Monday, March 13, 2017

The unadvertised nature of science

The unadvertised nature of science is that "facts" are only as good as the evidence that supports them. Yet so many people, scientists and non-scientists alike, hold on to their world view paradigms with stubbornness seldom seen elsewhere in life.

As of 2017, many people have been made aware of the controversy surrounding the official dismissal of Pluto as our solar system's ninth planet. The details surrounding the decision by the International Astronomical Union sound reasonable enough, yet for many people there is a sense of indignation that yet another fact of science has been revised.

You can read more about the controversy here:

This sort of historical revision, due to new information, is nothing new to science. For centuries, the acceptable theory for the universe was referred to as "Steady State," which meant that it had no beginning, and eternally existed. This theory persisted although many great thinkers proposed otherwise.

Then in 1927 Georges LemaƮtre, a priest/astronomer/physicist logically suggested, based on astronomical observation, that the expanding universe had a starting point it had expanded from. This proposal was met with ridicule by the scientific community, despite Edwin Hubble's further astronomical observations in 1929 regarding galactic redshifts, which strongly supported the idea of an expanding universe. Even Albert Einstein initially rejected the idea.

The ridicule and public derision of the idea are what actually gave the theory its originally pejorative name "Big Bang." The overriding consensus of the detractors was that an expanding universe implied a starting point, which to their analytical sensibilities was much too suggestive of an Abrahamic explanation for the universe. In other words, they found the idea repulsive because it opened the door to the explanation of creation in Genesis to be possible. A Steady State universe that eternally existed would not have a starting point, thus making the biblical account clearly false.

Finally, in 1964, cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered, and the scientific community could no longer wave their hands in dismissal. The physical evidence that had gathered literally forced them to let go of their paradigm. But this process took nearly forty years, much too long for the respected scientific community to admit they were wrong.

Regardless of your ideology, and whether you like it or not, the same process is currently underway in the field of evolution. Just as the more powerful astronomical equipment and improved methods of cosmic measurement and observation provided physical evidence for the Big Bang, several fields in science are producing evidence that seems to refute Darwin's original hypothesis. The current official title for this theory is "Intelligent Design."

Again, these new observations and data are due to improved technologies in the last forty years. New data in microbiology, molecular biology, genetics and even cosmology are challenging the assertions made for the last 158 years since the appearance of "On the Origin of Species" in 1859. The ability to gather this data simply did not exist in Darwin's time.

Books have been published that represent decades of research and data, and the authors are observing that the physical facts as we now know them no longer fit the model that life originated by fortunate accident and random mutation. I have read many of these books, and their arguments are reasonable and science-based, not religious nor irrational. The questions they raise are highly relevant to the issue, and quite frankly, are not being sufficiently addressed by the proponents of evolution.

Are these authors correct or not? Certainly every individual will have an opinion regarding whether or not evolution by natural selection is true or false. Most people accept Darwin's theory as true, and even go so far as to insist it is fact, because this is what they've been taught as far back as they can remember. Much the same as those who refuse to let go of the idea that Pluto is a planet.

The amount of public ridicule and derision that has been thrown at these authors and their fellow researchers is in some ways even worse than the humiliation that Big Bang supporters endured. There is an ever more virulent constituency of "thinkers" who absolutely hate and reject anything that could possibly even hint that God exists. These angry critics don't tend to wax reasonable when they're on their soapboxes. For them, anything religion touches is poisoned.

In real life, that particular anti-God assertion is easily demonstrable as false, but that fact apparently doesn't figure into the militant atheist's reasoning process.

It's been 158 years since Darwin published his book. It will likely take a lot longer than that to finally get the official scientific community to stop forcing an antiquated theory on the layman, a theory which is slowly turning out to be more ideology than true science.

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