Richard B. Hoppe posted Entry 2286 on May 18, 2006 04:39 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2281

As regular PT readers know, Ohio was a primary battle ground for the Disco Institute’s attempt to inject ID creationist trash “science” into the state science standards and model curriculum under the deceptive rubric “critical analysis of evolution”. That attempt was defeated in February. Patricia Princehouse, leader of Ohio Citizens for Science, was a mainstay in resisting that effort over five years. Now Patricia has received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award from the Playboy Foundation for her efforts.

Patricia’s acceptance speech is posted at The Nation site. From it:

People ask me, Why pour so much energy into protecting science education? Why not fight for literacy generally or any of a thousand other educational issues? I have two answers. One is easy: I know about evolution, so it makes sense that I would work on what I know best. The second is harder to grasp. And that is that freedom of religion is the bedrock foundation of liberty in this country. If we allow certain special-interest religious groups to co-opt the public school science classroom, to use it as a vehicle for converting children to religious views their parents don’t hold, if we allow them to spout outright lies about the nature and content of science, what do we really have left? If you can lie about science and get away with it, you can lie about anything. (bolding added)

That’s why we do this stuff.

RBH

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Comment #101277

Posted by David B. Benson on May 18, 2006 5:02 PM (e)

Dodging elephant dung science. I love it!

Comment #101280

Posted by fnxtr on May 18, 2006 5:32 PM (e)

Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.

Comment #101283

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 18, 2006 5:49 PM (e)

I would imagine Richard, that one of the reasons is because of this:

http://www.answersingenesis.org

With ID being the latest attempt to get it into science classes. This is what over 50% of Americans (and a growing number in the UK it would seem) are demanding is taught as an alternative to conventional science. No wonder you guys do this !

Comment #101284

Posted by Troff on May 18, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

Last time on The Panda’s Thumb… fnxtr wrote:

“Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.”

Dude… seriously. Let ‘em. ‘Cause then it’s Open Season.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22porn+in+the+bible%22+OR+%22pornography+in+the+bible%22>

Or perhaps I should say… “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? :-)

Comment #101285

Posted by Sounder on May 18, 2006 6:01 PM (e)

Don’t believe those statistics: the questions asked in the surveys these guys put out are so obscure that anyone could answer affirmatively to them.

Comment #101286

Posted by PaulC on May 18, 2006 6:02 PM (e)

It’s a wonder the creationists have so little to show for their efforts; they’ve been doing the rhetorical equivalent of flinging elephant dung for years.

Comment #101288

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 18, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

Oh, I don’t know, there are a host of reasons for “doing this stuff”. One is that it can be enjoyable, sometimes through Schadenfreude, sometimes because it is interesting to discuss the nature and content of science on a more philosophical level. The best discussions we have are among ourselves.

We don’t want the inheritance of the Enlightenment to fade away. We want there to be a comfortable level of secularism in this country, which is probably true for a number of religious “evolutionists” as well.

The confusion of what science is could open up funding and promotion of countless other pseudosciences. This would take monies away from worthy uses, and would lead to further degradation of intellect in this country. Fundies would not like having to pay for astrology classes, but they might very well have to do it if they can force ID into schools. Naturally, they have mostly not thought through the future possibilities.

Justice would be in jeopardy if the bases of evolutionary thought were to be scorned. Derivation is often enough at issue in the courts, from paternity suits to copyright infringement cases, and if we can’t use derivation markers in biology to decide small-t “truth”, how can we use them elsewhere?

Then there’s the simple matter of honesty. Neither history nor biology classes ought to be places where children are told lies. I realize that she brought up this issue, but perhaps not with sufficient emphasis upon the outrage that deliberately lying to students really constitutes. If we don’t resort to the evidence to determine what is true (in the lesser sense), then we are just saying that lies are as good as honesty.

Which leads up to the fact that many, if not most, other subjects rely upon science and/or processes akin to the scientific endeavor in order to exist as something other than good campfire tales. This is why general literacy is threatened by attacks upon science.

Mostly I am agreeing with her, of course, since one could consider my issues to be implied in her piece. I just thought that I could expand on her theme profitably, and show that there are more than two points in favor of defending science, once one considered the various implications.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #101292

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2006 6:23 PM (e)

Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.

…and completely forget how Dembski bragged of his visit to Hef’s mansion a while back.

Comment #101300

Posted by science nut on May 18, 2006 7:30 PM (e)

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Your efforts on this blog site on behalf of all who can’t argue the points as well as you do are appreciated far more than I can adequately express.

Thank you for both educating me and re-awakening my love of science.

Sincerely, thank you.

Comment #101306

Posted by Donald M on May 18, 2006 8:38 PM (e)

fnxtr

Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.

They needn’t bother. Evolutionary biologists and thier ilk already want to explain everything else in evolutionary terms, so its only a matter of time before they get to porn. We already have “religion explained” and “consciousness explained” and “love explained” so its a small step to “porn explained”. All the end result of the blind, purposeless force of RM and NS.

Comment #101308

Posted by steve s on May 18, 2006 8:51 PM (e)

Donald, you forgot ‘random’.

Comment #101309

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2006 8:51 PM (e)

Hey donald:

ever looked at a playboy or a “naughty” video?

don’t lie now…

Comment #101310

Posted by Donald M on May 18, 2006 8:51 PM (e)

From Princehouse quote:

If we allow certain special-interest religious groups to co-opt the public school science classroom, to use it as a vehicle for converting children to religious views their parents don’t hold, if we allow them to spout outright lies about the nature and content of science, what do we really have left? If you can lie about science and get away with it, you can lie about anything.

I guess Princehouse lives under the delusion that the science classroom is a worldview free zone, which, of course it isn’t. But she is right that we ought not subject children to outright lies about the nature and content of science. For example that we know scientifically (not philosophically, mind you, because this is science class after all) that everything, absolutely everything we observe in nature is the result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy evolving over eons of time through the engine of chance and necessity or their combination and that any apparent design we observe in, say, biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle. Yes, lies like that should not be part of the science class…oh wait, they already are. I guess there are some lies that are acceptable for the science class after all…as long as Princehouse and her ilk get to pick which lies, I guess.

She’d have a whole lot more credibility if she could explain how to have a worldview free science class in the first place. It doesn’t exist and her whole commentary from this article that Richard references is an excercise in deception and delusion…the very things she accuses the “other side” of wanting to do.

Comment #101311

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2006 8:53 PM (e)

I guess Princehouse lives under the delusion that the science classroom is a worldview free zone, which, of course it isn’t.

I’m sure you’d love to be able to prove this, but you know you can’t.

go off your meds again there donald?

Comment #101313

Posted by Donald M on May 18, 2006 9:10 PM (e)

Donald M:

I guess Princehouse lives under the delusion that the science classroom is a worldview free zone, which, of course it isn’t.

Sir Toejam:

I’m sure you’d love to be able to prove this, but you know you can’t.

Like any other discipline, science holds certain philosophical presuppositions as essential to the practice of science. Philosophical presuppositions are worldview dependent. If you think otherwise, by all means make the argument, even though you’d be at odds with virtually all of philosophy and philosophy of science.

Comment #101316

Posted by Sounder on May 18, 2006 9:29 PM (e)

As far as I know, as a non-scientist, the only presupposition that I know science makes is that there’s a natural explanation for observable phenomena. Are there any presuppositions I’m missing?

Comment #101318

Posted by PaulC on May 18, 2006 9:38 PM (e)

Donald M

its a small step to “porn explained”

Comment #101319

Posted by PaulC on May 18, 2006 9:40 PM (e)

Donald M

its a small step to “porn explained”

Hold on… porn is difficult to explain? More difficult than the other things you listed?

Comment #101324

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2006 9:49 PM (e)

Like any other discipline, science holds certain philosophical presuppositions as essential to the practice of science.

…and we’re still waiting for you to show us how construct replicable experiments using supernatural phenomena, there, Donald.

Ohhhh Lennnnyyyy! Donald’s trying to play in the sandbox again.

Comment #101325

Posted by steve s on May 18, 2006 9:50 PM (e)

porn hasn’t been explained yet? hmmm…then I suppose it’s my duty to go study some right now. As a scientist, or whatever.

Comment #101326

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

donald -

thanks for showing the lurkers EXACTLY why we in fact, do this stuff.

great job!

we should pay you.

