Dialogue on Pseudo-Science versus Empirical Science
The following is a letter received by Frontline Ministries containing several questions regarding Jay Wegter’s essay, “Paganism tries to make ‘Pseudo-Science’ its Universal Truth.” Jay’s response follows. This is an example of how the presuppositional method of apologetics can be used. It is offered here for whatever benefit you, the reader, may find. – Frontline Ministries
Dear Frontline Ministries,
My comments and questions refer to the essay by Jay Wegter entitled “Paganism tries to make ‘Pseudo-Science’ its Universal Truth.”
The essay, as I study science, was certainly thought provoking. The assumptions you state are mostly true and have to be assumed otherwise you end up being Descarte with nothing but yourself, which is as you can see not helpful or useful at all.
My first point is that science works, as you can see all around you and in front of you right now, so maybe these assumptions it uses are necessary or at least helpful. You say yourself that "God is transcendent. He is not a part of the universe" so surely in studying the universe, excluding God is not so much an atheist plot but rather a way to simplify things.
Secondly, throughout the essay you say that scientists are making a mistake in excluding the supernatural. What parts of science would benefit from the inclusion of the supernatural? (please note this is a sincere question rather than an argumentative challenge) Since the evidence doesn't change but is only added to, what theories would change do you think? gravity, quantum mechanics, evolution? Planets would still orbit the sun, particles will still break through impossible barriers, fossil records will still exist.
Thirdly, what action would like to see happen? What should change? Also which supernatural view would you use, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc.? Qualification of this choice would have to be made to every scientist in the world. Otherwise science would suffer the same division as religious practise which would help no one, in fact people would suffer from the lack of cooperation in fields such as medicine.
Thanks for you time, hope these questions aren't too unintelligent.
Dear Mr. *****
Thanks for your thoughtful questions; they deserve a reply.
As I seek to answer your questions, you’ll find that my response will reiterate two themes: 1.)There is a world of difference between pseudo-science and empirical science. I will continue to draw a line of demarcation between pseudo-science and empirical science. From now on in my reply, pseudo-science will be designated PS, and empirical science will be designated ES. 2.) As a Christian and a student of science, my final authority for interpretation of facts is the infallible Word of God, the Holy Bible.
In reply to your first question, “Are not the assumptions science makes useful or helpful?” My answer is absolutely yes. But I would go much further and state unequivocally that “doing science” would be impossible without these assumptions. My article was not intended to undermine the assumptions necessary to practice ES – just the opposite. Good science would be impossible if uniformity in nature did not exist and if chaos reigned in its place or order and predictability. Uniformity in nature is essential if an experiment is to be repeatable. The scientific method would be impossible without uniformity of nature (the longest ongoing experiment in human history with recorded results is farming – approximately 3000 years of accurately kept records).
In exposing the false assumptions of PS, it is my intention to ask questions that uncover the initial “faith commitments” of PS. (PS is also known as philosophic naturalism – for the sake of space, I’ll designate it PN.)
When one investigates the core assumptions of PS and philosophic naturalism (PN), it becomes clear quite quickly that PS and PN are posing as science, but actually constitute a belief system or philosophy. Consider the pre-commitments of PS and PN:
· Matter is eternal.
· The universe is ultimate.
· Chance is ultimate.
· The nature of reality is material.
· Science is the only objectivity.
· Nature is self-explanatory (no explanation is needed beyond the natural order).
· Nature is all there is and all there will ever be.
· Facts are not created by an Almighty God (therefore facts do not reveal a Personal Creator).
· The world is governed solely by uniformly operating laws.
· There is no plan and no determinism outside the universe.
· Morality is relative because it is merely the product of social Darwinism.
· The mind of man is autonomous.
· If there is a God, He can’t be known personally.
· If there is a God who has given authoritative divine revelation, it has been falsified by man.
Because PN and PS begin all investigation, all fact gathering, and all interpretation of data with the above pre-commitments governing their findings, it totally conditions their conclusions.
So badly did evolutionary researchers wish to find a “missing link” that filled in the yawning gaps in the fossil record, they abandoned empirical science when presented with spurious data.
