March 28, 2005

Science & Evolution Quotes

I came across these two quotes the other day, and thought I would share them, given my recent posts (1, 2) about evolution.
Stephen Jay Gould:

In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Ashley Montague:

Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.

Posted by Tom Nugent at March 28, 2005 03:29 PM

These are two very interesting quotes.

Gould is interesting to define a fact in this way, because it serves no purpose in the debate. Everyone agrees with his definition, but the idea of "perverse to withhold provisional assent" is vague within the context of the debate...a creationist and evolutionist would both agree the absurdity of spontaneously rising apples has no place in a physics classroom, but they are back to square one in the life origin debate.

The Montague quote further illustrates a problem that I noted earlier....Scientists gather evidence to support ideas, but, by the "letter of the scientific process" must always be open to editing. So many scientists seem rather bullheaded on this issue, and I think it leaves them open to being attacked using sceince as a weapon agaisnt them.

I was just reading a story on the Einstein Century being celebrated this year, and how Bohr was absolutely certain Einstein was a misguided fool. Bohr was wrong, but was, at least publicly, unwilling to admit the chance he was right. Perhaps it gets away too much from the science, but I often get the impression that some scientists whom I read and talk to don't fully understand the underlying philosophy of science...and that creationists are far more savvy when it comes to using it in debates.

Posted by: Tom at March 29, 2005 02:14 PM
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