Two Big Problems with Science

This is the second article by Clifford Goldstein that we’ve written about. He’s the editor of something called the Adult Bible Study Guide. Like his earlier article — see Seventh-Day Adventists and Galileo — this one appears in Adventist Review Online, which describes itself as “the web site of the Adventist Review magazine. In print for more than 150 years, the Adventist Review is the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Clifford’s latest is titled Why Science Gets Origins So Wrong. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Why does science, which gets so much “right,” get so much wrong about origins? It’s because of two principles upon which science works and, probably, couldn’t function without.

And what are those two troublesome principles? Clifford says:

The first is that science, which studies the natural world, must look only to the natural world for answers. This notion, hundreds maybe even thousands of years old, asserts that we should not resort to supernatural causes to explain natural effects. Biologists must not explain, for instance, the extremely complicated process of blood clot formation by attributing the enzyme cascade to divine intervention. Science would not, could not, progress if everything, or anything, not understood were explained away as supernatural meddling.

That’s not an arbitrary whim of science. It’s unavoidable, because science has no way to research supernatural phenomena. We’ve discussed that before — see Bring Me An Angel Detector! Here’s Clifford’s other problem with science:

The second principle is that the laws of nature must remain constant. All things being equal (which they rarely are), what a law does today it did yesterday, and will do tomorrow, and any variations result from another law-like pattern that itself resulted from another law-like pattern, and on and on.

Clumsily expressed, but true. There’s no evidence that the laws of nature change. If they were changeable, the universe would be chaotic and science would be impossible. Clifford continues:

However reasonable and fruitful, both principles are philosophical assumptions, not itself problematic (science was called “natural philosophy” longer than it has been called “science”), except that both assumptions happen to be false.

This should be good. He tells us:

Take the first one, which requires [he probably meant “rejects”] supernatural causes for natural events. That’s fine for hurricane tracking or for analysis of whooping crane endocrinology. But it is worse than worthless for origins that start out with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), and from there unpack a display of supernaturalism that so spectacularly transcends the thought patterns of minds (like ours) suffused with naturalism that many deny the biblical account because they can’t conceive of it.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Science must be wrong if it rejects the supernatural creation account in Genesis. Let’s read on:

And the constancy of nature? Makes sense, except that [biblical quote about the sin of Adam & Eve] presupposes a natural environment discontinuous, and qualitatively different, from anything that science now confronts.

[…]

To learn about the origins of life by studying what is here now — thousands of years after the physical changes brought by Adam’s fall (Gen. 3:17-19), Cain’s sin (Gen. 4:12), and Noah’s worldwide flood (Gen. 6-10) — would be like studying streetwalkers in Paris to learn the origins of human sexuality. [Great analogy!] Science as now constituted denies that the kind of environment depicted in Genesis 1-2 even existed; thus, how much could it teach us about that environment?

He’s right. Those rules of science make it incompatible with The Truth of the bible. Another excerpt:

Hence, our conundrum: two principles upon which science works are false, at least when it comes to origins (though one could argue, justifiably from a biblical perspective, that the first principle [denial of the supernatural] is false even with the present world because, at the core, God alone sustains physical reality [scripture references].

Scientists are fools! Here’s more

No wonder science gets creation wrong. It denies two crucial aspects of creation: the supernatural force behind it, and the radical physical discontinuity between original creation and what’s before us now.

He keeps saying the same thing over and over again. Anyway, here’s the end:

Science doesn’t just miss the mark, kind of; it goes disastrously astray. Yet, considering the two assumptions from which it works (and that’s all they are, assumptions), what else could it do regarding origins but go not just wrong, but so wrong?

So there you are, dear reader. Now you understand everything.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Two Big Problems with Science

  1. Michael Fugate

    “BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Science must be wrong if it rejects the supernatural creation account in Genesis.”

    Spot on. If I believe something it must be true; I only believe true things!

  2. Doesn’t the “fine tuning” argument go out the window if physical laws were different in the past?

  3. the supernatural account in Genesis
    Which supernatural account in Genesis? What about an another account?
    Whether in the Bible, or from another source (such as a 19th century prophet)?
    What interpretation over the thousands of years?
    Please give an alternative explanation, from any source, for the variety of life, which does not mention common descent with variation.
    Please give an alternative explanation which does not mention physical causes, or which is drawn from the Bible, for
    1) the amount of hydrogen and helium compared with other elements
    2) the appearance of the heavens
    3) gravitational waves

  4. He had me with “streetwalkers in Paris.” Sign me up!

  5. Dunning-Kruger exemplified.

  6. Brilliant. This explains why pi used to equal 3, the Earth used to be flat, bats used to be birds etc. The water necessary for the Great Flood? Don’t bother guys, the laws of nature are changeable.
    And of course Mohammed rode his horse through the sky from Mekka to Jerusalem and back in one night. The laws of nature are changeable.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    On the subject of his purported scientific fallacy of “constancy of nature”, we could ask Clifford if he (or any of his brethren) would feel cheated had he paid for a trip to the Holy Land for a chance to be Baptized in the very same River Jordan that his Biblical Jesus was dipped in by John the Baptist.

