Tuesday, January 05, 2016

If ID is not science, then the denial of ID is also not science

I wrote:
If ID is not science, then the denial of ID is also not science. If the denial of ID is science, then ID is science. You can't have you cake and eat it too. 

Why?
Well, let’s take the subtitle of The Blind Watchmaker, “Why the evidence of evolution reveals a world without design.” What this suggests to me is that we investigated the evidence of evolution, and concluded on the basis of that that the world is without design. What implies, at least to me, is that prior to investigating the evidence of evolution, we could either have concluded a world with design or a world without design, but the evidence leads us to think that there was not design. The dog, the evidence, is wagging the tail, the no-design conclusion. But if that is the case, then someone ought to be free to explore the possibility that this conclusion is not true, and still be doing science. You might be doing bad science, or mistaken science, but you should be able to be mistaken and still do science.

Consider the statement “The DNA evidence reveals that O. J. Simpson killed Nicole and Ron.” The statement clearly implies that the evidence could have implicated O. J. or exonerated him, but it implicated him. If any conclusion but “O. J is guilty” would have been thrown out on methodological grounds, then we would have to question the methodology. It is presupposing the answer, not deciding the question for us.

Now let’s look at another statement. According to Judge Jones, ID isn’t science because it “violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation”. Well, if in order to follow the grounds rules of science we have to rule out design, then the evidence of evolution didn’t reveal a world without design, it presupposed it in order for its work to count as science. The investigation could not have gone either way, it could only go one way.

Or take Richard Lewontin’s statement:
"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. "

On this view the tail, materialism, wags the dog, the evidence, and not vice versa. The evidence of evolution didn’t tell us there’s no divine foot in the door, our a priori adherence to material causes does that. 

75 comments:

John Moore said...

Propositions by themselves are not scientific or unscientific. Science is a method for investigating propositions. You can approach a typical proposition either scientifically or unscientifically.

On the other hand, some propositions cannot possibly be investigated scientifically because they transcend the very realm of science. For example, the proposition that material things do not exist cannot possibly be investigated scientifically because the proposition negates one of science's foundational assumptions.

Maybe there are actually two different sorts of creationism:

a) Strong creationism says evolution never happened at all.

b) Weak creationism says that a designer designed things, regardless of whether evolution happened on the sidelines.

Science disproves strong creationism, but science can't disprove weak creationism. Strong creationism is a proposition that relates to physical things in our physical world, so it can be investigated scientifically. Weak creationism transcends the physical realm, so it can't be investigated scientifically.

B. Prokop said...

Victor is right. If Dawkins can claim he has scientific evidence that the universe is not designed, then ID is science. Why? Because even today, Ptolemy's Almagest is acknowledged to be "science", despite the fact that it champions a geocentric universe. In order for Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler to have evidence that Ptolemy was mistaken, they had to first acknowledge that he was doing the same thing they were - just coming to an incorrect conclusion.

John Moore said...

Yeah, if you want to say "scientifically disproved" is science, then go ahead.

B. Prokop said...

But John, just saying "evolution disproves design" doesn't actually disprove anything. And evidence for evolution is not evidence against design.

So no, ID has never been scientifically disproved. No one has ever even tried to do so.

John Moore said...

I never said evolution disproves design. Look again at my first comment. I said science just proves that evolution happens. But it's still possible for design to happen along with evolution.

When it comes to heliocentrism, however, science has disproved that.

John Moore said...

I meant geocentrism. Sorry.

B. Prokop said...

I know what you meant. But actually, heliocentrism has also been disproven - by Frank Elmore Ross and Mary R. Calvert, the first astronomers to accurately map the Milky Way (in 1934), in the process discovering that our sun was nowhere near its center.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Well, let’s take the subtitle of The Blind Watchmaker, “Why the evidence of evolution reveals a world without design.” What this suggests to me is that we investigated the evidence of evolution, and concluded on the basis of that that the world is without design."

If that is what the subtitle suggests to you I would suggest that you don't understand investigation, or basic science.

Rationalism, science, the Enlightenment, whatever you want to call it, all these modes of expression coalesce around a process that permits explanations to arrive out of "the evidence," not as you suggest -- start with a pre-existing explanation and go poking around for evidence you imagine supports your preconceptions. That's the first part -- permission to seek the best explanation based on the evidence (not a pre-existing dogma), and allowing for the fact that the evidence is a body that includes everything we know that can be shown to be related to the explanation.

Look at Darwin's theory. Look at what he did -- how he pulled together all this disparate information, from the known process of man-made selection in breeded animals, to the subtle variety of species seen on the Galapagos and the dawning realization of the age of the planet and the progression of traits seen in fossils. Darwin didn't think, "What if all life is evolved?" and search for these things -- he became aware of these things, and his mind connected those dots. If Darwin didn't do it, someone else would have, and that's because all the evidence was already there, and only growing. More fossils. More information about speciation. More insights on how traits descend from one generation to the next. Darwin was the first to put this together into a coherent explanation, but the evidence was growing from innumerable sources.

Compare that with what you suggest -- that Darwin stared with the subtitle of Dawkins book, and looked for evidence for evolution. What a weird take on what is a pretty straightforward story.

VR: "The dog, the evidence, is wagging the tail, the no-design conclusion."

Um, no. The conclusion of evolution is the best explanation. There's more, but that much is sure.

VR: "But if that is the case, then someone ought to be free to explore the possibility that this conclusion is not true, and still be doing science."

