Friday, May 02, 2008

Overhauling science

Unheeding of the danger, he forged ahead, knowing all too well that he hadn't posted anything for a week or so.

For Rintintin:

A few further thoughts on your comment.

What necessarily makes this your God any more than some random deity?

The impossibility of the contrary.
It comes down, basically, to examining the alternatives and discovering whether they contain internal inconsistencies. Depending on their severity, this leads to their rejection.


It's interesting what you are willing to attribute to supernaturalism given that we don't know if a supernatural realm even exists.

Naturalism is false. The converse is...?


3. If the supernatural can come and act in our world, how does it bridge the gap between natural and supernatural - can I observe this taking place? Whereabouts does it happen?

In the case of Christian theism, God created the universe and thus apparently has a way to move in the natural.
But it's a category error to state that, since you can't examine them scientifically or whatever, such actions thus do not actually occur.


4.You've simply asserted what natural mechanisms can't account for without really explaining why.

B/c your brain, on naturalism, is molecules in motion, a vat of chemical reactions.
So is a can of Coca-Cola. If I shake up your brain and a can of Coke, each will fizz out gas - CO2 and brain gas.
Alternatively, your liver secretes bile, and your brain secretes thoughts. I've not yet seen a rebuttal that accounts for why I would ask a brain for true thoughts about the world but couldn't trust the liver's emissions on the same topic.


5. Your variant of supernaturalism includes talking snakes and plants, neither of which possess the cognitive ability or anatomy to talk

1) Naturalism is false and self-defeating; you don't get to analyse things like this from the standpoint of naturalistic presupps as you have. On theism, this is perfectly reasonable since such would be accted for as miraculous.
2) And it's not sure at all that the serpent in the Garden was literally a snake.
3) Demons can take the form of physical entities when they desire to do so.
4) So can God - the BUSH wasn't talking; God was.
That's what Steve meant when he chided you for neglecting to perform any exegesis. If this is the best kind of thing you bring to the table on the topic, I'd recommend you stay away from throwing Bible "contradictions" at people. I'm trying to help you keep from looking really foolish.

is there any reason I should take this viewpoint any more seriously than I do Scientology's ludicrous tales?

B/c Scientology is false, and Christianity isn't.


How can one utilise things like logic as a tool if the world potentially will not behave in a logical fashion 10 minutes from now dependent on the whim of a God,

You're confusing words here. On theism, it IS perfectly logical when God intervenes. The world may not behave in its USUAL manner all the time, but that's not the same as LOGICAL.
And on naturalism, there's no way to acct for laws of logic AT ALL, so theism is still way better if your objection holds.

Under your worldview, you can't realistically make the assumption that things will not be radically different 5 minutes from now

On the contrary, I *CAN* b/c God has told us that it will. And He has made certain things about the future eternal kingdom will work.
On naturalism, your objection holds, definitely. You're on the right track!


First of all, science employs methodological naturalism as opposed to proving that naturalism is the be all and end all.

The flavor of this post has been an objection to precisely that kind of talk that issues from the scientific/new atheist community. Dick Dawk doesn't speak as carefully as you did here, and he's alot more well-known than you.


Go on a facebook discussion page on Cre vs Ev

Oy. I don't have the patience for it! And too few Creationists take the presupp position I do, so I find myself screaming at my computer screen. :-D


So God has given us tools such as inductive logic

Which extent naturalists abuse, as you did in your comment "you can't realistically make the assumption..."
Use it all day, great! Just don't take it further than it can take you.


I assume you are also firing off letters to the judiciary as we speak demanding that all murderers that weren't witnessed in the act be released since this type of science apparently isn't valid?

Humans weren't around even close to the time that the Big Bang, the formation of the earth, or the (apparent) abiogenesis of life occurred. They were when the murder occurred. Big difference.
This is the same point made by one of your own - Henry Gee In Search of Deep Time.


The sheer volume of fossils works against a young Earth:

1) No telling how many animals were on earth before the Flood/in the Garden of Eden.
2) I don't see a problem with God having put the fossils there.
3) Yet it's probably a better explanation to think that they really were animals and that naturalists, in your truth-suppressing ways, have misinterpreted the data given your limited knowledge, limited patience, limited presuppositions, limited methodologies, and limited instrumentation.


is it realistic to say that the world is only a few thousand years old?

Naturalism is false, so evolution is right out.
The Bible doesn't really support an old earth; so yes, it's realistic.

I think we can see here how RTT has made an idol out of naturalistic approaches to science.
You think it can tell you the age of stuff, what happened millions of yrs ago, etc; things that science cannot repeatably test. You're thus already stepping out of the realm of pure science; what's to stop you from taking a further step and using science to tell me any number of other things?

20 comments:

Benjamin said...

To RTT (if you would rather I didn't abbreviate your name, please let me know)...

You asked excellent questions and I would like to give them the attention that I think hey deserve.

"regarding why some ideas are not considered science in relation to the supernatural:

1. like I asked Rho - can we even show this realm actually exists, and how? Where can we observe it, or find out when it will interact with our world?"


One of the most important things that must be first appreciated is just what sort of LORD we're talking about. Too often, when speaking with non-Christians, the general understanding encompasses many of the standard attributes of the "God of the philosophers," I think. But this is all wrong because the "God of the philosophers" is not transcendental at all.

By transcendental, I do not mean merely "transcendent." A proper discourse on this subject would take us into the attributes of the GOD of Scripture regarding which whole books have been written. Needless to say, He is not some aspect of nature or phenomenal entity which is the proper subject of experimentation or some thing we can go looking for under a stone or behind a star.

He is, rather, the basis of everything scientists seek to do and whom they are assuming when they simply accept the answer to certain basic metaphysical, epistemological and ethical questions which make meaningful empirical inquiry possible. In other words, the way to prove His existence and the existence of the supernatural is not to treat the supernatural as some part of the category of things to be observed in our extremely limited way.

In fact, a great deal of science does not even progress along the lines you are requiring as the most fundamental questions are not determined on the basis of observation but rather mathematical theorizing. Some of the most profound advances in science have been made by theoretical physicists and the like precisely because there are not only more ways of "knowing" than merely what can be determined by inductive methods, but there are in fact better ways of knowing than this...

"2. Do you know of any observation that would prove God wrong? ie falsify him? i know of things that would falsify common descent, but i can't think of any for God."

That is, I believe, because you are insisting upon the very thing I had illustrated in the case of Sam Harris: an expansive definition of science, as though it contemplated either every meaningful way of learning and knowing or at least the only important ways. It is only inductive generalizations which admit of falsification, not deductive demonstration.

But this assumption would undermine science itself precisely because science rests upon assumptions which cannot be known to be true through scientific means. Therefore, to privilege science (and induction) above all other forms of inquiry would undercut science, which rests upon philosophical assumptions which are not themselves capable of being realized and established on empirical grounds.

Let's put it this way... Scientific results are established on the back of logical fallacies (the fallacy of the consequent and often post hoc and cum hoc fallacies). All this means is that the nature of science is not deductive and its results are not, thereby, true by definition. That's fine because not all inquiry needs to take the form of deductive demonstrations to lead us to genuine "knowledge."

On the other hand, this means that the results of a scientific inquiry are never unfalsifiable--that is, if they are legitimately inductive and scientific--precisely because they are not deductively (logically) necessary. But, in the same sense, what is deductive is not falsifiable because logically necessary truths are not "possibly true," by definition. They are either necessarily true or necessarily false.

This means that, when dealing with deductive type arguments and forms of demonstration, you are not dealing with weaker claims to knowledge which are merely "possibly" true or "possibly" false. They are either clearly impossible or clearly necessary, by definition.

That is to say, that which is deductive is either seen to be true by the implication of its nature or else false by the implication of its nature (which would be self-contradictory). If an alleged proposition is self-contradictory, it is not simply false. Indeed, it doesn't attain to the dignity of falsehood. It would rather be semantically empty or meaningless.

That which is false is merely a contingent fact which did not happen to be the case in some particular instance. It might have been true but it turns out that it likely wasn't, upon examination. It was, therefore, possibly true but probably false. That which is necessarily false, however, is not a meaningful idea that just turned out not to be true. It isn't anything at all, a jumble of words which say nothing (like referring to a one-sided coin or the natural child of a childless woman).

In that case, if GOD's existence is a matter of deductive demonstration (as it must be because He is not a contingent fact or proposition), the question of falsifiability is a category mistake. His existence is either necessarily true or self-contradictory, not possibly false and therefore falsifiable.

"3. Since 'Last Thursdayism' and solipsism explain any data just as well as a supreme creator or intelligent designer, should we consider those ideas as science?"

Not at all, precisely because 'Last Thursdayism' and solipsism are not transcendental philosophies. I agre with you that they would be difficult to disprove on purely empirical grounds and that is part of the weakness of empirical research. But they are not impossible to prove on deductive grounds and can be shown to be self-refuting.

"4. Supernaturalism is used largely as 'God of the gaps' or some kind of default setting eg 'there is no known natural explanation, therefore it must be a supernatural force', yet no evidence has been provided to support that claim."

This again demonstrates an ignorance of the nature of the question. Of course there is "evidence to support that claim" because the claim is transcendental. Everything in the world depends upon it. To offer only a couple of examples, science itself is evidence and the meaningful nature of our expressions is another, each of which relies upon grounds that logically precede them.

I think what you mean is not that "evidence" doesn't exist but that whatever evidence is used in support of it is not convincing proof to you and to many others. Now, that is a very different sort of claim because "convincing" (as well as "persuasive") is not a property of propositions or evidence or proof. It is a property of people or their rhetoric.

An argument that is very bad can prove convincing to a lot of otherwise intelligent people (to every German that supported Hitler, for instance, or to a cult that draws in educated members of society to commit mass suicide). It does not matter to me and it should not even matter to you whether the deductive demonstrations or the evidence thus far received has proven "convincing."

Nevertheless, in the end, the ID theorists have made the same mistake you are making and misunderstood the nature of the thing they are seeking to prove. In doing so, they are actually at odds with their own profession, at least if they are Christians.

"5. God is not part of science, but what he is purported to have done is - a global flood is a testable proposition, as is a young Earth. it may interest you to know that the early geologists who argued against both of these being true were Christian creationists who had expected to find evidence to support both."

What many of these men "expected to find" is precisely what drove their inquiry, as it does in all science. To study the nature of interpretation and this form of inductive investigation is to realize that philosophical presumptions rest at the heart of the whole process. Deductive questions are not only more fundamental than inductive, but inductive reasoning cannot even begin until many of these deductive questions have been answered (which, of course, would not themselves be answerable to an inductive investigation because they determine the nature of all such investigations).

Therefore, on the most fundamental questions (one of the most fundamental of which we are now discussing), it is impossible to properly deal with the "evidence" first as though in doing so one only then reaches a conclusion about the more fundamental conclusions.

Quite the opposite. One reaches inductive conclusions that match these fundamental deductive assumptions because the former is formed and given life by the latter. Let me offer you a clearer example.

Let us say that you assumed beyond question that societal standards formed the heart of any serious notion of truth. Would you ever find any evidence which proved otherwise? That would be rather difficult when those societal standards defined what "evidence" is and what sort of "evidence" is to be admitted and what kind of questions are "legitimate" to further any "serious" inquiry.

It would be impossible if "proof" were defined in such a way that it submitted first to these standards and if even the very notion of "reality" were given first here. I've actually heard a naturalist once say that the supernatural couldn't possibly exist because "nature" was, by definition, the whole extent of what is real and therefore there is nothing above or beyond it which might be of a "super" nature. What fundamental assumptions do you think were driving all his categories? And what sort of "evidence" do you think he would admit? It would have to all be evidence of "nature" by definition, wouldn't it?

"6. Some of ID's claims are actually testable, even though they cannot provide support for design - eg irreducible complexity. Since Mike Behe says (for example) all parts of the flagella are well matched, necessary for the function and specific to that system, all i have to do to prove him wrong is find two flagella that don't use all the same proteins or that use proteins also involved in non-flagellar function."

I suppose that might be true, although I think his point was that all "major" parts of the flagella are well-matched and necessary. Nevertheless, yes I agree that such things can be tested and, if his claims are demonstrated false, then they can be put aside for now.

Nevertheless, I don't accept ID theory, so I'm not willing to defend it. I think it makes many of the same incorrect basic assumptions as every other form of naturalistic science.

Lucian said...

BUSH wasn't talking; God was

LOL :-)

Rhology said...

Yeah, I chuckled a little as I wrote that. Haha. 'Course most of the time, GW Bush and God say the same things.

Rhology said...

I'm kidding. Kidding.

G-man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G-man said...

Ooh, this looks fun... I'm going to poke it and see what happens :)

First of all, Rho, I think you're unheeding of most things. But that's neither here nor there.

- I'm interested in which internal inconsistencies you've discovered that led you to reject all but the Christian God. Also, is the whole "three beings, but also one being" paradox an internal inconsistency? If not, please explain how that standard works.

- To demonstrate naturalism false, you might need to demonstrate (or at least make a case to support) that supernaturalism is true. To do that, it sure would be handy to be able to observe how the supernatural interacts with the natural. Any ideas?

- "I've not yet seen a rebuttal that accounts for why I would ask a brain for true thoughts about the world but couldn't trust the liver's emissions on the same topic."

Well, that's because it's stupid. There are many ways to explain why, so I'll try a couple: A computer is just plastic and electronics - why can't I e-mail my friends using my calculator!?!? I'm so confused, because they're totally the same! On some level, I am composed of the same sort of matter as the LAPD forensics team - why am I not the one they call in to investigate the murder?? There's no difference between us!

Or perhaps... perhaps there is something to the idea of *complexity,* and *networks* and *the whole is greater than the sum of the parts*!!! Hmm...

- As for logic, laws are simply observations. We observe the universe to be uniform; the moment that observation is demonstrated to be false... well, we would lose more than just our ability to trust logic.

But you... since you believe in a God who created the rules, but loves to break them stupendously and regularly, you have to have faith that logical rules will apply in any situation. Maybe that explains something about the way you think...

- Re: the difference between deep time and forensics. There is none!!! We're talking about observations and past events. All events leave marks, and it is the job of both those who study deep time and those who study forensics to make clever conclusions about unobserved events.

What is so difficult to understand here? Making conclusions about unobserved events based on telltale marks - it applies to both. And quit (ab)using Gee.

- No telling how many animals were on earth before the Flood/in the Garden of Eden.

Hmm, what if, hypothetically, enough fossils have already been discovered that, had they been alive in a Creationist timeframe, they would have been stacked 5-deep all over the planet? Oh yeah, you believe in miracles. Hooray!

Daniel said...

rintintin,

So preflood the world would have been so covered with animals noone could move.

So even without radiometric dating, is it realistic to say that the world is only a few thousand years old?


