Created: September 9, 2015
Revised:Synopsis Sept 2017  

The Creation Narrative of Science and the Bible
 

Dr. David C. Bossard

Dr. David C. Bossard
Biographical Information



Science and Falsifiability
This concerns the question: Is Evolution Falsifiable?


"In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality." Karl Popper (1934)M.11

"The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability." Karl Popper (1963)M.12

This note is necessary because many atheists claim the mantle of science for themselves. By some accountingM.13, about half of all scientists are either atheists or agnostics (that is, they refuse to take a position), and a much higher percentage disbelieve in a personal GodM.14.

A scientific assertion is (potentially) falsifiable, or else it is a belief and not science. However, an atheist must demand that the "fact"M.15 of natural evolution is non-falsifiable, whatever concessions Karl Popper may have madeM.16. To an atheist, there is no alternative to natural evolution, since by definition no higher power is available.M.17

Furthermore, an atheist must extend the fact of natural evolution to include the creation of life itself by natural means, something that Darwin did not claim for his theory of natural selectionM.18. Because atheists have claimed to own science they have forced science itself into a non-falsifiable position—which is a contradiction. The atheist's need for natural evolution is non-falsifiableM.19, therefore it is not science.

A theist—one who believes in a God or gods, not necessarily a personal God—has no such constraint. Science, evolution, the beginnings of life all involve falsifiable concepts. The theist's belief in God is non-falsifiable (otherwise they would not be theists), but he does not have to extend that non-falsifiability to science, as does the atheist.


[*fn]M.11 Karl Popper (28 Jul 1902—17 Sep 1994), The Logic of Scientific Discovery, (1934), p. 314. See Wikipedia on Falsifiability and Bruce Wightman, (Muhlenberg University),  Popper’s Ghost: The Dark Side of Falsification in Science (2012).

[*fn]M.12 Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, (1963), p. 36.

[*fn]M.13 In the Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life Project (2009) survey of religious belief among scientists who belong to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), overall 48% don't believe in a god or "higher power". One would expect that a higher percentage don't believe in a personal God, which is a stronger criterion—see the next note.

[*fn]M.14 "Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science," New York Times, August 23, 2005, "They note that when Dr. Larson put part of the same survey to "leading scientists" - in this case, members of the National Academy of Sciences, perhaps the nation's most eminent scientific organization - fewer than 10 percent professed belief in a personal God or human immortality."

[*fn]M.15 Carl Sagan, the host of the PBS series Cosmos, is famously quoted as saying "Evolution is a fact not a theory." R. C. Lewontin, Richard Dawkins and others have made the same assertion. See Wikipedia, Evolution as Fact and Theory.

[*fn]M.16  It is famously known that Karl Popper once stated that Evolution was non-falsifiable, but later retracted the statement (presumably under peer-pressure). For the record, and for myself as an evangelical Christian, I agree that evolution is falsifiable, but it is not falsifiable to an atheist. Thus the pressure to call natural evolution a "fact" not a "theory", see previous note. The irony is that atheists claim that theists cannot be good scientists, but the truth is exactly the opposite: atheists cannot be good scientists because their belief requires that evolution by undirected natural means be non-falsifiable. A non-falsifiable belief (specifically atheism) is non-scientific. This does not judge its  truth value, but only argues that it is not scientific, and has no right to claim exclusive ownership of science. So, to the extent that the possibility of God is denied in the name of science, to that extent evolution is non-falsifiable, any evidence that would suggest the contrary is consciously suppressed or derided, and natural evolution is presented as unassailable "fact". In a possibly apocryphal story, Chinese paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen (Professor, Nanjing University) criticized Darwinian predictions about the fossil record [Jun-Yuan Chen, The sudden appearance of diverse animal body plans during the Cambrian explosion, Int. J. Dev. Biol. (2009)] and was met with dead silence from a group of scientists in the U.S. He quipped, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”

[*fn]M.17 One possible deus ex machina is powerful unknown laws which are able to bootstrap a chaotic natural world into its present highly organized form. But such laws are just gods by other names. They are quite different from the familiar laws of chemistry and physics, and diligent search has revealed nothing of the sort. Of course computer simulations of "evolution" can perform all sorts of organizational miracles—such as the Weasel program promoted by Richard Dawkins: this effort is based on goal-directed change that has no known analog in the real  world, and has been thoroughly refuted by John Lennox in God's Undertaker (2012) and other authors. One common palliative is a sort of Anthropic principle: "there must be such laws because ... here we are—we exist!" On this, see remark of John Lennox, Appendix 9, note 1.

[*fn]M.18 Darwinian evolution concerns survival of the fittest descendents of a species. Indeed "evolution" of life itself is an oxymoron: one must begin with something viable to modify it by evolution, and viability itself presumes life.

[*fn]M.19 an atheist must have natural evolution, and since atheism dominates natural science, evolution is non-falsifiable in the sense that there can be no evidence (such as the ridiculously low probability—see Appendix 9, note 2—that life itself could come about by undirected random happenstance) of a Creator that would convince an atheist. So, to the extent that the possibility of God is denied in the name of science, to that extent evolution is non-falsifiable; any evidence that would suggest the contrary is consciously suppressed or derided, and natural evolution is presented as unassailable "fact".


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