The Creation Explanation
|Man in His World|
A Correct Definition Of Science And Its Implications
Let us now offer a definition of science from which we will deduce some important corollaries:
Science is human experience systematically extended (by intent, methodology, and instrumentation) for the purpose of learning more about the natural world and for the critical testing and potential falsification of all hypotheses about the natural world.
In brief explanation, human experience comes through the five or so natural senses, and we learn much about the world just by growing up and living. But in science observations are made systematically, experiments are planned, and observations are recorded. In addition our senses are extended in their powers and precision by means of instruments. Furthermore, all observations must be repeatable, and all hypotheses must be testable and actually tested to see if logical deductions from them agree with the real state of affairs in the world.
An important corollary which can be deduced from our definition of science is that science is philosophically neutral just to the degree that the scientist is not required either to hold or reject any particular philosophical-religious faith or world view. The philosophical or religious beliefs of the scientist are, therefore, not an acceptable basis for criticizing the value or validity of his or her science. A proper definition of science makes no reference to religious faith or lack thereof on the part of its practitioners. A person may be a believer in any religion or in none--a Roman Catholic, a Bible-believing Protestant, Jewish, a Protestant who does not believe the Bible, a Buddhist, an atheist or an agnostic or whatever--and be a good scientist, provided that he consistently submits his procedures, data, and conclusions to critical evaluation by his peers. If the scientist does this, nobody has any justification in the canons of science for criticizing his work on the basis of references to his beliefs, and this includes belief in evolution or creation, or a neutral or a mixed position with respect to the origins question.
A second corollary to be deduced from our definition of science is that there is no restriction on the sources of ideas in science. Neither can there properly be any requirement that all scientists must operate under the same conceptual frameworks. In genetics the evolutionary conceptual framework holds that all species are genetically related by common descent. The creationist conceptual framework holds that all species exist in genetically related groups corresponding to separately created original "kinds." Thus, a scientist may do his theoretical thinking and research under either the evolutionary or the creationist conceptual framework. Therefore, he may develop hypotheses which relate to religious ideas contained in one of the great books of religious revelation, or he may prefer to reject any such sources of ideas. But his scientific hypotheses themselves may contain or reference no supernatural(i.e., immaterial) elements. The really essential elements in science are the empirical (i.e., having to do with observation and experiment) data, the reproducibility of data, and the testability of hypotheses. Why should other scientists care about the source of ideas or personal beliefs which gave rise to one person's hypothesis, if it deals with the reproducible empirical world and if it is open to test by any critic or doubter?
Agreement on the philosophically neutral definition of science which we have proposed and explained above can be accomplished in the scientific and scholarly establishment without compromising anyone's beliefs, except for one belief. That is the belief that anybody's philosophical, religious or irreligious beliefs should be included in the definition of science. But what respectable scientist or scholar would publicly admit to such a belief as that? Agreement, then, on a philosophically neutral definition should be easy to attain among the community of true scientists and scholars.
Yet it appears that very many scientists, scholars and teachers hold just such a view of science and scholarship. They have distorted science by injecting their own personal belief system, that of materialistic, evolutionary humanism, into the definition of science. But even worse, they have insisted that all scientists and scholars accept this distorted definition of science and function in accord with it. The penalty for the scientist, scholar, teacher or student who refuses to surrender his brain to this dogmatism and intellectual tyranny is at best to be demoted to lower class citizenship in the establishment, or at worst, to be excluded from it entirely.
Thus, philosophically distorted science is in need of a reformation. This reformation can be achieved simply by means of an agreement that the correct definition of science is philosophically neutral. If this is accomplished, peer review will be purged of influence by the religious and philosophical prejudices of the reviewers or even by those of the majority of the scholarly community. With the consensus achieved, free choice from a catalogue of two-sided pairs of assumptions will once again become optional for scientists and scholars:
With this reformation of science in place, all scientists, scholars, teachers, and students will be judged and their work assessed on the basis of performance, without reference to their personal beliefs or comparison to the beliefs of other individuals or of parties or of the majority of the scientific and scholarly community. The result will be greater intellectual freedom, the protection of the academic freedom of all, the opening of new fields of scientific thought and research, and the enlarging of the number of potential candidates for science and scholarship. These will surely be beneficial results for individuals, for science and scholarship, and for society at large.