Creationism does NOT belong in science.

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Zero, Jun 24, 2002.

  1. Chiasma Registered Member

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    Warren, lets see if I get this right. You are trying to tell me that the world was created by some sort of supernatural intellegent designer. Everything on the world works and evolvs according to that design. well, maybe not evolve, I'm not sure how you stand on that.

    If I am way off base let me know. I'm a little slow.

    By thinking that if some intelligent person designed it, that we can predict future avenues of research.

    I can buy that............, but again, it's not science. Why? It can not be tested. You can not test wheather any of that is true. I agree that teleological thinking can help guide science. But, in all honesty, so can common sense.

    I can see a great difference between science and teleology. Unfortuantly, to me, it falls into the same realm of creationism. In that it is not a testable notion. It is something that can not be proven or disproven. Intersting none the less.
     
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  3. firdroirich A friend of The Friends Registered Senior Member

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    Equally science does not belong in creation, all these years of quantam research hint towards all known laws collapsing at certain energy levels who is to say whats beyond them - at that point science requires a leap of faith.
     
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  5. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    Chiasma - Don't forget that the absence of teleology is just as impossible to test as the presence of it. In a strict technical sense science can have no view on teleology at all, and as far as I can tell the word can have no scientific meaning. (For the same reasons many scientists argue that it has no right to a view on consciousness or freewill). This is what makes some of the scientific arguments against it a bit paradoxical.

    However teleology is very difficult to dispense with entirely. If Dolly the sheep had lambs then one would have to allow at least a little teleology into evolutionary theory - that is IF one accepts that human beings cloned Dolly on purpose. However as science concludes that 'purpose' is an illusion and does not yet accept that science is done on purpose as opposed to being driven by physically deterministic causes then it appears that you must be right to say that it is illogical to think that ID belongs in science.

    Of course, as you rightly pointed out earlier, that doesn't tell us anything about whether ID exists or not.
     
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  7. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    Chiasma<< Warren, lets see if I get this right. You are trying to tell me that the world was created by some sort of supernatural intellegent designer. Everything on the world works and evolvs according to that design. well, maybe not evolve, I'm not sure how you stand on that. >>

    Warren<< I'm not saying that at all. First, the supernatural has nothing to do with my hypothesis. Second, I'm not telling you anything, I'm simply submitting a tentative proposal. >>

    Chiasma<< By thinking that if some intelligent person designed it, that we can predict future avenues of research.

    I can buy that............, but again, it's not science. Why? It can not be tested. >>

    Warren<< If thinking of life as intelligently designed can lead to future avenues of research and this research in turn can add to our knowledge of biotic reality then ID deserves the label of science every bit as much as current abiogenesis research. All we can ever expect from any historical science like origin of life research is a coherent, plausible, data-consistent narrative. A reconstruction of what might have happened, what could have happened, even what most likely happened, but not the known-with-absolute-certainty TRUE story of what actually happened. Looking back through the mists of several billion years is a real hard problem.

    Thus it is important to realize that we should expect nothing more from ID. That is, ID need only generate a coherent, plausible, data-consistent narrative that speculates about how things could have happened.

    Teleologists don't have to prove the non-teleologists wrong. Teleologists need only show that teleology does work to help us understand the biological world. And not only in the molecular/cellular sciences, but also with evolution itself. It doesn't have to disprove a non-teleological interpretation. It doesn't have to be needed. It only has to work. It only has to provide a pay-off. There is no need for a proof of ID. There is no need for a sensational ID break-through. What's more, there is no need to convince a single ID critic in existence today.

    Teleologists only have to demonstrate how productive a teleological approach can be. This, after all, is how non-teleologists have worked for a century. They have not come up with tests to rule out teleological causes. The inability to tell the difference between an organism that was designed to evolve, and an organism that evolved by accidental changes captured by selection, cuts both ways (if you think about it). Instead, non-teleologists have focused on the utility of the non-teleological approach, where at some point, a successful track record becomes an argument for validity. Teleologists need do no more.>>
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2003
  8. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    Wesmorris<< Well, it basically IS creationism there Warren, not necessarily in the biblical sense, but in the sense of adoption of the assumption of some "creator"... at least in, it is the "scientific" endeavor as to search for "design" in nature as you've mentioned. The PROBLEM with that entire premise.. WARREN, is that it's basically that same as attempting to logically prove or disprove the existence of the designer... it's impossible. If I create a splatter painting and present it to you without you knowing I created it.. prove to me that it was designed or wasn't designed. It's not possible... the only person that can take credit for the design is the person who designed it "yeah, I did it". Unless you can actually somehow commune with the designer, your quest for evidence of design is moot.>>