For my 2 cents,

I have more of a problem than Rho does with God simply having put the fossils there, but I think there are valid explanations for the evidence that make it entirely possible that events happened the way the Bible describes them.

1. The ~8bn figure you quoted appears largely a guess

2. Apparently, reptiles can and do live in the density you discussed

http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/area/magazines/TJ/TJv14n2%5FKarooNon.pdf

3. No one knows how much land was exposed before the cataclysm of the flood. Could've been a lot.

As I've been discussing, I haven't bound myself to analyze the world only through the rules of science. Reason, yes. Historical, literary, archeological, and other reasoning leads me solidly conclude the Bible is credible. Therefore, confronted with physical evidence that has multiple possible interpretations, I see it as most reasonable to lean towards the explanation of it that agrees with that which I already know to be reasonable.

Daniel said...

PS. Especially given the gross inconsistencies in radiometric dating.

Rintintin said...

The impossibility of the contrary.
It comes down, basically, to examining the alternatives and discovering whether they contain internal inconsistencies. Depending on their severity, this leads to their rejection.


I know you've critiqued (eg) Islam as being internally inconsistent, but I wasn't referring to any God of a major religion, just a given deity that is logically coherent, who's existence we may not even be aware of yet.


Naturalism is false. The converse is...?

1. That's just an assertion. I simply state 'supernaturalism is false' - where does that get us?
2. If potentially we can't trust our faculties then how are we to assume the theist is capable of accurately of apprehending theistic truths (whether from the bible, or in the ability to formulate a first principle that he or she regards as self-evident on the basis of possibly faulty senses)?
3. Even if we accept that we have to revert to supernaturalism, we're still no closer to affirming it as the Christian God


In the case of Christian theism, God created the universe and thus apparently has a way to move in the natural.
But it's a category error to state that, since you can't examine them scientifically or whatever, such actions thus do not actually occur.


I'm not saying that it's an impossibility, but you've just conceded that there has to be some way that the natural/supernatural interact. I'm asking, since you feel your worldview explains so much, that you can give me an indication of where and when this may occur, and what I should be looking out for? Is there any way either of us could distinguish it from a natural cause?


B/c your brain, on naturalism, is molecules in motion, a vat of chemical reactions.
So is a can of Coca-Cola. If I shake up your brain and a can of Coke, each will fizz out gas - CO2 and brain gas.
Alternatively, your liver secretes bile, and your brain secretes thoughts. I've not yet seen a rebuttal that accounts for why I would ask a brain for true thoughts about the world but couldn't trust the liver's emissions on the same topic.


But my brain on naturalism isn't just a series of molecules fizzing around randomly - if they do that it's called a seizure. They need to do this in a coordinated fashion.

Also your brain doesn't secrete thoughts, since I can't bottle thoughts. I can bottle bile (although I'd rather not have to :-D).


1) Naturalism is false and self-defeating; you don't get to analyse things like this from the standpoint of naturalistic presupps as you have. On theism, this is perfectly reasonable since such would be accted for as miraculous.
2) And it's not sure at all that the serpent in the Garden was literally a snake.
3) Demons can take the form of physical entities when they desire to do so.
4) So can God - the BUSH wasn't talking; God was.
That's what Steve meant when he chided you for neglecting to perform any exegesis. If this is the best kind of thing you bring to the table on the topic, I'd recommend you stay away from throwing Bible "contradictions" at people. I'm trying to help you keep from looking really foolish.


1. but I can just choose a logically consistent version of theism at random, make things up and claim they are accounted for by the miracles my God can perform. I'm also not analysing it from naturalistic presupps - I'm anazlyzing from the point of observation. We observe that snakes do not talk. We observe that they don't have the anatomy to talk.
2. Serpents generally refer to snakes in symbolic literature, but yeah it could have meant dragon for example.
On 4 - the snake/serpent still talks (KJV- genesis 3 - 'the serpent said' implies oral communication)

B/c Scientology is false, and Christianity isn't.

But that's just an assertion + special pleading for your own brand of supernaturalism.


You're confusing words here. On theism, it IS perfectly logical when God intervenes. The world may not behave in its USUAL manner all the time, but that's not the same as LOGICAL.
And on naturalism, there's no way to acct for laws of logic AT ALL, so theism is still way better if your objection holds.


1. It still wouldn't require your particular brand of theism, since greek and chinese philosophers were discussing systems of logic prior to Jesus' existence and worshipped different gods.

2. Laws of logic are as G-man says observations.

On the contrary, I *CAN* b/c God has told us that it will. And He has made certain things about the future eternal kingdom will work.
On naturalism, your objection holds, definitely. You're on the right track!


So you advocate that the miraculous/supernatural can and does occur in our world, thus breaking some physical laws potentially without forewarning, therefore we can't know from one minute to the next what will happen with any certainty? Under my worldview, consistency is what is observed. We've not observed inconsistency such as gravity pulling things up. So the evidence points to gravity pulling things down. I have no reason to accept that this will not be the case 10 minutes from now, you do.

The flavor of this post has been an objection to precisely that kind of talk that issues from the scientific/new atheist community. Dick Dawk doesn't speak as carefully as you did here, and he's alot more well-known than you.

Can't say much either way about DD, since I haven't read his books. I would say that some non-material claims are testable (eg effectiveness of prayer etc) by the scientific method, although it would not be possible to determine if a supernatural mechanism was actually involved.

Oy. I don't have the patience for it! And too few Creationists take the presupp position I do, so I find myself screaming at my computer screen. :-D

Haha, yeah the facebook discussions tend to go in all kinds of directions - at least on here everyone has a rough idea of what to expect and can respond accordingly.

I'd imagine very few take the presupp position, because it assumes a conclusion as a starting point - apply the same style of thinking to another situation, and I doubt people who utilise it as an apologetics tool would be as keen on that approach (eg as an analogy, in a legal setting the judiciary takes guilt to be self-evident, and therefore all observations and evidence must fit that conclusion). It also harks back to your convo with the JN where he explains how he could end up at your worldview, but there's no possibility you could end up with anything but the one you have whether it is true or not (which does make me wonder why I spend so much time arguing on here :-D)


Which extent naturalists abuse, as you did in your comment "you can't realistically make the assumption..."
Use it all day, great! Just don't take it further than it can take you.


But I'm asking where these limits are - can I use it to make statements about things 100 years ago? 1000 years ago? What about the future - how far are my cut off points there if I assume that gravity will still act the same for example?

Humans weren't around even close to the time that the Big Bang, the formation of the earth, or the (apparent) abiogenesis of life occurred. They were when the murder occurred. Big difference.
This is the same point made by one of your own - Henry Gee In Search of Deep Time.


But they still didn't observe the incident - the only reason you are placing time as a specific limitation above any other indirect observation (such as the act of unwitnessed murder) is because it suits your position to do so. This is a very inconsistent position you are now taking.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030217115223.htm

As for humans being reliable eyewitnesses, this study seems to indicate otherwise.


1) No telling how many animals were on earth before the Flood/in the Garden of Eden.
2) I don't see a problem with God having put the fossils there.
3) Yet it's probably a better explanation to think that they really were animals and that naturalists, in your truth-suppressing ways, have misinterpreted the data given your limited knowledge, limited patience, limited presuppositions, limited methodologies, and limited instrumentation.


1. Standard YEC 'science' posits that the fossil record is the result of the actions of the flood, and therefore those animals were alive in the period between approx 6000 years ago and the time of the flood (an apparently popular date is 2,500BC) - you may not subscribe to this view of course.

2. But then it doesn't matter what the observation is - you can apply that to anything. It doesn't explain anything better than invoking the FSM does, even though you have claimed in the past that your worldview explains things better than standard science. Again, facts become an irrelevance under your worldview, as it 'explains' everything and therefore nothing. As an example, lets say I accept that God created life as described in Genesis. I now want to know why he created chimps to be more similar genetically and morphologically to us than rats, and rats to be more similar to us than lizards. You can answer 'because he wanted to' but that doesn't increase my level of understanding about the world God has created in any way.

3. Fossils were never living animals? So what were they?

You argued for the limitations of radiometric dating without actually knowing how it works, since I had to point you in the direction of an article explaining how to work out how much of a given element is taken up at the point of formation of a rock. Are you realistically in a position to claim expertise and therefore show the limitations of said techniques? Ironically, it is also possible radiometric dating could have actually confirmed your view of the world ie that the Earth is in the region of a few thousand years old, and various different dating methods have been used to confirm the accuracy of certain parts of the bible. Furthermore, many tests have been run to try and find what the limits of the method are (eg assessing if extreme pressure changes decay rates).

You also don't decry the limits of other techniques, most likely because it suits your position not to - if you are going to shout down one, why not shout down them all for the sake of consistency? Can telescopes really tell us about deep space since we can't observe it directly? Can a high powered microscope really be relied on to accurately convey information to our eyes since we can't see extremely small molecules or cells?

Furthermore, in previous examples I've given you such as the Tiktaalik find, which relied on the accuracy of the premises (including radioactive dating) to come up with a fossil in the expected location, with the expected morphoogy, how can you explain this? Is Neil Shubin's team just extraordinarliy lucky? Are other scientists equally lucky when they verify such precise predictions reliant on the premises being accurate?

You also talk about truth suppression, yet there is ample evidence of creationist and ID lying:

-ID has nothing to do with religion, yet if spoken against they have claimed religious persecution
-ID has nothing to do with creationism - 'cdesign proponentsists'

(I know you referred to the faculty emails - you do realise the faculty emails have not been made public by the DI, only their selected excerpts have? Why will they not show us the full content?)


Naturalism is false, so evolution is right out.

false - since you have theistic evolutionists, evolution is obviously not solely compatible with naturalism

The Bible doesn't really support an old earth; so yes, it's realistic.

This would again depend who you speak to. The bible never explicitly states the age of the earth from what I know - some people have argued various readings of the bible can be interpreted to give an old Earth. Who decides who is right?

I think we can see here how RTT has made an idol out of naturalistic approaches to science.
You think it can tell you the age of stuff, what happened millions of yrs ago, etc; things that science cannot repeatably test. You're thus already stepping out of the realm of pure science; what's to stop you from taking a further step and using science to tell me any number of other things?


I keep asking you - what is your supernatural methodology and how would I apply it to explain a phenomenon? You've said before that in the absence of a natural explanation the supernatural one should be used, but this has multiple flaws:

1. You still haven't provided evidence for your claim even if there is no known natural explanation - god of the Gaps.
2. That's not a methodology any more than a guess is
3. If a plausible natural explanation later becomes available and the supernatural one is discarded (as has happened multiple times throuhg the course of history) what then? was the supernatural ever actually at work?
4. Can you give an example of how invoking a supernatural explanation or methodology would result in better technology, medicine, the discovery of DNA etc?
5. Actually I can repeatably test it, because you are not using scientific repeatability correctly (again). Repeatability means that if I test my sample, using the same methodology etc as I did the first time I tested it, I should obtain the same result within a certain margin of error. Reproducibility means that other people should be able to follow my method and obtain the result I got. I do not need to be able to recreate the event in question to explain it (eg I can repeatably test the content of a radioactive isotope volcanic rocks without needing be able to cause another volcanic eruption)

So here's a basic outline of what we're arguing about, which is explained quite well on Lenny Flank's site. A simple outline of the scientific method is:


1. Observe some aspect of the universe
2. Form a hypothesis that potentially explains what you have observed
3. Make testable predictions from that hypothesis
4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions
5. Modify your hypothesis until it is in accord with all observations and predictions

As Lenny points out, there's no barrier a priori to supernatural causes or explanations.

We can use Lenny's example here:

1. our observation - chimps and humans both have a non-functional Vit C gene and evidence of a chromosomal fusion that is identical to 2 chimp chromosomes.

2. So we formulate our hypothesis - there is an intelligent designer/God that made the broken Vit C genes and fused 2 chromosomes in humans

3. Time for the supernatural methodology - if we have a common designer, what else should we expect to see? What should we not expect to see that would falsify our hypothesis? And here we run into some big problems, since neither ID nor creationism can give answers to these, since the answers are respectively 'anything' and 'nothing'. Common descent can. So how at this stage can you complain about a lack of allowance for the supernatural in science?

Rintintin said...

Hi Benjamin - i'll try and respond to you ASAP, obviously it'll take some time as it was quite a long post!

And yes it's no problem if you call me RTT - I picked it at random as i made a couple of anonymous posts and Rho suggested it would be easier if I chose a username to keep track of posts.


Daniel - I'll also respond when I have more time


thanks

Rintintin said...

One final thing I meant to add in my response to Rho:

Your claim for what we can directly observe as true science - I posted a few days back about the random/uncaused nature of alpha, beta and gamma particles beginning to exist.

This is observed as you demand in the here and now, yet you were unwilling to allow that as a rebuttal to your cosmological argument.

Could you explain why even when I offer something that meets your demands as evidence it is not considered enough?

steve said...

Rintintin said...

“1. That's just an assertion. I simply state 'supernaturalism is false' - where does that get us?”

I assume Alan is alluding to the vicissitudes of evolutionary psychology. Plantinga has argued at length that evolutionary psychology undermines rationality. And Dawkins, in The God Delusion, made equally sceptical claims. Hence, naturalism commits intellectual suicide.

“2. If potentially we can't trust our faculties then how are we to assume the theist is capable of accurately of apprehending theistic truths (whether from the bible, or in the ability to formulate a first principle that he or she regards as self-evident on the basis of possibly faulty senses)?”

Once again, I assume that Alan’s scepticism was directed at evolutionary psychology.

But what do you think the senses are for? As a naturalist, you can’t invoke a teleological explanation. So, for you, the senses have no function, do they?

“3. Even if we accept that we have to revert to supernaturalism, we're still no closer to affirming it as the Christian God.”

It’s a stepwise argument. Arrive at the Christian God by process of elimination.

“Is there any way either of us could distinguish it from a natural cause?”

Depends on what sort of examples your looking for. What about a miraculous answer to prayer?

“1. but I can just choose a logically consistent version of theism at random, make things up and claim they are accounted for by the miracles my God can perform.”

And where’s your supporting evidence?

“I'm also not analysing it from naturalistic presupps - I'm anazlyzing from the point of observation. We observe that snakes do not talk. We observe that they don't have the anatomy to talk.”

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Gen 3 refers to a talking snake, men and women living back in the Bronze Age didn’t observe talking snakes either. So it’s as if you’re experience is any different from theirs on that score.

“Serpents generally refer to snakes in symbolic literature.”

Not true. They can also refer to numinous beings like snake-gods.

More to the point, you’re trading on the meaning of the English word. But the Hebrew word has its own set of connotations.

I’d add that M. Scot Peck reports a case of possession in which the subject assumed a serpentine appearance. Cf. Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrists Personal accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption.

“So you advocate that the miraculous/supernatural can and does occur in our world, thus breaking some physical laws potentially without forewarning.”

