Scientific Subjectivity


The importance of initial assumptions in the formulation of a scientific theory or technique has been commented on. It has also been said that true science is based upon repeatable observations through which theories or techniques are tested. However, so much of what is purported as science today is not of this nature. Initial assumptions are not proven, neither are the theories testable. This is due to the fact that the ‘sciences’ of origins are dealing with historical events spanning many millennia of time. For example, scientists cannot observe a reptile to bird type evolutionary process as it is believed to take tens of millions of years to occur.

It would not be fair to label scientists as distorters of truth or propose that they are on a mission to undermine faith in God (although there are some very vocal pseudo scientists who do just that). On the contrary, of all groups, scientists are compelled to be more objective than most. They are bound by their observations and their results are testable. However, when it comes to the theory of origins, a scientist’s predisposition to one or another paradigm comes into play. Out of the laboratory, a scientist is still a human being. And it was outside the laboratory that the theory of evolution has been given birth and nurtured.

Evolutionary thinking has taken the world by storm. It has captured the minds and imaginations of people far removed from the scientific community. Evolution has atheistic overtones in the minds of the vast majority of people. This could in some way account for its popularity as Christians believe that in his fallen state, mankind is in rebellion against God. Evolution is portrayed as fact in every secular institution, magazine, textbook, or museum display. It is within this environment that a budding scientist formulates his or her world-view.

Here is an example of how partiality to a particular mindset skews scientific conclusions:

The constant rates of radioactive decay, are used to ‘date’ rocks. Geochronologists say that these rates have been carefully monitored for the past 80 to 90 years, and no significant variations have yet been measured. These readings, taken in our present environment, are extrapolated backwards by 4.5 billion years (the proposed age of the earth). Extrapolation over that many orders of magnitude would normally be considered heretical in the field of mathematics, yet it is allowed in this case.

The speed of light, on the other hand, has been measured for the past 250 years and exhibits an exponential decline to an asymptotic value of 299,792.458 km/sec. Despite crude methodologies, if the speed of light had always been constant, a plot of the findings should look more like attenuated white noise (static) than an exponential curve. The exponential trace, however, is quite clear. Should the speed of light have decayed, it would require many paradigm shifts as to how we view the universe. Many scientists are unaware of the debate (it isn’t taught). Many others choose to ignore such findings.

Originally, very nearly all the great scientists were Christians: Faraday, Pascal and Newton to name but a few. Today, many more than you would imagine still are. In fact, an increasing number of reputable scientists are questioning evolutionary theory despite the world’s continuing acceptance of it. Of all ‘Christian scientists’, many are physicists. Perhaps it has something to do with their dealings with the immutable laws of the universe which maintain the harmonious order we require for survival. More recently, however, scientists in the field of biochemistry are finding the claims of atheistic evolution more difficult to believe. With modern breakthroughs in their field, the complexity of life at the molecular level is astounding scientists afresh. Could pure chance ever have been responsible for such awesome and intricate design? Intuition (see Romans 1:20) continues to be a source of scepticism for all people.

Here are a few quotable quotes:

…And scientists, contrary to the myth that they themselves publicly promulgate, are emotional human beings who carry a generous dose of subjectivity with them into the supposedly "objective search for truth".

In fact, a completely unbiased, unprejudiced exploration of nature is a methodological impossibility, as a biologist and philosopher of science Sir Peter Medawar is fond of pointing out. Without a set of expectations to act as a guide, such a search would be a chaotic and largely unprofitable enterprise. Moreover, the way in which scientists typically report their findings, in formal papers submitted to learned journals, is, he says, "notorious for misrepresenting the process of thought that led to whatever discoveries they describe." Preconceptions are rarely acknowledged, because this after all would be "unscientific". …

The anonymous aphorism "I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it" is a continuing truth in science. …1

… NO DOUBT, the theory of evolution will continue to play the singular role in the life of our secular culture that it has always played. The theory is unique among scientific instruments in being cherished not for what it contains, but for what it lacks. There are in Darwin’s scheme no biotic laws, no Bauplan as in German natural philosophy, no èlan vital, no divine guidance or transcendental forces. The theory functions simply as a description of matter in one of its modes, and living creatures are said to be something that the gods of laws indifferently sanction and allow…2

  1. Lewin, Roger, 1987. Bones of contention: Controversies in the search for human origins, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, England, pp 18-19.
  2. Berlinski, David, 1996. The deniable Darwin, Commentary, 101(6):3.

Becky Conolly

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