University of California San Diego has provided a guide.* I would like to comment on its criteria.
A checklist might look as follows: Is the statement such that - in principle - it could be proven wrong (falsifiable)? If not, it is not about science. Ignore it.
Well, what if there is reasonable proof a statement is wrong, but it is not regarded as scientific proof? Say a thing like the statement "carbon has to have been formed by fusion in stars from hydrogen, because otherwise it would have to have poofed into existence by magic" - can it be proven wrong, in principle? Well, one way of proving it wrong would be finding a God able to "do the magic". Christians claim this has already been done, and look who's ignoring the evidence. "Miracles aren't scientific!" - Well, if there is any scientific sense in which the statement about Carbon forming only by very natural fusion could be proven wrong, certain kinds of miracles - like raising of the dead or multiplication of loaves (clearly dead, permanently raising up to a later death or up to a visible bodily ascension to Heaven, clearly few loaves clearly multiplied) - would prove there is someone able to make Carbon in other ways. If that is ruled out, if scholastic philosophy (first cause is not identic to matter and matter is no automatic emanation from first cause either) is also ruled out - because it supposedly cannot be tested and proven wrong in principle - then there is no principled proof left against the statement "carbon has to have been formed by fusion in stars from hydrogen, because otherwise it would have to have poofed into existence by magic", and it is no scientific statement.
Science is by the way given a definition:
- science - (n.)
- A branch of knowledge based on the laws of nature.
- scientific law - (n.)
- A summary of experimental data; often expressed in the form of a mathematical equation.
- scientific model - (n.)
- A representation that serves to explain a scientific phenomenon.
The last pair of definiend and definition is not very helpful as such, because it does not define "scientific phenomenon". The first two pairs are interlocked, if "laws of nature" are supposed to be "scientific laws".
- A branch of knowledge based on summaries of experimental data; which are often but not always expressed as mathematical equations.
If you treat alleged miracles as a scientific phenomenon, but this is where above definition list is less than helpful, there are at least two scientific models:
- alleged miracles are always bunk as such, since either they are not true or not really miraculous;
- some alleged miracles are real because there is really a God who is able to do miracles.
Now, I very much doubt that Wolfgang H Berger would treat the second model as a scientific model. In good logic therefore he must say "allegations of miracles are no scientific phenomenon" and conclude that the first model of them is not a scientific model either. But then the statement "carbon has to have been formed by fusion in stars from hydrogen, because otherwise it would have to have poofed into existence by magic" as based on it is not based on any scientific model either. And, obviously, it is not based on experimental data or summaries of such. I have to date not seen any list of Carbon heaps after Hydrogen fusions in CERN.
Is the statement to the advantage of the one making it? This could be in regard to money, status, or cultural comfort. If yes, be suspicious.
I would like to confer this with following two items, one on checklist one on intro:
Are there a lot of natural laws being magically overridden? If yes: suspect crank science.
Of course, God poofing either loaves or life or Carbon into existence can be considered as magically overriding a lot of natural laws.
Likewise, comments emanating from the Fan Club of Bishop Ussher (who put the Earth's age at about 6000 years ago) might be treated with a lot more skepticism than, say, statements by the U.S. Geologic Survey or the Smithsonian.
I somehow feel that this harping on "magic" when it comes to miracles or God and this depreciation of "Fan Club of Bishop Usher" (who was not a Bishop since an Anglican and whose fan club I am not part of since he used the Masoretic rather than the LXX Chronology) might be considered to the advantage of Evolutionists, in regards to money (government funding for research, government funding for science teaching, private funding or fees for either), in regards to status (Evolutionist has status of Real Scientist), in regards to cultural comfort if the opposite, cultural discomfort is what we Creationists are now dealing with: being seen as cranks, having taken for granted that we are wrong and so on and so forth.
Is the statement one reflecting wishful thinking? (Wouldn't it be nice if ...) If yes: suspect junk science.
That is why I suspect junk science when it comes to pressure of selection guaranteeing not evolution of flappiness in ears, but evolution of ears, not of night sight specialisation in eyes, but evolution of eyes, and so on. Not to mention evolution of consciousness overall.
And seeing how some Atheists (who, along with Freethinkers and Modernists make up Evolutionists) hate religion (for preaching Hell fire, for Inquisition, for ... you name it, for one's religious past - not Dawkins, here - and so on) it seems dispensing with miracles making religious claims seem reasonable seems to involve some wishful thinking.
Are scientists heatedly disagreeing about it? If yes, be aware that this is a matter under discussion. This is normal in science, but wear a hard hat.
This would indicate that there is a scientific debate between Creationists like Geologist Tasman Walker and Evolutionists like Biologist P Z Myers. They are very heatedly disagreeing. Though not all that often with each other: Tas refutes older geologists who are dead, PZ refutes Creationists who are not all that good in Biology, and when I bump in about Chromosome Numbers, where he thought he had an answer ... well, he preferred hiding the debate in the end (so far, last time I checked on comment section under his blog post). It would also indicate there is a heated debate between Kent Hovind and one thunderf00t - going on pretty much from Kent Hovind videos clipped into shorties commented on by thunderf00t while Kent Hovind is in prison.
Is the statement made by one who absolutely, positively, 100% knows the answer? If yes, it may be right or wrong, but the declarer is not a scientist, for sure.
That makes thunderf00t as well as AronRa in several places very much not a scientist. They are 100% absolutely positively sure Creationists are no scientists and when they do science they do it so wrong they need no detailed and connected refutation.**
Let us get back to general criteria:
A scientist can never be absolutely sure about anything, because a new observation or insight might force him to abandon previously cherished ideas. Every scientific theory implies that something must not happen. If it does happen, that theory is dead or must be modified.
In that case miracles imply atheism is dead or must be modified. Unfortunately it has been modified into more and more abandoning the reliability of human testimony about events - unless the human attestants happen to be scientists.
Mind implies materialism is dead or must be modified. Unfortunately it has been modified into "mystical materialism" still compatible with Western Atheism and with Evolutionism (you know the story including seven senses of Evolution/Development a few messages back).***
St Thomas Becket
*Calspace Courses > 2.0 How Science is Done > 2.2 - The Test for Credibility
**See for instance my series against AronRa (incomplete, but connection between parts in upper right corner of each message under title, I give only first):
Creation vs. Evolution : A Man not at all prejudiced against God is criticising Creationism (not me, we'll get back to who it is)
... or what I wrote against thunderf00t:
ibidem : thunderf00t ... did you actually say that? (part 1)
ibidem : thunderf00t, did you really say that? (part 2)
***ibidem : Evolution as a Word - Means What?