Intelligent Design - why not?

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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Lomax on May 23rd, 2017, 9:12 am 

Braininvat » May 23rd, 2017, 2:02 pm wrote:The rate is per one thousand live births. So the UN figure would be 5 percent. Sorry to be a pedant, but you had half the wee ones dying, a figure more suitable for an apocalyptic novel.

Ha, I realised that when I woke up, caught up on the thread, googled "child mortality rate" and couldn't reconcile the two. Pedantry is always welcome by me.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 23rd, 2017, 10:15 am 

That's What We've Been Saying All Along - by Terry and the Tergiversators
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

@ Lomax and BiV

Might write some more tomorrow [yes, I see your questions, Lomax :-) ] -- dang! these debates wreak havoc with my sleep patterns. For now just this:

For quite some years now I have been arguing -- in good Feyerabendian fashion -- for the position that there exists no such thing as The Scientific Method, at least as traditionally understood. In the early years the reaction was almost invariably hostile; yes, they would batter me and bloody me, I tell ya; even managed to get myself banned from a website or two where the participants were far less affable than you cuddly tarsiers.

As the years passed, though, I noticed a change in the literature. Even scientists themselves started to admit it. Far from being a position held only by minorities, wackos and myself, these days, dare I say, it's almost something of a platitude to assert that THE scientific method is nothing but a fanciful chimera. People might even giggle at you for advancing such a silly claim that any sensible person can see to be obviously false. You know how cruel they can be!

In short, the very same people who once beat me to a pulp and left me for dead at the side of the street, having realized their previous position is in danger of becoming obsolete, now declare smugly from atop their new bandwagon, "Of course there's no single Method of science. That's what we've been saying all along. Don't you listen? Duh!"

My bruises tell another story, buster!

Well, right now I'm getting the same kinda deja vu sensation from you guys. "Of course Darwin's theory is wrong. Everyone knows that. Where on earth have you been, dude? For the times they are a-changin'".

Serpent (of no-frickin-way fame), for one, to stay close to home, apparently hasn't received the memo. And the falsity of Darwinism is certainly not the word on my street, which admittedly is not the most flourishing of thoroughfares.

My first google search for "Darwin's theory true" (I think that's what I typed anyway LOL. It's late) yields this from Scientific American:

"When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... eationist/

Sounds suspiciously to me like Scientific American hasn't received the memo either. A nervous, twitchy neurotic like myself could be forgiven, with some justification I think, for interpreting the above passage as saying the theory that Charles Darwin introduced 150 (or whatever) years ago has now been completely vindicated. The battle has been won! Better tell 'em to sign up for our little picnic, eh? We know better.

And if you don't like that interpretation, it's also conceivable they're being a wee bit disingenuous, evading an explicit denouncement of Darwin's theory -- which we, at least, know to be false, right guys? After all, who knows who might be listening.

A histrionic goodnight, gentlemen.

P.S. My new hobby will be collecting quotes from noted, yet sadly benighted, scientists who do continue to assert the truth (more or less) of Darwinian evolution. Watch this space. Some folks have waaaayyy too much free time... :-)
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Lomax on May 23rd, 2017, 10:53 am 

Well I was careful to be pedantic about Darwin because I didn't want to sound like I was defending every claim made 158 years ago when evolution theory was in its birth throes. I entered this thread with a defence of Dawkins's positions where they are incompatible with Darwin's, so I don't feel particularly wrung by the point that Darwin made mistakes. I am sure the scientific community is still making mistakes, and I like to think it wouldn't deny it either. The point is that none of this entails the untruth of evolution-by-natural-selection, only one detail of one particular variant of it. And none of that gives us any excuse to throw our lot in with the misnomered "intelligent" design theory.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby mitchellmckain on May 23rd, 2017, 1:45 pm 

Lomax » May 22nd, 2017, 12:42 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » May 22nd, 2017, 9:45 am wrote:The so called "metaphor" in "The Selfish Gene" doesn't sound like a metaphor to me and I think it is a highly distorted picture. I don't like anthropomorphizing reductionism in general

In the introduction to my edition, Dawkins defends himself by saying:

Richard Dawkins wrote:no sane person thinks DNA molecules have conscious personalities, and no sensible reader would impute such a delusion to an author.

I hope you will not take it too hard if I say that I agree with him. On page four (of all editions) he says:

Ridiculing a grossly exaggerated version of something is a typical tactic of dishonest rhetoric. It is a diversion tactic much like an ad-hominem which simply avoids the question with a red herring.

Lomax » May 22nd, 2017, 12:42 pm wrote:
Richard Dawkins wrote:It is important to realise that the above definitions of altruism and selfishness are behavioural, not subjective. I am not concerned here with the psychology of motives. I am not going to argue about whether people who behave altruistically are 'really' doing it for secret or subconscious selfish motives. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't, and maybe we can never really know, but in any case that is not what this book is about. My definition is concerned only with whether the effect of an act is to lower or raise the survival prospects of the presumed altruist and the survival prospects of the presumed beneficiary.

(Italics in original.) So the metaphorical nature is affirmed, and the working definition provided, before 98.8% of the book is read. I can well see how the word "Selfish" will still mislead those who have read the title and not the book, but a guy needs a catchy title.

I have read the entire book and the misleading message is not just in the title but in the whole book. I repudiate the whole idea that the process of life is orchestrated by genes for some purposes of the genes themselves. I insist that the genetic structure was invented by living organisms as a mechanism to pass on information to the next generation, not by the components of the process but by the emergent nature of the organizing process itself. This is not just semantics, by the way, but has to do with a different perspective in theory of abiogenesis called "metabolism first" theories, which suggests that the origin of life was not simply some accidental creation of genetic material.

Lomax » May 22nd, 2017, 12:42 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » May 22nd, 2017, 9:45 am wrote:The flaw in the God delusion is the treatment of God a scientific hypothesis. It is no such thing. It fails the criterion for a scientific hypothesis.

I have to disagree with you if only because you used a capital G. It may well be that theism de re and deism de re fail to meet the standards of falsifiability (although the logical positivists presented tenable arguments that such claims are unintelligible), but the Christian god - the one who goes by the proper name "God" - very certainly has empirical claims made about Him. Is it or is it not the case that Jesus was born of a virgin? Did he or did he not rise from the dead? Did Moses or did Moses not speak to (or, more importantly, listen to the divine commands of) a burning bush? The tenets of Christianity are saturated with such claims, and they are either factually true or they are not.

