(FOR INTRODUCTION AND TABLE OF CONTENTS SEE YESTERDAY’S POST)
Chapter 1 of Evolution, the Big Bang, and Other Fables, by A N Mack MD
For those not yet familiar with the term, cosmology is the study of the origin and the development of the universe. If your understanding of cosmology comes from motion pictures, television, or even one of many secular colleges or universities, you may believe that “scientists” have established the age and origins of the universe, and our planet. You may believe that evolution is an “established fact”. You may even believe that science has proven the Bible to be a collection of fairy tales.
If so, you would be wrong.
One’s view of the universe is fundamentally predicated on one’s beliefs about God. Those who choose NOT to believe in God look for accidental, random, self-directing origins for life, for our wonderful planet, and for the universe itself. Those who understand the concept of an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God have no need for such impossibilities, and in fact find compelling scientific evidence supporting the Bible and Creation. Consequently, one’s view of cosmology is inseparably connected to one’s views about God. Why does this matter? Because both science and religion, when taken apart from one another, can lead to distorted and wrong views about life.
“The public has a distorted view of science because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries.” Freeman John Dyson (1)
Science is an exploration of mysteries? But that sounds so unscientific! The whole concept of mysteries is a subtle, enigmatic conundrum. Not scientific at all. Not a testable, provable, measurable thing. It seems to me that Dyson’s statement might be anathema to many modern secular writers and scientists, who seem to believe they have all the answers to all the questions.
Many secular scientists would have us believe that there is no longer a place for, or a need for mysteries. Such things are remnants of our distant past, something from pre-history, or from the Greek and Roman empires. Mysteries were acceptable for our feeble minded progenitors in the Middle Ages, but surely we no longer have a need for such enigmas today! We live in the age of science, and we understand the universe! We have looked at our own DNA. We have peered a million light years into space! What need have we for mysteries?
Yet it is the mystery of it all that attracts us to science in the first place. We show a grade school child the unexplained movement of metal shavings when approached by a magnet. They are fascinated. We explain to them, with an air of superiority, that it is all easily explained by magnetism. But what is magnetism? What causes it? What are it’s rules and limits? We can look up the cause and quickly find that the magnetism is caused when the majority of electrons in a material spin in the same direction. Mystery solved.
But wait. How do we know that? And what would cause them to spin in the same direction? And why wouldn’t they just go back to a random orientation when challenged by any electrical or magnetic field? And perhaps most importantly… Haven’t the atomic scientists scientists told us that there is really no such thing as particles like electrons and protons? Isn’t particle theory is just a myth to help us understand how matter works? Magnetism is caused by the spin of electrons, but there is really no such thing as electrons! Quite a puzzling, mysterious enigmatic conundrum.
If one were to list some of the most puzzling and unexplained matters in science (mysteries), one would have to confront such issues as:
What causes Gravity?
What is Dark matter?
How did life begin?
How do animals migrate?
Why is there infinitely more matter than antimatter?
What is Dark Energy?
Where did the universe come from?
Why do we sleep?
Each of these topics seems more puzzling than the one before. And the scientists and secularists who claim they understand everything about the universe have NOT A CLUE about these mysteries. Stephen Hawking, who claimed to KNOW that there were black holes, and that they radiated a particular type of energy (a type that no one has ever seen or measured) could not answer these questions. Richard Dawkins, who claims to KNOW that there is no God, and that evolution is a fact, cannot not answer these questions. In fact every scientist who has ever lived stands in awe, and is completely humbled by questions like these. Yet in their pride, many secular scientists insist that they are in possession of all the necessary answers. They teach our children that they KNOW that the Big Bang occurred and that evolution occurred, and most importantly they KNOW that their is NO GOD.
But how can a scientist claim to know such deep, complicated, and intricate things? How can they KNOW the age of the universe when they do not even know what the universe is made of, what holds it together, or how it came to be? How can they KNOW life originated spontaneously when no one but God was there to witness it, and all the laws of nature and science say abiogenesis (life from non-life) is an impossibility?
The answer is Scientism. What is Scientism? Tom Sorrel states, “Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture.”(2) In fact many modern scientists are so enamored of their particular branch of knowledge that they, like Ian Hutchinson of MIT, believe “Science, modeled on the natural sciences, is the only source of real knowledge.”(3)
Now firstly, try to imagine a world without wonder, without poetry, without music, without philosophy, without worship, or logic, or direct knowledge or experiential knowledge or all the other ways we learn in our daily lives! Imagine trying to learn life only from a science lab. Such a thing is ridiculous from the outset. Absolutely absurd. Yet this is what many modern secular scientist promote… and worse yet, this (Scientism) is what our children are being taught in our educational system!
