Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obeying Rules of the Scientific Courtroom

Dramatic courtroom scenes portrayed in literature, on television, or in movies are frequently laced with the judge’s exclamation “Objection sustained” or “Objection overruled” in response to questioning techniques by counsel. In such instances, the judge applies rules governing courtroom procedural law. Notwithstanding the desirability of rules governing the admissibility of evidence in a courtroom, there may be cases where sustainment or denial of evidence could sway a jury and affect their ability to render a correct verdict. The judge may not be impartial, or the jury may be biased. In these cases application of such procedural rules may be counterproductive in the quest for justice. Ideologically driven judicial appointments by ruling political parties could result in loading the courtroom bench with a particular judicial viewpoint.

The case for evolution has been tried in the courtroom of professional biological scientists. The judgment that this particular professional community is biased toward a naturalistic worldview is beyond dispute. Under these procedural rules verdicts of science may NOT include the intervention of any supernatural being, namely, God. Beyond that, we must consider hundreds of statements from evolutionary biologists. They procedurally eliminate the supernatural in determining “causal adequacy” for the origin of life forms and apparent design features in living things. In addition they boldly utter metaphysical and ontological statements on the nature of reality and existence. Stated more explicitly, they do not believe in the existence of God.

We may recall verdicts in civil courts of law which were obviously in error due to jury bias, judicial misconduct, procedural errors, or concealment of relevant evidence. Sometimes such verdicts are later reversed. The best examples are the many publicized rape or murder convictions overturned by DNA evidence not accessible at the time of trial. Sometimes convictions are overturned after many years of incarceration of innocent parties. How ironic that our current knowledge of complex, intricate, coded DNA information (three billion bits of digitally coded information) in every body cell supplies evidence that an intelligent mind operated in the past and still operates. We are coming ever closer to overturning the verdict that evolution is true and factual.

My concern mounts that believers in theistic evolution have joined forces with the naturalistic worldview at the core of evolutionary theory. This theory, supported primarily by inference and consensus of scientists motivated by staunch commitment to philosophical naturalism, is plagued by many mysteries. The sudden appearance of new forms in the geological record, the almost complete absence of transitional forms in the fossil record, and the absence of persuasive evidence for the efficacy of the theorized process of natural selection are only a few of those enigmas. Many other questions give us cause to be skeptical of evolutionary claims. Questions on origins should be approached and researched with great reverence for the incredible wonders we observe in functioning living things. Evolution as an elegant theory was certainly worth investigating in the years since Darwin proposed it. In the last half-century, however, the evidence for sudden creation and intelligent design has become stronger. Perhaps in our lifetime the verdict for evolution will be overturned.