    The issue to me isn't about proving ID. It's about how to respond when confronted with something in nature that looks designed. It's logical for me to suspect that something that looks designed may in fact be designed. It's also logical for me to follow up my suspicion with an investigation (using the scientific method). Such an investigation has the potential to either strengthen or weaken my suspicion. In your example of a splatter painting, I have no good reason to suspect it was designed. However, life at its core isn't anything like a splatter painting. Physicist and science writer Paul Davies has come to understand the essence of life at its molecular level. In his book The Fifth Miracle he says:

    "Each cell is packed with tiny structures that might have come from an engineer's manual. Miniscule tweezers, scissors, pumps, motors, levers, valves, pipes, chains, and even vehicles abound. But of course the cell is more than just a bag of gadgets. The various components fit together to form a smoothly functioning whole, like an elaborate factory production line."

    The president of the National Academy of Sciences (Bruce Alberts) says:

    "The chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we scientists had ever considered.... the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines." He goes on to propose that biologists begin to learn from engineers to understand biology."

    Does any of this prove ID? No, but it does provide the basis for suspecting ID. Life is code dependent and machine dependent. ID is a known mechanism for producing codes and machines. There is no evidence that geochemistry spawns molecular machines or codes, therefore, I suspect life is carbon-based nanotechnology and therefore I suspect a teleological origin of life. And so far, no one has given me a good reason to think my suspicions are mistaken. The next step is to follow up these suspicions with an investigation using the scientific method.

    Now if you have any reason to think the scientific method can't be used to either strengthen or weaken a design inference I would like to hear it.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2003
  9. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    Wesmorris<< You can find all kinds of "scientific evidence" for "intelligent design" but design is evidence of will, and will cannot be scientifically verified.>>

    I disagree. Suppose some engineers go out to learn why a bridge fell. They begin with natural causes (e.g., metal fatigue), and exhaust those. In the course of their investigation, however, they discover certain patterns of evidence that lead them to think the bridge was sabotaged. It fell because someone intended it to fall. That's a real possibility and subject to empirical verification.

    Intelligent design theory is upheld by the same kind of data and analysis as any other theory to determine whether an event is caused by natural or intelligent causes; just as a detective relies on evidence to decide whether a death was natural or murder, and an insurance company relies on evidence to decide whether a fire is an accident or arson.
     
  10. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    Imagine the following scenario. In the future, space travelers land on a sterile planet to colonize it. Upon mapping the planet, they find a strange conglomeration of parts which is quite different from the natural surroundings. Upon analysis, it is determined that this conglomeration is actually a machine that does something. From here, our colonists infer the machine as a product of an unknown alien intelligence. But some colonists reject this teleological reasoning. They pooh-pooh this claim and insist they need to determine how the planet's geology spawned this machine-like thing. So two camps emerge.

    The non-teleological camp sets out to figure out how geology spawned the machine. They are baffled, and the more they learn about the machine and the planet, the more baffled they become.

    The teleological camp decides to reverse engineer the machine. They try to figure out what makes it tick so they can copy basic design principles and employ the technology in other areas. The teleological camp makes tremendous progress as it builds on the design inference. After all, if the machine represents superior design, the colonists have much the learn from it.

    As we turn from scenario to reality, biology does indeed work by reverse engineering things to determine the internal logic of the system. Such insights are then used to develop biotechnology and eventually nanotechnology. Biology, with its reliance on teleological concepts and language pays tribute to ID each and every day. But it is not tribute paid with words, it is tribute paid with deeds. For example, in trying to explain feedback and homeostasis to new biology students, biologists do not draw from basic chemistry or physics. They draw from the manner in which furnaces and thermostats are designed to work.