And secondly, practitioners of Scientism will rarely admit it, but Scientism is ultimately self defeating. If science is indeed the only source of knowledge, but Scientism cannot be proven scientifically, then it is disqualified by its own rules. The scientific method requires testing a hypothesis, and if that hypothesis, such as the belief in Scientism, cannot be tested and proven true or false, it cannot proven scientifically. Scientism is not in itself a science. It cannot be proven, or falsified, in a lab. It is not even scientific! Scientism is a philosophy, and as such must be accepted, discussed, and potentially rejected under the rules of philosophy.
Now let’s compare and contrast this with what I call populist cosmology.
If you ask the man or woman on the street “Is it possible to predict the future?”, they will likely say no. It is of course NOT possible for us to “predict the future” except in a very few, short term, low variable type situations, like tomorrow’s weather. And yet as humans, we see this as just another obstacle to be overcome. So that is exactly what secular scientists are continually trying to do, attempting to predict the weather, earthquakes, hurricanes, politics, economics, lifespans, relationships, and dozens of other events in life. This might not seem such a bad thing. After all, isn’t that the exciting and compelling thing about science fiction, the desire to see into the future? What is the harm in that?
Well perhaps if it only involved educated, consenting adults who understood the actual underlying principles of scientific research and statistical analysis it would be acceptable. Or perhaps if it were seen for what it was, which is science fiction rather than hard science, perhaps it would be acceptable. Perhaps if humanity were better at separating fact from fantasy… But such is not the case. This area of “soft science” has pervaded all aspects of education and the media.
In another way of looking at this, one could say that the merger between science and pop culture has created a progeny. That progeny is called scientism, and in the name of science, our children are instead taught scientism from early grade school all the way through college. They are also exposed to it on shows like “Star Trek” and “The Big Bang Theory” and even “Avengers: Endgame” (all of which I find quite entertaining). But while it is treated as actual science, many of the predictions made by scientism (about both past and future events) have much more in common with indoctrination and fortune telling than with actual, provable science. Consider the following headline for example:
“Scientists Have Figured Out When And How Our Sun Will Die, And It’s Going to Be Epic”
So reads the headline on Sciencealert.com. (4) And the article goes on to say, “The Sun is about 4.6 billion years old – gauged on the age of other objects in the Solar System that formed around the same time. And, based on observations of other stars, astronomers predict it will reach the end of its life in about another 10 billion years.”
The science of Astronomy is indeed amazing. Astronomers observe, speculate, theorize and calculate. They attempt to explain this magnificent universe in which we live. But they fail to tell you, as they predict earth’s incineration and demise, that their theories and explanations are still, even now, full of holes the size of galaxies.
Or for another example, consider the following article by Jillian Scudder.
“It is widely understood that the Earth as a planet will not survive the sun’s expansion into a full-blown red giant star. The surface of the sun will probably reach the current orbit of Mars – and, while the Earth’s orbit may also have expanded outwards slightly, it won’t be enough to save it from being dragged into the surface of the sun, whereupon our planet will rapidly disintegrate.” (5)
Or if you prefer to get your forecasts from NBC news, here is a headline:
“Now we know what will happen when the sun dies”
“New study suggests our star will become one of the prettiest objects in the night sky.”(6) Of course, at the time they predict our suns demise, the earth will already be long gone according to their own predictions. The astronomers had been arguing back and forth among themselves as to whether when the sun died it would create a planetary nebula. This latest theory (latest computer model) says it will, and it will supposedly be spectacular to see.
These are just a couple of the many pseudo-scientific internet sites that predict the future of our planet, and the fate of our sun. But what happened to the belief that “we can’t predict the future”? Well, you might say, “this is different… these are scientists!” Yes, that is what they say. But what is a scientist? And more importantly, what types of predictions for the future have scientist made? What are their results and their credentials for predicting future events?
Well it turns out that scientists are quite good at predicting the future of a real time event in a laboratory if all the factors are known and contained, and the the basic processes of physics are completely stable. They can tell you what is going to happen in the next few minutes after you combine sodium and chloride in a test tube. They can predict what will happen when gasoline and oxygen are allowed to interact in the presence of intense heat. These momentary observations can be reproduced again and again in a laboratory or a test tube. The results will be the same and are thus predictable.
But what are their credentials in predicting things even just a thousand years from now? Has science ever done that? No. Not yet anyway.
Martyn Shuttleworth authored the following excellent discussion about predictive science.
Scientists and Soothsayers
(2) Sorell, Tom. Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science. New York: Routledge, 1991.
(3) Hutchinson, Ian. Monopolizing Knowledge: A Scientist Refutes Religion-Denying, Reason-Destroying Scientism. Belmont, MA: Fias Publishing, 2011.
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