BioLogos is pseudoscience?

Someone forwarded us a link from the Media Bias Fact Check website, which has us listed as “mild pseudo science” because we ascribe evolution to the “hand and workings of God, which is not known or provable.”

I’m curious how this sits with you, and whether anyone knows how to effectively fact-check the fact checkers (and make it known to others)?

I imagine we’ve been called much less flattering things even.

But if these fact checkers really wanted to defend that characterization, then I would challenge them to come up with the science supported over here that they think is “pseudo”. They may predictably respond: “well, it’s all your god-stuff”. Most “Biologians” here could rightly respond back: “But we’ve never called our faith claims science.” In fact, that’s one of the major drums we beat around here: distinguishing scientific claims from philosophical or religious ones - which we do all the time.

Which (as far as I can see) would leave them with nothing.

So … yes … the “fact-checkers” need to actually check their facts in this case.

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Well, the media story that ruffled my feathers today was the Aaron Rodgers story, or more specifically the reaction from the Christian community to his comments. Not very Christian, in my opinion.
Perhaps we can rank the Media Bias Fact Sheet as being pseudo-factual and be done with it.

That’s a misuse of the admittedly not-well-defined term ‘pseudoscience.’ I’d ignore a website with that level of thought. Or, as I like to call it, ‘pseudothought.’

But I also agree with @jpm that Christianity should be a lot more worried about a lot of other things.

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The idea that things in science are “provable” also suggests that the author has a somewhat naive scientific epistemology in addition to the implicit scientism.

But yeah, what’cha gonna do? I’ve been called worse. :slight_smile:

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Pseudo-science is something which pretends to be science and is not. I am not aware of anything on this site or anything put out by Biologos which claims that God’s participation in evolution is a scientifically demonstrable fact. That would be ID and I have heard only ridicule and condemnation of ID since I have been here. Please correct me if I wrong and Biologos has given any support to ID. ID is certainly pseudoscience. On that I would agree.

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This attitude however could support the accusation, for this is suggesting that there is no difference between the claims of science and the claims of theology. The things in science are demonstrable. Science provides written procedures anyone can follow to get the same result. That is what makes the evidence and claims of science objective while the claims of Christianity and philosophy are not.

In fact this would be the basis of an even worse accusation, that we are anti-science. And I haven’t heard anything suggesting that Biologos is any such thing – quite the opposite. Its principle goal seems to be the promotion of science in the Christian (particularly evangelical) community.

According to Wikipedia, “scientism” is the promotion of science as the best or only objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values. Frankly, at least according to that definition, this sounds excellent. What after all is an alternative? Shoving Christianity down everyone’s throat and making Christianity the state religion? That would have my complete and violent opposition. It is bad for society and bad for Christianity – history demonstrates this!

But there are other definitions of this term… from this site
Scientism takes science to be not only better than philosophy at answering such questions, but the only means of answering them.
This version of scientism is another matter. I would argue that this claim is, in fact, demonstrably incorrect. It is not the only way of answering such questions. Missing is the adjective “objective” and the talk of what should be socially normative. What can actually be demonstrated by science is not that much and limiting what we push on others as normative should definitely be limited to what can be demonstrated in an objective scientific way. Anything else would look like a theocracy. There is certainly a difference between…

  1. limiting what you push on others to what can be demonstrated with objective evidence.
  2. pushing on others the idea that truth and reality is limited to what can be demonstrated with objective evidence.

More than the difference between “demonstrable” and “provable,” this is where we need to draw the line because it is the difference between science and the philosophical choice of naturalism. I can see how Dennis would be tempted to think accusing Biologos of pseudo-science smells a bit of pushing naturalism on people.

I’m afraid I have to demur here. Science is less objective than that (the “anyone” in your first sentence has to be quite severely limited to “anyone who has gone through the proper training for the relevant procedures” which is going to be a very small percentage of “anyone”). And I’m not going whole hog “science is a social construct”, but there certainly is some element of our scientific explanations that are culturally relative.

