Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Scientific Method

[A castle scene near the end of the middle ages. A terrified rabble gathers within the confines of the castle:

A peasant voice from within the rabble: Aaahhh!! The barbarians are at the gates!!! They are ignorant and don't wash. They will burst down the castle walls and swallow us! They will plunge us back into a new dark age! They will steal our children!! We will be consumed by the madness! We will all perish in the night!! Aaaaaaaaagh!!!

Suddenly, Copernicus, the great voice of reason, leaps up from the rabble onto some stairs where he can be seen by one and all:

Copernicus: Citizens! Hear me, I beg you. Heed these words of wisdom. The enemy is indeed at the gate. It is the Theory of Evolution they want to destroy. If we fight them, we will surely be overrun. They will show neither mercy nor reason. My counsel to you is thus: Screw the Theory of Evolution. Let us throw it out the gate to defend itself. Then perhaps the huns and zombies will eat it and leave the rest of us alone.

Another voice from the rabble: Yeah! Copernicus speaks well!! Screw the Theory of Evolution. Let's save ourselves!!...]

Is it possible too much is being made of the theory of evolution being under attack? Are we a bit too panicky? Are we a bit too protective?

And is it the theory of evolution that we need to worry about anyway? Or is it the scientific method?

Should we be worried that the flaws in the theory of evolution may be showing?
Should we be worried that some people might be tempted to believe in all manner of nonsense because they found out there are gaps in the theory of evolution?

Or do we really just lack confidence in our ability to teach the theory of the scientific method?

My view? Science isn't this theory or that theory. It's not the truths that we think we have found. It's not the falsehoods that we think we have exposed. It's the scientific method itself.

We shouldn't worry too much about the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution can stand by itself. If not, the theory of evolution should fall. If the barbarians come to destroy the theory of evolution, let them try. Push the theory of evolution out the front gates. It's supposed to be our champion. Let it do what champions do.

It's the castle that matters. The castle is the Theory of the Scientific Method. And the Theory of the Scientific Method did not become strong by hiding its flaws. It was not made strong by backing down from the challenges of the barbarians. It was made strong because of those challenges. If the barbarians could knock down a wall, a better one had to be built. If they killed our champion, we had to get a better champion.

For centuries, the barbarians have done more to build the castle than the people within.

What do you think?


Blogger Kelly said...

Excellent metaphor. If I post on ID again tomorrow (as I expect to) I will definitely link it.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Copernicus Now said...

Thanks, Kelly.

I checked out your post. I think you are onto something with the epistemology idea.

9:03 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

You are right of course. Religion talk, making everyone a little crazy.

thots & ideas & beliefs need to be challenged, tho. & doesn't history show it's the religious ones that usally get half-cocked & go on a rampage.

Perhaps, it's not too irrational to hold them back?

7:58 AM  

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