Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Bifurcation of the mind

  1. Feb 17, 2007 #1

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Let's keep this about the subject. This isn't about religion, but about people believing in one thing (creationism) and pursuing an advanced scientific degree. Some say it is for carrying the "legitimate" degree in order to give credibility to creationism and shouldn't be allowed if they really don't believe in what they are doing.

    They do excellent work on the secular side, but admit they don't believe in it.

    Although this guy teaches at a Jerry Falwell University, he claims not to push students either way. He may be an exception.

    What are your thought's on this? I think it's rather interesting. People gathering useful data although they don't believe in it.

    Believing Scripture but Playing by Science’s Rules

    His subject was the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. The work is “impeccable,” said David E. Fastovsky, a paleontologist and professor of geosciences at the university who was Dr. Ross’s dissertation adviser. “He was working within a strictly scientific framework, a conventional scientific framework.”

    But Dr. Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist. He is a “young earth creationist” — he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/science/12geologist.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2007 #2

    siddharth

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I think this is very strange.

    I wonder how he's able to hold such a belief based only on faith, while understanding the scientific evidence which contradicts that belief.
     
  4. Feb 17, 2007 #3
    He just doesn't mind a little inconsistency. There can be more than one type of "belief", you know.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  5. Feb 17, 2007 #4

    Curious3141

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Well, microbiologists are supposed to be staunch believers in evolution, seeing as we observe its effects on a daily basis. Yet most of my senior microbiology colleagues are Christian creationists. They justify the apparent contradiction by claiming they believe in "microevolution" (evolution within a species taxon) but not "macroevolution" (speciation by means of evolutionary processes).
     
  6. Feb 17, 2007 #5

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't know how someone can believe simultaneously that something they are studying is millions of years old, having occurred on a planet they believe is only 10,000 years old. It seems at least a little dishonesty must be involved, either in what he is willing to admit to the public about his beliefs, or in what he is trying to force himself to believe.

    I can better understand what Curious describes, where someone attempts to rationalize the conflict away.
     
  7. Feb 18, 2007 #6

    verty

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I don't think science requires belief. One can produce theories that serve to explain things without any pretense at ultimate truth. It's quite consistent (but unfounded) to suppose that the world popped into existence but had a nature that appears to have existed for longer.
     
  8. Feb 18, 2007 #7

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I see no problem here. One key aspect of science that one's personal opinion doesn't matter. Should String theorists be banned from teaching LQG? Also, this whole notion smacks of fear of skepticism.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
  9. Feb 18, 2007 #8
    How can you believe that the earth is less than 10 000 years and at the same time present evidence that says fossils that have substantial evidence to be much older? It is just a step away from the so called "creationism science".

    I agree that personal opinion on most things does not matter to science. A scientist is not less respected if he is a liberal than if he was a social democrat.

    However, would you like a have a politician in charge of infrastructure and faced with a decision to ban or penalize a casino if he has a massive amount of share in the business? There is a risk that his opinion on making money from the shares affects his decision on the issue.

    Would you accept an active child molester working as a social worker? A known serial rapist working as a judge in rape cases or having jury duty? Would you approve of a outspoken and practicing Islamic Jihad terrorist working with US government nuclear confinement and disposal?

    I do agree that scientists that has some kind of religious beliefs are not less credible generally, but you cannot escape the underlying conflict; fundamental creationism cannot successfully be united with science and scientific methodology.

    Science is a gradual improvement of the body of knowledge, incorporating experimental data. Creationism is about turning untested beliefs based upon scriptures to absolute truth, caring little about the world around us.
     
  10. Feb 18, 2007 #9

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I agree that such minds dwell in inconsistency, and like Siddharth mentioned, I find it strange, or perhaps odd.

    It troubles me that people 'believe' something is truthful even in the face of evidence which completely contradicts the truth. The power of denial is very strong it seems. I wonder if there is some underlying fear in such minds, and that fear overwhelms the rational being.
     
  11. Feb 18, 2007 #10

    verty

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I think (perhaps naively) that when scientists start to believe in science they can become dogmatic and resistant to change. These world-view arguments are philosophical rather than scientific and should be seen as a separate issue.

    Scientific theories serve to explain things far more precisely and predictably than any other methodology but yes each is 'just a theory'. Of course, scientific theories are justifiably better than any other theory out there for the purpose of explanation but I don't think we should become dogmatic in defense of a scientific world view.