    If biology is devoid of ID why is it that advances in our own understanding of our own designed artifacts actually
    sheds *real* light on biology (but not geology, astronomy,
    physics, or chemistry)? Why is it that the more we understand about design, the more we understand about life? Understanding how computers work really does help us understand cells. And if there is truth to the design inference behind life, I will predict that as our own designs improve by becoming smaller, more complex, and more sophisticated, our understanding of cellular/molecular
    processes will likewise improve. This simply won't be the case if life is the product of blind watchmaking.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2003
  11. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    The problem is that you're personifying the argument. In the scenario you describe, will is discernable. You can track people down and interrogate them. Who are you gonna ask about grass? "YOU THERE! STOP! Hey uhm... did you create this grass? NO? Are you SURE?... Uhm.. okay then.. er.. move along." How are you gonna find evidence to place someone at the scene of the design of your elbow Warren?
    It is worthy to search for signs of will where there is a chance of hunting down the willfull. Otherwise, you're spinning your wheels bro. Your detective has people to interrogate. Who do you suppose your biologist should ask?
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2003
  12. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Your "division of camps" is ridiculous. The search for causality if performed in earnest would not take your distinction into consideration.
    The "design inference" shouldn't have anything to do with anything. Functional potential does not depend on unknowable design intentions. Something works or it doesn't. It can be reverse-engineerd or it cannot. The term "teleology" has nothing to do with it. Your example is invalid and superflous because of this.
    "Design" only has importance in terms of function in this example. You're using the word in place of function. Function doesn't have anything to do with teleology.
    How does "reverse engineering" differ from "determining operational parameters"? I have a pencil. It makes marks when I press and drag it on things. I can determine the chemical composition of it... I can determine the method of manufacture. Does that tell me that is what the person who created it intended for me to do with it? Seems to me that you're trying to pretend that by determining the function of things, you're gaining insight into the intentions behind the designer... when you don't even know if it was designed. The element of "design" in this context is completely superfluous to the investigation of it's function, potential uses and any implications regarding other technologies.
    Show evidence of this shit before you go talking it. If I were a biologist I'd be insulted by your implications. I think you are so into the concept of teleology that you see it everywhere, like seeing jesus in my macaroni.
    Your understanding of the sciences is obviously somewhat limited Warren, as furnaces and thermostats are devices that were designed using knowledge gained from chemistry and physics. Technically, all science can be viewed as one as it is all an attempt to understand (qualify and quantify) the systems presented by the universe.
    Funny, you really crush your entire argument with your own question. Is that ironic? I get confused. Regardless, it's because my brother, in that case you can in a sense actually commune with the designer. Moreso.. you gain the insight that he shows you in the form of an equation that holds true for more that the specific design in hand. Please, re-read this slowly if you're not following me. It's a little tricky. Oh, and it WOULD shine "light" on geology, astronomy, physics or chemistry if the equation the designer (a human, who can be interogated) gave you had anything to do with any of those topics.
     
  13. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    Wesmorris: "It is worthy to search for signs of will where there is a chance of hunting down the willfull. Otherwise, you're spinning your wheels bro. Your detective has people to interrogate. Who do your suppose your biologist should ask?"


    I disagree. In determining why a bridge fell, researching why someone died or investigating the cause of a fire it's possible to infer the action of an intelligent agent without ever finding them. It's not at all necessary to interview the designer in order to infer design. If we could interview the designer of life we wouldn't need to infer ID we would essentially have proof of ID. ID and blind watchmaking are both based on inferences not proof. ID critics don't seem to understand that. That is why I often ask them what evidence would cause them to merely suspect intelligent design. When you examine their responses it becomes obvious they will accept nothing less than absolute proof. But if we had proof of ID there would be no need to infer it! The ID critics are incapable of inferring design. On the other hand, they have no trouble inferring blind watchmaking from very meager evidence. Why the double standard?
     
  14. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Certainly.. because it is ASSUMED THAT SOMEONE DID IT. There is evidence that this kind of thing has happened before. It was a person who did it. I might not know WHO, but I know it's very possible that a person did something like this. How hard is that to understand? No one is arguing that people don't willfully do stuff.
    You use the word "design" in a dual mode. There is the design "the plan for making" and then there is the design "the function of the thing". You are confused. 'Design' is not function. Design is intent.
    *giggle* Hehe, okay uhm.. so you think it can be "proved" any other way? I can infer that my ass looks like that cloud Warren, but uh.. you have yet to state why it is relavent.
    I don't understand your need to infer that which cannot be inferred, no. If I carve a picture of my daughter into your forehead, can you tell me why I did it? Fact is you've got a picture of my daughter on your forehead. Is my intent going to change it? DESIGN = WILL.. ID proponents don't seem to understand that.