Comment #101327

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2006 9:56 PM (e)

porn hasn’t been explained yet? hmmm…then I suppose it’s my duty to go study some right now. As a scientist, or whatever.

well, I’m sure that’ll be a quick study.

>:)

Comment #101328

Posted by steve s on May 18, 2006 10:09 PM (e)

All done!

LOL

Comment #101329

Posted by steve s on May 18, 2006 10:11 PM (e)

Conclusions:

We need a sandwich and a nap.

Comment #101331

Posted by PvM on May 18, 2006 10:29 PM (e)

The funny thing is that while ID argues it replaces methodological naturalism, it’s own approach fails to do so.
Probably because the assumptions used to do science have been so fabulously succesful.

What does ID have to offer? Scientifically it is truly a vacuous concept.

Comment #101341

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 19, 2006 12:22 AM (e)

Donald says:
“We already have “religion explained” and “consciousness explained” and “love explained” so its a small step to “porn explained”.”

Explain porn? Umm, let’s see… To get intelligent animals to perform sex, it seems evolution made it rewarding (at least I know I am) instead of instinctive. Which is perhaps why some social intelligent animals perform sex as a social activity, not coupled to procreation (at least I know I do). Sex, with porn as social stimulant, is a free rewarding activity.

Sounder says:
“the only presupposition that I know science makes is that there’s a natural explanation for observable phenomena.”

I am not sure it does even that.

The methods of science has proven themselves by being used successfully. The only assumption is that observations are used to find phenomena.

Consequently the theories must be validated by observations. That we call these phenomena “natural” seems to me to be just a description - a name.

Comment #101357

Posted by John H on May 19, 2006 3:06 AM (e)

Well, congratulations indeed to Patricia Princehouse and her fellow Ohio Citizens.

Though “the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award” does have a slight ring to it of “the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth”. ;-)

Comment #101363

Posted by Frank J on May 19, 2006 5:25 AM (e)

Donald M wrote:

For example that we know scientifically (not philosophically, mind you, because this is science class after all) that everything, absolutely everything we observe in nature is the result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy evolving over eons of time through the engine of chance and necessity or their combination and that any apparent design we observe in, say, biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle.

Actually evolution does not make that claim (& I think you know it). While there’s no guarantee that an “evolution only” science teacher will not make such a statement as a matter of personal opinion, it is almost certain that a “teach the controversy” activist teacher will call attention to it. Is that what you want?

But enough about what evolution claims, what students should learn in science class, and what they can find out in 5 minutes of web surfing. What exactly do you think happened and when in biological history? Is life ~4 billion years old and related by common descent, or not? Is the design implemented by genetic change and natural selection or not. And if not, exactly what are these alternate processes and/or timelines, and how can we test them?

Comment #101364

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 19, 2006 6:00 AM (e)

Gee, Donald, your motnhly drive-by is early this month.

I suppose FL and Sal will be right behind you.

But now that you’re here again, Donald, let me repeat my questions for you once more, just in case you missed them the first dozen times:

What, again, did you say the scientific theory of ID is? How, again, did you say this scientific theory of ID explains these problems? What, again, did you say the designer did? What mechanisms, again, did you say it used to do whatever the heck you think it did? Where, again, did you say we can see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well . . anything?

Or is “POOF!! God — uh, I mean, The Unknown Intelligent Designer — dunnit!!!!” the extent of your, uh, scientific theory of ID …. ?

How does “evolution can’t explain X Y or Z, therefore goddidit” differ from plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill “god of the gaps?

Here’s *another* question for you to not answer, Donald: Suppose in ten years, we DO come up with a specific mutation by mutation explanation for how X Y or Z appeared. What then? Does that mean (1) the designer USED to produce those things, but stopped all of a sudden when we came up with another mechanisms? or (2) the designer was using that mechanism the entire time, or (3) there never was any designer there to begin with.

Which is it, Donald? 1, 2 or 3?

Oh, and if ID isn’t about religion, Donald, then why do you spend so much time bitching and moaning about “philosophical materialism”?

(sound of crickets chirping)

You are a liar, Donald. A bare, bald-faced, deceptive, deceitful, deliberate liar, with malice aforethought. Still.

Comment #101370

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 19, 2006 8:02 AM (e)

… we ought not subject children to outright lies about the nature and content of science. For example… that everything, absolutely everything we observe in nature is the result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy

Donald M, could you point me to a few biology textbooks that emphasize for schoolkids that evolution is inherently “blind” and “purposeless”? I’m actually quite sincere about this request, because that’s a claim that starts crossing the line into metaphysics, and I’m very much against any metaphysics being taught as science.

I doubt you’ll be able to give any impressive examples. All of the science texts I recall from school spent their time discussing science, not metaphysics, because– after all– that’s what scientists are most interested in, despite the efforts of nonscientists to claim otherwise.

If you can prove me wrong, I will merrily eat my words. Until then, though, I will stick with the scientists, who have proven themselves trustworthy in the past, rather than with the antievolutionists, who have proven themselves to be hollow and deceptive.

–B. Spitzer

Comment #101372

Posted by John H on May 19, 2006 8:47 AM (e)

All of the science texts I recall from school spent their time discussing science, not metaphysics, because— after all— that’s what scientists are most interested in, despite the efforts of nonscientists to claim otherwise.

Agreed. I think most people have as their “working hypothesis” a general notion that it’s possible to combine evolution either with atheism or with Christianity or any other religion. Richard Dawkins, William Dembski and Ken Ham may all unite (in their very different ways!) to attack that notion, but it still remains the “default setting” for most people, at least in the UK.

Certainly I’m sure that’s the approach my own science teachers would have taken, if only because it’s an effective means of moving the discussion away from the “evolution-v-creation” thing and back to the actual science.

Comment #101374

Posted by Flint on May 19, 2006 9:29 AM (e)

Like any other discipline, science holds certain philosophical presuppositions as essential to the practice of science.

I think the difference between “worldviews” and the parochial presupposition distinguishing science from religion can be boiled down into two words: evidence matters.

Comment #101390

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 19, 2006 11:51 AM (e)

Methinks Donald and his ilk conflate the words “explain” and “excuse.” Hence, if evolution “explains” a behavior (read: “vice”), it therefore “excuses” that behavior. As if understanding where something bad comes from does nothing to help us change what we want to change. Or perhaps (horror of horrors) we might realize that we should not change it. Hence the dreaded “moral relativism.”

“The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. Remember the apple on the tree? OK, it was the Tree of Knowledge. ‘You eat this apple, you’re going to be as smart as God. We can’t have that.’”
FRANK ZAPPA (1940-1994)

Comment #101391

Posted by AC on May 19, 2006 11:54 AM (e)

Porn explained?

Okay. Porn is a solution to the problem of one’s frequency of desire for sexual activity being larger than the frequency of one’s opportunities for sexual activity; fd > fo.

Donald M wrote:

Like any other discipline, science holds certain philosophical presuppositions as essential to the practice of science. Philosophical presuppositions are worldview dependent. If you think otherwise, by all means make the argument, even though you’d be at odds with virtually all of philosophy and philosophy of science.

Spot the philosophical presupposition(s) in the following: “There is no evidence that evolution was guided by an intelligent being, therefore I do not conclude it was.”

Comment #101396

Posted by K.E. on May 19, 2006 12:17 PM (e)

Hmmmm now we find out what really turns on Donald M…Like I said months ago Don ….you need to get out more.

Comment #101410

Posted by Guts on May 19, 2006 1:43 PM (e)

That’s why we do this stuff.

Actually, I think that it’s telling that this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/15/AR2005071502181_pf.html

gets ignored in websites such as this. I don’t think “defending science” is really what you guys are doing.

Comment #101424

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on May 19, 2006 2:44 PM (e)

Guts-
It was an interesting article. I’m glad you brought it to our attention. However….

Why do you think that such anti-science terrorism would be condoned by the (defenders of science) readers of Panda’s Thumb? Are you just assuming that because most (not all) of us are (as far as I can determine from reading this blog for the past several months) politically to the left, we will ignore anti-science activities of the left?

I have seen several comments (not in this thread) bemoaning the anti-evolution of left-leaning activists, not just from right-leaning readers. Many of the readers and owners of this blog are active researchers in biology who might be directly affected by animal rights extremists (or activists, or terrorists, or whatever label you want). Many of us are at least aware of the benefits of animal research even though we might not like the use of these animals.

