Re: [asa] Expelled and ID

From: Dennis Venema <>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 15:29:06 EDT


yes humans are fallible, yes interpretations change as better/more complete
evidence is found and replicated. yes, science changes and has to deal with
new data, and new ways of interpreting same if the evidence leads there. no,
science does not produce absolute truth, nor does it claim to. Science at
best is always a provisional answer ­ but this feature of science is
exploited unfairly by those within the church who wish to cast aspersions on

what I am arguing against is the ³street level² approach that many
Christians use to avoid hard data they do not want to deal with ­ for
example, the overwhelming identity between the human and chimp genomes.
Simply waiving away such data as the product of ³biased science² is a cop
out. I would also like to know your basis for suggesting that bias
influences sequencing data ­ Iıll be doing a bunch of sequencing this summer
­ should I control for bias? If so, how? Those preparing the experiments are
all Christians ­ does this concern you? make you feel more comfortable?
Perhaps I should outsource to some atheist colleagues to be sure the data is
the same?


by calling my ³view of science² - ³50 years out of date² I assumed you were
suggesting I espoused a modernist view. Your broad-brush assertions aside, I
have not laid out what my philosophy of science is. I am asking those who
quickly and easily reach for the ³science isnıt objective, itıs clouded with
bias² argument to defend their ideas. My experience is that when pressed on
any specific point (for example the sequencing issue above) the argument
breaks down or is based on a misrepresentation of the nature of science.

Since I am rather busy with actual lab work these days, and thus lacking in
time to read widely in POS (despite the apparent need), perhaps you could
sketch out why you think my view of science is so outdated.

As an aside, I doubt much of anything could increase my (non-existant)
appreciation for Expelled. My only hope is that Christians will think for
themselves, see through the sham and be less favorable to ID than they were


On 4/24/08 3:00 AM, "Jack" <> wrote:

> I think that there are objective eternal truths in the world. I also think
> that science is one method of understanding those truths. (I know there are
> truths that are beyond science, but right now I am just talking about
> science.)
> Science is able to avoid some post modern difficulties because the language of
> science is mathematics. This makes science reproducible because mathematics
> is largely objective. The problem is not that there are not truths to
> discover, or a method to discover them, the problem is that humans are
> fallible and make errors and incorrect interpretations. Our minds largely
> operate in a subjective environment. So, even though I cannot answer your
> question about how ones bias can effect the result of gene sequencing, I am
> confident that that operation, or any other method, is not as
> straightforward, or as simple, as you are claiming that it is. The problem is
> us.

Dennis, Please excuse that in re-reading my message, I fail to see the
connection you make with 'post-modern'. I called your view of 'science,' as
a practising (biological) scientist, nevertheless 'outdated.' That is, you
don't appear to be up-to-date with the contemporary understanding of
'science,' which HPS has greatly influenced (e.g. see responses to HPSS -
Survey thread wherein Kuhn is widely acknowledged).
Where do you get 'post-modern' from? What do you mean by this? Many natural
scientists use this as a pejorative term, thus intent to dismiss it, to tar
and feather those who speak or even just know that language. But as it turns
out, aren't you born ('awfully young') into the post-modern age in N.A.
Again, if you do some work reading HPSS, you'll be able to put into better
context the meaning of 'data,' 'replicate,' '(core) theory,' and
'reproducibility,' as well as 'falsification,' 'verification,' 'research
program,' and 'normal science,' which would widen your criticism (and
appreciation) of 'Expelled: No Intelligence' in a new way. Surely you
promote the inclusion of 'intelligence' in your TWU laboratory, and rightly
so! :-)
- gregory

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Received on Thu Apr 24 15:30:07 2008

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