Monday, June 6, 2016

A Discoverer Of Facts Can't Make Them Disappear

A recent article in the New Yorker—"The Fantasy of the Deathbed Conversion"—refuting the bogus claim that Christopher Hitchens was giving up atheism for Christianity just before he died reminded me of something I want to share.

One of the many things I find faulty about human thought and behavior has to do with giving power to dead people, as I have written on this blog before. Related to this problem is the proclivity by some to give the power to invalidate a scientific discovery to the person(s) given credit for its initial discovery while they are still alive. Perhaps one of the most famous of these assertions is the Christian claim mentioned in the New Yorker article that Charles Darwin refuted evolution before he died. Leaving aside the fact this didn't actually happen, even if he had done so it would carry no weight because evolution is a scientific fact that has no connection to any person's assertion about it one way or the other, including any originator of any discovery.

To accept this type of flawed thinking, every discovery would have to be abandoned at any point during the life of the discoverer(s) if the directive was given by that person(s) to do so. Evidence wouldn't matter, a state that would be about as far away from the scientific model as possible.

No person has the power to simply speak and invalidate facts, no matter who that person happens to be. Discoveries are independent from their discoverers—and from everyone else, for that matter.

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