Ian Musgrave posted Entry 1379 on August 23, 2005 04:34 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1376

Over at ID the Future is an open letter to Science from several Discovery Institute luminaries protesting that, despite the fact that they do no research and have published no original research on ID, Intelligent Design Creationism is indeed Science.

Alan I. Leshner (Redefining Science, July 8) says intelligent design isn’t science because scientific theories explain what can be observed and are testable by repeatable observations and experimentation. But particular design arguments meet this standard.

Before going on to their example, I’d like to point out that some of the arguments of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) also meet this standard. For example, YEC makes specific, testable claims about the age of the Earth, so why isn’t YEC science? Several reasons, not the least that when confronted with clear, unambiguous, multiple independent lines of evidence that their claims are wrong, the YEC will ignore this evidence, or invoke miracles, or pretend the evidence doesn’t exist. They will not accept evidence to the contrary of their preconceptions, so despite having testable claims, YEC isn’t science.

How does ID creationism fare?

Let’s take a simple example. Michael Behe has argued that the blood clotting system is irreducibly complex, and so cannot evolve [1]. Indeed for a time the blood clotting system was the key exemplar of an irreducibly complex system. Nearly 10 years before that, Russell Doolittle [2], on the basis of molecular clock arguments amongst other things, predicted that “lower” vertebrates would lack the “contact pathway” of blood clotting. Recently the complete genome of the puffer fish and a draft of the Zebrafish genome have become available, and guess what? They don’t have the contact part of the clotting system [3]. The “irreducible” clotting system is reducible (whales and dolphins have the contact pathway proteins, but one of the enzymes is broken, so the pathway doesn’t work, yet they get along fine).

The response of the ID folks to this is:

SFX: crickets chirping.

The clotting system fails the ID test, yet you wouldn’t know about it from the ID press releases. Indeed, Behe still uses the clotting system as IC, saying that “if any one of the more than 20 proteins involved in blood clotting is missing or deficient…clots will not form properly” when he knows that fish and whales function perfectly well without the contact system. So ID fails the YEC test; a real scientific research program would have faced up to this failure.

Biologist Michael Behe, for instance, argues that design is detectable in the bacterial flagellum because the tiny motor needs all its parts to function is irreducibly complexa hallmark of designed systems.

Now there is a lot wrong with this sentence. Firstly, the bacterial flagellum is not a motor (not in the sense we understand motors anyway, it has a driving system we might think of as a motor as part of its structure, but it is not itself a motor). Secondly, the flagellum doesn’t need all of its parts to function, you can do away with various chunks of the flagellum and it still works. However, Michael Behe’s argument was subtler than that. He claimed that the “system” of the flagellum was the “motor”, “universal joint” and “propeller”; each of these items contains several proteins, all of which contain at least one element that can be dispensed with. Behe’s claim was that if you got rid of the “motor” or the “universal joint” or the “propeller” then the system would not function and that was IC. At least ID the Future could get Behe’s argument right. As we will see, we already have accounts of flagellum evolvability even using Behe’s system. Even then, Behe has a “get out of jail free” card. He has said that IC systems might evolve “indirectly” [1, pg 40] so even if we find an IC system that has evolved, his argument is unassailable.

Thirdly, Michael Behe has dropped his “all parts necessary” definition of IC (at least in part due to various demonstrations that the blood clotting system could evolve). His definition is now based on the probability of neutral mutations occurring as steps. Last time I looked, neutral mutations were not a hallmark of designed systems. Even with the old definition, multiple interacting parts are not a feature of the design of a paperclip, and many other things we know are designed. IC has not been demonstrated as a hallmark of design by any means.

How to test and discredit Behe’s argument? Provide a continuously functional evolutionary pathway from simple ancestor to present motor. Darwinists like Kenneth Miller point to the hope of future discoveries, and to the type III secretory system as a machine possibly co-opted on the evolutionary path to the flagellum.

Why the flagellum? Why not the clotting system (shown to be evolvable)? Or the immune system (shown to be evolvable, and specific predictions from evolutionary biology about the immune system have been confirmed)?

Archea_flag.jpg
The relationship of Type II secretory systems to type IV secretory/motility systems and the archebacterial flagellum. Homologous proteins are indicated by colour, the GspM/FlagG homolg Y1 has been omitted due to uncertainly as to its location in the membrane (click on image to enlarge, modified from [4])

Now we actually have presented a continuously functional evolutionary pathway from a simple ancestor to a functional flagellum [4]. It is based on elaboration of a secretory system. The flagellar filament must be secreted to project outside the bacterial cell, so it makes sense that secretory systems from the heart of the flagellum. The type II secretory system features a small “piston” made up of helically arranged proteins. Up and down movement of the piston (powered by a “motor”) pushes materials outside of the cell. The type IV secretory system is an elaboration of the type II, except now the piston is a long filament, and that filament can stick to surfaces. The back and forth movement of the filament pulls the bacterium along, resulting in gliding motility. The flagellum is an elaboration of the Type IV secretory system, but now the filament freely rotates, rather than being stuck to a surface, and drives the bacteria along. Now we have all these real, functional intermediates leading to a functional flagellum and the response from the ID creationists is:

SFX: crickets chirping.

Oh sorry, that’s the archebacterial flagellum. What, the ID folks didn’t tell you that there is more than one sort of flagellum? Or that flagellar motility is a minority amongst motility systems? Why ever would they ignore things like that? We know that at least William Dembski is aware of this system. I can’t think of a reason for them to ignore it if ID was science, can you?

Now the eubacterial flagellum is similar to the archebacterial flagellum in the sense that it built around a secretory system, but it’s a bit more complicated. Nick Matzke has a marvelously detailed article [5] about the evolution of the eubacterial flagellum. The basic story is similar to that of the archebacterial flagellum. The core of the eubacterial flagellum is a type III secretory system. Virtually all the proteins in the flagellum can be accounted for as parts of existing systems or internal duplications (as predicted by evolutionary biology). Importantly, several gliding motility systems use similar motors and guidance systems to eubacterial flagellum, so a sequence of secretory system -> gliding motility -> swimming motility similar to the archebacterial flagella is plausible (although there are other ways to get there).

Furthermore, the eubacterial flagellum is still a secretory system [4,5], and is even used by some bacteria to attach to cells and inject them with toxins (just like type III secretion systems) [4,5]. You can remove the “motor” or the “propeller” from the eubacterial flagellum and it still functions as a secretion system [4, 5]. Indeed, some bacteria with paralysed flagella use them as anchors to attach to cells and inject toxins into them. So you can see how you could build a eubacterial flagellum piecemeal around a core of a simple secretory system by direct Darwinian processes, then a small functional shift adds motility to this system.

There is still a fair bit of information to be filled in, but by analogy with the archebacterial flagellum, the evolution of the eubacterial flagellum is not a mystery.

The argument is riddled with problems, but it shows that Miller, at least, understands perfectly well that Behe’s argument is testable.

As I said before, certain elements are testable, but like the YEC’s, the ID creationists won’t accept the results, or make ridiculous preconditions for acceptance that no amount of research could ever provide. They have ignored the fact that the blood-clotting system has been shown to be evolvable. They have ignored the evolvable archebacterial flagellum. And what would they accept as a level of proof? Michael Behe is on record as saying he would not accept anything but a mutation-by-mutation account. Not only that, he requires a detailed account of the selective pressures that would be operating, the difficulties such changes would cause for the organism, and much more. This is a level of proof which we couldn’t supply even if we evolved a flagellum in the lab.

In principle, no evidence biologists can provide will sway the ID creationists. This puts ID firmly outside the realm of science.

References:
[1] Behe, MJ. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996)
[2] Doolittle RF & Feng DF (1987) Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology, 52, 869-874.
[3] Yong J & Doolittle RF (2003) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 100, 7527-7532.
[4] Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum (2004) IF Musgrave, pp 72-84, In “Why Intelligent Design Fails”, ed. M Young and T Edis
[5] Evolution in (Brownian) space: (2003) NJ Matzke Last accessed 22/08/05. Warning, big file.

Further reading:
Darwin’s Black Box: Irreducible Complexity or Irreproducible Irreducibility? by Keith Robinson
Irreducible complexity demystified by Pete Dunkelberg.
A Darwinian explanation of the blood clotting cascade by Kenneth Miller
Evolving Immunity by Matt Inlay

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Comment #44466

Posted by Flint on August 23, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

We know evidence is irrelevant to creationists. We know that creationists use the word “science” only to piggyback on the well-deserved reputation science has earned. We know creationists know that their claims of science are flat false, but use them anyway because it has proved to be effective PR. We can confidently predict that creationists will call their doctrines “science” so long as science keeps producing stuff people appreciate, and so long as fundamentalism continues to appeal to a public poorly educated in science.

I enjoy reading about how these systems evolve, but I can’t see how this material is going to matter to those whose purposes are not served by paying any attention to it. Are we trying to reach the voting public this way? I ask Ian Musgrave to spend all day on main street asking every passerby to compare a Type II with a Type IV secretory system. That’s the voting public.

The creationists have the right idea: you will find more citizens sitting in the average Baptist church each Sunday than you will find people in the *entire city* who have ever even HEARD of a Type IV secretory system. If these “ordinary Christians” are the target audience, this blot is a terrible way to try to reach them. It just sounds like righteous frustration.

Comment #44467

Posted by SteveF on August 23, 2005 5:15 PM (e)

Nice essay Ian. The Matzke link doesn’t work though.

Comment #44468

Posted by steve on August 23, 2005 5:18 PM (e)

I’m shocked, shocked to discover that Divine Design is not science.

Comment #44470

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 23, 2005 5:24 PM (e)

I’m still not convinced that the best strategy for dealing with ID or YEC is to say “its not science”. This gets into an endless debate about lines of demarcation.

I think it makes a lot more sense to talk about what constitutes a valid claim to knowledge and an invalid claim to knowledge. Similarly, we can point to research traditions that “work out” and research traditions that “don’t work out” and have been discredited by widely accepted empirical evidence.

That means that YEC and ID have to resort to endless ad hoc strategems, rather than offering clear explanations or predictions for phenomena.

Comment #44472

Posted by Ken Willis on August 23, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

Can anyone explain what is meant by microevolution and macroevolution? Is it that Micro is descent with modification within a species and macro is the evolution of new species? I think some ID’ers claim to believe in Microevolution but not Macroevolution. Some also say they believe that evolution within a species takes place but that evolution cannot create new species. Have there been any experiments that have shown that new species can be created? I think I read about one such with fruit flies. Thanks.

Comment #44478

Posted by Jaime Headden on August 23, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

Micro and macroevolution are elements on evolutuonary continua. They are used by people to separate small tiny observable changes in descent versus the time-gap of fossils and between extinct (as well as extant) but distinct taxa. As continua, there is no difference, only scale. Forest for the trees, vice versa, and all that jazz.

Comment #44480

Posted by KiwiInOz on August 23, 2005 5:53 PM (e)

Ken, go to the Talk Origins web site for a great discussion (with evidence!) on micro and macro evolution.

Comment #44483

Posted by Dave Carlson on August 23, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

Ken -

In my non-expert opinion, you seem to have answered your own questions pretty well. Keep in mind that the terms micro/macroevolution are pretty vague and, for that reason, not all that useful. Here is a linke you might like to read regarding evidence of macroevolution: 29 Evidences for Macroevolution.

Comment #44484

Posted by Andy Groves on August 23, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

Can anyone explain what is meant by microevolution and macroevolution?

Sure. Microevolution is evolution that even creationists have to accept. Macroevolution is evolution that they don’t want to accept because they have their fingers in their ears and they can’t hear you!!!

Comment #44488

Posted by Dave Carlson on August 23, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

Dave Carlson wrote:

Here is a linke

Should be “link”….obviously. Me no spell so good. :(

Comment #44494

Posted by LackOfDiscipline on August 23, 2005 6:25 PM (e)

Flint wrote:

The creationists have the right idea: you will find more citizens sitting in the average Baptist church each Sunday than you will find people in the *entire city* who have ever even HEARD of a Type IV secretory system. If these “ordinary Christians” are the target audience, this blot is a terrible way to try to reach them. It just sounds like righteous frustration.

Scientific “debate” does seem to be irrelevant. If this doesn’t make ID stealth religion, I don’t know what else to call it. But how do you rationally confront religious dogmatism masking as pseudoscience masking as science masking as science that is teachable to our youth??? It would seem that demagoguery, hysteria, fear-mongering, and plain lying are the only way…sad to say, but marketers have known it for years. The bottom line is “We need to make evolution sexy again!”

Comment #44497

Posted by SEF on August 23, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

So ID fails the YEC test

Eh? I suspect an heretical substitution of “YEC” for “science” has taken place here.

Comment #44500

Posted by Matt McIrvin on August 23, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

Flint, one of the things sources like this do is provide scientists and teachers with counterarguments that can be used when ID proponents try to bamboozle people. You don’t lead with the type IV secretory system, you bring it up (in suitably simplified form) when somebody like Behe claims there is no way to evolve a flagellum.

Comment #44501

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

LackOfDiscipline:

The bottom line is “We need to make evolution sexy again!”

It’s always been sexy. But Americans like their sex best when it’s repressed.

To break through this repression, maybe what is needed is a little, um, discipline applied to the, ahem, “bottom line.”

Comment #44503

Posted by steve on August 23, 2005 6:57 PM (e)

Comment #44472

Posted by Ken Willis on August 23, 2005 05:30 PM (e) (s)

Can anyone explain what is meant by microevolution and macroevolution? Is it that Micro is descent with modification within a species and macro is the evolution of new species? I think some ID’ers claim to believe in Microevolution but not Macroevolution.

Creationists used to deny evolution root and branch. But there are now so many cases where we understand what evolution did on a small time scale, this is no longer tenable. So they try to say that little bit of evolution happens, but it doesn’t change the essence of the thing. The fly is still a fly.

It’s kind of like you have a cultist who denies the existence of water. Eventually you throw some on him, and he says, “Allright, but I still don’t believe in the ocean.”

Comment #44507

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 7:24 PM (e)

Regarding this whole ID/science thingie, I think it worthwhile to re-post this:

The scientific method is very simple, and consists of five basic steps. They are:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe

2. Form a hypothesis that potentially explains what you have observed

3. Make testible predictions from that hypothesis

4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions

5. Modify your hypothesis until it is in accord with all observations and predictions

NOTHING in any of those five steps excludes on principle, a priori, any “supernatural cause”. Using this method, one is entirely free to invoke as many non-material pixies, ghosts, goddesses, demons, devils, djinis, and/or the Great Pumpkin, as many times as you like, in any or all of your hypotheses. And science won’t (and doesn’t) object to that in the slightest. Indeed, scientific experiments have been proposed (and carried out and published) on such “supernatural causes” as the effects of prayer on healing, as well as such “non-materialistic” or “non-natural” causes as ESP, telekinesis, precognition and “remote viewing”. So ID’s claim that science unfairly rejects supernatural or non-material causes out of hand on principle, is demonstrably quite wrong.

However, what science DOES require is that any supernatural or non-material hypothesis, whatever it might be, then be subjected to steps 3, 4 and 5. And HERE is where ID fails miserably.

To demonstate this, let’s pick a particular example of an ID hypothesis and see how the scientific method can be applied to it: One claim made by many ID creationists explains the genetic similarity between humans and chimps by asserting that God — uh, I mean, An Unknown Intelligent Designer — created both but used common features in a common design.

Let’s take this hypothesis and put it through the scientific method:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

OK, so we observe that humans and chimps share unique genetic markers, including a broken vitamin C gene and, in humans, a fused chromosome that is identical to two of the chimp chromosomes (with all the appropriate doubled centromeres and telomeres).

2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.

OK, the proposed ID hypothesis is “an intelligent designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, and that common design included placing the signs of a fused chromosome and a broken vitamin C gene in both products.”

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

Well, here is ID supernaturalistic methodology’s chance to shine. What predictions can we make from ID’s hypothesis? If an Intelligent Designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, then we would also expect to see … ?

IDers, please fill in the blank.

And, to better help us test ID’s hypothesis, it is most useful to point out some negative predictions — things which, if found, would FALSIFY the hypothesis and demonstrate conclusively that the hypothesis is wrong. So, then — if we find (fill in the blank here), then the “common design” hypothesis would have to be rejected.

4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

Well, the IDers seem to be sort of stuck on step 3. Despite all their voluminous writings and arguments, IDers have never yet given ANY testible predictions from their ID hypothesis that can be verified through experiment.

Take note here — contrary to the IDers whining about the “unfair exclusion of supernatural causes”, there are in fact NO limits imposed by the scientific method on the nature of their predictions, other than the simple ones indicated by steps 3, 4 and 5 (whatever predictions they make must be testible by experiments or further observations.) They are entirely free to invoke whatever supernatural causes they like, in whatever number they like, so long as they follow along to steps 3,4 and 5 and tell us how we can test these deities or causes using experiment or further observation. Want to tell us that the Good Witch Glenda used her magic non-naturalistic staff to POP these genetic sequences into both chimps and humans? Fine —- just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test that. Want to tell us that God — er, I mean The Unknown Intelligent Designer — didn’t like humans very much and therefore decided to design us with broken vitamin C genes? Hey, works for me — just as soon as you tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test it. Feel entirely and totally free to use all the supernaturalistic causes that you like. Just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test your predictions.

Let’s assume for a moment that the IDers are right and that science is unfairly biased against supernaturalist explanations. Let’s therefore hypothetically throw methodological materialism right out the window. Gone. Bye-bye. Everything’s fair game now. Ghosts, spirits, demons, devils, cosmic enlightenment, elves, pixies, magic star goats, whatever god-thing you like. Feel free to include and invoke ALL of them. As many as you need. All the IDers have to do now is simply show us all how to apply the scientific method to whatever non-naturalistic science they choose to invoke in order to subject the hypothesis “genetic similarities between chimps and humans are the product of a common design”, or indeed ANY other non-material or super-natural ID hypothesis, to the scientific method.

And that is where ID “theory” falls flat on its face. It is NOT any presupposition of “philosophical naturalism” on the part of science that stops ID dead in its tracks —- it is the simple inability of ID “theory” to make any testible predictions. Even if we let them invoke all the non-naturalistic designers they want, intelligent design “theory” STILL can’t follow the scientific method.

Deep down inside, what the IDers are really moaning and complaining about is NOT that science unfairly rejects their supernaturalistic explanations, but that science demands ID’s proposed “supernaturalistic explanations” be tested according to the scientific method, just like every OTHER hypothesis has to be. Not only can ID not test any of its “explanations”, but it wants to modify science so it doesn’t HAVE to. In effect, the IDers want their supernaturalistic “hypothesis” to have a privileged position —- they want their hypothesis to be accepted by science WITHOUT being tested; they want to follow steps one and two of the scientific method, but prefer that we just skip steps 3,4 and 5, and just simply take their religious word for it, on the authority of their own say-so, that their “science” is correct. And that is what their entire argument over “materialism” (or “naturalism” or “atheism” or “sciencism” or “darwinism” or whatever the heck else they want to call it) boils down to.

There is no legitimate reason for the ID hypothesis to be privileged and have the special right to be exempted from testing, that other hypotheses do not. I see no reason why their hypotheses, whatever they are, should not be subjected to the very same testing process that everyone ELSE’s hypotheses, whatever they are, have to go through. If they cannot put their “hypothesis” through the same scientific method that everyone ELSE has to, then they have no claim to be “science”. Period.

Comment #44512

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 23, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

Andreas Wagner’s new book Robustness and Evolvability in Natural System provides a global refutation of the ID argument about irreducible complexity. Living systems are not the fragile, house-of-cards contraptions postulated by Behe et. al. Indeed, in a world of mutations and mere thermal noise, systems that could not function in the face of phylogentic and ontogentic shocks could hardly persist even if they miraculously appeared. At each level, genetic, developmental, and metabolic, functioning continues despite substitutions and deletions. Indeed, robustness is a defining characteristic of life itself.

Wagner’s book is utterly unpolemic and I’m sure he wouldn’t dream of slumming by engaging in a debate with a nonscientific social movement like ID. Nevertheless, his book is the most complete refutation of ID I’ve seen.