100% true. So what's the science -- what's the hypothesis -- for the competition to evolutionary theory? What's stopping anyone from exploring this possibility?

I'll answer for you: Nothing.

Nothing is stopping ID proponents from exploring the possibility that ID could provide us with a working hypothesis. NOTHING. And so I will leave it to you to explain why the obvious fact -- that ID proponents don't really have a hypothesis (just a dislike that their treasured religious beliefs seem less respectable) -- isn't the best explanation for the fact that ID proponents, after all this time, and fuss, and money, still can't provide anyone with a hypothesis. Nothing.

VR: "You might be doing bad science, or mistaken science, but you should be able to be mistaken and still do science."

Most science is disproving what the researcher wants to be true. As it turns out, that's the only way that I can imagine science being done on ID -- it shows that, because ID proponents can't even muster a hypothesis, or in the rare cases that they do one that that isn't quickly falsified --then ID is disproven.

Maybe you should do what the scientists I most admire all have to do at some point: get over the fact that what you want to be true, isn't; reality just is.

Gyan said...

VR,
Sciences deal with secondary causes and thus Judge Jones is correct that ID isn’t science because it “violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation”.

Only I would not call it a question of ground rules but a very definition of what sciences are.

You appear to be invested in promoting ID as a science. May I ask how you would define science?

entirelyuseless said...

Lewontin's view is not typical even for atheist scientists. One might as well suppose that Kurt Wise's statement that he would never admit that evolution is true even if all the evidence in the universe favored it is typical for people who think that evolution is false.

Both statements are extremes, and it is wrong to use them as though they were typical.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "On this view the tail, materialism, wags the dog, the evidence, and not vice versa. The evidence of evolution didn’t tell us there’s no divine foot in the door, our a priori adherence to material causes does that."

I'll demonstrate that this is wrong in two ways:

What would evidence for a "divine foot in the door" look like? Describe it.

What is the hypothesis for intelligent design, and how would that hypothesis be disproven?

See? No a priori adherence necessary to reveal that your protest is twaddle.

Dan Gillson said...

Dr Reppert,

"But if that is the case, then someone ought to be free to explore the possibility that this conclusion is not true, and still be doing science. You might be doing bad science, or mistaken science, but you should be able to be mistaken and still do science." ... Is the original conclusion that the world is not designed scientific to begin with? I would say not, because it is merely a first-order induction, even though Dawkins spends pages elucidating certain scientific facts. That would of course mean that the opposite conclusion that the world is designed is also not scientific, so pursuing it would not be science.

"According to Judge Jones, ID isn’t science because it “violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation”. Well, if in order to follow the grounds rules of science we have to rule out design, then the evidence of evolution didn’t reveal a world without design, it presupposed it in order for its work to count as science. The investigation could not have gone either way, it could only go one way." ... You keep going back to this, even though one of the defendants (I forgot whom) admitted that under ID's definition astrology and many other theories (like what? magicks? humours?) would count as scientific, and would thereby be permissible as topics to teach as science curricula in the Dover school system. You can't just keep cherry picking that quote because it suits your purposes, Dr Reppert.

As for Lewontin, well, he's an idiot, and he makes the same crude induction as Dawkins does.

Joe Hinman said...

First of all why does everything have to be science? Why can't we argue for design and be doing philosophy and still be deemed plausibly rational?

Secondly I wonder if Jones means the same thing by ID that you do, I think, Dr. R the point you made about preconceived findings is a fine point I agree with it but I also see the same problem with creationism. Some think ID is just creationism but ID tend not to think that. Both arguments could be right and for the same reason, neither the creationism nor Jones is doing science.

Cal Metzger said...

Hinman: "First of all why does everything have to be science?"

It doesn't. But in the context of the ID "Debate" the argument of the proponents (see Victor's OP, etc.) is that ID IS science, and should be taught as science.

So, there's that problem.

Victor Reppert said...

Actually I am not promoting ID as science. I am offering two options. One is to put methodological naturalism into the definition of science, in which case science limits itself to naturalistic explanations, and whenever something outside of those parameters is brought up, then science just begs off and says that it is outside their domain. You just say "We're science here, we can't actually put that possibility in to consideration. It may or may not be true, but it is out of our area." Fair enough, you can do that, but then don't go telling me that science has shown the absence of design when in fact it was incapable, by definition, of considering the possibility in the first place. The other is to waive the naturalistic constraint, in which case ID is perfectly OK, but there is actually the possibility of, as it were beating ID fair and square by following the evidence where it leads. But you can't screen it out on methodological grounds, you have to consider it, if you think you have the tools to do so.

I said you can't have your cake and eat it too. That, and only that, is what I am arguing against.

Joe Hinman said...


January 06, 2016 7:04 AM

Blogger Cal Metzger said...
VR: "On this view the tail, materialism, wags the dog, the evidence, and not vice versa. The evidence of evolution didn’t tell us there’s no divine foot in the door, our a priori adherence to material causes does that."

I'll demonstrate that this is wrong in two ways:

What would evidence for a "divine foot in the door" look like? Describe it.

What is the hypothesis for intelligent design, and how would that hypothesis be disproven?

See? No a priori adherence necessary to reveal that your protest is twaddle.


>>>you didn't wait for his answer. tell me Cal, I think creationism is unscientific because a creationist has to find evolution unproved or he's out of the club. So creation experimental life is like professional wrestling. predetermined outcome. Do you agree that that is not scientific?


If so what's the difference in the creationist doing it or the naturalist doing it?

Now perhaps Dr. R. can't give you a model for divine causation what if someone could? would you then accept that it's scientific?


