“What is Inductive Reasoning?”


I took an aptitude test, in fact two of them, in which I tested very low in inductive reasoning. Apparently, this is a reasoning in which lawyers, doctors, and scientists, among other people, tend to have very strong aptitudes. What do you know about this reasoning process? What does it look like? If God has not made one strong in it, how should one compensate for it? (In one of the two tests I took, the administrator told me I needed to seek out people who were gifted in this area before I made major decisions.) I figured you may a lot more about this and use it quite often considering your scientific background.

Inductive reasoning uses facts and observations to reason to a general conclusion.

Induction: The reasoning process in which generalizations, laws, or principles are formed from the observation of particular cases; reasoning that moves from the part to the whole, from the particular to the general. Most human reasoning is inductive or empirical in character since it consists of generalizations based on our sense experience.

Ray Bohlin is a person
Ray Bohlin has feelings
Joe Blow is a person
Joe Blow has feelings
Sue Bohlin is a person
Sue Bohlin has feelings
Therefore, probably all persons have feelings.

The conclusion is not certain but likely. The premises provide some support for the conclusion

The conclusion is not itself a fact but a generalization or trend. For instance, Darwin observed that the shapes of the carapaces (shells) of the tortoises on the Galapagos were specific to each island. From this he reasoned (inductively) that perhaps they were all related and the specific differences were due to initial variations present in the first tortoises that occupied each island. His conclusion was just an idea, an analysis of a possible trend or connection. From this he would need to derive experiments designed to gather more specific data from which he would hopefully reason deductively to a specific conclusion. If this is true, and if this is true, and if this is true, then this must be true.

Deduction: The reasoning process in which conclusions are drawn from accepted premises. The premises are more general than the conclusion, so deduction is often defined as reasoning from the whole down to the part or from the general to the particular.

All humans are mortal.    Very general
Aristotle is human.    More specific but still general
Therefore, Aristotle is mortal.    Aristotle will die! Quite specific

If the first two are true, the conclusion must be true. The conclusion is certain.

Deductive reasoning reasons to an obvious conclusion that follows logically from the premises. Inductive reasoning takes the observations (facts) and reasons to a possible or general conclusion that is more tentative. Lawyers, doctors, and scientists need this kind of reasoning to solve problems, to take the available facts and determine which direction to take their investigation next. They then need to collect additional facts to confirm their earlier conclusion or even deductively arrive at a definite, firm conclusion.

Some people have a hard time seeing connections between seemingly isolated facts that others see a clear trend from. The tests you took apparently put you in that category.

In my work I see a lot of evidence for intelligent design in the universe and life but the evidence is not so clear as to be able to draw a certain conclusion. I believe I am right, but not 100% certain. I continue to look for additional evidence to make my conclusion more reliable.

This was perhaps more than you bargained for, but I hope it helps. You may need to take some time and read it several times and come back to it again after a few days to let it percolate a little. I had to do some checking to make sure I got it right so let me know if I can help further.


Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries

Dr. Ray Bohlin

Raymond G. Bohlin is Vice President of Vision Outreach at Probe Ministries. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S., zoology), North Texas State University (M.S., population genetics), and the University of Texas at Dallas (M.S., Ph.D., molecular biology). He is the co-author of the book The Natural Limits to Biological Change, served as general editor of Creation, Evolution and Modern Science, co-author of Basic Questions on Genetics, Stem Cell Research and Cloning (The BioBasics Series), and has published numerous journal articles. Dr. Bohlin was named a Research Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in 1997, 2000 and 2012.

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