I wrote a brief review of the book, We Must, We Must Develop Roubust, at my blog. Scroll down to find it.

Comment #44514

Posted by caerbannog on August 23, 2005 7:43 PM (e)

The Salk Institute is right here in San Diego (just a few miles up I-5 from my place), and most folks around here are at least dimly aware of the Salk Institute’s reputation. So when the subject of ID comes up amongst co-workers/acquaintances, I like to give the ID sympathizers this little assignment.

1) Go to http://www.salk.edu
2) Locate the “search” button (top-center of the Salk home-page).
3) Do a search on “evolution”.
4) Do a search on “intelligent design”.
5) Compare the results of the “evolution” search with the results of the “intelligent design” search.

That gives ‘em a little something to think about.

I like to tell people that if a theory doesn’t pass the “Salk” test, then it shouldn’t be taught to their kids in science class.

Comment #44516

Posted by Leigh Jackson on August 23, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

Thanks Ian. The Miller link is an excellent primer for the Yong Doolittle paper.

quote author=Flint>I enjoy reading about how these systems evolve, but I can’t see how this material is going to matter to those whose purposes are not served by paying any attention to it. Are we trying to reach the voting public this way? I ask Ian Musgrave to spend all day on main street asking every passerby to compare a Type II with a Type IV secretory system. That’s the voting public.

You and I are part of the voting public too Flint. I am really thankful that Ian and others like him take the time and trouble to help people like me to reach a level of information, education and understanding to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

quote author=Chip>I think it makes a lot more sense to talk about what constitutes a valid claim to knowledge and an invalid claim to knowledge. Similarly, we can point to research traditions that “work out” and research traditions that “don’t work out” and have been discredited by widely accepted empirical evidence.”

I disagree Chip. This is too vague, too philosophical a way to dispute with Creationists, especially those slippery sophists of the ID pursuasion. This plays straight into their game. You demonstrate that what the ID mob is about is not science by demonstrating what science is. You put the science out there so that anyone with eyes to see can see.

Comment #44517

Posted by White Stone on August 23, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

Having read much on the subject of evolution, I am finding that with all the “evidence” that is being presented as proof I still find great leaps being made. When I trace the terminology used to the root, and truly understand what has been reported it is not as difficult to understand as it seems. It does take time and effort and a lot of study. What I find instead of proof of evolution is rather a fingerprint. Just as we are able to recognize a Picasso by becoming familiar with his work, I see the work of a designer evident in creation. I realize this is not a popular statement to make on this website. (Is that an understatement or what?)

Another thing that I have noticed on this site is a frequent use of words like “believe” in regard to evolution. I have noticed in at least one place a reference to Nature personified. I find most do NOT want to speak of origins. While most of you seem to be 100% convinced of your claims, I wonder if there isn’t still a little doubt in the minds of some.

Looking closely at evolutionary claim, perhaps we should not be so surprised by similarities in DNA across species. The amazing thing isn’t the similarities, but the variety found. I recommend for reading a book entitled, Fingerprint of God for anyone who is interested.

Comment #44521

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 23, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

Flint wrote:

I ask Ian Musgrave to spend all day on main street asking every passerby to compare a Type II with a Type IV secretory system. That’s the voting public.

How many of them read Science? That’s where the letter that Ian is responding to was sent.

Comment #44523

Posted by Ian Musgrave on August 23, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

In Comment #44467

SteveF wrote:

Nice essay Ian. The Matzke link doesn’t work though.

Fixed now! (and the Inlay link as well)

Comment #44527

Posted by Ian Musgrave on August 23, 2005 9:08 PM (e)

In Comment #44466

Flint wrote:

I ask Ian Musgrave to spend all day on main street asking every passerby to compare a Type II with a Type IV secretory system. That’s the voting public.

Well, I do actually. Mostly it’s on trains, although I do a once a year gig at Rundle Mall, and another at the University Open Day. I don’t talk about flagella generally, but other complicated phenomena people have only vaugely heard of, if at all. I talk about oxidative stress, protein misfolding, neuronal sprouting, black holes, occultataions, and how to determine the structure of comets (being a neuroscientist and an amateur astronomer gives you lots of scope). I’ve spoken to people with backgrounds as diverse as accountants and Prawn Trawler Captains. All of them were interested, and although none of them had any science background, careful explanation and scene setting let me get this material across to them.

Flint wrote:

The creationists have the right idea: you will find more citizens sitting in the average Baptist church each Sunday than you will find people in the *entire city* who have ever even HEARD of a Type IV secretory system.

Well, I’m in Australia, and Baptists are a minority, we have more Buhddists. (And we are a bit different, listen to a talkback show on ID here (realplayer)

But generally, most people in the street haven’t even heard of flagella either. The point is when Behe or Dembski says smugly, “you can’t evolve a clotting system or flagellum” you can say “Well, yes you can, Doolittle has made successful predictions about the structure of the clotting system based on evolution, and fish and whales don’t have sections of the clotting system you say they can’t do without”. The general public gets to see that they don’t know what they are talking about. They can see that regardless of their educational background.

Comment #44531

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 23, 2005 9:19 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #44532

Posted by drtomaso on August 23, 2005 9:19 PM (e)

White Stone wrote:

Another thing that I have noticed on this site is a frequent use of words like “believe” in regard to evolution. I have noticed in at least one place a reference to Nature personified. I find most do NOT want to speak of origins. While most of you seem to be 100% convinced of your claims, I wonder if there isn’t still a little doubt in the minds of some.

I for one say I believe in evolution all the time. But I am not a biologist by training. The last time I studied any biology I was 16 and far more interested in the anatomy of my female classmates than the anatomy of the pig embryo we were dissecting. I cannot prove to you that evolution is the best, most explanative theory. That is the role of scientists in a society prominantly featuring division of labor. They teach me about evolution, and I set up computer systems that process trades in their retirement accounts- division of labor.

The theory of evolution has arisen as the most explanative theory science has to offer. It has done so both in spite of and because of over 150 years of unceasing hostility from society at large. Lets face it, evolution is the most controversial theory (in a societal, not scientific sense) since heliocentrism. Most western religions (and several eastern religions) do not abide the idea that man is not the direct handiwork of the divine creator/alien race/flying spaghetti monster. Scientists don’t believe in evolution- they have been convinced by the overwhelming amount of evidence that it is a useful and the most explanative theory.

I applaud your courage to post of your religious convictions here. But I have to ask, “So?” Your religious world view should in no way shape or form be threatened by a scientific theory of evolution- unless you are a biblical literalist- and then you have problems with much much more than just evolution.

Comment #44533

Posted by steve on August 23, 2005 9:23 PM (e)

Comment #44517

Posted by White Stone on August 23, 2005 07:50 PM (e) (s)

Having read much on the subject of evolution, I am finding that with all the “evidence” that is being presented as proof I still find great leaps being made.

Perhaps after 4 years of undergrad biology, and 5 years of graduate biology, those wouldn’t look like leaps to you.

Comment #44536

Posted by Hiero5ant on August 23, 2005 9:32 PM (e)

“Just as we are able to recognize a Picasso by becoming familiar with his work, I see the work of a designer evident in creation.”

This is fascinating, and I can’t wait to follow up on it.

“Just as we are able to recognize a Picasso by becoming familiar with his work…”

I live just down the street from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where I can go to become acquainted with the works of what are verfiably those of Picasso, whereby I can learn to recognize his “fingerprints”.

Please, please, please tell me where I can go to become acquainted with the works that are verifiably the works of Yahweh. A street address would be most helpful.

After all, I’d hate to think that IDC was not science…

Comment #44537

Posted by steve on August 23, 2005 9:33 PM (e)

Caenaenoenerbog, that’s a good suggestion. I would use PubMed though.
“Intelligent design”: 22 hits
“evolution”: 162927 hits

Comment #44538

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

Just as we are able to recognize a Picasso by becoming familiar with his work, I see the work of a designer evident in creation.

I once saw the face of Fidel Castro in a tortilla. It was pretty evident. (shrug)

I realize this is not a popular statement to make on this website.

(sigh) Another fundie with a persecution complex…. .

But hey, since you’ve made such a massive and thorough study of evolution and all (giggle), perhaps you’d be so kind as to answer a simple question that not one single ID/creationist has ever answered for me in the past 23 years.

*ahem*

All I want to know is this: what is the scientific theory of creation or intelligent design, and how can we test it using the scientific method?

I do *NOT* want you to respond with a long laundry list of (mostly
inaccurate) criticisms of evolutionary biology. They are completely
irrelevant to a scientific theory of creation or intelligent design.
I want to see the scientific alternative that you are proposing—-
the one you want taught in public school science classes, the one
that creationists and intelligent design “theorists” testified under
oath in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas and elsewhere is SCIENCE and is
NOT based on religious doctrine. Let’s assume for the purposes of
this discussion that evolutionary biology is indeed absolutely
completely totally irretrievable unalterably irrevocably 100% dead
wrong. Fine. Show me your scientific alternative. Show me how your
scientific theory explains things better than evolutionary biology
does. Let’s see this superior “science” of yours.

Any testible scientific theory of creation should be able to provide
answers to several questions: (1) how did life begin, (3) how did the
current diversity of life appear, and (3) what mechanisms were used
in these processes and where can we see these mechanisms today.

Any testible scientific theory of intelligent design should be able
to give testible answers to other questions: (1) what exactly did
the Intelligent Designer(s) do, (2) what mechanisms did the
Designer(s) use to do whatever it is you think it did, (3) where can
we see these mechanisms in action today, and (4) what objective
criteria can we use to determine what entities are “intelligently
designed” and what entities aren’t (please illustrate this by
pointing to something that you think IS designed, something you think
is NOT designed, and explain how to tell the difference).

If your, uh, “scientific theory” isn’t able to answer any of these
questions yet, then please feel free to tell me how you propose to
scientifically answer them. What experiments or tests can we
perform, in principle, to answer these questions.

Also, since one of the criteria of “science” is falsifiability, I’d
like you to tell me how your scientific theory, whatever it is, can
be falsified. What experimental results or observations would
conclusively prove that creation/intelligent design did not happen.

Another part of the scientific method is direct testing. One does
not establish “B” simply by demonstrating that “A” did not happen. I
want you to demonstrate “B” directly. So don’t give me any “there
are only two choices, evolution or creation, and evolution is worng
so creation must be right” baloney. I will repeat that I do NOT want
a big long laundry list of “why evolution is wrong”. I don’t care
why evolution is wrong. I want to know what your alternative is, and
how it explains data better than evolution does.

I’d also like to know two specific things about this “alternative
scientific theory”: How old does “intelligent design/creationism theory” determine the universe to be. Is it millions of years old, or
thousands of years old. And does ‘intelligent design/creationism theory’ determine that humans have descended from apelike primates, or does it determine that they have not.

I look forward to seeing your “scientific theories”.

Unless, of course, you don’t HAVE any ……

Time to put up or shut up.

Comment #44539

Posted by Mona on August 23, 2005 9:41 PM (e)

Chip P. writes: I’m still not convinced that the best strategy for dealing with ID or YEC is to say “its not science”. This gets into an endless debate about lines of demarcation.

Yes, and the demarcation is difficult and not as easy as many would like it to be, but still absolutely necessary. Bad science is not unconstitutional when taught in public schools.

If science cannot somewhat demarcate where it differs from religion and all other supernatural claims, it is in trouble. And there would be no grounds, legally, for precluding ID or YEC in the classroom.

Comment #44540

Posted by Henry J on August 23, 2005 9:41 PM (e)

Re “The bottom line is “We need to make evolution sexy again!””

When was evolution ever “sexy”??

(But then again, when were most of the things advertised on TV ever sexy, either? Mostly not. lol )

Re “Well, the IDers seem to be sort of stuck on step 3.”

The arguments I’ve seen haven’t gotten past step 2, let alone step 3.

Henry

Comment #44542

Posted by Mona on August 23, 2005 9:54 PM (e)

I said this: And there would be no grounds, legally, for precluding ID or YEC in the classroom.

But should have been more clear. There would be no grounds for precluding teaching ID or YEC…or astrology, phrenology or demonic possession, as science. All of these can be taught in comparative religion or sociology classes, but not vested with the mclaim that they are among the best objective explanations for the world that science can presently offer.

Comment #44547

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on August 23, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

Welcome back, Lenny!

Would it be defensible to say something like, “Science deals only with what can be measured and tested - anything which doesn’t meet those criteria is outside the definition of science.”?

I’m looking for a pithy and easily understood discussion point, not a philosophically comprehensive & epistemologically rigorous ultimate description…

Comment #44554

Posted by Corbs on August 23, 2005 11:26 PM (e)

Lenny

Comment 44507 is beautiful.

Clear, concise, and easy to understand what is required with a helpful example.

I’ve often seen your shorter version of this put to creationists but had not really appreciated how badly creationists fail until I saw this longer version.

Such a shame you never get an answer.

Comment #44556

Posted by Marcus on August 23, 2005 11:43 PM (e)

Pithy is good. One point I think we should continually hammer on is this: whenever the creationist/I.D.’ers come out of their “explantory filters”, “universal probability bounds”, etc., and say that “God a designer did it”, we should force them to come clean and admit that what they really mean is “a miracle occurred here”. This makes the bottom line clear to everybody: I.D.’ers consider miracles as valid scientific explanations. And just as they ask us to provide iron-clad examples of natural selection operating in real life, we should as them to provide solid examples of miracles operating in the everyday world. This may help us get the attention of some who are befuddled by Type III secretory systems, bacterial flagella, and clotting systems (and universal probability bounds, for that matter).

Comment #44560

Posted by Ian Musgrave on August 24, 2005 12:12 AM (e)

In Comment #44517

White Stone wrote:

Having read much on the subject of evolution, I am finding that with all the “evidence” that is being presented as proof I still find great leaps being made.

Proof is for whiskey and mathematics, Science does evidence and inference to the best explanation.

White Stone wrote:

Another thing that I have noticed on this site is a frequent use of words like “believe” in regard to evolution.

Believe it or not, believe has a number of different meanings. The statement “I believe that the weather will be fine today” or “I believe that glycine is the best buffer to use” are not theological, faith based statements (unless you live in Melbourne, where any statement about the weather is faith-based[1]).

I also believe you are wrong, I did a google search of the Panda’s Thumb, there were 100 uses of the word believe, with much less 1% being used in regard to evolution, and only then in non-faith based senses of rational inference or things like scientists rarely “believe” anything about science,except that the scientific method with its extensive research”

This is called hypothesis testing (and we have shown your hypthesis false), science does it all the time, whereas the ID creationists actively ignore known tests of their hypotheses that give answers they don’t like.

Which is why ID isn’t science. Now I believe I’ll have a cup of tea
[1] Australian joke - Don’t like the weather in Melbourne, wait half an hour, it will be different.

Comment #44562

Posted by Jaime Headden on August 24, 2005 12:23 AM (e)

And Dembski says evolution can’t progress through loss of information….

Nilson et al. 2005

Nilsson, A. I. S. Koskiniemi, S. Eriksson, E. Kugelberg, J. C. D. Hinton & D. I. Andersson. 2005. Bacterial genome size reduction by experimental evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Philadelpha 102(34):12112-12116.

“Bacterial evolution toward endosymbiosis with eukaryotic cells is associated with extensive bacterial genome reduction and loss of metabolic and regulatory capabilities. Here we examined the rate and process of genome reduction in the bacterium Salmonella enterica by a serial passage experimental evolution procedure. The initial rate of DNA loss was estimated to be 0.05 bp per chromosome per generation for a WT bacterium and {approx}50-fold higher for a mutS mutant defective in methyl-directed DNA mismatch repair. The endpoints were identified for seven chromosomal deletions isolated during serial passage and in two separate genetic selections. Deletions ranged in size from 1 to 202 kb, and most of them were not associated with DNA repeats, indicating that they were formed via RecA-independent recombination events. These results suggest that extensive genome reduction can occur on a short evolutionary time scale and that RecA-dependent homologous recombination only plays a limited role in this process of jettisoning superfluous DNA.”

Comment #44565

Posted by RBH on August 24, 2005 12:31 AM (e)

Henry J wrote

When was evolution ever “sexy”??

Just ask PZ Whatsisname about cepalopod sex!

RBH

Comment #44566

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 12:50 AM (e)

[1] Australian joke - Don’t like the weather in Melbourne, wait half an hour, it will be different.

Australian? Google is good for this too:

Scotland:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd…

Maryland:
http://students.goucher.edu/fenceclub/botmmar04.…

Victoria:
http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/04-08/victoria…

etc.

Comment #44573

Posted by Mongrel on August 24, 2005 4:55 AM (e)

As a follow on to Ian Musgraves comments to White Stone about the use of the word [i]believe[/i]…

I stopped taking Biology at school when I was 14 (at the time Chemistry was much more fun). What I know is that a lot of the guys here either are studying Biology in all its myriad forms or are Biologists who spend half their lives in the lab answering those questions that give us a better understanding of life on this planet.

The Belief part is akin to - When PZ (for example) makes a statement that the latest ID example of ‘Why evolution doesn’t happen’ is a crock, examples then follow.. I believe PZ has a much stronger case, even though I may not understand it myself, than some person heard it 3rd hand off a quote mined website that his preacher pointed him to.

Comment #44575

Posted by Creationist troll on August 24, 2005 6:03 AM (e)

Another part of the scientific method is direct testing. One does not establish “B” simply by demonstrating that “A” did not happen. I want you to demonstrate “B” directly. So don’t give me any “there are only two choices, evolution or creation, and evolution is worng so creation must be right” baloney. I will repeat that I do NOT want a big long laundry list of “why evolution is wrong”. I don’t care why evolution is wrong.

Actually, proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid. Take for example the proof that there is an infinitude of primes.
Every member of a bisexual species gets its genes from its parents. Therefore there is nothing ‘new’ coming into existence. Therefore there is no evolution. Creation is therefore true by default.
Q.E.D.

Comment #44576

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:09 AM (e)

Knowledge is true justified belief, faith is unjustified belief. A belief is simply assent to a proposition; the amount of justification for and the level of commitment to the belief can vary broadly. Why White Stone finds use of the word to be significant is beyond me, but I find just about everything in hsr post to be conceptually confused. S/he writes “Looking closely at evolutionary claim, perhaps we should not be so surprised by similarities in DNA across species.” Of course we shouldn’t be surprised; it’s predicted by the theory evolution. Oh, but White Stone means “we” a priori committed creationists shouldn’t be surprised. S/he continues: “The amazing thing isn’t the similarities, but the variety found”. Amazing to a creationist – which should make it amazing that anyone still clings to it – but not amazing in the light of the theory of evolution, because what we find isn’t just “variety”, but structured relationships, the sort of structured relationships that are predicted by common descent, but for which creationism offers no explanation. It is the fingerprints of common descent, not of God, that we find everywhere and in every way we look, and that White Stone seems completely unaware of this leaves me wondering just what the source is of the “much on the subject of evolution” that s/he has read.

Comment #44577

Posted by SEF on August 24, 2005 6:11 AM (e)

proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid

False. It only works if you can first prove that there are only 2 options. That clearly isn’t the case for creationism. There are lots of different creationists. There’s nothing special about the Christian fantasists and the people and religions from whom they are descended. Even within science there were alternative ideas, eg Lamarckism, which failed. Science will only replace or, more likely, modify the scientific theory of evolution with more science (ie based on even more facts of evolution).

Either you are stupid and ignorant about this or you are dishonest. Neither does you credit.

Comment #44578

Posted by Russell on August 24, 2005 6:12 AM (e)

Actually, proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid…. Every member of a bisexual species gets its genes from its parents. Therefore there is nothing ‘new’ coming into existence. Therefore there is no evolution. Creation is therefore true by default.
Q.E.D.

10 million years ago there were no humans. Now there are. Evolution is therefore true; creation must be false. Thanks for clearing that up, CT.

Comment #44579

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:16 AM (e)

Actually, proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid.

In the empirical world, there is no such thing as “the alternative”, and deductive proofs apply because every observation not yet made is a hidden premise.

Every member of a bisexual species gets its genes from its parents. Therefore there is nothing ‘new’ coming into existence. Therefore there is no evolution. Creation is therefore true by default.
Q.E.D.