    If a scientific world view is better than some other, that is a separate philosophical issue.
     
  12. Feb 18, 2007 #11

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Since the only "scientific world view" I know of says that we need to study nature if we are to understand nature, I really don't see how it ever is going to be wrong.
     
  13. Feb 18, 2007 #12

    Kurdt

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Of all the people out there scientists perhaps have the greatest right to be dogmatic about certain things, yet most are not.
     
  14. Feb 18, 2007 #13

    verty

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I mean dogmatism for theories like phlogiston theory or caloric theory, or like that in other disciplines for behaviourism or cognitivism. Theories like these come and go but the method remains.
     
  15. Feb 18, 2007 #14

    verty

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Let me elucidate. It's like the scientific method transcends world views but by "scientific world view" I mean any such current world view as put forward by scientists, like that dark matter exists or whatever.
     
  16. Feb 18, 2007 #15

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Darwin once said "a wrong theory is an inconvenience, a wrong fact is a disaster".

    Most practising scientists live by that rule, I believe.

    The main problem with the creationist "scientist" is his basic intellectual dishonesty. Whether or not God exists is an issue to be decided FACTUALLY (since it by itself is no model for predictions that can be verified/falsified), and hence, he should not, when being true to scientific principles, accord that belief any weight unless he has ascertained the statement's truth by empirical means.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
  17. Feb 18, 2007 #16
    I can see a problem with believing something that is contradicted by experience.

    I don't see any problem with believing something that is at odds with the beliefs of all the other scientists in the world.

    I can see a problem with someone who can't distinguish between these two.
     
  18. Feb 18, 2007 #17
    verty, science and scientist does not try to conserve some kind of status quo. As a matter of fact, science is open to everything, provided that it follows scientific methodology. Even quite pathetic phrases such as "You will be hit by a car during the next minute" is a scientific hypothesis, because experiments can be done to disprove it.

    'A scientist is happy, not in resting on his attainments but in the steady acquisition of fresh knowledge.' - Max Planck

    You need also separate the terms 'scientific theory' form just any another linguistic meaning of 'theory'. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses."

    A theory in the general, unscientific sense, means nothing more than barely an education guess.

    Science does not ignore evolution just because it is a theory; there are investigations into scientific theories, because most of science is scientific theories.
     
  19. Feb 18, 2007 #18

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't think that's the problem at all. When I was still an undergrad, I knew a geology grad student who was a Y.E.C. as well, and asked her how she could reconcile studying a subject where dating systems had shown things were millions of years old with her belief that the Earth was only a few thousands of years old. In that case, she explained that her reasons were that she wanted to understand enough to interpret the evidence for herself, and seemed at least somewhat open to changing her view if the evidence satisfied her. Beyond that, she also was doing her dissertation work in an area of geology that did not require knowing or accepting evidence on the age of geological formations (as an example, those drilling for oil don't really care how old the rock is that they're drilling through, but they still need to know its composition and how many layers and how deep it is and if there are any faults in it in order to select the right location and equipment for the drilling). I wish I had kept in touch with her to find out if the evidence was ever enough to sway her beliefs, or if she ever even looked at it, or just avoided anything about dating of geological formations.

    Now, the one possibility here is that the article is misrepresenting just what he wrote in his dissertation when it says, "His subject was the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago."

    For example, if what he really wrote was something like: "...monosaurs, reported to have vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era..." and then cited the relevant studies, then he would be writing in a scholarly manner without claiming he agreed with those studies.

    But, if his work was dependent on dating of the materials he was working with, then I don't know how he could be satisfied his methods were valid while not believing the results, or without that validation of the method convincing him that his previously held beliefs were incorrect.
     
  20. Feb 18, 2007 #19

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    But that's not what is described in the OP. This is about you believing something that is at odds with what you (not all other scientists) believe.
     
  21. Feb 18, 2007 #20
    I can see a problem with believing something at odds with what you believe.

    But I disagree with you about what the OP said. The OP says its:

    "about people believing in one thing (creationism) and pursuing an advanced scientific degree."

    Where is the part about believing something at odds with what you believe?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Bifurcation of the mind
  1. Mind (Replies: 9)

  2. Mind-2-mind in uk . (Replies: 11)

  3. The mind (Replies: 4)

  4. Fractured mind (Replies: 5)

Loading...