In Kopplin’s Words

ImageIn an age where many teens are concerned with paltry things, I am inspired by young people like Zack Kopplin and his incredible courage to articulate and defend his worldview.  His passionate advocacy and political/social engagement is unmatched in today’s culture by most adults, let alone teens.  Yet, I want to be clear that Zack is defending a non-scientific worldview and not “scientific inquiry” as the popular article from io9.com suggests.

When issues of creation and evolution come up, it is easy to slip into the trap of assuming that evolution is science and creation is non-science.  In reality, both are non-science.  Evolution is a non-scientific story of the origin of the universe that seeks to explain the how and why of observable facts.  As we test things, we rightly recognize that things evolve in particular ways.  But, explaining ‘why they evolve that way’ and ‘how those things exist in the first place’ are metaphysical (necessarily non-scientific) questions.

As Oxford Scholar C.S. Lewis explains “Science works by experiments.  It watches how things behave.  Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, ‘I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 AM on January 15th and saw so-and-so,’ or ‘I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so.’  Do not think that I am saying anything against science:  I am only saying what its job is.  And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science – and a very useful and necessary job it is too.  But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes – something of a different kind – this is not a scientific question.  If there is ‘something behind’, then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way.”

We need to make a distinction here:  ‘Evolution-Theory of Origins’ and ‘The Fact that Things Evolve’.  As Kopplin himself says, ‘science is observable, testable, falsifiable…’  Yet, we cannot observe the ‘evolutionary-theory of origins’ because there was no human there to observe it, test it, or falsify it.    We can observe, test and falsify ‘the fact that things evolve.’  No question there.  The fact that we cannot observe, test or falsify ‘Evolution-Theory of Origins’ does not mean that it is not true, but simply that it is not science.  Yet, let’s be clear that Creationism (more generally, Intelligent Design) does the same thing based on the same observations.  Intelligent design theory borrows scientific observations to explain these scientific findings every bit as much as Evolution-Theory of Origins.  But, because Evolution has been sanctified (I intentionally use a religious word here) by supposed authorities, we are supposed to prefer it.  However, there are incredibly brilliant scientists who adopt Intelligent Design to explain the scientific findings (by way of example, click here to see physics professor at OU, Dr. Strauss talking about ‘Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God‘).  Yet, both Evolution-Theory of Origins and Intelligent Design Theory are non-scientific ways of explaining observable, testable, falsifiable (scientific) findings.

So, in Kopplin’s own words, I apply the same principle to the non-scientific Evolution that HE applied to creationism:

“[Evolution] is not science, and shouldn’t be in a public school science class — it’s that simple.”

“Often though, [Evolutionists] do not, or are unwilling, to recognize this.”

“Science is observable, naturalistic, testable, falsifiable, and expandable — everything that [Evolutionism] is is not.” 

“[Evolution] confuses students about the nature of science.”

“If students don’t understand the scientific method, and are taught that [Evolution] is science, they will not be prepared to do work in genuine fields…”

I couldn’t agree more, Zack.  Thanks for making my point.  What lies underneath the assumptions of Kopplin (and many in this culture) is commitment to a worldview called “scientism” (which is different than science). Scientism (also known as naturalism) assumes that science is the only way we can know things.  To make such a statement is not only self-contradicting (because you cannot prove that through science), but it is a metaphysical or philosophical claim (therefore non-scientific).  Does that belong in the schools?

We all know that there is more to know than mere science (even though science is hugely important to our knowledge).  If you don’t believe that to be true, then why waste your time in any other classroom in high school, college, or beyond.  Why should any of us work in any other field other than science?  Why have experts in any other field of knowledge such as history, mathematics, philosophy,medicine, theology, or sociology?  It’s not that metaphysical (non-scientific) claims should be thrown out.  That’s impossible.  We desperately need knowledge in other areas (more on that another day) and scientism doesn’t account for what we know as humans.

The metaphysical/philosophical Evolution-Theory of Origins is being pushed on students as science when it is a belief system.  That should concern us because it is (in Kopplin’s words about creationism) “violating the rights of every other American citizen who doesn’t subscribe to those beliefs. So it would be stomping on the rights of Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Buddhists, Humanists, Muslims, Hindus, and every other religious group in the country.”  I am not advocating that we stop teaching evolution (or “creationism” which I would prefer we use“Intelligent Design”), but merely applying Kopplin’s principles to his own position.

3 thoughts on “In Kopplin’s Words

  1. Thank you for making this point. Our culture does seem to be suffering from the idea that scientism is science.
    I do hope that this idea fades soon, as it is corrosive of one’s ability to do real philosophy, theology, and–yes–real science.

  2. Jim, If I am understanding you correctly, I guess this is one area where I would have to disagree. A lot of advancements in science have come about through theories that seemed to be wild extrapolations of existing knowledge, with little means of testing the theory. I just happen to think that using evolution to explain the origin of life is a scientific theory that will never be verified, since the actual origin of life is through God.

  3. No disagreement here, Tony. I agree that it is good and valuable to have such theories. My concern, though, is that we view them as science when they are actually metaphysics. I think metaphysics is a perfectly valid way of gaining knowledge, but (as sited in the article) many assume that science is the only way we can know things which is patently false.

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