reproducing. That was totally not a pre-determined conclusion of evolution.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I believe the nylon-eating bacteria was found in a waste pond on the factory site. For more, look up “nylonase,” the unique enzyme that this bacteria produces to metabolize the nylon.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I was drawing on some recollections from several years ago.

        • Darth Robo

          Well done Johnny. You disproved evolution by repeating fallacies you (as in personally) got trounced with years ago and claiming Goddidit with magic. But he definitely didn’t do evolution because the Almighty can’t do that. Though I sure would love to know how you figured that one out using the scientific method.

          When creationists stop lying about science maybe one day their scientific opinions will be taken seriously.

        • http://slrman.wordpress.com Truth Teller

          You are so full of nonsense, I fell fear for your patients, if you really are a physician.

          It reminds me of a little story I heard years ago about medical school.

          The person who graduates at the top of the class is called the valedictorian.

          In medical schools, what do you call the person who was at the bottom of the class, probably cheated his way through med school, learned very little and has made no effort to stay current since then?

          You call him, “Doctor.”

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com Truth Teller

    Debating with a theist is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how well you play chess, the pigeon will knock over the pieces, crap on the board, and then strut around as though it had won.

    I have never heard a better analogy of discussing anything with a theist. They are incapable of debate, they only want to lecture. Debate requires rational thinking and verifiable facts. Both of those are always fatal to any religion.

  • ajginn

    I admit that I do not put the idea of anthropogenic global warming on the same footing as the other two theories listed above mainly because the others have been used to make specific predictions that have been been tested and verified. AGW seems to be an idea that happens to fit the data but could also merely be a coincidence of history. The earth has gone through many cyclical patterns of warming and cooling (as the Vostok ice cores show). Given that global warming has largely stopped in the last decade despite the fact that more greenhouse gases have been ejected into the atmosphere during that period than ever before gives me pause. I don’t think the science on AGW is settled at all.

    • MNb

      Global warming has not stopped in the last decade at all. Surface temperatures haven’t gone up that much indeed, but the energy is gone elsewhere.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/does-global-warming-pause-mean-what-you-think.html

      You just have shown that AGW denial has relevant similarities with evolution denial indeed. One of them is lack of skepticism towards your own position.

      • ajginn

        As I stated, AGW is not analogous to either the Big Bang or evolutionary theory because of a lack of testable predictions that would negate it (like a Cretaceous rabbit skeleton). The climate may still be warming, but what criteria can proponents of AGW put forward that would invalidate the theory?

        AGW may, in fact, be completely true, or it may be that in time this period is recognized as yet another cyclical warming period. Either way, it still doesn’t qualify as hard science the way evolutionary theory does.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I think the ocean is a pretty big reservoir for heat.


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