Friday, July 01, 2005
The question I want to address today is what is the status, scientifically, of philosophical presuppositions?
Evolutionists and long-agers are always adamant that they deal only with facts and data and that it's only those creation-looneys who use philosophical presuppositions in their work, and that those presuppositions invalidate everything they do.
A bigger question to ask, which I am not ready to address yet, is the general role of philosophical presuppositions in science. For today, we will look at a subtopic of when are presuppositions considered "science" and when are they considered "religious nuttery".
Some think that philosophical presuppositions are only when creationists try to invoke miracles as explanations. However, evolutionists and long-agers have their own philosophical presuppositions that they bring in.
The one I want to focus on most of all is that of the Big Bang. Hawking, in The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, is quite candid about the philosophical assumptions of the Big Bang model. First of all, he makes an admission that creationists have long pointed out which many long-agers fight tooth-and-nail about:
However we are not able to make cosmological models without some admixture of ideology.
This is something I've long pointed out to others, and which other organizations have been doing a lot longer than me -- how you interpret the data depends on the assumptions that you bring to the data -- that's the admixture of ideology that Hawking is talking about.
What's really interesting is that Hawking goes on to say that a simple interpretation of the available data would lead one to conclude that our galaxy is in the center of the universe. Since then, further red-shift data shows itself to be quantized in a way that would indicate a center. So what is the ideology that Hawking brings into cosmology? It is this:
Since the time of Copernicus we have been steadily demoted to a medium sized planet going round a medium sized star on the outer edge of a fairly average galaxy, which is itself simply one of a local group of galaxies. Indeed we are now so democratic that we would not claim that our position in space is specially distinguished in any way. We shall, following Bondi (1960), call this assumption the Copernican principle
If you read this carefully, he is saying that they are bringing in an assumption that we are NOT in a spatially distinguished position in the galaxy. Note that this is imposed on the evidence, not brought out from it.
So how do you meld the concept of our position appearing to be significant while they presuppose that it is not?
Ordinarily, we would interpret our observations to mean that we are located near a very special point in the galaxy. Therefore, we must simply assume that the universe appears this way for everyone.
so we shall interpret the Copernican principle as stating that the universe is approximately spherically symmetric about every point (since it is approximately spherically symmetric around us).’
If you read the language carefully, he is simply asserting that it must be spherically symmetric everywhere, because otherwise we would have to admit that we are in a special place.
Now, if a creationist uses a philosophical presupposition to show why something that is apparently long-age can be interpretted as a young age artifact, it is called quackery, but what do they call it when a secular scientist does the same thing with atheism? They call it the standard model.
If anyone thinks I'm reading too much into this, I encourage them to use Amazon.com's SearchInside feature and look up these quotes and read them in context. If it means something different to you, please correct me. But I think you will find this to be true.
Likewise, in geology you have the same sort of thing happening. Over a decade ago, Berthault showed that layered sedimentation does not imply a gradual succession. Likewise, recently geologists have shown that a process formerly thought to take millions of years can actually happen in a decade. This quote is nice:
Conventional wisdom says that changes to crustal rocks pushed down deep when continents collide develop over millions of years. But it seems that some metamorphism may be caused by tectonic events lasting only a decade
It appears that what is driving many of the former interpretations of these events were not experiment and data, but rather interpretation based on assumptions. When long ages are assumed, everything looks like it takes millions of years. Then, when you know the process, you see it only takes a decade.
Anyway, I get irritated when evolutionists pretend that they have no philosophical predispositions but are merely "interpretting the data as it is" when in fact everyone has an ideology they bring to the table -- evolutionists just have a hard time admitting it. Creationists, on the other hand, readily admit their philosophical predispositions, and for being honest they are ridiculed. It might be fair to ridicule them if everyone else is free from such supposing. However, it seems that when you assume atheistic, humanistic, or materialistic philosophy it is called science, but when you assume any sort of theistic philosophy you are considered a religious nut who is a danger to science.
(NOTE -- this article relies heavily on this AiG article by Russell Humphreys. While I'm not copying him directly, the impetus for writing this sprang from reading that article. I had previously assumed that the structure of the universe defined by Hawking was based on empirical observation. I had no idea that Hawking had simply pulled it from his assumptions, and the data led in the other direction. I wonder what other surprising atheistic interpretations we mind find if we look under enough rocks. Perhaps publishing such a compendium might be useful....)