Anyone puzzled by how some Americans don’t take science seriously need look no farther than how few scientists, themselves, take the scientific method seriously.
There is no better example of that credibility gap than the Big Bang Theory.
And this is the worst possible place for the flaw to occur, because the Big Bang has become the poster child for “science is smart, religion is stupid”…yet it’s not actually science.
Even my favorite sitcom, wherein some producer had the crazy nerve to try to create a show around the situation of INTELLIGENT people, The Big Bang Theory, assumes its name (apparently) as an attempt to show intellectual, potential viewers that it’s for them, not the common proles.
But the Big Bang Theory is pseudoscience, at best.
By the rules of hard science, it’s not even a theory. A theory can be tested in a way that would be sure to fail if it were wrong. This, with the Big Bang, is impossible so far. So it doesn’t qualify. It is a hypothesis.
For supposed scientists to refer to it as a theory is akin to Catholic priests and bishops referring to a contemporary televangelist as a Saint. There are strict rules for sainthood, and for scientific theoryhood, and if you just go tossing either word around you discredit the whole genre. Saint Tammy Fae Baker would undermine the concept of Christian sainthood exactly the way the Big Bang Theory undermines the concept of cosmogony as a science.
But it’s worse than that; the Big Bang Hypothesis is not just treated with the unearned dignity of being a “theory”, but even like a fact, despite having failed even the basic test of prediction.
Original big bang-based predictions of the temperature of the universe, its expansion, and the even-ness of background radiation all failed…but, in violation of the principles of science, bureaucrats just turned around and reverse-engineered new predictions that matched the existing observations.
But even if they had not, no theory EVER rises to the level of fact, based solely on its matching of predictions.
To quote Stephen Hawking:
Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.
You don’t have to go as far as Anthropogenic Global Warming, to find scientists treating failed hypotheses as Settled Science, which is denied by not only Stephen Hawking above, but the Fallibilist roots of hard science.
But it gets worse, still, when extreme atheists try to trot out The Big Bang as a solution for the Prime Mover paradox.
See, one of the arguments used by Creationists is that everything in the universe apparently needs to be caused by something else. Things don’t just happen out of nothing, there’s always a “cause and effect”. This means that, if the universe ever had a start at all, HOW it could start seems impossible to explain. There has to have been to be a First Event, that was not caused by anything at all, and that should be impossible.
“Science has solved that with the Big Bang”, the claim is made.
But it’s untrue.
In fact, the Big Bang hypothesis brings focus on the very power of the Prime Mover paradox. It appears to have the whole universe go back to a single point, but then does nothing to explain why it was AT that point in the first place. There is no way to explain why the potential for the vacuum fluctuation that (maybe) produced the Big Bang existed in the first place.
If the Creator of the universe were a timeless Christian god, perhaps that’s what caused the Big Bang. Sadly for science, this makes as much sense as anything the mainstream cosmologists have proposed to start it, so far*.
When people stick to the rules of hard science, they have an absolute right to say “see, this produces sounder results and more verifiable Truth than religion”, when it does. The problem is that modern “scientists” quite often are NOT. They don’t stick by those rules, and therefore earn the disdain that people heap on them.
Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m using the criteria of real science to argue this. Among the people who agree with me are Einstein, a Scientific Realist who opposed the instrumentalist pseudoscience of modern quantum physics, Schroedinger, whose famous cat experiment was intended to mock unscientific physics, and the father of modern hard science, Karl Popper whom Stephen Hawking is paraphrasing in his quote, above.
Next time some horrified Discovery Channel /NPR pundit moans quaveringly that “a majority of Americans don’t even believe in science over religion”, or the downright sneering at global warming claims, remember that this is as much the fault of the supposed scientists breaking their own rules, as anything else.
Superstring hypotheses say the Big Bang is just the collision of “branes” (think membranes) in a much larger, more complex 10+ dimensional universe. But, while this provides the closest thing to a Unified Theory, it’s mostly ignored by the mainstream cosmologists. And, anyway, it does nothing to explain why the whole multiverse exists in the first place.