You forgot about mutations, chromosome breakage and duplication, etc., making you a silly goose as well as a troll. Q.E.D.

Comment #44580

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:18 AM (e)

Oops: … and deductive proofs do not apply …

Comment #44583

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:37 AM (e)

I think the responses from SEF and myself are unnecessarily sophisticated for the troll’s foolishness. Just take the troll’s example: the proof of an infinitude of primes. But the claim that there is an infinitude of primes is strictly equivalent to the claim that it is false that number of primes is finite – one is simply the negation of the other. Likewise, if it were proven that the theory of evolution was false, then it would be proven that the theory of evolution isn’t true. Period. No designer or intelligence or anything else would have been proven. Which takes us right back to Lenny’s statement that “One does not establish “B” simply by demonstrating that “A” did not happen”.

Comment #44584

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 24, 2005 6:45 AM (e)

Since my effort last night to quote an author ended in utter disaster, I’ll resort to doing it the old fashioned way:

Mona wrote:

“I said this: And there would be no grounds, legally, for precluding ID or YEC in the classroom.

But should have been more clear. There would be no grounds for precluding teaching ID or YEC…or astrology, phrenology or demonic possession, as science. All of these can be taught in comparative religion or sociology classes, but not vested with the mclaim that they are among the best objective explanations for the world that science can presently offer.”

I see and ackknowledge your point, and I am not convinced that there is no demarcation. I still think that we can say we do have a definition of science that is both descriptive and prescriptive. The definition and standard of science has changed, but we are now at a point where we recognize at a practical level specific standards for specific subjects. I do think that motives matter, at least when we are discussing school curriculum. In short, I think that Aguilar and Lemon hold up pretty well.

That said, in general discussions or public debates with ID or YEC proponents I have found, and in the past myself, engaged in a tendency to resort to demarcation debates. What has happened is that Lemon and Aguilar have tended to shape our debates in the US on philosophy of science. Inevitable perhaps-we don’t do science or philosophy in a vacuum tube (save for some experiments in physics).

What ID has thus far, is a sort of general ontology, and not a well thought out general ontology at that. To solve any problems, you need to go further. So my view is in debates with ID we need to ask “Does it explain?” “Does it predict”? “Does it save the phenomena”? No.! Then consign it the philosophy classroom.

Comment #44586

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 24, 2005 6:56 AM (e)

ts,

Just to amplify your comment a bit: One might discredit specific theories or hypotheses associated with the Neo-Darwinian research tradition (paradigm, research program). This would not necessarily invalidate the other theories of the Neo-Darwinian research tradition. This might require ammending the tradition. Or, one might eventually discredit the entire tradition. One would still need to develop a coherent tradition to replace it.

Now, personally, I think that replacement of the Neo-Darwinian research tradition is not in the cards, though I can envision some amendments with respect to specific hypotheses and theories.

But what the ID folks are after is not offering explanation or formulating any viable alternative. Discrediting for example, the view that multiple and minor mutations in allele frequency leads to macroevolution over a long enough period of time does not prove that there was a specific, outside intervention that we cannot explain or understand.

Comment #44587

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 7:02 AM (e)

Actually, proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid.

I can prove that I am not Howard Hughes.

Does that mean the conclusion “I must be Bill Gates” is therefore valid?

Comment #44588

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 7:08 AM (e)

Would it be defensible to say something like, “Science deals only with what can be measured and tested - anything which doesn’t meet those criteria is outside the definition of science.”

Yes.

BTW, the simple fact that something isn’t science does not mean that it is invalid or wrong or whatever. It just means that it isn’t science.

Comment #44614

Posted by carol clouser on August 24, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

Rev Dr Lenny,

Re #44507,

That was actually a well reasoned and nicely organized posting. I have two issues though I wish to raise.

First, you repeatedly distiguish the “natural” from the “supernatural”. But belief in the God hypothesis, while necessarily unscientific since God cannot be detected by scientific means and instruments, does not constitute belief in the “supernatural.” If God exists, he must by definition be part of “nature” since nature describes all that exists. All that we are then justified in claiming is that belief in God is “superscientific.” The fact that science has not and cannot and probably will never be able to detect God tell us something about the limits of science, that it cannot study or even detect one of the most salient features of the universe, not about the limits of the universe and its nature.

This is the case whatever attributes one ascribes to God, such as infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, and so on. Scientists may object to such characteristics as beyond the realm of science. But that is just too bad. If God exists and is endowed with these attributes, then these characteristics automatically become part of nature. And as such science must strive to get a grip on these concepts.

Second, your step five calls for hypothesis modification with experiments and predictions. Since when are scientific hypotheses adjusted for predictions? I know what you intended to say, but you need to say it more clearly to avoid confusion.

Comment #44621

Posted by steve on August 24, 2005 11:39 AM (e)

Posted by carol clouser on August 24, 2005 11:30 AM (e) (s)

Rev Dr Lenny,

Re #44507,

That was actually a well reasoned and nicely organized posting. I have two issues though I wish to raise.

First, you repeatedly distiguish the “natural” from the “supernatural”. But belief in the God hypothesis, while necessarily unscientific since God cannot be detected by scientific means and instruments, does not constitute belief in the “supernatural.”

su·per·nat·u·ral Audio pronunciation of “supernatural” ( P ) Pronunciation Key (spr-nchr-l)
adj.

1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
3. Of or relating to a deity.
4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
5. Of or relating to the miraculous.

Comment #44623

Posted by Miah on August 24, 2005 11:48 AM (e)

I am confused… (be nice)

In order for the IDist to claim “theories” for an Itelligent Designer, wouldn’t they first have to prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer?

Can you really attribute a cause to a specific entity without first proof that the entity even exist?

Or are they trying to attribute the “theories” as proof for the Intelligent Designer.

Comment #44627

Posted by Miah on August 24, 2005 11:56 AM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

All that we are then justified in claiming is that belief in God is “superscientific.”

www.dictionary.com wrote:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=supersc…

No entry found for superscientific.
Did you mean super scientific?

___________________________________________________________

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q…

No spelling suggestions were found.

No entry was found in the dictionary.

My gosh how inventive can they [ID’ers] get?

Comment #44635

Posted by steve on August 24, 2005 12:25 PM (e)

Comment #44623

Posted by Miah on August 24, 2005 11:48 AM (e) (s)

I am confused… (be nice)

In order for the IDist to claim “theories” for an Itelligent Designer, wouldn’t they first have to prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer?

Can you really attribute a cause to a specific entity without first proof that the entity even exist?

Or are they trying to attribute the “theories” as proof for the Intelligent Designer.

The logic is this. They want to prove that there exists some arrangement of parts which could not have come about via any possible natural process. If any possible natural origin is eliminated, it implies supernatural origin.

It just amounts to yet another attempt to rationally prove god. And they’re failing horribly, as did people much smarter than Michael Behe and William Dembski, such as Thomas Aquinas.

Comment #44643

Posted by Moses on August 24, 2005 12:46 PM (e)

Poor Whitestone, dropping to the level of word-choice semantics.

Another thing that I have noticed on this site is a frequent use of words like “believe” in regard to evolution. I have noticed in at least one place a reference to Nature personified. I find most do NOT want to speak of origins. While most of you seem to be 100% convinced of your claims, I wonder if there isn’t still a little doubt in the minds of some.

I believe my car keys are on the fireplace mantle in my bedroom. That doesn’t mean I doubt the existence of my keys, or the possibility that I left them in my pocket. Rather, I’m a creature of habit and the evidence (knowledge) of my habits means that’s the most likely place they are at anytime.

Evolution is “believed” to be true because it fits the evidence. Should the Flying Speghetti Monster prove to be the designer, then science will incorporate his noodley goodness.

Though I wonder why you pick on the word “believe?” Because that’s what Christians are, “believers.” They “believe” in God. They “believe” in Jesus. They “believe” in the truth of the bible.

Comment #44646

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 24, 2005 12:54 PM (e)

Carol writes “All that we are then justified in claiming is that belief in God is ‘superscientific.’” In fact lots of think that belief in God is subscientific. Why is our claim less credible than hers?

Comment #44648

Posted by Moses on August 24, 2005 1:00 PM (e)

Comment #44575

Posted by Creationist troll on August 24, 2005 06:03 AM (e) (s)

Actually, proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid. Take for example the proof that there is an infinitude of primes.
Every member of a bisexual species gets its genes from its parents. Therefore there is nothing ‘new’ coming into existence. Therefore there is no evolution. Creation is therefore true by default.
Q.E.D.

Oooooohhhh. Q.E.D. I’m so impressed. As for the rest of the rubbish argument, it’s a logic fallacy. And, since I’m too lazy to write it all out myself, I’ll just go to my quote text file and dredge something up:

Argument from Ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam)

Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true. Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false. (This is a special case of a false dilemma, since it assumes that all propositions must either be known to be true or known to be false.) As Davis writes, “Lack of proof is not proof.” (p. 59)

Examples:

1. Since you cannot prove that ghosts do not exist, they must exist.
2. Since scientists cannot prove that global warming will occur, it probably won’t.
3. Fred said that he is smarter than Jill, but he didn’t prove it, so it must be false.

http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/ig.php

Comment #44659

Posted by Greg Peterson on August 24, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

Stunningly, to my mind, you know who has a decent handle on evolutionary theory? Film critic Roger Ebert. Check this out from his review of the (I thought terrible) “War of the Worlds”:

Evolution and science friction
“War of the Worlds” provides some fascinating illustrations of Darwinian evolution, too. The movie begins and ends inside the nucleus of single-celled organisms, which turn out to be the heroes of the tale. The invaders (they are not called “aliens,” or “Martians,” as in the novel) are done in by a microscopic form of bacteria (or perhaps a virus) that is toxic because it is so unfamiliar to them. Their immune systems have consequently never developed a natural resistance.

Wells himself was a former conservative Christian who became a passionate proponent of evolution (Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” had been published in 1859), and used unambiguously Darwinian language to describe the conflict of species in “War of the Worlds.” The term “natural selection” is used explicitly three times in the book, including this passage, some of which is adapted for Freeman’s closing narration:

“These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things – taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many – those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance – our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.”

The way Wells’ language is used in Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” endorses a view of evolution and natural selection that is not incompatible with belief in God, but instead finds wonder and awe in the workings of nature. (That a church is one of the first buildings we see destroyed is something left open to interpretation.) In a culture that in some ways has slipped backwards in its understanding of science, where some Christians want biblical Creationism taught in schools as an alternative to the empirical sciences that form the foundation for our post-Enlightenment progress as a civilization, this description of the invaders’ destruction strikes an evocative chord:

“And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians – dead! – slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.”

Indeed, that’s what makes the speech by Robbins’ survivalist Harlan Ogilvy one of the most hopeful notes in the movie: “This isn’t a war any more than there is a war between men and maggots. This is an extermination!” At that point in the film things are looking pretty dark for humanity, but Harlan makes an excellent point about the adaptability of species. After all, we’ve been trying to eliminate various bugs and maggots for centuries, but we’ve never succeeded. And we never will.

So, although Spielberg’s film acknowledges that untold millions or billions of human beings may have been slaughtered (another echo of the Holocaust), it leaves us with a sense that some of us will survive and persevere to rebuild anew. The scariest thing is: What if some resistant strain of these invaders should develop in the future?

Epilogue: Intelligent Design?

“War of the Worlds” slyly illustrates (intentionally or not) one of the logical fallacies of the newfangled notion of so-called Intelligent Design. Because the filmmakers know how the story ends, they are able to work backwards and forwards to be sure it comes out the right way (i.e., that the characters they’ve chosen to follow don’t wander off, or die off, partway through). They are the Intelligent Designers.

As Ray dodges extermination willy nilly, while those to the left, right, front, and back of him are evaporated by death rays and snatched away by deadly tentacles, we know he’s not going to snuff it because … well, because he’s Tom Cruise.

A plane just happens to crash land on the house in which Ray and his kids are spending the night. He and his kids make it onto a ferry – and make it off again. A flaming train goes by them. So, those things are interesting. Improbable, sure, but those are the kinds of events you make movies about.

Spectacularly dangerous stuff happens to Ray, and all around Ray (which is what makes him a worthy protagonist; if he just sat at home and trembled it could get pretty dull) – but he takes a bashing and keeps on dashing toward the predetermined finish line.

And, when you think about it, that’s kind of like the unsupported assumption behind Intelligent Design – that things have turned out the way they have (so far) because it was inevitable that they should; that an overriding, interventionist intelligence guided events so that they would result in the world as we see it today; and that the course of history and biology could not have gone otherwise because it was all planned in advance. The assumption is that evolution has been pointed toward this moment, rather than the present being just another point in a still-ongoing process with no “destination” in sight.

Evolution sees the current state of things as the outcome of the previous forces and conditions that shaped our existence, and that it’s possible much or all of it could have turned out another way entirely – and might yet still. The world as we experience it is result of trial and error, with no fixed goal or destination in mind but natural selection and adaptation to ever-changing circumstances.

Think of Ray and the other characters (including extras) as genes, or inherited characteristics. Imagine, then, if “War of the Worlds” had been about one of those other people, instead. It would have been a lot shorter, for one thing. The only way you would know to follow the character of Ray Ferrier was if you knew in advance that he would have some interesting experiences worth watching and make it to the end of the movie to wrap up the narrative. War stories, after all, can only be told by survivors.

Comment #44675

Posted by JPD on August 24, 2005 3:49 PM (e)

Greg - Good Review! I haven’t seen the movie - read the book a long time ago - but I will now.

Comment #44676

Posted by Jason Spaceman on August 24, 2005 3:56 PM (e)

Sort of off-topic for this thread, but the ‘post a comment’ section in the Bathroom Wall seems to be gone. Anyways…

Evolving opinion of one man

Bob Davidson is a scientist — a doctor, and for 28 years a nephrology professor at the University of Washington medical school.

He’s also a devout Christian who believes we’re here because of God. It was these twin devotions to science and religion that first attracted him to Seattle’s Discovery Institute. That’s the think tank that this summer has pushed “intelligent design” — a replacement theory for evolution — all the way to the lips of President Bush and into the national conversation.

Davidson says he was seeking a place where people “believe in a Creator and also believe in science.

“I thought it was refreshing,” he says.

Not anymore. He’s concluded the institute is an affront to both science and religion.

“When I joined I didn’t think they were about bashing evolution. It’s pseudo-science, at best … What they’re doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion.”

I got Davidson’s name off a list of 400 people with scientific degrees, provided by the Discovery Institute, who are said to doubt the “central tenets of Darwin’s theory of evolution.” Davidson, at 78 a UW professor emeritus, says he shouldn’t be on the list because he believes “the scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming.”

Comment #44677

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 24, 2005 4:03 PM (e)

Nice find, Jason.

The Seattle Times article continues:
He’s only one scientist, one opinion in our ongoing debate about evolution and faith.

But I bring you Davidson’s views because I suspect he is a bellwether for the Discovery Institute and intelligent design, as more scientists learn about them. He was attracted to an institute that embraced both science and religion, yet he found its critique of existing science wrong and its new theory empty.

“I’m kind of embarrassed that I ever got involved with this,” Davidson says.

He was shocked, he says, when he saw the Discovery Institute was calling evolution a “theory in crisis.”

“It’s laughable: There have been millions of experiments over more than a century that support evolution,” he says. “There’s always questions being asked about parts of the theory, as there are with any theory, but there’s no real scientific controversy about it.”

Davidson began to believe the institute is an “elaborate, clever marketing program” to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design — the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed — and found them lacking in scientific merit.

Then Davidson, who attends First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, heard a sermon in which the pastor argued it’s foolish to try to use science to understand God.

Science is about measuring things, and God is immeasurable, the pastor said.

“It just clicked with me that this whole movement is wrongheaded on all counts,” Davidson said. “It’s a misuse of science, and a misuse of religion.

“Why can’t we just keep the two separate?”

That’s a good question, especially coming from someone who believes strongly in both.

Comment #44679

Posted by Ken Willis on August 24, 2005 4:35 PM (e)

Many thanks to those who posted answers to my questions about micro and macro evolution. It was very helpful.

Comment #44680

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 4:43 PM (e)

In order for the IDist to claim “theories” for an Itelligent Designer, wouldn’t they first have to prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer?

No, all they need is a predictive testable model of the ID and confirming evidence.

Can you really attribute a cause to a specific entity without first proof that the entity even exist?

Yes. Consider, e.g., atomic theory before 1905, when many supposed that atoms were mere theoretical figments, while accepting the demonstrated explanatory power of the model.

Comment #44681

Posted by Edward Braun on August 24, 2005 5:10 PM (e)

Jaime Headden provided an interesting citation:

“And Dembski says evolution can’t progress through loss of information….

Nilsson, A. I. S. Koskiniemi, S. Eriksson, E. Kugelberg, J. C. D. Hinton & D. I. Andersson. 2005. Bacterial genome size reduction by experimental evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Philadelpha 102(34):12112-12116.”

I have been interested in gene loss for some time, and would call Jaime’s attention to my review on the subject (which can be downloaded from my web site) in Applied Bioinformatics:

Braun, EL. 2003. Innovation from reduction: Gene loss, domain loss and sequence divergence in genome evolution. Applied Bioinformatics, 2:13-34.

The case I find especially interesting from the standpoint of examining ID is the loss of CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase activity in the human lineage. The loss of this gene is correlated with the timing of the expansion of the human brain, and a pseudogene is retained. CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase activity is downregulated in the brains of other mammals, suggesting a model in which the presence of the sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid on brain cells somehow limits the growth of the brain. Most mammals simply reduce the expression of this gene, but in the human lineage inactivation of the CMAH gene eliminates any residual N-glycolylneuraminic acid and (potentially) played a role in the increase of brain size for humans. For the full story see (it is also reviewed in my Applied Bioinformatics paper):

Chou HH, Hayakawa T, Diaz S, Krings M, Indriati E, Leakey M, Pääbo S, Satta Y, Takahata N, Varki A. 2002. Inactivation of CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase occurred prior to brain expansion during human evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:11736-41.

One might argue that a sugar that limits brain expansion might have been omitted by an intelligent designer in an organism designed to have a large brain, but why would an intelligent designer place a pseudogene that appears to have been derived from the gene encoding the enzyme responsible for synthesis of that sugar in other mammals?

However, the argument from gene loss is not completely convincing as a refutation of ID (though I - and I suspect all evolutionary biologists - find the overall evidence for evolution quite convincing, making evolution very well corroborated). In principle, one might imagine a designer that made an omnigenomic organism that evolved through gene loss. Such a model would be consistent with the CMAH gene loss characteristics.

However, the CMAH provides excellent evidence for common ancestry of humans and non-human primates. Since one of the psychological reasons for doubting evolution is to preserve human “uniqueness” relative to non-human animals, I would argue that it provides yet another nice example of data that are inconsistent with an intelligent designer, unless one postulates the intelligent designer is a “great deciever” that places evidence of our evolution in our genome (a position that - I suspect - most conventional theists reject).

As an aside, I would also note that purely in vitro of Sol Spiegelman and colleagues in the late ’60s showed evolution by loss of sequences in the Qbeta phage. Viral genomic RNAs were incubated with the replicase in vitro, and selection favored deletion variants that replicated faster. Of course, those genomic RNAs lost information necessary for in vivo replication, making them non-infectious. But the experiment is conceptually similar to looking for deletions in bacterial populations - any genes that are deleted must not contribute to a phenotype necessary for optimal fitness in the environment in which the experiment is conducted. Such a pattern of evolution necessarily results in canalization, restricting the new “species” to a subset of its former “range” (thinking of range as the set of niches it could exploit). However, one can also imagine jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none species that are outcompeted by derived versions in specific ecological niches, and a jack-of-all-trades species might be too complex to have optimum fitness in all environments. Nonetheless, I have no idea how Dembski could assert that evolution can’t progress through loss of information given Spiegelman’s experiments ALMOST 40 YEARS AGO….

Best regards Jaime! Thanks for posting the interesting link

Comment #44682

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 24, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Back to the original topic, isn’t it the case that Witt, etc. are simply offering the Argument from Ignorance? “If you can’t prove me wrong, then I’m right.”