Joe Hinman said...

Naturalistic denial of miracles is circular reasoning

B. Prokop said...

"Design" is a tricky word. The universe and everything within it is rational, predictable, internally consistent, and well ordered. The human body is intricately constructed beyond imagination. Heck, a single cell is incomprehensibly complex. The observation was once made (I believe, by Arthur C. Clarke) that a cell is not only more complex than an automobile, it is more complex than the entire automobile industry!

So is that design, or just complexity? And how much complexity do we need to encounter before we start to suspect that there's something more than meets the eye going on? Do self-replicating automobile industries just happen? Is the mind boggling intricacy of the human body a product of blind chance? Is the fantastically precise fine tuning of the universe merely a Brute Fact?

On a more profound level, is the Copernican Principle (accepted as valid by most scientists without question or proof) even true? Is a world as uniquely hospitable to life as ours a random event in the universe? Or are we really something special? Even while the search for "Earth 2.0" goes on, more and more limiting factors keep being added to the list of constraints that must be met. (Right kind and size of star, right age of star, precisely necessary size of star cluster in which it was formed, sufficient distance from galactic center, occurrence of nearby supernova in early planetary history but complete absence of such thereafter, right size of planet, right distance from star, right orbital eccentricity and axial tilt, right chemical composition, presence of a Jupiter sized world nearby in the solar system (to clear out excess interplanetary debris), right kind of moon with a precisely defined size and orbit, right atmosphere, presence of a global ocean (not split up into non-connecting seas), right day/night cycle, possession of a rotating liquid iron/nickel core, active plate tectonics, sufficiently powerful and stable magnetic field... etc., etc.) Every last one of those constraints must be met before life "as we know it" can exist. After a while, it strains credibility that so many factors simultaneously met with such precision, and maintained over four and one half billion years, is purely by accident.

Jezu ufam tobie!

B. Prokop said...

"then don't go telling me that science has shown the absence of design when in fact it was incapable, by definition, of considering the possibility in the first place"

Extremely good point. If ID is philosophy and not science (which is my own position, by the way), then science has nothing to say about it. After all, you can't (rationally) say something like, "My latest lab results disprove stoicism!"

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

"If ID is not science, then the denial of ID is also not science"

On a related note -- If *I* have no standing to criticize-and-reject Darwinism because I'm neither a scientist nor a butterfly collec ... I mean, a biologist, then *you* have no standing to endorse-and-accept Darwinism unless you are an actual scientist or a biologist.

Joe Hinman said...

what if you collect butterfly's?

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Fair enough, you can do that, but then don't go telling me that science has shown the absence of design when in fact it was incapable, by definition, of considering the possibility in the first place."

Not so fast. Evolution shows how design is not necessary to explain the complexity of biological structures and behaviors. That is all. Evolution explains biological complexity.

Is there design in the universe? Of course -- man made design is everywhere. Beavers design dams. Etc. But is a designer required to explain the complexity of biological structures and behaviors? No, it doesn't seem that it is. And that is what study of evolutionary theory reveals.

Why is that so provocative to you? If it provokes you, why don't you do what I asked? (Me, earlier: What would evidence for a "divine foot in the door" look like? Describe it. / What is the hypothesis for intelligent design, and how would that hypothesis be disproven?) The refusal by ID proponents to provide this, while complaining that none of the things they can't offer are somehow necessary when they are show to be superfluous, is telling.


Cal Metzger said...

Hinman: "I think creationism is unscientific because a creationist has to find evolution unproved or he's out of the club."

I don't understand what you mean. Can you say another way?

Hinman: "So creation experimental life is like professional wrestling. predetermined outcome. Do you agree that that is not scientific?"

I agree that creationism hasn't risen to the level of science yet. But I'm not sure what you mean by predetermined outcome. Can you say this another way?

Hinman: "If so what's the difference in the creationist doing it or the naturalist doing it?"

Without understand your prior questions I can't address this.

VR: "Now perhaps Dr. R. can't give you a model for divine causation what if someone could? would you then accept that it's scientific?"

Yes. That is why I have asked for these things:
- What would evidence for a "divine foot in the door" look like? Describe it.
- What is the hypothesis for intelligent design, and how would that hypothesis be disproven?

Cal Metzger said...

llion: "On a related note -- If *I* have no standing to criticize-and-reject Darwinism because I'm neither a scientist nor a butterfly collec ... I mean, a biologist, then *you* have no standing to endorse-and-accept Darwinism unless you are an actual scientist or a biologist."

I've found that this is what people usually write when they don't have a decent background in basic science education.

You don't have to be a professional scientist to do science, or to think scientifically. You just have to apply scientific methods to the question at hand, and proceed from there. I can investigate evolutionary theory all I like -- I can examine fossils on my own (I've dug for and found them in the strata myself), I can observe animal breeding, I can perform practicals on live organisms and observe their structures, I can observe phenotypes in myself and in others and see how they relate, and on, and on, and on. And each time I investigate further, more of what I know about evolutionary theory is confirmed by my investigations. That's what it means to know a scientific fact -- you can be certain that it's true for you as it is for others. The planets don't wait for you to believe the orbit the sun before they, well, keep on orbiting the sun. But when you accept this scientific fact, and you investigate it on your own, you'll find that these scientific facts are true for you as well.

We all accept the findings of scientific theories every time we use the technologies and insights that science has uncovered. We all have standing to accept these theories because they work. And no one cares if you complain that we have no standing to use our phones or take a flight because we are not physicists. To some degree, we are are all evolutionary biologists, or physicists, etc. -- some are just waaay better at it then others.