Christian theology has a doctrine of providence. It would really behoove you to master these elementary distinctions.

“I have no reason to accept that this will not be the case 10 minutes from now, you do.”

Actually, you have no good reason to presume that since—as Hume pointed out long ago, it’s fallacious to infer the future from the past. Absent a doctrine of providence, you have no principled basis for your confidence in inductive logic.

“Furthermore, in previous examples I've given you such as the Tiktaalik find, which relied on the accuracy of the premises (including radioactive dating) to come up with a fossil in the expected location, with the expected morphoogy, how can you explain this?”

I believe that Jonathan Wells has discussed that, if you Google the search terms.

You’re also missing the point of Alan’s allusion to Gee’s Deep Time. Have you ever read Gee?

“1. You still haven't provided evidence for your claim even if there is no known natural explanation - god of the Gaps.”

And you’re alternative is naturalism of the gaps.

“A simple outline of the scientific method is: 1. Observe some aspect of the universe.”

How do you know that what an evolutionary brain observes is correspondent with the real world?

“1. our observation - chimps and humans both have a non-functional Vit C gene and evidence of a chromosomal fusion that is identical to 2 chimp chromosomes.”

In the Design of Life, Dembski and Wells discuss this sort of genetic evidence for common descent.

Rintintin said...

Hi Steve (and everyone else), sorry for the lack of responses to this, currently a very busy time for me (and obviously a lot of replies in my direction on the 2 threads).
In the interest of keeping my reply from getting too long, i focussed on what i thought were your main points, so apologies if you feel Ive missed something important.


I assume Alan is alluding to the vicissitudes of evolutionary psychology. Plantinga has argued at length that evolutionary psychology undermines rationality. And Dawkins, in The God Delusion, made equally sceptical claims. Hence, naturalism commits intellectual suicide.


Once again, I assume that Alan’s scepticism was directed at evolutionary psychology.

But what do you think the senses are for? As a naturalist, you can’t invoke a teleological explanation. So, for you, the senses have no function, do they?



it seems an odd argument this one (from my perspective anyway) since evolution is related to the environment we are in. So if we are a product of evolution, and we are still alive (I take the fact that we all exist as being axiomatic), then presumably its because our senses are capable of telling us with a decent degree of surety about what is going on with our environment. So if you are granting my premise for the sake of argument (ie that we have brains and senses that have evolved to meet the demands of our environment), does it not seem strange to then state the opposite as being true (ie that we are not geared to perceive our environment properly)?

let's say for the sake of argument God exists. Are everyone's respective senses now infallible? I think we'd have to say no. I am short sighted for example. People mishear, misread and misinterpret things all the time. Some people have particular senses completely absent such as deaf and blind people, so are more limited in what they can perceive. let's take it further - some people are mentally incapable of accurately perceiving the world accurately. before we make any decisions we have to work out that we are not like this. So we assume the reliability of our senses has allowed us to make the correct observation about the state of the world (ie that we are not insane/mentally impaired and therefore we can be confident our belief in god is not the result of some sensory fault). So we're both having to assume our senses work and have made accurate observations prior to making any choices regarding the supernatural. And we're still on the problem that even if we haven't established anything better than deism if we decide we need the supernatural.

on this point, Rho is quite fond of telling us how fallible our senses are (generally when a fact or observation is presented that contradicts his belief, the fact is automatically presumed to be wrong by default), and he is (obviously) a theist - so even people who believe in God don't seem to think they are up to much. Any particular reason God has given us senses that aren't up to scratch?


It’s a stepwise argument. Arrive at the Christian God by process of elimination.

this would require knowledge of every possible deity, even ones not yet 'discovered'.


Depends on what sort of examples your looking for. What about a miraculous answer to prayer?

I would argue that would depend on what was prayed for. Some people say that, for example, a relative recovering from cancer is a miracle. I would argue that its not. it's certainly unlikely (depending on the cancer) - i would be more convinced of a miracle if everyone who had cancer recovered. I would not be able to offer an explanation other than the supernatural for why millions of people suddenly recovered from cancer all at once.


And where’s your supporting evidence?

that's fairly easy - just write down that my deity spoke to me and what he told me. There's no obvious way to disprove this.


Actually, you have no good reason to presume that since—as Hume pointed out long ago, it’s fallacious to infer the future from the past. Absent a doctrine of providence, you have no principled basis for your confidence in inductive logic.

Casinos and bookkeepers make vast amounts of money from people who believed that things were going to be radically different for them the next time.


I believe that Jonathan Wells has discussed that, if you Google the search terms.

i couldnt really find anything relating directly to Well's opinion on Tiktaalik - possibly you mean his "Icons" book? unfortunately this book appears to have some fairly fundamental flaws, for example Wells' insitence that Haeckel's biogenetic law is taught as part of biology, when it isn't - in fact at least one of my biology textbooks explicitly states that it was false ('Evolutionary Biology' by Douglas Futuyma).


You’re also missing the point of Alan’s allusion to Gee’s Deep Time. Have you ever read Gee?

Either way, I'd still like to know why Rho claims expertise allowing him to dismiss any methodology he disagrees with, or why he treats essentially identical scenarios differently.

I haven't read Gee - Alan (Rho I assume) and I have discussed this before though, including this announcement from Gee:

http://www.natcenscied.org/resources/articles/
3167_pr90_10152001__gee_responds_10_15_2001.asp

some of the key statements that he makes are:

Darwinian evolution by natural selection is taken as a given in IN SEARCH OF DEEP TIME, and this is made clear several times e.g. on p5 (paperback edition) I write that "if it is fair to assume that all life on Earth shares a common evolutionary origin..." and then go on to make clear that this is the assumption I am making throughout the book.


Neither does this mean that fossils exhibiting transitional structures do not exist, nor that it is impossible to reconstruct what happened in evolution.

last time this came up, Rho attempted to pass it off as some kind of conspiracy where the establishment had pressured Gee to say evolution is true. Even though he apparently says it in his book in the first place, and he is actually a member of 'the establishment' since he's an editor for Nature journal.


And you’re alternative is naturalism of the gaps.

Actually, its not. if there's a gap, there's a gap - but then a fishing net has holes, it doesnt mean the net doesn't work. Plus, Im perfectly willing to accept a supernatural explanation of events if someone can show a way of telling me what I should and shouldnt expect to see under their supernatural model.

In the Design of Life, Dembski and Wells discuss this sort of genetic evidence for common descent.

I don't have the book, but I couldnt seem to find any detailed discussion of this by them on Google either. Do you have a link you could point me towards?

This is a good example to highlight some more of ID's problems though:

1. They have no consistent opinion on common ancestry - Behe accepts it, Dembski does in some cases but not others and people such as Philip Johnson deny it, although Johnson makes the interesting admission that:

"Granted that the materialist mechanism has to be discarded, what does this imply for what scientists call the "fact of evolution," the concept that all organisms share a common ancestor? Universal common ancestry is as much a product of materialist philosophy as is the mutation/selection mechanism....Put aside the materialism, however, and the common ancestry thesis is as dubious as the Darwinian mechanism."

so he seems to be saying that it is an acceptable conclusion, until you invoke the supernatural (which is where absolutely any scientific idea can break down, since the supernatural can be invoked to be capable of doing anything). To do this would mean we can now let a whole host of supernatural ideas into play for any scientific discipline, from God to astrology to invisible pixies - you name it, it's fair game.

Therefore, If I want to be an ID proponent, which scenario am I supposed to accept here, since they can't all be right? there's a lot of data relating to the issue of common ancestry - why can't they come to a consensus either way?

2. ID is very vague - it can mean a descent from biblical 'kinds' (it is never clear exactly where the distinct boundary between kinds is), it can mean common descent but the 'designer' injecting the mutations, it can mean some common descent + some indpendent creation, it can mean front loading of everything then descent from there etc etc. Again, which one am supposed to choose here? What tests could they propose that would give me an idea of which is correct? it seems so far that they are content to wait for real scientists to do the work, then just tag 'evidence for design' on the back of it after the fact - doesn't seem too difficult to be an ID scientist from what i can tell.


Another thing I'm always curious about is why various IDists and creationists look down on science and complain about its apparently glaring flaws - yet seem desperate to have their ideas recognised as scientific.

Rintintin said...

http://fitelson.org/plant.pdf

There's a journal article here discussing Plantinga's argument against naturalistic evolution that people might be interested in reading.

Rhology said...

RTT,
then presumably its because our senses are capable of telling us with a decent degree of surety about what is going on with our environment.

I don't grant that presumption at all. I am asking for an argument to that effect, especially since the argument exists going the other direction.
Assuming just b/c our brains seem to work that they do work is begging the question.

(God exists). Are everyone's respective senses now infallible?

Not infallible, but at least basically reliable, which is far more than one can say if atheism is true.

People mishear, misread and misinterpret things all the time.

The fact that you know the difference is a fact in favor of my position and against yours.

And we're still on the problem that even if we haven't established anything better than deism if we decide we need the supernatural.

True, but this is after only 2 sentences, and atheism is hemorrhaging. Deism is theism.

Any particular reason God has given us senses that aren't up to scratch?

I don't think that's warranted from what I have said; it's a bit of extrapolation that's unjustified.
God has given us senses that work well alot of the time, but are not infallible.
And on atheism, there is no reason (for a variety of reasons) to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs.

this would require knowledge of every possible deity, even ones not yet 'discovered'.

I have subjected every worldview I've ever encountered to this crucible and all have come out looking terrible.
But the case for God is not just negative.

I would not be able to offer an explanation other than the supernatural for why millions of people suddenly recovered from cancer all at once.

But of course, a sudden, unexplained cure from cancer is not enough for you.
How many people would it take? 4? 40? 400?
And why not accept the miraculous events that took place in the New Testament? Jesus' resurrection, for example?

that's fairly easy - just write down that my deity spoke to me and what he told me.

And if your deity claims to be the grounds for intelligibility, then we'll examine your case.

Actually, you have no good reason to presume that since—as Hume pointed out long ago, it's fallacious to infer the future from the past. Absent a doctrine of providence, you have no principled basis for your confidence in inductive logic.
Casinos and bookkeepers make vast amounts of money from people who believed that things were going to be radically different for them the next time.

Begging the question. That is a non-answer, similar to your first statement that I quoted.

Haeckel's biogenetic law

You mean the out-of-size-ratio embryos? That very example appeared in my own high school and intro to Zoo university textbooks, and that was 1995 and 2000!

I'd still like to know why Rho claims expertise allowing him to dismiss any methodology he disagrees with, or why he treats essentially identical scenarios differently.

And where have I claimed expertise on multiple subjects?
I *did* read Gee's book, though. I think if this topic interests you, you should read it. It's not a hard read.

last time this came up, Rho attempted to pass it off as some kind of conspiracy where the establishment had pressured Gee to say evolution is true.

I offered it as an option, since his book really makes the contrary point.
It's the most charitable interpretation of such a statement.

if there's a gap, there's a gap - but then a fishing net has holes, it doesnt mean the net doesn't work.

A net is designed. It's designed with holes in it - it would NOT work if it didn't have holes in it. By contrast, your theory has serious holes that cause serious deficiencies. It's a poor analogy.

ID is very vague - it can mean a descent from biblical 'kinds' (it is never clear exactly where the distinct boundary between kinds is)

Which is precisely the problem with the Darwinian camp's inability to define "species". It's not wise to employ weapons that shoot yourself in the heart as well as your opponent.

Another thing I'm always curious about is why various IDists and creationists look down on science and complain about its apparently glaring flaws - yet seem desperate to have their ideas recognised as scientific.

I already said in this combox or the previous one that I agree with Daniel - these questions are not scientific at all. They can't be observed, on a repeatable basis, and thus falsified, etc. So they should be consigned to other disciplines.
So onto this already-skewed playing field come the ID-ers, so I don't blame them at all for trying to challenge on those grounds, though those grounds are stupid. It's where evolution is strongest anyway, when its proponents are able to define "science" as they like in whatever context they're discussing, and then redefine it later to exclude what they like. They're in control, but if ID-ers can beat up the bully on his home turf, so much the better. And TOE is a mess when it comes to defending itself on philosophical grounds, so the "scientific" grounds is the only hope.

And I'm not keen on getting what normally passes for creation science as science. I am very confused over the implications, but I do know a few things.
1) I don't want science to be code for "the best way to know truth, before which all other methodology of pursuit must bow." It's not and can't be, especially about questions like this.
2) If science as it's currently expressed comes to the conclusion that TOE is true, it's not trustworthy, since that's not how it all went down. If TOE can't recognise that, so much the worse for TOE.
3) But this has implications for people who don't think this stuff thru, not least of whom are children and students. How many parents know enough or care enough to teach their kids the failures of TOE? Not many, so my daughter will know the defeaters for it but she'll be the only one in her school...

It makes a great deal of difference. Imagine yourself in the "theocracy" that atheists so often speak with taut, feigned fear about, imagine your kid living there, and then you'll know how I feel bringing up my daughter. The good thing is that "theocracies" don't have the blood of millions of people on their hands like atheistic regimes do, historically speaking, so your kid would be safer in the hypothetical than my kid will be in what is becoming reality.

Plantinga

I wasn't referring so much to Plantinga's EAAN, though it's similar.
It's more like: Given that your brain, on naturalism, is a collection of molecules in motion, why would I think that anyone's brain is reliably aimed at producing true beliefs? I don't trust a Dr Pepper can, when shaken up, to produce them, after all.

That's an interesting article and pretty heavy. I'm untrained in this philosophical language so it's hard to wade thru. The last sentence is so incongruent, though! It's weird to see such a professional-looking doc capped off with such a foolish statement:

The theist, like the evolutionary naturalist, is unable to construct a non-question-begging argument that refutes global skepticism.

Global skepticism is itself self-refuting. Sheesh, back to the drawing board for a good concluding sentence.

Peace,
Rhology

Rintintin said...

I had to just pick a few points to stop it turning into a War and Peace length post, hope that's OK.


I don't think that's warranted from what I have said; it's a bit of extrapolation that's unjustified.
God has given us senses that work well alot of the time, but are not infallible.
And on atheism, there is no reason (for a variety of reasons) to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs.


I don't know if you read the sciencedaily article I posted before, but if not here it is again.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/
2003/02/030217115223.htm

Those people were probably no less intelligent or reliable than you or me. their senses failed them pretty spectacularly I'm sure you'd agree? Now we know about it because it's a published study - but can we really be sure that this sort of thing isn't happening to us all the time even if God exists?

I'd also use an example from your own posts - almost all the world's scientists accept evolution as being a fact of nature, leading to many (but not all) to reject the literal 'truth' of the Genesis story/bible. Christians in your mould obviously do not think this is rational behaviour. So, if I assume your worldview for the sake of making the point, thats a lot of people who's senses have apparently failed them completely. Furthermore, not only have their senses apparently failed them, they refuse outright to acknowledge this 'fact'.

