The Meaning of Words Matters
Dr. Mark C. Biedebach, Professor emeritus of biological sciences at California State University Long Beach and member of the AITSE Consortium, taught neurophysiology, human physiology, and science and modern culture for over 30 years. With a PhD in biophysics and a master’s degree in electrical engineering, he should know what the scientific method is and what it can do.
In the book he is currently writing, Dr. Biedebach says, “How does the scientific method actually work? Scientists often ponder a question or problem associated with an incomplete scientific explanation. They plan new experiments or observations relevant to the question…If their empirical results support an existing theory, then more confidence is placed in it. In other words, it is not weakened or falsified. But if the existing theory is weakened by negative results, then it should be changed or replaced…the results of science are always tentative. The scientific method never ends with absolute truth.”
But, according to the National Academy of Sciences, “…scientists also use the term “fact” to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact. Because the evidence supporting it is so strong, scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions.”
The apparent conflict between Dr. Biedebach and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) comes from loose terminology. That is, the word “evolution” has a lot of meanings and the NAS is conflating several of them. There is no doubt that the evidence supporting change within a species over time (one definition of the word “evolution”) is so strong that there is no point in continuing to test if it happens–although there is definitely reason to test why and how. But, if they are asserting that we should doggedly cling to the idea of universal common descent (another definition of the word “evolution”) or the notion that new information can emerge from a random unguided process (part of a further definition), despite the scientific evidence that suggests the contrary, then the NAS has left the realm of science and entered the realm of dogma. We look forward to the publication of Dr. Beidebach’s new book on definitions of evolution, “Evolution is a Weasel Word.”
P.S. Those of you who are into “bunk detection,” note NAS’s claim that “scientists no longer question…” What it looks like they mean is that if you do question, you are by definition not a scientist. We wonder what Dr. Beidebach would have to say about that!