DR. ROSS, I HAVE A QUESTION

Interesting article about a scientist and creationist. New York Times: Believing Scripture But Playing By Science’s Rules

But Dr. Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist. He is a “young earth creationist” — he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.

For him, Dr. Ross said, the methods and theories of paleontology are one “paradigm” for studying the past, and Scripture is another. In the paleontological paradigm, he said, the dates in his dissertation are entirely appropriate. The fact that as a young earth creationist he has a different view just means, he said, “that I am separating the different paradigms.”

He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent. “People hold all sorts of opinions different from the department in which they graduate,” he said. “What’s that to anybody else?”

If I were a colleague of Dr. Ross, I wouldn’t have a problem with his disconnect. I might drill down with him to learn how he reconciles his perspectivism with his sense that two opposing truth claims can be both opposed and both true at the same time. It is potentially worrisome that he might move completely over to the darkside and deploy his scientific knowledge deceptively.

What’s really interesting here is how this report contextualizes arguments made from the creationist side about how “methodological naturalism” lurks underneath all science to the extent that it is required to be the reflexive, meaningful schematic behind all scientific work. This is obviously poppycock as Dr. Ross proves once and for all. He’s obviously not a methodological naturalist when he’s got his young earth boots on.

From the other side, also concurrently disproved is the idea that all scientific work at a deeper level secures reflexive, concrete ‘philosophical’ claims about the nature of science. A scientist does not have to believe in, or understand, the philosophy of science before he or she can do solid scientific research. In fact, one could have the foundational concepts completely wrong and still practice a sound methodology. Both are connected of course but they aren’t required to be reflexively connected, i.e. connected in the sensibility of the scientist.

I reckon Dr. Ross would unashamedly try to rationalize the reconciliation of his belief paradigm and his research paradigm, or, he might simply say that there is no possibly commensurate reconciliation possible. Depending, his answer might find him a very bad philosopher but this doesn’t make his research bad. Research as a paradigm isn’t contingent on any conditioned belief other than in the efficacy of a strict scientific regime.

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