The Baconian Method of Science
1. The three basic questions that have faced mankind since the beginning of time are: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Philosophers have attempted to provide answers based upon human wisdom but these answers vary from one philosopher to the next. On the other hand, a great many people believe that there is a God who created everything and gave mankind the Scriptures in which are found the correct answers to those three eternal questions. Acknowledging this, then in the matter of origins each one of us has a choice to believe the philosophers who were not there in the beginning or to believe the account of the Creator who was. One thing more needs to be known regarding the search for the truth through science: For any investigation to be properly regarded as scientific it must meet four criteria: It must be observable by more than one observer, it must be repeatable by other investigators, it must be predictable and it must be refutable or capable of disproof [not proof]. Interestingly, as answers to the first question on origins, neither evolution nor creation fulfill any of these four criteria and cannot be scientific explanations but philosophical concepts.
2. The Christian scholars of the Middle Ages understood that since man had continued to fall from a noble beginning, wisdom was to be found by looking back to the writings of the “ancients,” notably Scripture and the early Church Fathers. When the works of Aristotle, Galen, Plato and other Greek writers became available in Latin, it was realized that these authors were at least three centuries earlier than the Church Fathers thus these Greek works were greatly revered. Much of the Greek wisdom was based upon deductive reasoning where they began with a statement, that usually turned out to be a tradition or a folk-tale, then they looked for evidences to support it. A similar and popular form of reasoning was the syllogism where they began with two statements, each containing a common term, then drew from this a conclusion in which the common term was absent. An example used by the Christians was Paul’s statement in Romans 10:18 that the gospel had been preached “to the ends of the world” then a second statement that the apostles never went to the ends of the world i.e. the antipodes or Australia, therefore it was concluded that there were no people living “at the ends of the world” for them to preach to. This was disproven by Magellan in 1519.
3. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) perceived that these methods of reasoning led to nonsense and while there were many wise statements in the writings of the Greeks, it is now admitted that Aristotle and Galen particularly retarded real science by almost two thousand years. Bacon brilliantly proposed to turn the former method of reasoning on its head and use his method of inductive reasoning. By this he argued that learning could be advanced for the betterment of man. He seems to have been inspired in 1619 then in 1620 published his famous Novum Organum (New Instrument) in Latin. In 1623 this was expanded and in English became Advancement of Learning. It is here that he spelled out his method of induction intended to replace the deductive logic of Aristotle. Perhaps not coincidentally, René Descartes working in Holland was also inspired in 1619 and proposed a very similar system of systematic analysis known as the Cartesian Method. Bacon’s Method is as follows:
A. Clear the mind of all preconceptions or “idols of the mind.“ B. Observe as many facts as possible. C. Tabulate the data according to those things that affect the property, those that do not and those that only partially affect. This process completes the “first vintage.” D. The next step is the “indulgence of understanding” or hypothesis. E. Experiments are then set up to try to disprove the hypothesis; this is called falsification or refutation, more will be said of this later. If the hypothesis does not fail it becomes a theory and when still not disproven, it becomes a Law. Very few theories survive to become Laws. The establishment of a Law means that specific instances have now become a general statement. In contrast to this, the method of deduction begins with the general statement then the facts are worked through to explain the specific case. Virtually all scientific investigation today is what science philosopher Sir Karl Popper (1902-1994) calls the logico-deductive method. In the case of biological and geological investigations, evolution is the unquestioned starting point for the investigation.
4. If there was any doubt about the source of Bacon’s inspiration the following is a quote from Book 1, Aphorism 68 of his Novum Organum and is insightful: “The understanding must be completely freed and cleared of them [the idols of the mind] so that access to the kingdom of man which is founded on the sciences, may resemble that to the Kingdom of Heaven, where no admission is conceded except to children.” Here Bacon is referring to Matthew 18:3: Jesus:“Assuredly, I say unto you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Bacon erroneously equates clearing the mind with conversion and claims no admission to heaven except by children. This sounds pious, is incorrect and likely comes from Bacon’s goddess, Athena.
