Page 107 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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appears to be employing such a tactic when he argues that neo-Darwinian theory is
illegitimate in virtue of being historical science. In short, he claims that historical science
cannot provide successful explanations and that evolutionary theory is a historical science.
The upshot is that evolutionary theory does not provide successful explanations.
A fortiori,
if
creationism explains anything at all, it offers better explanations than neo-Darwinian theory
and is thereby the preferred
scientific
theory.
The problem for Ham is that his argumentative strategy forces him to accept scientific
anti-realism. Consequently, he is either forced to deny that scientific theories are a guide to
the world
or
to accept some version of constructivism whereby truth is a human construction.
Either consequence is antithetical to the creationist’s primary goal. If scientific theories are
not a guide to truth, then demonstrating that creationism is the best scientific theory is a
pyrrhic victory. Creationism fails to give us any reason to embrace theism. Alternatively, if
truth is a human construct then “[G-d is] a product of the human imagination, real only in the
minds of those who believe …” (Johnson, 1995) Either way, the creationist loses.
But Is It Science?
We are now better positioned to answer the question: “Is creationism science?” Earlier I
suggested that the distinction between science and non-science (or pseudoscience) should be
understood not in terms of the content of the hypotheses, but in terms of the evidential
standards applied to these hypotheses. (It is important to note that there is a vociferous debate
over how best to distinguish between science and pseudoscience, also known as the
“demarcation problem.” While there are no uncontroversial views regarding this question, I
hope everything I say in what follows is relatively non-contentious. The approach I take
towards the demarcation problem is almost vacuous: the distinction between science and
pseudoscience is that science relies on the methods of the sciences whereas pseudoscience
does not. Until one attempts to provide an account of the “methods of the sciences,” this
approach to the demarcation problem is largely uninformative—though hopefully just
informative enough to serve my ends.) As it stands, the vast preponderance of scientific
evidence suggests that neo-Darwinian theory is the best available theory. Consequently,
continued belief in creationism is scientifically untenable. Understood in this context, Ham’s
attempted dismissal of historical science is an inspired move. If only observational science
gets to count as
genuine
science, then there is little reason to prefer neo-Darwinian theory to
creationism. If Ham can successfully denigrate historical science, he can (at least somewhat)
plausibly claim that creationism continues to be a viable scientific hypothesis.
While there is a certain brilliance in Ham’s strategy, as before, it nets him the wrong
results. He aims to show that creationism is a viable scientific hypothesis using
a priori
philosophical argumentation. If the distinction between science and non-science is
determined by the evidential considerations that one brings to bear on hypotheses, Ham
cannot successfully argue that creationism is a viable scientific hypothesis by changing the
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