|Scientific Method as a Way of Knowing|
Surely scientific achievements demonstrate the strength and validity of human thinking. At least that’s what we’re told. Yet many authorities in the sciences give a very different view as the following quotes illustrate:
Science thrives on the conviction that man does not have final knowledge about anything, and that any doctrine, no matter what its credentials, should be subject to inquiry and correction.” ~ L. W. Beck; Philosophic Inquiry; 1952; p352
One of the most common misconceptions concerns the so-called “scientific proofs.” Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a scientific proof. . . . In contrast, all scientific knowledge is tentative and provisional, and nothing is final. There is no such thing as final proven knowledge in science. ~ Satoshi Kanazawa
In science, ideas can never be completely proved or completely disproved. ~ Understanding Science
You may be reluctant to think that the bungling process of trial and error is tantamount to the scientific method, if only because science is so often shrouded in sophistication and jargon. Yet there is no fundamental difference. ~ University of Texas at Austin
The notion that we can find absolute and final truths is naive. If there are any underlying "truths" of nature, our models are just close approximations to them—useful descriptions which "work" by correctly predicting nature's behavior. ~ The Scientific Method by Donald E. Simanek
It can even be shown that all theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero. ~ Karl Popper; (1902-1994); Conjectures & Refutations; 1965; p192
There seems to be in all this a thoroughgoing epistemological relativism that makes the obtaining of truth impossible; and if scientific procedure cannot obtain truth, it can offer no absolute arguments against theism nor can it say truthfully that ‘the scientific method is the sole gateway to the whole region of knowledge.’ There is no science to which final appeal can be made; there are only scientists and their various theories. … No scientific or observational proof can be given for the uniformity of nature, and much less can experience demonstrate that ‘the scientific method is the sole gateway to the whole region of knowledge.’ On the contrary, a plausible analysis showed that science was incapable of arriving at any truth whatever. ~ Gordon Clark; (1902-1985); A Christian View of Men and Things; 1952; p216, 227
Ungodly thinkers can be fully aware of the tentative nature of current scientific opinion, and yet be dogmatic about current scientific opinion at the same time. In addition, they can try to censor anyone who dares to question or test current scientific opinion, and they even use irrational terms like “settled science.” As an added deterrent to challenge, anyone who objectively investigates current scientific opinion is subjected to every form of name-calling, coercion, and persecution. Such protectionism indicates a disconnect with reality, and we’ll explore this disconnect as we continue our journey.
Science is supposedly based on facts, but the word “fact” is defined differently in science than it’s defined for the rest of the world. To illustrate, something may be called a “scientific fact,” but later, another thing is discovered that shows that the “scientific fact” never was a fact, and this change exposes a bit of insanity since reality doesn’t change. So true facts don’t change, but opinion does change and those claims that are called “scientific facts” change. We’ll look into this problem with scientific facts more carefully in the next section that deals with theories as a way of knowing.
And another factor that allows students to fool themselves is the power of assumptions. With even a single assumption they can prove anything to themselves. Anything! And when an education system is set up to promote ungodly thinking, every conclusion is based on assumption in the final analysis. In such a system, how does a student find the hidden assumptions? And how do the students overcome their own worldviews and their own inner biases? These problems are aggravated by the fact that most students have also been brainwashed into believing that it makes sense to base their thinking on assumptions, and this lie continues to cloud their thinking long after they leave school.
Since God reveals reality through observation and experience, both direct observation and direct experience are valuable. Yet observation and experience in themselves can’t provide perception of absolute reality because of the limitations of human senses. Not only that, but observation and experience are also interpreted using assumptions that are often hidden and presupposed. That’s why two people can be observing or experiencing the same thing while their interpretations conflict. In these cases, we know that one or both of them have unconsciously added made-up stuff as part of the interpretation. This way of thinking limits science and every aspect of life. And while an objective peer-review process would help to correct this, there’s no such thing as an objective peer review process. In fact, the peer review system is rigged against objectivity as we’ve already seen. It’s also true that listening to God as He reveals through observation and experience would solve this, but ungodly thinkers refuse to acknowledge God, and godly thinkers struggle to discern between God’s vision and visions from their own minds.
