Guest Contributor posted Entry 3074 on April 16, 2007 11:28 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3064

by Douglas L. Theobald

As many of you undoubtedly know, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is the Discovery Institute’s latest garrulous creationist mouthpiece. In a recent blog entry responding to Michael Lemonick of Time Magazine, Egnor claims that the 19th century scientists Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell used “the inference to design” to study electricity:

“Let’s ask: what role did the inference to design play for scientists who gave us electricity? … The two scientific pioneers of classical electromagnetism, Faraday and Maxwell, were particularly devout Christians who inferred design everywhere in nature. They believed that God designed everything — including electricity. Their approach to science was pure design inference, undiluted by atheism or materialism…. They worked entirely from the design inference.”

Faraday and Maxwell were Christians who did indeed see design in nature. However, Egnor has it backwards.

Unlike modern “intelligent design theorists” at the Discovery Institute, Faraday and Maxwell did not concoct supernatural explanations for the phenomena they studied. Rather, they formulated naturalistic, testable scientific theories to explain electricity and magnetism. Similarly, the prominent evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and statistician Sir Ronald Fisher also was a devout Christian who saw design in the universe — for example, here is the intro to a sermon he delivered (one of several) at Caius chapel at Cambridge:

“A man of science is engaged professionally on a particular sort of task. This is by such means as are available, particularly by observation and experiment, to acquire a better understanding of the world in which we find ourselves. Stated simply in this way, such a profession would seem by no means incompatible with religious beliefs, such as that this world is the outcome of the creative activity of a personal God, or that the Creator has an affection for his creatures, or, more specifically, that a historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, exhibited and taught the perfect way of life, which God desires human beings to endeavour to follow in a spirit of gratitude and confidence. These are simple tenets, basic, so far as I can understand, to life as a Christian. They are certainly not incompatible with a life devoted to a better understanding of some aspect or other of the Creation of which we form a part. In my own case, it is the study of the mode of inheritance of the heritable characteristics of animals, plants and men which takes up my professional time. In itself it is no more an irreligious activity than fishing, or making tents.”

The evolutionist and Christian theist Fisher, like Faraday and Maxwell, developed naturalistic theories to explain natural phenomena. Egnor and the other creationists at the Discovery Institute would do well to emulate their examples.

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Comment #170346

Posted by Bob O'H on April 16, 2007 11:54 PM (e)

Oooh, those evil, evolutionist, tent-makers.

We should sleep under the stars, as the Unnamed Designer intended! Teach the Controversy!

Bob

Comment #170347

Posted by autumn on April 16, 2007 11:59 PM (e)

Except that god ordered us to fish (albeit for men, cruising, anyone) and make tents, i.e., the tabernacle. Since god and his kids seem to be absoloutly silent as regards biology and physics (at least in ways that aren’t laughably ignorant), it seems possible that honest inquiry may be, in fact, more irreligious than both of the aforementioned hobbies.

Comment #170350

Posted by PvM on April 17, 2007 12:12 AM (e)

Remember that according to ID ‘giant’ Dembski, ID is not in the business of pathetic details (aka hypotheses)

Dembski wrote:

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”

Maxwell would have shuddered at this level of appeal to ignorance.

Comment #170357

Posted by Archetype of Sagacity on April 17, 2007 1:21 AM (e)

A lot of posts have been about Egnor lately. Egnor this, Egnor that… methinks the Panda’s Thumb crew is a bit jealous.

To think that you’ve spent years discrediting the IDists and formulating logically and scientifically sound arguments to refute what has been spewed from their mouths when suddenly, out of nowhere, this n00b comes along and in such a short period of time manages to do a better job than you ever could and have ever done…

For the sake of your health I think it would be wise to just admit that he is better at refuting ID than you have ever been and will ever be, and move on.

Comment #170367

Posted by raven on April 17, 2007 1:50 AM (e)

Faraday and Maxwell, were particularly devout Christians who inferred design everywhere in nature. They believed that God designed everything — including electricity. Their approach to science was pure design inference, undiluted by atheism or materialism…. They worked entirely from the design inference.”