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    I'm right Warren, you should read and read and read this until you understand that.
    That's because it is a superfluous question. Of course I want "proof" that your bullshit reasoning is true before I accept it. Pardon me for being reasonable. You might reconsider if you are being as such.
    Excellent point Warren. You should think about that.
    Hehe.. so are the proponents.. though they'd like to think otherwise for the same emotional reasons that creationists hang onto their bullshit.
    I've never EVER "blind watchmaked". Not once.

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    Warren, bro.. I have no idea what if there was, or what it would be regarding the intention of pretty much anything in nature. I can only say "hey, looks like nature led to that maybe? *shrug*", with any degree of confidence. EDIT (I should add though, that you CAN establish realationships somewhat confidently within nature, regardless of the design. For instance F=MA is a very handy approximation of the relationship between what humans have labelled force, mass and acceleration) Fact is, you need answers that simply don't exist.. so you make shit up or worse, buy into shit that somebody else made up. It's okay I guess.. people gotta stay sane.. but I guess I have to ask? How sane is that really?
    You really should focus on that for a while too. WHY? Do you realize it only exists in your mind?
     
  15. Chiasma Registered Member

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    Yes you are. Intelligent design. Intelligence is a property of something. Property of a person, and computer, etc.. Whos intelligence designed all of this? Not mine, not you, not anything I know. So you are implying supernatural. It could be a non-supernatural intelligent design I guess. Again, can it be tested that any intelligence was put into any design that you see in nature. No you can't, so thus it is not considered a science. Philosophy, yes.

    wrong again. Any sort of thinking can lead to future avenues of research. What can guid research (philosophically) is not at issue. What is at issue (I think) is can itelligent designed be a science or thought in a science classroom. No. It does not fit the very deffinition of science. At least not the deffinition that actual scientist follow. It is not testable. You can have all sorts of hypothesis, but any proper hypothesis test only one variable at a time. By stating intelligent design implies that something designed all things. First of all, you have no idea how that separate "thing" designed anything. Second, intelligent design can not be in any proper hypothesis because it has not been proven, or even tested so that appropiate data has been established that clearly, conclusively implicates ID over anything else.

    That is why any appropriate scientific theory on the origin of life is based on data collected from archeology, genetics, etc... ID is a phylosophical explanation that is not based on any conclusive data that seperates it out from everything else. There is a difference between the apperiance of intellecual design, and that any actual intelecual design took place.

    that is right. Hence why it should be considered a philosophy and not a science because all it does is speculate

    Yes, non-teleologist have to be proven wrong. That is the cruch of science. Most ideas can not and never will be "proven." All Ideas can be proven wrong (according to the promenent scientist that I know). Science is mostly based on what has been proven incorrect, not what has been proven. The problem with ID is that it can not be tested. That is also important in science


    Because they can't come up with a test, It is not testable. It is not science. when they can come up with a test, than it can be included in the sciences.

    Hence why scientist study evolution. Evolution can and has been tested, and has been shown to work. To tell the difference between an organism that was designed to evolve vs. an organism that evolved by accidental is impossible. Can not be tested. Hence it is not science.

    There has been a lot of explantions on the origin of life. Ex) aliens came here and planted the "seeds" of life. People lived on mars, the planet died, and they fled to earth, in which all reminiscent of knowledge of event was lost as was the technology. These all can explain origin of life. NONE OF IT IS SCIENCE. none of that is testable. As is creationism or intelligent design.

    People can if they chose to, use Intelligent design to guid them to their next research step. People have used christian values to do this as well. Most use plain old common sense. All of these are good and people can do what they want. But none of that is science. I can't stress that more than I have already.
     
