Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Confirmation Bias on Display

'The Evolution of Religion' is an example of why Darwinism is not science. This paragraph from the linked article will suffice. The remainder is intellectual masterbation. The pargraph:

"As a follow-up of sorts to my genetics of altruism article, The New York Times Magazine had a fascinating, thought-provoking piece on the evolutionary advantages of belief. Scientists have been studying religion from an evolutionary perspective, trying to figure out why religion is universal when it is seemingly maladaptive to survival. Usually, believing in nonexistent things and expending energy on nonproductive pursuits will make it harder to survive, not easier."

The first clue that investigators are off track is the observation that something is "seemingly maladaptive to survival." Of course, considering an appearance as being actually what it seems to be is unthinkable when the observation runs counter to standard evolutionary paradigms. When mainstreamers run into this type of roadblock imaginations go into gear and confirmation bias replaces objectivity.

The second indicator of poor science is the unscientific metaphysical basis to the conclusion. A belief that God is non-existent previously had been wisely consigned to non-scientific atheist or religious debate forums. Incorporation of this belief into mainstream scientific investigations is most unfortunate in that it a) assumes a scientifically undemonstrable premise and b) does so to further some unscientific metaphysical objectives on the part of enthusiasts for such studies. The assumption of God as an illusion could be worked into a tentative premise as long as those utilizing the premise were able to specify both how it would be falsifed and how its opposite assumption could be validated. Even then there would be a need to show how all this is essential to the derivation of a testable hypothesis.

Stephen Jay Gould's "Non-Overlapping Magisterium" was not without its problems but it did have value in illustrating the utility of boundaries for both religious and scientific claims. If science is based on natural methodology then how is it able to assess supernatural claims? One is entitled to disbelieve supernatural claims but if the disbelief is said to be empirically grounded then where is the beef? A proclivity to assume an illusory nature to religion and base scientific claims on this threatens to the integrity of science.

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