This is just getting plain silly and stupid. How many great scientists of the last 400 years were atheists, hindus, moslems, buddhists, agnostics, jews, etc.? Who knows, who cares. Religious affiliation and scientific progress are obvious independent variables. Unless you are Galileo who almost got burnt at the stake for thinking the earth went around the sun.

Comment #170375

Posted by Troff on April 17, 2007 3:00 AM (e)

A few nights ago, I put myself mentally into the place of an American citizen requiring some kind of corrective neurosurgery. I imagined my now-seemingly-usual routine of waking up and imbibing caffeine whilst reading my list of various morning websites. I then imagine returning to my hypothetical hospital bed, then being greeted by the surgeon assigned to my procedure…. I imaging reading the name “Egnor” on the name tag…. I haven’t yet managed to imagine successfully what my reaction would be. Something like dragging myself out of bed afterwards to see the hospital administrator and begging him, on my knees, to reassign a different surgeon…. I don’t say this to be specifically mean. Just a little mental role-playing. Kinda like what I wonder what would happen if I ever got to meet Dembski face-to-face.

Then I consider myself extremely lucky (legally, at least) that they’re not sufficiently interested and I’m not sufficiently cashed up to make the antipodean crossing.

Comment #170377

Posted by Troff on April 17, 2007 3:07 AM (e)

(… I seem to be making a habit of double-posting lately, sorry…)

A thought struck me: all this Egnor, the DI, Behe, SMU conference nonsense… why not host a big, cross-campus, inter-state travelling science show? Something with a name hopefully not so legally risky, but as inflammatory as “D.I. Lie”?

Put a spin on its publicity along the lines “Why are the DI lying to you? HOW are the DI lying to you? And would you like to see how we KNOW the DI are lying to you?”

… I mean, the publicity would take care of itself! How many fundies would come screaming out of the woodwork to ban the place? How many rebellious and/or otherwise curious kids and teenagers be wondering why their parents were screaming so loudly about this utter sinfulness?

I swear I’m not (just) trying to be smartassy… could this not be, in any way whatsoever, an even vaguely workable concept?

Comment #170382

Posted by Infidel Michael on April 17, 2007 4:01 AM (e)

Egnor confuses “description” with “design”. Yes, design means description, but description doesn’t automatically mean design.
Design is a description which precedes the existence of the system. If you describe an existing system, you cannot infer the existence of this description prior to the system. Who says that he sees a design, he only sees a description and assumes that somebody else had the same description in his mind before. But this is an additional assumption, not an inference.

Comment #170390

Posted by Myk on April 17, 2007 5:04 AM (e)

This is entertaining because it’s precisely what Orac spuriously suggested in his rebuttal of Egnor’s earlier claim that Watson and Crick were using a design inference when they ‘reverse engineered’ DNA:

“In fact, if you take Dr. Egnor’s apparent view to its logical conclusion, the whole of science is nothing more than the “reverse engineering” of all of nature, and all scientists, whether they know it or not, whether they admit it or not, must implicitly be using the “design inference,” even if they delude themselves into saying that they are not–and that goes double for those Darwinists!”

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/04/dr_egn…

Comment #170425

Posted by hoary puccoon on April 17, 2007 8:23 AM (e)

Egnor has now taken over every regularity in nature and used it as evidence of God. That would actually be fine with me, because “God” would then give exactly the same predictions as “No God,” and scientists could ignore the whole question and get back to doing experiments.
The trouble is that the IDists want it both ways. Egnor is essentially saying, “God has designed a regular universe. Glory be to God. Except, sometimes He wants to blow off all those regularities and stick a flagellum on a bacterium, just to see it roll around on its little wheels. And sometimes He wants to torment people by putting tumors in their brains (sort of like shriveling ants with a magnifying glass.) And sometimes He gets really POed and hurls lightning bolts out of a clear, blue sky. In fact, you never know what the #@%*$ He’s going to do. So hang it up all you scientists, and go back to making tents.
Oh, and praise the Lord thy God. (Hard to do, if you’re the one with the tumor.)

