What Is Biology? Part 2 of 4

 

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Image Credit: clipart.co

 

Rules of Science:

 

If we embrace the metaphysical assumptions listed in the previous blog:

 

  1. The material world exists
  2. The universe is logical
  3. Our senses provide reliable information about the world
  4. Our minds allow us to understand at least some aspects of reality

 

There are still some rules that we have to follow if we are to do any science, including biology. The first is that empirical data is the authoritative test of all ideas in science. This reliance on empirical data differentiates science from belief systems like Atheism, Hinduism, Christianity or other religions. Many would argue that for atheists, human reason is the ultimate authority. Hinduism and Christianity also embrace reason, but in both cases the ultimate authority lies in books; the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and other texts for Hindus, the Bible for Christians. Whether or not data, books, individuals or some other authority is used, interpretation is always necessary. If an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority it claims to be interpreting, it is generally rejected. So, if an explanation – commonly called a theory in science – is inconsistent with data, it is judged to be unscientific..

 

A second rule is honesty. Scientists can only report exactly what they observed; otherwise their conclusions will not be empirically based. The results of experiments must be reported exactly as they occurred. There is no such thing as “wrong data,” if it is an honest report of what was actually observed. Unfortunately, fabricated data can exist and may mislead other scientists.

 

The rules of logic must be used when interpreting data, but sometimes there are multiple equally logical interpretations. When explaining the origin of biological structures, Darwinists and Bible-believers logically interpret data differently. For example, the “arms” of a whale, frog, horse, lion, human and bird have essentially the same pattern of bones. Darwinists interpret this as evidence of a common ancestor because, within their worldview, it is best explained as the result of these animals inheriting a common genetic program for their body parts from a common ancestor. Those who believe one God created these diverse kinds of organisms may explain these common structures as the result of a common Designer, but also point out that generally speaking other potential limb designs are not as functional and that Darwinism does a questionable job of explaining the origin of limbs in the first place.

 

“Ockham’s razor” is a rule that scientists use to differentiate likely explanations from equally logical, but less probable explanations. It is named after a brilliant 14th Century English philosopher monk named William of Ockham. Ockham’s razor can be stated as, “The simplest explanation is the most likely to be true.” Scientists from the time of Aristotle until now have used this rule. Here is how Albert Einstein stated it:

 

“[T]he supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”[1]


 

Timothy G. Standish, PhD

Senior Scientist, Geoscience Research Institute


 

Footnotes

[1]Albert Einstein “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” The Herbert Spencer Lecture, delivered at Oxford (10 June 1933); also published in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 1, No. 2 (April 1934), pp. 163-169, p. 165.

 

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