The Corner

Re: Don’t Know Much About Biology

Uh-oh. A posse of Creationists is coming after me with tire irons and

loaded pool cues. OK, try this. What do we know, and how do we know it?

Aristotle said that the only certain knowledge is math, everything else is

merely probable to some degree. Well, I agree with Aristotle. (Though not

everybody is willing to allow certainty even to math

.) Once you bring in

religion–which Aristotle was not much interested in–however, you have a

third form of knowledge to accommodate: revealed knowledge. Revealed

knowledge is peculiar in that (a) it is perfectly certain, but (b) only to

the revealee. Those of us who have never experienced direct revelation have

to either take it on faith or dismiss it as hallucination. As a

non-revealee Christian, I myself take it on faith. In my view, therefore,

there are three sources of truth: (i) mathematical truth, which is certain,

(ii) scientific truth, which is probable (to various degrees), in that it

fits observed facts & has predictive value, and (iii) revealed truth, which

is likewise probable, but which I take on faith, rather than seeking to test

it against facts or predictions. Now, these three spheres of knowledge

operate under different rules and I believe it is IMPORTANT NOT TO GET THEM

MIXED UP. When you mix them up, you get weird and implausible concoctions.

A physicist who tried to advance his science by pure deductive argument,

like a mathematician, without making any observations of the physical world,

would get nowhere. Creationism, to my way of thinking, is like that. It

takes revealed knowledge and tries to bolster it and EXTEND it with

scientific-sounding arguments. Well, that’s ridiculous. All you get if you

do that is a pseudoscience. I think, in fact, that Creationism is part of

the larger phenomenon of “science envy” that has gripped all sorts of

branches of human knowledge this past couple of centuries. Science has been

so stupendously successful at transforming the physical world, everyone

wants to claim scientific status for his pet theory. Marxism and

Freudianism, the most prominent pseudosciences of the 20th century, both

claimed to be scientific. Likewise literary “deconstructionism,” etc. etc.

It’s all science envy. That’s the leaky boat the Creationists have got

themselves into.

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