I have heard it said that "As a Christian I believe it to be true, but as a historian I believe it to be false". Well I couldn't have put it any better myself.

You are certainly free to interpret the words of others from your own materialistic worldview but if you insist on projecting this on other people then you are choosing self-deception over the authentic understanding of what people are saying. Just because you equate reality with a physical/material one alone doesn't mean that other people have to. Other people see more than one aspect/nature to reality, both the physical and the spiritual. I am, of course, one of those people (despite the fact that I am adamantly opposed to intelligent design when it comes to living things). Perhaps the more unique version which I adhere to is one which associates the physical with the objective and the spiritual with the subjective -- declaring that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality itself.

Try stepping out of your materialistic/naturalistic worldview a second to understand the meaning of what I am saying. I am not saying that the spiritual things of religion are just in the believer's head. I am saying that there is a aspect of reality which does not force itself on everyone but is responsive to the desires and beliefs of the participants. In other words, in addition to the physical aspect/dimension of reality which simply follows mathematical rules there is another aspect/dimension of reality which shapes itself according to the choices of conscious beings. From this perspective the statement above acquires a very different meaning, not that I would quite use those same words myself.

I would say that these things are historically factual but that they are largely spiritual events rather than physical. After all God is a spiritual being not a physical one, and by my understanding that means that claims about Him CANNOT be empirical. The methods of science are frankly about control over the things which the mathematical laws of the physical universe dictate and are thus categorically inapplicable to a spiritual being such as God. For the "born of the virgin question" I will refer you to a discussion of this in the religion section, where you will also find a discussion of resurrection question too. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 resurrection is literal and bodily but spiritual and not physical. And that means it NOT empirical in any way at all. How physical that burning bush was is an open question, but the only thing I would firmly suggest is historical (in the sense that it physically happened, not that historical evidence verifies it) is that Moses believed he had such an experience and discussion with God.

People experience things which are not measurable or able to be established objectively in any way. Thus your attempt to equate factual with empirical is rejected. Does this put fairies, UFO abductions, healing by crystals, Wiccan spells and such in the same category? Absolutely! Is it reasonable to expect people just to accept the word of believers that such things are real? Not at all! But however much YOU may decide to equate all that with nothing which actually exists, that decision by you is JUST as subjective as the belief and experience of others regarding these things.

Thus I reaffirm my assertion that these two books introduce non-scientific elements (and I will now include the words "subjective beliefs") into the presentation with the result that these two books are not as good as his other books. I have no doubt that some people like yourself who share his subjective beliefs will not see any difference and thus find these two books just as good as any of his others. But I think the principle point I am making is that even if some people unlike yourself do find these two books objectionable, they should not dismiss Dawkins entirely on that basis for there are other books of his which are still quite good even when you do not share his subjective opinions.

P.S. Any continuation of the religious aspects of this discussion (i.e. questions about my ideas regarding the spiritual aspect of things) should be conducted in the religion section. I only mention these above to clarify the points regarding the non-scientific elements in Dawkins book.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Lomax on May 23rd, 2017, 2:11 pm 

Imagine if I were to critique your post for its misleading metaphor, Mitchell. Of course living organisms did not "invent" genetic structure; we are simply made of it. I have read Dawkins's book too and at no point did I get the impression that he was saying genes have personalities. If you object that this is a "grossly exaggerated version" of your critique then you will simply have to explain what is misleading about the word "selfish", since nobody here is under the illusion that Dawkins is saying genes sit around with a Mr Burns face plotting their next tax evasion.

When God becomes a burning bush with an axe to grind, He becomes a physical thing. Either Christ got down off that cross or he did not. Theism may be something abstract and metaphysical but Christianity, like most or all major religions, makes physical claims in addition to its supernatural ones. To divorce theism from those claims is no longer to be an adherent to those religions, but only, more abstractly, a theist. This was Paine's point when he wrote the Age of Reason. Paine was a deist, and sought to defend his god against the absurd and otherwise false claims of religions.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby mitchellmckain on May 23rd, 2017, 2:23 pm 

Since you have composed your response while I continued to work on mine, let me reiterate a couple of points which you seemed to have not addressed.

I repudiate the whole idea that the process of life is orchestrated by genes for some purposes of the genes themselves. I insist that the genetic structure was invented by living organisms as a mechanism to pass on information to the next generation, not by the components of the process but by the emergent nature of the organizing process itself. This is not just semantics, by the way, but has to do with a different perspective in theory of abiogenesis called "metabolism first" theories, which suggests that the origin of life was not simply some accidental creation of genetic material.



Thus I reaffirm my assertion that these two books introduce non-scientific elements (and I will now include the words "subjective beliefs") into the presentation with the result that these two books are not as good as his other books. I have no doubt that some people like yourself who share his subjective beliefs will not see any difference and thus find these two books just as good as any of his others. But I think the principle point I am making is that even if some people unlike yourself do find these two books objectionable, they should not dismiss Dawkins entirely on that basis for there are other books of his which are still quite good even when you do not share his subjective opinions.

P.S. Any continuation of the religious aspects of this discussion (i.e. questions about my ideas regarding the spiritual aspect of things) should be conducted in the religion section. I only mention these above to clarify the points regarding the non-scientific elements in Dawkins book.


Nor have you addressed my point that this grossly exaggerated revision of my objection misses the mark since nowhere in my posts have I even mentioned the word "selfish." You are obviously just carrying over a canned response to objections by other people. I reiterate this portion above also and have italicize it to point it out for you to find easily.

Lomax » May 23rd, 2017, 1:11 pm wrote:When God becomes a burning bush with an axe to grind, He becomes a physical thing. Either Christ got down off that cross or he did not. Theism may be something abstract and metaphysical but Christianity, like most or all major religions, makes physical claims in addition to its supernatural ones. To divorce theism from those claims is no longer to be an adherent to those religions, but only, more abstractly, a theist. This was Paine's point when he wrote the Age of Reason. Paine was a deist, and sought to defend his god against the absurd and otherwise false claims of religions.

In other words, if I don't make the mistakes of the Christians you are used to ridiculing then I am simply not one for which YOU have been grinding an axe.