I think your bias is showing. Yes, this blog is dedicated to defending of science, but specifically to the attacks by extremists on science mostly on the basis of religious beliefs. You don’t see comments on animal rights extremism, but you also don’t see comments (at least, not many) on the lack of funding at the federal, state, and local level for basic research, even though in the long term that is of much greater import than the animal rights extremists. You do see comments on the anti-science activities of the current administration and in a larger sense often GOP, but that’s because it’s part and parcel of a larger attack on science by the religious right.

So how is it “telling” that the article you linked is not usually discussed here? What is being defended if not science in this blog?

Comment #101428

Posted by Sounder on May 19, 2006 3:37 PM (e)

So you’re shocked and dissappointed that we don’t talk about some pet topic of yours on a board specifically dedicated to stopping the spread of creationist ignorance? Are you going to bemoan our lack of posts about other political crises as well?

Up next: the economic disintigration of Zimbabwe and its effect on the African diet.

Comment #101429

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on May 19, 2006 3:48 PM (e)

Hmmm, Sounder, I gotta learn to be more succinct

Comment #101442

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 19, 2006 6:33 PM (e)

Donald M, could you point me to a few biology textbooks that emphasize for schoolkids that evolution is inherently “blind” and “purposeless”? I’m actually quite sincere about this request, because that’s a claim that starts crossing the line into metaphysics, and I’m very much against any metaphysics being taught as science.

I doubt you’ll be able to give any impressive examples.

Sure he can — it’s exactly what the Kansas Kooks changed the science standards to say.

Of course, Donald doesn’t want to mention that, since, uh, it was HIS OWN SIDE that altered the standards to say that. Precisely so they too could bitch and moan about “atheistic science”, just like Donald does.

But remember, everyone, ID isn’t about religion. No sirree Bob. It’s just them lying atheistic darwinists who say it is.

Right, Donald?

Comment #101446

Posted by coin on May 19, 2006 8:02 PM (e)

I would just like to say that I am dismayed and offended at the complete lack of attention that is paid on this site to the rapidly accelerating disintegration of the Zimbabwean economy. You claim to be “defending science”, yet you stand by idly while the people of Zimbabwe are suffering. Why must you silence discourse on this crucial issue? Have you no heart? Have you no soul?

Comment #101463

Posted by Donald M on May 20, 2006 1:16 AM (e)

B Spitzer asks:

Donald M, could you point me to a few biology textbooks that emphasize for schoolkids that evolution is inherently “blind” and “purposeless”? I’m actually quite sincere about this request, because that’s a claim that starts crossing the line into metaphysics, and I’m very much against any metaphysics being taught as science.

One of the most popular Biology textbooks used by public high school is the Miller-Levine textbook “Biology”.
My own daughter had it for her text just 3 years ago. In the chapter on evolution Miller and Levine write: “In many ways, each animal phylum represents an experiment in the design of body structures to perform the tasks necessary for survival. Of course, there has never been any kind of plan to these experiments because evolution works without either plan or purpose.”

One wonders how all this lack of purpose was determined scientifically.

Another, less popular Biology textbook, “Biology Concepts and Connections” by Benjamin Cummings says: “We have documented the role of change in shaping the vast diversity of life. We have also chronicled the role of chance. Chance has affected the evolutionary process in the generation of genetic diversity through mutation. Chance has also played a role at every major milestone in the history of life. Before life began, over 3.5 billion years ago, the chance union of certain small organic molecules ignited a chain of events that led to the first genes. Much later - about 65 million years ago - a chance collision between Earth and an asteroid may have caused mass extinctions. What are the odds for or against asteroid collisions? How would the evolution of biological diversity have been different if the dinosaurs had not become extinct? One of the great wonders of our existence and of life itself is that it has all arisen through a combination of evolutionary processes and chance events.”

That last sentence is philosophical naturalism masquerading as science.

Comment #101464

Posted by Pastor Bentonit on May 20, 2006 1:24 AM (e)

But, uh, Donald, who sent the asteroid?

Comment #101465

Posted by Donald M on May 20, 2006 1:31 AM (e)

Sounder:

As far as I know, as a non-scientist, the only presupposition that I know science makes is that there’s a natural explanation for observable phenomena. Are there any presuppositions I’m missing?

I presume what you mean is that any observed phenomena in nature will yield to a natural cause…eventually. That, of course, assumes that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect…i.e. philosophical naturalism. That’s a rather huge philosophical presupposition and not one that science can make…Princehouse’s claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

There are other presuppositions essential to science, though. One is the presupposition of the uniformity of nature. Another is the scientific method itself. Another is that the deliverances of our cognitive faculties are reliable. None of these are derived from science, but are essential to science.

Comment #101466

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2006 2:01 AM (e)

I do feel sorry for your kids, Donald duck, but not for the reasons you think.

Comment #101467

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2006 2:02 AM (e)

One is the presupposition of the uniformity of nature

more lies.

think chaos theory, there ducky.

Comment #101468

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 20, 2006 2:03 AM (e)

AC says:

“Porn is a solution to the problem of one’s frequency of desire for sexual activity being larger than the frequency of one’s opportunities for sexual activity; fd > fo.”

Eh? Porn is directly associated with sex. External porn is typically less frequent when the number of participants increase. But it is still there. (OTOH internal porn (watching the others performance) increase with the number of participants.)

Donald says:

“One of the great wonders of our existence and of life itself is that it has all arisen through a combination of evolutionary processes and chance events.”

That last sentence is philosophical naturalism masquerading as science.”

As we said earlier, the only assumption is really “observational phenomena” (Evidence matters.) There are several types of philosophical naturalism, all of them a consequence of, not a cause to, this assumption.

That design doesn’t cut it is because it boils down to a supernatural (unobservable) design event and a supernatural designer. Where you there?

Comment #101470

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 20, 2006 2:28 AM (e)

Donald says:

“I presume what you mean is that any observed phenomena in nature will yield to a natural cause…eventually.”

Yes, the theories we base on observed phenomena is validated by new observations. The observed and validated phenomena are called natural (since they occure in nature).

“That, of course, assumes that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect…i.e. philosophical naturalism.”

Not at all. The idealised method taken from the methods of science are called methodological naturalism. But it is merely an observation of the methods. The methods are only assuming observations to find phenomena, and they prove themselves by their success. Methodological naturalism isn’t assumed.

Likewise metaphysical naturalism, that you seem to describe, is an observation of the results of the method. It isn’t assumed, and it isn’t necessary; the method works anyway. But since all phenomena we can observe in nature are named natural, and the theories must be be validated by observations, we may think that metaphysical naturalism is valid.

“There are other presuppositions essential to science, though. One is the presupposition of the uniformity of nature. Another is the scientific method itself. Another is that the deliverances of our cognitive faculties are reliable. None of these are derived from science, but are essential to science.”

Other general assumptions can be explained as derivative and being observations. Order instead of chaos follows in large enough mathematical or physical structures, and is observed. Universality is parsimonious, and is observed. Causality follows from order and observers proper time, and is observed. And so on and so forth.

The scientific method is in no way an assumption. It is a method, and we see that it works. How anyone can think a method is an assumption eludes me.

That repeated observations and validated theories are reliable is a consequence of order and, again, an observation of how the methods of science has behaved.

Science has no bible.

Comment #101471

Posted by Anton Mates on May 20, 2006 2:37 AM (e)

Donald M wrote:

One of the most popular Biology textbooks used by public high school is the Miller-Levine textbook “Biology”.
My own daughter had it for her text just 3 years ago. In the chapter on evolution Miller and Levine write: “In many ways, each animal phylum represents an experiment in the design of body structures to perform the tasks necessary for survival. Of course, there has never been any kind of plan to these experiments because evolution works without either plan or purpose.”

I do think that’s poorly written, and the second sentence does stray into metaphysical certainty.