  16. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    Chiasma<< To tell the difference between an organism that was designed to evolve vs. an organism that evolved by accidental is impossible. Can not be tested. Hence it is not science. >>

    Warren<< Wait a minute! This argument cuts both ways. If we have no reliable way to detect intelligent design, then everyone (including science) is blind to the existence of intelligent design. Science has no evidence against ID. Neither can it say that its hypotheses and theories about origins are true or even approximate truth. All it can say is "given we are blinded to the existence of ID, here's what we can come up with." Thus, the lack of any reliable way to distinguish design from non-design has serious implications for the non-teleological viewpoint - it means the whole non-teleological account cannot be tested against its null hypothesis and is thus a circular account. I do not think we can directly detect the existence of either a teleological or non-teleological cause from ancient history. The best we can do is to infer such a cause indirectly to determine how well those inferences make sense of the data we have. In my opinion, there is simply no need for a magic bullet test to distinguish design from non-design. Science itself has none, yet that has not stopped it from speculating and testing about non-teleological causes. >>


    quote:
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    Originally posted by Warren


    Thus it is important to realize that we should expect nothing more from ID. That is, ID need only generate a coherent, plausible, data-consistent narrative that speculates about how things could have happened.

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    Chiasma<< that is right. Hence why it should be considered a philosophy and not a science because all it does is speculate.>>


    Warren<< Gotcha! That quote is a paraphrase of a recent article in a science journal about what we can reasonably expect from current abiogenesis research. The author (a scientist) concludes that origin of life research need only generate a coherent, plausible, data-consistent narrative that speculates about how things could have happened. So I ask you: do you consider the current theory of non-teleological abiogenesis to be science? If so please demonstrate how it is testable.>>
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2003
  17. shutupandshave Registered Member

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    Bang!
    You've just explained the whole universe and it's short comings and flaws in one go.
    Maybe someone could only be bothered to program 3 dimensions and "time" into the computer.

    You're my new god.

    ALL HAIL!

    Seriously though, I think this theory holds as much weight as any religious arguement.

    Where's god been for the past 2000 years? Why...a frat party

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    He'll turn us off when he gets back.
     
  18. Warren Registered Senior Member

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    quote:
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    Originally posted by Warren

    That is why I often ask them what evidence would cause them to merely suspect intelligent design. When you examine their responses it becomes obvious they will accept nothing less than absolute proof.

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    Wesmorris<< That's because it is a superfluous question. Of course I want "proof" that your bullshit reasoning is true before I accept it. Pardon me for being reasonable. You might reconsider if you are being as such. >>

    Warren<< Do you believe the earth spawned life? Let's see your proof.>>
     
  19. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Man, you didn't catch that I've basically already answered your question. Oh, and I couldn't prove that it did, as that might not be possible and I am agnostic regarding epistemology (all knowledge is tentative). I could only offer evidence. I think this post suffices as such.

    Tell me Warren, of what do you have proof?
     
  20. Chiasma Registered Member

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    Its null hypothesis is simply is thats it's got to be something else. By looking at chemical data of atoms, molecules, etc... combined with geological data, a hypothosis was put forth (see below). Than you design multiple test to try to disprove that hypothesis. You disign test to disprove you hypothesis. That is the way science is done. You keep trying to disprove it. If the theory can not be disproved through testing, or a test was design and shown to prove it, than it starts to become more of a fact. Alot of facts today have never been totally proven, but through tons of testing they have not been disproved. Once the theory withstands the test of time, than people start to assume that it is fact. So, if a scientific hypothesis fails, than you go back to zero. You take what ever data that you can, and you set forth another hypothesis.
    Science is blind to ID. Why is that. There is no data that supports it. There is not data that would even give rise to an appropiate hypotheis to it. No hypothesis can be formed because there is no way to test it. You may not like it, but thats the way science is done.

    No you didn't.

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    Why might you ask. Because of data derived from chemistry. By studing the nature of atoms and molecules, one can be hypothsised natural events that would spawn spontaneous developments of nucleic acids, proteins, etc.... Thus by using the data provided by chemist and biochemist, explenations can be infered (i.e. withing Known data sets. Whithin what is know, etc..). Hyposesis can be set up. Test can be done. Testing has been done. "Primodial soups" (consiting of atoms and molecules that geological data implicates on being there) have been set up, give electrical shocks (imulating lighting), and nucleic acids have been spontaneous linked to give rise to a chain. Chain of nucleic acids have been shown to have enzymatic activity. Enzymatic activity has been shown in all sorts of processes including replication. With that data, one can make a more accurate hypothesis. More testing can be done. Is this proof of what really happen. No, absolute proof will never be. Is it data that highly supports abiogenesis and serperates it out from others theories? Why yes, it does. You can comeback with alot of statistics and theories that show that it would be nearly impossible, but it is possible. There is limited consistent data that shows it.

    there is no consistent, or any data, that either supports or even test ID.
     
