Friday, September 30, 2005

And In This Corner. . .

So I'm finally getting around to talking specifically about SYEC. I consider Intelligent Design to be a seperate issue.

First, I want to re-iterate something I said back here. In our culture, the statement that a particular idea is "unscientific" is fully equated with "untrue." Part of the reason I insist on a distinction between MethN and MetaN is to show that this belief is not necassarily true.

There are two reasons that the phrases unscientific and anti-science cannot fully equate with untrue. First, science can only ever tell us about the mechanistic physical world. It is silent on all other questions; if there are factors that upset the mechanistic workings of nature, then MethN will be incapable of drawing correct conclusions. Secondly, if there are such upsetting factors, MethN will always be incapable of even detecting these factors.

This is my argument for this post is three fold. First, that Scientific Young Earth Creationism (SYEC) is an oxy-moron. SYEC insists that MethN is hopelessly inadequate in telling us about our universes past. SYEC is not scientific; it must deny in principle every possible epistemic standard of MethN. SYEC posits statements about our universe that are non-falsifiable, and attacks the very possibility of falsifiable statements about geology, biology, paleontology, astronomy and archeology.

Secondly, SYEC is not only unscientific, it is also anti-science. It blurs and ultimately destroys the distinction between the undeniable necassity of MethN and an outside metaphysical framework.

Finally, while SYEC is unscientific and anti-science, it may still be true. This leads to the issue that I really want to address with all this blogging: does SYEC deserve a place in science curriculums? My answer is no. Whether or not SYEC is an accurate description of our universe is irrelavent; science classes are for teaching MethN and the current crop of conclusions resulting from MethN.

1) SYEC is unscientific. The discussion of this point must necassarily take place in rigorous scientific language, and I am ill-equipped for the task. I am comparitively ignorant in the various fields this topic touches on; however, there are a few points that seem decisively convincing.

First, the starlight issue. Any layman can understand redshift; light becomes more red or more blue depending on the distance of the source. it is not a complex scientific issue to understand just how far away stars are. It is also not a complex scientific issue to understand the speed of light. And obviously, it is not a complex issue to put these two facts together and to understand that since we can see stars hundreds of thousands of lightyears away, then that light had some serious time to travel.

This is a simple, unavoidable fact. Either light had enough time to travel, or the universe was supernaturally created in its present state. I know most of my readers will be quite happy accepting option #2, and I can't say that you are wrong. I can say this, however: if this is a a young universe, then astronomy is an utterly useless pursuit and we might as well drop it. And since the same epistemic principles underlying astromy underlie the rest of the sciences... we might as well start dismissing them, too. The claim that this is a young universe is both unscientific and anti-science. It has no place in an astronomy classroom.

I know there are SYEC attempts to justify this in a MethN framework. Here is one at Answers in Genesis. And here is a very readable response written by a group of Christians: they dismiss it as bunk.

The second issue is the fossil record. Again, I know most of my readers (if I have any, heh) will jump up and shout "missing links!" Fine, whatever. I don't know. I don't know enough about paleontology to argue the point.

Here is what I do know: there is irrefutible physical evidence of now-extinct Hominini on our planet. These are bipedal, non-ape, non-human, non-monkey genuses that indisputably existed at one point in Earth's history.

If Earth is 6000 years old, then you must believe that there were multiple genuses (or geni... I don't know) that were not-quite human walking around at least up until Noah's day. Remember, these were not humans and they were not dumb apes. Many were also shorter than even ancient homo sapiens - so they weren't the "giants" mentioned in Genesis.

Why don't these other not-quite human peoples show up in the historical record, biblical or otherwise? Because they were long extinct.

I remember back in my second year archeology course. As much as I hated that course, it did provide me with an epiphany. At the time, I was still having a hard time accepting the idea of Evolution. Once I personally handled the skull of a Australopithecus afarensis, I knew it was the stake through the heart of SYEC. Whatever doubts I (even now) have about a MetaN interpretation of this evidence, I know there is no way an SYEC framework can account for these skulls. You, dear reader, can literally stick your fingers in the holes and see for yourself.

Let me state what I have just argued, and what I have not argued. I have argued that MethN tells us that this universe, in terms of its appearence, is far too old for an SYEC framework. I have also argued that the fossil record indicates patterns of life on Earth that are incompatible with a SYEC framework. I have argued that SYEC is unscientific and anti-science, and has no place in a science classroom. I have not argued that SYEC is inevitablyfalse upon these grounds.

Again, this post was terribly unclear. Sorry. I don't have the patience for proper proof-reading; I have to admit that my primary concern is merely getting this stuff down on paper. I might end up polishing some of this stuff for academic matters, maybe not.

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