Another, less popular Biology textbook, “Biology Concepts and Connections” by Benjamin Cummings says: “We have documented the role of change in shaping the vast diversity of life. We have also chronicled the role of chance. Chance has affected the evolutionary process in the generation of genetic diversity through mutation. Chance has also played a role at every major milestone in the history of life. Before life began, over 3.5 billion years ago, the chance union of certain small organic molecules ignited a chain of events that led to the first genes. Much later - about 65 million years ago - a chance collision between Earth and an asteroid may have caused mass extinctions. What are the odds for or against asteroid collisions? How would the evolution of biological diversity have been different if the dinosaurs had not become extinct? One of the great wonders of our existence and of life itself is that it has all arisen through a combination of evolutionary processes and chance events.”

That last sentence is philosophical naturalism masquerading as science.

Nope, it’s methodological naturalism. Whether an event occurs by chance or is determined, given known laws of nature and initial conditions, is a scientific question.

Comment #101473

Posted by Sounder on May 20, 2006 3:08 AM (e)

I presume what you mean is that any observed phenomena in nature will yield to a natural cause…eventually. That, of course, assumes that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect…i.e. philosophical naturalism. That’s a rather huge philosophical presupposition and not one that science can make…Princehouse’s claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

I see what you’re saying: those in science seek naturalistic explanations for observed phenomena because they presume that there is a naturalistic explanation for that phenomena.

I’m speaking as a laymen, but what I can gather, it is indeed a philosophical foundation–indeed, the philosophical foundation–for all of modern science, not just biology. I wonder if anyone here would chime in on this?

There are several reasons science uses this philosophy in its investigation of our universe. The first and most obvious, I think, is precedent. Our race has struggled to explain the causes of the various events and happenings around us, and have attributed some pretty wild causes to phenomena: thunder was the striking of Thor’s hammer; volcanoes, to the ancient Oceanic peoples, reflected the mood of their gods. Even in enlightened ancient Greece, fortune and calamity were left in large part to the intervention of their dieties. We’re now pretty confident that all of these conclusions are false. For as long as there has been a philosophical skepticism guiding inquiry, we have been able to track down natural causes for what was previously assumed to be an intervention of a higher power. This pattern of demystifying (in more ways than one) our universe shows no sign of changing.

But who knows? We may very well run into a phenomena that has a supernatural causation, defying millenia of precedent. But I ask you, what are the odds of it, given the precedent? And even if we do, how will we know it?

There are other presuppositions essential to science, though. One is the presupposition of the uniformity of nature. Another is the scientific method itself. Another is that the deliverances of our cognitive faculties are reliable. None of these are derived from science, but are essential to science.

Uh, you’re going to have to define science for us, given the claims about it you’re making, as I have never heard of science defined apart from the scientific method.

As for the rest of it, yes our perceptions of reality could very well all be a delusion: so what, then? Any philosopher worth his salt would tell us that “the deliverances of our cognitive faculties” could all be entirely wrong. So what? If they are wrong, we will have no way of knowing it, and we will certainly never find out, or improve our lot, by abandoning skepticism and the scientific method. As unreliable as they are, and as questionable as any search for knowledge is, we have nothing better. Certainly not emotion, and certainly not instinct, will teach us the truth of our universe. Human rationality and the methodologies of science are the best tools we have for making assessments of reality, no matter how questionable our ability to reason or observe may be.

And I think scientists are more aware of this than anyone else: A friend who works in a university philosophy department once e-mailed me this quote:

“Science is a model of reality, not reality itself. (Both scientists and religious nuts get this wrong.) Science believes that if the model works (ie. predicts the future), it’s useful, if it does not, then it’s useless. It’s not a faith, it’s not a religion, it is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less.”

The assertions of all fields of science–physics, geology, biology, everything–seek to give us the best models to explain our observations. Only the misguided would say it seeks “truth”, or “proof” (except the mathematical kind), or that we can even say we “know” things about the universe, in the most literal sense we have of the word “knowledge”. But how could we ever get absolute knowledge anyway?

You may have heard all of this before. It seemed like an appropriate answer when I read your post. I hope to see a response, as this is a good exercise for my poor, atrophied brain. :) Bottom line is, though, if your reasons for objecting to evolutionary biology (and only this one facet of science?) all center in disbelief of our ability to assess the universe correctly, then you have a lot more science to object to than simply biology, or methodological naturalism. What are your motives for calling into question evolution specifically, as opposed to the entirety of science?

Cheers.

Comment #101474

Posted by Sounder on May 20, 2006 3:18 AM (e)

Torbjörn Larsson wrote:

The scientific method is in no way an assumption. It is a method, and we see that it works. How anyone can think a method is an assumption eludes me.

An explanation for why this model is used could prove helpful.

Comment #101477

Posted by Zarquon on May 20, 2006 3:57 AM (e)

Science sticks to naturalism because that’s the only thing that works to explain the world we observe. It’s easy enough to assume that there must be more to the world than that but there’s absolutely no indication of what that “more” can be. You can’t take the creationists or IDers word for what lies beyond nature as they’re a bunch of liars and frauds. There’s no way you can reconcile the supernatural beliefs of Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, or the millions of other religions, so there’s no need to take any of them seriously.
As for people saying the assumptions of science are limiting, the fact that science discovered quantum mechanics and found that the microscopic world behaves in ways completely unlike the macroscopic world shows that scince can encompass revolutionary ideas when the evidence is there.

Comment #101483

Posted by k.e. on May 20, 2006 5:48 AM (e)

Well there you go…. DonaldM
Science is view of the world that can be seen, a conscious “world view” if you like.
The CreIDonists have a view of a non/nil/void world, something that does not have extant, an “unworldly view” and sourced from the unconscious. A dream universe, inhabited by mythical beings. Sound familiar?
Your aboriginal fore-bearers constructed such a world to explain their consciousness thousands of years before Moses. And nothing has changed in human desires to explain consciousness since those earliest Australians carved those mythical creatures into rocks 50,000 + years ago.

Comment #101488

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 7:49 AM (e)

Show is how to utilize non-natural causes in science, Donald.

Quit your bitching and moaning, and just show us.

Comment #101489

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 8:11 AM (e)

An explanation for why this model is used could prove helpful.

Because it’s the only method that works and can be tested.

Donald recognizes this too. That is why, despite repeated requests over the years, Donald refuses to provide us with any OTHER method and show us how to use it.

What Donald is bitching about, deep down inside, is that science refuses to pay any attention to Donald’s religious opinions. And he’s right.

Of course, science doesn’t pay any attention to MY religious opinions, either. (shrug)

Comment #101491

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 20, 2006 9:44 AM (e)

Donald M wrote:

One of the most popular Biology textbooks used by public high school is the Miller-Levine textbook “Biology”.
My own daughter had it for her text just 3 years ago. In the chapter on evolution Miller and Levine write: “In many ways, each animal phylum represents an experiment in the design of body structures to perform the tasks necessary for survival. Of course, there has never been any kind of plan to these experiments because evolution works without either plan or purpose.”

Thank you, Donald. I agree with you– that last sentence implies things that can’t be proven scientifically. It should be worded differently.

“One of the great wonders of our existence and of life itself is that it has all arisen through a combination of evolutionary processes and chance events.”

That also sounds a lot more like a philosophical claim than a scientific one. I would be more careful than Cummings was.

To a certain point, these examples just prove the assertion that I was trying to make– if there’s only one sentence in an entire textbook that can be interpreted as philosophical naturalism, while the rest of the book is clearly all about biology, then the claim that science texts are indoctrinating our kids in atheist philosophy doesn’t carry a whole lot of force.

However, that doesn’t mean that those sentences belong in high school science texts. They should definitely be changed or removed. (Is that the latest edition of the Miller/Levine textbook? IIRC, Miller and Levine removed that sentence. I seem to recall this coming up when Miller testified at Dover.)

I wrote that I’d eat my words if Donald came up with examples, and he did, so it’s only fair that I start eating. The loud munching sound you can hear in the background is me.

Comment #101493

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 10:56 AM (e)

To a certain point, these examples just prove the assertion that I was trying to make— if there’s only one sentence in an entire textbook that can be interpreted as philosophical naturalism

No, they can eb interpreted as METHODOLOGICAL materialism. Donald is just too dumb to tell the difference.

I’ve never heard Donlad explain yet why “Evolution” is “materialistic”, but “weather forecasting” isn’t. After all, every meteorologist I’ve ever heard, explains weather as “movements of air masses”, without mentioning any god, goddesses or non-natural entity of any sort.

