And Now the Double Standard
Tuesday, I posted that truth is not relative. Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.
I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false. At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it. I posted the reply on Wednesday.
Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.” Our knowledge base is growing rapidly, and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.
Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data. We expect to revise theories as more data become available. With that in mind, those five points I made become simplistic and silly.
Now then, why does that create a double standard for theists?
Because our critics expect us to be right from the outset and never change. However, when I criticize science for reversing itself, I’m rightly called ignorant. I’m making an overly simplistic statement that totally misses the mark.
By the same token, as more information becomes available, people revise their opinions and theologies.
For example, despite Matthew Bellasario’s bellowing, the early church did not accord Mary the special place that Catholic theology does. They brought Mary into their liturgies because they felt that she deserved a place on account of her role in Jesus’ life, which eventually evolved to a Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces role. Catholics pay her hyper-dulia, a high accord indeed (higher than the saints, but lower than God).
One can even see evolving theology in the New Testament. The letter to the Hebrews was likely the latest document prepared, and it is rich in theology. The Gospel of John was the last of the Gospels and (again) it is rich in theology not present in the earlier Gospels. We can deduce John’s theology from the earlier Gospels and Paul’s letters, but it isn’t codified in either.
The Trinity was codified in the Athanasian Creed, the third of the three ecumenical creeds generally agreed upon by all Christians. We see an evolution in the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and finally the Athanasian Creed — each becomes more intricate as we gain greater insight and understanding.
Why, according to the critic, must all Christian belief be found all at once and never change; a progressive evolution indicates falsehood? I don’t discount science as false merely because scientists revise their findings later. Therefore, theology shouldn’t be discounted as false merely because we have revised it as time went on. All of the revisions were made for good reasons, like the revisions to various scientific theories.
One thing hasn’t changed: Salvation by the grace of God, effected by our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant: we all unite under that banner.
And now you may comment on the entire series.
Why Yesterday’s Post Was (Only Partly) WRONG
I meant to post this a couple of hours ago, but life sometimes gets in the way. I had a lot of work to do around the house.
Yesterday, I posted that truth is not relative. Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.
I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false. So much for irrefutable scientific fact, right?
At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it. So let’s discuss that reply.
Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.” Ever. Which means that we are going to expect to find things we previously established through the scientific method to be false, because we might not have the entire picture.
It means our knowledge base is growing — more rapidly now than ever before — and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.
When a new CEO walks into a company, he can’t find everything out about everything in the company before he starts making decisions and changing the company around. At best, he will make decisions with 70% of the data he needs.
Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data.
So that science is wrong isn’t a problem. We expect to revise theories as more data become available.
With that in mind, those specific points I made become simplistic and silly.
Nothing ever suggested that the speed of light was the maximum attainable speed. It looked that way for a long time. Though we were confident in that conclusion, the universe is still quite mysterious to us and therefore finding something that moves faster than light should be exciting rather than garnering an “I told you so.”
If it’s possible to break the light barrier, then interstellar travel becomes a distinct possibility, and that would be cool.
The senses by which we perceive the world are varied, and scientists don’t officially agree on how many we have. The do agree on the core five of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. So it’s too simple to just say, “I learned about five senses, now there’s more? Scientists are wrong!” It’s more along the lines of discovering new ways we perceive the world. Again, excitement and wonder should be the response, not “I told you so.”
Similarly, “planet” is a category that was never defined. Now it is. Pluto is no longer a planet and four asteroids are no longer asteroids because of semantics. Changing these definitions was necessary because the solar system is far more complex than we thought it was. After all, it’s weird to have moons larger than Mercury and asteroids roughly comparable to Pluto. Even Pluto’s own moon is roughly the same size as its parent.
Revised definitions help keep things more consistent.
The brain is more complex than a Cray supercomputer and is far more compact. It’s faster with its computations and it controls the body so seamlessly we barely know it’s there.
So it was overly simplistic of the scientists to ever postulate that the left hemisphere is cold logic and the right hemisphere is creativity.
Finally, I have no idea where that taste bud diagram ever came from. I knew that was false the first time I saw it, because I tried liking an ice cream cone with different parts of the tongue. I tasted it just fine. For some reason, my teachers all tried to defend the diagram, but I think privately every student in that room knew better.
Revising conclusions in the face of new data is a staple of science, and I agree it is a valid reply to my over-simplified statements yesterday. However, this is a serious double standard toward theism, and tomorrow I will explain why. Then, you will be able to comment!
5 Truths I Learned in Science Class that are Now WRONG
Truth corresponds to reality. This means that truth doesn’t change. If it was true in 4000 b.c., it is still true now.
Atheists frequently insist that only science can discover the truth.
If truth is truth, then that means if a truth is uncovered by science, then it’s always true, right?
Allow me to present 5 truths taught to me in grade school science class that have been proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry