Friday, August 5, 2011

Answers in Peter Gabriel

A “hip” new video has been released by the fine creationist folks over at Answers in Genesis. It's a pretty lame piece, using breakneck pacing and repetition to try and hammer a few simple untruths into the viewer. The usual set of timeworn objections to evolution are trotted out, reworded so as to seem fresh: there is no known, observable process that adds new information to an organism's genetic code, and life has never been seen to arise from non-life. AiG thinks these claims are deadly attack dogs that will leave evolution in tatters, but they're closer to being a pair of toothless old chihuahuas barely able to drag themselves across the linoleum - PZ Myers euthanizes them here. But one thing that I think is important to note is the tightly bound, almost positivist model of science that AiG slips into the video. Check out the 00:35-00:47 mark:

Here they say evolution is “quite honestly in great opposition to science, that is, observational science, the kind of science we can test and repeat and use our five sense to understand.” It seems they've spilled quite a bit of internet ink trying to show that “operational” science and “origin” science are two different types of practice entirely. If something is not a finding of a repeatable, controlled experiment then it isn't operational science but rather this new animal, “origins” science, in which it's kosher (!) to cite a book of myths in lieu actual evidence. “Origins” science is, of course, not any science worthy of the name, and they only make breathing room for it by confining “operational” (which they also call "normal”) science to physics-style experimentation.

This comes down to yet another attempt by Christians to narrow science's definition (“experimental verification only!”), trying to securely fence it in so it can't escape to threaten Biblical truths which have already been presupposed to be true. This is a ridiculous notion that would exclude astronomy, paleontology, geology, history and the social sciences from being scientific. This same overly-narrow view of science is a problem with some positivist defenders of science, too. But it's important to realize that it's been a longtime aim of the religious to make sure that we don't take a realist view of science, one that sees it as the broad and flexible practice of using reason and evidence to investigate external reality.

After all, if we admit that, then the claim that a man came back to life after being executed in first century Palestine becomes open for empirical investigation, in other words open for a scientific historical investigation...and we can guess how badly that would turn out for Christianity!

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