One of the endless arguments of ANY religion or philosophy is what defines their religion or philosophy. It is interesting when critics join in such arguments in order support the rhetoric of their opposition. I would even say it is hilarious to the point of absurdity when such critics thus make themselves fundie fanatics of those religions just so they can justify their holy crusade against the religion as a whole. A more objective and academic approach is to acknowledge the whole reality and complexity of human belief and practice and abstain from the empty rhetoric, either for or against.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Lomax on May 23rd, 2017, 2:53 pm 

So what was the "anthromorphizing" you criticised on page four? And what's the misleading metaphor?

As to abiogenesis, I don't take any position. I don't claim to be able to explain it. Nor did Darwin, as far as I recall - his theory was attempt to explain speciation. I don't know what line Dawkins takes. I will only say (since this is a thread about creationism) that if abiogenesis was brought about by The Divine Hand, it's some oddity that He decided to do it on a cooling planet, most of which was uninhabitable by human life for billions of years, in a corner of a galaxy in a corner of a universe which is accelerating apart so fast that we almost weren't able to tell much of it was there at all. Eventually, so far as we can tell, it will run out of energy and the whole thing will freeze over. It certainly doesn't look like we are central to His Plans, given all this. So while I can't disprove that an artificer got life on earth going, I think it's a hypothesis about which we ought to be, if not dismissive, very wary. And by the way - need I say it? - it's a claim about a physical event.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Serpent on May 23rd, 2017, 3:13 pm 

Tamen, ut evolve - sumus usque ad summum.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby mitchellmckain on May 23rd, 2017, 3:22 pm 

Lomax » May 23rd, 2017, 1:53 pm wrote:So what was the "anthromorphizing" you criticised on page four? And what's the misleading metaphor?

The word "anthropomorphizing" was used in the phrase "genetic anthromorphizing reductionism" to refer to attributes of control and purpose given to these components the living process. To be sure, the use of the word "selfish" reinforces the anthropomorphic aspect of this. But my usage of the word was made clear by the explanation which followed. "DNA and RNA are just information storage systems by which living organisms pass on what they have learned to the next generation." This clearly has nothing to do with any objection to selfishness versus altruism. Personally, I have defended the logic of the claim that altruism can indeed be explained as a product of evolution, though I would object that labeling the evolutionary process as "selfish" is non-scientific and highly subjective.

Lomax » May 23rd, 2017, 1:53 pm wrote:As to abiogenesis, I don't take any position. I don't claim to be able to explain it. Nor did Darwin, as far as I recall - his theory was attempt to explain speciation.

Quite correct. The confusion of evolution and Darwin with the origin of life is indeed a frequent error by the proponents of intelligent design and creationism. Equating flaws in Darwin's original work with a disproof of evolution is another mistake they make. That work was just the beginning of the scientific theory, which has been greatly refined since that book.

Lomax » May 23rd, 2017, 1:53 pm wrote: I don't know what line Dawkins takes. I will only say (since this is a thread about creationism) that if abiogenesis was brought about by The Divine Hand, it's some oddity that He decided to do it on a cooling planet, most of which was uninhabitable by human life for billions of years, in a corner of a galaxy in a corner of a universe which is accelerating apart so fast that we almost weren't able to tell much of it was there at all. Eventually, so far as we can tell, it will run out of energy and the whole thing will freeze over. It certainly doesn't look like we are central to His Plans, given all this. So while I can't disprove that an artificer got life on earth going, I think it's a hypothesis about which we ought to be, if not dismissive, very wary. And by the way - need I say it? - it's a claim about a physical event.

None of which is in the least bit relevant to my comment about "metabolism first" theories, which perhaps you ought to at least google in order to catch up on recent developments in the theory of abiogenesis. My point was simply that my objection is not just semantics. If the origin of life is a process which begins before any genetic material was involved then to make genes into the masters and directors of the whole process doesn't fit the facts very well, does it?
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Lomax on May 23rd, 2017, 3:33 pm 

I'll give you an hour or two to keep editing your posts before I think about replying Mitchell. I just want to make sure you're done.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Braininvat on May 23rd, 2017, 7:12 pm 

I like MF theory. It gives you a rich prebiotic soup where thermodynamics are favorable for eventually getting to RNA World. It deals with the chirality problem in a simple way. And it doesn't require us to accept highly improbable scenarios of spontaneous nucleotide formation. Autocatalytic molecules arise in a natural way where you've got a good supply of certain minerals (as around hydrothermal vents). I know it has detractors. I saw a paper a few years ago that seemed to have analyzed why the probability of MF was just too low to take seriously. (Will try to find, if anyone's interested) I haven't followed the controversy since then, but a rudimentary Darwinian selection at the pre-biotic level doesn't seem at all strange to me.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 23rd, 2017, 7:27 pm 

mitchellmckain » May 24th, 2017, 4:22 am wrote:Quite correct. The confusion of evolution and Darwin with the origin of life is indeed a frequent error by the proponents of intelligent design and creationism. Equating flaws in Darwin's original work with a disproof of evolution is another mistake they make. That work was just the beginning of the scientific theory, which has been greatly refined since that book.


Greatly refined? Is that the same as shown to be false?

Where on earth have you beeeeen, dude?

Pssst, Lomax & Braininvat. Looks like another one didn't get the memo.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 23rd, 2017, 7:32 pm 

Lomax » May 23rd, 2017, 9:56 pm wrote:
You're still telling me what people thought centuries ago, when we were comparatively ignorant. Q1: Why do you think a low infant mortality rate disproves natural selection? Q2: Why does Stove thinks this? Q3: And who in the living scientific community thinks it? Like I said, we know a lot about natural selection now that Darwin didn't know then. Unlike the creationist crowd (to link us to the actual topic at hand), scientists are able to modify their claims in light of the facts, instead of clinging on to the every word and letter of The Original Book.


Oh well, let's get this over with...

Q1 : Um, I can't think of a good answer to that

Q2: Um, I can't think of a good answer to that either

Q3: Um, dunno


Well, I'll be in the scullery if you need me....

(Mr Kipling does ask the most exceedingly difficult questions.)
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 23rd, 2017, 7:48 pm 

Oh, but as for this bit...

