Monday, November 15, 2010

Does Consensus Determine Truth?

Quite often in life we will have our beliefs challenged by others. A Christian may hear an atheist justify his belief with the statement that ‘the majority of scientists believe ……’.

While the truth of something can certainly be indicated by the opinions of the majority of scholars, it is often the case that the majority of scholars are wrong, history is certainly replete with examples of such examples. (1)

So what does constitute ‘truth’? Well, we can be sure of one thing; that the popular opinion of learned men at any one time does not determine the true state of something. I will explain:

All scientists believe that the earth is spherical. Now does the shape of the earth actually depend on what the majority of scientists believe? Of course not. If it did, then 500 years ago, before the Copernican revolution, the earth would have actually been flat, because this is what all the scholars believed at that time.

The true shape of the earth cares nothing for the opinion of human scholars. The opinions of scientists and scholars only form an explanatory thought as to the truth of something. They may be right, they may be wrong, but the truth of any particular thing is not determined but the opinions of men!

So the next time somebody tries to prove their position by stating that the majority of scientists believe this, or that, then humbly remind them that the scientific consensus have got things wrong many times before, and major revolutions in science take place all the time. The fact that science textbooks are rewritten every couple of years is ample proof of this.


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