Secular researchers agree: worldviews control science!

Published: 20 June 2019 (GMT+10)



Evolutionists often claim that science is objective and unbiased, while religion (and by extension, creationism) is biased and dogmatic. True science, they claim, is not about ideology. These skeptics downplay the significance of worldviews, and how they control the interpretation of scientific data.

In response to this naïve view of science, creationist organizations such as CMI have, for many years now, been emphasizing the overwhelming power of worldviews to control and guide scientists’ interpretations—especially when dealing with the unobservable past. Evidence does not speak for itself. It must always be interpreted in light of an a priori worldview. This emphasis has been generally so limited to creationists that many have come to associate it with them exclusively, as if only creationists believe or understand that worldviews control science (rather than science controlling worldviews).

In an encouraging turn of events, a secular peer-reviewed paper published in eLIFE, written by a team from the NMBU Centre for Applied Philosophy of Science at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, backs up this understanding of the importance of worldviews. Their article is entitled, “Philosophy of Biology: Philosophical bias is the one bias that science cannot avoid.”1

In this article, the authors make some very salient observations that few others in the secular community seem to like to openly discuss. For example, in the abstract they write,

Scientists seek to eliminate all forms of bias from their research. However, all scientists also make assumptions of a non-empirical nature about topics such as causality, determinism and reductionism when conducting research. Here, we argue that since these ‘philosophical biases’ cannot be avoided, they need to be debated critically by scientists and philosophers of science.

This is quite true! If only more philosophers of science would openly admit this very fundamental problem facing science as a whole, we might see a world with much greater academic freedom to challenge established paradigms (like evolution). Another important quote:

Basic philosophical assumptions count as biases because they skew the development of hypotheses, the design of experiments, the evaluation of evidence, and the interpretation of results in specific directions.

Yes, and this skewing effect is exactly what we see in the mainstream scientific community as they systematically reject any and all mention of the idea of design in life, or of the existence of our Creator. These ideas are excluded by definition in a dogmatic fashion, and this is nothing other than a philosophical bias.

We saw that basic assumptions are fundamental premises for science. They represent the lens through which we see new information. So even when these assumptions are explicated and challenged, all we can do is replace them with alternative biases.

This language, even using the term ‘lens’ to describe the function of these ‘basic assumptions’ (worldviews), directly mirrors language used in articles on our site such as Gary Bates’ Soil, trees and their fruit. This amounts to a powerful vindication of what CMI and other creation organizations have been proclaiming for years, coming from a secular ‘mainstream’ source.

The purpose of this paper is primarily to engage scientists in more critical thinking and debate, and that is something I heartily encourage. The authors mention that applying criticism to our basic philosophical biases “stops science from becoming a dogmatic enterprise.” Unfortunately, the authors missed a great opportunity to mention the greatest philosophically-driven dogma of them all in biology: evolution. As we know from past experience2, though, if they had dared to bring up this sacred cow, it is doubtful they would have escaped unscathed (assuming the article would have been published at all). For the Christian, this general unwillingness to entertain the idea of God by the elites and ‘rulers of this world’ should come as no surprise, as it is predicted by Scripture in many places:

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18–19)

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7–8)

The book of Revelation gives us a clue to this also, saying that Satan is “the deceiver of the whole world” in Revelation 12:9. Rejecting our Creator in the world of science is only one facet of this great worldwide deception, but when we see it happening we should not lose heart but be encouraged, as even this is further evidence of the truth of Scripture.

References and notes

  1. Andersen, F., Anjum, R., and Rocca, E., Philosophy of Biology: Philosophical bias is the one bias that science cannot avoid, eLife 2019;8:e44929, 13 March 2019, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.44929. Return to text.
  2. Examples abound of instances of backlash against scientists who would question evolution or bring up design in a peer-reviewed academic setting. For only one such example, see my article Scientific paper credits ‘the Creator’ for human hand design. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Rich H.
Why dont you invite one secular scientist at a time to come meet you guys and look at all your wonderful articles and break bread and visit with them? Personal evangelism and education far outweigh mailings and the internet.
Paul Price
You're preaching to the choir! I wrote Shatter the Echo Chamber. Maybe check out that article if you've got the time. I'll see what I can do about inviting a secular scientist over here. It's easier said than done to get individuals like that to actually engage with and listen to a creation viewpoint. The only scientists I know personally are creation scientists! :)
Robert O.
Fully agree. Except I would prefer to see both terms, 'philosophical bias' and 'worldview' stricken out and replaced with their true and substantial meaning: 'religion' or 'religious system.' At which point creationists and secularists would stand on equal footing, instead of the unequal footing upon which we are currently standing; in which creationism is viewed as a religious system having no place in the world of scientific thought.
Gian Carlo G.
It's impossible to ignore their research. I mean, it's been impossible since then, but given the climate today, it's inevitable. But people will always pretend they can. I agree with the article and the cited paper as well.
Not only is their paradigm / world view reflected in their philosophy, but also the emphasis they place on their assumptions of mechanism they propose to get to the present. Creationist geomorphologist have long cited examples of valleys that had to form much differently than the streams that are in them today. But, even we still often defer to the forming mechanism of flowing water as the PRIMARY producer in today’s recognized land forms, without critically evaluating the actual evidence. We also need to constantly challenge our assumptions of mechanism. God said He would send a DELUGE on the earth, and that He would never again destroy the earth with a DELUGE (“deluge” does not hermeneutically = water).
Paul Price
Dear Mr. B.,

Thank you for your comment, but I must admit this is one of the strangest suggestions I have yet encountered. It seems you are implying that God could have flooded the earth with something other than water in Noah's day. This is something that should really go without saying, no disrespect intended, but the scriptural evidence is indeed overwhelming that it was water God used to flood the Earth. What else could it have even been?

Genesis 7:6 reads, "Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth." Peter in 2 Peter 3 corroborates by saying that God created the world out of water and through water, and that by means of these the world was destroyed. We need not entertain any fanciful ideas that God used something other than water to flood the Earth.
Duane C.
Philosophy was once regarded as "Queen" of the sciences. In what appears to be a move to allow secular biases to reign, efforts were made to demote philosophy to the "handmaiden" of science. Such an arrangement is equivalent to the tail wagging the dog instead of vice versa. It is allowed only because it permits secular theories to thrive, including the reigning paradigm of unguided, undirected evolution (or chance) everywhere.(Everywhere as in the universe, biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)
Eric P.
Your argument is indeed common in the philosophy of science. For those who are interested, a key work that is also very accessible and stimulating is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. First published 60 years ago, it has had a huge and continuing impact on how we understand the status of the truths of science.
Graham P.
Marvelous article.

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