Comment #170428

Posted by David Stanton on April 17, 2007 8:38 AM (e)

Unfortunately for Egonr, ligntning is the perfect example of an area where supernatural explanations were tried and failed and natural explanations were used successfully. You can see design all you want, but when it comes down to it only natural explanations really get you anywhere.

By the way, a world class neurosurgeon really should’t argue that brain tumors are beneficial, he could talk himself right out of a job.

Comment #170449

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 17, 2007 10:07 AM (e)

I would think that when the DI or Egnor come up with results that anybody, Xian or non-Xian, can understand as correct because of the evidence, that they’d then have sufficient cause to invoke the names of Maxwell and Faraday.

Indeed, Faraday and Maxwell (presumably) did want to find out about God through “His creation”, which is why they sweated the details, produced predictions which were borne out, and in a word, did science instead of trying to redefine apologetics as science. If there is a Jesus up in heaven watching His followers, He no doubt is proud of Faraday and Maxwell, while being more than a little disappointed at the legal and intellectual misrepresentations of the DI (CSC) bunch.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #170464

Posted by Frank J on April 17, 2007 11:11 AM (e)

hoary puccoon wrote:

The trouble is that the IDists want it both ways.

Exactly. But that trouble will continue as long as critics keep downplaying that key feature of the scam in favor of pretending to know what the scam artists believe or don’t understand.

Comment #170474

Posted by hoary puccoon on April 17, 2007 12:31 PM (e)

There seems to be only one testable prediction that ID makes clearly and consistently; that standard evolutionary theory will fail. Sometimes they even change it, daringly, to standard evolutionary theory has failed. Unfortunately for the IDists, not only has natural selection turned out to be one of the most robust and fertile hypotheses in the history of science, but the reduced cost of studying entire genomes seems to be ushering in a golden age for standard evolutionary theory. If the IDists were real scientists, they would admit their own hypothesis failed, and move on. Things work slightly differently in the world of con artists and scams….

Comment #170692

Posted by Davmos on April 18, 2007 3:14 PM (e)

Your comments completely misrepresent Egnor’s position. The debate is- can an intelligent design perspective lead to scientific advance. Egnor was responding to a critic who claimed such a perspective would lead to attributing lightning to Thor. Egnor pointed out that the scientists who deciphered the nature of electricity, magnetism and lightning did so by approaching the subject from a design perspective. The common attack on intelligent design usually claims it is not scientific and leads nowhere. Since scientific advances usually assume a logic and a purpose, most scientific advances occur from a design position. Science is based on a system of laws. It owes its existence to an assumption of order and law that owes its own existence to a faith by early researchers that there were laws to be uncovered.

Comment #170705

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on April 18, 2007 4:22 PM (e)

Except it wasn’t “faith.”

It was informed observation.

Comment #170748

Posted by raven on April 18, 2007 8:10 PM (e)

Science is based on a system of laws. It owes its existence to an assumption of order and law that owes its own existence to a faith by early researchers that there were laws to be uncovered.

Another simple logical flaw. We all know that the universe has an underlying order. It is intuitive to even nonscientists. The sun rises each day in the east. Apples alway fall down from the tree. And so on.

This has been empirically verified by scientists. Surprisingly enough our everyday experience is only a rough approximation. Light has a speed. Energy and mass are equivalent, E=mc2. Gravity bends light. Quantum mechanics allows spooky action at a distance by entanglement. Protons are made up of gluons and quarks. Most of the universe is dark matter and dark energy whatever those are. And so on.

This was worked out and is being worked on by scientists of all faiths, agnostics, and atheists. Whether you believe in a designer, the flying spaghetti monster, or nothing is immaterial and an irrelevancy. All that matters is that one assumes that the universe has an underlying order and it stays the same from day to day and place to place. No matter what your starting assumption is, as scientists one still has to formulate hypothesis, test them, collect and analyze data, the scientific method.

If one wants to assume that the existence of the universe is proof of god, fine. Many people do. Many don’t. Science itself is neutral on the topic.

Egnor is being trivial here. Some scientists assume a supernatural creator and do good science. Some assume nothing and do good science as well. Empirically it doesn’t make a bit of difference.

