Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thinking Outside the Circle

Yesterday's USA Today ran an article about the debate concerning the identification and reclassification of several bodies orbiting our solar system. Some of these, smaller than our own Moon, have previously been labeled as asteroids or planetoids. But, with a recent redefinition of what it means to be a planet, some of these may soon achieve an asteroidal promotion to planet status (while poor Pluto risks being demoted). The new definition includes any object:

*that orbits a star
*that has been pulled into a ball shape by its own gravity
*and that is not a satellite of another planet
While this is an interesting scientific debate for astronomers, what caught my eye was the philosophical assumptions the article exposed.

Though they seem pretty straightforward to me, one astronomer expressed "shock" at the newly proposed definitions of a planet. Why would this be so controversial?

Hugh Ross (among others) has many times identified the lack of cross-disciplinary information sharing that goes on within the scientific community as a whole. It is because of this that experts in one field of science may be completely unaware of discoveries that are going on in other fields. Scientists concentrating all their efforts in their own area of expertise can develop tunnel vision and thereby tacitly reinforce paradigmatic biases of which they are completely unaware, while at the same time shielding themselves from cross-disciplinary data that may have implications in their own field of knowledge. The same goes within scientific communities that sometimes seem to be unaware that they are, in essence saying, "We never thought about it that way, so it can't be that way." Groupthink limits data interpretation by demanding that results remain within preset limits.

Hard-core Darwinist biologists are guilty of this when it comes to the theories being proposed by the Intelligent Design (ID) movement. The rigor of ID's mathematical and information theory critique of materialist neo-Darwinism is discarded without analysis simply because its implications are unacceptable to Darwinism's naturalistic presuppositions.

Perhaps the Darwinist powers-that-be should heed the advice of seventh grade science teacher Michael Smith of Wilmington, Delaware, who, commenting on the planet controversy, admitted that "We probably don't do a good enough job as teachers to teach science as something that changes ... It's a fantastic opportunity to talk about all the new discoveries."

Amen, Michael.

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