  21. DefSkeptic Registered Senior Member

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    I think this will pretty much end the debate.

    An article from Richard Dawkins-----


    Faith, being belief that isn't based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion. And who, looking at Northern Ireland or the Middle East, can be confident that the brain virus of faith is not exceedingly dangerous? One of the stories told to the young Muslim suicide bombers is that martyrdom is the quickest way to heaven -- and not just heaven but a special part of heaven where they will receive their special reward of 72 virgin brides. It occurs to me that our best hope may be to provide a kind of "spiritual arms control": send in specially trained theologians to deescalate the going rate in virgins.

    Given the dangers of faith -- and considering the accomplishments of reason and observation in the activity called science -- I find it ironic that, whenever I lecture publicly, there always seems to be someone who comes forward and says, "Of course, your science is just a religion like ours. Fundamentally, science just comes down to faith, doesn't it?"

    Well, science is not religion and it doesn't just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion's virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, required evidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists.

    One reason I receive the comment about science being a religion is because I believe in the fact of evolution. I even believe in it with passionate conviction. To some, this may superficially look like faith. But the evidence that makes me believe in evolution is not only overwhelmingly strong; it is freely available to anyone who takes the trouble to read up on it. Anyone can study the same evidence that I have and presumably come to the same conclusion. But if you have a belief that is based solely on faith, I can't examine your reasons. You can retreat behind the private wall of faith where I can't reach you.

    Science is actually one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around -- because science would completely collapse if it weren't for a scrupulous adherence to honesty in the reporting of evidence. (As James Randi has pointed out, this is one reason why scientists are so often fooled by paranormal tricksters and why the debunking role is better played by professional conjurors; scientists just don't anticipate deliberate dishonesty as well.) There are other professions (no need to mention lawyers specifically) in which falsifying evidence or at least twisting it is precisely what people are paid for and get brownie points for doing.

    Humans have a great hunger for explanation. It may be one of the main reasons why humanity so universally has religion, since religions do aspire to provide explanations. We come to our individual consciousness in a mysterious universe and long to understand it. Most religions offer a cosmology and a biology, a theory of life, a theory of origins, and reasons for existence. In doing so, they demonstrate that religion is, in a sense, science; it's just bad science. Don't fall for the argument that religion and science operate on separate dimensions and are concerned with quite separate sorts of questions. Religions have historically always attempted to answer the questions that properly belong to science. Thus religions should not be allowed now to retreat away from the ground upon which they have traditionally attempted to fight. They do offer both a cosmology and a biology; however, in both cases it is false.

    Consolation is harder for science to provide. Unlike religion, science cannot offer the bereaved a glorious reunion with their loved ones in the hereafter. Those wronged on this earth cannot, on a scientific view, anticipate a sweet comeuppance for their tormentors in a life to come. It could be argued that, if the idea of an afterlife is an illusion (as I believe it is), the consolation it offers is hollow. But that's not necessarily so; a false belief can be just as comforting as a true one, provided the believer never discovers its falsity. But if consolation comes that cheap, science can weigh in with other cheap palliatives, such as pain-killing drugs, whose comfort may or may not be illusory, but they do work.

    Uplift, however, is where science really comes into its own. All the great religions have a place for awe, for ecstatic transport at the wonder and beauty of creation. And it's exactly this feeling of spine-shivering, breath-catching awe -- almost worship -- this flooding of the chest with ecstatic wonder, that modern science can provide. And it does so beyond the wildest dreams of saints and mystics. The fact that the supernatural has no place in our explanations, in our understanding of so much about the universe and life, doesn't diminish the awe. Quite the contrary. The merest glance through a microscope at the brain of an ant or through a telescope at a long-ago galaxy of a billion worlds is enough to render poky and parochial the very psalms of praise.

    I want to return now to the charge that science is just a faith. The more extreme version of that charge -- and one that I often encounter as both a scientist and a rationalist -- is an accusation of zealotry and bigotry in scientists themselves as great as that found in religious people. Sometimes there may be a little bit of justice in this accusation; but as zealous bigots, we scientists are mere amateurs at the game. We're content to argue with those who disagree with us. We don't kill them.