Comment #170769

Posted by Douglas Theobald on April 18, 2007 9:13 PM (e)

Davmos wrote:

Your comments completely misrepresent Egnor’s position. The debate is- can an intelligent design perspective lead to scientific advance. Egnor was responding to a critic who claimed such a perspective would lead to attributing lightning to Thor…. The common attack on intelligent design usually claims it is not scientific and leads nowhere. Since scientific advances usually assume a logic and a purpose, most scientific advances occur from a design position.

No, I’m not misrepresenting Egnor. You are confusing (1) modern “intelligent design” tenets with (2) the belief in a Rationally created universe. The “Intelligent Design” of Dembski, Behe, Wells, Nelson, Johnson, and Egnor does not simply hold that the universe was created – that is a belief common to most theists and many scientists, including evolutionary biologists (“Darwinists”) like RA Fisher, George Price, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Keith Miller, Simon Conway Morris, and myself. Modern ID-ists, on the other hand, are distinguished by concocting supernatural causes for things like flagella and blood clotting and then claiming that these supernatural causes are scientific. Lemonick was exactly right: using ID logic, Maxwell and Faraday would have dreamt up supernatural stories to explain electricity (Zeus or Thor), rather than positing natural theories as they did. Instead of following their lead, Behe “poofs” flagella into existence. As I explained, a Fisher, not a Behe, is the proper analogy to a Maxwell.

Comment #170775

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 18, 2007 9:26 PM (e)

There seems to be only one testable prediction that ID makes clearly and consistently; that standard evolutionary theory will fail

the waterloo of the ToE has been a creobot mantra for over 80 years.

they simply aren’t good at making predictions, scientific or otherwise.

Comment #170811

Posted by Anonymous on April 19, 2007 12:12 AM (e)

What Faraday and Maxwell gave us were the principles of electromagnetic induction, which is the production of a voltage in either (1) a conductor moving through a stationary magnetic field, as in a generator, or (2) a stationary conductor in a changing magnetic field, as in an AC transformer or an ignition coil. Lightning is generated by a completely different mechanism. The principles of electromagnetic induction cannot be discovered by reasoning and they are based on observed events. Electromagnetic induction is thus a bad comparison to evolution theory, which is based on reasoning about evidence of unobserved past events.

Comment #170816

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 12:49 AM (e)

Electromagnetic induction is thus a bad comparison to evolution theory, which is based on reasoning about evidence of unobserved past events.

historical analysis is only one part of evolutionary theory.

the vast majority of published papers have covered observations from actual experiment.

Comment #170970

Posted by Blake Stacey on April 19, 2007 3:17 PM (e)

I wrote my own take-down of this a few days ago:

http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=38

Comment #171027

Posted by Davmos on April 19, 2007 8:09 PM (e)

So many of the attacks om Intelligent design misrepresent it that you should be ashamed. ID only claims that many feature of life can best be explained by intelligence. It is not a new position. It is only new because the only other explanation for these features is Darwin’s random variations and mutations shaped by natural selection. This has been unable to explain the purposefulness of life and many features only recently uncovered. It has failed over and over. Most scientists throughout history have approached their work by assuming a designer. Only desperate Darwinists have fought this. Darwin failed when artificial selection by breeders could not breed new organs, It failed when experiments radiating fruit flies could not achieve new organs. It failed when 150 years of fossil hunting could not bridge the gaps between crustaceans and arthropods. It failed when the new forms that appeared 530 million years ago had no reasonable links to the prior life. It especially failed when DNA was found to be a true code of several billion units. It failed when many features of life were found that could not arise by Darwin’s mechanism.

Comment #171043

Posted by MPW on April 19, 2007 9:36 PM (e)

>>”Egnor pointed out that the scientists who deciphered the nature of electricity, magnetism and lightning did so by approaching the subject from a design perspective.”

Please explain how you think Faraday and Maxwell’s experiments would have differed if they had done what you claim they didn’t, and approached their investigations from a naturalistic angle.

It seems to me, from what I know of the two gentlemen, that - whatever they believed about the Christian God, and whatever conclusions they thought they could draw about him from the results of their work - they arrived at those results using exactly the same methods any halfway decent atheist scientist would have used. Or an agnostic scientist, Jewish, Buddhist, Zoroastrian… Where am I wrong here?