It’s irrational to think, “Science changes and that’s just how science is done, so when new discoveries come in, we change,” and then also think, “Science yields knowledge, and it’s idiotic to challenge anything that the most politically powerful scientists currently are promoting as the position of the scientific community.” One implies a fluid process that doesn’t get dogmatic, and the other implies a rigid dogmatism. However, in practice, there are only certain sacred cows that are dogmatically defended, and the irrationality of science centers on those sacred cows. When no sacred cow is jeopardized by a discovery, what was considered scientific fact yesterday is changed, but when a sacred cow is jeopardized by a new discovery, story-tellers scramble to make up just-so stories to rescue the sacred cow, and the sacred cow remains unfalsifiable. As might be expected, every such sacred cow is a fundamental doctrine that’s supportive of godlessness or some ungodly political goal.
Science changes, but truth and true facts never change. For example, science books are out of date before they get into the classrooms because errors are in the books. Yet when the books were written, they seemed perfect until new things were discovered after printing and before distributing the books. As a result, we can see that the things the authors thought they knew weren’t known, and what they thought were scientific facts weren’t scientific facts. In the process, what was once called “scientific fact” is transformed into “what we used to think was true.” And this is usually with an attitude of “and we’re so much smarter now.” So they thought it was true, but it wasn’t true. Which means, it became “settled science,” part of “the body of knowledge,” but now it’s set aside and forgotten.
Often, an author gets rich writing a book about a “breakthrough” in science, but later, new information exposes the “breakthrough” as obviously false, so the book is forgotten. That is, either the failure is forgotten or the failure is used as a reason to believe the next speculation, and when new evidence is found to make new speculations, the new speculations create a new book and another income stream. But then the whole thing is exposed as false again. Then, the cycle repeats. (Abandoned Transitional Forms)
And perhaps that wouldn’t be so serious if those in the scientific establishment weren’t so sure about what they now think is true that they’re dogmatic and protective to the point where censorship is rampant and people who disagree lose their jobs. Scientific opinion is obviously tentative, so any scientific claim or point of view ought to be treated as a tentative opinion that’s open to challenge and free of religious dogmatism by those biased toward naturalism and materialism. Anything less hinders scientific progress and wastes tax money.
In addition, scientific opinion ought to be taught as just that, tentative opinion, yet opinions are taught as if they were part of reality. Only a fool believes without checking things out. Proverbs 15:16 Sadly, many students are gullible enough to believe what they’re told in schools without ever checking it out for themselves. Of course, other forces are involved to brainwash students. For instance, a lot of the student’s gullibility and credulity starts when the students get involved in immorality so they’re biased against God and against all truth, ready for some way to justify their bad behavior. Peer pressure is a huge force that Satan uses to bring these students into conformity to the lie. And simple laziness is a factor, since it’s much easier to avoid critical thinking than it is to research what others outside of the ungodly cabal are finding.
One of the strangest assumptions is scientism. Scientism is the unsupported assertion that scientific method is the best way to know anything. Scientism is usually connected to materialism and naturalism at some level of thought.
Andy Bannister, on page 133 of his book “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist,” noted:
Revelation is not contrary to reason. But scientism, the idea that science can tell us everything is not merely contrary but devastating to reason.
On page 139 of the same book, Andy says:
. . . if that God is truly personal, then perhaps He has done what personal creatures do all the time – namely communicate.
From there, Andy uses knowing himself as an example.
. . . if you want to get to know what I’m really like, you could buy and read my books. . . . But there’s an even better way: you could ask those who know me, or get to know me personally yourself.
Think of the ramifications of Andy’s suggestion: “. . . or get to know me personally yourself.” What an alternative! What about getting to know God personally? Andy mentions Daniel Dennett’s unproved claim of materialism:
There is only one sort of stuff, namely matter.
Dennett goes on to make another amazing claim without proof:
The mind is somehow nothing but physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain.
Dennett went on about the materialism of human thought. He claims human thought is like continental drift, photosynthesis, and other similar things. Andy Bannister comments:
So, if Dennett is right, something follows: those things are not rational; therefore, neither are we.
