Interpretation or valid conclusion?

Over at A Different God (http://adifferentgod.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/a-response-to-a-creationist-part-3/) Jesse has written a decent four part series answering a creationist.

On part three, poster Ryan responds to me by saying that the evolutionary conclusions that scientists have come to are merely a different interpretation of the evidence.

Rather than dump a long reply on Jesse’s blog I felt it would be more appropriate to make it into a blog posting of its own because it accurately describes how I once thought.

Creationists will argue that their viewpoint is a valid interpretation of the scientific evidence that is gathered from the world around us. The trouble with this viewpoint is that it presupposes the correctness of creationism and then seeks to validate it by seeking confirmation in specific pieces of scientific evidence. Items that conflict creationism are disregarded and explained away.

The big issue that is consistently ignored is that the evidence of evolution is wide ranging and bountiful. Its not just in the visibly similar anatomy of animals, its not just in the skeletal structure too. As scientific advances continued over the years we have seen DNA evidence join the fray and confirm many of the ideas that scientists already had, as well as throw up a few surprises and clarifications.

What’s more, there is nothing in the anatomical or genetic evidence that cannot be explained through evolutionary theory, which means that there is nothing that a creationist can point and say it is evidence for God and not evolution.

Which is where we get onto the subject of interpretation.

The creationist will insist that all the evidence we see could be the result of how God did it. Whilst that is true, its not actually evidence in and of itself. Defaulting to the ‘God did it’ position is not starting from a neutral position, its starting from an already formed conclusion and choosing to read the facts in a way that confirms the starting point. What’s more, this is not a scientific argument because it does not offer anything that joins the evidence together.

To be scientific, a theory has to stitch the observed evidence together in a way that explains the detail. The theory also has to be testable; not necessarily there and then, but the concept and idea has be such that a test is possible. Claiming God does not meet that criteria and so interpreting scientific evidence as confirming creationism is not valid. The pieces simply don’t fit.

Science does offer a valid conclusion.

When a scientific theory is proposed it undergoes very rigorous tests. One thing that creationists often fail to grasp is that proving something wrong in science is a very good thing. I remember having some very real issues with this one. The idea that something in science could be wrong created all sorts of problems and typically meant to me that science was unreliable and the whole field could be systematically undermined by a single wrong idea. It took me a long time to grasp the concept that a wrong result is still a scientific result and evidence for what would be right.

The theory of evolution is very well tested and over the years it has been broken down into so many small pieces, that any one of them could be overturned with the right evidence. Yet none has.

I can’t remember exactly what I used to believe on the subject of how so many scientists had managed to come to the conclusion that evolution is true. I am pretty sure it was along the lines of; they were misguided or interpreted wrong. However, if that was truly the case, then someone would have shown that to be the case by now. It is only ignorance of the scientific method that enables someone to still believe what I believed.

The conclusions that scientists have come to when viewing the evidence of life around has been subject to much debate and testing. If there was any chance at all that there were holes in the theory of evolution, then they would most certainly have been found and exposed. Any scientist that can genuinely show that evolution is false would be pretty much guaranteed a Nobel Prize, and more. Many scientists have examined various facets of evolution and subjected them to stringent test and scrutiny.

This is something that is easily forgotten by the creationist. I know I did.