Lomax » May 23rd, 2017, 9:56 pm wrote:You're still telling me what people thought centuries ago, when we were comparatively ignorant. Why do you think a low infant mortality rate disproves natural selection? Why does Stove thinks this? And who in the living scientific community thinks it? Like I said, we know a lot about natural selection now that Darwin didn't know then. Unlike the creationist crowd (to link us to the actual topic at hand), scientists are able to modify their claims in light of the facts, instead of clinging on to the every word and letter of The Original Book.


Ladies and gentlemen, for your edification, I once again give you Mr Larry Laudan:

"Judge Overton's third worry about Creationism centers on the issue of revisability. Over and over again, he finds Creationism and its advocates "unscientific" because they have "refuse[d] to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of their investigation." In point of fact, the charge is mistaken. If the claims of modern-day creationists are compared with those of their nineteenth-century counterparts, significant shifts in orientation and assertion are evident. One of the most visible opponents of Creationism, Stephen Gould, concedes that creationists have modified their views about the amount of variability allowed at the level of species change. Creationists do, in short, change their minds from time to time. Doubtless they would credit these shifts to their efforts to adjust their views to newly emerging evidence, in what they imagine to be a scientifically respectable way.

Perhaps what Judge Overton had in mind was the fact that some of Creationism's core assumptions (e.g., that there was a Noachian flood, that man did not evolve from lower animals, or that God created the world) seem closed off from any serious modification. But historical and sociological researches on science strongly suggest that the scientists of any epoch likewise regard some of their beliefs as so fundamental as not to be open to repudiation or negotiation. Would Newton, for instance, have been tentative about the claim that there were forces in the world? Are quantum mechanicians willing to contemplate giving up the uncertainty relation? Are physicists willing to specify circumstances under which they would give up energy conservation? Numerous historians and philosophers of science (e.g., Kuhn, Mitroff, Feyerabend, and Lakatos) have documented the existence of a certain degree of dogmatism about core commitments in scientific research and have argued that such dogmatism plays a constructive role in promoting the aims of science. I am not denying that there may be subtle but important differences between the dogmatism of scientists and that exhibited by many creationists; but one does not even begin to get at those differences by pretending that science is characterized by an uncompromising open-mindedness."


“Science at the Bar—Causes for Concern”


Of course, just as silly are Mitchell's (and other members') soi–disant dictatorial proclamations on what activities count as scientific and which do not. I always wanna give you guys the "Pepsi Test": ten previously undiscovered and uncited passages written by Phillip Johnson, say, and ten written by Stephen Jay Gould, say. Your task is to sort them out.

Same goes for beer snobs too. Pfft!
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Mossling on May 23rd, 2017, 9:01 pm 

NoShips, are you giving a scientific analysis and conclusion on the scientific method, perhaps?

I would say that science is, at its root: "Do you see what I see?" - a 'peer review' of sorts.

Please don't be a hypocrite and 'get scientific' about how science doesn't work.

Now can we get back to the topic please?

On the point of metabolism vs gene emphasis with regards to life, I think it matters not - it's all chemistry, isn't it? Whether it is RNA 'metabolising' to produce duplicates, or protobionts producing RNA as a byproduct of internal mechanisms is still just organic chemistry. There's no apparent 'actor' beyond big bangs, supernovas, and so on.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 23rd, 2017, 9:07 pm 

Mossling » May 24th, 2017, 10:01 am wrote:NoShips, are you giving a scientific analysis and conclusion on the scientific method, perhaps?

I would say that science is, at its root: "Do you see what I see?" - a 'peer review' of sorts.

Please don't be a hypocrite and 'get scientific' about how science doesn't work.

Now can we get back to the topic please?

On the point of metabolism vs gene emphasis with regards to life, I think it matters not - it's all chemistry, isn't it? Whether it is RNA 'metabolising' to produce duplicates, or protobionts producing RNA as a byproduct of internal mechanisms is still just organic chemistry. There's no apparent 'actor' beyond big bangs, supernovas, and so on.


No, the analysis is largely historical in nature. All proposed formulations -- and there are a lot! -- of The Scientific Method simply do not match up with events in history that are more or less universally regarded as exemplars of good science.

This does not, of course, logically preclude the existence of TSM. An optimist might argue, for example, we just haven't found it yet! (See also the Loch Ness monster.) Its elusiveness might, at the very least, give pause to a rational person.

If you've got a version, slap it on the table and let's see how it shapes up when compared with what scientists actually do.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Mossling on May 24th, 2017, 9:01 pm 

NoShips » May 24th, 2017, 10:07 am wrote:If you've got a version, slap it on the table and let's see how it shapes up when compared with what scientists actually do.

And so how do you intend to evaluate it? Using abstract metaphor? If so, why do you come to a science forum? You can't scientifically analyse scientific analysis itself in order to propose that it's flawed. It's a logically and practically corrupted endeavor. I suggest that you open a separate thread to share your genius so that this great thread can stay alive.

Yes, of course there's bad science out there, but as I've already said - it begins with peer review of proposed objects. Science tends towards confirming the objective. Socrates went deeply into this when he carried his interlocutors to the limits of conceptual analysis. The objective truth is that all perceptions are relative, and yet societies manage to maintain order. The practical objective truth outweighs the relative truth, and science seems to float somewhere in between those, and yet with a tendency towards the objective.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 24th, 2017, 9:16 pm 

Mossling » May 25th, 2017, 10:01 am wrote:And so how do you intend to evaluate it? Using abstract metaphor?


Well, quite simply, if you claimed, for example, that The Scientific Method consists of [A, B, C, ... n], we'd get out the history books, examine episodes that are universally regarded as exemplary science, and see if [A, B, C, .... n] is what scientists, and only scientists, actually do. I thought we covered this already?


Mossling » May 25th, 2017, 10:01 am wrote:If so, why do you come to a science forum? You can't scientifically analyse scientific analysis itself in order to propose that it's flawed. It's a logically and practically corrupted endeavor. I suggest that you open a separate thread to share your genius so that this great thread can stay alive.


It's a science and philosophy forum. This particular thread is in the category "Anything Philosophy". Hey white boy, what you doing uptown?

