In Illusion of Knowledge I, I discussed dark matter and dark energy.Ã‚Â Even though neither has ever been observed (i.e., confirmed by experience), the Standard Model of cosmology posits that 21% of the universe is comprised of the former and a whopping 75% of the universe is comprised of the latter.Ã‚Â I quoted skeptical cosmologist Mike Disney:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“The greatest obstacle to progress in science is the illusion of knowledge, the illusion that we know whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on when we really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â
Some people took the point of my post to be a criticism of big bang cosmology.Ã‚Â That was not my purpose.Ã‚Â As I said before, I have absolutely no qualifications to judge the merits of the Standard Model.Ã‚Â But I do knowÃ‚Â a thing or two about epistemology Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge and knowing.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
The point of my post was that cosmologists who accept the Standard Model are a lot like biologists who accept the Neo-Darwinian Model.Ã‚Â Both theories are based in large part on inferences that are in turn based upon assumptions that may Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or may not Ã¢â‚¬â€œ be true.Ã‚Â To say that we Ã¢â‚¬Å“knowÃ¢â‚¬Â the universe is made up of 21% dark matter and 75% dark energy is just silly.Ã‚Â We know no such thing.Ã‚Â Scientists infer the existence of dark matter and dark energy because they are both necessary if their assumption about an expanding universe is true.Ã‚Â Scientists infer dark matter and dark energy for the same reason scientists 100 years ago inferred the existence of the ether Ã¢â‚¬â€œ their theory needed it.Ã‚Â
But as David Berlinski points out in his article about the Big Bang (thank you Salvador for the link), there have been a number of observations that tend to disconfirm the assumption of an expanding universe.Ã‚Â These anomalies may ultimately be accounted for, and the universe may actually be as the cosmologists assume it to be.Ã‚Â But this is not NECESSARILY the case.Ã‚Â Next month new discoveries may compel cosmologists to reject their current assumptions about an expanding universe, and 100 years from now physics students may chuckle about the quaint 21st century notion of dark energy and dark matter the way physics students today chuckle about the quaint 19th century idea of the ether.Ã‚Â Or next month that guy who has spent the last 20 years trying to detect dark matter in a mine in England may actually catch some, thus confirming the theory by direct observation.Ã‚Â
My point is that it is a species of hubris for cosmologists to say we Ã¢â‚¬Å“knowÃ¢â‚¬Â that dark matter and dark energy exist even though the existence of neither has been confirmed by experience.Ã‚Â They are blurring the distinction between directly observed fact and inferences compelled by their pet theory.Ã‚Â
In the same article Berlinski says this:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Until recently, the great physicists have been scrupulous about honoring the terms of their contract [to provide a true account of the physical world].Ã‚Â They have attempted with dignity to respect the distinction between what is known and what is not . . . This scrupulousness has lately been compromised.Ã‚Â The result has been the calculated or careless erasure of the line separating disciplined physical inquiry from speculative metaphysics.Ã‚Â Contemporary cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their heads.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Ã‚Â
Similarly, the Neo-Darwinian model is based upon inferences that are in turn based upon a key assumption.Ã‚Â That assumption is that blind physical forces are the only forces available to do the work of imbuing living things with the staggering complexity and diversity we observe.Ã‚Â If this assumption is true, something like NDE simply must have occurred.Ã‚Â The problem is that while the assumption may be true, it is not necessarily true.Ã‚Â Nevertheless, Darwinists treat the assumption as if it were necessarily true, and it is no longer considered critically (if it is even considered at all).Ã‚Â It has become part of the intellectual landscape.Ã‚Â This makes Darwinists blind to two things.Ã‚Â It makes them blind to disconfirming data.Ã‚Â If NDE or something like it MUST be true, disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist.Ã‚Â It also makes them blind to alternate explanations that the disconfirming data, if they could see it, would suggest.Ã‚Â This blindness is the price they must pay for their hubris.