Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Reply to Greg

You seem eager to include the supernatural into science.
Isn't it incumbent upon you to define what you think the term supernatural means?
Greg



No I'm not. I'd like to think that if there is such a thing as the supernatural, sooner or later science would be able to figure out if it was there. If it turns out that indeed, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, science has to say "Look, we're science here. We can't say that." And people in science have compromised the religious neutrality of science from the negative side, when the argue that the evidence of evolution shows us a world without design.

I am inclined to think there's some merit in the "in fact" arguments against ID. In fact, they are a long way from establishing their claims, and should probably stop blowing the public relations trumpet so loud and come up with some results. I know that the Dover people were trying to get a stronger ID presence in their science curriculum than even the DI was ready to endorse, and that has a lot to do with why they lost.

But to argue that ID claims are "in principle" pseudoscientific means that we know what it is for something to be supernatural and that whatever that is, it can't be included within science. So if a ghost bites you on the nose, science has to say "We don't know what happened." That's a bit much for me.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you don't know know what the supernatural is, but you're upset because science doesn't include it in its theories?
Doesn't make much sense to me.
Greg

amstar said...

Victor,

I do not understand this view: “people in science have compromised the religious neutrality of science from the negative side, when the argue that the evidence of evolution shows us a world without design.”

Evolution is well supported by the evidence and it puts forward a mechanism by which the diversity of species arose. The mechanism does not require the direct intervention of an intelligent being. So the second part of your statement is accurate. We are in the business of asking questions like how did birds arise from dinosaurs; how does antibiotic resistance arise in bacterial populations; and what is the relationship between the bacterial flagella and the type three secretory system. How are addressing these questions any different from exploring the orbit of the planets around the sun or the position of our solar system in the universe or the age of the earth. ID may in fact be right. That is a point on which science can not take a position (BTW neither did Judge Jones). What is clear is that if there is a designer, our best evidence suggests that evolution is the process he used to have all of the diversity we see arise and if there a designer, he has left no evidence for his role in the process .

What is wrong with this view? It is pro evolution and takes no position on religious implications. While individual scientists may take positions different from this, this is the position taken in the peer reviewed literature; no mention of any God, for or against because there is no evidence either way.

As for your ghost bites, absence of any evidence what is wrong with saying "We don't know what happened”?

Victor Reppert said...

Again no. It is the critics of ID who exclude ID in principle because of its commitment to the supernatural. The ID advocates do not use the term in defining their position. ID critics like the Dover judge exclude ID because of its supernatural content. So it is up to the ID critics, who are using the term to exclude ID, to define the term.

Anonymous said...

The judge in Dove gave three main reasons for not considering ID science.

I think scientist don't try using supernatural causation in their explanations because they don't know what the heck it is.
You have so far failed to define the supernatural either.
If you don't know what the supernatural is why do you think it can be included in science?
Greg

Victor Reppert said...

You miss the point. Look, the judge said ID was committed to supernatural causation. Is he right? I've seen Dembski say he doesn't like the term. What characteristics does the Designer in ID have that makes it supernatural. In the context of the ID debate, the opponents of ID are introducing the term.

If you want me to try on a definition of the supernatural I can try one here. Something is supernatural if it caused by an agent that does not have a particular spatial location but causes effects in space and time. Is this a sarisfactory definition? Does it have counterexamples?

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like you are missing the point.
No one knows how supernatural causation works.
Please describe how something that is not located in space can affect something that does inhabit space and time?
No one knows how to do that.
Another way to look at this is that the supernatural is something that science currently has no way of testing. If it does someday come up with a way to do so then voila! that thing that was once called supernatural will be relablled as natural.
Greg

Victor Reppert said...

What is packed into the "how?" Are you telling me an omnipotent being that does not have a particular location can't produce an effect in space and time? He is, ipso facto, omnipotent.

Victor Reppert said...

Whether we label something as natural or supernatural is now what's at issue here. If in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and since figures out that He did, then if that makes God natural fine. Why should I care?

Also you run into the following problem of circularity: "ID's explanations are scientifically unacceptable because they are supernatural, and therefore untestable." What makes them supernatural? The fact that they're untestable. What makes them untestable? The fact that they're supernatural.

Anonymous said...

What makes them untestable is that no one has found a way to test them. If you can find a way to test the actions of a thing that does not exist in space it will be accepted into the scientific community.
How can anything act that does not exist in space? It seems as illogically impossible as an omnipotent being making a stone he cannot lift.
Greg

Anonymous said...

What is packed into the "how?" Are you telling me an omnipotent being that does not have a particular location can't produce an effect in space and time? He is, ipso facto, omnipotent.
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I don't know if he could or not. I can imagine an omnipotent being doing lots of things, however when I imagine it he is always clearly occupying some spatial location. Honestly, I can't imagine anything existing that doesn't occupy space and is also capable of interacting with space.
I feel really sorry for anyone trying to come up with an experiement to test for such a non-spatial temporal being.
Not really clear over your question about "how." If a theory does not illuminate the how of any phenomenon how can it be considered science? Isn't that the primary goal of science: to explain how things work?
Greg

Victor Reppert said...

Lack of particular spatial location doesn't seem to me to be much more of a problem than lack of causal determination. And if we came up with a theory by which we could make predictions, and those predictions came true, and that theory had posits that some people would call "supernatural," wouldn't the alleged supernaturalism be a moot point?