Can the age of the earth be a litmus test for what "counts" as science?


#1

No, my issue is whether that question can be determined by an opinion on the age of the earth.

Legitimate science - old earth stance?
Illegitimate science - young earth stance?

Note that I’m not arguing that ID is science; my point is this is NOT the criterion.


Intelligent Design makes more sense than BioLogos
(Jon) #2

Yes it can.

Yes. Legitimate science leads to the conclusion that the earth is billions of years old. Legitimate science does not lead to the conclusion that the earth is very young.

The age of the earth is a very useful criterion for determining whether or not someone is doing science. If they say “I am doing this thing called ID, which is totally science”, but then say “The age of the earth is an open question and I don’t have an opinion on it, but I am willing to accept that figures between 6,000 years old and billions of years old may all be true, we just don’t know”, then they are not doing science.


#3

Cosmology and origins is a small part of scientific inquiry.

The danger of generalizations.


(Chris Falter) #4

While mathematics has empirical applications, many mathematicians and scientists would not consider it to be a form of science. Here’s one, for example.

At the moment, I’m having a hard time thinking of a scientific discipline that doesn’t in some way have a connection to the age of the earth:

  • Astronomy: Star formation theories indicate that the sun, and its system of planets, are billions of years old.
  • Biology: The diversification of life into its current forms from previous forms required vast amounts of time.
  • Chemistry: Decay rates of various elements point to an ancient earth.
  • Physics: Its sub-branch, geophysics, points to an ancient earth in a variety of ways.

Therefore, the declaration that one is unsure of the age of the earth indicates that the speaker does not support the conclusions of astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics.

And if you do not support the conclusions of astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics, in what sense can you be a part of the effort to increase scientific knowledge?


(Jon) #5

There are two problems with this. Aside from the issue raised by Chris (mathematics isn’t strictly a science), you’ve completely changed the subject. The point I made was this.

Legitimate science leads to the conclusion that the earth is billions of years old. Legitimate science does not lead to the conclusion that the earth is very young.

I did not say “In order to be legitimate science, a discipline must provide evidence that the earth is old”, or “In order to be a legitimate science, a discipline must lead logically to the conclusion that the earth is old”. I also said “The age of the earth is a very useful criterion for determining whether or not someone is doing science”, and explained exactly how this works. So you’re not addressing what I wrote.

So what? As Chris has pointed out, determining the age of the earth requires a host of scientific disciplines. In addition, it also requires mathematics, because you can’t even carry out those other scientific disciplines without mathematics.


#6

And again, someone could be doing biology, curing cancer or whatever, and believe the earth is young.

But because of this opinion, he’s “not doing science.”

Ridiculous. Laughable.

Keep in mind that this started with the generalization:

“Until ID can at least come to an agreement on the age of the earth, they are not doing real science.”

Why? Why agreement? Why unanimity? What if they agree that the earth is young and not old?

And what does it mean for “ID to come to an agreement”? It’s a set of ideas. I can only assume it’s supposed mean “until ID scientists” come to an agreement? But…are they even scientists until they come to this agreement? Or are they “scientists that are not really doing science” because of this essential fundamental agreement?

Also, which conclusions (of astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics) must be assented to? “All” of them? Where is the list of essential conclusions? What happens when scientific orthodoxy changes? When aether is rejected? Or epicycles? Or…string theory?

This is getting worse than the expectations of some denominations!

Check this definition:

“The strict definition of scientific research is performing a methodical study in order to prove a hypothesis or answer a specific question. Finding a definitive answer is the central goal of any experimental process. Research must be systematic and follow a series of steps and a rigid standard protocol.” https://explorable.com/definition-of-research

Hmmm…nothing in there about assenting to specific scientific orthodoxy.

To mandate that a particular brand (school? group?) of scientists have to agree on the age of the earth (not even hold a correct opinion–just agree!) is like saying a Christian can’t do theology unless he or she is a Calvinist (or Orthodox or Arminian or…fill in the blank).

EDIT: Why do I care? Because if we’re going to resort to ad hominem generalizations, we’re no better than…well…“those other guys” (I say, at risk of an ad hominem generalization).


(George Brooks) #7

@fmiddel

Dear sir, this is a quibble.

You can have astrologers practicing science.
But that doesn’t make Astrology a science. Follow?

Science is about lawful operation of nature. Miraculous events are events where there is a suspension of the lawful operation of nature.

So how would you ever be able to get Science to study non-scientific events?


(Benjamin Kirk) #8

Certainly not when it comes to the age of the earth. But I noticed that you slipped the verb “believe” in there. How come?

And is there any person in the world curing cancer who believes that the earth is young?