So one wonders why it’s just “evolution” that gets Donald’s panties all in an uproar. Why isn’t Donald doing drive-by’s in meteorology blogs to castigate them for being ahteists because they don’t mention “god” anywhere in their weather studies?

And I’m also still waiting for Donald to show us how his NON-materialistic science works. Give us an example, Donald. Show us how it works better (or just as well) as any “materialistic” science.

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Once again, Donald is just whining that science doesn’t pay any attention to his religious opinions. And he’s right. It doesn’t. Neither does accident investigation, medical practice, or the rules of baseball. (shrug)

Comment #101494

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 10:59 AM (e)

the claim that science texts are indoctrinating our kids in atheist philosophy doesn’t carry a whole lot of force.

Particularly since the author of the textbook Donald cites isn’t, um, an atheist. Since he’s not an atheist, I’m, uh, pretty sure he’s not preaching an “atheist philosophy”.

But Donald already knew that. Donald is just a dishonest liar.

Comment #101496

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 20, 2006 11:45 AM (e)

Actually, Lenny, I think the sentences that Donald provided sound a lot more like ontological naturalism than methodological naturalism– they’ve slid over the line.

The fact that we can argue about whether it’s MN or ON suggests that it’s a minor infraction, but I’d prefer to err on the side of being too scrupulous when it comes to keeping science and ideology– any ideology– separate.

Comment #101499

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 20, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

Big words get people going don’t they? Stop and think what the words mean in practice. Natural”ism” in reference to scientific method merely means, *in practice*, following the evidence. Finding evidence for a new type of cause would be delightful for science.

But in the meantime, let’s don’t be so incredibly picky. Every last time any phenomenon whatsoever is mentioned, it is not necessary to add “but maybe velvet worms are an early Raelian experiment” or “but maybe my faucet leaks because I have displeased the plumbing gremlins” or “maybe the Disco Designer did it”. Until there is evidence that Rael or some other special Agent did it, chill.

Comment #101501

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 20, 2006 2:09 PM (e)

But in the meantime, let’s don’t be so incredibly picky.

In general, those are words to live by. In this particular case I think we should be picky. If we’re going to get up in arms about the precise word choice of, say, the Kansas Board of Education’s definition of science, then it’s only right that we be equally anal-retentive about word choice in the other direction too.

Yeah, it means that we have to be really delicate about how we phrase certain things. But we’re all probably already doing that. (It’s kinda hard to talk about biology without using language that is teleological or anthropomorphic or uses the word “design”, but I think that’s important too.)

Comment #101502

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

Actually, Lenny, I think the sentences that Donald provided sound a lot more like ontological naturalism than methodological naturalism— they’ve slid over the line.

I doubt that, since the author isn’t an atheist.

The fact that we can argue about whether it’s MN or ON suggests that it’s a minor infraction, but I’d prefer to err on the side of being too scrupulous when it comes to keeping science and ideology— any ideology— separate.

I think Donald, like most fundies, sees what he wants to see.

As far as I know, the ONLY time I’ve ever seen science defined as absolutely positively EXCLUDING BY DEFINITION the existence of any god or gods was the science standards adopted by the CREATIONISTS in Kansas. And that definition was OPPOSED by all the scientists on the subcommittee majority.

Odd, isn’t it, that Donald doesn’t want to talk about that….

Donald is a liar. A bare, bald-faced, calculating, deliberate liar.

Comment #101503

Posted by CJ O'Brien on May 20, 2006 2:28 PM (e)

In Donald’s ideal world, a chemist comes into work in the morning, every day, and rechecks the Periodic Table real quick, just to make sure Go– er, The Deeziner, didn’t change anything overnight.

And the business of dredging textbooks for “metaphysical” declarations about “purposeless” evolution is a red herring, and Donald knows it. The problem is a well known one: the ubiquity of teleological language when describing processes that nominally involve agents. Replicators ‘strive’ to increase their numbers in succeeding generations. Nature ‘designs’ body plans.

Donald’s quibble that any attempt to disclaim this language as ‘a figure of speech’ amounts to sneaking metaphysics into the science classroom is just a subtler form of quote-mining.

Comment #101504

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2006 2:33 PM (e)

I do think that’s poorly written, and the second sentence does stray into metaphysical certainty.

uh, this does sound just like something donald posted last month, and the month before that, and the month before that…

check the version of that textbook, and I think you’ll find it to be a rather dated one.

If you look at the current version, what Donald writes is not in there.

so, donald, which version did your supposed kid read, and when was this. A decade ago? longer?

Comment #101505

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 2:34 PM (e)

If we’re going to get up in arms about the precise word choice of, say, the Kansas Board of Education’s definition of science, then it’s only right that we be equally anal-retentive about word choice in the other direction too.

No. There is a big difference. The Kansas Kooks chose their language deliberately and precisely for a POLITICAL PURPOSE. They knowingly chose to define science as “random” and “naturalistic” so that they, like Donald, could then bitch and moan about “atheistic science”. It was a deliberate, dishonest political tactic – one that was OPPOSED by all the scientists on the board committee.

When a weather forecaster says “we’ll get rain this weekend because this low pressure system is moving into the area”, nobody jumps up and down about how weather forecasting is “atheistic” and “godless” because it “only accepts material causes” for the weather. Anyone who targeted meteorologists as being “atheistic materialists” because they don’t say “God may be the cause of this weather front”, would be seen, rightly, as just a lunatic nutter.

I see no reason to treat the creationists any differently.

Weather forecasting doesn’t care about Donald’s religious opinions. Neither does science. Sorry if Donald doesn’t like that. If it makes him feel any better, science doesn’t care about my religious opinions, either. Or those of my car mechanic, veterinarian, or the kid who delivers my pizzas. (shrug)

Comment #101506

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 2:35 PM (e)

uh, this does sound just like something donald posted last month, and the month before that, and the month before that…

Indeed, Donald would save lots of electrons if he would just come by once a month to do his drive-by, by simply posting:

“SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

and then running away.

Comment #101507

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 2:42 PM (e)

Oh, by the way, has anyone seen the latest pronunciomentoi from the DI Ministry of Propaganda?

Apparently we’re being led by Holocaust Deniers, now.

Perhaps we should introduce Luskin to Larry. (snicker) (giggle)

No wonder nobody takes DI seriously anymore. (shrug)

Comment #101510

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on May 20, 2006 2:47 PM (e)

Lenny:

If it makes [DonaldM] feel any better, science doesn’t care about my religious opinions, either. Or those of my car mechanic, veterinarian, or the kid who delivers my pizzas. (shrug)

All right, all right, I’m back already! Tanned and slim and young and…well, okay, maybe not lovely!

You didn’t seem to mention me very much while I was on vacation, Lenny. I don’t suppose Pizza Woman had anything at all to do with it, though, huh?

Or her convenient willingness to accept her tips in warm Viking Piss, as opposed to cold hard cash?

Well, that’s okay, I’d be just as happy to stay on vacation all year around. Say, maybe you can square that with my boss? Y’know, tell him how, all these years, my religious opinions haven’t been worth anymore than anyone else’s…!

Not that that’s part of my job description. But, what the heck, if it gets me sent right back to Rio, I’m down with that!

Comment #101524

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

You didn’t seem to mention me very much while I was on vacation, Lenny. I don’t suppose Pizza Woman had anything at all to do with it, though, huh?

Not a thing.

(hides slip of paper with Pizza Woman’s phone number on it)

Comment #101528

Posted by Anton Mates on May 20, 2006 7:02 PM (e)

B. Spitzer wrote:

Actually, Lenny, I think the sentences that Donald provided sound a lot more like ontological naturalism than methodological naturalism— they’ve slid over the line.

I think the first example was poorly written, but I didn’t see anything wrong with the second. So far as science can determine our evolution was heavily influenced by chance events, and that is a pretty amazing thing the first time you hear about it. There’s nothing about atheism or philosophical naturalism there–you can be quite happy that Allah or whoever chose to act through such chance events if you like.

Comment #101529

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2006 7:16 PM (e)

you can be quite happy that Allah or whoever chose to act through such chance events if you like.

that’s just it. folks like Ducky can’t be happy with and can’t accept that.

they need to think there is a specific plan for them and all they have to do is wish hard enough and it will come true.

the idea of randomness AT ALL simply gives their worldview fits and convulsions.