What they regarded to be evidence of a 500,000 year old ape man (Piltdown Man), proved to be a fraud. A jawbone and skull fragment had been filed down, and chemically aged to deceive the public (this hoax stood for 40 years until it was exposed in 1953).
Nebraska Man was a similar fraud. The single tooth upon which the fictitious Nebraska Man was fabricated proved to be a pig’s tooth, yet the evolutionary “authorities” cited Nebraska Man as “proof” of evolution at the famous Scopes trial.
God’s Word utterly refutes each of the bulleted assumptions made by PN and PS listed above. God states in His Word that suppression of His truth and rejection of His answers constitutes moral rebellion. God has given us every reason to believe that His character is trustworthy. It is man’s sinful use of God-given intellect that causes him to expunge the knowledge of God from his mind.
God’s ultimate testament to His truthfulness is the sending of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture says that Christ came to tell us who God is, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, ‘He has explained Him” (Jn 1:18).
Christ Jesus is God’s authoritative “mouthpiece” who gives absolute answers to every ultimate question. Apart from His authoritative revelation of truth, man can only drift on a shore-less sea of relativity. He can only retreat into speculation which leads to absurdity, pessimism, and futility.
The Scriptures make it clear that Christ is the source of certainty in our knowledge of God, the universe, and ourselves. Apart from His infallible Word, man can only speculate regarding the following ultimate questions:
Where did man come from? What is the value of a human being? What is the source of man’s dignity? Does man have an eternal soul? Why is mankind here? Why is there evil? What is the origin of evil and suffering? Why is morality universal? Where did the laws of logic come from? What is the meaning of life? Is there life after death? Can God be known? What is the future of the human race? Who put the information in the nucleus of cells?
Jesus Christ answers the above questions with absolute authority. In so doing He declares to us the nature of reality. Christ proclaims that God is ultimate reality. Man only can know ultimate, or absolute truth when, “Thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” We do this by reading, believing, and practicing the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.
When good science is doing its best work (empirical research and discoveries that accord with the scientific method), then the scientist is literally “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” It was the famous scientist Johann Kepler that first uttered the above quote!
Kepler was one of many Bible-believing scientists whose research paved the way for modern science. Scientists such as Newton, Boyle, Bacon, Faraday, Agassiz, Morse, Pasteur, Sedgwick, Linneaus and von Braun all believed in a personal, almighty, transcendent Creator God who not only designed all life, but also put the laws of nature into operation to conserve what He made from chaos.
Because these scientists believed the Bible, they understood that an all-wise God put laws into operation which could be investigated. Thus they had courage to invest in the labor of countless hours of research – knowing that “to think God’s thoughts after Him,” would be to discover the reasonable laws set in motion by a reasonable God.
By contrast, PN and PS reject God’s revelation. Instead they are looking solely through the lens of human reason, “[they] suppress the truth [of God] in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18b). Scripture states that God will judge those who spurn His infallible Word and turn to speculation – “[God’s] eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen [through the creation], being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became foolish in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:20-21).
Perhaps the most visible media spokesman for evolution (and PN and PS) at the end of the 20thCentury was Carl Sagan. He was in the habit of saying on T.V. (on every program), “The universe is all there is and all there will ever be” (such a “religious,” non-scientific pre-commitment colored all of his conclusions.)
Consider what God’s Word says about persons who turn away from God’s answers concerning worldview. According to the New Testament, Carl willfully suppressed what he knew about the God of the Bible, and instead turned to speculation (see Romans 1:18-23).
Romans chapter one says that suppression of the truth of the One true God of the Bible not only exposes a person to the judgment of God, but also leads to foolishness. As an example of the futility in Sagan’s thinking; consider the following. Sagan constantly lobbied for millions of dollars to be spent for SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence).
Carl was asked, “What would you do if you did make contact with an E.T.?” His reply reveals the foolishness inherent in the suppression of God’s truth. Sagan answered that he would ask the E.T., “Who are we? Where did we come from?”
It’s sad but fascinating that Sagan would credit an E.T. with providing answers to ultimate questions with certainty, but would reject the God of the Bible who has already answered the ultimate questions with certainty.