Comment #171045

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 9:52 PM (e)

ID only claims that many feature of life can best be explained by intelligence.

wrong.

rephrased more correctly:

ID claims that many features of life can ONLY be explained by intelligence.

why do i stress the difference?

because if observed variation could BEST be explained by intelligence, italready would have been and we would have no debate, as evolutionary theory would have long ago tested and accepted the idea that intelligence is the most plausible mechanism.

but that ain’t so now, is it?

indeed, ID has never even produced the slightest beginnings of an actual, testable hypothesis.

hence, no support to lend weight to intelligence as an agent.

hence, rather than “best explanation”, they MUST insist it be the ONLY explanation.

because, dear boy, it ain’t science, it’s religion.

Comment #171046

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 9:56 PM (e)

Where am I wrong here?

you’re not, which is exactly why the two ended up producing published results, while ID twitters away in the minds of the cognitive dissonant, while producing absolutely bupkuss.

Comment #171054

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on April 19, 2007 10:57 PM (e)

To follow up on Sir Toejam’s comment on Davmos’ comments:

Davmos said:

It failed when 150 years of fossil hunting could not bridge the gaps between crustaceans and arthropods.

For starters, crustaceans are arthropods. No need to look at fossils at all. Better check your “facts”.

It failed when the new forms that appeared 530 million years ago had no reasonable links to the prior life.

This has been repeatedly shown to be false by many researchers both in the technical and popular press. For starters, see Talk Origins’s Index on this one:
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC300.html…

It failed when many features of life were found that could not arise by Darwin’s mechanism.

Name one.

I’m sure that the biologists in Panda’s Thumb will be able to comment on that aspect of Davmos’ comments. Just more evidence that IDiots are idiots.

Comment #171058

Posted by Carol Clouser on April 19, 2007 11:57 PM (e)

I realize that Egnor has made some stupid comments recently and Panda’s Thumb justifiably took him to task for those claims. But this thread is totally uncalled for. And many of the commenters here either miss the point of his latest remarks or are willfully and dishonestly ignoring that point.

His point is that folks like Maxwell and Faraday (and I might add many others, such as Newton) were motivated by their beliefs about God, design and order, to dedicate their lives to investigating nature, thereby enabling themselves and the rest of us to see more profound manifestations of those views in the behavior of nature. Certainly Faraday (as a Sandamanian) and Newton (as a Deist) have explicitly indicated in their own words that this is indeed the case. (I am not sure about Maxwell.)

In this regard, Egnor is absolutely correct. As I argued in another thread, one can make a mighty case for the proposition that historically monotheism served as a powerful impetus for engaging in scientific work. (Today things have evolved differently and this is no longer the case.)

The fact that their efforts were productive did not flow from their beliefs but did flow from their dedication which, in turn, did flow from their beliefs. ID advocates today may share those beliefs but their efforts have as of yet not been productive. There are good reasons for this, but they do not detract from the correctness of Egnor’s comments discussed here.

Comment #171059

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2007 12:02 AM (e)

The fact that their efforts were productive did not flow from their beliefs

and that, miss clouserbot, is EXACTLY the point of this thread.

Comment #171065

Posted by raven on April 20, 2007 1:14 AM (e)

Quite a collection of false but incoherent in an amusing fashion statements Davmos has there.

Davmos

Darwin failed when artificial selection by breeders could not breed new organs,

I missed that. What breeders with which organisms tried to breed what organs? We wouldn’t expect that to be to successful on timescales of less than millions of years. Evolution proceeds by stepwise microevolutionary changes that add up over time to macroevolutionary changes. Artificial selection by breeders using Darwinian principles has allowed us to feed 6.4 billion people. The green revolutions are highly successful and have likely prevented mass starvation.

It failed when experiments radiating fruit flies could not achieve new organs.

Missed that too. Who tried to achieve new organs in fruit flies by irradiation and when? Same problem as above. Radiation is a known mutagen and there are large collections of mutations in fruit flies that have been used to discover genetics, development, behavior and so on. A quite successful endeavor.