But seriously, to answer your question, I come here mainly to socialize, pick up hot chicks, and meet civil, open-minded thinkers. Cheaper than Starbucks and they never close. Nice to meet you.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 24th, 2017, 9:22 pm 

Mossling » May 25th, 2017, 10:01 am wrote:
Yes, of course there's bad science out there, but as I've already said - it begins with peer review of proposed objects. Science tends towards confirming the objective. Socrates went deeply into this when he carried his interlocutors to the limits of conceptual analysis. The objective truth is that all perceptions are relative, and yet societies manage to maintain order. The practical objective truth outweighs the relative truth, and science seems to float somewhere in between those, and yet with a tendency towards the objective.



Well, here's the problem: If you're gonna include peer review as a necessary condition for membership into the Good Science Club, Galileo -- just to name one -- is immediately excluded. Peer review did not exist then. It's left as a homework exercise for the reader to compose a list of 1000 other sexy scientific pin-ups who ignominiously get the boot due to lack of peer review.

On the other hand, make it a sufficient condition, and all those pesky Creationists have to do is install a system of peer review and hey Presto! -- they're doing good science!

Be careful what bouncers you hire. Don't want the riff-raff getting in, eh?
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 24th, 2017, 10:33 pm 

NoShips wrote:On the other hand, make it a sufficient condition, and all those pesky Creationists have to do is install a system of peer review and hey Presto! -- they're doing good science!


Nit to feed this little fire you are tending but there already is an anonymously peer reviewed "Journal of Creation" put out for precisely this purpose. There is also a Journal of World Paving that I think was also peer reviewed when I saw it (but definitely not science) and there was also a big political brouhaha when it was discovered that one of the big medical journals (the Canadian one I think) had its editorial board dominated by pharma scientists who were biasing the review process against things that might compromise corporate bottom lines by challenging the effectiveness of certain products, etc. In fact there have been a number of challenges to the nature of the anonymous peer reviewed process that can and should taken into account particularly in this day and age of corporate influence (domination?) of science. This includes the very old debate on applied vs. pure science.

The nature of science has changed and is constantly changing. That is a fact of life. Personally I oppose any idea of ossifying science with any kind of rigid definition and in fact think more dynamic change is necessary. But not everyone is comfortable with change and some certainly want to protect their turf, do some empire building, etc. Thats all fine because I also think certain amounts of dynamic tension and scholarly debate are necessary for science, for scholarship in general and in politics, etc., most broadly. But at some point, practical working lines also need to be drawn. At one point (19th century) creationism still could be accomodated in science. We could debate when that ended but it did end (although granted there are still some dinosaurs hanging on) and creationism is no longer science. ID, IMHO, is a useful idea precisely because I could allow for the possiility that it (but not creationism) to mount an argument to become scientific. But it hasn't yet (perhaps mostly just because there hasn't been a high enough caliber of scholarship applied to it) so I find ID to be most useful as 1) a bit of a thinking exercize and 2) as a useful marker for just one of the possibly even interesting things that lie just outside whatever boundary there is to science.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Mossling on May 25th, 2017, 1:12 am 

NoShips » May 25th, 2017, 10:16 am wrote:...if you claimed, for example, that The Scientific Method consists of [A, B, C, ... n]

Yeah but I don't.

NoShips » May 25th, 2017, 10:22 am wrote:
Mossling » May 25th, 2017, 10:01 am wrote:
Yes, of course there's bad science out there, but as I've already said - it begins with peer review of proposed objects. Science tends towards confirming the objective. Socrates went deeply into this when he carried his interlocutors to the limits of conceptual analysis. The objective truth is that all perceptions are relative, and yet societies manage to maintain order. The practical objective truth outweighs the relative truth, and science seems to float somewhere in between those, and yet with a tendency towards the objective.



Well, here's the problem: If you're gonna include peer review as a necessary condition for membership into the Good Science Club, Galileo -- just to name one -- is immediately excluded. Peer review did not exist then.

Yes it did - his peers reviewed his communicated perceptions, it's just the vast majority didn't like them ;P . And you are my peer reviewing my communicated perceptions right now. I didn't mean the formal system we now have in place - I meant the "do you see what I see?" process with regards to grasping at the absolute truth of nature - something which Socrates indulged in, and which apparently filtered down through Plato to Aristotle.

There's a practical 'objective' world where animal societies spontaneously emerge, along with what we label pro-social and antisocial behaviors, and of course symbols labeling objects in the past, present, and future, so that more practical - efficient - social coordination can occur. Then there's a subjective world which is so easily colored by the habitual labels we use - 'concept bundles'; our memes (after Dawkins) or our a priori or synthetic ideas (after Kant), and this so easily warps pure science - tints it in favour of Creationism, for example.

Peer review - of whatever sort - is only ever as scientific as the practical concerns of the alleged scientists - the peers - involved. Do they have a 'love of wisdom' - a love of efficiency in general - or do they just love whatever benefits are being delivered by their less efficient memetically-driven dream-world?

Thus, science begins with philosophy - with the love of wisdom - of practical efficiency (often translated into feats of engineering), and I would say the heart of the scientific method is the love of wisdom - of increasing practical efficiency - especially the efficiency of human cooperation and all the marvelous things that can be achieved through that. This then opens the mind to true science - to the practical truth of nature, as one stops looking for confirmation of one's memetic comforts - one's 'opium of the masses' as Marx put it, and the 'raw physics' can then emerge.

Since science has only relatively recently begun to break free from its theological bondage - and even in ancient Athens it wasn't appreciated so much by the theologically enchanted, I don't think looking to history for direct examples over time is a useful way to explore the scientific method. I think Socratic philosophy is a much better choice - at best; 'live' peer review in the light of pursuing virtue in the practical social domain. Without such intentions then it seems the scientific method and it's communicated perceptions are easily derailed. That doesn't mean some noble scientists don't often lift the carriages back onto the tracks, it's just that there are a lot of highly visible derailings occurring every day and since history began.

Dawkins, whose scientific endeavors it seems triggered this present tangent to the thread, his being an Atheist I would say invites confrontation more than memetically-driven bias, and this can apparently tint his communicated results in a way that comes across as antisocial - non-virtuous to a degree, and I believe therein lies his flaw. Socrates was an agnostic, and was interested in inclusive ethics to the degree that he emphasised the need to understand virtue in its practical application to social life, and this required intellectual humility and sympathy towards the memetically-challenged, not the venom-laced anti-religion rhetoric that Dawkins has become quite well-known for, haha.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 25th, 2017, 3:29 am 

Braininvat » May 23rd, 2017, 10:02 pm wrote:
The rate is per one thousand live births. So the UN figure would be 5 percent. Sorry to be a pedant, but you had half the wee ones dying, a figure more suitable for an apocalyptic novel.