Ilíon said...

"what if you collect butterfly's?"

There is no such thing, nor can be, as collectors of butterfly's.

B. Prokop said...

"Evolution shows how design is not necessary..."

"But is a designer required to explain the complexity of biological structures and behaviors? No, it doesn't seem that it is."

Even were both of the above statements true (which I am not conceding), neither one demonstrates an "absence of design" which Victor is saying science cannot prove. Lack of a requirement does not mean nonexistence. I do not require this cup of tea I am presently drinking. Nevertheless, here it is.

Jezu ufam tobie!

B. Prokop said...

"There is no such thing, nor can be, as collectors of butterfly's."

Wh'y not?

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Even were both of the above statements true (which I am not conceding), neither one demonstrates an "absence of design" which Victor is saying science cannot prove."

No one (except for you, and as you implicate Victor) is saying that evolution PROVES a world without design. Why do you have to twist the wording in order of what I am saying, and what Dawkins subtitle says?

Prokop: "Lack of a requirement does not mean nonexistence."

Sure. But when it comes to scientific explanations, if you're not needed, you're out. Occam's razor and all that.

Don't forget that Victor is claiming that we can't throw out ID without throwing out science (at least that's what I think he's saying, it's frankly hard to tell exactly), and I am pointing out that ID isn't ruled out a priori, ID is ruled out post priori -- as in, no one will provide to me those things we require to verify something scientifically. Until then, I agree that it's philosophical conjecture, and not science.

B. Prokop said...

"Victor is claiming that we can't throw out ID without throwing out science."

That's not how I interpret what Victor is saying. Basically, his point (I think) is that, if you're going to use "science" to rule out ID, then you have conceded that ID is science. If you believe that ID is not science, then you must use some other means to discredit it. Like I wrote above, you can't use lab results to disprove stoicism, any more than you can use a hockey puck to score a touchdown. Stoicism (or ID, if you insist that it's philosophy and not science), can only be countered by a competing philosophy. Evolution might discredit spontaneous generation, but it cannot rebut Keynesian Economics.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

I'm sorry, but this "you must use science to disallow ID" is twaddle.

A standard is a standard. Applying a standard consistently is all that those who point out that ID isn't science are doing.

One doesn't use hedonism to point out that stoicism is philosophy (as you suggest one might). One uses the standards applied to what philosophy is. Similarly, stoicism has nothing to say about whether or not hedonism is a philosophy or not. That is (again) left to the standard of what philosophy is. Stoicism and hedonism compete as philosophies, and one would be right to point out that fish are not philosophy, and that if one points this out then fish are philosophy.

The point of Victor's you are defending is seriously one of the more ridiculous contentions I've seen on this blog.

Victor Reppert said...

CM: Not so fast. Evolution shows how design is not necessary to explain the complexity of biological structures and behaviors. That is all. Evolution explains biological complexity.


VR: Yes, insofar as it is possible for naturalistic science to do so. I think anyone would admit that there are some challenges yet unmet.

Let me try Keith Parsons' example. If the galaxies in the Virgo Cluster were to spell out the words "Turn or Burn, Cal Metzger this means you," would you turn?

B. Prokop said...

"No one (except for you, and as you implicate Victor) is saying that evolution PROVES a world without design."

Where in the world did you get the idea I thought that? I certainly do NOT believe that evolution proves anything of the sort.

However, the subtitle of the book The Blind Watchman ("Why the evidence of evolution reveals a world without design") clearly shows that Dawkins does indeed think he has disproven a philosophical concept (design) with scientific evidence. Like I said, he's trying to score a touchdown using a hockey puck.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Let me try Keith Parsons' example. If the galaxies in the Virgo Cluster were to spell out the words "Turn or Burn, Cal Metzger this means you," would you turn?"

I would consider all the explanations. These include my undergoing a hallucination, a deception, etc. But if these (and other possibilities that are more likely) end up being less likely than their testable alternatives, then like any reasonable person I would come around to believing that there was something else there.

Who cares about a one-time event experienced by one person (who is almost certainly mistaken) -- this happens all over the world, everyday. It's noise. What would convince me would be something that's reliable, verifiable, and objective. Do you think the Keith Parson's example satisfies those simple criteria?

Cal Metzger said...

Me: ""No one (except for you, and as you implicate Victor) is saying that evolution PROVES a world without design."
Prokop: "Where in the world did you get the idea I thought that?"

When you wrote (emphasis mine), "Like I wrote above, you can't use lab results to DISPROVE stoicism, any more than you can use a hockey puck to score a touchdown."

Your use of the word "disprove." Not mine, or Dawkins.

Prokop: "However, the subtitle of the book The Blind Watchman ("Why the evidence of evolution reveals a world without design") clearly shows that Dawkins does indeed think he has disproven a philosophical concept (design) with scientific evidence."

You want to accuse others of claiming to "disprove" when they don't, then deny that fact that it is only you who is trying to put that word in their mouth.

This is despicable. And it is practices like yours that demonstrate why ID proponents are widely considered the worst. The. Worst.



Victor Reppert said...

In Keith's example, who is a well-known atheist, he gets corroboration from other people as well.

B. Prokop said...

Cal,

Are you stupid, or just playing so on the internet?

