Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What is Good Science?

I was struck by something said by Lutheran theologian Ted Peters and Catholic biologist Martinez Hewlett concerning the definition of the best science. They write that faith demands the best science and that to this point the best model is evolutionary biology. Why? Well this is what they say:

The criterion that establishes the superiority of one model or theory over its competitors is fertility. By fertility we mean this: a theory or model of natural reality is fertile when it gives rise to a progressive research program, when it guides scientists in performing experiments that lead to new knowledge. The Darwinian model has proven itself fertile for a century and a half now. (Peters and Hewlett, "Theology, Religion, and Intelligent Design," Not in our Classrooms, ed. Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch, Beacon Press, 2006, 76-77).

In other words, this theory/model is suggestive of fruitful scientific exploration. Intelligent Design on the other hand doesn't accomplish this. It points out gaps but unlike Darwinian Evolution it doesn't point the scientist in a direction that will allow for that gap to be filled. Instead, it truncates the search before it ever starts by filling the hole with the designer, aka God.

2 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

In other words, Intelligent Design is intended to resuscitate the idea of the "God of the Gaps", which I would have thought has proven to be a rather failed attempt to put God in an ever shrinking set of breeches in human knowledge. The whole idea of letting religion do the legitimate work of science has never made sense. Let science be science, and let religion be religion.

Anonymous said...

What experiments?

Observational extrapolation?

correlative wishful thinking?

color by numbers and I pick the colors and use the numbers that someone else picked?

Seriously, name the experiments that validate this circular, narcissistic pat-on-the-back.

As well, to mystical seeker, if "science is science" and you "would have thought" about it, then how could you possibly know that there are any breeches at all, much less that they are shrinking? Who showed you the breeches? That's what doesn't make sense.

Jason