How is it possible for reasonable, intelligent, well-educated people to hold such diametrically opposite views as Evolutionism and Creationism?
The Nature of Science and Scientists
There is no unique human species called Homo scientificus. Scientists are not separate from the rest of humanity. Scientists are not a class of superior beings with super-human abilities to know the ancient past; they are just people. None is all-knowing.
Being people, scientists do not always objectively seek truth, wherever it might lead. All people hold biases toward particular viewpoints. 1 Because scientists are human (subject to self-deception, pride, self-interest, etc.), there are those in both camps (Evolutionist and Creationist) who do not always practice good science. No person or institution is infallible or above all question.
Each person's particular set of biases is a result of personal life experiences, relationships, parents, schools, peers, teachers, personal practices, and the pressures of life. It is difficult for any person to deal objectively with evidence potentially destructive to one's own cherished beliefs or pride 2 - or detrimental to perceived personal security, in whatever form.
Science writer and Evolutionist Roger Lewin:
"Scientists, contrary to the myth that they themselves publicly promulgate, are emotional human beings who carry a generous dose of subjectivity with them into the supposedly 'objective search for The Truth'. …The anonymous aphorism, 'I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't believed it' is a continuing truth in science. And of course, it cuts two ways: you often see what you expect to see and not what you don't." 2
(For further information on the fallibility of scientists, see endnote 3.)
Despite the impression science textbooks give, brilliant new ideas are not always welcomed or even given fair consideration. Politics intervene as often as logic. Scientists are humans first, scientists second.
In one way or another, bias and presuppositions 4 affect every scientist's theories, priorities, research, methods, decisions and interpretations. Whether it be molecules, test results or rocks, evidence cannot evaluate, prioritize, or interpret itself. Humans suggest meanings for evidence - interpreting it, based on their beliefs, and building theories upon it.
The fossil of any ancient extinct animal can be used as an example. A fossil is a material fact having dimensions, texture, weight and shape. However, that is all it is, just a particular hard object with shape. It comes with no label detailing its true significance and meaning. There are no attached photographs of the living animal showing its actual appearance, color, habits, environment or ancestors. 5
Detailed illustrations and colorful descriptions of long-extinct animals and their origins which are based merely on fossils are not ultimate truth. They are only the fallible, biased interpretations of human beings working with limited knowledge and no direct experience with the living animal.
The rocks and the fossils are facts. But labels such as “Cambrian,” “Cretaceous,” and the like are interpretations. There are no “time machines” to transport scientists into the past. Thus, in many ways, science is very limited in what it can know with certainty about the ancient past. In all descriptions of origins, one must be very careful to discern between fact and fiction and between reality and philosophical belief. 6
Can both Evolutionists and Creationists be classified as true scientists? The answer is certainly “yes.” Many of our world's greatest scientists have been Creationists. [more information]
Partial list of Creation-scientists with earned doctorates in science - Go…
References and Endnotes
Biologist, geneticist and Creationist John Klotz, Ph.D.:
“It might also be pointed out that scientists are not quite as objective as they say they are. It is simply not possible for the scientist to detach himself completely from the theories and hypotheses which he espouses. This is particularly true when they are different or new. He finds considerable pride of authorship and an intense personal loyalty to ideas which he has developed. For this reason there is a great deal of subjectivity in science.” —John W. Klotz, “Assumptions in Science and Paleontology,” in Paul A. Zimmerman, editor, Rock Strata and the Bible Record (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1970), pp. 24-39 (quote from p. 25, emphasis added).
Roger Lewin, Bones of Contention (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 18-19 (emphasis added).
Russell T. Arndts, "The Logic of Evolutionary Reasoning,"Contrast: The Creation Evolution Controversy, Vol. 8, No. 2 (2911 E. 42nd St., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406: March-April 1989), pp. 1-2, 4 (discusses assumptions and human bias involved in the Evolutionary theory).
"If you want to impress people with how good your science is, if you want to get tenure in a modern university, if you want to get a research grant, you can't afford to come and say, 'Well I think this MIGHT be the case BUT there are all sorts of indications here that it MIGHT NOT be the case and it's all sort of confused.' People always tend in science, as elsewhere, to sharpen up and clean up a story… Of course, it's not a fraud, it is part of the general atmosphere in which you're not actually saying to people, tell the truth, tell the whole truth and let it all out." —Leon Kamin of Northeastern University, in "Do Scientists Cheat?", NOVA, Television program #1517 (125 Western Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02134: WGBH Transcripts, Broadcast October 25, 1988), p. 14.
"It doesn't take much to take a little bit of the data, change it the way you want it to look and then publish it - and it's impossible to detect that." —Dr. Bruce Dan, Senior Editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, in "Do Scientists Cheat?", NOVA, Television program #1517 (125 Western Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02134: WGBH Transcripts, Broadcast October 25, 1988), p. 1.