Any creationist biotech companies? They certainly would approach vaccines differently…


(George Brooks) #9

If your “science” has to ignore five buckets of evidence for an Old Earth … in order to pronounce itself as a Science … the evidence and logic would suggest that it is a fictionalized science…


#10

The real problem is that ID people don’t want to address the age of the earth.


#11

If an astrologer can practice science, then so can an IDer.

Of course, I agree that doesn’t make ID science. I’ve already specified that I wasn’t claiming that ID was science.


(George Brooks) #12

@fmiddel

Do you dispute for the sheer exercise?

Of course an astrologer can practice science. And of course, ID is as much a science as astrology is.

We are all in agreement. ID is no science.


#13

I dispute because of the danger of generalizations. They’re always bad. Generally speaking.


(George Brooks) #14

You’ll never ever catch me making sweeping generalities… that’s for sure …

And that quote was from me, not from Benkirk.


(Jon) #15

No, that is not the argument being made. You’ve been told this several times.

Because while claiming to be scientifically studying the origin of the universe and life in it, and while claiming to be studying cosmology in the process, they completely ignore, all the scientific evidence for the origin of the universe and the earth, to the extent that they even claim that the matter of the age of the universe and the age of the earth are open questions.

You can’t claim to be doing science while studying cosmology, if you’re not using the scientific method and you’re ignoring the scientific evidence which actually provides specific information on the specific topic you claim to be studying. Just like you can’t claim to be doing cosmological science while actually doing astrology, you can’t claim to be doing cosmological science if you’re deliberately ignoring the clear evidence for the age and origin of the universe and the earth, and claiming the earth might be as young as 6,000 years old.

Well yes, but I also meant that ID itself, in order to be a science, must be a set of ideas which actually includes established scientific facts, such as the age of the universe and the earth.

If they are qualified scientists, of course they are scientists. But when they are doing ID, they are scientists who are not doing science. You have already agreed with this.

Those which have been established through the process of the scientific method, which have persistently resisted rigorous attempts at falsification, and which have led to accurate predictions. Like the age of the universe and the age of the earth.

That’s the “strict definition of scientific research”, and I note the article goes on to describe a lot more than the snippet you quoted. Of course this doesn’t actually describe or define science, or even the scientific method. It’s just describing how scientific research takes place.

Again you’re misrepresenting me. I have stated specifically that they must hold the correct view of the age of the earth. I have pointed out that we know they’re not doing science precisely because, while claiming to study the origins of the universe and the earth they ignore the established facts concerning the age of the universe and the earth.

This is not analogous to saying you can’t do theology unless you hold a certain theological view, because you have already been told (several times), that it is possible for IDers to “do science” while holding non-scientific views. A YEC chemist can “do chemistry” while believing the earth is only 6,000 years old, if the actual chemistry they are doing follows the scientific method and is predicated on established facts of science, rather than the fantasy of YEC.

You do not understand what ad hominem means. It’s an attempt to invalidate and argument by attacking an individual’s character; “X is a bad person, therefore X’s argument is wrong”. Saying that when scientists who support ID are not doing science when they claim to be studying cosmology in the process, they completely ignore, all the scientific evidence for the origin of the universe and the earth, to the extent that they even claim that the matter of the age of the universe and the age of the earth are open questions, is not ad hominem.

Saying that ID is not science is not ad hominem. You have already agreed that ID is not science, so there really is no argument here.


#16

Sorry…must have missed that.


(Chris Falter) #17

I assume the irony is intended.


(Chris Falter) #18

I think this clarification is very helpful, Jonathan. A scientist doing cancer research might believe the moon is made of green cheese, but that belief does not impinge in any way on the study of how cancer develops.

In scientific research on origins, however, the age of the earth is a critical question. You can’t study the origin and development of life without a solid understanding of paleontology, for example. And you can’t study paleontology without understanding the age of the rock formations in which fossils are found. Therefore, you can’t do origins research in a scientific way if you are rejecting the findings of the scientific community with regard to the age of the earth. Q.E.D.

Well done, sir!


(Hugh Farey) #19

[quote=“Jonathan_Burke, post:2, topic:35581”]
If they say “I am doing this thing called ID, which is totally science”, but then say “The age of the earth is an open question and I don’t have an opinion on it, but I am willing to accept that figures between 6,000 years old and billions of years old may all be true, we just don’t know”, then they are not doing science.
[/quote]I think this statement is entirely true. But are there, in fact, any proponents of ID who are both researching the age of the universe and actually holding this view? Can someone provide a link?


(Jon) #20

They’re very likely not researching the age of the universe, because they say it doesn’t matter. But I pointed out that they are most certainly researching the origin of the universe and the earth. If you’re claiming to do that scientifically while saying the age of the universe and the age of the earth is an open question and the earth could be as young as 6,000 years old, you’re not doing science.