So you have a couple of good examples there of people's senses failing them completely (the 2nd one under your worldview only of course).

I have subjected every worldview I've ever encountered to this crucible and all have come out looking terrible.
But the case for God is not just negative.


I get people who follow Islam and assume it to be true as a starting point telling me the exact same thing about Christianity though. Anytime an observation contradicts them, they just assume the observation must be wrong by default as you do with Christianity.


You mean the out-of-size-ratio embryos? That very example appeared in my own high school and intro to Zoo university textbooks, and that was 1995 and 2000!

There are still photos of embryos in biology textbooks (obviously embryos don't cease to exist becaue one man did some fudged drawings!). It's a simple fact that embryos of various organisms look alike at a particular stage of their development (phylotypic stage, this is not an early stage). this was actually discovered well before Haeckel by a creationist called Ernst von baer. Darwin used embryology as part of his initial theory based on the work of von baer et al, but he also published OOS many years before Haeckel published his drawings. I think Wells gets confused between things like 'gill slits' and 'gills' - vertebrate embryos display 'slits' called pharyngeal pouches, but these aren't actually gills, they are part of the process of head/face development (part of the pouches do develop into gills in fish).

This is all a bit different to Haeckel's statement that every organism goes through its entire evolutionary history before ending up as the species it will live as, particularlty as he was using ideas such as Lamarckian inheritance in his theory, which is also worng. Like I say, my book discusses that this 'law' was false. I don't think any developmental biologist accepts it as being accurate. Any ideas what textbooks you were using so I can look them up?



And where have I claimed expertise on multiple subjects?
I *did* read Gee's book, though. I think if this topic interests you, you should read it. It's not a hard read.


Well, you do dismiss radiometric dating, yet didn't seem aware of how they calculate how much of a given isotope is taken up at the point of rock formation.

I don't doubt you did read Gee's book - apparently my university library has a copy, so I will pick it up after work tomorrow :-D


A net is designed. It's designed with holes in it - it would NOT work if it didn't have holes in it. By contrast, your theory has serious holes that cause serious deficiencies. It's a poor analogy.

The analogy was meant to illustrate that I can still catch fish with a fishing net same as I can with a solid 'net'. It wasn't really anything to do with design. People keep telling me the holes are serious, but then I ask them how their view explains things like

1. why we only find certain species in certain regions, even though there are multiple environs that would support them (eg you dont find polar bears in both the arctic and antarctic)?

2. why, despite some weird and wonderful creatures existing, winged vertebrates always have 4 limbs, with the front limbs forming the wings? why no six-limbed winged vertebrates? In fact why no six-limbed vertebrates period? Why such strict adherence to that plan to the point biologists etc can predict what fossils and so on will look like before they find them?

3. Why are some animals more similar to others (eg chimps are more similar to us than cats are, but cats are more similar to both than lizards) and why do these similarities and differences arrange into hierarchies just like any geneaology does (eg a family tree)? (this is where Wells goes wrong - it's not the homologies themselves that are evidence for common ancestry, its the way they arrange hierarchically eg in the Linnaean system)

etc etc

evolutionary theory can explain all this very comfortably. how does creationism explain it ('God just wants it that way' doesn't really tell me anything about why he wants that way, or how he went about it)?

Which is precisely the problem with the Darwinian camp's inability to define "species". It's not wise to employ weapons that shoot yourself in the heart as well as your opponent.

It would be a problem if I wasn't arguing for a viewpoint where the boundaries between living organisms are fuzzy as opposed to distinct!


I already said in this combox or the previous one that I agree with Daniel - these questions are not scientific at all. They can't be observed, on a repeatable basis, and thus falsified, etc. So they should be consigned to other disciplines.

First, I still think you're misusing repeatability, since it really refers to methodologies as opposed to the actual event in question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeatability

besides, many evolutionary events are repeatable, since convergent evolution exists (and has been observed in the short term eg in bacteria, or chiclid fish), as well as multiple fossil finds (eg there are 20 examples of Tiktaalik discovered).

As for falsification - the makeup of our heritable material and its being universal to all living organisms was discovered via a prediction based on assumption of common ancestry. That could have been (and still can be) shown to be false you'd agree?

So onto this already-skewed playing field come the ID-ers, so I don't blame them at all for trying to challenge on those grounds, though those grounds are stupid. It's where evolution is strongest anyway, when its proponents are able to define "science" as they like in whatever context they're discussing, and then redefine it later to exclude what they like. They're in control, but if ID-ers can beat up the bully on his home turf, so much the better. And TOE is a mess when it comes to defending itself on philosophical grounds, so the "scientific" grounds is the only hope.

ToE is scientific because you can make a testable predicition from the premises - use observations to build up a theory (induction), then use said theory to make predictions regarding what you should expect to find in nature (deduction). This is a pretty straightforward idea. The more accurate your theory is, the better you will be able to predict the state of play in nature. Hence why we can find things like Tiktaalik exactly where we predict. We can also predict what we shouldnt find - like australopitheces fossils in Australia for example. there isn't anything stopping creationists or IDists doing exactly the same - come up with a model that allows us to predict what we should be able to find if our theory is correct.


Another problem for ID is that things like the 'cdesign proponentsists' fiasco and Philip Johnson's quotes make it so easy to expose their motives as well. For some reason they just cannot stop making it obvious what they're up to.


And I'm not keen on getting what normally passes for creation science as science. I am very confused over the implications, but I do know a few things.
1) I don't want science to be code for "the best way to know truth, before which all other methodology of pursuit must bow." It's not and can't be, especially about questions like this.
2) If science as it's currently expressed comes to the conclusion that TOE is true, it's not trustworthy, since that's not how it all went down. If TOE can't recognise that, so much the worse for TOE.
3) But this has implications for people who don't think this stuff thru, not least of whom are children and students. How many parents know enough or care enough to teach their kids the failures of TOE? Not many, so my daughter will know the defeaters for it but she'll be the only one in her school...


I'll tip my hat to you for not buying the non-science that the likes of the ICR peddle, so no argument there. out of interest, why don't you accept it as science even though it conforms precisely to your worldview?

1. It may well turn out that science can't explain everything we want to - especially if it turns out there is a supernatural realm. But it's hard to argue that it has a habit of delivering the goods in terms of verified predictions, whether that be fossils, medicines, genetic code or whatever. there are also plenty of other avenues to pursue knowledge for anyone who wants to eg philosophy.

2. This is my main problem with creationism in a nutshell. Most people will accept most science without a second thought, but once it starts telling them what they don't want to hear, suddenly science can't cut it anymore - they never assume its because what theyve decided to believe might be deficient. Under the terms you've restricted evolutionary study with, you have to also drop a whole load of other science with no bearing on religion to keep consistent, a point I've made a few times now. realistically under your view we would have to drop doing murder investigations. I don't think either of us want to see that.

Furthermore, since your worldview involves the assumption of its truth as a starting point, with any contradictory observation of any sort being wrong by default, it's impossible to reach any other conclusion than the one you started with whether it is correct or not. How does that lead to the truth?

3. The problem with the defeaters you've offered up is that you'd have to admit that you've answered a fair few of my questions on biology before with 'God just did it that way' - well thats great, but that doesn't really explain to me why or how he did it. A lot of the other defeaters are also just rhetorical tricks eg the mere presence of a lab researcher constituting evidence for ID, even though this doesn't explain why experiments fail or give conclusions opposite to a hypothesis, why the control experiment doesn't also yield the same result if intelligence is they key factor, or where the cutoff for the level of intelligence is that directs the expt. to the desired conclusion is.


It makes a great deal of difference. Imagine yourself in the "theocracy" that atheists so often speak with taut, feigned fear about, imagine your kid living there, and then you'll know how I feel bringing up my daughter. The good thing is that "theocracies" don't have the blood of millions of people on their hands like atheistic regimes do, historically speaking, so your kid would be safer in the hypothetical than my kid will be in what is becoming reality.

I'll take the statement that theocratic regimes don't have blood on their hands with not just a pinch of salt, but probably the entire salt-shaker! You surely cannot believe that religion and the fear of God, however erroneously, have not been used to justify all sorts of things in the past? In fact the OT God encourages people to slaughter their enemies on a fair few occasions (this is not a moral point of view, simply a factual one).

You have loads of options for your daughter - you can send her to a faith school, have her homeschooled, or simply tell her 'don't believe what they tell you in biology class'. All the teachers can do is present the science, they can't make anyone believe it. Its not like churches are getting shut down because we teach biology. I personally have no issue with what anyone believes whether I agree with it or not to be honest, but your argument about an 'atheocracy' doesn't hold up. The religious right holds a lot of sway politically in the US (look how much of a fuss issues like gay marriage cause each election for example) - it's hard to argue that atheists who are a tiny minority (about 1.5-2%) have any real political power. Why would anyone pander to such a tiny voting bloc?

That's an interesting article and pretty heavy. I'm untrained in this philosophical language so it's hard to wade thru.

You're not wrong there, it took me a few readthroughs to really get it as well - my brother is a philosophy student, some of the stuff he talks to me about he might as well be speaking Chinese!

steve said...

Rintintin said...

“It seems an odd argument this one (from my perspective anyway) since evolution is related to the environment we are in.”

Since my argument is predicated, ex hypothesi, on evolutionary psychology, it’s hardly odd from your perspective. Rather, it takes your perspective as the starting point.

Likewise, when I cited Dawkins, I was hardly speaking from my own perspective. You have a bad habit of glossing over inconvenient evidence.

“So if we are a product of evolution, and we are still alive (I take the fact that we all exist as being axiomatic), then presumably its because our senses are capable of telling us with a decent degree of surety about what is going on with our environment.”

i) Given the widespread phenomenon of mass extinction posited by evolution, the kill curve is hardly conducive to your confidence in the reliability of our senses.

ii) You’re also missing the point. I said that evolutionary psychology undermines rationality. That doesn’t necessarily mean it undermines survival. Organisms like cockroaches survive very nicely without a high IQ or true beliefs.

iii) Finally, since methodological naturalism banishes teleological explanation, it disallows your appeal to properly functioning senses (“geared to perceive our environment properly”). Under naturalistic evolution, the senses aren’t geared to do anything. You’re smuggling directionality into an aimless process.

Like unbelievers generally, you take a lot of common sense things for granted that are excluded by your secular outlook if you applied it more consistently.

“Let’s say for the sake of argument God exists. Are everyone's respective senses now infallible? I think we'd have to say no. I am short sighted for example. People mishear, misread and misinterpret things all the time. Some people have particular senses completely absent such as deaf and blind people, so are more limited in what they can perceive.”

Once again, my objection wasn’t limited to the fact that naturalism undermines the reliability of the senses. It also undermines the reliability of reason. For example:

http://www.proginosko.com/docs/knowledge_and_theism.html

“Let’s take it further - some people are mentally incapable of accurately perceiving the world accurately. Before we make any decisions we have to work out that we are not like this. So we assume the reliability of our senses has allowed us to make the correct observation about the state of the world (ie that we are not insane/mentally impaired and therefore we can be confident our belief in god is not the result of some sensory fault).”

i) How would you “work out” that you’re not insane? If you were insane, would you be in any position to evaluate your sanity?

ii) What makes you think that belief in God is contingent on the reliability of the senses?

“So we're both having to assume our senses work and have made accurate observations prior to making any choices regarding the supernatural.”

Which theistic proofs depend on the reliability of the senses? Or accurate observation? Not the a priori proofs. And even the a posteriori proofs operate at a higher order of abstraction. You could retool the theistic proofs to apply to the Matrix.

“On this point, Rho is quite fond of telling us how fallible our senses are (generally when a fact or observation is presented that contradicts his belief, the fact is automatically presumed to be wrong by default)”

Well, Alan can speak for himself, but I think he’s speaking about theories rather than observations.

“And he is (obviously) a theist - so even people who believe in God don't seem to think they are up to much. Any particular reason God has given us senses that aren't up to scratch?”

Setting aside your caricature of the opposing position, there’s a fundamental difference between a sensory organ that can malfunction because it was designed to perform a function in the first place, and an organ that has no intended purpose. Reliability is a teleological concept. Eliminate the principle of design, and you don’t have an organ that’s more or less reliable; rather, you can’t even invoke that category. There is no standard.

Once again, you haven’t begun to think through the radically sceptical implications of your naturalistic worldview.

“This would require knowledge of every possible deity, even ones not yet 'discovered'.”

You’re resorting to a double standard which you would never apply to medical science or forensics, &c.

Must a diagnostician eliminate every conceivable illness to treat the patient? Must a homicide detective eliminate every conceivable suspect? Maybe Extraterrestrials murdered Nicole Simpson. Maybe one-armed Gypsies murdered Nicole Simpson.

All you’ve done is to rig the burden of proof.

“I would argue that would depend on what was prayed for. Some people say that, for example, a relative recovering from cancer is a miracle. I would argue that its not. it's certainly unlikely (depending on the cancer) - i would be more convinced of a miracle if everyone who had cancer recovered. I would not be able to offer an explanation other than the supernatural for why millions of people suddenly recovered from cancer all at once.”

You’re demanding a level of proof for the supernatural that you’d never demand for anything else. This is special pleading.

That’s irrational. The question is the best explanation, given the evidence. And the fact that someone else isn’t miraculously healed hardly counts as evidence that the individual who was healed wasn’t miraculously healed. How do you arrive at such a non sequitur?

Prayer doesn’t have uniform effects. God is not a machine. God is a person. As such, he exercises personal discretion.

Suppose, in a botched robbery, the robbers take everyone hostage. Suppose I’m a rich man. My daughter is one of the hostages. I pull strings. Go outside official channels.

I manage to get my daughter released. Would the special intervention be more convincing if all the hostages were released? No, that’s irrelevant. If anything, the fact that only one hostage was released is suspicious. The fix was in—in that particular case.

“That’s fairly easy - just write down that my deity spoke to me and what he told me. There's no obvious way to disprove this.”

I didn’t ask you if you could make an unfalsifiable claim. I asked you for your supporting evidence.

“Casinos and bookkeepers make vast amounts of money from people who believed that things were going to be radically different for them the next time.”

You don’t seem to know either side of the argument. You don’t know Christian theology or secular philosophy. For example:

http://www.proginosko.com/docs/induction.html

“I couldnt really find anything relating directly to Well's opinion on Tiktaalik.”

For starters:

http://www.idthefuture.com/2006/04/tiktaalik_as_missing_link_a_ne.html

“Either way, I'd still like to know why Rho claims expertise allowing him to dismiss any methodology he disagrees with, or why he treats essentially identical scenarios differently.”

Alan can speak for himself. However, Darwinians write a lot of books for mass consumption. If you think the layman isn‘t competent to form an educated opinion, then he should disregard the arguments for evolution presented by popularizers like Gould, Dawkins, Mayr, &c. And, by your logic, we should stop teaching evolution in the public school since most students are incompetent to evaluate the evidence. Are you a closet creationist?

