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Empiricism, Genesis and "The Science Guy"

A creationist pastor in Australia, Ken Ham, claims that The Science Guy, Bill Nye, does not "understand science correctly." Ham describes Bible reading as empirical and an observational science. He believes the story of Adam and Eve is valid empirical information. In return, Nye argues that creation science is not useful because it makes no successful predictions about nature or the universe, and he finds fault with the claim derived from Scripture that the earth is only something like ten thousand years old.

On the issue of what is science, some philosophers write of an ability to falsify. No subject is of scientific concern, they claim, if it can't be falsified. That all swans are white is a proposition that can be falsified by finding a swan that is black, gray, blue or whatever. The proposition that "God is Great," they would claim, is not a subject for science because it cannot be falsified empirically, and by empirical they are referring to more than just seeing words in a holy book. The falsification principle is imperfect. What if all swans really were all white? And maybe the proposition that sugar is sweet and can be said to be other than falsifiable. But there is the verification principle, again beyond just seeing words in a holy book. We can stick our finger in sugar as often as we want and verify that it is sweet.

In comparing the science of Bill Nye with the claim of Pastor Ham of science as words from a single source, a holy book, some of us go with breadth – what might be described as a coherence theory of truth. We go with a broad body of interconnected and corroborating empirical evidence. To us the story of Adam and Eve, in the Book of Genesis, appears absurd because it defies the larger picture of what we know about biology (Eve created from Adam's rib), genetic and biological evolution and what we see of earth's creatures having to struggle to survive. We find no evidence outside of Genesis that Jehovah's displeasure with Adam had anything to do with humanity "by the sweat of their brow" having to gather the energy sources needed to survive. Going with the science of Bill Nye and science as it is commonly understood by members of the science community, we dismiss Adam and Eve as a story in Genesis and literature rather than science.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.