Sagan’s push for SETI, and the justification of such a project brings to light the pre-commitments of PS and PN. By proposing that the nature of reality is material, PN collides with what God says in His Word about reality.
Philosophic naturalism cannot explain how inanimate matter and random chance molecular collisions can produce personhood. Even by the scientific principles of first cause, and adequate cause, the big bang and the chemist’s elemental table provide a woefully inadequate first cause of human personhood.
Francis Crick, one of two evolutionists who discovered DNA, saw that the staggering amount of information in the nucleus of a cell could not be attributed to chance. Crick’s has been quoted as suggesting that the DNA came from an E.T. The bankruptcy of evolution to explain the miracle of human life constantly emerges when ultimate questions are asked.
Shifting the source of life to another part of the universe in no way solves the problems inherent in mechanistic evolution.
Sagan knew that his naturalism was a poverty stricken system that could only define human life in mechanistic terms. But, if life is nothing more than tiny electrical impulses bridging the synapses of neurons, then what is the point of moral purity? What is the source of human dignity? If evil will never be punished and righteousness never rewarded, then why not live for self?
That is precisely the question. History tells us that PN has produced deadly fruit. Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot all expressed overflowing gratitude for the theory of Darwinian evolution. Why? Because they recognized that they had a “scientific” (pseudo-science) basis for oppression and the elimination of those “unfit” to live in their societies.
Humanism is the bedfellow of naturalism. Humanism has declared itself to be a religion. Humanism rests upon the pillars of philosophic naturalism, geological Uniformitarianism, and Darwinian evolution. That is why this author refers to the above as pseudo-science – it is a religious philosophy masquerading as science.
Your second question, Isn’t excluding God when studying the universe a way of simplifying things? I appreciate your tact here. But the prevailing view that has captured the sciences since the end of the 19th Century would be the presuppositions of the Enlightenment thinkers. These men wanted to free academia from the constraints of religion. Their tool of choice to separate religion from academia was philosophic naturalism (see the bulleted assumptions for insights into their worldview).
Therefore my question is, “Whose presuppositions will one use when studying the universe?” If it is Sagan’s presuppositions, then the conclusions of one’s research will always exhibit naturalistic pre-commitments. The facts won’t be God’s facts. They will be man’s facts – interpreted in such a way that the conclusions circulate back to the pre-commitments and pose as scientific conclusions (i.e. a particular fossil is 30 million years old, why? because the rock is 30 million years old, why? because we know that the theory of evolution must be true , why? because the only alternative is a personal, almighty Creator, and we already ruled Him out when we made our pre-commitments -- again, speculation and futility).
Because of Sagan’s core assumptions, he expected to find E.T.’s. He assumed that the almighty Creator God of the Bible was a myth. He was a “consistent” philosophic naturalist. His pre-commitments totally governed how he gathered data, and how he interpreted data. It is naïve to assume that the realm of evolutionary science is a “philosophy-free” zone.
To my list of Bible-believing scientists, I could add 60 more individuals who believed in a personal, almighty transcendent Creator. These men did their research with the glory of God in mind. Scripture states that creation is constantly declaring the glory of God (Ps 19:1-6).
If one starts with naturalistic core assumptions when doing scientific research, it will radically color every conclusion. Naturalism is a philosophy which makes God superfluous, and man supreme.
My question is, “Is it possible to consistently do good science without presupposing the God of the Bible?” I believe that the answer is “no.” For when God is abandoned, one is left with a worldview that is innately self-contradictory and self destructive – namely a universe that has uniformity in nature, but is based upon chance.
The second law of thermodynamics refutes the idea that order can come from chance. God is the all-wise and all-powerful Designer and Fashioner of all life. Therefore, how can it be considered good science when the nearly infinite diversity of life on this planet is attributed not to the God of the Bible, but to the false gods of time, chance, and mutation? Evolution has never been witnessed. Scientists are hard-pressed to cite even one clear example of a favorable mutation.
What parts of science would benefit from the inclusion of the supernatural?
Evolutionists twist the definition of death, making it a cause of increasing complexity of life. Death, they say, drives natural selection. But empirical science tells us that natural selection (at best) can keep a gene pool strong; it cannot make anything new and more complex.