It was fun watching the David Stove strawman lurch around. That Wallace and Chuck got many things wrong back in the 1850s has not been in dispute for many decades.



Two questions for you, BiV: (and a jelly bean if you get the answers right)

1. To succumb to the strawman fallacy, as I understand it, is to attack a position not held by one's interlocutor, or perhaps not held by anyone at all, at least not anyone who isn't made of straw. Do you agree?

Now, if I were to launch into a diatribe attacking Joseph Priestley's claims vis-à-vis phlogiston theory -- direct quotes from the man himself -- it's likely I'd attract a few giggles, raised eyebrows, and "get a life, dude"s, after all no one to my knowledge has taken phlogiston theory seriously for centuries. Nevertheless, amongst all the hilarity and concern for my mental health, of all things I would surely not be held accountable for the heinous agrarian crime of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a strawman now, would I? That liability would only be incurred were I to attribute Mr Priestley's views to a person - yourself, say -- who does not subscribe to them.

Why, then, is Mr Stove being held up to strawman-battering charges? His attacks, in the first few essays at least, are aimed at actual positions -- backed by voluminous verbatim quotes -- held by Darwin and Wallace, and by extension at anyone else who endorses these positions. (Dawkins and others come under fire in later chapters).

So my first question to you, BiV: Q1 - On what grounds do you base your strawman complaint?

Here's the first characterization of the Strawman Fallacy that google yielded:

"Substituting a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument."

Exactly where has Stove "distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented" the position of his adversaries?


2. Your comment "... Wallace and Chuck got many things wrong back in the 1850s has not been in dispute for many decades", with all due respect, strikes me as somewhat disingenuous; a cop-out if you will. The implication seems to be that Stove is wasting everyone's precious time raising picayune objections against a theory that, unlike phlogiston theory, is pretty much sound.

To the contrary, I submit that the force of Stove's argument is that the theory is untrue.

No one here needs reminding that the theory under scrutiny is one of the most significant and influential in recent centuries, widely held to be true for the greater part of the 20th century, I believe, and I would argue (but not right now), still widely held to be more or less true. Its putative falsity, then, is hardly a trivial matter.

Your concession, as it stands, amounts to almost nothing. "Got many things wrong" you tell us. Well, who doesn't get many things wrong? Your admission reveals nothing more than that Wallace and Darwin were fallible, scarcely a quality that has ever been in doubt. Wrong about what? Liverpool defeating Man. United? Wrong about Mrs Darwin's shoes matching her dress?

My second question then: Q2 - Do you agree that Darwin's theory is untrue?

Yes, I know, you'll probably want to qualify your answer with talk of subsequent refinements and improvements and so forth. Be that as it may; my question regards the original theory as presented by the two men in question. Call me a pest, call me emotionally immature, call me a cab; these four little words -- "the theory is false" -- would mean a lot to a basket case like myself. Just to have it on the record kinda thing, innit guv'. Because I'm under the distinct impression, perhaps deluded, that an awful lot of people out there feel otherwise, feel strongly otherwise -- and they have a nasty habit of becoming extremely irascible when someone like myself or Stove suggests as much.

In the event that you answer Q2 in the negative, I'd like to hear your objections to the premises in Stove's argument that I've reconstructed (page 5, my 4th post).
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Braininvat on May 25th, 2017, 9:07 am 

I don't think I can accept a binary "either Chuck is right or he is wrong" choice. His basic idea of natural selection, despite his over-reliance on bloodthirsty competition, still survives. So I accept some of his assertions are false, without making a blanket dismissal of "it's all false." Haven't we all chatted this through before? You seem to demand absolute statements from a field that you wish wouldn't....indulge in absolutes. My irony meter is chirping loudly. Like a hungry bird that is getting Mom Bird's attention and, er, surviving to pass along the Stentorian Chirp gene.

And yes, I think Stove is strawman bashing, because neither Wallace nor Chuck were presenting theirs as a robust and final ruling on speciation. They knew it was early days, didn't they? I can concede your point, on a technical level, but I'm still not much stirred (or shaken) by Stove.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Braininvat on May 25th, 2017, 9:20 am 

This does not, of course, logically preclude the existence of TSM. An optimist might argue, for example, we just haven't found it yet! (See also the Loch Ness monster.) Its elusiveness might, at the very least, give pause to a rational person.

- Noships

Could an optimist not also argue (as I and other science guys did in a longish thread a coupla years ago) that there isn't a single scientific method, but rather an array of methods, some quite field-specific, that have shown usefulness in kicking the knowledge can down the road? TSM is elusive like Nessie because it doesn't exist as a single entity. Methods, by their very nature, are multifarious, flexible, and evolving. In other fields, people have no trouble recognizing this, and no one speaks of The Cookery Method or The Ceramics Method or The Architecture Method. And so, thankfully, not all houses, pottery, and meals are identical.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 25th, 2017, 10:10 am 

Braininvat » May 25th, 2017, 10:20 pm wrote:
Could an optimist not also argue (as I and other science guys did in a longish thread a coupla years ago) that there isn't a single scientific method, but rather an array of methods, some quite field-specific, that have shown usefulness in kicking the knowledge can down the road? TSM is elusive like Nessie because it doesn't exist as a single entity. Methods, by their very nature, are multifarious, flexible, and evolving. In other fields, people have no trouble recognizing this, and no one speaks of The Cookery Method or The Ceramics Method or The Architecture Method. And so, thankfully, not all houses, pottery, and meals are identical.


It's a free country, dude. Not even Trump's gonna stop you from arguing that, rather than a single, unique Method of science, there is in fact a multitude of methods in a constant state of flux collectively known as "The Scientific Method".

Seems to me a bit ... um, dishonest, though. The definite article implies one method. The common folks (bless 'em all) are gonna be misled into thinking there is just one method. Deception like this can come back to haunt people.