A complete non-starter. Are they actually going to send this letter to [i]Science[/i]?

Comment #44683

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 5:24 PM (e)

First, you repeatedly distiguish the “natural” from the “supernatural”. But belief in the God hypothesis, while necessarily unscientific since God cannot be detected by scientific means and instruments, does not constitute belief in the “supernatural.” If God exists, he must by definition be part of “nature” since nature describes all that exists. All that we are then justified in claiming is that belief in God is “superscientific.” The fact that science has not and cannot and probably will never be able to detect God tell us something about the limits of science, that it cannot study or even detect one of the most salient features of the universe, not about the limits of the universe and its nature.

This paragraph is such an ontological muddle. Let me point to one word:

salient: “Strikingly conspicuous; prominent.”

Conspicuous, yet undetectable. Hmmm.

Bertrand Russell pointed out the problems with using “exists” as a predicate. What does it mean to say that something that is undetectable, and therefore has no consequences, does not enter into any causal equation, “exists”? Exists as a concept in our minds, but for something to exist in the world it has to actually have some role, some consequence, some effect. We can prove that there exist irrational numbers a and b such that a**b is rational, but a and b aren’t detectable by scientific means and instruments – what sort of existence is that? It’s semantic and conceptual existence, not physical existence.

Second, your step five calls for hypothesis modification with experiments and predictions. Since when are scientific hypotheses adjusted for predictions? I know what you intended to say, but you need to say it more clearly to avoid confusion.

The only one confused is you, who left out “in accord”. Hypotheses are modified so as to avoid entailing demonstrably erroneous predictions.

Comment #44684

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 5:37 PM (e)

The loss of this gene is correlated with the timing of the expansion of the human brain, and a pseudogene is retained. CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase activity is downregulated in the brains of other mammals, suggesting a model in which the presence of the sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid on brain cells somehow limits the growth of the brain.

How does one distinguish this from post hoc ergo propter hoc? Surely one needs direct evidence of such a limiting effect, not just co-incidence in time?

However, the argument from gene loss is not completely convincing as a refutation of ID

Together with numerous other observations for which ID offers no explanation or even a route to an explanation, yet which are readily consistent with and even predicted by common descent, I think one can justify being completely convinced.

Comment #44689

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

First, you repeatedly distiguish the “natural” from the “supernatural”. But belief in the God hypothesis, while necessarily unscientific since God cannot be detected by scientific means and instruments, does not constitute belief in the “supernatural.”

So God isn’t supernatural? He’s just a regular bloke, like us?

Interesting, uh, theology …. ….

But then, since IDers fall all over themselves to tell us that the Designer might not be God (wink wink) and that Id isn’t religious in nature (wink wink), I do fail to see why it is in any way relevant anyway.

Or are IDers just lying to us when they claim this?

Comment #44690

Posted by LackOfDiscipline on August 24, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

Creationist troll wrote:

Actually, proving that something is true by proving the alternative is not true is perfectly valid. Take for example the proof that there is an infinitude of primes.

[rant]

Yikes!

I hope that Little Willie Dembski, the Newton of Information Theory or whatever they call him, would have the courage to point out the flaw in your “logic”, as he is a *ahem* brilliant mathematician. If someone less brilliant than Dembski (i.e. “me”) pointed out the problem I would likely be accused of being some kind of materialistic methodological stickler biased naturalistic atheist mathematical party-line touter and whatever else you guys call your opponents.

I don’t think I need to say any more, since many prior to myself have pointed out how far inside your colon you’ve put your head. I doubt that will change your view of the issue one iota. Shock me and prove me wrong.

[/rant]

Comment #44693

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

Back to the original topic, isn’t it the case that Witt, etc. are simply offering the Argument from Ignorance? “If you can’t prove me wrong, then I’m right.”

Right on the supposed falsifiability. But it seems to me overall more a matter of begging the question. They deny that ID can’t “explain what can be observed”, yet they “explain” the observation of “irreducibly complex” systems by saying that IC is “a hallmark of designed systems”. That’s like finding droppings in the woods and claiming that that’s indication of the presence of bears, because droppings in the woods are a hallmark of bears. But the question at hand is – are they bear droppings? Of course it’s much worse than that, because a) IR isn’t a hallmark of designed systems b) the observed systems aren’t IR c) IDdidit isn’t predictive and isn’t decomposable; rather it resembles an appeal to a “virtus dormativa”.

Comment #44696

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

s/IR/IC/g

Comment #44712

Posted by Edward Braun on August 24, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

I wrote…

The loss of this gene is correlated with the timing of the expansion of the human brain, and a pseudogene is retained. CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase activity is downregulated in the brains of other mammals, suggesting a model in which the presence of the sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid on brain cells somehow limits the growth of the brain.

and ts (not Tim) asked in response:

How does one distinguish this from post hoc ergo propter hoc? Surely one needs direct evidence of such a limiting effect, not just co-incidence in time?

I agree that the data regarding CMAH gene loss are certainly not definitive at this point, which is why I used the phrase “suggesting a model…” However, the correlative evidenced is certainly sufficient to justify the proposal of the stated hypothesis, which should of course be subjected to further experimental testing. The ability to generate knockout mice lacking CMAH or possibly transgenic mice with reduced CMAH expression may provide tools to do so. Obviously, it may be possible to find additional experiments that could further corroborate the basic hypothesis without being definitive.

ts (not Tim) wrote:

Together with numerous other observations for which ID offers no explanation or even a route to an explanation, yet which are readily consistent with and even predicted by common descent, I think one can justify being completely convinced.

I agree completely, my comment was simply restricted to the status of the single line of evidence against ID that I was discussing. Clearly, the theory of common descent is as well corroborated as any hypothesis in the sciences, and it forms the core unifying theme of the biological sciences. Given that the opposition to evolution is based upon religion, and I have to admit that I find it hard to determine the best approach to convincing the public that there simply is not a controversy regarding the status of ID and evolution in the bioscience community.

However, in a time when we have an anti-science administration in power and powerful people like Joe Barton abusing his power as Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce to intimidate folks like Michael Mann for his “hockey stick” model for climate change because it conflicts with Barton’s ideological bias it is clearly important to stand firm for science and rationalism.

However, I would argue that one way to stand for rationalism to carefully avoid overstating the amount of information from any single line of evidence. Like the post “What if the Hockey Stick is Wrong?” on the realclimate web site (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=114) it is important that we as scientists try to emphasize to the public that the scientific community is evaluating the preponderence of the evidence regarding various ideas in the scientific community. I don’t know if it will help, but I think it is important to approach things with a critcal eye - just as you correctly did regarding the working hypothesis that CMAH gene loss has an impact on the change in brain development along the branch leading to humans after the divergence of the chimpanzees.

Peace out!

Comment #44713

Posted by Edward Braun on August 24, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

I wrote…

The loss of this gene is correlated with the timing of the expansion of the human brain, and a pseudogene is retained. CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase activity is downregulated in the brains of other mammals, suggesting a model in which the presence of the sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid on brain cells somehow limits the growth of the brain.

and ts (not Tim) asked in response:

How does one distinguish this from post hoc ergo propter hoc? Surely one needs direct evidence of such a limiting effect, not just co-incidence in time?

I agree that the data regarding CMAH gene loss are certainly not definitive at this point, which is why I used the phrase “suggesting a model…” However, the correlative evidenced is certainly sufficient to justify the proposal of the stated hypothesis, which should of course be subjected to further experimental testing. The ability to generate knockout mice lacking CMAH or possibly transgenic mice with reduced CMAH expression may provide tools to do so. Obviously, it may be possible to find additional experiments that could further corroborate the basic hypothesis without being definitive.

ts (not Tim) wrote:

Together with numerous other observations for which ID offers no explanation or even a route to an explanation, yet which are readily consistent with and even predicted by common descent, I think one can justify being completely convinced.

I agree completely, my comment was simply restricted to the status of the single line of evidence against ID that I was discussing. Clearly, the theory of common descent is as well corroborated as any hypothesis in the sciences, and it forms the core unifying theme of the biological sciences. Given that the opposition to evolution is based upon religion, and I have to admit that I find it hard to determine the best approach to convincing the public that there simply is not a controversy regarding the status of ID and evolution in the bioscience community.

However, in a time when we have an anti-science administration in power and powerful people like Joe Barton abusing his power as Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce to intimidate folks like Michael Mann for his “hockey stick” model for climate change because it conflicts with Barton’s ideological bias it is clearly important to stand firm for science and rationalism.

However, I would argue that one way to stand for rationalism to carefully avoid overstating the amount of information from any single line of evidence. Like the post “What if the Hockey Stick is Wrong?” on the realclimate web site (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=114) it is important that we as scientists try to emphasize to the public that the scientific community is evaluating the preponderence of the evidence regarding various ideas in the scientific community. I don’t know if it will help, but I think it is important to approach things with a critcal eye - just as you correctly did regarding the working hypothesis that CMAH gene loss has an impact on the change in brain development along the branch leading to humans after the divergence of the chimpanzees.

Peace out!

Comment #44715

Posted by carol clouser on August 24, 2005 8:58 PM (e)

Rev Dr Lenny,

You can make light of my comment all you want, if it makes you feel better. But I was in fact making a serious point.

Your posting was replete with such phrases as “natural” and “supernatural” as if these terms have real consistent significance (the dictionary not withstanding). As soon as one entertains the possibility that God exists, and your posting argued that said entertainment is entirely acceptable, then one must treat God as “natural”. If he exists, he is part of the universe (all that exists) and of nature. You can exclude Him from scientific analysis, but not from the universe. And if you exclude him from science because you label Him “supernatural” you are violating your own stated principles of the scientific method.

And this is not mere word play. I am sure you realize, eminent scientist and theologian that you are, that words frequently take on a life of their own by repeatedly using them haphazrdly and incorrectly. And this in turn can and does lead to all manner of errors in logic. A lot of what you wrote in the posting, while well intended, withers into nothingness when examined carefully or when a rational person attempts to apply it consistently to the real world.

Stated otherwise, your posting would be rejected by any competent editor and sent back for rewriting.

Miah,

I used the term “superscience” to highlight the contrast with “supernatural.” I am at liberty to do so on the basis of the doctrine of “writer’s license”.

TS,

“Salient” may be used in the sense of “prominent” in importance.

Also, the God hypothesis always goes hand-in-hand with the notion of God as creator. In that case He exists with very real consequences. If not for His existance and actions, YOU would not be here to nit-pick my posting.

Comment #44719

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 9:43 PM (e)

You can make light of my comment all you want, if it makes you feel better. But I was in fact making a serious point.

So was I.

Your posting was replete with such phrases as “natural” and “supernatural” as if these terms have real consistent significance (the dictionary not withstanding). As soon as one entertains the possibility that God exists, and your posting argued that said entertainment is entirely acceptable, then one must treat God as “natural”. If he exists, he is part of the universe (all that exists) and of nature. You can exclude Him from scientific analysis, but not from the universe. And if you exclude him from science because you label Him “supernatural” you are violating your own stated principles of the scientific method.

That’s all fine and well. Do let us know when you or someone else finds some way to scientifically test for the presence or absence of “the supernatural”.

Until then, you are, quite literally, arguing over nothing.

Comment #44722

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

If not for His existance and actions, YOU would not be here to nit-pick my posting.

Of course, you are entirely utterly absolutely completely entitled to hold whatever religious opinions you like.

And of course they are no better than anyone ELSE’S religious opinions.

(shrug)

Comment #44723

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 10:00 PM (e)

Stated otherwise, your posting would be rejected by any competent editor and sent back for rewriting.

Then it is fortunate, is it not, that I, unlike you, am not here to shill for a book.

Comment #44724

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

“Salient” may be used in the sense of “prominent” in importance.

Prominent in the belief systems of human beings, but not prominent in the empirical world if completely undetectable.

Also, the God hypothesis always goes hand-in-hand with the notion of God as creator. In that case He exists with very real consequences.

Undetectable consequences. Consequences that cannot be attributed to God other than merely asserting it. I could just as well claim that my mouse and keyboard are God or manifest God’s spirit. One can sort of make sense of these claims, but they don’t make it any clearer what is meant by claiming that God exists.

If not for His existance and actions, YOU would not be here to nit-pick my posting.

B E G G I N G T H E Q U E S T I O N. Of course, Carol, you view ripping your claims to shreds as “nit-picking”, as when I showed that, rather than being America-bashing, my statements about the Japanese being prepared to surrender but not by denying the divinity of the emperor were established historical fact, or when I showed that your blather about a physics professor friend who had seen a spoon bend in Johnny Carson’s hand without Uri Geller touching it was BS by producing documentation that Geller wasn’t able to bend spoons at all on Carson’s show because Carson had been prepped by James Randi – and there’s even a video. And we can go back to the original thread when you showed up here touting the Judah Landa book and saying that you had found it on Amazon and not bothering to mention that you work for the publisher until someone announced it after doing some sleuthing. All just nit-picking, from the POV of your unfalsifiable bubble of extraordinary intellectual dishonesty.

Comment #44725

Posted by Ian Musgrave on August 24, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

In Comment #44723

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank was a little impolite. Let’s all try to be more polite in future, okay.

Comment #44727

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 10:19 PM (e)

Carol, you seem to have missed this statement on my part:

BTW, the simple fact that something isn’t science does not mean that it is invalid or wrong or whatever. It just means that it isn’t science.

So you are, quite literally, arguing over nothing.

Comment #44728

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 10:22 PM (e)

I hope it’s not considered “impolite” to provide supporting evidence for Lenny’ statement:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001161.ht…

Amiel Rossow wrote:

Some food for a curious mind: The tone of admiration of Landa’s book so evident in Carol Clouser’s comments sounded a bit suspicious in regard to the real source of her attitude to that book, so some fast investigation seemed in order. Here it is: the book in question as of today has on Amazon the rank of 354,000. Compare it with Schroeder’s book published in ‘91 - its rank as of today is 12,178 which means it is still immensely more popular than Landa’s recently published book (despite the egregious errors in Schroeder’s output). While usually there are dozens of readers reviews of various books on Amazon, there is only one anonymous reader’s review of Landa’s book whose wording is almost identical with Carol Clouser’s comments to this thread. The most curious detail is perhaps that one of Landa’s books was published by an otherwise obscure publisher named Jae-El publications. Now, the email address of Carol Clouser as given in her comments is [Enable javascript to see this email address.]… . Is it where the real beef is? Is it still suprising that Carol was so much impressed by Landa’s book?

Comment #44729

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

In Comment #44723

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank was a little impolite.

Comment #44723

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 10:00 PM (e) (s)

Stated otherwise, your posting would be rejected by any competent editor and sent back for rewriting.

Then it is fortunate, is it not, that I, unlike you, am not here to shill for a book.

Pardon? I don’t see anything even remotely “impolite” anywhere in there. Just a simple observation.

Comment #44730

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 10:28 PM (e)

I should have included Carol’s, um, rebuttal from the same thread:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001161.ht…

I am the Scholarly Book Editor at a small publishing firm whose name is Jay El Publications. I was enthusiatic about Dr. Landa’s book when I first saw it in manuscript form and still am. My email address at work therefore begins with the letters jayel and 923 is my personal number. I wrote to Amazon for the same reason I wrote to Pandasthumb and other places - I think highly of the book and think it could make a difference in the ongoing cultural war which is only getting lauder with each passing week. […]

It’s worth noting that Jay El Publications appears to be Judah Landa’s vanity press.

Comment #44740

Posted by carol clouser on August 25, 2005 2:20 AM (e)

TS,

Just don’t get a swollen head from all the fictional “ripping” you magically performed. Your assertions are just that, assertions, like the assertions about the existance of God you are so contemptuous of. I concede nothing to you.

The Japanese issue - Almost all the sources I consulted state that American diplomats were in possession of three additional conditions set by the Japanese, besides the status of the emperor. Those conditions were unacceptable, and for good reasons. One source I looked at claimed some signals of movement on the part of the Japanese but they were not clear. Reading the emperor’s intentions was like reading tea leaves. Your assertion is NOT historical fact at all, you are attracted to it for reasons I stated earlier.

Uri Geller - I am pretty confident in asserting that Geller showed up more than once on the Johnny Carson show. After being bamboozled by Geller a few times, Randi intervened and gave him some tips. So both my professor (I never called him “friend” you made that up) and the source you cite could be right.

Landa’s book - I do not regret anything I said or did and have no reason to do so.

Rev Dr Lenny,

I said all along the issue was clarity of terms and presentation. The idea of spelling out the scientific process in detail with examples and displaying the contrast with ID was very laudable.

Comment #44743

Posted by SEF on August 25, 2005 4:31 AM (e)

I concede nothing to you.

Would that be the supernatural nothing as pointed out earlier? ;-)

Landa’s book - I do not regret anything I said or did and have no reason to do so.

I parse that differently than you probably do. From your posts, I think you really do lack the reason with which to work out that you ought to be regretting most of what you said and did. I also think reasoning ability isn’t that easily acquired (ie beyond the obvious childhood development stages to full potential). So it’s quite likely you’ll never get it.

Comment #44749

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 5:39 AM (e)

I concede nothing to you.

Of course not, because that would involve intellectual honesty.

Comment #44754

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 25, 2005 6:57 AM (e)

I said all along the issue was clarity of terms and presentation.

That’s what “copy editors” are for. During the process of having seven books published, I did learn a thing or two about “copy editors”.

The idea of spelling out the scientific process in detail with examples and displaying the contrast with ID was very laudable.

Thanks.

Now, about that scientific method you might have for detecting the presence or absence of “the supernatural” … ?

Oh, and some good reasons why your particular religious opinions are any more authoritative or valid than mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car mechanic’s, my veterinarian’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas, would also be appreciated.

Comment #44759

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 7:20 AM (e)

Uri Geller - I am pretty confident in asserting that Geller showed up more than once on the Johnny Carson show. After being bamboozled by Geller a few times, Randi intervened and gave him some tips. So both my professor (I never called him “friend” you made that up) and the source you cite could be right.

Talk about making things up – pardon me if I assumed that you weren’t as chummy as with the professor as it sounded, but it’s a trivial matter. What is less trivial is that you have NO GROUNDS for your confidence about something that simply isn’t true. “After being bamboozled by Geller a few times” – you have made this up out of whole cloth, for no reason other than to add support to your position; there’s nothing more intellectually dishonest than that. As I did before, for both Hirohito and Geller, I will offer a reference:

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

In 1973, Carson had a legendary run-in with popular psychic Uri Geller when he invited Geller to appear on his show. Carson, an experienced stage magician, wanted a neutral demonstration of Geller’s alleged abilities, so, at the advice of his friend and fellow magician James Randi, he gave Geller several spoons out of his desk drawer and asked him to bend them. Geller proved unable, and his appearance on The Tonight Show has since been regarded as the beginning of Geller’s fall from glory.

Now, if I left it at that, you would just lie some more, claiming that that wasn’t authoritative or that wikipedia is just a bunch of liberals or something. Actually, I should probably wait and let you do that, just to further demonstrate what sort of person you are. But I’m not quite that patient, so I’ll go ahead and offer this, from Uri Geller’s own site:

http://www.uri-geller.com/books/magician-or-myst…
Coat-tailing on Geller’s career - how lucky for him that Geller had not flopped as he forecast - Randi became a star himself at last. His message had a brilliant simplicity, and with a little practice, like dozens of magicians in Israel had done, he learned to bend a spoon and do other tricks which looked remarkably like parts of Geller’s repertoire. The premier TV talk show host, Johnny Carson, who had training as a magician, took to Randi, inviting him more than 30 times onto his NBC Tonight show….
When, in the aftermath of the Time article, in mid 1973, Johnny Carson invited Uri Geller onto Tonight, Geller should probably have sensed an oncoming encounter with eyes that would fail to see. If he did realise that Carson meant trouble, he faced every bit as bravely as the hostile reception at Time; perhaps it was a measure of his self-belief that he could not imagine another disaster that bad, especially as he had been a huge success on a string of shows since Time, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Barbara Walters, Jack Parr, Tom Snyder among them. But the chance of going on the highest rating talk show in the country was simply irresistible, even though Puharich, who was surprisingly well connected in TV, warned Geller that Carson was a serious sceptic.
The Tonight appearance was to be a watershed for Geller in the States, the twin reason along with Time why the New York Times felt obliged to insert its caveat about him in its leader the following year. Although Randi was unable to be in Los Angeles for the show in the way he had been on hand in disguise for the Time encounter, he was closely and secretly involved in the Tonight edition’s planning. He insisted that all the props be chosen by the Tonight production team, that Geller be allowed nowhere near any of them before the programme, and - Randi’s top priority - that Shipi be kept at a distance from the backstage area at all times. Whether all this was hokum, or whether Randi and Carson simply got lucky on the night because Geller was off-form is a matter of speculation; the odds had equally been magician-loaded against Geller at SRI and he had still succeeded. Whatever happened to Geller, the show was hideously embarrassing for him. As mentioned at the beginning of this book, he failed in 22 minutes to make anything work. He had blown his biggest opportunity, and knew it….