And Christianity and philosophy are not objective? Do you mean by that that they are subjective, and do not make truth claims? So saying “Jesus resurrected from the dead” or “slavery is wrong” is equivalent in truth value to saying “Vanilla ice cream is the best flavor”?!

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I suspect anti-religious bigotry is at play here.

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Well there are softer areas of science dominated more by speculation and paradigms but I think the majority of the scientific community understands the difference between what is actually demonstrable and what is not.

Absolutely NOT!

What may help here is to shift our focus to my claim that it is actually demonstrable that people can know things for which they have no means to prove or provide objective evidence. This is because of personal experiences. It is perfectly conceivable that one can have visitations (whether by high tech aliens or supernatural beings) which leave no doubt whatsoever of the reality of such things to you personally, but which provide nothing by which you can prove anything to other people. I am suggesting we can demonstrate this with a little high tech of our own.

Therefore the distinction I am emphasizing is between subjective and objective evidence. And so while personal experience will always be the most convincing evidence for personal belief, it rather often doesn’t provide any means for a reasonable expectation that others should agree with you. With written procedures anyone can follow (acquiring whatever skills and means required) to get the same results no matter what they believe, science DOES provide a reasonable expectation that other people should agree. This talk of “limited” to “proper training” is a lame excuse… sounds like the difference between willful ignorance and lazy ignorance.

Now you are being excessively black and white. While there is a distinction between subjective and objective truths, this doesn’t erase other difference such as between… the claim of personal experience, moral/ethical claims, and matters of taste and preference. Besides… just because moral/ethical claims have an irreducibly subjective element to them doesn’t mean there are no objective elements to them also. In fact… you can probably find different kinds of objective elements to all of these claims. Which suggests that the distinction is often a matter of wording thus we can distinguish between…

  1. The objective fact of accounts found in the Biblical text and the claim an historical event for which objective evidence is lacking.
  2. The demonstrable facts of damage done to human relationships and well being by the practice of slavery and the inherent subjectivity in the meaning of “ought.”
  3. The objective statistics on the use of the vanilla flavor and the personal enthusiasm you have for particular flavors.

I’m not sure that we’re using “subjective” and “objective” in the same way. In epistemology, they are properly predicated of propositions (pardon the excessive alliteration). A proposition is objective if and only if its truth value depends on the way things are, independent of what its author feels or believes. Otherwise it is subjective. So when you say “the claims of Christianity and philosophy are not [objective]” and then later say you absolutely don’t mean that they are subjective, I can only quote Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice: I have not the privilege of understanding you.

Now, whether something is demonstrable or not, is another issue. I happen to think it is demonstrable that slavery is wrong. It might not be the case that everyone agrees, but I’d guess more people agree with that ethical claim than agree with the scientific claim that the Earth is more than 4 billion years old.

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I am sure we are not. There are few old standard definitions that I do not buy into such as “knowledge” defined as “justified true belief” as if ANYBODY EVER believes things which they think are not true or not justified. Such definitions seem to founded upon the premise that the person using them has some special access to truth and reality, which is absurd. I therefore prefer to limit such definitions to things which are in some way more substantial/tangible, such as “knowledge” defined as the beliefs which we live by. Accordingly my definition of objective is simply that which is the same for everyone and subjective as that which is different for different people. Thus personal experiences are subjective because they vary between people and likewise scientific demonstrability gets at the very essence of what is the same for everyone.

Defining “objective” according to the “way things are” is totally pie in the sky because everyone has a different idea of “the way things really are.” And thus I think that makes the word and the distinction completely useless.

But I didn’t say any such thing. Clearly I do not agree that subjective should be equated with “do not make truth claims.” Equating science and objectivity with truth and reality is the essence of naturalism. Quite the contrary one of my central beliefs is that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality itself. The point is that only part of reality is irrespective of what we want and believe (i.e. objective) for there is another part of reality which is totally responsive to what we want and believe (i.e. subjective).

Yes, I think the facts about damage done to human relationships and well being are entirely sufficient for this and arguments pointing to the inherent subjectivity in the meaning of “ought” are rather lame.