    You suppose probably Clifford would make some allowance for the reality that all river beds meander vastly over time? And that the “holy” water flowing today is not the same water of 2,000 years ago, or even the same water as just a minute before or after Clifford got his own dip?

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  8. @ Ceteris Paribus:

    δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης

    — Heraklitus (according to Plato, in Cratylus 402a

  9. Or, as Russell quotes Heraklitus, we step and do not step into the same river; we are and are not

  10. Clifford, like so many other creationists, has simply not thought through the idea of changing laws of nature. As I’ve mentioned before in connection with the “assumption” of the constancy of radioactive decay rates, if such things had been different in the past, material objects and living things as we know them could not have existed

  11. Paul Braterman, have you no shame? How can you show your face around here when the Institute for Creation Research has just posted Professor Says He Can “Slam Dunk” Creationists?

  12. Perhaps that ICR prof is talking about basketball?

  13. A few hundred years ago, Clifford Goldstein would have argued Why science gets gravity so wrong, reasoning that the we hang on to the planet because God made the Earth love us so much.

    I wonder if Clifford still resists putting lightning rods on his church.

  14. One Encompassing Problem With Creationism
    There is no substance to it. It is only a negative advertizing campaign. Any supposed difficulty with evolution – creationism doesn’t offer a solution.

  15. Indeed. Being attacked by the Discovery Institute was like being savaged by a dead sheep. Being attacked by their Discovery Institute and the Institute for Creation Research is like being savaged by two dead sheep

  16. Yeah, PaulB, how dare you to show up here when creacrap non-scientist Jake Hebert so expertly refutes your “evolutionists can “slam dunk” creationists by simply confronting them with the evidence for evolution”? Don’t you realize yet that their skulls are thicker than castle walls?

  17. Once again, the real problem is that the creationists do not attempt to explain the facts. They only claim that there is not enough evidence for the evolutionary explanation. The only attempts to explain the “tree of life” involve common descent with variation. And, by the way, the Bible does not deny common descent, so we don’t have any first-hand testimony to the contrary.

  18. I’ve now had time to recover from the trauma of ICR’s scathing attack on me. It actually concludes with a true statement: “We are confident that an honest examination of the evidence completely rules out evolutionary explanations for the origin of life.”

    Indeed it does, if “evolutionary” is used in the relevant restrictive sense, just as we are confident that an honest examination of the evidence completely rules out chemical explanations for the origin of atoms.

  19. Logic rules out omnipotent design.

  20. Michael Fugate

    Just because Jake is confident – doesn’t mean he is right. Just today, the LA Times had an article about UC Irvine taking $200M for an “integrative medicine” program. I am sure the donors are confident that homeopathy – given an honest examination of the evidence – works, even if no evidence supports that contention.

  21. If one argues that the laws of nature changed with the Fall, and then again (presumably) after the Flood, one can “explain” any ridiculous bit in Genesis by reference to the (unspecified) prior laws.

    Unfortunately for creationists, this looks far too much like hand-waving. They know what sort of history they want life, the universe and everything to have, and they know that the laws and facts of nature as presently understood simply do not support such a history, so they have two choices: all miracles all the time, or convenient shifts in natural law at particular points in time. The first basically says that there are no natural laws, just the whims of God, subject to change or violation at any moment. The second says that when God doesn’t like how His creation is developing, He just changes the rules to force it to develop in a different direction.

    In other words, faced with actual physical evidence pointing to an Earth billions of years old and the evolution of life, including humans, they just wave it away because it doesn’t fit with their primary assumption that Genesis is true as written. (Well, old-Earth creationists at least admit to, well, an old Earth–but to real hard-core creationists that makes them infamous heretics. And the bobbing and weaving old-Earth types have to do to be able to say even to themselves that they’re sticking to the Bible would wear out a champion boxer in the ring.)

  22. “If one argues that the laws of nature changed with the Fall, and then again (presumably) after the Flood, one can “explain” any ridiculous bit in Genesis by reference to the (unspecified) prior laws.”

    You are too kind. Water was water, dust was dust, food was food, reproduction was reproduction, and so the laws of nature could not have been other than as they now are.

  23. If we were to take it seriously that the laws of nature changed with the Fall,
    then how can we discuss the ways things were?
    How can anyone argue that the laws of nature show that anything was designed? That the emergence of life was contrary to the then-existing laws of nature? Maybe God created the original laws of nature to make appear naturally throughout the universe and then evolve by natural selection and other mechanisms with humans occupying their natural place. The Bible doesn’t specify anything else.
    Maybe we should have debates between YEC and various forms of the Anthropic Principle. And ID with AP. As well as OEC.