Dennett has destroyed the idea that anyone can be rational, and he did this based on axiomatic thinking. Yet Dennett still thinks he’s rational and that everyone ought to listen to him, and he doesn’t even seem to notice the conflict. As we meet dogmatic ungodly thinkers, we find that irrationality similar to Dennett’s is necessary for them to keep deceiving themselves so they can continue to avoid Christ and His righteousness. And that’s the bottom line. They don’t want Christ because their deeds are evil so they love darkness rather than light. John 3:19-21
As we already discovered, the axiomatic thinking fallacy isn’t a rational basis of thought and is the most basic of all fallacies. That’s because axioms are simply assumptions that are dogmatically believed without proof. Axiomatic thinking says:
I made this up. Therefore, it’s true.
To clarify, axioms are claimed to be universally true without proof. And since reasoning is always based either on divine revelation or on axiomatic thinking fallacies, we again confirm that revelation is the only way to have a true premise and to be rational.
During the Nye-Ham debate, there was a disagreement about observational science versus historical science. Rather than focusing on definitions, it’s often more helpful to focus on what’s actually happening since what’s really happening is quite simple in that science that’s applied toward the past or the spiritual realm is based on made up stuff. Science that’s applied toward the present physical realm is based on observation. There’s a difference between observation and making up stuff. While that’s easy to understand, an ungodly thinker can cloud the issue very efficiently by trying to change the subject, argue over definitions, or use other fallacies. Consider the following example of this:
You say that you can't do an experiment on yesterday, so you're saying that astronomy, geology, forensics, and archaeology are not science. For that matter, anything where you cannot directly observe the system you are working on is not science. This means all of modern astrophysics, molecular and cellular biology, quantum mechanics, genetic, etc. are not "science." Indeed. why believe F=ma instead of F=2ma or F=ma^2? I hear some people are so crazy, they think we can actually measure things like the gravitational force or the distance from the earth to the sun.
This convoluted statement, by innuendo, is actually about the definition of the term “science.” It uses a package deal fallacy to forbid any discernment between made-up stuff and observation. In the process, it uses an appeal to ridicule fallacy to mock the idea that it’s important to know the difference between reality and made-up stuff, between observation and hypothesis. And one of the ways it blurs this distinction is by beginning with an argument that claims it’s possible to “do an experiment on yesterday,” and then, to prove that we can “experiment on yesterday,” it brings examples of observations and testable applications in the present. For each of the examples given, there’s a useful part, and since it’s useful, it’s testable. The formula, F=ma is testable and useful in the present, but how would anyone test a story about the past (evolutionism) to prove that it actually happened and that a competing story that fits the observations better (creation-flood) shouldn’t be considered? Science that’s performed on both stories use the same proven formulas to create very different models of the past. One inserts these formulas plus made-up stuff to extrapolate backwards in time based on a presupposition of no God and the supposed power of the human mind to make up accurate information. The other inserts these same formulas plus made-up stuff to extrapolate backwards in time based on divine revelation.
Unfortunately, there’s an enormous amount of money being wasted to change science into a discipline that has the purpose of blurring the distinction between reality and make-believe. That’s because, when anyone is telling a lie, they need a way to avoid separating the made-up stuff from the observations. Since made-up stuff is necessary to give the illusion of support for the desires and biases of the person making up a godless story, we can see why such a person would want to avoid admitting that there’s a difference between made-up stuff and observation.
We would probably agree with Dr. Charles Jackson that it’s OK to make up stuff and it’s OK to make up a story or to have a thought experiment, but it’s not OK to forget that made-up stuff is made-up stuff. And it’s not OK to think that a story is reality. (The video is here: https://youtu.be/HUbjlK1CJ_Q)
There’s a story that’s told about predictions, and it’s partly true but completely confused. It’s confused because it doesn’t explain the difference between types of predictions like the following:
We’ll investigate these thoroughly in the section called Predictability as a Way of Knowing.
Theories are sometimes claimed as a way of knowing, but theories are actually explanations that go beyond what can be known by observation. They add imaginative ideas to what’s known, but imagination isn’t the same as knowledge. We’ll look into theories more carefully in the section called Theories as a Way of Knowing.
When pseudoscience can be used to advance the political goals of politicians and those who have grand schemes of the world, many strange things happen. Despite the best efforts of those in power, God arranges for the exposure of these plots from time to time, though it’s impossible to know about those things God hasn’t exposed. We see no area of pseudoscience in which politics drives the claims and alarms more than in the ecological alarmist area. Here we’ve seen scheming exposed through emails, but none of the guilty parties are every punished, and the controllers of the media make sure to do damage-control whenever the dishonesty is exposed. Whistle-blowers are punished and sincere scientists who point out the shakiness of the science are ridiculed.
