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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thinking Like Scientists Think They Think

Thinking Like Scientists Think They Think
by Kyle Butt, M.A.

In the July 9, 2007 issue of Newsweek, science writer Sharon Begley penned a four-page section on “scientific” topics such as cloning, evolution, and the Big Bang. Near the end of the section, she wrote a brief article titled “How to Think Like a Scientist.” Begley quotes Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as saying that one of the real problems today is that “people don’t understand what is and isn’t science” (2007b, 150[2]:65). Begley then proceeds to define scientific thinking for the reader. Begley states: “Explanations of large classes of phenomena must make testable predictions and be falsifiable. That is, there must be a way to make an observation that could disprove the explanation” (150[2]:65). Begley continues by stating: “The requirement of falsifiability rules out supernatural explanations; you cannot disprove, for instance, the claim that God scattered fossils throughout rock strata.... God may have done that, but we’ll never know and there is no way to disprove it. In that way, faith is fundamentally different from science” (150[2]:65).

Begley contends, as do many other “science” writers, that belief in a supernatural creator falls outside the realm of science. Thus, science textbooks that deal with scientific explanations must exclude any mention of a supernatural creator. Begley is wrong in this regard. In a previous article, I have dealt with the false notion that what passes for modern science is testable (see Butt, 2005). More specifically, however, consider Begley’s discussion of the Big Bang as it relates to her claim of scientific falsifiability.

Near the beginning of her four-page section, Begley wrote a single-column post titled: “Glimpses of A Cosmic Creation” (2007a). In that article, she states: “It [the Big Bang—KB] occurred 13.7 billion years ago, an explosion that created all matter and energy.... The universe expanded from a very hot, condensed ‘singularity’—the likes of which can be found today in black holes” (150[2]:62). Begley makes it sound like you could hop on a space shuttle, stop off at the nearest “black hole” and find a “singularity” (whatever that is) that perfectly coincides with the beginning of our Universe. In truth, however, such is an absolutely false idea. Evolutionary scientists themselves admit that the Big Bang theory is fraught with “testability peril.” Recently, Eric Lyons wrote an article titled: “The Big Fizzle: Admissions from an Evolutionary Astrophysicist” (2007). In that article, he documented several quotes from Dr. Peter Coles, professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham. The gist of Dr. Coles’ sentiments are summed up in his statement: “Within just a few years inflation [the expansion of the Universe after the Big Bang—KB] had become an indispensable part of cosmological theory.... The only problem was that there wasn’t a shred of evidence that inflation had actually happened” (as quoted in Lyons, 2007, emp. added). Paul Davies, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, wrote: “Most scientists regard the cosmic initial conditions as lying outside the scope of science altogether” (1992, p. 88, emp. added). Professor Lawrence M. Principe, from Johns Hopkins University, wrote concerning the inception of the Universe: “This seems to be something that science, at least as we know it, can’t address” (2006, p. 113).

Begley’s attempt to present the Big Bang as a scientific theory that is testable and falsifiable manifests an inexcusably dishonest approach to legitimate science. Real scientific thinking means following the evidence to any conclusion warranted by the data. The scientists of the past knew this—men such as Newton, Farraday, Von Braun, Pasteur, Carver, and a host of others. That is why their scientific minds were forced by the overwhelming evidence to conclude that a supernatural creator exists. Thinking like biased evolutionists, however, means throwing out such conclusions because, if they are considered, evolution crumbles under their weight.

Begley, Sharon (2007a), “Glimpses of A Cosmic Creation,” Newsweek, 150[2]:62, July 9.

Begley, Sharon (2007b), “How to Think Like a Scientist,” Newsweek, 150[2]:65, July 9.

Butt, Kyle (2005), “Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Testability,” [On-line], URL:

Davies, Paul (1992), The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World (New York: Orion).

Lyons, Eric (2007), “The Big Fizzle: Admissions from an Evolutionary Astrophysicist,” Reason & Revelation, [On-line], URL:

Principe, Lawrence M. (2006), Science and Religion (Chantilly, VA: Teaching Company).


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