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Operational vs Origins science

Many anticreationists choose not to differentiate between origins science and operational science. For example, evolutionist Richard Dawkins asking the rhetorical question 'How do we know that the earth is four and a half billion years old and that it orbits the sun that nourishes it?' The latter phrase, 'it [the earth] orbits the sun that nourishes it', is a statement of operational science. It is an inference from directly observed scientific data, taken according to Scientific method. It is operational science that is carried out in laboratories and in field work. Its results are reproducible and verifiable.

Actually, it cannot be shown by empiracle data that the earth actually moves with respect to the universe, please rephrase this paragraph.

-- RichardTTalk 16:58, 20 May 2007 (EDT)

Title Change

I think this article could do well under the article title, Science, because:

  • it describes science's historical context and the branches of science
  • we have no science article yet;
  • single-word titles are more elegent;
  • a more general title would allow for expansion; Ungtss 16:26, 26 December 2005 (GMT)

Agreed. I have altered the title to Science.Mr. Ashcraft

Related topics

Note that there are 2 other pages related to this topic where a more expanded look a the history of science and science vs. religion can be discussed. --Chris Ashcraft 17:39, 26 December 2005 (GMT)

Operational and Origins Science

I thought it was worth adding a section entitled 'Operational and Origins Science', as this illustrates an important area of attack on creationism, and how such an attack can be undermined. I hope this is OK. --Paul Taylor 10:26, 09 February 2006 (GMT)

Well done, Paul: I fleshed out our definitions of "origins" and "operational" a bit, but left the rest intact. Ungtss 12:58, 9 February 2006 (GMT)

Biological science

I stongly suggest to change the content of 'biological sciences' in 'the branches of science'. Studying the physical properties of matter is not straightforward at all (first paragraph): see any recent article on fundamental particles. Moreover, by what means is biology 'more descriptive' than other sciences (second paragraph)? Considering currently published articles in biology, hardly any is exclusively (nor largely) descriptive. nooijer

Adding sources

I'm going to begin adding sources for this article. It seems very important since it is such a foundational article. --Cameron E. 06:38, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Some of the wording throughout the article is awkward. I'm going rewrite sentences that could be more concise. Please correct me if I unnecessarily change the meaning of one of the sections.

--Cameron E. 07:04, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Question about defining science

Should we define science with two meanings? I think it would be more accurate to say that science is a means of studying the world and it produces a body of knowledge; not that science is also a body of knowledge. Any thoughts? --Cameron E. 10:32, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

That sounds reasonable. By the way: when you finish editing this article, give me a heads-up on this page. When you're done, I'll have to re-translate the article into French.--TemlakosTalk 16:15, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm confused about the purpose of this article. Is the purpose to give an encyclopedic overview of science, or to explain how science has been wielded against Christianity in recent years? The article jumps around in this respect. Perhaps we could give an overview of science and then have one section discussing how science has been used against religion. Both topics would be interesting, but the article should have a primary focus.

--Cameron E. 01:16, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. The article definitely ought to give an overview of what science is supposed to be about, with references to scientific method, Occam's razor, and the principle of falsifiability. Then have a section to show that what science is, and what anticreationists often say that it is, are not the same.
The worst problem is simply this: the anti-creationists have done a proper job of redefining "science" as "the study of the material world and how material processes act materially." This although the word science comes from the Latin verb meaning "to know" and not from any word that stands exclusively for matter.--TemlakosTalk 01:50, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
In that case, I'm going to continue editing this article; primarily focusing on what science is with one section discussing the redefining of science, metaphysical naturalism, etc.

--Cameron E. 04:01, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Exact and inexact science

Is such a section necessary? This particular section highlights the natural sciences as exact and the social sciences as inexact. Why not delete this section and add the information to the descriptions of the natural sciences and social sciences? Also, I can't find any credible sources that separate the social and natural sciences as inexact and exact. Is anyone better informed about this than I am? --Cameron E. 05:31, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Does anyone object to me removing this section? I think the section is inaccurate and doesn't belong in the article.