"The 1980s have witnessed a flurry of scientific fraud and misconduct cases including a number of cases as yet unresolved." —Narrator, "Do Scientists Cheat?", NOVA, Television program #1517 (125 Western Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02134: WGBH Transcripts, Broadcast October 25, 1988), p. 1.
"After the initial inquiry by this committee into this subject [scientific fraud and misconduct in connection with scientific research], the committee has had growing reason to believe that we are only seeing the tip of a very unfortunate, dangerous, and important iceberg." —John Dingell, Chairman of Congressional House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in "Do Scientists Cheat?", NOVA, Television program #1517 (125 Western Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02134: WGBH Transcripts, Broadcast October 25, 1988), p. 2.
"Yet one recent study has alleged science's quality control mechanisms can't even be counted on to catch simple sloppiness, let alone a clever fraud." —Narrator, "Do Scientists Cheat?", NOVA, Television program #1517 (125 Western Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02134: WGBH Transcripts, Broadcast October 25, 1988), p. 10 of transcript.
Timothy M. Beardsley, "Truth or Consequences?: How Should Institutions Handle Charges of Fraud?", Scientific American, Vol. 259, No. 2 (August 1988), p. 24.
Kenneth A. Ham and Paul S. Taylor, The Genesis Solution (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1988), pp. 10-22.
Michael J. Mahoney, "Self-Deception in Science," paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Philadelphia: May 28, 1986), also published in Origins Research, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Students for Origins Research, Spring 1988), pp. 1-2, 6-7, 10.
Roger Lewin, Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 348 pp. (challenges the notion that science is synonymous with cool, objective reasoning / documents the personal side of great controversies in paleoanthropology).
Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985).
Jerry Bergman, The Criterion: Religious Discrimination in America (6245 South Newton Avenue, Richfield, Minnesota 55423: Onesimus Publishing, 1984), 80 pp. (discusses evidence of widespread job discrimination against scientists who seriously question Evolution / reviews evidence of lack of academic freedom).
D. Faust, The Limits of Scientific Judgment (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).
Wolfgang Smith, Cosmos & Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief (P.O. Box 424, Rockford, Illinois 61105: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1984), 168 pp. (“Presents an insider's critique of the scientific world-view based upon the sharp but oft-overlooked distinction between scientific truth and scientistic faith… demonstrates that major tenets promulgated in the name of Science are not in fact scientific truths but rather scientistic speculations - for which there is no evidence at all.”).
William Broad and Nicholas Wade, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982), 256 pp. (shows that science is often much more than a dispassionate quest for truth / examines the kinds of pressures that can lead scientists to stray / documents cases of scientific fraud / challenges the conventional view of science).
J.V. Bradley, “Overconfidence in Ignorant Experts,” Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, Vol. 17 (1981), pp. 82-84.
Karin D. Knorr-Detina, The Manufacture of Knowledge: An Essay on the Constructivist and Contextual Nature of Science (New York: Pergamon Press, 1981).
Randy L. Wysong, "Can Laymen Question?" and “Methodology,” in Randy L. Wysong, The Creation-Evolution Controversy (Midland, Michigan: Inquiry Press, 1976), pp. 17-54.
Stephen I. Abramowitz, Beverly Gomes, Christine V. Abramowitz, "Publish or Politic: Referee Bias in Manuscript Review," Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 5, No. 3 (July-September 1975), pp. 187-200.
Ian I. Mitroff, The Subjective Side of Science (New York: American Elsevier Publishing Co., 1974).
Robert A. Nisbet, "A Presuppositional Approach to the Four View Model of Biological Origins," Origins Research, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Fall-Winter 1988), pp. 1, 14-16 (discusses some of the presuppositions and assumptions of scientists who believe in either Evolutionism, theistic Evolutionism, or Creationism).
In admonishment to fellow paleontologists, Evolutionist Dr. Martin, Senior Research Fellow, Zoological Society of London:
"So even the fossil evidence on which theories depend is open to subjective interpretation." —Robert Martin, “Man Is Not an Onion,” New Scientist, Vol. 75, No. 1063 pp. 283-285 (quote from p. 285 - emphasis added).
Biologist and Creationist John Klotz, Ph.D.:
“It is clear that much of the structure of modern Evolutionary paleontology rests upon assumptions which are by their very nature not capable of verification… There is no disagreement with many of the observations of paleontology, but there may be disagreement with the interpretations which are placed on these observations.” —John W. Klotz in Paul A. Zimmerman, editor, Rock Strata and the Bible Record (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1970), p. 39 (emphasis added).
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