It’s well documented that there are many problems in the way science is done. And this isn’t surprising since scientists are humans, and humans make mistakes. Just like everyone else, scientists sometimes make honest mistakes and sometimes commit outright fraud. Sadly, the peer review process isn't effectively exposing either of these.
The system is rigged to protect the status quo.
It appears that several forces promote scientific bias. Sometimes, the money motive is more important than reality. For example, decisions may be made to keep funds coming in, and much of this funding is coming from the government so science is politicized. In addition, personal pride plays a huge role, and personal biases against morality or God come into play. Since these political considerations favor certain desired results, pressure is brought to bear against anyone who bucks the system.
The present system of science actually encourages deceit. Careers are at stake, as are jobs, grants, tenure and, literally, one’s livelihood. This is partly a result of the ‘publish or perish’ endemic in academia. Broad and Wade point out that ‘grants and contracts from the Federal government … dry up quickly unless evidence of immediate and continuing success is forthcoming’. The motivation to publish, to make a name for oneself, to secure prestigious prizes, or be asked to join an educational board, all entice cheating. Broad and Wade’s frightening conclusion is, ‘corruption and deceit are just as common in science as in any other human undertaking’. As Broad and Wade stress, scientists ‘are not different from other people. In donning the white coat at the laboratory door, they do not step aside from the passions, ambitions, and failings that animate those in other walks of life.’
Fraud usually does not involve totally making up data, but most often involves alterations, ignoring certain results, and fudging the data enough to change a close, but non-statistically significant result into a statistically significant difference at the alpha < .05 level. Whether intentional deceit is involved is not easy to determine. Dishonesty cannot be easily disentangled from normal human mistakes, sloppiness, gullibility or technical incompetence. Vested interests operate to prove one’s pet theories, causing researchers to don blinders that impede them from seeing anything other than what they want to see. Once theories are established, they tend to be written in stone, and are not easily overturned regardless of the amount of new information that may contradict the now hallowed ‘written-in-stone’ theory.
Among the other reasons for deceit are the fact that comprehensive theories are the goal of science, not a collection of facts. Because it is sometimes difficult to force facts to conform to one’s theories, such as in situations where there are many anomalies, a strong temptation exists to ignore facts that don’t agree with those theories. The desire to earn respect from one’s peers (and, ideally, to become eminent) has, from the earliest days of science, brought with it a temptation to consciously distort, ignore evidence, play loose with the facts, and even lie. ~ http://creation.com/science-fraud-epidemic
So we see that something strange has happened in the scientific community, but science has never been necessarily accurate, though it’s had a reputation for accuracy. It seems that this reputation was based on obvious pragmatic gains but, as already noted, pragmatic gains aren’t truth.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no agreement on a single scientific method among philosophers of science. If we search the Internet, we find several systems for scientific method, and many of the websites break scientific method into distinct steps.
The definition of ‘science’ has haunted philosophers of science in the 20th century. The approach of Bacon, who is considered the founder of the scientific method, was pretty straightforward: observation → induction → hypothesis → test hypothesis by experiment → proof/disproof → knowledge. ~ http://creation.com/its-not-science
Notice that induction is a form of reasoning distinct from deduction. Deduction can lead to knowledge of truth since the conclusion must be true if the premises are true and the argument has valid form. Induction can lead to strong opinions since the conclusion might be true if the premises are true and the argument has valid form, so induction may set a direction for investigation of truth, but it can’t determine truth. Induction, as part of this scientific process, can lead to a pragmatic plan of action, but that’s not really knowledge of truth. And induction leads to a hypothesis, which is a tentative explanation of the observations. Yet testing and proving a hypothesis isn’t simple because proof requires deductive reasoning that can lead to truth, but deductive reasoning must begin with a true premise, which is only available by divine revelation. Consequently, everywhere we try to find true knowledge, we run into the same need for God. Taking all of this into account, this scientific method can’t get us to knowledge of truth because induction only gets us to knowledge of opinion.