That’s it, Carol, ONE appearance of Geller on Carson’s show in 1973, when he failed miserably. So stop LYING about Carson “being bamboozled by Geller a few times”, stop LYING about knowing some physics professor who saw a spoon bend in Carson’s hand, stop LYING about unacceptable Japanese conditions, stop LYING about my motivations … just stop lying altogether, if you can.

Comment #44762

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 7:40 AM (e)

From the same source I found this in Chapter 1:

Geller even appeared on the same Tonight show at later dates, with rather more success - although without Carson in the chair.

So I was wrong about Geller only being on Carson’s show once, but not about the impossibility of some physics professor having seen Geller cause a spoon in Carson’s hand to bend, nor about “After being bamboozled by Geller a few times, Randi intervened and gave him some tips” being a complete fabrication. Of course, by Carol Clouser’s lights, these are all just “assertions”, and she can make “assertions” right back, with no need to concede anything, regardless of the evidence. According to her, that evidence matters is just an “assumption” that scientists make.

Comment #44766

Posted by Miah on August 25, 2005 8:29 AM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

I used the term “superscience” to highlight the contrast with “supernatural.” I am at liberty to do so on the basis of the doctrine of “writer’s license”.

dictionary.com wrote:

No entry found for writer’s license.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=writer%…

No entry found for writers license.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=writers…

I don’t know where you come up with the writer’s license, nor have I ever heard of such a thing much less any doctrine.

Now if you are referring to this:

dictionary.com wrote:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q…

poetic license
n.
The liberty taken by an artist or a writer in deviating from conventional form or fact to achieve a desired effect.

poetic license

Also, artistic license. The liberty taken by a writer or artist in deviating from conventional form or fact to achieve an effect.

poetic license

n : license used by a writer or artist to heighten the effect of their work

Then I understand what you are trying to say.

So what “effect” was you going for by useing the word superscience?

I’ve never heard of such a word or what ideals it entails. Could you provide us with a mainstream defenition of superscience so that I may further understand what “effect” you are trying to heighten your work?

Comment #44767

Posted by Miah on August 25, 2005 8:48 AM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

The Japanese issue - Almost all the sources I consulted…

One source I looked at claimed…

Please provide the sources for your claim.

ts, would this be considered a fallacious Appeal to Authority?

Comment #44807

Posted by carol clouser on August 25, 2005 12:37 PM (e)

TS,

Thank you for your extensive research into this most important matter. Since I was recalling statements made in the 1970’s, perhaps the professor referred to one of Geller’s appearances on the Tonight “show” (without Carson) or the other shows mentioned in your source. I definately recall him being very impressed with Geller and the mention of Johnny Carson. The more important point made that led to this discussion is Randi’s statement that scientists are the easiest to fool. Your accusation of lying are entirely unfounded but very typical of you.

Rev Dr Lenny,

I never said anything about my religious beliefs being more or less authoritative or valid than yours, nor even that I had any religious beliefs. But there is an answer to your question. Just as in the scientific community, after a talented individual has spent thirty years focused on a particular field, published many important peer-reviewed papers, earned one or more prestigious prizes and earned the respect of colleagues, he or she becomes a generally recognized “authority” in that field. Similar conditions exist in the theological community.

I don’t care much for this issue, however, since my position is not to recognize ANYONE as an “authority” on ANYTHING. An individual may be a source of information or ideas, yes, but not a decider of fact or wright from wrong. I try to do that for myself as much as possible.

Comment #44810

Posted by Miah on August 25, 2005 12:55 PM (e)

FYI

Just a note of interrest to some:

I was visiting my youngest son’s classroom for a parent/teacher’s “get-together” (Of course I had to endure a PTA meeting…funny, they don’t mention those until you get there. *sigh*) and as the teacher was going over the cirriculum and techniques for the 3rd grade, I was investigating my surroundings as to the various charts, and positive behaviorial propaganda (respect, respnsibility…etc.) my eyes caught one very important piece…

The Scientific Method

I was so elated and happy to see that there.

Comment #44839

Posted by Henry J on August 25, 2005 4:25 PM (e)

Re “s/IR/IC/g”

Oh, you’ve work/worked on Vax Vms machines, too, huh?
(Or maybe on another with a similar text editor…)

Henry

Comment #44842

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 5:24 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

I definately recall him being very impressed with Geller and the mention of Johnny Carson.

You made very definite claims about the physicist being a trained observer and that he definitely saw the spoon bend in Carson’s hand without Geller’s intervention. Now you are admitting that you are a pathetic fabricator who will say just anything in the course of a debate, as you did about Geller bamboozling Carson.

The more important point made that led to this discussion is Randi’s statement that scientists are the easiest to fool.

The important point is that you claimed that a physics professor trained in observation saw a spoon bend in Johnny Carson’s hand without Geller’s intervention. The important point is that you simply invent stories and claims, such as Geller bamboozling Carson (you invented that yesterday, not in 1970) to support your assertions. That’s a kind of lying, the same kind of lying that the IDists use.

The original context was your attempt to justify the notion of a tricky God who makes things appear not as they really are. Somehow Randi’s statement about physicists being easily fooled by magicians is supposed to lend credence to this idea. Perhaps light really doesn’t bend but God has tricked all the physicists into thinking it does. Or something. Or perhaps you just spin out whatever nonsense pops into your head that allows you to “concede nothing”. But I doubt that anyone here is being fooled – at least, not anymore.

Miah wrote:

ts, would this be considered a fallacious Appeal to Authority?

“According to the Enquirer …” would be such an appeal; Carol doesn’t even bother to mention what authority she’s appealing to, so I don’t think it rises to that level. She says Japan made three additional, unacceptable, conditions, but doesn’t name them, so there’s no way to rebut the claim. She claims, based on nothing at all, that I made my statements about the U.S. not needing to drop the bombs because I’m a left-winger who thinks everything the U.S. does is wrong, despite the fact that, after I made my claims and she ridiculed them with “if so, how come this?” type questions, I cited the Wikipedia article on Hirohito that backed my claims and provided the answers to her questions. Such claims and denials don’t rise to the level of fallacy; they are simply bad faith. It’s worth noting that Eisenhower was not a raving leftist, yet he said ““…the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” (http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm, where you can find many other supporting statements by non-leftists)

Henry J wrote:

Re “s/IR/IC/g”

Oh, you’ve work/worked on Vax Vms machines, too, huh?
(Or maybe on another with a similar text editor…)

This grammar originated back in the days of TECO on the DEC-20, or perhaps even earlier. It was used in the Unix “ed” editor, which yielded vi, sed, awk, and eventually perl, and has spread to Ruby and other programming languages and tools; it’s nearly universal now in the computing world. However, I did happen to work on a Unix emulator running on VAX/VMS; you may even have used my software. :-)

Comment #44855

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 25, 2005 6:15 PM (e)

I never said anything about my religious beliefs being more or less authoritative or valid than yours, nor even that I had any religious beliefs. But there is an answer to your question. Just as in the scientific community, after a talented individual has spent thirty years focused on a particular field, published many important peer-reviewed papers, earned one or more prestigious prizes and earned the respect of colleagues, he or she becomes a generally recognized “authority” in that field. Similar conditions exist in the theological community.

Alas, though, there have been literally HUNDREDS of talented individuals who have spent thirty years focused on a particular field, published many important peer-reviewed papers, earned one or more prestigious prizes and earned the respect of colleagues, and have become a generally recognized “authority” in that field.

And none of them agree on anything theological.

In case you haven;t noticed, that’s why there are so many Christian denominations, sects, cults and groupuscules – all of which have their proclaimed “authorities” and none of which agree with each other.

So you’ve still not answered my question. What makes YOUR “authority’s” religious opinions any more authoritative than any OTHER “authority’s”?

Other than the fact that you happen to like the views of this “authority” and not that one over there … ?

See, Carol, that’s the problem with the entire “argument from authority”. It quickly descends into “my authority can beat up your authority, so there.”

How can we decide which of the gazillions of “authorities” is … well … authoritative? Other than your say-so?

The “scientific community” has the scientific method, which decides whose claimed “authority” is valid and whose isn’t. What method does the “theological community” have, and whatever that method might be, why hasn’t that method settled all the theological arguments that have been raging for well over 2,000 years now?

Comment #44862

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 6:53 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

I never said anything about my religious beliefs being more or less authoritative or valid than yours, nor even that I had any religious beliefs. But there is an answer to your question. Just as in the scientific community, after a talented individual has spent thirty years focused on a particular field, published many important peer-reviewed papers, earned one or more prestigious prizes and earned the respect of colleagues, he or she becomes a generally recognized “authority” in that field. Similar conditions exist in the theological community.

Miah, that is a fallacious appeal to authority. Someone spending thirty years in a particular field is of course an authority in the sense of being a reliable source as to the findings in the field, what others in the field say, what the consensus is, what evidence has been gathered, what conclusions have been reached, and so on. They are not, however, authorities in the sense that what they say about the subject of the field is true. What Richard Dawkins says about evolution isn’t true just because he says it, and nothing any theologian says is true just because they say it. In the case of science, there is an extra-personal (“objective” or, more accurately, “inter-subjective”) mechanism for evaluating truth claims, a mechanism that is used because it works, because it aggressively filters out erroneous truth claims.

I don’t care much for this issue, however, since my position is not to recognize ANYONE as an “authority” on ANYTHING. An individual may be a source of information or ideas, yes, but not a decider of fact or wright from wrong. I try to do that for myself as much as possible.

Here Carol sets herself up as her own authority – she simply decides what is fact and what is not. She has made it clear that she doesn’t do that based on evidence, which she says is mere “assertion”, or based on the scientific method, which she says is based on “assumptions” that are no more or less valid than theological or any other assumptions. She has failed to notice that we do science not on based on assumptions but because of efficacy – because it works, because it yields knowledge via frameworks that produce verified predictions. This is why, for instance, the Catholic church accepted heliocentrism and evolution – not because they simply decided to change their assumptions for no reason at all, but because you can’t avoid stubbing your toe on a rock simply by assuming that it isn’t there.

Comment #44863

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 25, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

As ts pointed out:

you can’t avoid stubbing your toe on a rock simply by assuming that it isn’t there.

Those dang rocks can be so darn assertive! Not only can they royally interfere with contrary assertions, but they can dump you flat on your assumptions

Comment #44870

Posted by carol clouser on August 25, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

Rev Dr Lenny,

Your differentiating between scientific and theological “authorities” on the basis of consensus or the lack thereof seems to me to be a weak reed to hang your hat on. For there are areas of consensus and disagreement in both communities. There are some very strong disagreements in the scientific community based on the same data that is available to all. Areas that come to mind are global warming, models of the early universe, basic particles (string theory), efficacy of certain medical procedures and diets, and others. By the same token, there are many areas of agreement in the theology community, at least by large segments of that community. Many of those christian sects you cited agree on many things, while they disagree on others. And I don’t think you wish to reduce your point to a game of numbers, i.e. counting consensus vs. disagreement in the respective camps. That would get us into the relative importance of the issues.

What you should hang your coat on and did is that scientists have a consensus on how disagreements are to be settled - in the lab, if possible. But theologians also have some such agreement - by a convincing argument (proof) or by evidence (archeological, for example) again if possible. Unfortunately for the theologians, good arguments and evidence are harder to come by than in the lab where controlled experiments are possible. They have my sympathy. Their task is much tougher.

But when a good argument does arise, it usually is far more convincing than data in the lab. I would be absolutely convinced, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the angles of a triangle add to 180 degrees even if I had never seen a triangle. As a matter of fact, the first time I tried that by measurement (a long, long time ago) they add up to 179. The next time they added up to 182. Eventually I was introduced to the excuses (just kidding) and how to deal with them - averages, precision, accuracy - but that all doesn’t speak as loudly as a unshakeable proof.

In any event, I never appealed to “authority”, you brought all this up.

TS,

You persist in deliberately distorting what I say and even the context in which I say things. There is no point therefore in responding to your “comments”.

Comment #44871

Posted by carol clouser on August 25, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

Rev Dr Lenny,

Your differentiating between scientific and theological “authorities” on the basis of consensus or the lack thereof seems to me to be a weak reed to hang your hat on. For there are areas of consensus and disagreement in both communities. There are some very strong disagreements in the scientific community based on the same data that is available to all. Areas that come to mind are global warming, models of the early universe, basic particles (string theory), efficacy of certain medical procedures and diets, and others. By the same token, there are many areas of agreement in the theology community, at least by large segments of that community. Many of those christian sects you cited agree on many things, while they disagree on others. And I don’t think you wish to reduce your point to a game of numbers, i.e. counting consensus vs. disagreement in the respective camps. That would get us into the relative importance of the issues.

What you should hang your coat on and did is that scientists have a clear consensus on how disagreements are to be settled - in the lab, if possible. But theologians also have some such agreement - by a convincing argument (proof) or by evidence (archeological, for example) again if possible. Unfortunately for the theologians, good arguments and evidence are harder to come by than in the lab where controlled experiments are possible. They have my sympathy. Their task is much tougher.

But when a good argument does arise, it usually is far more convincing than data in the lab. I would be absolutely convinced, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the angles of a triangle add to 180 degrees even if I had never seen a triangle. As a matter of fact, the first time I tried that by measurement (a long, long time ago) they added up to 179. The next time they added up to 182. Eventually I was introduced to the excuses (just kidding) and how to deal with them - averages, precision, accuracy - but that all doesn’t speak as loudly as a unshakeable proof.

In any event, I never appealed to “authority”, you brought all this up. You asked what makes one an authority. I answered you.

TS,

You persist in deliberately distorting what I say and even the context in which I say things. There is no point therefore in responding to your “comments”.

Comment #44872

Posted by carol clouser on August 25, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

Sorry for the double appearance of that posting.

Comment #44878

Posted by Flint on August 25, 2005 9:00 PM (e)

carol:

“Proof” as you use the term is a result of agreed-on rules of inference applied to agreed-on axioms, themselves presumed a priori to be “true”. And so we don’t *observe* that the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, we *define* the triangle to have a total of 180 degress of internal angles. But draw that triangle on the surface of a sphere, and suddenly we need new axioms.

And so science, based on observation and not axioms, can never “prove” anything. I will happily grant that proofs (as you use the term) are airtight, inevitable implications of the system of axioms from which they are deduced.

And so your “good argument” arises for two reasons: because those examining this argument agree on the proper use of the rules of inference, and because they ALSO agree on the axioms to which these rules have been applied. Theological proofs require nothing more; certainly they require no observational evidence. Observational evidence makes “proof” impossible, automatically.

It’s not enough to say “well, science has its method, and theology has their own method, and according to these disparate methods, those specialists in this field arrive at conclusions no different in nature.” As Lenny implies, agreement about what’s being examined, or admiration for the elegance of an experiment, or universal respect for the reputation of the experimenter, are irrelevant. What matters is what WORKS.

It’s not just idle to observe that when scientists disagree, they construct experiments and related means of making directed observations that will reconcile these conflicts; when theologians disagree, they simply DECLARE their opponents to be wrong, and split into Yet Another Sect. This is understandable, since scientists are concerned with the underlying reality, and theologians are concerned with appropriate social conventions.

The issue might be, instead of an argument from authority, an argument based on the ultimate arbiter of the disagreements. In science, that ultimate arbiter is reality itself, as well and as closely as we can observe and understand it. In theology, the ultimate arbiter is, well, uh, actually, there isn’t one.

Comment #44890

Posted by Henry J on August 25, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

Re ##44863’s “Those dang rocks […]”

ROFL ROFL

Henry

Comment #44912

Posted by carol clouser on August 26, 2005 2:28 AM (e)

Flint,

I can agree with almost all of what you wrote except for a few tangential points. But I put a different spin on the siginificance of it all.

A close look at the state of science today reveals quite a few “sects” in a variety of areas. In all the areas of disagreement I mentioned in my previous posting there are strong adherents of divergent opinions. That sounds like “sects” to me. Of course, if data appeared that would clearly establish the correctness of one view over another, that would end that particular debate. In science the lab is the supreme court, there is no further appeal. But the same is true in the theological community. If either evidence or a line of reasoning were to appear to validate or invalidate any sect’s theological view, that would end the debate. Sure, some people would squirm and resist for awhile, but that is true in science too. The key difference is that there is a dirth of such evidence or lines of reasoning in the area of theology, so things don’t get settled. If for some reason (budget cuts, for example) the sources of incoming scientific data were to cease, the opposing sects in the scientific community would also DECLARE each other wrong, as they do now.

So deep down it all reduces to the following: science has a spigot of flowing new data, theology is strugggling for every scrap. So what is the significance of this? That theology has no valid contribution to make to society? That’s hardly likely. It is of course possible that some of those sects happen to have views that match reality. For example, God may in fact exist. So I cannot agree with the implication of Lenny’s question.

Lenny,

Since I answered your question (rebutting your rebuttal leaves the answer standing) let me ask you a question. I will throw your a softball. A recent poll released by Newsweek magazine (this week) reveals that 80% or Americans believe that God created the universe. How do you explain this? Are they (1) stupid, (2) misled, (3) miscalculating, (4) on to something, or (5) very intelligent? Please explain the basis for your conclusion.

Comment #44914

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 3:03 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

You persist in deliberately distorting what I say and even the context in which I say things. There is no point therefore in responding to your “comments”.

I just ran across this, which fits Carol perfectly:

http://marccooper.typepad.com/marccooper/2005/08…

Michael Turner wrote:

As a sometime practitioner myself, I can defend the practice of making [stuff] up as you go along, and I can do it in terms that anybody could understand, even wholeheartedly agree with.

To put it simply, making [stuff] up is more efficient. Both in production and in consumption. If you want to make a point forcefully, just make [stuff] up. Research takes time and gets in the way, it’s a supply side bottleneck, and sometimes you even run across stuff that makes you doubt your most cherished convictions. Better to just make [stuff] up. It’s 92.5% effective, according this expert report I once read (or maybe it was on a blog, I forget.) Whereas substantiating your points is only 74.3% effective, especially on the demand side, cuz you’re forcing the reader to plow through all this boring detail.

So, all other things being equal, making [stuff] up wins. Especially if you do it AS YOU GO ALONG. It sounds a lot more spontaneous and genuine that way, yielding an 11.3% increase in demand-side effectiveness, and a staggering 87% savings of time on the supply-side, according to that website I forgot to bookmark.

Some will say that making [stuff] up is basically lying. But it isn’t, not really. It’s no reflection on your integrity or anything. Why would it be? Basically, you’re still supporting your point of view, you’re doing it in the most effective way possible, and your point of view is right, isn’t it? That’s all that really matters.

Still not convinced? Research shows that people who disagree with the above are about five times more likely to have herpes. And among those who are female, seven times more likely to have cellulite. Among those under 21, well … don’t even get me started on the statistics for disfiguring acne conditions. They’d just depress you. It’s the loser contingent, no two ways about it. C’mon people, get with the program. Millions have. Start making [stuff] up today. You’ll never look back.

Comment #44916

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 3:32 AM (e)

“Proof” as you use the term is a result of agreed-on rules of inference applied to agreed-on axioms, themselves presumed a priori to be “true”.

Inference rules are not simply agreed upon. Modus Ponens is the rule: If P then Q. P. Therefore Q.
This is not an assumption, it is intrinsic to the meaning of “if” and “then”. Good luck trying to come up with alternate inference rules that don’t lead to obviously false conclusions. Inference rules are not agreed upon or presumed, they are forced upon us.