Secondly, one might argue it's not even true. A lot of what goes on in science does not seem methodical at all; the process of discovery being an obvious example. You know, those Eureka moments when the ring structure of the benzene molecule comes to Kekule in a dream about a snake eating its own tail, or those serendipitous discoveries when some absent-minded genius leaves a photographic plate in a drawer, forgets about it, and comes back in a few days to find a particle collider. Where's the method in that?

Most importantly, though, this seems to defeat the entire purpose of positing a unique Method in the first place. The whole idea was, I believe, that if there was such a beast, we could appeal to it as (i) that which unifies all the scientific disciplines, (ii) that which explains the success of science, and (iii) the demarcation criterion which distinguishes science from non-science or pseudoscience.

A variable collection of methods ain't gonna hack it. These Creationists could quite legitimately claim, for example, that they're doing good science too; it's just that they use different methods which are nonetheless scientific.

It's always seemed to me that, although the Feyerabends of this world come under a lot of abuse, the folks being disrespectful are those who would have us believe our finest scientists are little more than automata slavishly and mindlessly following the steps of some rigid cookbook recipe. Any fool could do it, so to speak.

Um, got any vacancies?

Yes, honesty is always the best policy. Hi, I'm Brad Pitt and 27 years old.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Mossling on May 25th, 2017, 8:10 pm 

NoShips » May 25th, 2017, 11:10 pm wrote:Seems to me a bit ... um, dishonest, though. The definite article implies one method. The common folks (bless 'em all) are gonna be misled into thinking there is just one method. Deception like this can come back to haunt people.

There is a basic method - peer review, and that takes the form of communicated results for consideration - whether through logical analysis or repeated physical experiment (with the latter of course being far more practical and rigorous).

With regards to scientific discovery, I don't think that has been the fundamental purpose of science, has it? I am of the impression that science was more about confirming a perceived truth as being in harmony with the natural physical order of the universe. How the perception was arrived at matters not - it's the way that it is confirmed as true or not that is science.

William of Ockham comes to mind - he was a religious man, but his philosophical attitude towards the truth gave him a scientific orientation.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 25th, 2017, 9:29 pm 

Mossling » May 26th, 2017, 9:10 am wrote:
With regards to scientific discovery, I don't think that has been the fundamental purpose of science, has it? I am of the impression that science was more about confirming a perceived truth as being in harmony with the natural physical order of the universe. How the perception was arrived at matters not - it's the way that it is confirmed as true or not that is science.



It's very easy to pick up some introductory science textbook, turn to chapter two: "The Scientific Method" (TMS), absorb the simpleminded formula presented therein, and come to the subconscious conclusion that this is it! -- The Scientific Method, not only universally agreed upon by all scientists (or natural philosophers) in all times and places, but applied in all but a few rare, deviant episodes such as the Lysenko affair, say, where we must invoke non-epistemic factors to explain the departure from the rational norms of science.

The more you delve into these matters, though, as we're doing now, Mossling, the less straightforward things very quickly begin to appear. Precious little agreement exists on anything related to the topic of TSM.

One might argue, for example, as I think you're doing now, that the process of discovery in science is inherently irrational and non-methodical, and thus of no interest to the student of TSM. The methodology or rationality of science, on this account, lies not in the discovery of hypotheses/theories -- the identification of how they come into being is a task for the psychologist, the sociologist, or the historian -- but in their subsequent justification ("confirmation", in your words).

In short, the generation of hypotheses is non-rational and non-methodical; their justification is not. "We couldn't care less where or how a hypothesis originated, but we CAN tell you whether or not it's worth believing".

You'd be in good company too. Such a view is often ascribed to the Logical Positivists ("We'll tell you what's worth believing") and Karl Popper ("I'll tell you what's NOT worth believing").

Things are seldom quite so simple, though. A good card-carrying inductivist -- Newton, say -- would throw a fit! Hypotheses/theories must be inferred from the data in a methodical manner. They are justified in virtue of the very process that brings them into being; epistemically grounded when born, so to speak. There is no distinction to be made between a non-rational process of discovery and a rational process of justification; the entire process is rational and methodical. Hypotheses non fingo. So there!

Then there are the bad boys like Kuhn and Feyerabend who agree with Newton insofar as no discovery-justification distinction can be drawn, but not because the entire process is rational. Quite the contrary! (do I need to spell this out? LOL )

And if you think they're bad, wait till you see the Edinburgh "strong programme" sociologists... Philosophers of science, by and large, are symapthetic to the rationality of science, and can get quite testy too, as the scientists do, when the likes of David Bloor and Bruno Latour lump scientific beliefs in with voodoo and witchcraft. "What's truth got to do with it?" The Lysenko affair, they would claim, is subject to precisely the same explanatory modes as that of any other scientific belief or theory.

But if you want to argue for the process of confirmation in science being strictly methodical, be my guest. It might be illuminating to all of us. What, in your view, is The Method for justifying a scientific theory/hypothesis?

By the way, perhaps the most mind-numbingly boring book I've ever read is Bruno Latour's "Laboratory Life". Give it to someone you don't like for Christmas.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 25th, 2017, 9:47 pm 

NoShips wrote:Seems to me a bit ... um, dishonest, though. The definite article implies one method. The common folks (bless 'em all) are gonna be misled into thinking there is just one method. Deception like this can come back to haunt people.


Part of the problem appears to be confusion about precisely what you (vs. others) think "method" means. I trust no one believes that the people down in CERN or working for the high security labs in the CDC work and collect data the same way that a field geologist in the Amazon or a marine biologist works. The latter two may never even see a white lab coat. That doesn't make them any less a scientist just because their data collection methods differ. So...

NoShips wrote:those serendipitous discoveries when some absent-minded genius leaves a photographic plate in a drawer, forgets about it, and comes back in a few days to find a particle collider. Where's the method in that?


Just as a point of clarification, I am not sure there is any science necessitated here. Could just as easily be magic (i.e. religion). "Science" enters the picture in the method used to explain the event perhaps ideally so that it can be repeated or if not, that it can be explained by verifiable and perhaps partially repeatable processes.