    But I would want to deny even the lesser charge of purely verbal zealotry. There is a very, very important difference between feeling strongly, even passionately, about something because we have thought about and examined the evidence for it on the one hand, and feeling strongly about something because it has been internally revealed to us, or internally revealed to somebody else in history and subsequently hallowed by tradition. There's all the difference in the world between a belief that one is prepared to defend by quoting evidence and logic and a belief that is supported by nothing more than tradition, authority, or revelation.


    Pretty good stuff eh?
     
  22. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    DefSkeptic - Not sure how much of that was Dawkins and how much you but...
    I think if you take a good look at the philosophy of science you will find that Dawkins is overstating his case at best, and probably quite wrong. Faith is as necessary to the pursuit of science as it is to the pursuit of anything else.

    Popper "“What we should do, I suggest, is give up the idea of ultimate sources of knowledge. And admit that all human knowledge is human: that it is mixed with our errors, our prejudices, our dreams, and our hopes: that all we can do is grope for truth evn though it be beyond our reach."

    Also -

    – “Every proof must proceed from premisses; the proof as such, that is to say the derivation from the premisses, can therefore never finally the truth of any conclusion, but only show that the conclusion must be true provided the premisses are true. If we were to demand that the premisses should be proved in their turn, the question of truth would only be shifted back by another step to a new set of premisses, and so on to infinity."

    Or from phycisist Stanislav Grof “It is important to realise that what we know as the ‘scientific worldview’ is an image of the universe that rests on a host of daring metaphyisal assumptions. These are often presented and seen as facts that have been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, while in reality they stand on very shaky ground, are controversial, or are inadequately supported by the evidence.”

    It is difficult to think of a single scientific theory that is not dependent on faith for its acceptance (however that is not to say that these theories are wrong of course).

    Which virtues and which vices? This seems to be a personal opinion.
    Sorry - such certainty is a pipedream.
    Nonsense. Most religions lack any conclusive scientific evidence, but that is not the same as having no evidence.
    There are arguments for the power and utility of faith that are completely separate from arguments about the details of what is being believed.
    It would seem odd not to accept the evidence for physical evolution. However 'evolution' does not necessarily mean current neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory in all its orthodox details.
    This seems to be an example of faith in action. Firstly morality is not a scientific concept so is ultimately meaningless as an adjective to describe science. Secondly the heavily theory-laden approach that we take to scientific evidence renders that evidence more suspect than we generally assume. (This is not to say scientists do not attempt to be honest - just that there are limits to the success they can achieve).
    You may think religion is bad science (I suppose science is bad religion) but you need to demonstrate this and not just state it. Also there are many different religions and philosophies, lumping them all under 'religion' is not honest or fair.
    Why not?
    And vice versa. Both have the long term goal of explaining existence.
    Which particular religions, cosmologies and biologies are false, and which particular aspects of them? Most religious cosmologies are explanatory metaphors where the structure of the explanation is more imporatnt than the terms (for instance the 'turtles standing on turtles of 'Discworld').
    True. Science has nothing whatever to say on such matters. Nobody has the slightest shred of scientific evidence for or against the continuation of consciousness after death.
    Bunkum. See previous answer. Science has no view on this matter.
    I can only assume that you have not yet had such dreams. Such dreams (whether true or false) can make science knowledge appear utterly trivial. When it comes to wonder and awe science is isn't competing in the same ballpark.
    Well yes. Just as the idea of eternal consciousness renders poky and parochial the chemical table of elements.
    True. But don't forget that a recent poll showed that ca. 60% of American scientists believe in a higher being of some sort. Science and religion are not mutually excusive.
    Quite agree. However the fact that they are different doesn't in itself tell us anything about their truth or falsity.
    Yes it was. But I think on analysis the arguments are very weak.
     