When Dawkins uses the phrase "reveals a world without design" he means he claims to have shown that design does not exist. When he says the "evidence of evolution" is the means by which he has revealed there is no design, he is making a connection between what he (not me!) terms "evidence of evolution" and the asserted conclusion of there being no design. And when Dawkins talks about "revealing" a world without design, he is clearly and unambiguously claiming that he has demonstrated (a.k.a., "proven") there is no [philosophical concept of] design by his [scientific] evidence for evolution.

So please don't accuse me of putting words into other people's mouths, when they have demonstrably done so themselves.

You have not previously displayed such concrete-headed denseness on this site, so I must conclude that you are either having a very off day, or are finally realizing that you are in way over your head, and like a drowning swimmer who tries to pull under his would-be rescuer, you are blindly lashing out against those would dearly love to enlighten you.

I will now permit you to have the last word. I am done on this particular exchange.

Gyan said...

VR,
"put methodological naturalism into the definition of science, in which case science limits itself to naturalistic explanations"

Is the definition of science unsettled?. Science was BORN when people limited themselves to naturalistic explanations. It has always been accepted except by ID-promoters.

Gyan said...

B. Prokop,
Skepticism about the Copernican principle leads one to skepticism about Big Bang theory --the Copernican principle is necessary to derive cosmic expansion.
And if one doubts Big Bang theory, one doubts that the universe was created 14 B years ago.

B. Prokop said...

"the Copernican principle is necessary to derive cosmic expansion"

Not so. the Copernican principle essentially states that no particular place in the universe is in any significant sense different from any other - there is no "unique" perspective.

But if it turned out that our poor little Earth was indeed, if not unique, then at the least exceedingly rare (perhaps there being only a handful (say, less than a hundred) of such in the entire visible universe), then that in and of itself would be a violation of the Copernican Principle.

I'm fairly agnostic at this point about the visible universe, but I'd be astonished if we were to find another Earth within our own Milky Way galaxy. I'd say the odds against such were "astronomical"!

Gyan said...

B.Prokop,
Your comment does not appear to touch upon my point regarding cosmic expansion.
1) From Earth, we observe galaxies receding from us in all directions.
2) By applying the Copernican principle, we obtain that this receding must be observed from all the vantage points.
3) Thus, we get cosmic expansion i.e. an expansion of the space itself.

For this derivation, it does not matter that other Earth-like habitable planets exist or not. Only what is seen from the Earth (receding galaxies in all directions) must be seen from other vantage points.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "In Keith's example, who is a well-known atheist..."

I don't care if Keith Parsons is well-known or an atheist. Do you think that matters regarding a thought experiment?

VR: "... he gets corroboration from other people as well."

Okay, that would work toward satisfying the criteria we use for knowledge (objective), but it would need to be reliable and verifiable. Why is this so hard to accept?

B. Prokop said...

"it does not matter that other Earth-like habitable planets exist or not"

But it most certainly does. If the Earth were the only place in the universe populated by sentient beings capable of observing things, then there would literally be no other vantage points to discuss. You cannot "see" the expansion of the universe without a mind. That alone would make our world a quite unique place - very un-Copernican. (And yes, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, it makes no sound.)

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Are you stupid, or just playing so on the internet? When Dawkins uses the phrase "reveals a world without design" he means he claims to have shown that design does not exist."

No. Dawkins is a (much) better writer than you. I would defer to his words on the subject. He wrote "reveals." You have changed this to "disprove." That is your license, and your problem, and instead of correcting it you call me stupid. Nice.

Prokop: "And when Dawkins talks about "revealing" a world without design, he is clearly and unambiguously claiming that he has demonstrated (a.k.a., "proven") there is no [philosophical concept of] design by his [scientific] evidence for evolution."

Sure he did.

Prokop: "So please don't accuse me of putting words into other people's mouths, when they have demonstrably done so themselves."

You haven't demonstrated anything, just doubled down on your laughably false assertions. It's almost like you're an ID proponent or something.

Prokop: "You have not previously displayed such concrete-headed denseness on this site, so I must conclude that you are either having a very off day, or are finally realizing that you are in way over your head, and like a drowning swimmer who tries to pull under his would-be rescuer, you are blindly lashing out against those would dearly love to enlighten you."

Um, yeah, that must be it.

Dan Gillson said...

Cal, if the evidence revealed that you were stupid, would it disprove you being smart? Just wondering.

Cal Metzger said...

Gillson: "Cal, if the evidence revealed that you were stupid, would it disprove you being smart? Just wondering."

Let's see. I have no doubt that I could be labeled "stupid" about some things. I think that's true of all of us. But if the evidence revealed that I was stupid with regard to some things, would that rule out that I was possibly smart about others? Obviously, no.

So, there's your answer. Do you know what your question reveals to me?

Ilíon said...

Dan Gillson: "Cal, if the evidence revealed that you were stupid, would it disprove you being smart? Just wondering."

Now, if only you would apply that question to your God-denial.

The evidence -- what *must* be true, about the world ... and about yourself, if there is no transcendent Creator versus what you *know* to be true about yourself -- reveals that atheism is false, that it has been disproven, that it never stood a chance of being true. And still, you will not simply acknowledge that fact, so that you can see what more you may learn about reality once you start with the correct answer to the First Question.

Cal Metzger said...

Illion: "The evidence -- what *must* be true, about the world ... and about yourself, if there is no transcendent Creator versus what you *know* to be true about yourself -- reveals that atheism is false, that it has been disproven, that it never stood a chance of being true. And still, you will not simply acknowledge that fact, so that you can see what more you may learn about reality once you start with the correct answer to the First Question."

M'kay.