And so we don’t *observe* that the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, we *define* the triangle to have a total of 180 degress of internal angles.

No, we most certainly do not. That the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is equal to the arc of a semicircle is a theorem in Euclidian geometry, not something that is true by definition. It is an inference from Euclid’s five axioms, axioms that are consistent with the facts of the geometry of planes; these axioms are not simply agreed upon or presumed. We can drop Euclid’s fifth axiom and choose a different axiom, resulting in a set of axioms that is consistent with the facts of the geometry of spherical surfaces, where the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is larger than the arc of a semicircle, or a different axiom resulting in set of axioms that is consistent with the facts of the geometry of saddle surfaces, where the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is less than the arc of a semicircle. But in all cases, a triangle is defined as a closed figure formed by three line segments that do not intersect other than at the vertices.

Comment #44918

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 3:46 AM (e)

science has a spigot of flowing new data, theology is strugggling for every scrap.

False. Science is about struggling for more and better data all the time. Theology has nothing, never had anything, doesn’t ever plan to try for something and couldn’t care in the slightest (or even prefers not to risk knowing because it already suspects it’s wrong).

So what is the significance of this?

That you are incompetent or dishonest or both.

Comment #44925

Posted by David Wilson on August 26, 2005 5:05 AM (e)

In comment #44914

ts (not Tim) wrote:

… That the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is equal to the arc of a semicircle is a theorem in Euclidian geometry, not something that is true by definition. It is an inference from Euclid’s five axioms, …

Actually, for an inference which is valid according to modern standards of rigor, you need several more axioms than Euclid’s original five. Even if one excludes the axioms and axiom schemata of logic and set theory, one still needs somewhere between 10 and 20 geometrical axioms or axiom schemata to get a completely rigorous theory of plane Euclidean geometry. According to this wikipedia entry Hilbert’s axiomatisation contains 20 axioms, and according to this one Tarski’s axiomatisation contains 12 axioms and one axiom schema. I don’t know how many of these are actually needed to establish the theorem about the sum of the internal angles of a triangle, but Euclid’s original five are certainly not enough.

Of course, if you take the set of real numbers as given, and their properties as already established, you can get away with having no geometrical axioms at all, simply by identifying various geometrical objects with their Cartesian representations.

Comment #44934

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 7:12 AM (e)

Your differentiating between scientific and theological “authorities” on the basis of consensus or the lack thereof seems to me to be a weak reed to hang your hat on.

No Carol, that is NOT what the basis that I am using to differentiate the two.

I’ll repeat myself for you, Carol:

The “scientific community” has the scientific method, which decides whose claimed “authority” is valid and whose isn’t. What method does the “theological community” have, and whatever that method might be, why hasn’t that method settled all the theological arguments that have been raging for well over 2,000 years now?

Did you plan on actually answering that question anytime soon?

In any event, I never appealed to “authority”, you brought all this up. You asked what makes one an authority. I answered you.

And then I asked why this “athority” is more authoritative than that one.

Are you gonna answer me?

Comment #44935

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 7:16 AM (e)

It’s not just idle to observe that when scientists disagree, they construct experiments and related means of making directed observations that will reconcile these conflicts; when theologians disagree, they simply DECLARE their opponents to be wrong, and split into Yet Another Sect. This is understandable, since scientists are concerned with the underlying reality, and theologians are concerned with appropriate social conventions.

The issue might be, instead of an argument from authority, an argument based on the ultimate arbiter of the disagreements. In science, that ultimate arbiter is reality itself, as well and as closely as we can observe and understand it. In theology, the ultimate arbiter is, well, uh, actually, there isn’t one.

Exactly. When it comes to science, we have a method (conveniently enough, known as “the scientific method”) to determine who is correct or incorrect. When it comes to religious opinions, we have … nothing. Authorities can argue, scholars can write books, preachers can preach, saints can pray, but in the end, there is **absolutely no way**, none at all whatsoever, to determine whose religious opinions are correct and whose aren’t, other than just shrugging and declaring “I believe this rather than that”.

And THAT is what answers the question posed by the title of this thread.

It is also, ultimately, why ID is religious opinion, and not science.

Comment #44936

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 7:25 AM (e)

A close look at the state of science today reveals quite a few “sects” in a variety of areas. In all the areas of disagreement I mentioned in my previous posting there are strong adherents of divergent opinions. That sounds like “sects” to me. Of course, if data appeared that would clearly establish the correctness of one view over another, that would end that particular debate.

Which is what the scientific method does.

Theology, on the other hand, HAS NO data or experiment or method of settling any “debate”. No one alive knows any more about god than anyone else alive does. Hence, theological debates, unlike scientific debates, DO NOT EVER END. Instead, holders of different opinions (note that word well) simply disagree, split away from each other, and voila, we have the gazillions of different denominations, sects, cults and groupuscules that we have today – all of them claiming to have The Correct Opinions™c), and all of them utterly unable to offer a single shred of anything concrete to demonstrate that *their* opinion is any better mor more authoritative than anyone else’s. All their scholarly books, all their theological degrees, all their “convincing arguments”, don’t mean diddley doo, because they simply do not have any objective method of determining whose opinions are right and whose are wrong. One can only choose subjectively to accept or reject this opinion or that one.

And that is the difference between science and religion (and, incidentally, between science and ID).

Comment #44937

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 7:32 AM (e)

Since I answered your question (rebutting your rebuttal leaves the answer standing)

Huh?

let me ask you a question. I will throw your a softball. A recent poll released by Newsweek magazine (this week) reveals that 80% or Americans believe that God created the universe. How do you explain this? Are they (1) stupid, (2) misled, (3) miscalculating, (4) on to something, or (5) very intelligent? Please explain the basis for your conclusion.

80% of Americans believe in flying saucers, too. Or the Loch Ness Monster and ESP. 75% of Americans think that Iraq was behind the 9-11 attacks.

I am failing to see your point. Is it your contention that opinions must be true if lots of people accept them? Is it your opinion that people believe God created the universe therefore science must be wrong? What the heck is your point supposed to be? Perhaps if you were a bit less cryptic and bit more specific, I’d know what the hell you were attempting to say?

BTW, you seem to be under the impression that I am an atheist, Carol. You are quite mistaken. I am an “apa-theist” —- I simply don’t give a flying fig if there is a god or not. Makes no difference.

Sorry if you disagree with my religious opinions. Of course, that makes no difference, either. (shrug)

Comment #44944

Posted by Flint on August 26, 2005 8:18 AM (e)

ts:

Inference rules are not simply agreed upon. Modus Ponens is the rule: If P then Q. P. Therefore Q. This is not an assumption

I didn’t say it was. I said these rules are agreed upon. WHY they are agreed upon is a different matter. My point was that if someone disagrees with a rule of inference, however foolish he may be, he will arrive at different conclusions.

That the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is equal to the arc of a semicircle is a theorem in Euclidian geometry, not something that is true by definition.

Fine. I was making an attempt to distinguish between systems based on observation, and systems NOT based on observation. This was the central thrust of my post. Glad I could clear that up for you.

carol:

A close look at the state of science today reveals quite a few “sects” in a variety of areas. In all the areas of disagreement I mentioned in my previous posting there are strong adherents of divergent opinions. That sounds like “sects” to me.

Then we have a semantic issue, I think. Sects, as I intended the word, was intended to describe shared opinions based on irresolvable belief. What I was trying to address was how disagreements can be resoved; to what is any ultimate appeal made? If scientific disagreements could not be resolved in principle, science would not work. This is not true of religions. You can see for yourself that religious sects have endured for centuries with *no motion whatsoever* toward resolution; scientific disagreements have a half-life of perhaps a year or two.

But the same is true in the theological community. If either evidence or a line of reasoning were to appear to validate or invalidate any sect’s theological view, that would end the debate.

If this is the case, I have yet to see a single example of it. Instead, I see that EVERY sect has arrived at their theological position through evidence of their choice and a line of reasoning they consider incontrovertible – and that this line of reasoning informs the choice of evidence in a neatly circular fashion. This is NOT the same process.

Sure, some people would squirm and resist for awhile, but that is true in science too.

I regard this statement as so flagrantly false as to make conversation difficult. Creationists do not “squirm for a while”, they have staked out a position in defiance of clear and growing evidence for well over a century, and haven’t budged. If anything, the more reality discredits their positions, the more diligently they attempt to impose them on others.

The key difference is that there is a dirth of such evidence or lines of reasoning in the area of theology, so things don’t get settled.

Here, I could not disagree more violently. The evidence opposing some religious doctrines is so immense it takes a dozen lifetimes to understand even a part of it. This is not a dearth by any distortion of the language. Religious doctrines are not based on evidence, so evidence is irrelevant to them. Wasn’t it Martin Luther who said his theological opinions were so firm that God Himself could come down to correct him, and he wouldn’t budge? You call this a “dearth of evidence”? Hello?

If for some reason (budget cuts, for example) the sources of incoming scientific data were to cease, the opposing sects in the scientific community would also DECLARE each other wrong, as they do now.

Finally, I am beginning to understand what ts means about making stuff up. Before there were research budgets, there was very active and productive science, and disagreements were resolved. This happened then as now, NOT because they “declare” one another wrong, but because disagreements can be experimentally resolved, and this keeps happening.

Your entire argument here is based on things that are simply flat false. You claim theological differences rest on lack of evidence, and this is just wrong. You claim scientific disagreement is the same (arbitrary declaration) and this is just wrong. But perhaps we have a common ground here after all: Your statements are wrong on the evidence, by observation, a source of information theology has no truck with. In theology, science becomes arbitrary and theology rests on evidence because they SAY it does. Reality need not apply, as you repeatedly demonstrate.

So deep down it all reduces to the following: science has a spigot of flowing new data, theology is strugggling for every scrap.

A good, clear concluding statement flawed only in being factually 180 degrees incorrect in every respect. And it’s at this point that our differences become impossible to resolve. The only way we could agree is if I decide to ignore reality, or if you decide reality means something despite your obvious preference to the contrary. And when preferences conflict, everything else is rationalization.

Lenny:

I am failing to see your point. Is it your contention that opinions must be true if lots of people accept them?

I believe the answer is YES, in a religious context. Science and religion have different goals: science tries to understand and explain the objective universe, and religion tries to achieve as close to unanimity as possible on social conventions and accepted beliefs, to maximize “viewpoint homogeneity”. And therefore, the higher the percentage of a social group accepts the same moral model, the more “true” that model becomes. Consensus is to religion what accurate predictions are to science.

Comment #44947

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 8:30 AM (e)

I told you TS, that I was reading up on those fallacies that you’d posted on another thread. I may not apply them correctly just yet, but I think I’m learning more.

So when someone references or makes a claim without a source towhere you have no way of rebuttal then which fallacy does that fall under?

I think I saw one person use something like Appeal to the Unknown.

Ok, now if carol is trying to say that since 80% of people believe in God then science is wrong; then that falls under Appeal To Belief, which is very similiar with Appeal to Popularity. Right???

Lenny:

I completely agree with you regarding the scientific method and its use to settle conflicts within the scientific community. You hit the head on the nail when you talked about religions and their lack of ways to settle conflicts other that splitting to create a diffenrent doctrine.

carol clouser wrote:

If either evidence or a line of reasoning were to appear to validate or invalidate any sect’s theological view, that would end the debate.

In what religious community/sect/denomination have you EVER witnessed this. Not ONE time have I ever seen any denomination/sect/etc relenquish any “truths” or “views” that were in question between two different sects of religion or within the sect itself. I have not on any occasion seen any retraction between theologist on a difference in doctrine. Theology doesn’t rely on reason or evidence. It relies on interrpretation and perception of a sacred tribal book of myths and legends. There is no “religious” method.

Comment #44949

Posted by Flint on August 26, 2005 8:41 AM (e)

Miah:

There is no “religious” method.

There is indeed a religious method, and ts (among many others) nailed it. It’s called “making stuff up”. It has worked well for millennia. Carol has stated as fact the exact opposite of every observation, with at most rare and obscure local exceptions (to give her the benefit of the doubt). But she BELIEVES it, which is all that really matters to her.

Comment #44950

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 8:45 AM (e)

Inference rules are not simply agreed upon. Modus Ponens is the rule: If P then Q. P. Therefore Q. This is not an assumption

I didn’t say it was.

Ok, but you did say that they are “presumed a priori”. My point is that inference rules are not presumed; they were synthesized centuries ago from informal reasoning and rest on a solid foundation. I make this point because Carol writes about “assumptions” and equates the validity of supposed assumptions of science (which I take to apply also to the logic and reasoning employed by scientists) with the validity of theological assumptions.

I was making an attempt to distinguish between systems based on observation, and systems NOT based on observation.

I know you were and didn’t say otherwise, but your argument isn’t strengthened by making erroneous statements, and some of us value accuracy – for instance David Wilson who corrected or clarified what I wrote by mentioning Hilbert’s 20 axioms. You responded to Carol, who wrote “the angles of a triangle add to 180 degrees even if I had never seen a triangle … unshakeable proof” – she was right about that, even if she is wrong about much else. And again my discussion of axioms and their projections – planes, spheres, etc. – was contra Carol’s notion that axioms or assumptions are arbitrary or on equal footing. It certainly wasn’t my intention to challenge your rebuttal of Carol’s nonsense about science, with which you’re doing a fine job (and I don’t mean that in a patronizing way – tone is so often misread in this medium).

Comment #44952

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 9:23 AM (e)

I told you TS, that I was reading up on those fallacies that you’d posted on another thread. I may not apply them correctly just yet, but I think I’m learning more.

Right; you asked me a question about appeal to authority, and I gave my view of it. I’m reading you here, perhaps incorrectly, as taking that as a criticism, but I didn’t intend any.

So when someone references or makes a claim without a source towhere you have no way of rebuttal then which fallacy does that fall under?

Simply making a raw claim isn’t a fallacy per se. It depends on what they do when you ask them to support the claim; if they present a controversial statement as self-evident, that’s question begging.

I think I saw one person use something like Appeal to the Unknown.

That’s a new one to me. Do you mean appeal to ignorance?

Ok, now if carol is trying to say that since 80% of people believe in God then science is wrong; then that falls under Appeal To Belief, which is very similiar with Appeal to Popularity. Right???

Yes, appeal to belief. Nizkor even gives this example:
“God must exist. After all, I just saw a poll that says 85% of all Americans believe in God.”

Appeal to popularity is someone different, like a politician claiming he’s following the right course because he won a majority of votes, or that gay marriage must be wrong because most people oppose it.

Comment #44954

Posted by Flint on August 26, 2005 9:38 AM (e)

ts:

I make this point because Carol writes about “assumptions” and equates the validity of supposed assumptions of science (which I take to apply also to the logic and reasoning employed by scientists) with the validity of theological assumptions.

OK. My (perhaps looser) reading is that carol is trying to say religious and scientific methods are pretty much exactly the same, the difference in result simply reflecting a difference in the difficulty of coming up with appropriate evidence. Whereas I can’t find any overlap between these two “magisteria” anywhere. Not in goal, nor method, nor context. I think carol wants religion to be “scientific” (much as ID does), and uses the religious method (as I outlined it to Miah) to achieve this purpose.

I know you were and didn’t say otherwise, but your argument isn’t strengthened by making erroneous statements

I confess, I used the wrong word. A broad argument isn’t strengthened by inserting long and largely extraneous footnotes in the middle of it, despite the greater accuracy. But I could have said “processes other than observation” without losing the flow, I suppose, though that seems a bit watery. Semantics make a difference; I tend to regard closed axiom-and-rules systems as being basically definitional, but I’m sure there’s a more accurate descriptive term. And so I regard a proved theorem within such a system as having by virtue of that proof become a definition - it was implicit as an “unshakeable proof” from the start. Again, I need a better word…

Comment #44955

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 9:42 AM (e)

Flint;

I’m not going to debate perceptions with you.

If you and “many others” want to consider “making stuff up” as a method, so be it. I choose not to label thier felonious attempts at logic and reasoning as anything close to a method of anykind.

To do so would misslead them as actually having a “recognized” method to begin with. I will do them no such favors.

ts wrote:

Right; you asked me a question about appeal to authority, and I gave my view of it. I’m reading you here, perhaps incorrectly, as taking that as a criticism, but I didn’t intend any.

Not at all. As I told you in the other thread; I thanked you for providing me with that list, and I told you that I was reading up on them. I was merely indicating to you in this thread that I was making good on my word to read those. Furthermore, I was indicating that my level of understanding of the fallacies and thier implementations fully, but I was working on solidifying my understanding all together.

ts wrote:

That’s a new one to me. Do you mean appeal to ignorance?

Maybe that’s what it was. Is that a valid fallacy, or should it be one?

I mean if you have no way to refute a claim based on an unnamed source, is it better to just drop such arguments until such sources can either be found or named. Of course you DID provide your sources so that anyone can verify your information. So maybe that’s all you need?

I think I understand better the “begging the question” one.

Like I said, I’m still learning.

Comment #44960

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 10:21 AM (e)

Like I said, I’m still learning.

*applauds* (and not sarcastically either)

Comment #44968

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

My (perhaps looser) reading is that carol is trying to say religious and scientific methods are pretty much exactly the same

I’m taking into account other things Carol has said, in other threads, about “assumptions”.

Whereas I can’t find any overlap between these two “magisteria” anywhere. Not in goal, nor method, nor context.

I think they overlap somewhat in the goal of making true claims about the world, and many religions make empirical claims that contradict those of science.

I tend to regard closed axiom-and-rules systems as being basically definitional, but I’m sure there’s a more accurate descriptive term.

Well, you might have said that a sum of 180 degrees follows by deductive inference from the Euclidean axioms. Deduction vs. observation is the distinction I think you wanted to capture.

Miah wrote:

That’s a new one to me. Do you mean appeal to ignorance?

Maybe that’s what it was. Is that a valid fallacy, or should it be one?

“valid fallacy” is a bit of an oxymoron. :-) An appeal to ignorance is something like “I can’t see how that could be true, therefore it isn’t”. It’s certainly a fallacy, and is the primary fallacy used against evolution.

I mean if you have no way to refute a claim based on an unnamed source, is it better to just drop such arguments until such sources can either be found or named.

If I say that I read something somewhere, and someone challenges the accuracy of the claim and wants to know where I read it, and I can’t recall, then I should certainly agree that they are entitled to disregard my claim, and I should grant that my claim isn’t established – I have failed to meet the burden of proof. To do otherwise, to insist that the other party is in the wrong to not accept my claim, is to act in bad faith – contrary to an honest attempt to arrive at truth. For T. Edward Damer’s guide to rules of good faith debate, see
http://www.ukpoliticsmisc.org.uk/usenet_evidence…

Of course you DID provide your sources so that anyone can verify your information. So maybe that’s all you need?

Someone can argue that my source is mistaken or unreliable or that I am misinterpreting it, but they should give their reasons, which in turn can be debated; to simply deny the source because they don’t like what it says is bad faith; that would be a violation of Damer’s Sufficiency Principle, I think.

Like I said, I’m still learning.

As we all should be. :-) It’s so refreshing to see someone like you, with your mind open in the true sense, as compared to people who talk about having an open mind but mean only that you should be open to agreeing to what they are already convinced of.

Comment #44972

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

SEF:

Thanks! I appreciate that.

TS:

Again, thank you for explaining even more in depth than before. Seems the more questions I have, the more answers I get, and therefore the more questions I have. I feel like a sponge soaking up everthing here.

I really enjoy debating/arguing. I just never knew there were so many principles and rules to do it successfully. Seems I might have to use this knowlegede to be more succesfull with the wife *yikes* :oD

Of course arguing with the wife is a whole new beast in and of itself. Better not open that can of worms here, I might be crucified!

Anyway, ts, again thank you for taking the time to clarify and help me understand things better.

My dad always told me, “If you don’t learn something new everyday; then there isn’t much point in being here.”

So I’ve always applied that reasoning to anything I do. I may know some things, but there is always someone out there that I can learn from.