It failed when 150 years of fossil hunting could not bridge the gaps between crustaceans and arthropods.

How? Crustaceans are arthropods.

It failed when the new forms that appeared 530 million years ago had no reasonable links to the prior life.

Got that wrong too. There are links to precambrian faunas. More importantly, DNA phylogenetic analysis confirms that we are all related by common descent.

especially failed when DNA was found to be a true code of several billion units.

What does that have to do with evolution? How does it falsify. Actually DNA is a 64 unit triplet code. Length varies with organism from a few kilobases to 3 billion in humans. Actually Darwin’s theory was improved and confirmed by the discoveries of Mendel and the newer molecular biology.

It failed when many features of life were found that could not arise by Darwin’s mechanism.

The old argument from ignorance again. “I can’t figure out how my foot evolved so god exists.” This is a logical fallacy.

Doesn’t look like Darwin failed at all. In fact scientifically and practically it looks like understanding evolution has been an incredible success. You, however, have failed to comprehend anything you claimed.

Now about ID. What have they succeeded at? As of yet, they have been unable to even prove that a supernatural designer(s) exists. Sort of a prerequisite if one is going to talk about designers. A theory with a giant hole in the middle.

In the unlikely event that they manage to overthrow science as they claim in their manifesto, The Wedge, they just might succeed in ushering in a new dark age.

Comment #171095

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on April 20, 2007 7:33 AM (e)

They can’t have it both ways. A universe running on rules? Proof of God. The rules appear to be broken? Proof of God.

What, one is forced to ask, would be evidence that didn’t point to God? By that thinking, there is not and can not be any.

Therefore, ID is faith. Which in a liberal democracy is fine. Nobody’s trying to outlaw any class of belief.

Promoting it as science, though, and attempting to change the way science is taught on that claim, is fraud, which is both illegal and against the moral code of many religions - including that held by the vast majority of IDers.

It’s also, as has been shown, against the First Amendment in the US, a key constitutional component which exists to protect freedom of belief.

One defence would be that the nature of the I in ID is not yet known, and should no more be assumed to be God than anything else. Concomitent with that, though, would be an effort to ascertain that nature through scientific thought and work. To the best of my knowledge, no ID theory or thinking exists on that - which would make ID unique as a science - and in fact ID holds as dogma that such nature cannot be known.

This is all the oldest of hat. So when will ID fans address it?

R

Comment #171129

Posted by David Stanton on April 20, 2007 1:14 PM (e)

Davmos,

Did “Darwin fail” when molecular phylogenetics was used to discover the basic structure of the tree of life with three major domains? Did “Darwin fail” when crustaceans were discovered to contain exactly the same mitochondrial gene order as insects? Did “Darwin fail” when plausible molecular mechanisms for changes in hox gene regulation were discovered that enabled the illucidation of pathways for changes in development that could generate the diversity we see today in arthropods? Did “Darwin fail” when exactly the same genetic mistakes were found in exactly the same genes in whales and their terrestrial ancestors? DId “Darwin fail” when hundreds of intermediate forms were discovered in the fossil record just as Darwin predicted?

Sorry man. Descent with modification has been one of the most successful guiding principles in the history of science. That is why there are so many new fields of study that rely on it. That is why there are so many technical journals devoted to the topic. How many are journals are there for ID? How long since they have published their own journals? Now just who is it that has failed?

Comment #171130

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2007 1:30 PM (e)

They can’t have it both ways. A universe running on rules? Proof of God. The rules appear to be broken? Proof of God.

what’s really funny is when you see the IDiots project this very issue that runs rampant throughout their presentations, and say that evolutionary biologist are the ones guilty of this.

projection: biggest hammer in the creationist toolbox.

Comment #171143

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 20, 2007 2:22 PM (e)

Science is based on a system of laws. It owes its existence to an assumption of order and law that owes its own existence to a faith by early researchers that there were laws to be uncovered.

Another simple logical flaw. We all know that the universe has an underlying order. It is intuitive to even nonscientists. The sun rises each day in the east. Apples alway fall down from the tree. And so on.