God says that death has a moral cause. Man broke faith with God and death is the moral consequence. Without God’s definition of death, mankind cannot see the reason for God’s plan of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life in Christ. PN and PS assume that death, decay, disease, and suffering are normal and have always been here; Jesus Christ through the Apostle Paul says the opposite. “Through one man sin came into the world, and death as the consequence of sin, and death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12).
Evolutionists appeal to the fossil record for evidence for the origin of life. The fossil record is the story of death by a global catastrophe. The fossil record is made up of billions of dead things preserved in water born sedimentary strata all over the earth. This doesn’t point to the present processes rainfall and erosion occurring today. The conditions necessary to form these fossils are not occurring today.
The Word of God tells us that God judged the early earth because of man’s sin. The order in nature was temporarily destroyed by a water-born catastrophe of global proportions. If God’s Word is true, what kinds of evidence would we expect to find in the earth’s strata? Certainly there would be a testament to death by burial in water-born sediments. This is precisely what is seen in the fossil record.
Consider also that the fossil record has systematic gaps between the kinds of animals. (gaps which are totally consistent with the science of taxonomy). If evolution were true, we wouldn’t see gaps between the kinds; we would see countless transitional forms between the kinds. We would have museums full of fossils that demonstrated one animal becoming another. The transitional forms are absent. The data in the fossil record points to the biblical fact that animals were formed by God complete, “[created] after their kind” (Gen 1:21).
The fossil record is made up of billions of dead things preserved in water born sedimentary strata all over the earth. This doesn’t point to the present processes rainfall and erosion occurring today. The conditions necessary to form these fossils are not occurring today.
In the fossil record, we see mass kills of animals buried before decay could dissolve their bodies (the Grand Canyon has a mass kill layer of Nautiloids that extends over one hundred miles – no present process could produce such an huge fossil bed).
The earth’s crust reveals immense geological structures that could not be formed by today’s processes (the Sauk sandstone sequence is a continuous stratum of sandstone that extends from Nova Scotia to the Western North America. No process exists today which could generate a sedimentary layer like the Sauk. It is a sedimentary layer that was produced by a deluge.)
The Word of God makes an indissoluble link between origin and destiny. Humans came from the hand of God and they must appear before God who is the Judge of all the earth. PN and PS are totally opposed to the entire concept of dealing with a God who judges and who is executing His perfect plan as moral Governor of the universe.
In order to escape their moral accountability to their Creator, proponents of PN and PS postulate a universe that created itself and maintains itself. God regards this to be intellectual rebellion. The Bible is plain in its statements about the entrance of sin. When sin entered the human race, intellectual rebellion was its key manifestation that opened the door to all forms of immorality (see Romans chapters 1-3).
What action would you like to see happen? As you probably have concluded, our website is our attempt by God’s help to be part of the solution. We firmly believe that history gives ample evidence that lies about origins lead to immorality and social decay. The reason is obvious – when the universe is made its own cause, then man is not accountable to a holy and righteous Creator who is both Savior and Judge.
According to the Scriptures, man will not use his mind to love God and His truth UNTIL that person’s sins are forgiven. As long as sinful man lives as a “fugitive” under God’s moral government, it is impossible to honor God for His love and goodness – the unforgiven individual will prefer distance from God and he will use his intellectual capacities to attempt to explain away his accountability to God.
God’s merciful answer to man’s spiritual dilemma is the Person of Jesus Christ. By His life, substitutionary death for sinners, and His resurrection He has conquered man’s most pernicious enemies. Only the Son of God can get a man past sin, death, hell, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Only the power of the Son of God can save man from himself and from the wrath of God.
Those who have not repented of sin and who have not placed their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior will continue to use their God-given faculties of mind to distort and suppress the truth of God (see Romans chapter one).
What I would like to see happen is that the message of Jesus Christ as Creator, Lawgiver, Savior, Lord, and Judge be preached again as it was 200 years ago when men began their research with a fear and reverence for God as He is revealed in His Word.
I hope that these answers are a cause for deep reflection and that these answers will again lead you to read the living Word of God, the Bible that you might “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Consider also these excellent websites on the subject of science and origins:
In His Grace,