5. Francis Bacon died in 1626 but his followers published and promoted his writings. It was recognized that for the advancement of learning a body of learned men was required and that happened to be precisely the principle set out for rulership of the ideal state in Plato’s Republic. King Charles II was open to these ideas and the Royal Society received its charter in 1662. Bacon’s last book, New Atlantis, was unfinished but his friends published it posthumously in 1627 and it is clear that its Utopian theme is not only the charter for the Royal Society but also for Freemasonry. The evidence for this is incontrovertable. The frontispiece to every edition of Advancement of Learning published after Bacon’s death is filled with masonic symbolism. Writing in 1665 Joseph Glanville ties the New Atlantis to the aims of the Royal Society. In his History of the Royal Society, then president Thomas Spratt writing in 1667 acknowledges its aims are those of Francis Bacon while the frontispiece to his History’ shows King Charles II, Lord Viscount Brouncker first president of the Royal Society and Francis Bacon. The illustration is symbollic only since Bacon died four years before Charles II was born. Historian Alfred Dodd writing in 1949 makes an excellent case for the close tie between Freemasonry and the Royal Society, however, this does not necessarily mean that every member of that Society was a mason.
6. In 1799 a small group of wealthy young men led by George Greenough met in the backrooms of the Freemason’s Tavern in the City of London and formed the Geological Society of London. The object was to know where to look for seams of coal as financial investments. This group of men also paid their respects to Bacon and Volume one of the Transactions of the Geological Society published in 1811 contained a long quote in Latin from Bacon’s Novum Organum as its credo and warned of the dangers of theorizing. They were faithful to this creed and simply gathered data until 1820 when, under William Buckland and later Charles Lyell, Sir Roderick Impey Murchison and Adam Sedgwick, the theorizing began in earnest. They began with the old Greek idea of the scala natura, that is, that life on earth had progressed from very simple sea creatures to man. In true deductive manner they then selected fossil evidence to support this line of reasoning and produced the hypothetical geologic column. This provided the long ages and became the foundation for Darwin’s theory.
7. The Baconian Method Re-examined. By selection of data, it is often very easy to claim proof for a theory but this does not serve the cause of real science. This is why it is critical that any theory be capable of disproof. For example, a theory is non-scientific when it claims, say, a certain creature is extinct because disproof means searching the entire earth for a living specimen. There are not the resources to do this but from time to time “living fossils” do show up and disprove the theory. Similarly, any theory claiming there is extraterrestrial life is non-scientific since it means the entire universe must be searched for a null result. Philosopher of science, Sir Karl Popper said in 1963 that “a theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific.” He was referring to the theory of evolution and evidently received some rebuke by his colleagues for this slip of the pen. After his retirement he enlarged upon this statement and in 1974 stated: “Darwinism is not a testable theory but a metaphysical research programme.” There have been many critics of the method of induction but the reaction of most academics to this criticism is akin to that of denial of the Resurrection among Christians! Lord Macaulay, a very insightful Christian, raised the question in 1873, how did one know when there is sufficient data? The mathematician Augusta De Morgan pointed out in 1872 that a thousand sets of data may all indicate one conclusion but the thousand and first may contradict the entire set so that there could never be sure demonstration. The Encyclopedia Britannica for 1898 was more forthright and said that the method of induction is one which no science has ever followed and that while the deductive method is the most powerful, Bacon can hardly be said to have recognized it. Psychologist William James said of the evolutionary scientists of his day (Will to Believe, 1896):“faith running ahead of scientific evidence is the lowest kind of immorality into which a thinking being can fall.” The difficulty with the inductive method is that it is an unachievable ideal since man cannot approach a problem with an unprejudiced mind. The insidious part of “clearing the mind of all preconceptions” is that the good will go with the bad and, if the Bible is the basis for one’s worldview, that also will be forfeited. Even it it was possible to clear the mind, the immediate result would be that human reason would flood in like demons to a “house swept clean.” The bottom line is that as human beings it is extremely difficult not to have a bias when approaching a problem so that it becomes a question of which bias is the best bias to be biased with? Jesus said, “Abide in my word … you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32). The Laws of science were discovered by men who, while not necessarily Christians, had a very high regard for the Bible as the source of all truth. In contrast, Darwin began by dismissing the Bible and gave the world his theory of evolution which to this day remains a theory of ever shifting mechanisms in a closed system of understanding. As Roger Bacon observed in the thirteenth century, investigators must be free from undue regard for authority, neither fettered by fear nor driven by pride.
8. Finally, Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6:37-40.) was a well-conducted scientific experiment. The first part established the correct atmospheric conditions i.e. the dew point was right, while the second part was proof of a miracle.
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