Page 120 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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Chapter 6
A Pragmatic Constructivist Take on the Case
Michael Lissack
“The dating of Bishop Ussher just doesn’t comport with anything that is found in
science and you can’t just totally deny the geological formations that are out there
…Anyone who is in the oil business knows he’s drilling down, 2 miles, 3 miles
underground, you’re coming into all these layers that were laid down by the
dinosaurs,” said Robertson. “And we have skeletons of dinosaurs that go back like 65
million years. And to say that it all came around 6 thousand years ago is nonsense. I
think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.” (Robertson, 2012)
“Attempts to persuade people of both evolutionary scientific views and larger
materialistic evolutionary beliefs, not just by the force of the evidence, but by rhetoric
and emotion, and especially by leaving out important contrary arguments and
evidence” (Luskin, 2014)
“Promote critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion
of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins
of life, global warming, and human cloning.” (Introduction to the Louisiana Science
Education Act of 2008)
With all due respect to the previous chapter, on its face it seems that the scientific realists
have it easy in attempting to “explain” the creationist/evolutionist debate: evolution as we
understand it is a product of science. To quote van Fraassen (1980): “Science aims to give us,
in its theories, a literally true story of what the world is like; and acceptance of a scientific
theory involves the belief that it is true. This is the correct statement of scientific realism.” By
contrast, creationism as we understand it is a product of thousands of years of religious belief
and is not science. In the battle between science and not science, science wins. Now, if it
were only that simple.
Explanations function in a context of assumptions and goals -- both of which have
some dependence on the questioner’s belief system. As Cupchik (2001) puts it:
Explanation is an answer to an explanation-seeking question in a context in
which some person lacks some information about a certain fact (or phenomenon).
Humans have epistemic interests in understanding things according to their nature,
and explanations are what give us understanding of the questions which are raised as
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