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Friday, January 26, 2007

The Agnostic Scientist

Thanks to Lava for this comment:

"In response to the bias and prejudice of the "natural materialist" and the "religious scientist". Do you not see and acknowledge your prejudice? If you were a scientist, could you really be objective? Wouldn't your unwavering belief in the inerrency of the Bible and God just direct you to solutions like a young earth, a flood, and dinosaurs living with humans? Just because the fictional scientist you can take into account the supernatural won't make you a better scientist. The fact that your unwavering belief in the supernatural leads you to certain conclusions means you have the same problems as the "naturalistic materialist." Following YOUR logic from YOUR original post- the best scientist has to be agnostic. Everyone else is biased."

Before the 19th century, you would find that the majority of scientists were Theists, or at the least, Deists. The Atheist was a rare bird then. But there was a refreshing atmosphere in those times. Most scientists checked their belief systems at the door of inquiry and simply did their best work with the information at hand. This is why Galileo, a believer, ignored the teachings of the church and posited his positions that the Earth was not central to the Universe. He wasn't interested in either disproving the church nor defending it, rather, he was looking for truth. I greatly admire his position!

Lava, I was an agnostic who believed in evolution and, if you check on old posts, you'll see I even took courses in order to become a Paleontologist because I considered it a possible career choice. I was a collector of various small creatures and rocks and fossils since I was a small child. My parents always tried to have an entire room devoted to me and while they would call it the playroom, it was a refuge for various things like worm farms and pond-water aquariums and horned toads and cocoons-that-turned-to-moths, etc. I've been hooked on studying nature since I was, oh, five or so.

I grew up in an area in which many fossils (and arrowheads, for that matter) could be found. Most of them were the standard bivalves and other water creatures, including a pretty good treasure trove of trilobites. I would sometimes find areas with hundreds of trilobite fossils and occasionally have found a complete specimen. Oh, sure, I found ferns and fish and fossilized nuts and so on as well. I found geodes and tried hard to begin learning the names of different kinds of rocks that I would encounter. Yep, I was becoming an amateur scientist even as I was learning to read and write. It was just a part of my life.

In my mid-twenties I became a believer and then I read through Genesis and the Old Testament and found how it greatly differed from things I'd been taught in school...and magazines and books and the radio and TV and movies...and I had a crisis. What would I believe? Well, I was sure I believed in God and I was sure that I believed in fossils and I decided to apply the scientific method to the problem. That's right, I was a believer but I approached the evidence from an agnostic point of view, looking to see which view of origins and the fossil record was more likely to be correct. To my amazement, the Biblical account was far more in agreement with the evidence than was the idea of evolution. I then wondered why so many people believed otherwise? Well, of course, they were taught to believe it! But, why? I came to the conclusion that the worldview of scientists and professors of the 19th and 20th (and now 21st) centuries drove their science and not a pure search for truth. I was dismayed but over time I have come to accept and even understand it all. Those who wish to deny God will seek to eradicate all mention of Him if it is possible.

Whether a man is an atheist or a believer, as a scientist he is certainly best if he approaches his craft from an agnostic point of view. He may find the supernatural involved and he may not, but he doesn't have a predisposition to either exclude or include the supernatural. He is driven strictly by the motive of finding out what is true and what is real. I do wish this is what we see in the real world.

Millions of man-hours go to waste as both sides of the Creation versus evolution issue spend time looking for evidence to support their respective positions rather than seeking answers that benefit mankind or add to our knowledge base in a more positive way. Much of science has become warfare, a battle for the minds and hearts of mankind rather than the search for truth. Philosophical agendas drive a great deal of what is done on both sides of the aisle.

I enjoy going to sites such as Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis because it is truly a war. But I wish there was no need for those sites. Phyrangula and TalkOrigins and such sites promote evolutionary speculation as settled fact as part of the battle to remove God from public thought and so I turn to and support sites that fight against their aims. Since there is a war, then baby I'm going to grab my weapon and join the fight! Too bad some of the time trying to prove or disprove evolution isn't being spent fighting cancer or lupus and etc. Ah, but it is what it is.

In any event, Lava, I am going to surprise you and agree with you. The agnostic approach is the best way to approach science. These days, it is apparently also a rarity.


cranky old fart said...

"Millions of man-hours go to waste as both sides of the Creation versus evolution issue spend time looking for evidence to support their respective positions rather than seeking answers that benefit mankind or add to our knowledge base in a more positive way"

Amen brother.

So could you tell your YEC brothers to bring some real science to the table, rather that just biblical babble?

Could you also admit that the supernatural has never been an answer to anything in science?

Your posts don't match your conciliatory words.

augurwell said...

I think I 'll go with Rumsfeld "There are things we know and there are things we don't know. etc." And the Lord loves good judgement.

I Enjoy your blog.