7.21.2008

Back to Evolution

Right, so, down to the meat of the issue.

In his appearance on the Colbert Show, Ken Miller stated we should trust science.

There are, in this, two difficulties. First, to trust science is to trust scientists. Scientists have been wrong. They are not omniscient, and consensus is by no means correct. Scientists often have no time to carefully review each others' work, so that they can actually be careful about what they believe. Also, often times our knowledge has simply not grown enough yet. This was certainly the problem with cigarettes for many years, when, according to several people I know, doctors would recommend them for colds. The problems simply weren't known. Scientists can also lie. It's surprising how often scientists, with all their ability to be wrong, so rarely report that their hypothesis proved wrong. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2006/10/16/ccpers16.xml)
The other problem is simple enough: The There may be problems we don't know yet, or, from a limited scientist perspective don't perceive, which was probably the case with most of the cigarette problems.

As Ken Miller says in his excellent lecture at Case Western University (available in full here: Ken Miller on Intelligent Design) for most Creation Science people, the problem isn't the scientists, it's the morals. I would certainly say that's true from what I've seen.

But that's the problem. We don't know the moral outcome yet, and morals allow us no leeway. In science we can be wrong, and unhurt. It is an academic exercise for good reason. It is an academic exercise because, in order to be safe enough to learn what is right, we have to be safe to be wrong and test it. But. But but but! The moment our ideas influence anyone to speak or act in a way that could damage them or anyone else, at least in my perspective, we loose the right and freedom to be wrong beyond any right or power of school, religion or state to bestow. Not that we can not be forgiven, but that we need forgiveness when we are morally wrong or encourage morally wrong action. In science we need no forgiveness for being wrong, unless that being wrong is willful ignorance. From the perspective of science, wrong is perhaps regrettable, but necessary. From the perspective of morals, wrong is urgent, and often deadly.

2 comments:

dstromberg said...

The Colbert Report

Not the Colbert show. Get your facts straight man! :)

Wallis said...

That's it. I'm ignoring your comments. :) In fact, I can delete it, can't I?