Whole lot of assertions and aspersions here, and not much in the way of demonstration or question answering. You guys are what you are, I suppose. At least you make yourselves plain for any to see, so there is that.

B. Prokop said...

There are more ways of becoming an atheist than just stupidity. Though that is most definitely one way.

The most common route, alas, is plain apathy. So many people simply do not care, and drift unconsciously into an unthinking atheism. Dante wrote of these, saying the souls of the apathetic "envied every other fate." Christ Himself said he preferred people who are either hot or cold, but would spew the lukewarm (apathetic) out of His mouth. This may be the saddest lot of them all.

Then there are what you might call the "deniers". These come in two varieties. The first sort is the person who, upon the least suspicion that there might be something to all this "God Talk" runs as fast as he can in the other direction, never allowing himself to seriously consider the claims of Christianity. The second sort is the person who has progressed beyond mere suspicion, and willfully suppresses any thought that might cause him to abandon his atheism. This sort of atheist may (like Loftus) have a vested interest in atheism, and would stand to loose materially if he repented.

The next route to atheism goes through an unfortunate experience, upbringing, or personal trauma. These are the atheists who are (ironically) angry at God for not existing. Or alternatively, they are angry at Him for existing, and not having "stepped in" while they were being abused, persecuted, or struck by a tornado, for example. This group deserves the most compassion, as they are likely not capable of rationally approaching the subject (it's too emotional).

I'd now have to throw in those who were brainwashed into atheism in childhood or during their education, who didn't want to seem "uncool", or who bowed to peer pressure, or were afraid of ridicule (a la Dawkins), who didn't want to buck the "spirit of the age" - who were frankly bullied into non-belief.

The last group are the truly evil, who rationalize their sin by saying "There is no God!"

I guess that about covers all the bases.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

"There are more ways of becoming an atheist than just stupidity."

Of course .. or, rather, myself, I would deny that stupidity is *ever* a route to atheism. And you, and everyone else, know that I *never* accuse anyone of being studid, much less of taking any of the (false) positions they may take because of stupidity.

And, also of course, Dan Gillson wasn't calling Cal Metzger 'stupid'; he was calling him a a 'fool', which is to say, he was accusing him of being 'intellectually dishonest'.

Dan Gillson said...

The question reveals that I don't take you seriously, Cal, which is to say that it is evidence that proves that I think you're unserious.

John Mitchell said...

B.Prokop:

"The last group are the truly evil"

So who is the last group?

"I'd now have to throw in those who were brainwashed into atheism in childhood (...)"

Or did you mean the last subgroup of the fourth group ??

"(...) who were frankly bullied into non-belief."

So brainwashed and bullied people are 'truly evil'? C'mon...


Why not just say atheism is the rejection of infinite love and therefor truly evil, no matter what, and be done with it.

Dan Gillson said...

To be clear, I wasn't accusing anyone of anything, I was posing the question to Cal for him to relect on it, to see if he understands the implicature of the subtitle to Dawkins's little treatise. Apparently, Cal does not.

Cal Metzger said...

Gillson: "To be clear, I wasn't accusing anyone of anything..."

Sure you weren't.

Gillson: "I was posing the question to Cal for him to relect [reflect?] on it, to see if he understands the implicature of the subtitle to Dawkins's little treatise. Apparently, Cal does not."

This is rich.

B. Prokop said...

Sorry, John. I was unclear. I did not mean the words "last group" to mean the "last mentioned group" (which I now see how it could be taken that way). I should have written something like, "And there is one more, last group who are the truly evil, who rationalize their sin by saying "There is no God!"

John Mitchell said...

Oh, i see.
Thanks for clarifying that.

Dan Gillson said...

Surely you can appreciate the difference between a suggestion and an accusation, Cal. Or are we no longer willing to quibble over words?

Cal Metzger said...

Gillson: "Surely you can appreciate the difference between a suggestion and an accusation, Cal. Or are we no longer willing to quibble over words?"

Do you have a point?

Dan Gillson said...

To annoy you, because you're a troll.

B. Prokop said...

"because you're a troll"

I've come to that reluctant conclusion myself. There are times when it's appropriate to exercise heroic patience in the face of error (in hopes of saving a soul), but every now and then one comes up against someone who simply is not interested in what is true or false, bur rather in how he can roil the waters and muddy the conversation. Such people are not interested in reasonable discussion, but rather in how much disturbance and conflict they can provoke. That seems to be the essence of "trolldom". What counts for them is not how much progress can be made towards wisdom, but rather in how much attention is paid to them. The old internet rule "Do not feed the troll" remains valid. We faced this situation in the past with Papalinton and im-skeptical, two posters who seemed to compete for the prize of Least Rational Poster to the Internet. Well, they now have been joined by a third - Cal. It's probably time to stop feeding the beast.

Cal Metzger said...

Gillson: "To annoy you, because you're a troll."

Okay, that simplifies things for me. (You confused me when you said the opposite earlier.) Thanks!

Prokop: "I've come to that reluctant conclusion [that Cal Metzger is a troll] myself."

This in the same thread where I've stayed on track to the OP, and answered those questions asked of me, all while being insulted (called stupid, a troll, etc.), lied to, all while witnessing the discussion devolve by others' off-topic questions.

But, if by troll you mean someone who enjoys exposing hypocrisy, inconsistency, sanctimony, and fallacious thinking, then yes, I proudly accept the crown of all trolls, and will place it on my head myself (thank you very much).


Dan Gillson said...