“Last time this came up, Rho attempted to pass it off as some kind of conspiracy where the establishment had pressured Gee to say evolution is true. Even though he apparently says it in his book in the first place, and he is actually a member of 'the establishment' since he's an editor for Nature journal.”

Since you seem to have a problem grasping the basic principles of argumentation, allow me to walk you through the basics. In a standard debate, it is considered a coup if you can quote someone on the other side making a concession. For example, if you told me that Noam Chomsky opposes the Iraq war, that wouldn’t come as a surprise. But if you found out that Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz is now of the opinion that the Iraq war was a mistake, that would be more impressive precisely because it comes from an unexpected source.

No one is claiming that Gee denies evolution. To the contrary, the fact that he’s an avowed Darwinian is what makes his sceptical admissions so telling. That’s the point. Get it?

“Actually, its not. if there's a gap, there's a gap.”

If you don’t have a problem with gaps, why do you dismiss ID as God-of-the-gaps?

Anyway, that still reflects an ignorant grasp of Christian theology. It’s not as though OT Jews thought that God sent rain directly, and if they discovered that rain came from clouds, they ceased to believe in God. It’s not as though OT Jews thought that God sent disease directly, and if they discovered that disease came from rats or fleas, they lost their faith God.

In fact, OT Jews drew no such dichotomy. On the one hand, they believed that God was ultimately responsible for various plagues and illnesses. On the other hand, they had also had quarantine laws to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. So they understood that human beings could be infectious agents (carriers). They didn’t think that God was directly and solely responsible for illness.

Germ theory wouldn’t fill a gap previously occupied by God. God isn’t ousted by the introduction of second causes.

The God-of-the-gaps is a historical fiction popularized by 19C unbelievers like Draper and Alexander White. This literary tradition is then handed down like unquestioned dogma.

“I don't have the book, but I couldnt seem to find any detailed discussion of this by them on Google either. Do you have a link you could point me towards?”

There’s no substitute for reading their book. You don’t have to, of course. My point is that you’re raising objections to ID theory which they’ve already addressed.

“This is a good example to highlight some more of ID's problems though.”

I’m not here to rubberstamp every turn and twist of ID theory. It’s a loose coalition.

“They have no consistent opinion on common ancestry.”

Why should they?

“So he seems to be saying that it is an acceptable conclusion, until you invoke the supernatural.”

There is nothing in what he said to justify you twisted interpretation. Rather, he’s saying that evolution is driven at least as much by metascientific considerations (“materialism”) as it is by scientific evidence.

“To do this would mean we can now let a whole host of supernatural ideas into play for any scientific discipline, from God to astrology to invisible pixies - you name it, it's fair game.”

That’s only fair game if there’s equal evidence for all supernatural claims.

“Therefore, If I want to be an ID proponent, which scenario am I supposed to accept here, since they can't all be right? there's a lot of data relating to the issue of common ancestry - why can't they come to a consensus either way?”

If you’re asking a sincere question, then the answer is to read their books. If you want to know why they can’t come to a consensus, read Behe in favor of common ancestry, then read Dembski and Wells in opposition to common ancestry.

“ID is very vague - it can mean a descent from biblical 'kinds'.”

ID doesn’t address biblical “kinds.” It doesn’t address biblical anything.

“(it is never clear exactly where the distinct boundary between kinds is)”

You could say the same thing about the biological concept of species.

“Again, which one am supposed to choose here? What tests could they propose that would give me an idea of which is correct?”

The fact that you have to ask these questions suggest to me that you haven’t read their books. Isn’t it disingenuous to ask questions when you ignore the answers by ignoring the relevant literature?

“It seems so far that they are content to wait for real scientists to do the work.”

It seems so far that are you content to wait for hostile popularizers to do your reading for you.

“Those people were probably no less intelligent or reliable than you or me.”

Since the article doesn’t say who the volunteers were, I couldn’t say one way or the other.

“Their senses failed them pretty spectacularly I'm sure you'd agree?”

No, I wouldn’t agree. How is the implantation of false memories through hypnosis related to the reliability of the senses? They didn’t misperceive something they heard or saw. It’s purely psychological.

“I'd also use an example from your own posts - almost all the world's scientists accept evolution as being a fact of nature.”

Consensus is not a scientific argument:

http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-alienscauseglobalwarming.html

“So, if I assume your worldview for the sake of making the point, thats a lot of people who's senses have apparently failed them completely, leading to many (but not all) to reject the literal 'truth' of the Genesis story/bible.”

I didn’t see the creation of the universe. And I don’t know of any scientist who did. You attribute remarkable longevity to the average physicist or Darwinian. Do you think that Ed Witten is 15 billions years old? He’s wonderfully well preserved for his age. Does he drink a lot of prune juice?

“Why we only find certain species in certain regions, even though there are multiple environs that would support them (eg you dont find polar bears in both the arctic and antarctic)?”

Why do you think that’s inconsistent with creationism? Does Gen 1 encourage us to find polar bears in both the arctic and Antarctic?

“Why, despite some weird and wonderful creatures existing, winged vertebrates always have 4 limbs, with the front limbs forming the wings? why no six-limbed winged vertebrates? In fact why no six-limbed vertebrates period? Why such strict adherence to that plan to the point biologists etc can predict what fossils and so on will look like before they find them?”

Why do you think that’s inconsistent with creationism? Would six-limbs be an improvement?

“Why are some animals more similar to others (eg chimps are more similar to us than cats are, but cats are more similar to both than lizards)?”

Why are some vehicles more similar to others (e.g. SUVs are more similar to pickup trucks than sports cars are, but sports cars are more similar to both than bicycles)?

“And why do these similarities and differences arrange into hierarchies just like any geneaology does (eg a family tree)?”

And why does a deck of cards arrange itself into hierarchical suits?

“Evolutionary theory can explain all this very comfortably. how does creationism explain it ('God just wants it that way' doesn't really tell me anything about why he wants that way, or how he went about it)?”

“Detroit just wants it that way” doesn't really tell me anything about why Detroit wants that way, or how Detroit went about it.

Dropping the metaphors, there are several problems with your appeal to the hierarchical organization of life:

i) As Futuyma defines it, “there has been an increase in the maximal level of hierarchical organization during the history of life, whereby entities have emerged that consist of functionally integrated associations of lower-level individuals.”

The problem with this definition is that concepts like hierarchy, organization, system, functionality, maximality, and integration, are teleological categories. Part/whole, means/ends principles.

Yet methodological naturalism disallows teleological explanations in the natural sciences. Hence, if the natural order is hierarchical, that would be evidence, not for naturalistic evolution, but intelligent design or divine creation.

ii) The hierarchy is an artifact of what evolutionary classification scheme you employ. As one Darwinian explains, in a standard textbook, “It is less obvious whether a phenetic classification has to be hierarchical. Nature presents us with an infinity of phenetic patterns. Some indeed are nested hierarchies, but others are overlapping hierarchies or non-hierarchical networks. If we aim at a phenetic classification, we have no strong reason to classify hierarchically,” M. Ridley, Evolution (3rd ed.), 487.

iii) In fact, as Ridley goes on to admit, the hierarchical arrangement is actually an evolutionary assumption rather than an independent line of evidence for evolution: “Biological classifications are hierarchical because evolution has produced a tree-like, diverging, hierarchical pattern of similarities among living things,” ibid. 487.

iv) Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time, documents the degree to which these classification systems are highly subjective.

v) Kurt Wise has offered an alternative interpretation of the hierarchical organization of life from a creationist viewpoint. Cf. Faith, Form, & Time; “The Origin of Life’s Major Groups,” The Creation Hypothesis.

“Besides, many evolutionary events are repeatable, since convergent evolution exists (and has been observed in the short term eg in bacteria, or chiclid fish)”

Are you distinguishing between microevolution and macroevolution?

“As for falsification - the makeup of our heritable material and its being universal to all living organisms was discovered via a prediction based on assumption of common ancestry.”

Is that a prediction or retrodiction? Where did Darwin predict universal DNA? Give us the citation from his works.

“Hence why we can find things like Tiktaalik exactly where we predict.”

Give us the earliest citation in which the discovery of Tiktaalik was predicted. How specific was this prediction? I’m curious to see you furnish the details.

BTW, how do you distinguish between an evolutionary intermediate and an ecological intermediate?

“Another problem for ID is that things like the 'cdesign proponentsists' fiasco and Philip Johnson's quotes make it so easy to expose their motives as well. For some reason they just cannot stop making it obvious what they're up to.”

What makes you think that all ID theorists have the same motives? Johnson likes to quote some juicy admissions by Lewontin. Should we extrapolate from Lewontin to all Darwinians?

“It may well turn out that science can't explain everything we want to - especially if it turns out there is a supernatural realm. But it's hard to argue that it has a habit of delivering the goods in terms of verified predictions, whether that be fossils, medicines, genetic code or whatever.”

The secular establishment doesn’t have a monopoly on science.

“Most people will accept most science without a second thought, but once it starts telling them what they don't want to hear, suddenly science can't cut it anymore - they never assume its because what theyve decided to believe might be deficient.”

Science is not an ideologically neutral field. It’s been politicized. Just look at how Richard Dawkins uses science as to defoliate religion from the public square.

Likewise, methodological naturalism assumes that the only correct, “scientific” explanation is a naturalistic explanation. So it begs the question.

“Under the terms you've restricted evolutionary study with, you have to also drop a whole load of other science with no bearing on religion to keep consistent”

If it had “no bearing on religion,” there would be no need to “drop it” for consistency’s sake. You’re not making any sense.

If, for example, creation ex nihilo is true, then that may have some radical implications for science. If methodological naturalism refuses to take that into account, then science will be seriously off the mark.

In what sense do I accept science?

i) I accept science when science deals with natural cycles. It’s good at that sort of thing. I don’t assume that science has any particular competence at reconstructing the origin of the natural cycles. But given the natural cycles, once they’re in place, the study and manipulation of these periodic processes is very useful.

ii) I don’t accept that science tells me anything about what the world is really like. Science is dependent on observation. And scientific theories are often several steps removed from direct observation.

But there’s a gap between appearance and reality. Science does nothing to close that gap, or even to narrow that gap. All science can do is to chart correlations between appearances.

“Furthermore, since your worldview involves the assumption of its truth as a starting point, with any contradictory observation of any sort being wrong by default, it's impossible to reach any other conclusion than the one you started with whether it is correct or not. How does that lead to the truth?”

No, not whether it’s correct or not.

I’d add that secularism doesn’t even have room for truth. It went from naturalized epistemology to evolutionary epistemology to eliminative materialism. If there are no beliefs, then there are no true beliefs.

“The problem with the defeaters you've offered up is that you'd have to admit that you've answered a fair few of my questions on biology before with 'God just did it that way' - well thats great, but that doesn't really explain to me why or how he did it.”

That’s often the case with personal agency. We don’t know why or how Stonehenge was built. Should we therefore assume it’s a natural object unless and until we can say why and how human beings built it?

For a secularist, you have this oddly anthropomorphic notion that the universe should be transparent to your understanding.

“It’s hard to argue that atheists who are a tiny minority (about 1.5-2%) have any real political power. Why would anyone pander to such a tiny voting bloc?”

They exert political power out of proportion to their numbers because they resort to the state and federal courts to subvert popular sovereignty. Are you so ignorant of the political landscape that you’ve never observed that tactic at work?

Rintintin said...

Hi - i tried to answer most points, but had to cut a few out as the length was just getting ridiculous, as well as becoming excessively time consuming. i might have to make this my last post on the matter since it takes up too much time to write such lengthy responses, but I will gladly read anything you wish to respond with. hope this is Ok.


Since my argument is predicated, ex hypothesi, on evolutionary psychology, it?s hardly odd from your perspective. Rather, it takes your perspective as the starting point.

Likewise, when I cited Dawkins, I was hardly speaking from my own perspective. You have a bad habit of glossing over inconvenient evidence.


Haven't read much Dawkins I'm afraid, so you'll have to expand a little on this.


i) Given the widespread phenomenon of mass extinction posited by evolution, the kill curve is hardly conducive to your confidence in the reliability of our senses.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but even if God exists, things die. In really large numbers. Almost everything that has ever lived has died. Plus no matter how reliable your senses are, if a meteor blasts into the earth or a volcano erupts over you or plane flies into the building you're in, I don't fancy your chances of withstanding it. I mean there were 30,000+ people just killed in Burma, another several 1000 in China, millions of people have died of AIDS, millions more will die each year of other diseases.

This is a really odd argument to use to try and refute evolution/naturalism since the exact same thing applies if God exists.


iii) Finally, since methodological naturalism banishes teleological explanation, it disallows your appeal to properly functioning senses (?geared to perceive our environment properly?). Under naturalistic evolution, the senses aren?t geared to do anything. You?re smuggling directionality into an aimless process.

NS is non-random though, and is linked to the environment - you seem to be arguing against something that is not evolution ie a situation where the environment has no bearing on biological structures.

Like unbelievers generally, you take a lot of common sense things for granted that are excluded by your secular outlook if you applied it more consistently.

Ironic that you ask for consistency given argument (i) above, as well as several of your arguments below where you jump back and forth between opposing views for no obvious reason.




Which theistic proofs depend on the reliability of the senses? Or accurate observation? Not the a priori proofs. And even the a posteriori proofs operate at a higher order of abstraction. You could retool the theistic proofs to apply to the Matrix.

So theism is as likely to be true as being in the Matrix? Are you arguing for or against theism here?


Well, Alan can speak for himself, but I think he?s speaking about theories rather than observations.

But theories are arrived at by observation in the first place - and Rho does seemingly disagree with the observations, since he's said that biases etc are apparent during the actual observations that are used to formulate the theory.

Setting aside your charicature of the opposing position, there?s a fundamental difference between a sensory organ that can malfunction because it was designed to perform a function in the first place, and an organ that has no intended purpose. Reliability is a teleological concept. Eliminate the principle of design, and you don?t have an organ that?s more or less reliable; rather, you can?t even invoke that category. There is no standard.

Again it is ironic you complain about a caricature of the opposing viewpoint, yet later go on to outline some paranoid fantasy about how atheists are running the country and operating some shady cabal behind the scenes of science.

Anyway, we saw examples where organs of people who could see, hear, and who weren't insane etc being unable to tell them about reality. Why would a designer design organs for perfectly healthy people that can't perform their function properly, to the point where psychologists are arguing for the unreliability of witness testimony?


You?re resorting to a double standard which you would never apply to medical science or forensics, &c.

Must a diagnostician eliminate every conceivable illness to treat the patient? Must a homicide detective eliminate every conceivable suspect? Maybe Extraterrestrials murdered Nicole Simpson. Maybe one-armed Gypsies murdered Nicole Simpson.

