Sunday, January 20, 2008


Emptying Cat Bags

The Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise has an article, "Science war brews," about the Institute for Creation Research's attempt to get authorization from the Texas state government to grant online master's degrees in science education. The Texas Academy of Science -- good for it! -- has gone on record with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Gov. Rick Perry that the Academy opposes the placement of creationism or intelligent design teachings in all levels of science curricula.

The really interesting thing about the article is the quote from Henry Morris III, the ICR's chief executive officer. As I noted before, the ICR tries to make a distinction

... between experimental science (laboratory research) and forensic science (interpretations of present data about historical events). ICR teaches exactly the same experimental science as any university, but we have a very different perspective when it comes to forensic science (origins, pre-history).
Morris expands on that in the following manner:

We are forensically interpreting the data based on our presupposition. The evolutionists do the same thing. They have a presupposition that there is no supernatural intervention of any kind. We have a presupposition that there is supernatural intervention in the past, not in the present.
Quite apart from the question of whether their fellow religionists will find it acceptable that the ICR apparently maintains that God has suddenly declared "hand-off" the material world, just how does its "presupposition" of supernatural intervention not render the course religious rather than scientific, especially in light of Edwards v. Aguillard?

Based on Morris' statement, it seems to me that any action by the state to approve the ICR course to deliver a degree in science education would clearly be an endorsement of a particular (not to mention peculiar) sectarian religious belief in violation of the Constitution's Establishment clause.

The "We use the same evidence, but interpret it with different presuppositions" meme has taken firm hold among the YECs. I first heard it in that precise form four years ago at a talk by Georgia Purdom, a Ph.D. molecular biologist now employed full time at Answers in Genesis. I thought a molebio colleague of mine was going to have a stroke when Purdom said that. :)

Here is a relatively early version of this "argument" from Ken Ham at AiG:

Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.

The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. These are things that are assumed to be true, without being able to prove them. These then become the basis for other conclusions. All reasoning is based on presuppositions (also called axioms). This becomes especially relevant when dealing with past events. ...

However, if we weren't there in the past to observe events, how can we know what happened so we can explain the present? It would be great to have a time machine so we could know for sure about past events.

Christians of course claim they do, in a sense, have a 'time machine'. They have a book called the Bible which claims to be the Word of God who has always been there, and has revealed to us the major events of the past about which we need to know.

On the basis of these events (Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel, etc.), we have a set of presuppositions to build a way of thinking which enables us to interpret the evidence of the present.

Evolutionists have certain beliefs about the past/present that they presuppose, e.g. no God (or at least none who performed acts of special creation), so they build a different way of thinking to interpret the evidence of the present.

Thus, when Christians and non-Christians argue about the evidence, in reality they are arguing about their interpretations based on their presuppositions.

He ends up the piece with:

Remember, it's no good convincing people to believe in creation, without also leading them to believe and trust in the Creator/Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

That may all be true but the problem is that presupposing your religious tenets rather automatically means you are no longer doing science.
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