"But, if by troll you mean someone who enjoys exposing hypocrisy, inconsistency, sanctimony, and fallacious thinking, then yes, I proudly accept the crown of all trolls, and will place it on my head myself (thank you very much)." ... I'm so glad that keyboard activism exists. How else would lazy, unmotivated people feel morally fulfilled?

Gyan said...

Prokop,
"there would literally be no other vantage points to discuss."

I was talking physics. The derivation of cosmic expansion relies upon
A) Observation of receding galaxies in all directions from the Earth.
B) Assumption of principle of Mediocrity or Copernican principle---there is nothing special about the Earth as a vantage point--thus receding galaxies are seen from the Earth, they must be seen from all other vantage points--I clarify that "vantage point" does not mean an earth-like planet or even any planet at all.It just means a point in space from which observations can be taken. You could observe them from a spacecraft in interstellar space.
It does not imply intelligent aliens. This assumption does not imply all that.

If you doubt my reasoning, I would be happy to know how you derive that the age of universe is 14 B years.

B. Prokop said...

"I would be happy to know how you derive that the age of universe is 14 B years."

I don't. I rely on the expertise of those who have the time and inclination to figure these things out. Left to my own devices, I would probably say something like "The universe is really, really old" and leave it at that.

I actually have little interest in the age of the universe. I'm more interested in what it looks like now. In my own astronomy club, I'm considered somewhat unusual because I prefer observing things within our own solar system to what are termed Deep Sky Objects (things outside the solar system). That's mainly because I expect human beings to eventually visit most of these places, whilst I am extremely skeptical about our species ever achieving interstellar travel. And even when it comes to the stars, I spend most of my time tracking down our nearest stellar neighbors. I've even written two books on the subject. My Observing the Nearest Stars is considered something of a "bestseller" among amateur astronomers, having been downloaded more than 1200 times. I've gotten feedback from it from as far away as Finland.

Gyan said...

B. Prokop,
I appreciate knowing your interest in Solar system. I deplore the modern tendency in the school text books to START with Big Bang and work out the solar system and its known objects as a particular case of stellar evolution.

I would START with the heavenly bodies and first define the distinction between the fixed stars and the wandering stars (the planets).

Indeed, I wonder if you know of a book or a link that has information on how the ancient astronomers worked out the order of planets in their distance from the Earth?

Gyan said...

"the age of universe is 14 B years."
The experts are wrong, simply. There is no way that physics or astrophysics could make such a statement. This is NOT a scientific statement.
And this is pertinent in the evolution-wars since clearly the theists have latched on to the "empirical" validation of the Creation story. But the Creation is a metaphysical event and not an empirical event. The Creation was not an observable event, even in principle.
Physics requires a running universe and hence incapable of describing creation of the universe itself. This point is well-known for instance Stanley Jaki writes:
"Even the most advanced scientific discoveries in the fields of cosmology and nuclear physics cannot shed any light on what caused the creation of the Universe"

"Discoveries in the field of nuclear physics and astronomy have given us an insight into what happened after the instant of creation. But what preceded that singularity, when matter was created from nothing, can never be known from scientific studies"

"It is a principle of science that a scientific proposition must be verified by quantitative analysis. When Stephen Hawking asserts that the origins of the Universe prove that God does not exist, that proposition cannot be proved scientifically."

"What can science say about the Creation? The answer is nothing. Scientists cannot observe nothing."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And if such a obvious point is not appreciated, esp by theists, then there is little hope of attaining clarity in far more perplexing questions of the evolution wars,

grodrigues said...

@Gyan:

"Physics requires a running universe and hence incapable of describing creation of the universe itself. This point is well-known for instance Stanley Jaki writes:

"Even the most advanced scientific discoveries in the fields of cosmology and nuclear physics cannot shed any light on what caused the creation of the Universe""

You are confusing two different questions. When cosmologists say that the universe is 14B years old they are claiming that the known universe has a specific property (there is a specific technical meaning attached to these words) and furthermore, that such claim can be backed up by arguments and evidence of the general sort available in cosmology (note: there are some important qualifications to be made here, but the point stands).

What caused the universe to come into existence, if indeed anything caused it to come into existence, or indeed what even is the precise meaning of "cause of the universe", are different questions, of a metaphysical nature.

grodrigues said...

@Dan Gilson:

"To annoy you, because you're a troll."

And for this saintly work, God bless you.

B. Prokop said...

Gyan,

Here is an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Cosmology, which can be found on Google Books:

The order of the planets had therefore to be decided by physical argument. Several different ordering schemes were put forward in antiquity. One principle proposed at an early date was that the distances were correlated with the speeds; that is, the planets farthest from the earth were those with the longest tropical periods (Aristotle, On the Heavens 291 a32-b9). (A planet's tropical period is the average time required for the planet to make a complete trip around the zodiac, as viewed from the earth.) Thus, most ancient writers agree in placing Saturn nearest the fixed stars, with Jupiter next below, and then Mars. The difficulty was what to do with the sun, Venus, and Mercury, since all three have a tropical period of exactly one year. Ptolemy (Almagest XI, 1) says that some mathematicians placed Venus and Mercury higher than the sun, because the sun had never been seen eclipsed by the planets. However, Ptolemy points out that these planets might lie a little north or south of the ecliptic at their conjunctions with the sun and therefore fail to produce an eclipse, just as the moon fails in the majority of cases to eclipse the sun at the time of the new moon. In the Planetary Hypotheses (I, 2.2) Ptolemy adds that the occultation of the sun by a small body might not even be perceptible, just as small, grazing eclipses of the sun by the moon are often not perceptible.