Sorry, no. To do science you have to take on faith that an experiment carried out in New York yesterday will produce the exact same result when carried out in Prague tomorrow (given that location and time was controlled for, etc.).

And something being intuitive has nothing to do with whether or not it’s logical or not.

If you think otherwise, kindly prove to me that
“Every time we performed experiment E, we obtained result r. Therefore, when we perform E tomorrow, we’ll again obtain r”
without assuming it.

Comment #171145

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 20, 2007 2:32 PM (e)

Sorry; that last bit should’be been:

If you think that the following is not taken on faith, kindly prove to me otherwise, without assuming it:
“Every time we performed experiment E, we obtained result r. Therefore, when we perform E tomorrow, we’ll again obtain r”

Comment #171147

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2007 2:39 PM (e)

To do science you have to take on faith that an experiment carried out in New York yesterday will produce the exact same result when carried out in Prague tomorrow (given that location and time was controlled for, etc.).

I have to correct you here. the whole point of making sure an experiment is repeatable is so we DON’T have to take on faith that an experiment conducted yesterday in one place will produce similar results to one in another place tommorrow.

we can test it.

no faith involved whatsoever. experience, observation, and statistical probability.

that’s it.

no faith.

Comment #171149

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2007 2:41 PM (e)

ahh, i wrote that at the same time you were writing your addendum.

Comment #171152

Posted by CJO on April 20, 2007 2:51 PM (e)

150 years of fossil hunting could not bridge the gaps between crustaceans and arthropods.

Ah, good stuff. The kind that keeps you coming back for more.

Comment #171153

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2007 3:09 PM (e)

Ah, good stuff. The kind that keeps you coming back for more.

yes, it is very addicting, isn’t it?

the funny thing is, when read literally, the statement is essentially accurate.

it wouldn’t matter how much time you spent hunting for fossil gaps that aren’t gaps.

I could hunt for an equal number of years looking for the “bridge” between cetaceans and mammals, or cephalopods and molluscs.

ah, grand ignorance of the basics of biology. always good for a laugh.

these guys never fail to shoot themselves in the head; I’m constantly reminded of the Monty Python “Twit of the Year” competition every time they post.

Comment #171158

Posted by David B. Benson on April 20, 2007 4:07 PM (e)

Sir TJ — It is not clear that David Hume would have agreed with you…

Comment #171170

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 20, 2007 5:14 PM (e)

Sir TJ — It is not clear that David Hume would have agreed with you…

He took it back once I clarified.

I must confess that I am fond of this little “gotcha” from Mr. Hume.

Comment #171171

Posted by David B. Benson on April 20, 2007 5:16 PM (e)

Er, comment #171147, I meant.

Comment #171188

Posted by Gerard Harbison on April 20, 2007 6:27 PM (e)

GuyeFaux wrote:

If you think that the following is not taken on faith, kindly prove to me otherwise, without assuming it:
“Every time we performed experiment E, we obtained result r. Therefore, when we perform E tomorrow, we’ll again obtain r”

It’s not taken on faith, and it’s not proven. It’s just a good way to bet. If you disagree, we should arrange to play poker some time.

Comment #171191

Posted by David B. Benson on April 20, 2007 7:05 PM (e)

Gerald Harbison — Yes, that is the Bayesian point of view. I suspect that David Hume would counter with pointing out that you are then taking Bayesian reasoning on faith…

Comment #171339

Posted by Henry J on April 21, 2007 10:25 PM (e)

Re “It failed when the new forms that appeared 530 million years ago had no reasonable links to the prior life.”

May I point out that among the oldest known fossils, there pretty much have to be some for which possible predecessors haven’t been found? At the very least, the oldest known fossils won’t have known predecessors.

Henry

Comment #172050

Posted by on April 25, 2007 8:49 PM (e)

noncommercial,kited quotient induce outwit:vertebrate palmed

Comment #172155

Posted by Henry J on April 26, 2007 10:11 AM (e)

Re Comment #172050

Huh?

Comment #175436

Posted by billy on May 14, 2007 8:55 AM (e)

this web site is GAY