Of course, numbers do not prove anything but is certainly good reason to take the claim very seriously.

Media Bias/Fact Check lacks nuance. From their website:

If pseudoscience is having a belief or opinion that is not known or provable then everything outside of science is pseudoscience. That makes no sense, and is certainly a misuse of the term.

I think it would behoove the leadership at BioLogos to write the editors at the website and clarify your position, demonstrating to them that you are not suggesting God’s involvement in evolution is scientifically demonstrable or provable.

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Of course you’re free to use words any way you want, but for them to make sense you have to persuade a community to use them that way too. Here you’ve wiped away a distinction between ontology (what there is) and epistemology (how we know what there is) that has been recognized since at least Socrates. Saying that everyone has a different idea of what there is does not mean it is futile to talk about what there is. Otherwise we cede to postmodern anti-realism.

I know words get used differently outside of rigorous philosophy. And I totally agree that there is something useful you’re pointing at in talking about that which is the same for everyone, vs. “subjective” experience. I’m just not sure I agree with where you’re drawing that line.

I’m pretty sure I quoted you verbatim…

We’ve strayed a ways from pseudoscience… Aren’t there moderators who watch such things?! :slightly_smiling_face:

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No I am just saying that presumptions about what there is (ontology) doesn’t help communication. Therefore basic terminology works much better for communication if it is founded on things which are more tangible and measurable.

You cannot really even talk about what there is (ontology) until you first recognize that there are differences in how people think of this.

And that is too much of a battle mentality. The best way to deal with philosophical fads is to see what we can learn from them. It is all about discernment and distinguishing the facts from the fiction.

Things get complicated mixing correct with incorrect. Yes I certainly say that Christianty is subjective, NO I certainly did not say that Christianity does not make truth claims. But then I explained this immediately following my objection. Quoting out of context can be very deceptive no matter how verbatim it may be.

@jstump:

The irony here is that BioLogos has been singled out for something that BioLogos really hasn’t asserted in any definitive way!

When a group of Christians propose that God has shaped the ongoing processes of Evolution, this is not science, this is Theology. One could even say it is Metaphysics, rather than physics. I make this correction all the time over at Peaceful Science. We talk about science… but as soon as we include God in the discussion, it’s really theology.

Atheistic pro-Evolutionists are quick to be dismissive with their insults and harsh categorizations. I’ve received many an assault along these lines in discussions about Peaceful-Science. And Peaceful Science is certainly far more guilty of mixing religious principles with science than BioLogos has.

But terms like Pseudo-Science are purely mean-spirited attacks. Neither BioLogos nor Peaceful Science are agitating for “magical science” or for what (centuries ago) was called Christian Alchemy. Neither group promotes the idea of making Gold from Lead - - through prayers and distillation!

Physician, heal thyself!! :wink:

We have found agreement on many issues within this topic, and you will see that my post above disagrees with the pseudoscience label that has been attached to evolutionary creationism. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick with harsh categorizations of atheists. Just sayin’.

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Biological evolution is the current paradigm of biology and thus is scientific.

The workings of God are based on revelation and found in scripture and this is theology.

Whenever we decide that science reveals the workings of God, we are either making science a theological project, or indulging in what loosely may be termed pseudoscience.

Christianity has always supported the sciences as a way to better understand the creation, which points to its creator as revealed in scripture. Science cannot provide theological knowledge as understood by orthodoxy.

@T_aquaticus

I will be less quick with harsh categorizations if the editors of the “pseudo-science” publication can comprehend a correction when offered!

Certainly BioLogos is no where near promoting “fuzzy science” of any sort… and once this is comprehended, it will be clear that neither does Peaceful Science.

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It’s absolutely appropriate to criticize the editors in this case – but your generalization simply said “atheistic pro-evolutionists” without any caveats. I’m glad that neither atheists nor theists are all the same, but that means we should be more specific in our critiques to avoid insulting people who haven’t done anything wrong.

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