It doesn’t matter what specific aspect of their worldview you ask them to change; not a bit of it can change without the entire house of cards collapsing.

Comment #101532

Posted by Donald M on May 20, 2006 8:54 PM (e)

Donald: One of the great wonders of our existence and of life itself is that it has all arisen through a combination of evolutionary processes and chance events.”
That last sentence is philosophical naturalism masquerading as science.

Anton: Nope, it’s methodological naturalism. Whether an event occurs by chance or is determined, given known laws of nature and initial conditions, is a scientific question.

The event in question is life itself. To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination. In other words, lfie itself got started by purely natural causes. Now, since no one on earth has a clue how life actually got started, it is not a scientific statement, but a philosophical one…philosophical naturalism to be exact.

Comment #101535

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2006 9:10 PM (e)

To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination. In other words, lfie itself got started by purely natural causes.

*sigh*

you’re too dense to understand what I’m about to tell you ducky:

Those AREN’T saying the same things, regardless of you couching it “in other words”

You’ll NEVER be able to see this, so go away would ya?

Comment #101536

Posted by PvM on May 20, 2006 9:46 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination. In other words, lfie itself got started by purely natural causes. Now, since no one on earth has a clue how life actually got started, it is not a scientific statement, but a philosophical one…philosophical naturalism to be exact.

So many things are wrong here. Since no-one on earth has a clue does not mean that one cannot propose scientific hypotheses, however tentative in nature. And that’s where science and ID quickly diverge, where ID remains at the sidelines in their ignorance, science explores exciting new ways to explore deeper and deeper into the past to establish plausible explanations of what happened. Methodological naturalism, aka science makes no claims about the supernatural and merely tries to describe as best as it can how things came to be. Explaining everything in purely natural causes however need not be philosophical naturalism since even in such a case, there is still room for the supernatural.
The funny part is that ID, despite the hope of some of its proponents, has been unable to explain how it may replace methodological naturalism, in fact, it seems that it can’t even do this. Seems that Donald has some problems understanding these concepts. Explaining something in purely natural terms is not philosophical naturalism.

Comment #101537

Posted by Henry J on May 20, 2006 9:56 PM (e)

Re “the idea of randomness AT ALL simply gives their worldview fits and convulsions.”

Then why aren’t they fussing about quantum mechanics even more than about evolution? After all, in a “solid” object, every single subatomic particle in there is making random motions all the time. Yet a solid stays solid (well, unless it gets hot enough to melt).

Re “they need to think there is a specific plan for them”

Maybe producing life through natural processes was the specific plan? Otherwise they’re stuck with the notion that the specific planner specifically planned and engineered each of the various pests that eat on us, our food, and our pets.

Henry

Comment #101541

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2006 10:56 PM (e)

Then why aren’t they fussing about quantum mechanics even more than about evolution? After all, in a “solid” object, every single subatomic particle in there is making random motions all the time. Yet a solid stays solid (well, unless it gets hot enough to melt).

haven’t we already been over that?

something about the whole monkeys/man idea, which isn’t part of quantum mechanics or weather forecasting, so they focus first there. there’s also plenty of anti-quantum nutbars too (not as many, but still quite a few), you just don’t see them as often here, because this is a biology blog, not a physics one.

Maybe producing life through natural processes was the specific plan?

I should have been more specific. I mean a PERSONAL plan.

Every creobot I’ve ever met likes to think God has a personal plan, just for them.

we even used to make fun of those types when i was a younger man in the 80’s:

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/d/depeche+mode/personal+jesus_20039367.html

it’s your own… personal… Jesus…

Comment #101544

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 11:33 PM (e)

Here, Don, let me translate to everyone for you:

Everyone, what Donnie is saying is

SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy now, Don?

Comment #101545

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 20, 2006 11:35 PM (e)

In other words, lfie itself got started by purely natural causes.

Um, hey Donnie, what non-natural cause does ID postulate, again …. ?

Something religious, perhaps …. …. ?

Comment #101546

Posted by Anton Mates on May 21, 2006 12:15 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

that’s just it. folks like Ducky can’t be happy with and can’t accept that.

they need to think there is a specific plan for them and all they have to do is wish hard enough and it will come true.

the idea of randomness AT ALL simply gives their worldview fits and convulsions.

Why can’t they go shout at the physicists, then? They’re the ones who are actually arguing for true randomness. The rest of us just take their word for it.

Comment #101547

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 12:30 AM (e)

Why can’t they go shout at the physicists, then?

they physicists are gonna hate you for saying that ;)

really tho, I think we already discussed this, but you could always ask Donald Ducky why this is.

I’m sure he has an email address somewhere.

of anything DM could ever say, it would be humorous to find out why he personally decided to pick on biologists instead of physicists or chemists.

who knows? maybe he picks on them too.

Comment #101549

Posted by Anton Mates on May 21, 2006 12:42 AM (e)

Sorry for the redundancy in that last, I never hit post before I left the house a couple hours ago….

Donald M wrote:

The event in question is life itself. To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination.

No, it really isn’t. You simply reshuffled the first statement and pulled “blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy” out of nowhere.

Now if you want to believe that evolutionary processes and chance events are in fact blind and purposeless, that’s great. I happen to believe that myself. Of course, I’m an atheist, and I was under the impression that you weren’t…

“Chance” is not a theological term.

Comment #101556

Posted by BWE on May 21, 2006 1:47 AM (e)

Dear FSM, Where have I been on this post? You wrote a post specifically for me and I didn’t even post.

Answer:
Because you wake up in the morning and you have to decide what to do with your day. This is one thing you can do. Especially for folks predisposed to argument and mild conflict. It’s fun and FSM’s work all at once? What could be better?

Posted by Troff on May 18, 2006 05:57 PM (e)

Last time on The Panda’s Thumb… fnxtr wrote:

“Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.”

Dude… seriously. Let ‘em. ‘Cause then it’s Open Season.

Isn’t it already?

Comment #101583

Posted by Freelurker on May 21, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

Sounder wrote:

… A friend who works in a university philosophy department once e-mailed me this quote:

“Science is a model of reality, not reality itself. (Both scientists and religious nuts get this wrong.) Science believes that if the model works (ie. predicts the future), it’s useful, if it does not, then it’s useless. It’s not a faith, it’s not a religion, it is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less.”

I really like this quote but can’t find the original source. Anyone know it?

Comment #101614

Posted by Henry J on May 21, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

Sir_Toe,
Re “haven’t we already been over that?” [quantum randomness]

Yeah, I suppose that idea probably comes up sporadically, since it is a fairly obvious (to a science minded person) counterpoint to the repeated objection to randomness in biology.

Henry

Comment #101631

Posted by David B. Benson on May 21, 2006 6:15 PM (e)

Freelurcker, I surely do not care for the quote. The first senteence is fine. But with “Science believes” I am quite upset. Then it goes to imply that the only value of models is to predict the future. Very narrow minded, imho. Then other problems …

I’ll bet you can do better on your own.

Comment #101632

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 21, 2006 6:21 PM (e)

Sounder says:

““Science is a model of reality, not reality itself. (Both scientists and religious nuts get this wrong.) Science believes that if the model works (ie. predicts the future), it’s useful, if it does not, then it’s useless. It’s not a faith, it’s not a religion, it is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less.””

This is an overly pessimistic philosophical view, on two counts. First, scientists are usually quite good at distinguishing between the results of a theory and reality. (Even though analogous to what B says it’s hard to avoid using language that suggest reality.)

Second, there are things that are robust observations that we know are real. For example, after decades of indirect observations of atoms we can now trap individual ions and make them blink, or scan individual atoms with an AFM. They are as reliable as dogs, beatiful as cats, and real as babies.

“Torbjörn Larsson wrote:
“The scientific method is in no way an assumption. It is a method, and we see that it works. How anyone can think a method is an assumption eludes me.”

An explanation for why this model is used could prove helpful.”

I’m not sure what you mean. I’m discussing the idealised scientific method - every field has its realisations. It is not a model, but an attempt of loose description of a method.

It is IMHO *very* hard to model how the theory of science works, and even more so the totality of results from it. Which is BTW another reason it’s so laughable when IDiots claim that it has “other presuppositions essential to science” or ‘limit inquiry’. (And they have never demonstrated any ability to understand enough to be able to do theoretical or practical research. Yet they make claims on what science is.)

