The Cost of Skepticism?

by 1

Los Angeles Times: “Christine Maggiore and the Price of Skepticism” “Questioning theories is usually a healthy pursuit”—except when life and death are concerned, or when the “theory” in question is evolution.

The recent death of HIV/AIDS skeptic Christine Maggiore was fodder for a Los Angeles Times editorial last weekend on when one should question the prevailing scientific consensus, and then took a swipe at our supposedly unscientific Creation Museum.
WHEN IT COMES TO HISTORY, DOCUMENTS TAKE PRECEDENT OVER EXPERIMENTS—AND EVIDENCE IS INTERPRETED THROUGH WHAT ONE ALREADY BELIEVES.
Maggiore, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1992, founded an organization that disputed the connection between HIV and AIDS. Maggiore and her followers refused to take the recommended anti-HIV medication; Maggiore's breastfed daughter died at the age of three for what the coroner determined were AIDS-related causes though Maggiore refused to believe it. The Times opines:
Her challenge, however, continues, as Maggiore’s argument—that scientific consensus, no matter how established, remains subject to objection—runs through debates with profound public policy implications. Does smoking cause cancer? Do human activities contribute to climate change? . . . In some instances, these debates are interesting but not terribly consequential. But sometimes they are of staggering significance.
Okay, we agree so far; challenging the laws of physics would matter a lot more for someone walking a tightrope than for someone sitting in theoretical physics class. The Times also declares:
Still, science is a discipline of questions, and rarely is a fact established so firmly that it will silence all critics. At the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, the exhibit guides visitors “to the dawn of time”—just 6,000 years ago. That makes for some startling conclusions, not the least of which is that dinosaurs and humans were created by God on the sixth day and lived side by side. Call it the Flintstones theory.
The Times kindly abstains from outright ridicule, for they’re asking a serious question: “How . . . to judge when a theory becomes fact when it slips beyond legitimate objection?” The editors conclude that “[t]hose who contest [the preponderance of] evidence must demonstrate the plausibility of alternatives and produce evidence to support them.” We agree, actually, though something else that the Times fails to recognize matters a great deal: what type of science we’re talking about. When it comes to operations science, valid experiments will yield objective support for one hypothesis or another. One scientist declares that water always boils at 100˚C; another contends that atmospheric pressure plays a role in determining what temperature boils water. The two scientists could then conduct a carefully controlled experiment to validate one hypothesis and invalidate the other; this experiment could be repeated and tweaked for other hypotheses. The same goes for questions about, e.g., whether the earth revolves around the sun or the role of viruses in causing disease (though only when scientists can create a valid, controlled experiment). Determining what happened in the past “scientifically” is a whole ’another story. What objective experiment can prove that dinosaurs didn’t live alongside mankind—without first making untestable assumptions about, e.g., the fossil record? That’s why, when it comes to history, documents take precedence over experiments—and evidence is interpreted through what one already believes.



1
1

Author



Leave a comment


Also in Blog

Fasting for Beginners
Fasting for Beginners

by Jesus Centric 5 Comments

Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.

Read More

How Come the Bible Doesn’t Condemn Slavery?
How Come the Bible Doesn’t Condemn Slavery?

by Jesus Centric 4 Comments

Since slavery is today considered a great moral evil, some wonder why the Bible doesn’t categorically condemn the practice. Critics even insist that the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) condones, if not promotes, slavery. Some “new atheists” proclaim that the Bible can’t serve as a basis for morality because it fails to condemn the primitive and barbaric practices of humanity’s past—especially slavery! 

Read More

Worship in a Empty Church
Worship in a Empty Church

by Jesus Centric 1297 Comments

Did you know that almost six out of ten teens leave the church at some point? Nearly 60% of high school students who grow up going to church will close the doors to a Christian life. And usually, they don't come back (survey by the Barna Group). "Because of people breaking the laws and sin being everywhere, the love in the hearts of many people will become cold." Matthew 24:12

Read More