In any case, Ptolemy elects to place Venus and Mercury below the sun. In this way the sun, placed in the middle of the system, serves as a division between the planets that have limited elongations from the sun (Mercury and Venus) and those that can be at any angular distance from the sun (Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). Ptolemy's order is therefore moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

investigativeapologetics said...

I have not read the entire thread, and as such, I apologize if this comment is redundant, but in terms of this discussion, it is perhaps also relevant to note that there is nothing about an inference to design as such that violates the principle of methodological naturalism, and thus this objection can negate the idea that ID is a scientific inference.

As I said on my blog:

"One of the main objections that is often mounted against the idea that the inference to intelligent design is a valid scientific inference–in terms of an inference for a historical science–is that inferring design violates the long-held scientific principle of methodological naturalism, and yet not only is it the case that the principle of methodological naturalism is indeed an extremely questionable principle in and of itself, but it is also the case that anyone with half a brain can see that inferring that something was designed does not, in and of itself, violate the principle that we must consider that this design was natural in origin; now a further philosophical argument might show that the best explanation for that design is supernatural in orientation, but that is a philosophical extrapolation of the inference to design, not the scientific inference to design itself, and so, in light of this, there is nothing about a design inference that violates the principle of methodological naturalism (after all, consider, for example, that if the SETI people received a signal from space that included the first 100 prime numbers, they would be right to infer design, and they would be doing methodologically natural science in inferring so, but the further extrapolation that the signal came from aliens rather than angels (or vis versa) would be a philosophical inference to the best explanation rather than a strict scientific one, and so again, a simple inference to design as such in no way goes against methodological naturalism)."

Anyway, I just thought that this point was worth keeping in mind.

22056
www.investigativeapologetics.wordpress.com

Cal Metzger said...

Investigative: "and yet not only is it the case that the principle of methodological naturalism is indeed an extremely questionable principle in and of itself..."

I read methodological naturalism as synonymous with the practice of science; calling what has brought us the fruits of science "extremely questionable" puts you on a distant fringe. Honestly, it's just a bizarre thing to claim.

Investigative: "now a further philosophical argument might show that the best explanation for that design is supernatural in orientation."

Please notice how philosophical arguments WITHOUT natural verification are not persuasive. As far as I know, no proponent of this argument can even come up with a description of what the supernatural is (that isn't falsified). There are other problems, but that one's the starter, and it seems intractable.

Investigative: "...after all, consider, for example, that if the SETI people received a signal from space that included the first 100 prime numbers, they would be right to infer design, and they would be doing methodologically natural science in inferring so..."

Yes. And notice how they would have been using the methodological naturalism (the signal is natural) you eschewed as "extremely questionable just a few sentences earlier. That was fast.

Investigative: "...but the further extrapolation that the signal came from aliens rather than angels (or vis versa) would be a philosophical inference to the best explanation rather than a strict scientific one..."

How is it philosophical to make a probabilistic argument? Probabilistic arguments are about as natural as can be.

But if you agree that inference to design that in some way resorts to that which is objective, reliable, and verifiable would be scientific(ky), then I agree. The problem that the ID proponents (at least every one I come across) always make is that they want to detach their inference from anything that is objective, reliable, and verifiable. And that has (reliably) never gotten us anywhere.




Gyan said...

Cal Metzger is correct to note that "methodological naturalism as synonymous with the practice of science". Indeed not only practice but the very definition of science.
Only the pro-ID try to muddle the point here.

Gyan said...

Prokop,
I thank you for the astronomical reference.
However, to get to the point of the "age of the universe", you say:
"When cosmologists say that the universe is 14B years old they are claiming that the known universe has a specific property (there is a specific technical meaning attached to these words)"

Could you elaborate what precisely do the cosmologists mean by the "universe is 14B years old".

B. Prokop said...

Gyan,

Grodrigues wrote that, not me.

Gyan said...

Prokop,
Now I see. I apologize for the mistake.

Ilíon said...

Gyan: "Cal Metzger is correct to note that "methodological naturalism as synonymous with the practice of science". Indeed not only practice but the very definition of science.
Only the pro-ID try to muddle the point here.
"

Tell that to Isaac Newton.

The truth of the matter is that it is only the need to protect the asserted scientifical status Darwinism -- the creation-myth of atheism -- from simple "wait a minute here" criticism which stands behind the quite silly assertion that "methodological naturalism as synonymous with the practice of science" and that "Indeed [methodological naturalism is] not only practice but the very definition of science".

For (non-exhaustively, and in no particular order) --

* it's not merely methodological naturalism these people are promoting, but philosophical naturalism;

* if naturalism (of either sort) is "Indeed not only practice but the very definition of science", then science is pretty much worthless as a vehicle for discovering truth, for the things that matter *to* human beings and *about* human beings cannot be encompassed by naturalism

-- as I frequently bring to the reader's attention, echoing C S Lewis, when "nature" is understood or defined in terms of naturalism, then human beings are, definitionally, super-natural ... which is rather silly, but inescapable by that asserted definition;

-- trying to escape the above is why naturalists, when they are honestly stating their position, always end up asserting that we ourselves don't even exist;

* if methodological naturalism were "Indeed not only practice but the very definition of science", then there should be no problem at all with admitting methodological designism into that practice and definition, for after all, a methodology is not a philosophy;

-- but, in actual fact, it is philosophical naturalism that these people are claiming is "Indeed not only practice but the very definition of science", and philosophical naturalism can no more coexist with methodological designism than it can with philosophical designism;