Idealised it is observations of phenomena, theories describing phenomena, predictions for new observations, validations (some falsifiable, some against other theories) - with iterations (and repetitions) at every step. The reason it is accepted is that it works.

Donald says:

“To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination.”

Evolution isn’t exactly blind or purposeless. Natural selection is an adaption to local reproductive success (fitness landscape) - so it is not blind. Evolution is about reproductive success - so it is not purposeless.

Why evolution is possible is another question. The basic mechanisms are simple and general, even chemical or software systems can use them. The question is analogous to the cosmological question why an infinite time universe like for example the endless inflation multiverse exists. It does. And it could not. So we would not know the difference. So it is meaningless to ask the question. But it is also observer bias. So it is really a failed question.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that evolution exists and how it works.

“In other words, lfie itself got started by purely natural causes. Now, since no one on earth has a clue how life actually got started, it is not a scientific statement, but a philosophical one…philosophical naturalism to be exact.”

Neither has abiogenesis to do with the fact that evolution exists and how it works.

But we know that life started, since primordial earth was lifeless and now there is life. It is an observation and thus science. The method of science will give us a natural description.

The burden of proof is on you. Why should abiogenesis be different from all other observations and need a nondescriptive religious philosophical supernatural explanation instead of a practical scientific one?

Comment #101634

Posted by Sounder on May 21, 2006 6:29 PM (e)

David,

Perhaps “the scientific community believes” in place of “science believes” would make it more accurate. As for ability to predict the future, yes, that’s only one example.

The point of the quote was that science has a very specific purpose and context, and that we need to be very mindful of them.

What other problems are there with it?

Comment #101635

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 21, 2006 6:32 PM (e)

Let me rephrase the last part:

“But we know that life started, since primordial earth was lifeless and now there is life. It is an observation and thus science. The method of science will give us a natural description, if we can find it.

The burden of proof is on you. Why should abiogenesis be different from all other observations and need a nondescriptive religious philosophical supernatural explanation which is equivalent to the default answer of “we don’t know” - instead of a practical scientific one?

Comment #101637

Posted by David B. Benson on May 21, 2006 6:36 PM (e)

Sounder, it distinguishes ‘belief’ from ‘faith’, at least implictly. Now this is certainly possible, but takes quite a lengthy argument. Inappropriate for a snappy statement.
Also, as Torbjorn points out, the parenthetical remark is incorrect, regarding scientists.
While a statement that science is a ‘tool’ is appropriate, the quote overly emphasizes prediction as the goal of science. There are other goals, at least as important, imho.

Comment #101638

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2006 6:49 PM (e)

Sounder says:

““Science is a model of reality, not reality itself. (Both scientists and religious nuts get this wrong.) Science believes that if the model works (ie. predicts the future), it’s useful, if it does not, then it’s useless. It’s not a faith, it’s not a religion, it is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less.””

This is an overly pessimistic philosophical view, on two counts. First, scientists are usually quite good at distinguishing between the results of a theory and reality. (Even though analogous to what B says it’s hard to avoid using language that suggest reality.)

It’s hard to avoid such language, but philosophically it is important to do so.

The reason that scientists end up using the “pessimistic view” is not that we can’t check results against observations, but that we can’t check observations against an “independently known reality”. We only know “reality” based on our perceptions of that “reality”, and our relationships with “reality” cannot be understood except via our perception and interpretation of that reality.

I do think that this is fairly confusing, since science really does seek to make models which are consistent with what is often called in the vernacular “reality”.

Essentially this dissent from acceptance of “reality” as something knowable through our perceptions goes back to Kant. He both affirmed science, and denied that we could know science to be a reflection of “reality” itself.

I think we’ve integrated science and perceptions through enough feedback loops that we don’t have to be as pessimistic about perceptions and “reality” as Kant was. We have good reason to think that correspondence of perception (but not direct knowledge about objects) with the perceived occurs. However, we could never show this to be the case, since we only reconstruct “reality” from electrical and chemical reactions in the senses, as well as these in the brain.

Second, there are things that are robust observations that we know are real. For example, after decades of indirect observations of atoms we can now trap individual ions and make them blink, or scan individual atoms with an AFM. They are as reliable as dogs, beatiful as cats, and real as babies.

“Reality” is as reliable as you say, but the Kantian dilemma (he didn’t invent it, but did deal with it in a manner consistent with scientific success) remains. It’s a fundamental problem, not one that will be solved by ever-greater scientific successes, and it is also the reason why many scientists, as well as philosophers, write much as Sounder does.

I agree with you as far as your argument goes, it’s just that the philosophical problems are more basic. Still, I often think that the language of positivism (which relied on Kantianism to give a foundation to science) confuses people about science. Science gets as close to “reality” as anything does, so the exceptions to the problem Kant dealt with either apply to any “reality statement”, or to none, depending on the context.

It is well enough to point out human limitations in the area of science, but the same limitations (often with added problems) apply to everything else. I often see creationists of various stripes using the caveats that scientists make regarding science as if their own beliefs were not subject to the same limitations, plus the problems inherent in accepting received wisdom–traditional “knowledge”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #101658

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 21, 2006 8:25 PM (e)

Gle,
Obviously I’m not a philosopher or a neuroscientist. The problems you mention isn’t a scientific problem as I understand it.

Science isn’t about establishing truth statements on an unobserved reality, but about establishing facts on observed phenomena. Some natural phenomena are so robust and basic that scientists can take them as real objects and come away with it. (Of course, sometimes some less substantiated phlogiston theory bites the dust.) That seems to be a good definition of reality to me.

Comment #101660

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 21, 2006 8:34 PM (e)

I guess I shouldn’t say “definition of reality” because then you tell me there is some ‘realdealist’ school of philosophy I’m discussing, and why they are philosophically wrong.

I guess even “concept of reality” is too strong here. That last sentence is unneccessary, but I like it. It is at least compatible with observations. So I will tentatively leave it. Very tentatively…

Comment #101823

Posted by Freelurker on May 22, 2006 10:48 PM (e)

My thanks to everyone who commented on the quote provided earlier by Sounder. I like it because it asserts a primal role in science for models. This is consistent with the role of models in my own field, systems engineering, and in the field of mathematical systems theory, in particular. (To me, the lack of models in the ID approach shows its uselessness, essentially by definition.)

BTW, I think that the modeling perspective clears up a particular area of confusion that I have seen in some ID discussions, including in this thread. People on both sides of the ID issue will refer to events happening “by chance.” Such statements can be read as positive assertions that there exists some cosmic random number generator. But as far as I know, there is no more evidence of such a random number generator than there is evidence of a cosmic chooser. Instead of saying “event X happens by chance” it is more precise (but admittedly awkward) to say “in the model under discussion, the occurrence of X is modeled as a random variable.” Maintaining this perspective keeps the emphasis on the current state of our knowledge and leaves out unnecessary and unsupported teleological (and counter-teleological) implications.

Comment #101935

Posted by Henry J on May 23, 2006 5:34 PM (e)

Re ““in the model under discussion, the occurrence of X is modeled as a random variable.””

I’ll second that strategy.

Henry

Comment #101948

Posted by Donald M on May 23, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

Donald M wrote: The event in question is life itself. To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination.

Anton Mates: No, it really isn’t. You simply reshuffled the first statement and pulled “blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy” out of nowhere.

Now if you want to believe that evolutionary processes and chance events are in fact blind and purposeless, that’s great. I happen to believe that myself. Of course, I’m an atheist, and I was under the impression that you weren’t…

“Chance” is not a theological term.

I’m not suggesting that ‘chance’ is a theological term. If the cosmos is in fact a closed system of natural cause and effect, which is the only option for a true atheist or philosophical naturalist, then chance and necessity or their combination are the only tools available to explain anything we observe in nature. That is what I meant by chance. It is the same sense in which Jacques Monod used it in his book Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology where he writes near the end “The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.”

If chance and necessity are the only tools available to nature, then those tools are also blind and purposeless. Foresight and purpose come from intelligence, the one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview. I didn’t pull this from nowhere. It is the logical conclusion of the naturalistic worldview. But what no one can say, including Princehouse, is that we know scientifically that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. But I doubt she’d raise her eyebrows over any science textbook that said as much.

Comment #101958

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

If chance and necessity are the only tools available to nature, then those tools are also blind and purposeless.