But then noone is asking them to make allowances for the supernatural, personal tastes or the ridiculous, whereas biologists and cosmologists are being asked to do this. You got upset before when I joked at the idea for the demon theory of psychology, now you are saying it's a double standard that I don't let the supernatural, allowances for people's personal beliefs or absurd ideas into forensics or medicine. Make up your mind one way or the other.


You?re demanding a level of proof for the supernatural that you'd never demand for anything else. This is special pleading.

But you're making claims for the supernatural as relates to biology/cosmology of a level that you'd never claim for anything else, and demanding those particular branches of science make special allowances for your personal beliefs. The claim of special pleading is ironic, since you (and IDists) are demanding science be tailored or cast aside in some instances to suit your/their personal beliefs.

That?s irrational. The question is the best explanation, given the evidence. And the fact that someone else isn?t miraculously healed hardly counts as evidence that the individual who was healed wasn?t miraculously healed. How do you arrive at such a non sequitur?

hardly - I was asked what would convince me of a miracle. I gave an example, which would indeed convince me a miracle happened. If you're arguing for one-offs, I can pick examples of one-offs for anything and say 'look, miracle' when there's nothing particularly unusual going on in the bigger picture.

Prayer doesn?t have uniform effects. God is not a machine. God is a person. As such, he exercises personal discretion.

Statistically speaking, prayer has no effect - the most methodologically sound study was by the Mayo Clinic from what I gather. Some studies have shown detrimental effects in some cases, others have shown marginally positive effects. But anyway, I refer to my previous point, where I was simply answering what would convince me of a miracle.


I manage to get my daughter released. Would the special intervention be more convincing if all the hostages were released? No, that?s irrelevant. If anything, the fact that only one hostage was released is suspicious. The fix was in?in that particular case.

There aren't any strings you can pull for pancreatic cancer.


I didn't ask you if you could make an unfalsifiable claim. I asked you for your supporting evidence.

How exactly is this different to what writers of religious texts or alien abductions do - write stuff down that they claim to have observed or believe to be true, then people assume it to be factual (scientology being a great modern day example of this, which I'm sure we can both agree is false)?



For starters:

http://www.idthefuture.com
/2006/04/
tiktaalik_as_missing_link_a_ne.html


I read that site before - it didn't offer any argument as to what exactly was wrong with it or WHY it might not be valid support for the ToE beyond:

1)comparing to another well known fossil (Archeaopteryx) for no real reason
2)competely misrepresenting what scientists actually think of the fossil in (1). Birds are classified traditionally on the basis of having feathers. However, Linnaeus when devising his taxonomic system didnt know Archaeopteryx existed or of Darwin's theory. hence bird like reptiles get grouped in with genus Aves because they have feathers. it doesn't take account of the fact that said fossil also has features that are not present in birds but are in reptiles (unfused trunk vertebrae, socketed teeth etc).
3)it made no reference to the fact that the prediction of its discovery was made before the fossil was found, or any of the details of why the researchers were conducting their research. Wonder why that was?
4)it doesn't actually discuss Wells' specific objection to that particular fossil or the approach to finding it, it just references his 'Icons' book.
5) references this, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/04/latest_fossil_find_no_threat_t.html#more, which admits (in a roundabout way) that the fossil has a hybrid of fish/tetrapod features thus making the lines between the two groups somewhat blurred as would be expected under the ToE, whether it is an actual direct ancestor of tetrapods or not.


Alan can speak for himself. However, Darwinians write a lot of books for mass consumption. If you think the layman isn?t competent to form an educated opinion, then he should disregard the arguments for evolution presented by popularizers like Gould, Dawkins, Mayr, &c. And, by your logic, we should stop teaching evolution in the public school since most students are incompetent to evaluate the evidence. Are you a closet creationist?

I'm not arguing that people can't do that, nor am I arguing that Rho is not an intelligent chap - but he clearly did not know how radiometric dating worked, which was why I asked him how he was able to dismiss it so readily. I'd also argue that reading a few popular science books does not suddenly put someone's knowledge on a par with people actively working in the research field.

Since you seem to have a problem grasping the basic principles of argumentation, allow me to walk you through the basics. In a standard debate, it is considered a coup if you can quote someone on the other side making a concession. For example, if you told me that Noam Chomsky opposes the Iraq war, that wouldn?t come as a surprise. But if you found out that Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz is now of the opinion that the Iraq war was a mistake, that would be more impressive precisely because it comes from an unexpected source.

No one is claiming that Gee denies evolution. To the contrary, the fact that he's an avowed Darwinian is what makes his sceptical admissions so telling. That's the point. Get it?


So on the one hand you are pointing out examples of where people would have to do 180 degree changes of viewpoint, yet on the other pointing to a man who explicitly states he supports the core ideas of evolution but takes issue with some of the finer details. It's hardly on the same level as Chomsky declaring that he thinks invading Iraq was a stellar idea after all.


If you don't have a problem with gaps, why do you dismiss ID as God-of-the-gaps?

Because they've never provided any positive evidence for design. All they have done is made flawed arguments about biological structures and processes as a negative argument against evolution, then concluded 'evolution can't explain it, therefore design'. they also can't or are unwilling to generate any testable hypotheses to fill in the gaps, hence the lack of publication of their journal for the past 2.5 years or any ID based scientific discoveries.


There's no substitute for reading their book. You don?t have to, of course. My point is that you?re raising objections to ID theory which they?ve already addressed.

Tell you what - seeing as Im picking up a copy of Gee, I'll get that too if they have it.

Why should they?

Because the whole point of scientific theories is to integrate with other scientific theories to build up a model of how our world works that we can generate predictions with and help describe phenomena. If I accepted common descent but denied plate tectonics, I have an unworkable view of the world since the 2 integrate. Acceptance or non-acceptance of common descent would have a pretty big bearing on what the designer has and has not done. Otherwise it just leaves this wishy washy idea that is attempting to tout itself as being evident in any situation whatsoever for no real reason.


There is nothing in what he said to justify you twisted interpretation. Rather, he's saying that evolution is driven at least as much by metascientific considerations (materialism) as it is by scientific evidence.

but as he's been told hundreds of times, all science works this way. Why single out biology/cosmology? He's also been asked for his alternative supernatural methodology and has remained silent on the matter for a number of years now. Why is this?

That?s only fair game if there's equal evidence for all supernatural claims.

And what constitutes 'evidence' for the supernatural?

ID doesn?t address biblical ?kinds.? It doesn?t address biblical anything.

Except it kind of does, since the designer has to be supernatural (ID 'theory' states that not only aspects of biology, but also cosmology are best explained by design (ie fine tuning of the universe) - since something that is a part of nature couldn't design nature (as it would have to exist prior to nature existing), then we have to go to the supernatural). The biblical God is a supernatural intelligent designer you'd agree?


You could say the same thing about the biological concept of species.

Except, as I said to Rho, I'm arguing for a view of the world where I expect boundaries between living organisms to be fuzzy as opposed to distinct.


The fact that you have to ask these questions suggest to me that you haven?t read their books. Isn't it disingenuous to ask questions when you ignore the answers by ignoring the relevant literature?

It seems so far that are you content to wait for hostile popularizers to do your reading for you.

I've read a few of their works, as well as a lot on the web (by pro and anti ID groups) and looked up a lot on the history of design arguments (suffice it to say, Behe is far from the first to come up with this idea as relating to biology). I also work as a biologist so have access to most of the journals Behe claims support his claims (none of them actually do - so your claim about ignoring evidence is ironic since more than likely you are getting guys like Behe to do your journal reading for you), as well as to ones with evidence that rebutts claims such as 'the basic components of blood clotting don't do anything but clot blood' (since they participate in embryogenesis and tissue remodelling also) and also Behe's own seriously flawed paper in Protein Science that is essentially the basis for the Edge of Evolution.


Since the article doesn?t say who the volunteers were, I couldn?t say one way or the other.

To set up a methodologically reliable study they would not have chosen people who were certifiably insane for example.

No, I wouldn?t agree. How is the implantation of false memories through hypnosis related to the reliability of the senses? They didn?t misperceive something they heard or saw. It?s purely psychological.

Right, but the brain plays a pretty critical role in perception, controls the sensory organs and integrates the inputs from said organs.

Consensus is not a scientific argument:

You've missed the point - I never said it was. I was showing how large numbers of people (in Rho's view) can become convinced of something that is (he claims) not true.

Why do you think that?s inconsistent with creationism? Does Gen 1 encourage us to find polar bears in both the arctic and Antarctic?

I don't - i'm asking how a YEC model, such as the one Rho subscribes to (you may also, I have no idea what precisely it is you believe), would explain it. I don't mean tell me it actually happened, I mean explain why or how it happened. What is the reason the creator doesn't put these animals in places they'd be well suited to?

Why do you think that?s inconsistent with creationism? Would six-limbs be an improvement?

Again I never said that - I'm asking WHY. I'm not asking if these things fit with creationism, because pretty much anything can fit in with 'the creator did it'. Just like with ID. Which is why im asking them to stick their neck out and make a positive prediction, rather than letting actual scientists do all the leg work. And yes in some cases to the 2nd part - quadripedalism is far more beneficial in a lot of environments and having a solid base for walking/running would be exceptionally beneficial (eg it provides more stability than bipedalism), so being able to both fly and having the advantage of four unlimbed wings (birds and bats occasionally walk/run after all) would be tremendous. Evolution can actually EXPLAIN it, since vertebrates don't have the body plan to support the addition of a 3rd pair of limbs. This fits with evolution, as processes can only build on what is already there, and cannot make giant sudden leaps to entirely rearrange developmental processes to accomodate such things (eg like a horse with wings).


Why are some vehicles more similar to others (e.g. SUVs are more similar to pickup trucks than sports cars are, but sports cars are more similar to both than bicycles)?

And why does a deck of cards arrange itself into hierarchical suits?


A card or car won't reproduce and give rise to a slightly different card or car, or reproduce with another card or car. A card or car won't self repair any damage done to it. Putting 2 virtually identical groups of cars in 2 different locales won't result in them giving rise to two sets of cars that have different properties to one and other.

So why mix up the properties of inanimate objects with biological ones?


?Detroit just wants it that way? doesn't really tell me anything about why Detroit wants that way, or how Detroit went about it.

Noone is telling me Detroit designed some/all life though. They are telling me God/the designer did. If i wanted opinions of the people of Detroit in I could even jump on a plane myself and go and ask them why they wanted to do what they did, or read a poll that someone had conducted. I couldn't do the same for God/the designer. I don't even see what point you are trying to make here.


Dropping the metaphors, there are several problems with your appeal to the hierarchical organization of life:

i) As Futuyma defines it, ?there has been an increase in the maximal level of hierarchical organization during the history of life, whereby entities have emerged that consist of functionally integrated associations of lower-level individuals.?


The problem with this definition is that concepts like hierarchy, organization, system, functionality, maximality, and integration, are teleological categories. Part/whole, means/ends principles.


All of these can also be emergent properties as well as teleological ones.


ii) The hierarchy is an artifact of what evolutionary classification scheme you employ. As one Darwinian explains, in a standard textbook, ?It is less obvious whether a phenetic classification has to be hierarchical. Nature presents us with an infinity of phenetic patterns. Some indeed are nested hierarchies, but others are overlapping hierarchies or non-hierarchical networks. If we aim at a phenetic classification, we have no strong reason to classify hierarchically,? M. Ridley, Evolution (3rd ed.), 487.


iii) In fact, as Ridley goes on to admit, the hierarchical arrangement is actually an evolutionary assumption rather than an independent line of evidence for evolution: ?Biological classifications are hierarchical because evolution has produced a tree-like, diverging, hierarchical pattern of similarities among living things,? ibid. 487.


but Ridley also offers several criticisms of phenetic classification over those pages. The idea that evolution would generate hierarchies isn't an assumption, since evolution is a known biological process that creates hierarchies (since it is a branching process as well as conforming to Markovian mathematics, which produces hierarchies with branching processes), whereas other ideas such as Lamarck's organic progression wouldn't produce a hierarchical pattern. Linnaeus also predated Darwin by about 100 years, so couldnt possibly have come up with the hierarchical system to fit around evolutionary assumptions.

iv) Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time, documents the degree to which these classification systems are highly subjective.

I've just started reading it today, so I'll soon find out.

v) Kurt Wise has offered an alternative interpretation of the hierarchical organization of life from a creationist viewpoint. Cf. Faith, Form, & Time; ?The Origin of Life?s Major Groups,? The Creation Hypothesis.

This would be the same Kurt Wise who said even if all the evidence pointed in the opposite direction of creationism, he'd still be a creationist in spite of it. I wonder what other conclusion he was likely to reach based on that starting assumption?


Are you distinguishing between microevolution and macroevolution?

In these particular examples I'm dealing with microevolution, since macroevolution not only has to be consistent with evolutionary mechanisms such as NS, mutation etc but also factors such as mass extinctions, large scale climate changes such as ice ages, tectonic plate movement etc etc. However, I'm always curious to know the view of creationists as to why God put a limit on how much his creatures would be capable of adapting to their environs, and where exactly this limit is?


Is that a prediction or retrodiction? Where did Darwin predict universal DNA? Give us the citation from his works.

I actually referred to the make-up of the material we all possess (the code) as opposed to DNA itself being an evolutionary prediction, but

1) It doesn't necessarily predict DNA - it predicts a common heritable material, but there was no reason it had to be DNA.
2) every time we find a new organism, it's a test of that prediction, since there's no reason they should have to share their heritable material if they are not related. furthermore, if they are unrelated, there's no reason they should have to use the same 4 nucleosides for DNA synthesis since there are 100+ of these that occur in nature, and no reason they should use the same 22 amino acids for protein synthesis since there are 300+ of these.

http://www.broad.mit.edu/news/links/chimp-backgrounder.html

(Referring to the genetic evidence for the highest degree of relationship between man and apes):

The results provide a strong support for Darwin's 1871 conclusion that humanity's closest relatives are the African apes; it is an example of a testable prediction about evolution - made even before the discovery of DNA's role in heredity - that is confirmed by experiment..

as for the discoveries relating to DNA/information transfer itself:

The genetic code was discovered in 1966. the idea of the universal/near universal genetic code was based on the assumption of common ancestry for many years prior to this, so I'll give a rough timeline of predictions:

1957 - Sydney Brenner states the code has to be non-overlapping if it is universal (this turned out to be true on both counts)
1961 - Watson and crick publish paper, making a conclusion on THE genetic code despite only having worked on bacteria, assuming it is relevant to all living organisms despite no scientific evidence yet
1963 - Hinegardner and Engelberg explained why the code has to be universal, and why any variation would be slight and associated with major taxonomic groups (eg phyla), based on evolutionary assumptions.
1966 - Code finally worked out by Watson and Crick, So their findings confirm earlier predictions, as well as making another prediction that their findings will be universal/virtually universal based on evolutionary assumptions. This has since withstood every test it has been subjected to thus far.