--Cameron E. 11:56, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

If you believe that the section is incongruous, then you should create a new page and move that content to that page.
Now as to its accuracy: The commonplace distinction between the "exact" and "inexact" sciences exists for a reason. You might not find that reason in a source that you can believe, but people think in those terms anyway, and that kind of thing is best faced head-on rather than ignored completely. People regard the social sciences as inexact because they suppose that men of good will can come up with different answers to the questions that these sciences address.
Let me illustrate with an instructive example: If I build an Atwood machine, and hang two different masses on its ropes, and you ask me how long the lighter mass will take to rise to the top level, then I can work that out exactly. All I need are the distance between the levels, the difference between the two masses, and the surface gravity value (g) of the earth, which is {{#show:Earth|?Surface gravity}}. And no one can argue with me on that, unless they want to say that I weighed the masses wrong, or that the value of g is more or less than I think it is. Once I have the facts, no one can argue the principle. Anyone trying it will just sound absurd.
But ask me what needs to happen in order to jam eight or nine or ten million people onto a tiny island and a few miles inshore from the rivers that flow past it without causing an explosion, and I will tell you one thing, and Mike Bloomberg will tell you another, and Rudy Giuliani would have told you a third thing, and I'm sure that Ed Koch would have said a fourth, and I know positively that David Dinkins would have said something else that I'm not sure how far afield it would have been. And I would not have one single community of appeal that could say that User:Temlakos on CreationWiki is right and all those other men were wrong. Why not? Because sociology and political science are two of the "inexact" sciences.
So here is my operational definition of an inexact science: any science that seeks to provide answers, but can't because nobody can agree on them.
Now if you want to tell us that "there is no such thing as an inexact science," then I need to know what you mean. Do you mean that "if it is inexact, then it is not science, and therefore political 'science' is miscalled because it is not science at all, and neither are any of the 'social studies' that we slogged through in school"? Or do you mean that "yes, social science can be exact, because the universe is what it is, not what certain persons-who-shall-remain-nameless wish it to be"? The latter statement, BTW, is a paraphrase of the late Robert A. Heinlein, who put that sentence into the mouth of one of his characters, an Officer Candidate School instructor in "History and Moral Philosophy."
Now I can't tell what that means, and I'm not sure that you could give an answer that even all creationists could agree on.
What I would suggest is that you move the section titled "Exact and inexact science" to a separate article (and let me know where you move it, because I have to do the same thing on the French side to keep up with the changes), and then write an original Essay to set forth and explain your objection to the term "inexact science." We have a namespace for that specific purpose, so title your submission, say, "Essay:There Is No Such Thing as an Inexact Science" and explain why.
And BTW: I wouldn't advise your asking me what I would say to those eight millions of people. You probably wouldn't like my answer.--TemlakosTalk 14:06, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
I appreciate your lengthy response. Let me just summarize my concerns with the distinction in question. If professional scientists do not make such a distinction, why is there a need to do so here? You say that people create the exact/inexact distinction because they "suppose that men of good will can come up with different answers to the questions that these sciences address." Isn't this true of the natural sciences as well? In fact, isn't that why Creation Wiki exists?
Your Atwood Machine example is understood. But the problem with it, I think, is that you simply took a principle that is well-founded which would be foolish to argue with to make your point. We could both highlight many examples in the natural sciences where people disagree as to the validity of a principle-origins, for example. Furthermore, we can reach conclusions in the social sciences which would be absurd to argue with. Historically speaking, it would be absurd to argue that Jesus didn't exists. We have the historical method and we have plenty of data to view through the historical method to demonstrate why such a position is absurd. Essentially, the reason you provided to separate the social sciences as inexact applies equally to the natural sciences.
Your definition of inexact science doesn't accurately describe the social sciences, in my opinion. History, Economics, Geography, and Anthropology, for example, all provide some principles that people can agree on. For example, everyone agrees that supply and demand is a valid economic principle; it can be demonstrated through empirical research. Similarly, we can demonstrate the existence of certain historical figures through testable, falsifiable means.
I don't intend to argue that there is no such thing as an inexact science, but the social sciences don't fit that classification. The methodology of the social scientist doesn't become inexact simply because he or she studies a complex society or individual.

--Cameron E. 00:24, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Cameron, my friend, you'd be surprised at just how absurd some people can be. Do you really think it absurd that people would argue that Jesus did not exist? I've come across those who have argued precisely that. Now you and I can quarrel about their good will, or lack of it, but there they are, making that argument, and not a judge in the land would think of committing them to the Menninger or some such place.

As to economics: Cameron, if economic principles were universally agreed, then I put it to you that no one would dare suggest, as have certain American politicians who shall remain nameless, that capitalism should be done away with, or that there exists a certain class of people called "the rich" who can always be relied upon as an endless source of revenue for the government. For that matter, a phenomenon like the Soviet Union would never have been.

In short, the social sciences are inherently controversial, and those controversies are why elections almost never return the more meritorious candidate to office. Such has been the case going all the way back to Pericles, strategos of Athens.

Your point as to why CreationWiki exists is well taken. Sadly, origins science comes very, very close to being "inexact" on account of the sheer number, shrillness, and bitterness of its public controversies.

In any event, the public has a percept of the social sciences as inherently inexact, and if you do not agree, then you still have to address that percept, even if only to tell the public that they are wrong.

I think I can recognize a category of "inexact science": any field whose fundamental principles and most of whose theories are unfalsifiable. But we must also recognize that what the layman means by the phrase "inexact science" probably means "any field that is not value-free." Value in this sense is not a mathematical quantity, but an ethical quality. Economics has been called "non-value-free" because someone's moral values determine the recommendations that he will make for public policy in economics.

This sort of quarrel simply does not come up in operational science. How fast an Atwood machine will move does not depend on how fast anyone wants it to move. Whether a rocket ship will go up, and how fast, depends on how much fuel it has on board, the specific impulse of that fuel, and the payload, and not on any legislator's mood either on launch day or on any other day.

That, in short, is how the public thinks. And once again: if you take issue with the public, then you need to lay out what an inexact science actually is, as opposed to what a lot of people think it is. This is not to say that we accept the public's definition as correct. On the contrary, we exist to set the record straight. But before we can set the record straight, we need to acknowledge that, in the public mind, the record is twisted.

Given the amount of space we've both devoted to this question, I'd suggest creating a separate article for this definition, and an essay for your considered opinion.--TemlakosTalk 01:18, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

I'll move that section to it's own page for the time being. Once the science article is finished, I'll move on to that essay. Good dialogue, Temlakos.

--Cameron E. 02:17, 24 December 2008 (UTC)