Yikes. anybody care to point out the multiple flaws in that little piece of “logic”?

the way you come to conclusions never ceases to amaze.

you know, Ducky, you only need to demonstrate your utter inability to expound a logical argument once a month.

Your continuing demonstration here is really just overkill.

do you really think that B follows from A in this statement???

Comment #101960

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 23, 2006 6:41 PM (e)

And once again, Donald shouts “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!” at the top of his lungs.

(yawn)

Comment #101961

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 23, 2006 6:44 PM (e)

a true atheist or philosophical naturalist,

But ID isn’t about religion. No sirree Bob. Not at all. It’s just them lying atheist darwinists who say it is.

(snicker) (giggle)

Thanks, Donald, for (once again) demonstrating so clearly for all the lurkers that (1) ID is just religious apologetics, (2) IDers are just lying to us when they claim it isn’t, and (3) Judge Jones was entirely correct when he concluded it is.

That’s why I love fundies so much. They quite literally can’t go ten minutes without preaching and giving the whole game away.

No WONDER they’ve lost every court case they’ve ever been involved with.

Comment #101966

Posted by Donald M on May 23, 2006 7:11 PM (e)

B Spitzer:

I think the sentences that Donald provided sound a lot more like ontological naturalism than methodological naturalism— they’ve slid over the line.

The fact that we can argue about whether it’s MN or ON suggests that it’s a minor infraction, but I’d prefer to err on the side of being too scrupulous when it comes to keeping science and ideology— any ideology— separate.

Well, I suppose one could split philosophical hairs over which sort of naturalism the statement in the Miller-Levine book represents, but it would be beside the main point. The main point is that statements like that get slid into the textbooks, or the lesson plans all the time and they are not science, but philosophy masquerading as science. While this particular statement is some form or other of naturalism, what is odd about it is that one of the authors, Miller, is a theist. I bring that up to say that in pointing this out I’m not suggesting anyone is trying to teach atheism, because I certainly don’t think that. Miller is rather muddled on this whole issue in many ways, but that’s another story.

In the Kansas kerfluffle, 38 Nobel Laureates signed this statement in defense of science. Intended to provide support for those opposing the teaching of ID in the schools, these Nobel Laureates state “Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.” Sounds a lot like the Miller-Levine quote. It is interesting to note that these Nobel Laureates seemingly have no problem introducing a purely metaphysical concept into what is supposed to be science curriculum. No doubt Princehouse would also approve. The question nobody bothered to ask these Nobel scientists is how is evolution understood to be the result of “an unguided and unplanned process”. Did some of these Nobel Laureates conduct a scientific experiment to demonstrate this hypothesis, or is it just their philosophical opinion? What is clear is that certain philosophical worldviews are apparently acceptable for the science classroom but others aren’t. I wish Princehouse or someone else could tell us how we can know scientifically which are okay and which are not. But since science can’t tell us that, we’re stuck with choosing one worldview over another as the basis of what is supposed to be just science. As I said, the science class is not a worldview free zone. The only question is which worldview is allowed and why.

Comment #101968

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 7:13 PM (e)

really DM, stop already! everybody here already knows you’re a complete ignoramus. no need to continue.

put down the nerf gun.

Comment #101969

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 7:17 PM (e)

The only question is which worldview is allowed and why.

liar.

the only question is why on earth we should allow a religious worldview to imprint itself onto a method that has nothing to do with religion.

the answer is, has been, and always will be obvious to anyone with half a brain, and those that aren’t suffering from some form of mental disorder.

so, I have a question for YOU ducky:

which is it in your case? Are you suffering from a mental disorder that forces you to build projections and denial as defense mechanisms to protect your fragile worldview?

or is it just that you are lacking half a brain?

there is no other alternative using your own logic.

Comment #101979

Posted by Anton Mates on May 23, 2006 8:15 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

I’m not suggesting that ‘chance’ is a theological term. If the cosmos is in fact a closed system of natural cause and effect, which is the only option for a true atheist or philosophical naturalist, then chance and necessity or their combination are the only tools available to explain anything we observe in nature.

Chance and necessity are the only tools available anyway. If visible choirs of angels came down to kick apart every single radioactive nucleus at its appointed hour, score one for “necessity”. If we were permanently unable to work out why said angels appeared at certain times and not at others, and all we could do was work out a probability distribution for their appearance, score one for “chance.” This classification works for fields and forces and gods and leprechauns alike.

If chance and necessity are the only tools available to nature, then those tools are also blind and purposeless. Foresight and purpose come from intelligence, the one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview.

Again you theologically load these terms. Every theistic scientist in the world–as well as whichever scientists happen to believe the universe is a simulation on a giant computer–is quite happy to believe that the laws of chance and necessity are here for a goal and a purpose. (OK, I should exempt whichever theistic scientists believe in Azathoth.) The law of gravity or the uncertainty principle need not be intelligent entities themselves to have been created by an intelligence. The “naturalistic worldview” simply says that you don’t get to label speculations about whether they were so created as “science” unless you can figure out a way to test them.

Comment #101985

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 23, 2006 9:30 PM (e)

And once again, Donald shouts “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!”

(yawn)

Comment #101986

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 23, 2006 9:33 PM (e)

Is there anyone still out there who hasn’t grasped the fact that Donald thinks science is atheistic? Anyone? Come on, raise your hand if you still don’t get it….

(silence)

Good job, Donald. Mission accomplished. (shakes hand)

Time to move on and enlighten someone else now.

See you next month.

Comment #102022

Posted by Henry J on May 23, 2006 11:08 PM (e)

Re “Is there anyone still out there who hasn’t grasped the fact that Donald thinks science is atheistic?”

Hmmm. Let’s analyze that. First, science is in essence a study of reality. Second, if studying reality is atheistic, then reality is atheistic. Therefore, anyone claiming science to be athiestic is proclaiming that atheism is reality. Though that’s probably not what they thought they were saying…

Henry

Comment #102093

Posted by Donald M on May 24, 2006 8:46 AM (e)

Sir Toe-Jam:

Yikes. anybody care to point out the multiple flaws in that little piece of “logic”?

the way you come to conclusions never ceases to amaze.

you know, Ducky, you only need to demonstrate your utter inability to expound a logical argument once a month.

Your continuing demonstration here is really just overkill.

do you really think that B follows from A in this statement???

Perhaps it would help matters if you read the entire post instead of only one sentence. My statement is the logical conclusion of the quote from Monod. If you think otherwise, then by all means expound upon what you think the logical conclusion of Monod’s statement ought to be.
I don’t see that it is any different than what I wrote. I challenge you to refute Monod with an actual argument instead of a stream of ad hominem statements or straw man misrepresentations of what was actually said like you do here.

Comment #102130

Posted by AC on May 24, 2006 3:00 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

Foresight and purpose come from intelligence, the one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview.

How does “the naturalistic worldview” deny intelligence? Are humans not intelligent? Do we not possess the capacity of foresight and the ability to define purpose? Isn’t the “one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview” simply that a supernatural intelligence (i.e. god) has anything to do with it?

But what no one can say, including Princehouse, is that we know scientifically that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect.

We conclude scientifically that “nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect” due to overwhelming evidence to that effect and no evidence to the contrary. If you just have to add a note saying “but it might be God!”, post it in your mind rather than sticking it in a textbook.

By the way, I find Monod’s “His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.” to be a wonderful statement of freedom.

Comment #102156

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 24, 2006 6:12 PM (e)

Yes, yes, yes, Donald — science doesn’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, and you don’t like that. Right. We got it. Really. We heard you the first hundred times.

Of course, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medical practice or the rules of basketball also don’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, do they.

If it makes you feel any better, Donald, none of them pay any attention to MY religious opinions either. Of course, I don’t throw tantrums over it, like you do. (shrug)

Comment #104054

Posted by Janelle on June 6, 2006 10:46 AM (e)

I think that we should save the pandas for a good cause. i am a middle school student, but i have been researching on pandas. what we have been doing to them is why they are endangered becoming enstinc. i cant really spell, but i am doing a panda report and we need to save the pandas!

Comment #104786

Posted by bdsm fem dom on June 9, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

i am happy mostly - though terribly sick at times - the medicine is not a perfect fix - i think some weed would help but caant find any - Kant find any…