Philosophical Issues

Philosophical Issues

February 20, 2005


The following material is taken from an email message sent in response to an email from a reader of this web site. This material concerns philosophical and geological issues relating to the creation evolution dispute.

One of the problems with the popular understanding of science is that the general public is not informed about the limitations of science. Scientific theories can change over time, especially when they deal with non-testable areas such as past history. But religion deals with eternal truth. It is possible that science will eventually change until it is in harmony with the Bible. It would be better if students in public schools were educated about the limitations of science. In the meantime there is a purpose for those who point out ways in which the evidence is already favorable to creationism. This is a great encouragement to many who are struggling with the issue of how science and religion relate to each other.

Science is subject to politics and prejudice as is any human endeavor. The way science functions is not always the way science should function. There is tremendous inertia against fundamental changes in our understanding of science, especially when the underlying philosophical presuppositions are at stake. Our educational system is basically atheistic in outlook and this outlook is so strongly ingrained in many students that they find the idea of creationism unthinkable. Likewise the idea that life has existed and evolved on earth for hundreds of millions of years has so strongly permeated the educated public that even those who believe in God find the idea that life has only existed on earth for six to ten thousand years unthinkable, so that they frequently believe instead that God guided the evolution of life over hundreds of millions of years. These attitudes permeate our scientific establishment as well and provide one of the strongest underpinnings for the theory of evolution. These attitudes makes it difficult for scientists to be objective about the possibility that a Divine Being has interfered in the history of the universe and the history of life. But it is a priori possible that God exists and that He has chosen to create life on earth. Actually the problem of deciding what is good science and what is bad science is known as the demarcation problem in the philosophy of science and is not a trivial problem by any means. It would be better if science would allow for the possibility of supernatural interference in the affairs of the universe because there is no way that science can prove that such interference never happened. But the current approach to science excludes this possibility. And whatever the rules of science are, a higher concern is to know the truth, whether or not it can be revealed by scientific processes. What assurance do we have, after all, that all truth, or even the most important truth, can be revealed in this way, by science? Just because something is a scientific theory and almost all scientists accept it does not necessarily make it true. It is interesting to look at the history of science and its resistance to change in the past. I believe it was Semmelweiss who introduced hand washing in the operating room but his conclusions were rejected, even though his methods greatly reduced operating room mortality, and he died insane as a result.

The basic situation with geology is that there are very many evidences of catastrophe in the geological column and geologists themselves admit this. But they believe there were long periods in between when basically nothing happened, that is, no record is left. Why do they believe this? Because of the long ages given by isotopic (radiometric) dating and because the theory of evolution requires long ages. But we recently have uncovered several evidences that the rates of decay were much faster in the past. Also, if evolution is false, then there is no need for long ages of time for it to happen. Thus there is no need to assume long ages have elapsed on earth since the origin of life. Scientists find it hard to conceive of a catastrophe of such a magnitude as to lay down all the sediments in a short time. But this should not be seen as impossible. There is even evidence on Mars of huge floods at some time in the past. It could be that as planets develop, they trap large amounts of water under their crusts, under high pressure, and it could be a normal phase in the development of many planets that at some stage a weakness in the crust develops and all this water comes out and causes a global flood. There are also plenty of astronomical events like supernovae that emit huge amounts of energy that could cause a global catastrophe on earth.

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