But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.- Winston Churchill
Albert Einstein wrote about the application of his famous Theory of Relativity in his book, The Meaning of Relativity. He discourages humanity’s tendency to be myopic; to measure our views based only on our own experiences and perspectives. Einstein writes, “The earth’s crust plays such a dominant role in our daily life in judging the relative positions of bodies that it has led to an abstract conception of space which certainly cannot be defended (p3).”
I appreciate this empathetic wording from one of history’s most renowned geniuses as he corrects an inaccurate view of the Universe. The more blunt version might have been, “The Sun, planets and stars do not revolve around a stationary Earth. You would have to be egocentric to think so geocentric.”
Galileo, the eminent physicist and astronomer of the 16th Century, certainly could have used Einstein’s support. Galileo spent his final years under house arrest for proposing theories that would relegate the Earth to helio-satellite status, revolving around the Sun with its fellow planets. While the notion of a geocentric universe was problematic with several quandaries, such as Venus having “phases” like the Moon’s, the established teachings were not to be challenged. Rome determined that the contemporary understanding of Biblical verses stating that the Earth “cannot be moved” precluded any competing theories.
Galileo was a true scientist.
I like Wikipedia’s description, “He displayed a peculiar ability to ignore established authorities, most notably Aristotelianism. In broader terms, his work marked another step towards the eventual separation of science from both philosophy and religion; a major development in human thought. He was often willing to change his views in accordance with observation.”
Based on recent trends in education and politics, I predict that human thought in the 21st Century will progress even further with a new separation of science, this time from politics. Three recent, unrelated publications; a video study, a book, and a movie; give me encouragement that the contemporary version of geocentricism is about to get its comeuppance.
In 2004, Focus on the Family began distributing its video study, The Truth Project. This expertly-produced, interactive lecture series considers social order in terms of an observable structure, with separate but connected components of law, politics, economics, art, media, music and literature. Author and presenter Dr. Del Tackett asks the most basic of questions; “Who is God?”, “Who is man?”, and “What is truth?” Thousands of groups have gathered in home settings to explore these matters and are concluding that their inherent inquisitiveness indicates that they themselves are something more than the product of a catalyzed primordial ooze.
One of my absolute favorite geek books is The Design Revolution, written by mathematician and philosopher William Dembski in 2005. Dr. Dembski asserts that the scientific study of intelligent design will soon overtake Darwinism as the credible, prevailing theory for how life on Earth came to be. While giving Darwin his due, Dembski criticizes that, “Darwinism is, on its own terms, an overreaching and oversold scientific theory.”
It is important to understand that Intelligent Design is not Creationism. It is a field of scientific study that approaches the emergence of biological complexity without the aversion to deliberate planning. The book reads, “Intelligent Design attempts to understand the evidence for intelligence in the natural world. The nature and, in particular, the moral characteristics of that intelligence constitute a separate inquiry. Intelligent Design has theological implications, but it is not a theological enterprise. Theology does not own Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design is not an Evangelical Christian thing or a generically Christian thing or even a generically theistic thing.”
While the approach obviously allows for the existence of God, Dembski states that, “Intelligent Design requires neither a meddling god nor a meddled world.”
In his 2008 documentary Expelled; No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein reveals the disturbing abandonment of academic freedom in the higher education culture. Analogous to the faith-based immobility encountered by Galileo, modern intelligent design researchers are repudiated and blacklisted by inflexible scientists. This film is intriguing, thoughtful and persuasive.
Dembski calls out this very culture with, “Scientists who are ruthless in their dogmatism regard their theories as inviolable.” And I find those who are afflicted with such close-mindedness to be unworthy of the title, scientist. And the public seems to be with me on this one.
As Dembski puts it, “finch beak size does vary according to environmental pressure. The Darwinian mechanism does operate here and accounts for the changes we observe. But that same Darwinian mechanism is also supposed to account for how finches arose in the first place. This is an extrapolation. Strict Darwinists see it as perfectly plausible. The public remains unconvinced.”
For nearly 30 years, Gallup has polled Americans annually to gauge their beliefs on how human life came to be. While the percentage has doubled over that period of polling, only 16% of Americans believe that humans evolved to their present form without the involvement of God. With relative consistency, 38% of those polled believe that Humans evolved with God guiding the process. Consistently the highest percentage, most recently at 40%, are those who believe that God created humans in our present form.
Dembski concludes that “The real reason the public continues to resist Darwinian evolution is that the Darwinian mechanism of chance, variation, and natural selection seems inadequate to account for the full diversity of life.”
This most fundamental area of scientific research deserves another perspective because the existence of life refutes the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This principle of matter is typically summed up as "systems become increasingly disordered." A good example is your grandfather’s 1934 Oldsmobile. After it broke down for the last time, it got parked behind the grain elevator and rusted into metal so thin that grass grows through it. Eventually, it will amalgamate with the soil as a stain that no one will notice. But that very set of molecules was at one point very noticeable by your grandfather as an intelligently designed and purposeful contraption on the showroom floor of the dealership.
It is high time that public sentiment is heard in this important facet of American culture, scientific research. We have grown tired of agenda laden pseudo science that is suspiciously wrapped up in politics (evolution, global warming, energy restrictions, and endangered species). We need to remember Galileo’s, Tackett’s, Dembski’s, and Stein’s admonitions toward scrupulous, agenda-free, scientific discovery.