Friday, December 5, 2008

Science vs Religion on Dispute Resolution

I thought a comment from RBH on Pandas Thumb on the difference between how scientists resolve disputes and how religious pseudoscientists do so was worthy of a post:

"It’s also been interesting to trace the history of the various anti-evolution organizations in the 20th century. Almost without exception they’ve been riven by theological schisms. Several collapsed on that account. And it’s apparent why. There’s no generally agreed methodology for resolving conflicts in theology. Contrast that with science, where it is agreed that the appeal is in the end to empirical evidence. Even when scientists disagree on the interpretation of currently available evidence, they will agree on the nature of new evidence that will settle the issue.

In general, the creationist organizations have tried two methods to prevent schisms. One is to enforce theological orthodoxy. So, for example, organizations like the Institute for Creation Research and the 7th Day Adventist Geosciences Research Institute have pretty strict specifications of beliefs that must be signed on to. That has resulted in ‘apostate’ members being forced out on occasion to maintain theological purity.

The other method is to consciously play for a “big tent” as the intelligent design movement has tried to do. The first to do that was the American Scientific Affiliation, which was originally founded as an anti-evolution organization, but metamorphosed into a broader membership. Now, though, it’s mainly in the progressive creationist to theistic evolutionist range. It has had young earth creationists as members – Henry Morris, for example, was an ASA member for some years before and after he founded ICR – but my impression is that most have left it. So while it wasn’t as spectacular as some of the wrecks (e.g., the Religion and Science Association lasted about a year before dissolving) even the ASA has seen schisms.

My basic contention is that if the ID movement succeeds in defeating naturalism and the Enlightenment and institute some sort of “theistic science,” the very next day the purges will begin and blood will flow in the aisles and over the pews as they fight it out over purely theological issues. Phillip Johnson thinks they’ll have a grand time debating the age of the earth. Baloney. They’ll have a bloody fight over it."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe. But religionists tend to be nicer, and more cheritable in general. There are studies on this, I think.