The New Definition of Science - Island of Sanity

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The New Definition of Science


I've noticed that a lot of people come to this article searching for "definition of science". I'm guessing most of those are looking for a straight-forward definition for a school project or some such. If that's what you want, try my article Definition of Science. This article is about a muddled view of science, not the real thing.

As I write this, the Ohio State Board of Education is developing new standards for science education in this state. The latest draft includes a statement that "scientific knowledge is limited to natural explanations for natural phenomenon", and the newspapers reported that this was included to "prevent discussion of ideas ... contrary to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection".

(A nit-picking technical quibble: The theory of natural selection was formulated by Edward Blyth, not Charles Darwin. Blyth described it as God's method for weeding week or deformed members out of a species. But I presume what was meant was "Darwinian or Neo-darwinian theories of evolution involving natural selection".)

In other words, the evolutionists insist that school children must be taught that evolution is a proven fact, no competing theory or evidence may even be discussed, because science deals only with "natural explanations". Even if we accept this definition, the conclusion doesn't follow. It is absurd to say that because this field of study only deals with explanations of a certain sort, that therefore any explanations that do not fit into this category are false. That's like a detective saying that because criminology only deals with crimes, that therefore we cannot even consider the possibility that the suspect might be innocent of any crime.

Science used to be defined as "knowledge gained through repeatable experimentation and observation", with no biases about where that study must lead. Evolutionists now want to redefine it to mean, "theories that agree with my pre-conceived ideas about philosophy and religion". You cannot find objective truth in a controversy simply by declaring that you have defined the question in a way that only the answer that you like will be considered acceptable. In real life, you might have the power to to force people to repeat the words you command, but this doesn't make it true.

Why are they so afraid to let children even hear opposing theories? Why this insistence on absolute censorship of any competing views?

The fact that the evolutionists are basing their argument on technicalities and re-definitions sounds to me like they are, in effect, conceding that they have lost the argument over the actual scientific evidence.

© 2002 by Jay Johansen


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