Heidelcast 65: Science!

We’re talking a break from the series on nomism and antinomianism to talk about science. Not long ago there was a debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham the Creationist Guy that garnered a considerable amount of attention. Why did people take this debate seriously? Why did anti-theists and theists cheer on their heroes? Both have bachelor’s degrees in science. Nye studied mechanical engineering and Ham studied environmental biology. Are they scientists? Certainly both are entrepreneurs and entertainers. Are they scientists? What is science and why do scientists have such authority in (late) modernity?

Here’s episode 66:

Ps. John Oliver’s ill-informed rant is a great example of the pop-cultural bullying use of the religio-mythical authority (priestly lab coats) of science and the myth of 97% consensus regarding climate change/global warming. WARNING: In the video clip Oliver uses an ancient but offensive Anglo-Saxon verb. Don’t watch the clip if you might be offended by vulgarity. In the clip he surrounds himself with people in lab coats to illustrate the alleged consensus and to suggest that anyone who dissents is ignorant.

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  1. Labcoats, and nameplates, even degrees do not make a scientist. Sort of like the beard doesn’t make the philosopher, I suppose.

    Adler made the distinction between a philosopher and a scientist. A philosopher is one who reasons as any man can do (armchair or in the chair of a college department). A scientist is a person who has access to a special environment under controlled circumstances to test or experiment with things.

  2. – “Are they scientists?”

    Even as a Christian, I’ve enjoyed the Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” that has been featured on Fox the last couple of Sunday’s. I don’t agree with 70% of of what comes out of his mouth, but the illustrations and historical references have been stunning. Neil has many fans out there, using the rhetoric of “evolutionist” and “anti-theist” to support arguments that their isn’t a God.

    The larger question I’ve been asking myself, however, why is a supposed astrophysicist speaking into the matters of evoluntionary biology? True scientist will rarely become generalist in the fields of science, rather they stick to a certain study. At one point, he may have been an actual researcher. Now, he and Bill Nye seem more to be journalists. Journalism and Science are far different; the general public seems to be very confused on this.

  3. First, please keep using the Allen Iverson “Practice?” line in the intro.

    Second, I listened to this particular podcast because I have tried to follow, somewhat closely, the faith/science, religion/science, etc. conundrum for several years. Bill Nye is seen as an authority because he’s entertaining and funny and on TV (Neil Postman, deliver us!). Ken Ham, in some ways, is the same way, but he does have the objective of wanting people to seeing people come to Christ. But, no, neither can be called a scientist.

    A couple of years ago I read a book written in the 1980s called “Science Held Hostage: What’s Wrong With Creation Science and Evolutionism.” I really found it helpful, even if it was dated, in navigating some of the murky waters of the faith/science dialogue. Bill Nye could fall under what the authors called the “religious theater” category. This quote about Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” should suffice as an example:

    “The content of Cosmos had considerable educational value, but in genre this television production must be classified as theater–theater with a strongly religious agenda, a subtle but nonetheless effective form of ‘televangelism.'” (p. 161)

    Just think of the opening scene of Episode 1 to see an example, it is presented as a worshipful experience. Nye’s show is not like that, but it is it still presented as theater. There’s nothing wrong with teaching science in that manner, but being given some sort of authority because of that theater is the problem.

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