Coherent patterns of explanation

Helpful comment from a review of Phillip Johnson’s book Darwin on Trial by Owen Gingerich. Gingerich, himself a Christian, suggests that Johnson has little understanding of how science works, and continues:

I firmly believe that science concerns itself mostly with building coherent patterns of explanation, and rather little with proof. Lawyers seek proofs, and that’s why I said that Phil Johnson was approaching science like a lawyer, somehow supposing that if he could show that evolution has no proofs, it would crumble. That, I think, is misguided.

I think there’s a lot to be said for the statement in bold as the appropriate aim for Christian apologetics, as well as for science.

My previous post may have given the impression that I became, and remain, a Christian because the truth of Christianity – particularly the resurrection – had been “proven” to my satisfaction. It is far more a case of “building coherent patterns of explanation”, interlocking patterns that build up and accumulate over time – calling to mind Chesterton’s observation that:

…a man is not really convinced of a philosophical theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it.

Or perhaps we might say, when nothing proves it, but almost everything suggests it.

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2 Responses to Coherent patterns of explanation

  1. So I guess the question here is what makes creationism a less coherent pattern than evolution?

  2. John H says:

    Well, on a scientific level, the links under “science” in my latest post would be a good place to start, as would this list of ten features of the human body pointing to evolution.

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