  23. Warren Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
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    Chiasma<< Because of data derived from chemistry. By studing the nature of atoms and molecules, one can be hypothsised natural events that would spawn spontaneous developments of nucleic acids, proteins, etc.... Thus by using the data provided by chemist and biochemist, explenations can be infered (i.e. withing Known data sets. Whithin what is know, etc..). Hyposesis can be set up. Test can be done. Testing has been done.>>


    I fully agree that some sort of abiogenesis hypothesis is reasonable (and this is good given that it is really the only hypothesis non-teleologists can explore). Of course, I also think it is reasonable to be skeptical of abiogenesis (for many reasons). You bring up chemistry and and its relation to life. This reasoning was more convincing when cells were viewed as a soup. It's a seemingly reachable step to go from a prebiotic soup to a soup sequestered in a membrane. But according to one well known scientist cells are far more like a mini-factory full of a myriad of nanomachines than a soup.

    While the soup view of life made sense, and also succeeded in
    generating much scientific knowledge, it would seem obvious that
    it was missing something big. To demonstrate this for yourself, collect some water lilies. Take half of your water lilies and put them in a large glass of water and label this glass A. Do the same with the other half of water lilies by putting them in glass B, but in this case, transfer the contents of glass B to a blender and blend for one minute. After one minute, pour the contents of the blender back into glass B. Guess what? In glass A, you have living water lilies. In glass B, you have a green soup.

    But where is the difference? After all, the chemical composition of the two glasses should be identical. Glass A has no special molecules not found in glass B.

    We could do the same experiment with bacteria, the smallest and simplest known cells of life. We could start with a large beaker of bacteria and split it into two. One beaker can be physically treated to burst all the bacterial cells and this would constitute our bacterial soup. The chemical composition of the soup beaker and the beaker of cells would be identical. Yet the soup beaker would not contain life. It would contain only the pieces and parts that are the remnant of life. What's more, one can introduce any form of energy into the soup beaker in an attempt to recreate life. Zap it with electricity or heat it on the stove. All that will happen is that the soup will stink more as all the pieces and parts of life degrade. Clearly then, energy plus all the ingredients of life fail to produce life. Why?

    What makes our water lily and bacterial soups different from water lilies and bacteria is organization. Life is not pieces and parts suspended in a soup. Life is pieces and parts organized in a very precise and particular fashion.

    Physicist and science writer Paul Davies also has come to understand the essence of life at its molecular level:

    "Each cell is packed with tiny structures that might have come from an engineer's manual. Miniscule tweezers, scissors, pumps, motors, levers, valves, pipes, chains, and even vehicles abound. But of course the cell is more than just a bag of gadgets. The various components fit together to form a smoothly functioning whole, like an elaborate factory production line. The miracle of life is not that it is made of nanotools, but that these tiny diverse parts are integrated in a highly organized way."

    Organization is the key to life. A soup is complex and in this sense it reflects life. But a soup is the exact opposite of organization. If we go back to our beakers, while the chemical compositions are the same, the chemicals in the beakers with living things are highly organized. And not just organized. But organized in a very specific and detailed manner. Davies does a nice job explaining how its not just organization, its not just complexity, what seems to define life is a specified complexity. Specified complexity is a defining trait of design and there are many other areas apart from life where this is true.

    In fact, let's try the same experiment a third time (but this
    time we will get a very powerful blender with very strong blades).
    We will go to the gift store and buy two identical plaster figurines.
    Put each in a glass of water and transfer the contents of one
    to a blender. Blend and pour back in the glass. The contents
    of the two glasses are chemically identical. What makes them
    different is the same thing as we saw in the two earlier experiments.

    It would seem to be to be reasonable to at least suspect design
    if the thing that sets life apart from non-life appears to also be
    a thing that is characteristic of design.

    If I understand Chiasma correctly he is saying there is no lab result that could support the ID position, but it could support the non-teleological position. Me thinks I detect some card stacking here.

    How about a more fair- and open-minded approach. Let's say we eventually do create life in the lab. The question would then be how it was done. If the method turned out to be relatively easy, using processes which could plausibly have occurred in nature, then I would agree that this would advance the natural origin of life position. But why not be fair and consider the alternative? If the method turned out to be difficult, depending on specifications and employing ingredients and processes for which there is no evidence of having occurred in nature, then this would advance the artificial origin of life position.

    In fact, I will now make an ID prediction. I like to use the metaphors of the soup and the machine. Making a soup requires minimal specifications - add X, Y, and Z and cook over a fire. Making a machine depends on extensive specifications, where specific parts are specifically connected. I therefore predict that when life is eventually created in the lab, the protocol will look more like the assembly instructions for putting together a machine than a recipe for making a soup.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2003

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