In the history of man, there has been an age old struggle between science and religion. Religion relied on articles of faith and demanded its followers accept the tenants of their religion or be branded as heretics. Religions recruited new converts with zealous intensity. Scientists touted the scientific method as the way forward, whereby we could expand our knowledge of the universe and nature by repeatable experiments which involved hypothesis testing to establish validation. NAA submits, that at least in part, these roles have been reversed and this post shall attempt to lay out the case against science in a couple of key areas where science has forgotten the importance of the scientific method and instead imposed dogma.
FIRST SOME HISTORY
If one follows the philosophy of science through western history, it is easy to become fascinated with the great debate between science and religion. One case where a scientist was branded a heretic is the famous leaning tower of Pisa experiment done by Galileo who tried to demonstrate by experiment that a heavy ball and a light ball fell at the same rate. This was the scientific method in action and it went against the ideas formulated by Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Catholic Church who relied on reasoning alone (without experimentation.) Galileo was vilified during his lifetime, but was ultimately vindicated because the scientific method leads inexorably to the truth.
Another famous science vs religion moment was the “Scopes Monkey” trial in 1925 when the two great lawyers, William Jennings Bryant (for the Biblical account) and Clarence Darrow (for the theory of evolution) argued over what should be taught in classrooms in Tennessee. It was the creationist view of the Bible vs. the Darwinian view of natural selection. See below for a video about that event which set the stage for academic enlightenment.
There are many other examples where the great forces of religion and science have been in conflict. A good debate on this topic occurred between Bill Moyer and Neil deGrasse Tyson. In this discussion, Dr. Tyson makes a powerful argument that religion has been mostly just “filling in the gaps” of science. He notes that many times humans would turn to religion for answers to questions not yet explained by science. A good example is his discussion of Ptolemy. Ptolemy, like many other scientists, did not invoke God until he encountered something that he didn’t fully understand, such as the orbits of the heavenly bodies. (He proposed Earth as the center of the universe, so the orbital patterns of objects circling the sun were very “complicated” from his point of view.) At that point, he stated that he could see the work of “Zeus and the divine ambrosia” in the beauty of the universe. Dr. Tyson would say that he is just “filling in the gaps” with religion until such time as a real answer can be obtained by science.
To see the discussion on this, see below:
A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE
What NAA wishes to explore is a disturbing trend in science where by the principles of religion wind their way into science. I am talking about the doctrine that a scientific point of view is considered unchallengeable (or “settled.”) This usually involves true believers and heretics. This comes up more and more in science where certain things simply cannot be challenged. This is a case where science takes on the role of religion and distains the scientific method, setting aside certain beliefs as being beyond criticism.
The best examples of science and religion trading places is in the areas of Darwin’s theories on natural selection and on the AGW theory of human caused global warning.
THE TROUBLE WITH DARWIN
Ironically, given it was the Scopes trial that first challenged a strict biblical theory of how life evolved, it is now the very theories of Darwin that have achieved religious dogma status. As NAA has previously discussed (see The Trouble With Trilobites) there are two problems with Darwin’s theories. The first is the Cambrian explosion where phyla after phyla made their first appearance in a very short window (5-10 million years). There were no precursors in the Pre-Cambrian period and attempted explanations such as “soft bodied precursors being lost” have been largely discredited. I am not saying that this is where you must invoke God, but this is where you must challenge science to do better. But any disagreement in this area is immediately challenged as being religious in nature. Darwin has become a priest for the modern scientist and questions are not allowed. This is unscientific. In fact, if one is fair, the fossil record seems to support a “forest” of initial creatures and not a single tree as Darwin suggested.
The same problem arises with the question of how did life cross the life-nonlife barrier. Science has a tenet that somehow life arose from the primordial soup and then Darwin’s theories took over. There is simply no scientific basis for this belief as nothing more than a few amino acids have ever been produced by scientific experimentation. Darwin as religious doctrine prevents needed inquiry into this area. Religion is not the alternative, better science is. (NAA has proposed a possible scientific explanation – See Musings and Speculations on the Cambrian Explosion.) How life crossed the life/no-life barrier is one of the really big “missing gap” questions. Pretending this is not a problem and keeping it from academic discussion is a problem.
AGW AND THE ABANDONMENT OF THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
Another example of where science has adopted the principles of religion is the so called science of global warming. Clearly the IPCC models have been wrong. They have produced forecasts that are dramatically too high when compared to reality. Their hypotheses must therefore be rejected. There has even been scientific fraud to try to hide historical records and out and out data manipulation has been done to support the key tenants of the AGW belief system (to wit the “hockey stick” cover-up.) It is argued that the matter is “settled” (like some 14th century priest might have done). Non believers are treated as heretics and some green supporters of the AGW theory have even called for the arrest or even the beheading of skeptics. Does this sound like science or a fundamentalist religion?
Also the manipulation of data to support a theory is simply unforgiveable. NOAA land temperatures have resulted in the elimination of readings from cold regions (Russia dropping out probably explains the entirety of the warmth in the 1990’s). Also the past has been systematically cooled and the present systematically warmed (when any proper consideration of the urban heat island effect should have produced just the opposite result.)
Next, we have the IPCC report for policy makers. This is done BEFORE the IPCC report by scientists. Yes that is right, the political report comes first and the science report comes second (and it is expected to match the political report.) This is quasi religion (pretending to be science) at its worst.
Finally, we have full proselytizing whereby school children are given full on propaganda about the AGW religion. It is taught as scientific truth despite the fact that no one in school today has ever experienced a warming planet (we now have over 18 years of zero trend line according to the satellite records.) And in a scandal of biblical proportions, the US government wants to use the Disney movie Frozen to teach children about their AGW beliefs. Again does this sound like science or religion?
The wizard believes that if there were a modern day Scopes trial about AGW, Clarence Darrow would be on the side of the skeptics, because the abandonment of the scientific method and the doctrine of true believers and heretics is clearly being expounded by the pretend science of the Anthropogenic Global Warming folks. The AGW fraud is even worse than the issues with Darwin. In the case of the latter, the theory may well be largely right, but it needs to accept that there are gaps that need better science to explain what has happened. In the case of AGW, it is an out and out abandonment of the scientific method. This has been the worse science of the last 100 years because skepticism is not only not welcome (as is required by good science), it is not allowed. Only by way of a vigorous and open debate can true science prevail over the bigotry of the politically correct. In the Wizards view, AGW and extreme environmentalism should be treated as a religion and not allowed in schools on the grounds that it is a violation of church and state. Ok I don’t really want that (although it is logical), BUT what I do want is a return to scientific honesty and a belief in the scientific method. It makes me sad that science has lost it’s way.