In the media, and in life, I often hear the claims that the scientific institutions refuse to allow evidence that contradicts the standing theories about our universe. The argument is that contradictory views are simply not allowed. What ideas? In these conversations the ideas that I'm presented with are about the fine tuning of the universe, criticisms to evolution, like irreducible complexity, or the origin of the universe. There are PhD's that have written works on these topics and scientific journals won't publish them. Case closed, right? These papers challenged what the current scientific understand is about our origins, about evolution, and about whether or not there is an intelligence that could have created our universe. If these institutions refuse to publish these papers how is that not a bias that rejects evidence for the religious?
I have a knee jerk reaction when I hear someone say that scientists refuse to question their assumptions. Granted, I'm not a scientist. But, I am fascinated by science, and the scientists that interact with the public seem to share my fascination. So, when I hear that there's evidence that challenges the current thinking about a topic, that doesn't sound like something that a scientist would ignore. That would be something to get excited about. When experiments don't turn out how we expect them, that's when we realize there's something else to explore. Scientists love to explore new things, not ignore them.
Maybe it's a harsh criticism, but I feel there's a bit of projecting from the person making this claim. I always seem to hear this claim from someone who doesn't like criticism of their beliefs. And, when their beliefs are challenged, they seem to be more than willing to throw out evidence to hold on to their beliefs. Why wouldn't scientists be doing the same thing? But, is that really the case?
Science is based on evidence. We collect data, we evaluate evidence, and we develop testable hypotheses from this evidence. From there we test our hypotheses to either confirm or deny their validity. If these hypotheses are validated, then we submit the experiment to be peer reviewed and confirmed by other scientists. After the peer review and several validating experiments, we can have confidence that the hypotheses are correct, which allows us to add that to our scientific understand. We then begin the process all over again.
In conversation, I've had it presented to me that the way we should go about understanding our universe is first to make initial assumptions. From these initial assumptions we look for evidence that would validate these conclusions. If we can find validating evidence then we can accept that these initial assumptions are true.
These seem to be two radically different approaches. Is one better than another? Are they on equal footing? Looking at an invalid hypothesis or assumption, how well do these methods hold up? Using the scientific approach, an invalid hypothesis would not have supporting evidence, any testable scenario would demonstrate the hypothesis to be invalid. The hypothesis would be dropped and the scientist would move on to something else. Our second approach wouldn't find evidence, either. Would that invalidate the assumption? How would you know when you've looked for enough evidence to invalidate your assumption? Wouldn't you keep looking until you found some evidence to validate your assumption? Wouldn't a false scenario simply force you into a continual loop to keep looking for more evidence, essentially never invalidating the assumption? Only a true scenario would cause someone to stop looking for evidence because the assumption would be validated. This, to me, opens up the conversation to confirmation bias. Starting from the assumption and working backwards to validate that assumption would have the problem of ignoring contradictory evidence. Remember we're only examining evidence that validates our assumptions. So, basically, these assumptions are non-falsifiable. Given these two methods the scientific method does seem superior.
This seems to be the conclusion of the scientific community. We use this method because it works. This is why the scientific method is such a valuable tool to understand the universe. I'm unaware of a better method. The criticism of the religious papers that have been rejected has nothing to do with the fact that they're religious in origin. The problem is the methodology. If the PhD's that submitted these papers were to design testable hypotheses instead of writing non-falsifiable papers that only look for evidence that validate primary assumptions, there would be no problem with submitting them.
With these arguments there's also a bit of playing the victim. These people submitting these papers have accepted these assumptions without evidence and they want us to accept them, too. They're upset that they can't get published in scientific journals and they cry foul. If they want us to take them seriously than they will have to show us the demonstrable evidence. Until then, there's no point in crying foul for scientists disregarding poor methodology. Correct your methods, and we'll be more than happy to examine your evidence.