Give us the earliest citation in which the discovery of Tiktaalik was predicted. How specific was this prediction? I?m curious to see you furnish the details.

1. Tiktaalik wasn't actually named until after it was discovered (2006 i think), so you won't find a reference to the name until then. the idea that tetrapods evolved from fish has been around for a long time (eg this article is from 1990)
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/
abs/10.1111/j.1502-3931.1990.
tb01357.x?journalCode=let)
2. Funds and time are obviously not limitless for a research lab or just dished out for no reason by grant bodies, so for what reason would they go to a location at random in a remote outcrop in Canada that is pretty much inhospitable to life on the offchance they find a fossil in between fish and tetrapods obviously they have to be specific about their plan. If there's no detailed plan in the grant application for how the research will be conducted, no funding body is going to stump up the $$$s.
3. here is Neil Shubin's website detailing the process how they decided on where/what to look for: http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/searching4Tik.html



What makes you think that all ID theorists have the same motives? Johnson likes to quote some juicy admissions by Lewontin. Should we extrapolate from Lewontin to all Darwinians?


The fact that those two examples are far from the only ones (a quick hunt on google can dig them up easy enough), and let's be realistic, the DI are advocating the use of a textbook that says 'cdesign proponentsists' plus every previous 'creationist' in the older version switched for a 'design proponent' in the newer ones with no other changes. What other conclusion would anyone reach from that?


The secular establishment doesn?t have a monopoly on science.

Never said they did - there are lots of religious people who have done exceptional science. But they did it by playing by the rules of methodological naturalism. And who are this 'secular establishment?' for every atheist scientist like PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins you have a Francis Collins, a Ken Miller or a Henry Gee who believes in God. this establishment charicature doesn't actually exist in reality.

Science is not an ideologically neutral field. It?s been politicized. Just look at how Richard Dawkins uses science as to defoliate religion from the public square.

Likewise, methodological naturalism assumes that the only correct, 'scientific' explanation is a naturalistic explanation. So it begs the question.


It doesn't - I outlined before that it doesn't provide any barrier a priori to the supernatural, but as soon as we come to the testable prediction stage supernaturalism hits a sticking point, since anything can be attributed to 'magic man did it'. However, there's no reason Meth. Nat couldn't have supported for example a young earth/global flood hypothesis if such evidence existed. Unfortunately for those views, it didn't. I said it before, if science as it is now bothers creationists and IDists so much, why are they desperate to have their ideas recognised as scientific? Why don't they just come up with the supernatural methodology they keep talking about and call it something new instead of demanding mainstream science change to suit their beliefs and provide us with some data or discoveries using it to shut us all up?


If it had no bearing on religion,there would be no need to 'drop it' for consistency's sake. You're not making any sense.

I am making sense - the demands can be phrased roughly like this:

1. Person X believes religious/supernatural story A to be true or has personal belief B
2. Science presents evidence to the contrary
3. Person X demands that his belief be accepted as science, or that science be changed to accomodate his beliefs, despite inability of said belief to explain anything, generate predictions or any basis beyond personal conviction for said belief

and then this couples with:

1. Person X believes in Y
2. Science agrees with person X
3. Person X is therefore happy to accept scientific explanation as the correct one, since it isn't telling him something he doesn't want to hear

So science has to drop the usual rules it plays by to make special allowances for religious claims/individual beliefs? Basically, whatever lots of people believe, we should make allowances for it? Isn't this why Galileo got put under house arrest, since empirical evidence went against baseless popular belief. Of course, now everyone accepts the empirical evidence for his claim. Perhaps making big allowances for popular belief isn't such a great idea after all...

If, for example, creation ex nihilo is true, then that may have some radical implications for science. If methodological naturalism refuses to take that into account, then science will be seriously off the mark.

All you have to do is come up with an organism that has different heritable material to everything else, or show something popping into existence without any ancestors and you'll have made your point. Since major groups have come into existence at different times (eg cambrian explosion, then much later other groups like mammals, birds and reptiles), as well as recent 'design events' such as malaria CQR (since CQ use is fairly recent), i don't see any reason why we can't expect to see this type of special creation again if it is indeed true.


In what sense do I accept science?

i) I accept science when science deals with natural cycles. It?s good at that sort of thing. I don?t assume that science has any particular competence at reconstructing the origin of the natural cycles. But given the natural cycles, once they?re in place, the study and manipulation of these periodic processes is very useful.

ii) I don?t accept that science tells me anything about what the world is really like. Science is dependent on observation. And scientific theories are often several steps removed from direct observation.


But there?s a gap between appearance and reality. Science does nothing to close that gap, or even to narrow that gap. All science can do is to chart correlations between appearances.


First of all, science doesnt really work on the basis of 'what Steve from an internet blog is willing to accept'

Second where are you positing the 'origin' of any of these 'cycles' - evolution starts from the point life existed, so is it OK to accept that as a start of a cycle?

I also asked before, what constitutes direct observation - when I look down a microscope, Im not directly observing. When the police do a murder investigation, they're not directly observing. If indirect observation is such an impediment, then at least be consistent and throw it all out. Instead of badgering science teachers to stop teaching evolution, badger detectives to stop investigating murders. the scientific approach is no different in either case. Most of the science you would be willing to accept will certainly involve a lot of indirect observation.


No, not whether it's correct or not.

So if a judge stood up and said 'I assume you are guilty' before the start of a trial, what other conclusion would he come to whether the defendant was or not?

That?s often the case with personal agency. We don?t know why or how Stonehenge was built. Should we therefore assume it?s a natural object unless and until we can say why and how human beings built it?

Maybe we shouldn't assume anything until we can provide evidence either way. However, its worth noting that naturalism has a track record of providing acceptable and useful explanations whereas supernaturalism has a track record of 'explanations' that have fallen by the wayside and now seem ridiculous (eg newton appealing to angels pushing planets around)

Anyway, I keep asking, not even for an explanation, but a hypothesis that I could test even if it turns out to be wrong. Or provide me with an example where an appeal to the supernatural has come up with a new technology or a groundbreaking discovery. it surely shouldn't be difficult if the approach is as productive as people seem to think.

For a secularist, you have this oddly anthropomorphic notion that the universe should be transparent to your understanding.

I don't - I'm just interested in investigating it and how it works. We'll probably never work out every little detail, but so what? ID and so on don't seem interested in working out ANY details at all beyond 'God/designer just did it and we should all accept it'.

They exert political power out of proportion to their numbers because they resort to the state and federal courts to subvert popular sovereignty. Are you so ignorant of the political landscape that you?ve never observed that tactic at work?

So it's because of atheists that there are barriers to stem-cell research? It's because of atheists that gay people find it difficult or impossible in many states to get married or adopt? I notice the religious right's concern for every idea getting a fair crack of the whip disappears out the window as soon as it involves anything they don't like.

the general attitude of the US populace towards atheists is not particularly pleasant - just look at Ben Stein's movie comparing science and atheism to the Nazis. I certainly have no Nazi sympathies and don't know of any atheist who does. I'm sure you're aware some states (eg Tennessee and Texas) have laws that make it illegal for an atheist to hold political office, despite this being against the terms of the US constitution?

You are aware that the head of your country professes to be a born-again Christian and that there are no known atheists holding a high ranking political position?

You'll have noticed that almost every political candidate without fail has to make some profession of religious faith to sway voters, and has to pander to the whims of religious special interest groups?

Also, by appealing to popular sovereignty, you are again basically saying pretty much anything should be decided on the basis of enough people believing it, no matter how ridiculous. Past examples such as that of Galileo show the flaw with this approach.

steve said...

Rintintin said...

“Haven't read much Dawkins I'm afraid, so you'll have to expand a little on this.”

In the God Delusion, Dawkins talks about how our brains construct reality.

“I hate to be the one to break it to you, but even if God exists, things die…This is a really odd argument to use to try and refute evolution/naturalism since the exact same thing applies if God exists.”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you can’t follow your own argument. Since you can’t keep track of your own argument, let me remind you. You originally argued that our survival was evidence that our senses are reliable, for if our senses were unreliable, we would not have survived.

That was the point at which I introduced the obvious counterexample of mass extinction—a common phenomenon according to evolutionary biology.

I didn’t use that example to refute evolution. To the contrary, my example was predicated, ex hypothesi, on the evolutionary narrative. I used that example to refute *your* argument. It wouldn’t hurt you to remember your own argument. Is that too much to ask?

“NS is non-random though, and is linked to the environment - you seem to be arguing against something that is not evolution ie a situation where the environment has no bearing on biological structures.”

It doesn’t matter whether you say it’s random or non-random or evolutionary or non-evolutionary, methodological naturalism still prevents you from invoking teleological categories like the reliability of the senses. If you’re going to appeal to the reliability of the senses, then you’ll have to ditch naturalistic evolution.

And I’d add that Darwinians do argue for the reliability of the senses on evolutionary grounds, as an adaptive survival advantage. But in so doing, they transgress their methodological strictures.

“Ironic that you ask for consistency given argument (i) above, as well as several of your arguments below where you jump back and forth between opposing views for no obvious reason.”

I guess no one every acquainted you with the distinction between an internal critique and an external critique. An internal critique is where I argue with an opponent on his own grounds. Argument (i) above is a case in point. That doesn’t commit me to your assumptions. I simply trace out the implications of your position for the sake of argument.

That’s different from an external critique, where I argue on my own grounds. This is a pretty elementary distinction.

“So theism is as likely to be true as being in the Matrix? Are you arguing for or against theism here?”

Once again, you miss the point. The fact that appearances are deceptive in the Matrix doesn’t mean that there is no reality in the Matrix. The Matrix presupposes an underlying reality. A distinction between the computer-generated illusion and the objective reality of the computers generating the virtual illusion.

Likewise, even if, ex hypothesi, our sensory input was systematically delusive, that wouldn’t invalidate the theistic proofs. There would still be a reality behind the delusive appearances.

And, again, I didn’t say that the actual relation between appearance and reality is analogous to the Matrix. I merely used that as a limiting case. I was answering you on your own grounds.

You really need to acquire some elementary sophistication in the art of argumentation.

“But theories are arrived at by observation in the first place.”

They take their point of departure from observation. But they depart from observation. They are often several steps removed from direct observation. Take theoretical physics.

“Again it is ironic you complain about a caricature of the opposing viewpoint, yet later go on to outline some paranoid fantasy about how atheists are running the country and operating some shady cabal behind the scenes of science.”

I didn’t say anything about a “shady cabal behind the scenes.” Can you quote me to that effect? No you can’t. You’re not even attempting to be honest.

What I said is that we have judges who subvert the democratic process. Did I say this happens behind the scenes? No.

Likewise, did I say atheists were “running the country”? No, I said they were exert disproportionate influence. You’re the one who’s acting paranoid when you feel the need to misrepresent what I actually said, turning it into a cartoon version to suit your agenda.

“Anyway, we saw examples where organs of people who could see, hear, and who weren't insane etc being unable to tell them about reality. Why would a designer design organs for perfectly healthy people that can't perform their function properly, to the point where psychologists are arguing for the unreliability of witness testimony?”

i) To begin with, you forfeit the right to use that argument. You’re committed to methodological naturalism. As such, you cannot evoke teleological explanations in natural science.

What you are doing here is to cite examples of faulty design: design defects. That would be an example of dysteleology. But dysteleology presupposes teleology. So methological naturalism disallows you from identifying examples of faulty design in nature. You’re not entitled to say that a particular organ is malfunctioning since you’re not entitled to say that it has a particular function to perform in the first place. If naturalistic evolution is true, then eyes and ears and fingers and brains and hearts and lungs have nothing they’re supposed to do. There’s no task they’re supposed to perform. No assigned role to play.

That’s a goal-oriented perspective which has no place in naturalistic evolution or methodological naturalism.

You keep fudging. That’s because you’re an unbeliever living in God’s universe. So you can’t help using God-talk.

ii) Also, like a lot of unbelievers, you don’t know much about Christian theology. Christian theology is about more than divine creation. It also has a doctrine of the Fall. The world as we see it today isn’t morally or physically pristine.

“You got upset before when I joked at the idea for the demon theory of psychology, now you are saying it's a double standard that I don't let the supernatural, allowances for people's personal beliefs or absurd ideas into forensics or medicine. Make up your mind one way or the other.”

Once again, you managed to miss the boat. Possession is valid category in psychology. I gave a quote by Stephen Braude, which plainly went right over your head, and I also cited an online article, published in a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal, which were you were obviously too lazy to read.

“But you're making claims for the supernatural as relates to biology/cosmology of a level that you'd never claim for anything else.”

Such as what? Give me some examples.

“And demanding those particular branches of science make special allowances for your personal beliefs”

All you’ve done here is to beg the question. Who gets to define science in the first place? You think the atheists get to define science, and then the Christians have to ask for special allowances? The way you frame the issue betrays your own tendentious bias.

“I can pick examples of one-offs for anything and say 'look, miracle' when there's nothing particularly unusual going on in the bigger picture.”

Now you’re being illogical. Something unusual doesn’t have to be going on in the bigger picture for something inexplicable to be going on in the little picture.

“But anyway, I refer to my previous point, where I was simply answering what would convince me of a miracle.”

I’ll grant you that given your illogical burden of proof, no amount of evidence will convince an irrational unbeliever like yourself.

“Then people assume it to be factual (scientology being a great modern day example of this, which I'm sure we can both agree is false)?”

If, as you correctly state, we both agree that scientology is false, then people don’t assume it to be factual. Some do and some don’t. So you’re example proves nothing one way or the other.

“Yet on the other pointing to a man who explicitly states he supports the core ideas of evolution but takes issue with some of the finer details.”

No, Gee’s thesis is more radical than that. Given that fossil finds are separated by vast intervals of time, it’s impossible to sequence them.

“But as he's been told hundreds of times, all science works this way. Why single out biology/cosmology?”

Because science is a big field and he’s taken a special interest in evolutionary biology. Cosmology is of interest as well to the degree that it has apologetic potential (e.g. the fine-tuning argument).

“He's also been asked for his alternative supernatural methodology and has remained silent on the matter for a number of years now. Why is this?”

To begin with, Johnson is a popularizer, not a high-level theorist. And he probably doesn’t want to get bogged down in the religious angle. You don’t have to come up with an alternative to point out the flaws in the reigning paradigm. That’s a separate issue.

“And what constitutes 'evidence' for the supernatural?”

Why don’t you read a few standard titles in the field of philosophical theology and Christian apologetics? It’s not as if no one has ever attempted to answer that question before.

“Except it kind of does, since the designer has to be supernatural (ID 'theory' states that not only aspects of biology, but also cosmology are best explained by design (ie fine tuning of the universe) - since something that is a part of nature couldn't design nature (as it would have to exist prior to nature existing), then we have to go to the supernatural). The biblical God is a supernatural intelligent designer you'd agree?”