Three Basic Truths that are Needed for Science
God has revealed these three basic truths:
These three basic truths make it possible to do science and the laws of logic, mathematical laws, and the regularity of nature come from God. God reveals them, and early Bible-believing scientists established scientific method using these revelations, but since ungodly thinkers refuse to acknowledge God, they have to assume these three basic truths to do science. (Biblical Roots of Modern Science)
While Bacon is often credited with inventing scientific method, it was actually God Who originally revealed some things about scientific method, and God continues to reveal reality using His scientific method. But sadly, ungodly people have distorted scientific method. As a result, there’s a lot of confusion about what’s known and what’s not known, so in our current escapade, we’ll go over several scientific methods starting with an impossible scientific method.
Though science is rarely done by a numbered series of steps, for the sake of clarity, the steps are shown here in an order and they’re numbered. So we’ll think of this as what one scientist did on one day. Yet some thinkers imagine that these steps are exactly the way that science is done, and some of these thinkers imagine that scientists make no assumptions and that scientists have no biases.
There’s only one problem with that kind of thinking. It doesn’t happen. That’s because no one can get outside of himself or herself, and all humans have biases based on worldviews, so humans make assumptions and think the assumptions are real. For this and other reasons, there’s no way to have sound deductive reasoning without divine revelation.
Notice how the steps are related to a mindset of ungodliness that guides each step in the process. Though, as a general rule, the word “ungodliness” isn’t used, a word like “secular,” “naturalistic,” or “materialistic” is used instead as a way to hide the bias. In fact, the term “methodological naturalism” or “scientific naturalism” is the most widespread method of hiding the bias toward ungodliness.
These steps will vary widely depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit, and while they can be used in science, this same type of method is useful for Bible study or decision-making of all kinds. Clearly, God revealed something about scientific method to godly scientists, but He still has much to teach humanity about this. Furthermore, God uses science to reveal Himself and His creation to humanity. To put it another way, God uses scientific observation to reveal reality to anyone who’ll listen to Him. In mercy, He even reveals reality to those who refuse to acknowledge Him or thank Him.
The group-held paradigm mentioned in this method consists of the concepts of big bang, billions of years, no Genesis Flood, and molecules to humanity. Unfortunately, this paradigm regulates thought and limits science to the paradigm. In addition, it regulates entrance into the “real scientist club,” since we need to salute the group-held paradigm as a prerequisite, and then we’re in the club. In fact, historically, anyone who’s questioned the paradigm has suffered, and Bill Nye referred to this and rationalized a defense of this biased practice. According to Bill, if we question the group-held paradigm, we can’t be scientists, and when Bill implies this, he’s merely reflecting the attitude of the insiders of the scientific establishment with its censorship and message control. Not only that, but we find this same fallacy wherever evolution is sold.
Here we make a sharp distinction between science that produces products and solutions to problems, helpful science, in contrast with science that merely produces godless stories and speculations that produce no useful products or solutions. Since God revealed scientific method at least partially, and even though He may reveal more about it, God reveals reality through the scientific method to anyone who’ll use this method. He reveals reality about the present and about the past through scientific method as Patterns of Evidence, ICR, CMI, and AIG have found, but He never discredits the Bible with scientific method as ungodly thinkers claim. He doesn’t restrict this revelation to those who follow Christ. So the method is valid, but the problems enter when that method is distorted. In addition, ungodly science can only be pragmatic, so it’s not useful for making claims about reality but only for making tentative decisions about courses of actions. However, any of those decisions could be wrong, so what seems true today from the standpoint of ungodly science could be shown to be untrue tomorrow as shown by changes regarding the use of certain technologies that later came into question. And these are just the problems for science where it’s possible to observe and test in the present and apply the resulting discoveries in what appears to be a useful way.
In sharp contrast, there’s far too much science that produces nothing that anyone could use. It never brings the knowledge needed to make a car, an airplane, or a cellphone, but it subverts the minds of people everywhere and removes the ability to tell the difference between truth and conceptual dreams. When making up stories about what can’t be observed, for instance, the distant past, the spiritual realm, or the human mind, ungodly science can’t possibly test those stories to see whether they actually happened. This is especially true for the big-bang-billions-of-years-molecules-to-humankind story since it competes with the creation-flood account, which fits what can be observed better and is also based on divine revelation rather than made-up stuff. It’s here where it becomes crystal clear that knowledge only comes from God’s revelation.