For clarification of my equivocation - I don't think anyone would suggest that astrophysics is not a science but that does not mean we have the capacity to recreate the sun or a supernova at will since our biggest thermonuclear explosions are about the closest we have gotten - which is not very. In contrast, what aspects of creationism or ID can we recreate in controlled contexts? IDers do, of course, argue that we humans act as the analogue of a creator although obviously we humans are relatively limited compared to the means available to this creator. However, ID posits that a creator could have done it but the only independent supporting evidence is that "it" was done and that this creator is the only thing that COULD have done it - which is why their only "research program" ends up being the argument that nothing else could have done it except a creator. So the research program is simply attacking science with the hope that ID remains as the only default explanation. But of course there is no other viable evidence for a creator and science keeps coming up with viable explanations that do not rely on the existence of an unproven creator.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 25th, 2017, 10:12 pm 

Forest_Dump » May 26th, 2017, 10:47 am wrote:

Just as a point of clarification, I am not sure there is any science necessitated here. Could just as easily be magic (i.e. religion). "Science" enters the picture in the method used to explain the event perhaps ideally so that it can be repeated or if not, that it can be explained by verifiable and perhaps partially repeatable processes.


Sure. You could argue, as Mossling is (I think), that the discovery was non-methodical (it's hard to see how one could argue that it was methodical). Whether or not the scientist was doing science at the time is moot; the rationality/methodology comes later.



Forest_Dump » May 26th, 2017, 10:47 am wrote:For clarification of my equivocation - I don't think anyone would suggest that astrophysics is not a science but that does not mean we have the capacity to recreate the sun or a supernova at will since our biggest thermonuclear explosions are about the closest we have gotten - which is not very. In contrast, what aspects of creationism or ID can we recreate in controlled contexts? IDers do, of course, argue that we humans act as the analogue of a creator although obviously we humans are relatively limited compared to the means available to this creator. However, ID posits that a creator could have done it but the only independent supporting evidence is that "it" was done and that this creator is the only thing that COULD have done it - which is why their only "research program" ends up being the argument that nothing else could have done it except a creator. So the research program is simply attacking science with the hope that ID remains as the only default explanation.


Might this not be construed as an Inference to the Best Explanation? Do you consider this a legitimate form of inference in science, Forest?

In fact, it was regarded as the best explanation till Darwin came along. Seems the Creationists argue it remains the best explanation for design (or apparent design) in nature. Most scientists demur, of course.

Forest_Dump » May 26th, 2017, 10:47 am wrote:But of course there is no other viable evidence for a creator and science keeps coming up with viable explanations that do not rely on the existence of an unproven creator.


This gambit always strikes me as disingenuous, Forest. By and large, scientists these days work on a principle of methodological naturalism, viz., appeals to supernatural causation are not countenanced as a matter of methodological principle.

All fair and well. But if so, one cannot simultaneously claim, as you do, and many others do, that there is no evidence for a Creator. The Creator hypothesis is already ruled out of court a priori -- nothing counts as evidence for a Creator.

Can't have it both ways.
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Re: Intelligent Design - why not?

Postby NoShips on May 25th, 2017, 10:21 pm 

The last point above gives me a convenient opportunity to share another long, boring blog from yesteryear. Tee hee :-)



Today's thrilling episode, ladies and gentlemen, will consist of a sample quote to consider, a definition, three questions for you, dear reader, a travel advisory, and an allegory. Something for all the family.


a Quote
----------
"Your evidence is no good. Let us know when you find some actual evidence for God and we might take you seriously." - anon


Questions 1 & 2 : Have you ever seen a comment like this on this website? Have you ever made a comment like this yourself?



a Definition
---------------
Methodological Naturalism (MN) : The principle that science should not invoke the supernatural. Only naturalistic explanations are legitimate; appeal must not be made to divine agency, no matter what is observed. This is a principle to guide the conduct of scientific investigation; it has nothing whatsoever to say about the EXISTENCE of putative supernatural entities such as God.


Q3 : Are you a methodological naturalist?



a Travel Advisory
----------------------
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of doing a little travelling in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. A warning, though, regarding cash for anyone out there planning a trip to the Central Asian republics: US dollars and euros are the most widely accepted currencies, but bring only the the most recent edition banknotes in pristine condition, or as close to as possible. Don't even bend them! The moneychangers, and even the banks there, are notoriously picky. Any banknote not meeting their lofty standards is likely to be tossed unceremoniously straight back at you.



A Story : "Bishkek Blues"
-------------------------------
It's Laura's first day in Bishkek, and she needs Kyrgyzstani som. Fortunately there are several moneychangers close to her hotel, so she sets off armed with a wad of American greenbacks. "Honest Bob's" is the first moneychanger's she walks into, where she explains that she'd like to convert USD to KGS. Before even reaching into her purse, however, she's told:

"Sorry, miss. We don't accept American dollars here. Euros, Sterling, and Rubles are fine. If dollars is all you've got, try Finicky Frank's next door."

Slightly disappointed, Laura nonetheless thanks the polite young man and heads next door as advised, noticing as she leaves, a sign on the wall announcing, "USD Not Accepted". Next door Frank himself greets her, confirms that he does indeed accept American currency, and asks to see the banknotes. Laura hands over five one-hundred dollar bills for examination.

"Your money's no good. Come back when you've got some decent dollars."

Decent dollars? What could Frank possibly mean, wonders Laura. Frank explains:

"Your banknotes are both old and crumpled. We have high standards here. We can't accept rubbish like this. If you come back with latest edition American banknotes in good condition perhaps we can do business. Just like that old geezer over there is doing right now."

Laura, although none too impressed with Frank's attitude, observes that there is indeed an "old geezer" at the counter being issued local currency in exchange for his well-looked-after and youthful greenbacks. Frank at least is a man of his word, even if his manners leave something to be desired.

The third moneychanger's Laura walks into is MN Enterprises. Once again, Laura explains she'd like to exchange US dollars for local som. The clerk asks to see the bills. After a cursory examination, he shakes his head and frowns:

"Your money's no good. Come back when you've got some decent dollars."

Our hapless heroine will come to learn that this is a familiar tune indeed throughout the Central Asian republics! A dejected Laura stuffs her unwanted cash back in her purse, and as she walks towards the door, a sign on the wall catches her eye, "USD Not Accepted".

Laura raises an eyebrow...

"Why did he ask to see my banknotes, as if there was a chance they might be accepted, when it was a foregone conclusion that they would not be?"

"Why is he asking me to come back when I've got some decent dollars, as if the fault lies with me for bringing dollar bills that fail to meet certain standards, when dollars of any kind must be rejected as a consequence of his own store's policy?"
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