Now you’re committing a level-confusion. To say the biblical God is supernatural is not to say that a supernatural creator or designer is the Biblical God. And it also doesn’t mean that ID-theory operates with the Biblical category of natural kinds. ID-theory operates at a more abstract level than that.

You’re like someone who walks into an automated factory, doesn’t see any engineers on the floor, and therefore denies that anyone designed the factory in the first place. After all, robots seem to be doing all the work. Who needs humans to get the ball rolling?

“Except, as I said to Rho, I'm arguing for a view of the world where I expect boundaries between living organisms to be fuzzy as opposed to distinct.”

Even that YEC makes allowance for microevolution as well as speciation (depending on how you define it), while ID-theory is compatible with theistic evolution.

“To set up a methodologically reliable study they would not have chosen people who were certifiably insane for example.”

Now you’re moving the goalpost from “as intelligent and reliable” to “not certifiably insane.”

“Right, but the brain plays a pretty critical role in perception, controls the sensory organs and integrates the inputs from said organs.”

False, implanted memories aren’t based on misperception. No perception was involved. You cited an example to prove something it doesn’t prove. Now you resort to special pleading to shore up your faulty example.

“I was showing how large numbers of people (in Rho's view) can become convinced of something that is (he claims) not true.”

Like the global warming scam?

“I don't - i'm asking how a YEC model, such as the one Rho subscribes to (you may also, I have no idea what precisely it is you believe), would explain it. I don't mean tell me it actually happened, I mean explain why or how it happened. What is the reason the creator doesn't put these animals in places they'd be well suited to?”

Gen 1 doesn’t give us a map of primeval world. You’re making assumptions on which the text of Scripture is silent. Assumptions about primeval climate, biodiversity, biodistribution, topography, &c.

For example, Gen 1 doesn’t imply that God even made polar bears. Rather, he made natural kinds, including bears. Creationism is not opposed to adaptive variation. God didn’t create every subspecies of bear by direct fiat. You’re not going to get that from Gen 1.

Moreover, animals don’t have to be created in situ to be there at a later date. Some animals can cross natural barriers. Other animals are introduced into a foreign habitat by sailors.

“And yes in some cases to the 2nd part - quadripedalism is far more beneficial in a lot of environments and having a solid base for walking/running would be exceptionally beneficial (eg it provides more stability than bipedalism), so being able to both fly and having the advantage of four unlimbed wings (birds and bats occasionally walk/run after all) would be tremendous.”

No, there’s a tradeoff between specialization and general utility. A limb that’s more efficient for ground locomotion is less efficient for airborne locomotion. That’s why there’s no such thing as optimal design.

If you have six limbs rather than four, then you have to divert more energy and muscle mass to six limbs. Isn’t there a reason why organisms with more than four limbs tend to be aquatic or insectile? Beyond a certain weight, it’s not cost-effective to have more than four limbs.

But if you think you can come up with a better design, by all means do so. Produce a working model. Create a bird with two wings and four feet. Take it out for a test flight. Let’s see your new-and-improved model in action. Stick your neck out. Do the legwork.

“Which is why im asking them to stick their neck out and make a positive prediction, rather than letting actual scientists do all the leg work…Evolution can actually EXPLAIN it, since vertebrates don't have the body plan to support the addition of a 3rd pair of limbs.”

That’s not a prediction. That’s a retrodiction.

“This fits with evolution, as processes can only build on what is already there, and cannot make giant sudden leaps to entirely rearrange developmental processes to accomodate such things (eg like a horse with wings).”

A winged horse wouldn’t be a horse. A horse is too heavy to fly. You’re equivocating.

“Noone is telling me Detroit designed some/all life though. They are telling me God/the designer did. If i wanted opinions of the people of Detroit in I could even jump on a plane myself and go and ask them why they wanted to do what they did, or read a poll that someone had conducted. I couldn't do the same for God/the designer. I don't even see what point you are trying to make here.”

Do you need to hop on a plane and interview the engineers to know their cars were designed by automotive engineers? No. It’s a non-sequitur to say you don’t know something is designed unless you know who or why or how it was designed.

“All of these can also be emergent properties as well as teleological ones.”

i) In that event, you’re admitting that evolution and creationism and/or ID-theory are empirically equivalent. So the scientific evidence doesn’t favor one over the other.

ii) Futuyma didn’t merely say they were emergent properties. He used teleological categories to explicate the nature of their emergence. Teleology and emergence are not synonymous concepts.

“But Ridley also offers several criticisms of phenetic classification over those pages.”

Which is one of those internecine debates in evolution.

“The idea that evolution would generate hierarchies isn't an assumption, since evolution is a known biological process that creates hierarchies (since it is a branching process as well as conforming to Markovian mathematics, which produces hierarchies with branching processes).”

All you’re doing here is to beg the question in favor of macroevolution. And you might want to read Fred Hoyle’s book on the Mathematics of Evolution.

“Linnaeus also predated Darwin by about 100 years, so couldnt possibly have come up with the hierarchical system to fit around evolutionary assumptions.”

That’s a description, not a prediction—based on ascending levels of abstraction. A snake is a subset of reptilian animals, which is a subset of animate objects, which is a subset of material objects, &c. It’s easy to classify objects hierarchically from infimae species to universals.

“This would be the same Kurt Wise who said even if all the evidence pointed in the opposite direction of creationism, he'd still be a creationist in spite of it. I wonder what other conclusion he was likely to reach based on that starting assumption?”

This would be the same Dawkins who said even if there were no actual evidence in favor of Darwinian theory, we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories. I wonder what other conclusion he was likely to reach based on that starting assumption?

“In these particular examples I'm dealing with microevolution.”

Evidence of microevolution is not evidence contrary to creationism, much less ID-theory. ID-theory is open to macroevolution.

You continually conflate different positions and then act as if evidence contrary to one is also at odds with another. In this case you’ve succeeded in producing evidence consistent with each of the opposing positions. Are you even attempting to be honest?

“However, I'm always curious to know the view of creationists as to why God put a limit on how much his creatures would be capable of adapting to their environs, and where exactly this limit is?”

i) Are you sorry you can’t mutate into a salamander?

ii) Where, exactly, do you draw the line between purple and red?

iii) The basic issue between creationism and evolution is the grand evolutionary narrative. That’s what creationism rejects. Two opposing narratives.

“I actually referred to the make-up of the material we all possess (the code) as opposed to DNA itself being an evolutionary prediction, but__1) It doesn't necessarily predict DNA - it predicts a common heritable material, but there was no reason it had to be DNA._2) every time we find a new organism, it's a test of that prediction, since there's no reason they should have to share their heritable material if they are not related.”

i) You’re backdating Darwin’s prediction with a very anachronistic gloss. Classic retrodiction.

ii) You also equivocate on what it means to be “related.”

“The idea of the universal/near universal genetic code was based on the assumption of common ancestry for many years prior to this.”

That’s a disguised description masquerading as a prediction.

“So their findings confirm earlier predictions, as well as making another prediction that their findings will be universal/virtually universal based on evolutionary assumptions. This has since withstood every test it has been subjected to thus far.”

Now you’re playing a shell game. What has stood the test of time? Common descent? Or DNA?

“The fact that those two examples are far from the only ones (a quick hunt on google can dig them up easy enough), and let's be realistic, the DI are advocating the use of a textbook that says 'cdesign proponentsists' plus every previous 'creationist' in the older version switched for a 'design proponent' in the newer ones with no other changes. What other conclusion would anyone reach from that?”

If you were honest, you’d reach the conclusion that ID proponents range along a continuum:

YEC>OEC>theistic evolution>agnosticism

For you to treat every ID proponent as a front man for creationism is demonstrably false.

“But they did it by playing by the rules of methodological naturalism.”

Nature doesn’t follow our rules. Our rules ought to follow nature. That’s your problem.

Folks like Rupert Sheldrake study natural phenomena which the scientific establishment ignores because some natural phenomena refuse to play by the rules.

“It doesn't - I outlined before that it doesn't provide any barrier a priori to the supernatural.”

By definition, methodological naturalism erects an a priori barrier to the supernatural.

“But as soon as we come to the testable prediction stage supernaturalism hits a sticking point, since anything can be attributed to 'magic man did it'.”

You’re imprisoned within your self-reinforcing prejudice. Because you don’t believe in God, you can never bring yourself to honestly and accurately state the opposing position. And I don’t expect that I’ll be able to pierce through all your layers of protective prejudice. This is for the benefit of other readers.

“Magic man” is not the alternative. The alternative is intelligent agency. Unlike inanimate forces, intelligent agents can exercise rational discretion. As such, they lack the absolute predictability of a machine.

At the same time, this doesn’t mean that anything goes. We’re talking about a rational agent. The principle of sufficient reason.

“However, there's no reason Meth. Nat couldn't have supported for example a young earth/global flood hypothesis if such evidence existed. Unfortunately for those views, it didn't.”

i) That’s palpably false. For example, you can’t reduce Gen 1-2 to nothing but second causes. The role of divine agency is explicit and ineluctable.

ii) In addition, there are situations in which the same effect might have more than one possible cause. The evidence doesn’t always single out a unique cause.

“If science as it is now bothers creationists and IDists so much, why are they desperate to have their ideas recognised as scientific? Why don't they just come up with the supernatural methodology they keep talking about.”

i) What “supernatural methodology” is David Berlinski always talking about?

ii) I thought Dembski’s primary objective was to come up with rigorous criteria to identify the presence, or absence, of design in nature. It doesn’t prejudge the methodology one way or the other.

“I am making sense - the demands can be phrased roughly like this:__1. Person X believes religious/supernatural story A to be true or has personal belief B_2. Science presents evidence to the contrary.”

Of course, the minor premise (2) simply begs the question.

“So science has to drop the usual rules it plays by to make special allowances for religious claims/individual beliefs?”

Science shouldn’t be inventing prejudicial rules about what’s possible or not in the natural world. That isn’t based on observation. That’s in advance of observation. A filter on observation—to screen out evidence of the supernatural.

“Basically, whatever lots of people believe, we should make allowances for it?”

A straw man argument.

“Isn't this why Galileo got put under house arrest, since empirical evidence went against baseless popular belief.”

Methodological naturalism is not an empirical principle.

“I don't see any reason why we can't expect to see this type of special creation again if it is indeed true.”

Because, according to Gen 1, special creation doesn’t recur at a later date.

“First of all, science doesnt really work on the basis of 'what Steve from an internet blog is willing to accept'.”

First of all, reality doesn’t really work on the basis of 'what methological naturalism is willing to accept'.”

“Second where are you positing the 'origin' of any of these 'cycles'?”

Creation ex nihilo.

“Most of the science you would be willing to accept will certainly involve a lot of indirect observation.”

It would behoove you to acquire a modicum of philosophical sophistication. I’m discussing indirect realism, which is a standard theory of perception. Empirical science is no better than your theory of perception.

Scientific success doesn’t depend on scientific realism. It only depends on a systematic correlation between appearance and reality.

“So if a judge stood up and said 'I assume you are guilty' before the start of a trial, what other conclusion would he come to whether the defendant was or not?”

That’s only as good as your metaphor. And even a judicial proceeding takes some things for granted, such as the rules of evidence. Evidence is theory-laden. Without a worldview, nothing counts as evidence.

Some worldviews have more explanatory power than others. That’s the sense in which the Christian worldview is presupposed. Not an arbitrary postulate—but a self-confirming axiom.

“Maybe we shouldn't assume anything until we can provide evidence either way.”

If you can’t assume anything, then nothing could ever count as evidence that Stonehenge was designed. You’re operating with a suicidal, bootstrapping empiricism.

“Naturalism has a track record of providing acceptable and useful explanations.”

i) “True” and “useful” are two different things. Lies can be useful.

ii) You are also confounding natural causes with a naturalistic philosophy. Those are not convertible propositions.

“Anyway, I keep asking, not even for an explanation, but a hypothesis that I could test even if it turns out to be wrong. Or provide me with an example where an appeal to the supernatural has come up with a new technology or a groundbreaking discovery. it surely shouldn't be difficult if the approach is as productive as people seem to think.”

One of your problems is a persistent inability to distinguish the distinguishable. Supernaturalism and ID-theory are not interchangeable. You’re welcome to judge ID-theory by the usual scientific criteria.

But supernaturalism is not a scientific hypothesis. Many truths involve personal agents. Many truths involve historical or anecdotal evidence.

It’s a category mistake to say that something is only true or credible if it has a technological track record. That’s only applicable to the way we harness the inanimate forces of nature. That is inapplicable to personal agency. Mental causation.

“It's because of atheists that gay people find it difficult or impossible in many states to get married or adopt?”

Why do you, as secular biologist, think that homosexuals should have a right to marry each other or adopt kids? You didn’t get that from evolutionary biology.

What’s the survival advantage of homosexuality? Shouldn’t natural selection weed out homosexuals?

Homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt children. And you have no moral or scientific basis to believe otherwise.

“The general attitude of the US populace towards atheists is not particularly pleasant - just look at Ben Stein's movie comparing science and atheism to the Nazis.”

Isn’t that a gross overstatement on your part? He wasn’t talking about science in general. Rather, didn’t he draw a connection between Darwinism, social Darwinism, and National Socialism? And isn’t that a historically well-attested connection?

“You are aware that the head of your country professes to be a born-again Christian and that there are no known atheists holding a high ranking political position?”

Sounds good to me. I was a Huckabee supporter.

“I'm sure you're aware some states (eg Tennessee and Texas) have laws that make it illegal for an atheist to hold political office, despite this being against the terms of the US constitution?”

It would be unconstitutional if we were talking about Federal officeholders, not about state or local officials.

“Also, by appealing to popular sovereignty, you are again basically saying pretty much anything should be decided on the basis of enough people believing it, no matter how ridiculous. Past examples such as that of Galileo show the flaw with this approach.”

I didn’t *appeal* to popular sovereignty. I didn’t say if that was good or bad. Once again, you lack the mental discipline to follow your own argument.

I was answering you on your own grounds. To remind you of your own argument, since you can’t keep track of what you say, you originally said:

“It’s hard to argue that atheists who are a tiny minority (about 1.5-2%) have any real political power. Why would anyone pander to such a tiny voting bloc?”

I answered your rhetorical question by explaining to you that “They exert political power out of proportion to their numbers because they resort to the state and federal courts to subvert popular sovereignty.”

Whether or not popular sovereignty is a good thing is irrelevant to the issue you raised.

At the same time, when opponents of ID-theory rush to the courts to ban ID-theory from the public school curriculum, they take science out of the hands of scientists and put it in the hands of judges. Rather than the Church, the judiciary now becomes the arbiter of science.

Rhology said...

Steve's last comment is also found here.