Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote

From: Keith B Miller (
Date: Mon Jun 11 2001 - 00:41:55 EDT

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    Bill wrote:

    >I think schools should teach empirical data and stay away from
    >interpretations, unless they are prepared to offer competing

    Science is not data. Science is the theory by which data is interpreted.
    Part of the problem in science education is students being taught as if
    science were nothing but a collection of objective empirical "facts" to

    > >The current scientific consensus is an iron collar choking free
    > >Professionals in America get fired if they challenge the reigning
    > >paradigm. Ask me how I know.
    >> That is false! One of the neat things about the professional
    >> community is that it is a very independent and cantankerous group. I
    >> seen some pretty intense arguments at professional geology meetings.
    >> is no lack of scientists who would love nothing less than to bring down
    >> some major consensus view in their discipline. I can't think of any
    >> proposed hypothesis that has not been subject to very pointed public
    >> critique in the scientific literature.
    >I suppose the discussion of late does suggest that this is not as
    >completely false as you said?

    The scientific cummunity is made up of human beings, who are sinful just
    like you and me. That does not mean that as a professional community it is
    closed to challenge and internal criticism. Far from it.

    >I work with a number of other geologists and engineers. I am not
    >advocating the elimination of science. I am advocating boundaries for
    >science; interpolation between data points is fine, extrapolation beyond
    >the data should be clearly identified as such, and any weaknesses should
    >be called out, not hidden. To fail to highlight weaknesses or offer
    >alternate interpretations is to create a misleading impression, which is
    >a violation of our (Alabama) code of ethics.

    You asked whether it was possible to determine the age of the Earth. If
    you answer no, then geological science is a dead discipline. I believe
    most emphatically, for both scientific and theological reason that we can
    indeed potentially know the answer to such questions.

    If viable alternatives to current theories are put forward that deal
    reasonably with the available evidence they will be heard. They might be
    rejected, but they will be heard.

    >Based upon what I have said and upon what you should know of me by now,
    >it strikes me as unfounded that you would say that I am "basically
    >advocating the elimination of science altogether." Now that you have
    >shoe-horned me into a corner, I'll answer your question: In light of the
    >resurrection, yes, I do believe that we can *know* nothing of the past
    >except by divine revelation. And where divine revelation suggests one
    >thing, I would tread very lightly with alternate interpretations.
    >Thanks, Keith, for bringing me to this point of clarification in my

    That is why I pressed the point.

    >Keith, either you don't grasp the question, you are dodging the issue, or
    >I am at a loss to understand what you are saying. In both the
    >investigation of possible arson and the investigation of the origin of
    >life, there could be a seamless string of cause and effect by
    >non-intelligent agents. In both cases, an intelligent agent could have
    >intervened. Your attempt to make a distinction between supernatural
    >intelligence and what you call "natural" intelligence strikes me as
    >unsatisfactory. Man was/is created in the image of God, so the
    >difference is one of degree. Both are creative agents, and both are

    Creaturely intelligent agents have well defined limitations. Humans are
    subject to natural law as any inanimate object is. God has no such
    limitations. God could do anything. A casual agent that can do anything
    explains nothing scientifically. We both believe that God is the personal
    and active creator of all things. However, that does not answer any of our
    scientific questions.


    Keith B. Miller
    Department of Geology
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

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