Comment #44981

Posted by carol clouser on August 26, 2005 1:21 PM (e)

Rev Dr Lenny,

YOU have not answered my question. Instead you attacked my motives, personalized the discussion, and were on the verge of throwing a tantrum. Your reaction is very similar to that of fundamentalists when their arguments run into trouble in the glare of a withering debate. I thought for awhile that I could have a calm, rational conversation with Flint. But he too is turning testy. Another similarity between theologians and scientists!

The point of my question was NOT to imply that ideas become a popularity contest. As a Jew I am acutely aware of the fact that the whole world can be wrong. My point was related to your argument, which occupied some six paragraphs in #44855, about the lack of consensus in theology and how differences are never settled therein. I was hinting at the fact (but you could not get it) that there was a time, I am sure you know, when the arguments were about how many gods there must be. Surely you have heard of paganism, Greek mythology, etc. Slowly and painfully theology has moved toward consensus on this issue. Monotheism is now almost universally accepted in the western world. That poll result was indicative of that.

I will rephrase what I am saying to avoid distortions by folks who cannot remain calm and rational when their long cherished beliefs are challenged. The scientific and theological camps are in many ways similar. BOTH have disagreements and sects that can, sometimes have and do last for centuries (many more than two years, Flint). BOTH generally consist of well meaning, sincere and reasonably intelligent individuals who will reluctantly part with cherished assumptions only when they have to. BOTH have areas of consensus that are ever increasing in scope. BOTH have standards for settling disputes, its called - CONVINCE ME! BOTH operate on the basis of axioms that are accepted without proof.

Of course, there are differences. The truly important one is the flow of new information - immense in science, VERY HARD to come by in theology.

Does any of this make one valid and the other not valid?

Comment #44983

Posted by Bob Maurus on August 26, 2005 1:23 PM (e)

Way back in Comment #44614, in response to Lenny’s essay on the Scientific Method, Clouser said, “The fact that science has not and cannot and probably will never be able to detect God tell us something about the limits of science, that it cannot study or even detect one of the most salient features of the universe,…”

The only definition of “salient” that could fit this statement is, “Noticeable, Conspicuous, Prominent,” and Ms. Clouser subsequently indicated she used it in the context of “prominent.”

I wonder why she was allowed to claim as fact, without any challenge, God as one of the most prominent (not to mention conspicuous and noticeable) features of the universe.

And, this specifically to Ms. Clouser;
Please elucidate - as in “make clear” - the evidence to support your claim of fact concerning God’s prominence in the universe. And were you using “prominent” in the sense of “noticeable at once” or “widely and favorably known”?

Comment #44985

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 1:49 PM (e)

I wonder why she was allowed to claim as fact, without any challenge, God as one of the most prominent (not to mention conspicuous and noticeable) features of the universe.

She wasn’t. I wrote “Prominent in the belief systems of human beings, but not prominent in the empirical world if completely undetectable.”

Comment #44986

Posted by Flint on August 26, 2005 1:53 PM (e)

carol:

I thought for awhile that I could have a calm, rational conversation with Flint. But he too is turning testy.

I pointed out that your argument was based entirely on false statements. Flagrantly, demonstrably, irrecoverably false. When the person with whom you are trying to communicate decides to be either totally dishonest or “I can’t hear you” ignorant, there is no further room for rational conversation. MY idea of rational requires, you know, evidence. Facts. Stuff that is not only verifiable, but verified to be correct.

Slowly and painfully theology has moved toward consensus on this issue. Monotheism is now almost universally accepted in the western world.

But why? Are you seriously trying to claim that monotheism is accepted in part of the world because “evidence” has been found, and verified, that other gods do not exist? And perhaps other parts of the world where multiple (or no) gods are recognized are less enlightened? Perhaps they lack the unstated “evidence” you find so compelling? Perhaps more to the point, do you expect anyone ELSE to buy into this claim? Please. How about telling us what evidence would persuade you that being a Jew is wrong, and that Buddhism in fact is where the data point?

BOTH have disagreements and sects that can, sometimes have and do last for centuries (many more than two years, Flint).

I will assume that I didn’t write clearly when I used the term half-life. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with this term. You are still beating the dead horse that religion and science work the same way when they clearly do not. If you read any of the scientific literature, you will be inundated with actual experimental results. Nearly all of these results speak to some existing disagreement that preceded the experiments, however small. As for issues scientists have disagreed about “for centures”, can you list any? Perhaps if you did, we’d have some idea of what you consider a “scientific” idea.

I will rephrase what I am saying to avoid distortions by folks who cannot remain calm and rational when their long cherished beliefs are challenged.

And maybe by folks who recognize a cheap shot when they see one? The most generous interpretation of your list is that both scientists and theologians are human beings, and have attributes of human nature in common.

The truly important one is the flow of new information - immense in science, VERY HARD to come by in theology.

You don’t learn very quickly. This statement is plain WRONG! Religious doctrines are not based on evidence. Religious doctrines are not subject to new discoveries, but are VERY subject to changes in preference. People convert from one faith to another for a variety of reasons, none of which is subject to experimental testing.

I don’t think anyone is saying that religions offer nothing valid. Only that your rather pathetic attempt to “discover” that religion and science are basically similar, is ludicrously wrong. But all we can do is try to educate you, over and over. If you regard efforts to do so as “tantrums” on the part of your educators, this goes a LONG way toward explaining why you learn nothing.

(And I really *would* like to hear exactly which data would convince you that Buddhism is based on “better evidence” than your own religion. Can you do that? Even in principle, can you do it?)

Comment #44988

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 2:18 PM (e)

Slowly and painfully theology has moved toward consensus on this issue. Monotheism is now almost universally accepted in the western world.

False. What has really happened is that, as it has evolved, theology has become more sophisticated in lying about and misrepresenting its beliefs. Plus there’s been a certain amount of massacring the dissenters and, more recently, refusing to supply aid to any of them who are at a disadvantage unless they acquiesce to those beliefs or at least pretend to do so.

Meanwhile, many of the Christians believe in 3 gods bizarrely wriggled to be 1 god, plus another god (ie having the powers of a god) whom they refuse to label a god in order to preserve the lie of 1 god, plus a bunch of other godlets (angels and demons) whom they variously pray to for protection or attempt to exorcise.

Comment #44989

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 26, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

carol wrote:

I was hinting at the fact (but you could not get it) that there was a time, I am sure you know, when the arguments were about how many gods there must be. Surely you have heard of paganism, Greek mythology, etc. Slowly and painfully theology has moved toward consensus on this issue. Monotheism is now almost universally accepted in the western world. That poll result was indicative of that.

Ah, but the $64,000 question - did western acceptance of monotheism result from theological persuasion or from political and military “persuasion”? History tells us that it is overwhelmingly the latter.

Comment #44992

Posted by Flint on August 26, 2005 2:49 PM (e)

did western acceptance of monotheism result from theological persuasion or from political and military “persuasion”? History tells us that it is overwhelmingly the latter.

Which goes a long way toward explaining creationist tactics. As carol correctly observes, there HAS been a trend in the direction of a more-or-less similar flavor of monotheism. As Kevin correctly observes, the method of achieving this has been basically to exterminate or “disappear” dissenters. Clearly, this approach works. Is it any wonder creationists put their resources into political contests? If we grant that guns and prisons are “persuasive arguments” then carol’s claim is accurate – if highly misleading.

Comment #44993

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 2:50 PM (e)

FLINT wrote:

I will assume that I didn’t write clearly when I used the term half-life. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with this term.

I would assume a self-proclaimed astrophysicist would understand the concept of half-life. But I have been known to be wrong before.

half-life

n.
Physics.

a. The time required for half the nuclei in a sample of a specific isotopic species to undergo radioactive decay.

Biology.

a. The time required for half the quantity of a drug or other substance deposited in a living organism to be metabolized or eliminated by normal biological processes. Also called biological half-life.

b. The time required for the radioactivity of material taken in by a living organism to be reduced to half its initial value by a combination of biological elimination processes and radioactive decay.

Just for those who don’t know.

SEF wrote:

Meanwhile, many of the Christians believe in 3 gods bizarrely wriggled to be 1 god, plus another god (ie having the powers of a god) whom they refuse to label a god in order to preserve the lie of 1 god, plus a bunch of other godlets (angels and demons) whom they variously pray to for protection or attempt to exorcise.

Ahh yes, the triunity. Heavily debated subject. When I was studying religion (noted only Christianity) back in school, the idea of triunity was likened to H2O. It can be a gas, a liquid, or a solid. So the 3 are 1. Of course in it’s brain washing tactics this worked for me. But now…I DON’T THINK SO!

Note that triunity is also spelled trinity:

From Dictionary.com

trinity

a word not found in Scripture, but used to express the doctrine of the unity of
God as subsisting in three distinct Persons. This word is derived from the Gr.
trias, first used by Theophilus (A.D. 168-183), or from the Lat. trinitas,
first used by Tertullian (A.D. 220), to express this doctrine. The propositions
involved in the doctrine are these:

1. That God is one, and that there is but
one God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Kings 8:60; Isa. 44:6; Mark 12:29, 32; John 10:30).

2. That the Father is a distinct divine Person (hypostasis, subsistentia, persona,
suppositum intellectuale), distinct from the Son and the Holy Spirit.

3. That Jesus Christ was truly God, and yet was a Person distinct from the Father and
the Holy Spirit.

4. That the Holy Spirit is also a distinct divine Person.

Ok, enough of my FYI’s…

Comment #44998

Posted by carol clouser on August 26, 2005 3:14 PM (e)

Flint,

What am I going to do with you?

I will try, nontheless.

(1) Being a Jew is not a religion. It is fact of birth.

(2) Arguments in science with a HALF-LIFE of centuries are, but NOT limited to: the atomic nature of matter, from Dalton thru Brownian motion,
(2)the nature of heat, from caloric fluid to molecular energy, (3)The universe, from steady state thru bing bang (still being debated vociferously by some), (4) laws of motion, from Aristotle thru Newton thru the ether thru Einstein, and many many others.

(3) Buddhism is essentially monotheistic, the Sikhs are monotheistic, and except for Hinduism the other Asian doctrines are more akin to philosophies than religions. As for the Hindus, they are NOT, it appears, monotheistic.

(4) We were cmparing theologians doing theology to scientists doing science, as per Lenny’s challenge, which I was responding to. All your comments pertaining to scientific evidence effecting theological beliefs are therefore outside the discussion we were having. But since you bring it up, may I point out that science says basically nothing about most of theology (except for narrow conflicts between incorrect literal Bible reading on the part of some and the age of the earth and evolution) and some folks do not buy into the axioms some scientific principles - not data - are based upon.

(5) As I have pointed out before in the example of the angles of a triangle, a good argument is as effective, if not much more so, at convincing and persuading, as data. It seems to me monotheism spread by the force of its arguments. That’s how theology operates. It’s not science, and its not meant to be.

W. Kevin’s point is well taken. The Roman Empire’s adoption of christianity as the state religion introduced militarism and force to the religion landscape. But that is more applicable to Christianity than to simple monotheism, which has spread far beyond the reaches of that empire. So there is more to it.

(6) I appreciate your wanting to educate me but alas it appears I am doing the educating here.

Comment #44999

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

Sorry, pressed post to quickly. I was going to comment further on the trinity. To me the trinity is equaled to a person with multiple personality disorders.

SEF wrote:

…refusing to supply aid to any of them who are at a disadvantage unless they acquiesce to those beliefs or at least pretend to do so.

Even still today.

Taken from creationtheory.org

There are an estimated 17 million people dying of AIDS right now in Africa, and the Roman Catholic church continues to use its vast missionary network to spread the word that condoms are the work of Satan! They’re not the only denomination to use STDs as a weapon of crusade through criminal negligence; other groups have little to say about condoms, but a lot to say about sex education. They may not decry condoms as “immoral”, but they don’t want anybody learning what they’re used for, do they? They want to force people all over the world to avoid premarital sex (you’ve heard their ridiculous mantra: “we recommend abstinence, so we don’t think they should learn about alternatives”), so they withold information about simple methods for halting or slowing the spread of AIDS in the hopes that people will either obey their religion’s prohibitions against premarital sex or be punished with a slow, horrible death through AIDS. There’s already more than enough ignorance in the region without churches actively working to exacerbate the problem, so why do they do it? It’s horrifyingly simple; they would rather prevent premarital sex than the slow, agonizing deaths of millions.

Comment #45003

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 26, 2005 3:32 PM (e)

carol wrote:

W. Kevin’s point is well taken. The Roman Empire’s adoption of christianity as the state religion introduced militarism and force to the religion landscape. But that is more applicable to Christianity than to simple monotheism, which has spread far beyond the reaches of that empire. So there is more to it.

I was not referring solely to Christianity; there are parallels in Islam. History shows that in most cases, monotheism is adopted by force, not by choice. Certainly, individuals convert, but the primary ways that monotheism spreads is by having more kids or conquering those that have different beliefs.

Comment #45005

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

(4) We were cmparing theologians doing theology to scientists doing science, as per Lenny’s challenge, which I was responding to. All your comments pertaining to scientific evidence effecting theological beliefs are therefore outside the discussion we were having. But since you bring it up, may I point out that science says basically nothing about most of theology (except for narrow conflicts between incorrect literal Bible reading on the part of some and the age of the earth and evolution) and some folks do not buy into the axioms some scientific principles - not data - are based upon.

I believe (I do not want to step out of line here but…) that Flint was not trying to implicate the scientific evidence affecting theology. I believe he was trying to indicate that since there was scientific evidence affecting science, that there is no religious evidence to affect theology. At least that was my understanding.

Your comparing the method of scientific validation to religious (theocratical) validation is no more valid than linking oranges to the sun.

Since theology cannot be tested, only accepted (by faith?) then there is no similarities to science or any methods of science whatsoever.

I think that is what the rest of us is trying to make absolutely clear.

The only thing that theology can do is change positions of belief in faiths. I do not understand your use of the axioms for theological reference.

Here I go again, and I usually do this for my own benefit:

axiom

n.

1. A self-evident or universally recognized truth; a maxim: “It is an economic axiom as old as the hills that goods and services can be paid for only with goods and services” (Albert Jay Nock).

2. An established rule, principle, or law.

3. A self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for argument; a postulate.

Name one theocratic/religious axiom, please.

Comment #45006

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

Buddhism is essentially monotheistic

Non-theistic, atheistic or polytheistic (to a degree which tends towards the infinite in ever more infinitessimal amounts) would be closer to the truth.

Comment #45008

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 3:57 PM (e)

SEF,

Would Taoism fall into that category as well?

Comment #45013

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 26, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #45018

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 5:29 PM (e)

Buddhism is essentially monotheistic

Um, no it’s not. There isn’t any god in Buddhism.

Why oh why why why are fundies always so abysmally pig-ignorant of any religious viewpoint other than their own, but STILL take the time to pronounce their uninformed opinions on them ?

Comment #45019

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 5:31 PM (e)

Thanks for expressing your religious opinions, Carol.

Why should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opinions than theys hould to, say, mine or my next door neighbor’s or my car mechanic’s or my veterinarian’s or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Comment #45020

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 5:34 PM (e)

YOU have not answered my question.

Nor *can* I, sicne your question presumes that there is some way (whatever it might be) to determine whether or not this or that religious opinion is “correct”, and therefore whether those who are “in-correct” are dumb or fooled or whatever.

There is no way to determine whether this or that religious opinion is or is not “correct”. Hence your question is meaningless.

But please let me toss your own softball back at YOU —- you have been plugging your publisher’s book for months now, which, gathering from the various statements you’ve made, is the best book ever written sicne the Holy Bible.

But alas, as I am sure you know, there are many many many people (scholars, etc) who disagree with your beloved book.

So … is that because they are stupid? Not godly enough? Deluded? Incapable of grasping the obvious?

Why do so many scholars think that your favorite scholar is, well, dead wrong?

Comment #45021

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 5:38 PM (e)

Touché!

Comment #45025

Posted by Flint on August 26, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

carol:

I’m willing to keep trying.

(1) Being a Jew is not a religion. It is fact of birth.

Yet I have read that it’s not uncommon for people of other faiths to convert to Judaism (perhaps most famously, Sammy Davis), and for those born into the Jewish culture to convert to other religions (perhaps again most famously, Leonard Cohen). Indeed, I find your statement astounding. Being a Jew is as much a fact of birth as being a Republican. So the Jews I know attend “fact of birth” synagogues, and follow “fact of birth” diets, and accept the OT but not the NT by birth, in many cases wear “fact of birth” clothing, and on and on and on. And they THINK they’re doing this because that’s what their God intended.

You might be trying to say here that the Jewish community is insular, breeds almost entirely within itself, and follows cultural traditions whose longevity is made possible by this very isolation. The same can be said of the Amish, but they don’t pretend their practices have no religious basis, as an excuse to dodge legitimate questions that would undermine false claims. So why did Leonard Cohen decide the Catholics had superior beliefs to the Jews, and convert? On the basis of better data? Or do you argue that it wasn’t a “real” conversion, since it violates Cohen’s “fact of birth”?

(2) Arguments in science with a HALF-LIFE of centuries are, but NOT limited to:…

Again, I guess I didn’t express myself well. The *median* scientific disagreement lasts until the relevant experiment is performed, a matter of days to months. SOME disagreements last much longer. However, what you list here really isn’t what I had in mind, for which I’ll take responsibility. If we generalize vaguely enough (“how does the universe work?”) we can confidently predict that disagreement will be permanent, lest science slam to a halt. Your “arguments” are nearly that hazy: what is heat, exactly? How did the universe start, if it did at all? What is motion, and how does it relate to time? What is time, exactly? These are not “scientific disagreements”, these are general and broad categories of essentially permanent investigation.

(3) Buddhism is essentially monotheistic, the Sikhs are monotheistic, and except for Hinduism the other Asian doctrines are more akin to philosophies than religions. As for the Hindus, they are NOT, it appears, monotheistic.

Buddhism as I understand it is NOT monotheistic, but in any case this does not answer what I asked. I will try again. Which of these various religions has the “best evidence”? I no longer know how to ask what makes YOUR religion superior on the merits, since you seem to be denying that your faith is a religion, but somehow biological!

…science says basically nothing about most of theology (except for narrow conflicts between incorrect literal Bible reading on the part of some and the age of the earth and evolution) and some folks do not buy into the axioms some scientific principles - not data - are based upon.

Can you present some of these axioms? Are you talking about methodological naturalism here?

Comment #45026

Posted by Paul Flocken on August 26, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

Miah wrote in Comment #45005:

Name one theocratic/religious axiom, please.

Hooray, Miah! I thought of this weeks ago and have been waiting ever since for someone to ask it, but just couldn’t decide if I wanted to get into this. Carol, you seem to be so fond of the fact that science has ‘unproven’ axioms while overlooking the fact that axioms are not proven, they are justified. Please provide one theocratic/religious axiom and demonstrate the methodology that uses it. And then show us how that axiom leads us to be commanded not to combine polyester with cotton.

Comment #45027

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

Would Taoism fall into that category as well?

Yes. So would Zen. As for Hinduism, there are literally thousands of gods and goddesses, but in most traditions they are viewed merely as symbolic representations of various aspects of realities, and are not viewed as actual existing supernatural gods. (That, indeed, is one reason why Hinduism is so apt to adopt gods and goddesses from other religions.)

Comment #45028

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 6:40 PM (e)

Does any of this make one valid and the other not valid?

You, uh, seem to be hard of hearing, or something. Here, let me repeat YET AGAIN:

Comment #44727

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 10:19 PM (e) (s)

Carol, you seem to have missed this statement on my part:

BTW, the simple fact that something isn’t science does not mean that it is invalid or wrong or whatever. It just means that it isn’t science.

So you are, quite literally, arguing over nothing.

Which part of this are you having such difficulty grasping, Carol? I’ll try to explain it again, using smaller words this time.

Comment #45029

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 6:43 PM (e)

Buddhism as I understand it is NOT monotheistic

It is not even THEISTIC. There is no god asserted in Buddhism. Nor is one denied. It simply doesn’t matter in Buddhism one way or the other.

Comment #45034

Posted by Paul Flocken on August 26, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

Carol wrote in Comment #44998:

(1) Being a Jew is not a religion. It is fact of birth.

Are you saying that you are genetically different from anyone who is not a Jew?

(3) Buddhism is essentially monotheistic, the Sikhs are monotheistic, and except for Hinduism the other Asian doctrines are more akin to philosophies than religions. As for the Hindus, they are NOT, it appears, monotheistic.

Despite being a scholarly book editor it appears that you are woefully uninformed. Is that last statement supposed to suggest that Hindus are trying to hide polytheistic notions they don’t want anyone to know about behind a monotheistic veneer? Or are you merely expressing your lack of knowledge on the subject?

Comment #45040

Posted by Miah on August 26, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

Paul

Thank you for sharing that enthusiam. I believe that this is the second time I requested info such as this. This other person indicated that they believed in the literal truths in the Bible, to which I responded, “Name ONE”.

I still have NOT heard a response.

To which this reply I seriously doubt carol will provide any religious/theocratic axioms.

I would REALLY like to hear one from the Talmund that she is so fond of. Or from that greatest book ever written that she keeps parroting on here. Since it is her claim that it’s literal translation does not conflict with science in any way.

Just so we’re all clear and well informed:

Buddhism

n

1: a religion represented by the many groups (especially in Asia) that profess various forms of the Buddhist doctrine and that venerate Buddha.

2: the teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct and wisdom and meditation releases one from desire and suffering and rebirth.

Ok, no theistic mentioning here.

I seen no theistic mentioning here either:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/B/Buddhism.asp

Actually very good info. I actually forgot it started in India!

See…LEARNING SOMETHING EVERYDAY!!!

FUN FUN FUN

Comment #45059

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 27, 2005 7:17 AM (e)

Despite his own admonition not to do so, Buddha has become deified in some systems, especially in Mahayana Buddism; see, e.g.,
http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/BUDDHISM/MAHAYANA.HTM
http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8045_1.h…

For more on the deification of Buddha see, e.g.,
http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/gayzenla/myhomepage…
http://www.san.beck.org/EC9-Buddha.html

However, Buddha is not seen as a creator or ruler of the universe, and thus doesn’t resemble the God of monotheistic religions.

Comment #45064

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 27, 2005 8:50 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

Can you present some of these axioms? Are you talking about methodological naturalism here?

According to Carol, there’s an assumption that the laws of physics are constant over time. But if this is an assumption, then so is every expectation we have, no matter how well justified; it is, for instance, an assumption that the word “assumption” has the same dictionary definition that it had 10 seconds ago.

But in fact science makes no such assumption, any more than the laws of physics themselves are simply assumed. Nor does science have any expectations; unlike the people who use it, science doesn’t have mental states. Rather, science contains predictive models, and those models are adjusted in light of confirming and disconfirming observations. If observations contradicted the constancy over time of the inverse square law, then the law wouldn’t be a law, and we would need some other law. Or suppose that observation contradicted the classic model of linearly summable velocities – oh, wait, it did.

But here’s the kicker: if the universe were so erratic that it wasn’t possible for us to formulate predictive models or have justifiable expectations, if all we could do from moment to moment is latch onto unjustified assumptions, then the universe never would have built us. It is because of the regularity of the universe that evolution, which represents (very lossily) the history of our development in our genome, is able to occur. One could say that we are built in the world’s image.

Comment #45126

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 27, 2005 1:49 PM (e)

Despite his own admonition not to do so, Buddha has become deified in some systems, especially in Mahayana Buddism

Buddhism, like the other Asian traditions (Zen, Taoism, Hinduism, Tantra) depends at root on the individual, and the ability of that individual to depend on him or her self.

Alas, there are lots of people in the world who are absolutely terrified at the prospect of depending on themselves, and who instead desperately need to have a Sky Daddy to hold their hand and tell them what to do.

In modern Christianity, we call those people “fundamentalists”.

Buddhists are not immune. Those who are unable to depend upon themselves, manufacture their very own Sky Daddy to depend on instead. Are those who do this (despite, as you correctly point out, Buddhism’s specific advice NOT to do this) “Real Buddhists”™©? Well, who knows? Who cares? If it works for them, who the hell are we to tell them not to do it? (shrug)

For the most part, this is harmless, and may even do some good for these individuals by giving them some basis for living their life, rather than just spending it as a quivering mass of indecisive terrified jelly.

The harm comes when, like the fundamentalist Christians, these individuals are not content only to live THEIR lives in accordance with their Sky Daddy’s hand-holding, but demand that everyone ELSE do so, as well.

Comment #45194

Posted by carol clouser on August 27, 2005 9:29 PM (e)

Flint,

You are confusing
Judaism” (a religion) with “being a Jew” (a fact of birth). When one converts into Judaism, one joins the faith of the Jews. You can cease practicing the “faith of the Jews” but cannot cease being a Jew. There are many people who have no religious affiliation whatsoever, some even are atheists, yet they identify themselves as Jews. The only argument in the Jewish community (the folks who care at all about this) about this is whether patrilineal descent alone makes you a Jew. In the Reform Jewish movement it does, in all the others it does not. All Jews, including the most fanatically religious types, consider any totally non-religious type born of a Jewish mother to be a Jew.

The best scholarly definition of a Jew is NOT a religion or a race but that of an extended family or “clan”. You can be born into this family or join by conversion which is akin to joining a family by adoption or marriage. For a good summary of these issues why don’t you read “We Jews” by Adin Steinsaltz (a scholar of the millenium by Time Magazine and, no, I did not edit that book). Is there a genetic component to this clan? That remains an open question. Recent studies do indicate that the “Kohanim” branch of Jews share genetic characterisics, supporting the Biblical assertion that they are all descendants of one kinship group (traced to Aaron?)

Your distinctions between classes of scientific arguments hold no water, with all due respect. In the context of our discussion the important point is that they are (were) arguments within the community of scientists to be contrasted with arguments within the theological community and how these arguments are dealt with by the respective communities.

I indicated that scientific principles, not mere data, are based on axioms. When scientists proclaim that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, for example, that is a pronouncement based on data AND the assumption (axiom!) that the laws of nature pertaining to decay rates (lambda in the exponential) were unchanged thru billions of years. That assumption is NOT based on data, is certainly not by itself a datum, and remains unproven. Is it a reasonable one that we choose to make, Yes, but an axiom it remains. If this makes you unconfortable, I am sorry, but I submit it is scientifically accurate.

Paul,

I think you will find my response to one of your question above. As to axioms in theology, why is that so hard to find? Is it not a starting assumption of some religions we are familiar with that the Bible is divinely authored, accepted even if there is no proof?

Lenny,

I have checked with some recognized scholars of Buddhism. The answer by all - A single God is assumed in Buddhism but not to be talked about, for various theological reasons.

I know of no Hebrew scholar who disputes Landa’s ideas and neither do you. Since I know that ancient language very well myself, that is virtually impossible.

Since you continue to deliberately distort what I say and to put words into my mouth you are approaching the point (already achieved by Ts) where it will be become pointless for me to respond to you.

Paul,

Watch your insults. Just because I choose not to respond in kind, does not make your argument any stronger. Behavior here by some is not very different from YEC types when challenged.

Comment #45203

Posted by carol clouser on August 27, 2005 11:06 PM (e)

Paul,

Another comment on Hinduism, if I may.

I think I was clear in stating that I was ambivalent about the polytheistic nature of Hinduism (as opposed to Buddhism which, if anything, is monotheistic). That is the case for many reasons, some of which were elucidated by other posters. Hindus have many “gods” but it is unclear to my western mind what precisely they perceive by “god”. And I am not alone in this ambivalence.

A few years ago it was discovered in the Jewish community that human hair wigs sold in this country come from Hindu women in India who grow their hair very long, then cut them and donate the hair in the service of various Hindu rites performed for their gods. After these rites are performed the hair is sold on the market. Now, to observant Jews it is forbidden to benefit in any way from from any item used in the service of “idols”, loosely defined as “other gods” meaning other than the one God/creator. To qualify as an “other god” the people involved in the rite must perceive the entity has having power to act indepently of the one God/creator. So, are the human hair wigs permitted or prohibited? Rabbis sent investigators and scholars to interview Hindus of various denominations to ascertain how they viewed their so called “gods”. To make a long story short, after years of debating and meeting and interviewing, the issue remains unresolved, with some Jewish organizations banning human hair wigs while others permit them. So, I guess our western minds are having some difficulty understanding Hinduism. But not as difficult is Buddhism.

By the way, in light of the above, Islam is perceived by all Jewish authorities as monotheistic, while Christianity is still unresolved. The great Jewish philosoher Maimonides (900 years ago)described Christianity as “not monotheistic”. But Christianity itself has evolved over the years.

W. Kevin,

Again, you are right about the use of force in Islam as well as Christianity. But the battles were not fought for monoitheism but for brands of monotheism. If the crusaders, for example, were concerned about sheer monotheism, why would they battle Moslems and Jews who were themselves monotheistic? Also, most of the use of force ended many centuries ago, while monotheism continued to gain acceptance. Since its inception can be traced to a small number of people (primarly a faction of the Israelites), I think it can be said, which is what I was saying, that a consensus has emerged in the theological community, after MUCH arguing, as to the existance of one God. There used to be many strong arguments in favor of many gods, such as the existance of good and evil in the world. Those arguments were apparently sidelined in favor of monotheism.

Comment #45211

Posted by McE on August 28, 2005 1:13 AM (e)

Does science have “sects,” comparable to religious sects? Carol has argued yes; others have argued no - science settles disagreements by applying the scientific method, making predictions from theories and testing them against reality. Flint conjectured a half-life of such disagreements as “perhaps a year or two.”

Of course Flint is conjecturing that half of all scientific disagreements last longer than that, a point that Carol seemed to have misunderstood. She provided in #44998 a list of “arguments” in science which she claims (apparently) lasted for centuries. What they all have in common is that the disagreements were settled, every one of them, by the scientific method. There are, for example, no scientific sects clinging to Aristotelian mechanics. Once Newtonian mechanics was proposed and its predictions tested, it was immediately seen to be superior. There was no extended period of disagreement, certainly not the centuries that Carol has implied.

Carol’s example of big bang vs. steady state was a disagreement that lasted a only a couple of decades (not centuries.) Scientists noted that the big bang theory predicted the existence of a cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation; the competing steady state theory did not. When the CMB radiation was detected, and found to have the properties predicted by the big bang theory, the steady state theory was effectively dead. Carol claims that some still debate this. Well, evidence-deniers still debate heliocentrism and evolution, but that says nothing about the scientific consensus. This steady state theory is no longer a viable model of the universe - it fails to account for the observed CMB radiation.

Another of Carol’s examples. Atomic theory was accepted by chemists almost as soon as it was proposed by Dalton. The reason was simple: it worked. Resistance to atomic theory was philosophical - can we assign physical reality to atoms whose effects had never been directly observed? Analysis of Brownian motion first provided the evidence of the physical reality of atoms, and (of course) much more evidence has since followed. There are, as a result, no scientific “sects” denying atomic theory.

Similarly with Carol’s other examples. They all make the point that differences in opinion among scientists are resolved by use of the scientific method. If there are competing theories, scientists search for predictions that separate the theories. They then check to see which predictions conform to reality. That’s the way science settles disagreements, and Carol’s examples are case studies of this process in action.

As has been previously noted, religious sects have no such mechanism. On that basis, the comparison between disagreements among religious sects and disagreements in science is invalid.

Comment #45215

Posted by SEF on August 28, 2005 3:23 AM (e)

I have checked with some recognized scholars of Buddhism. The answer by all - A single God is assumed in Buddhism but not to be talked about, for various theological reasons.

But you idolise Landa as a scholar. So we already know your judgement on who is and isn’t recognised as a scholar is flawed. If these people with whom you “checked” Buddhism are merely ones you know and your intellectual equals, then they are likely to be as clueless as you. How about you name them and we’ll see if these mysterious experts are any such thing or just more fakers.

NB The real deal with Buddhism is that it’s a philosophical overlay onto existing cultures. So the goddyness varies according to that rather than being part of Buddhism itself. Hence my original reply about it being nontheistic to polytheistic. Anyone brought up in just one culture (eg Carol’s Buddhists might be essentially Christian) may not even know about the wider situation.

Americans (the largest group on these American sites for obvious reasons) do seem to be disgustingly ignorant of such things. Eg of the nature and history of Unitarianism. I suspect their research all too often consists of assuming something about that bloke down the street whom they’ve met in passing and now want to invoke as an unnamed expert.

I know of no Hebrew scholar who disputes Landa’s ideas and neither do you.

Failure to ask them at all does not constitute obtainingg agreement from them. That’s Nelson refusing to look properly at the signal flags and then saying he didn’t see any. Besides which, if any you have asked are not merely as clueless as you they might even be lying. Name the scholars who have agreed with Landa’s version in full.

Landa’s apologetics are rubbish. As I’ve pointed out before, it doesn’t matter how much wriggling he and you do over individual words. None of that will ultimately help because the order of events given in Genesis is wrong. Ergo the Bible (Jewish and Christian) is wrong. It is contradicted by the evidence of reality (ie science). So the writers were either clueless fantasists or their sky fairy was lying to them.

Comment #45223

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 28, 2005 6:30 AM (e)

the laws of nature pertaining to decay rates (lambda in the exponential) were unchanged thru billions of years. That assumption is NOT based on data

It is in fact based on a vast amount of data regarding the constancy of physical constants, as well as independent observations that would be inconsistent with decaying rates. The YECs have tried to come up with models based on changing physical law, but those models are always inconsistent with observation.

Since you continue to deliberately distort what I say and to put words into my mouth you are approaching the point (already achieved by Ts) where it will be become pointless for me to respond to you.

This is Carol’s final evasion when she runs out of others after being proven wrong and a liar.

Comment #45224

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 28, 2005 6:41 AM (e)

inconsistent with decaying rates

Oops, I meant inconsistent with changing decay rates.

I really have to wonder what Carol is trying to achieve. She came originally came onto this site touting the Landa book. Not only did she not get a single person to go out and buy the book, but she made a lot of people think badly of her. And everything else she has to say, about science education, science, YEC, etc. adds to their number.

Comment #45233

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 7:30 AM (e)

I think I was clear in stating that I was ambivalent about the polytheistic nature of Hinduism

Oops, Carol – you mis-spelled “[deleted] ignorant about”.

Comment #45234

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 7:32 AM (e)

I have checked with some recognized scholars of Buddhism. The answer by all - A single God is assumed in Buddhism but not to be talked about, for various theological reasons.

[deleted], Carol.

Comment #45235

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 7:35 AM (e)

I know of no Hebrew scholar who disputes Landa’s ideas and neither do you.

Um, then why waste time on the book. If it just tells us things that everyone already knows anyway, there’s no point in wasting money on it, is there. Just as I don’t spend money to read books that tell me “the sun rises in the east”. What’s the sequel gonna be, Carol — “Water Is Wet” ?

I find it remarkable, though, that your hero has managed to do what no other religious scholar in the past 15,000 years has managed to do —- write a book about theology that nobody disagrees with.

Unless, of course, you are just full of [deleted] in your assessment, Carol.

Comment #45237

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 7:38 AM (e)

To make a long story short, after years of debating and meeting and interviewing, the issue remains unresolved

Well heck, maybe you can send Jay El over to straighten them all out. After all, he de man, right?

Comment #45248

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 8:38 AM (e)

it will be become pointless for me to respond to you.

Then don’t. (shrug) I will, of course, continue to go right along and point out to everyone where and why you are full of [deleted]. And I don’t need your permission to do that. Or your cooperation.

Comment #45267

Posted by carol clouser on August 28, 2005 11:28 AM (e)

“Rev Dr” Lenny, Ts, SEF,

You folks are an embarrassment to science.

Comment #45273

Posted by SEF on August 28, 2005 12:22 PM (e)

No, we’re merely embarrassing you, Carol, more than you already do yourself by showing up your shoddy arguments for what they are - shoddy. However, you appear to be trying to be an embarrassment to theology by making your shoddy arguments and bogus claims. Except I doubt the theologians with some legitimate claim to expertise (degrees, papers, dinner engagements or whatever passes for eminence in their realm) would acknowledge you as one of their own anyway.

Comment #45276

Posted by Grey Wolf on August 28, 2005 12:28 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

“Rev Dr” Lenny, Ts, SEF,

You folks are an embarrassment to science.

As oposed to you, who are an embarrasment to humanity for being an undercover peddler of goods and both quite ignorant in the topics you speak of and a frequent liar?

Why don’t you tell us *why* they embarras science by defending it and present, you know, *evidence* for a change, carol? I’ve yet to see even the slightest sliver of evidence from your side. For God’s sake, you wouldn’t even admit you were promoting a book your company is selling until someone pointed it out, instead of what ethically would be the correct thing: mentioning in your opening post “hi, I’m an editor/secretary/whatever for a publishing company and I love this book we’re carrying”.

Mind you, that wouldn’t help you look better in the face of all your other false statements.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #45296

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 1:49 PM (e)

You folks are an embarrassment to science.

BWA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your concern for, uh, “science” is touching, Carol.

Comment #45317

Posted by Ian Musgrave on August 28, 2005 4:31 PM (e)

Sheesh! I go away for a recuperative weekend and this degenerates into a slanging match. While you should all be ashamed of yourselves: Carol, consider learning something about a topic before posting confidently on it. Lenny, please don’t use profanity. Apart from anything else we want the Thumb to be accessible to schools, and your actions could get us filtered out. English is a rich language, you can get your point across without profanity.

This thread is now closed.

Comment #45319

Posted by carol clouser on August 28, 2005 4:59 PM (e)

McE,

I beg to differ with much of what you said (#45211).

(1) Flint did NOT say the MEDIAN scientific disagreement lasts a year or two, but that their HALF LIFE is a year or two (#44944). To make sure I got the point he emphasized that again and had the temerity to imply that I did not know what the term meant (#44986). To me that meant he was saying that all scientific disagreements (or the typical disagreement), like a sample of some radioactive isotope, is very much on the wane after six years, practically comatose after seven years and virually dead after eight years. He then switched to MEDIAN in #45025 but introduced “days and months” instead of years. All these statements were in need of clarification in my opinion.

(2) While HE looks at the four cases I cited and sees no real science but
“areas” of permanent investigation, YOU see real science that was resolved rather quickly. I submit both views are off the mark. All four cases are areas of scientific disagreement that endured for long periods. We think some have already been resolved, others have not.

(3) The issue of the laws of motion were not at all settled by Newton. Yes, Newton’s laws totally demolished Aristotle’s scheme. But there remained stubborn, unresolved, problematic issues. Newton’s laws work only in inertial frames. But how do you experimentally know that your frame is inertial? Newton’s answer was, it is inertial if my laws work. Very much circular reasoning. Eventually this led to the concept of absolute motion and the ether. This notion, in which almost all scientists believed in the existance of something nobody had ever detected, lasted some two hundred years! Sounds theology-like to me. The ether idea had some huge holes punched in it by the Michelson-Morely experiments and was finally killed by special relativity.

(4) The issue of the evolution of the universe has been debated for decades and a few otherwise reputable scientists, to this day, oppose the Big Bang Theory. Compare them to a small “sect”, like the Coptics, with a different theological twist on Christianity.

(5) The atomic theory issue was debated from long before Dalton. (I wanted to write “pre-Dalton” instead of “Dalton” in #44998). Dalton’s experiments swayed many scientists in the direction of atomism, but some two hundred years later we find some real scientists like Ernest Mach contesting the atomic view. And he had a few supporters. Another “sect”. It was Brownian Motion and Einstein’s explanation of it in 1905 that finally and firmly closed the books on that debate.

(6) Of course you are right that science has a method for resolving issues and disagreements. Nobody is disputing that. It happens every day. But it works because there is a steady stream of incoming data. Theological issues are subject to reasoning and discourse and to some extent data (usually archological). It has not worked as well for them, not because they are opposed to settling unresolved issues, but because the flow of data is sparse. Nevertheless, there has been movement toward consensus in many areas of theology, such as the example I cited with regard to monotheism vs. polytheism. Stated otherwise, it is a difference of DEGREE, not one of KIND.

But thanks for your thoughts. It’s nice to have a civil conversation here with someone, FOR A CHANGE.