Skip to comments.Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant (Religion bashing alert)
Posted on 05/25/2005 3:41:22 AM PDT by billorites
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That philosophy is not science.
Calculations of a priori probabilities of this sort are completely specious? And that even if they weren't, they're the sort of odds we find against everyday occurences?
Take Boltzmann's equation S = k ln W. Now invert it: W = exp(S/k). Take a process whose entropy is -100 J/K. With Boltzmann's constant k = 1.3 X 10^-23 J/K, that gives you a probability of the process of exp(-10^25) or so; in other words, about 1 in 1 followed by 5 X 10^24 zeroes, give or take a factor of 10.
That's the a priori probability of a couple of ice cubes forming from water in your freezer after you've filled the trays up with water. You could either learn to love luke-warm drinks, like the English, or be skeptical about a priori probability calculations.
Well, maybe for you; with me it was an obvious opportunity to make a hypothesis and test its predictive power.
Then, when one of your children gets sick, why seek medical treatment, when clearly direct intercession with the primum mobile would eliminate all that intermediate futzing around with the here-and-now?
I do hope you're not one of those hypcritical anti-naturalists who turns his key in the ignition rather than praying for the divine spark.
I don't think so. My pastor graduated from Baylor and I'm certain I attend a Baptist church.
Please "stupid proof" your calcs here for me if you would. I confess I did not understand the mechanics of your argument, though I did get the picture of what you are saying. My problem comes in trying to use Boltzmann to define probabilities is something as dense as water. Be gentle with me please. It has been almost 30 years since PChem. My (very limited) knowledge here translates to a rough approximation of "Bolzmann is great when it comes to ideal gasses but his equation is less and less accurate as higher density materials are in view" (don't bother googling for that..., no one else is so thickheaded to put it in such crass terms). Again, this may just be that I dont' understand Boltzmann. If so, my ego is not on the line here, and I can take correction.
I maintain that epistemology and science have a great deal to do with one another, and that to deny one on account of the other is to place unnecessary constraints upon the conquest of ignorance. One's fundamental assmptions about reality are sure to be a factor in the application of logic to the evidence at hand. At the same time, I welcome a process of science that focuses upon strictly material concerns while leaving philosophical concerns in the background.
How our senses function is a material issue that holds tremendous sway in what is understood and spoken in the scientific world. How our reason functions is critical to the assmuptions we make and the conclusions we draw. Neither of these will assist in arriving at absolute Truth, and so science, strictly speaking, is left to deal with relative truth.
I'd be curious to know if science can quantify the amount of information needed to construct a functioning strand of DNA using basic elements as the building material. A strand of DNA is finite, and we are dealing strictly with material. Can a strand of DNA exist without intelligent, i.e., informational, input? I'm inclined to think most people would answer "no."
Or, I suppose we could make it simpler. How much information is needed to put together one atom of hydrogen? No intellectual capacities, cause, purpose, or design needed?
It seems logical to me that intelligent design must be behind the universe as we know it if only because intellegence must be involved in observing and sorting it out in measurable, material terms.
Tell that to the scientific materialists. Materialism is, after all, a "philosophical opinion."
Check this out: according to the American Heritage Dictionary, materialism is "The philosophical opinion that physical matter in its movements and modifications is the only reality and that everything in the universe, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of physical laws." [Except on this definition the physical laws themselves.]
Here's the authoritative Oxford Dictionary of the English Language: Materialism is "philos. The opinion that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications; also in a more limited sense the opinion that the phenomena of consciousness and will are wholly due to the operations of material agencies."
Here's Websters: "a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter."
The first two dictionaries explicitly refer to materialism as a philosophy. The third refers to it as a theory.
Respecting the third case, it was recently pointed out to me that in the entire history of science, at no time has there ever been a formal investigation as to whether matter is the only thing in the Universe. That is why materialism is either a "philosophy," or a "theory" -- which has never been empirically validated, just simply taken for granted, one gathers, because the theory is "friendly" to one's philosophical presuppositions/predilections.
Thus materialists are all "closet philosophers" in any case. So please don't tell me that philosophy is not science. I already know that, just as science is not philosophy. Tell it to the scientists who are at the same time practicing philosophers. You want, I gather, a hard and clean, total "Cartesian split" between the disciplines. But as a practical matter, this never happens.
Furthermore, as I pointed elsewhere recently, to say that there are only material causes in the Universe is to load the conclusion in in one's premise; which makes for a circular argument.
This is simple logic. And the fact is, science can get absolutely no where without logic. And logic isn't something that one can just "pick and choose" -- that is, to employ in just some cases, but not in all cases.
Think about it.
Thanks for writing.
So tell me, Professor, does Boltzmann's equation have a material cause? How about natural logarithms -- are they the product of matter in its modifications/motions? Or the British taste for luke-warm beer for that matter? Or the fact that I like mine icy cold?
Personally, I don't think Penrose's probability calculation is at all specious.
Found the above statement out there. I wonder what the author means by "many." Whoever they are, I am not one of them.
Frankly, it would be unreasonable to expect science to prove the existence of God. In fact, I would consider it an abuse of reason to expect as much. Science has yet to "prove," in an absolute sense, the Law of Gravity, let alone explain what makes it tick.
OTOH, it is not unreasonable for science, through its observations, to lend credence to the assmption that the universe demonstrates attributes of intelligence and design by means of its orderly arrangements and functions.
I count it as less than helpful that so many people make scientific statements without admitting to their underlying assumptions. What little I've read regarding the overall efforts of man to obtain knowledge leaves me unimpressed in view of the object involved.
Take the discipline of paleontology, for example. How many observers have had the benefit of directly viewing the evidence in 3D? Very few, and the few there are have only seen a tiny fraction of it. As for myself, I have to take their word for it, when they write their books, that their observations, interpretations, and 2D representations are accurate.
In pointing this out I am in no way suggesting the pursuit of knowledge is useless. I am only calling attention to the fact we do not know as much as we often claim, and that what we often claim as "knowledge" is less direct than we might care to admit.
Our worldviews have no point of intersection at all. I see nothing to be gained by further discussion.
I thought I'd explained this already. A fact/phenomenon/whatever X is evidence for a scientific theory if it follows from that theory. For X to be evidence, the theory must explain X. It must not be the case that both X and not X are consistent with the theory.
I consider it an illogical proposition to suggest a universe unfolding without intelligence or design yet producing an intelligent observer.
Why? Has the concept been disproved? Is it contradictory? It sounds perfectly logical to me. To illustrate, are you familiar with the multiverse interpretation of QM? In this interpretation is is supposed that every possible outcome of every "measurement" takes is an actual outcome in some fraction of the multiverse - every possibility, no matter how remotely unlikely, is realized. Without any intention or design, it is *certain* that there will a universe like this one with me typing this post to you.
Now, is that *true*? I don't know. But there is nothing illogical about it.
do you think the amount of information needed to design and build a viable strand of DNA can be quantified?
That would depend on what you mean by "amount of information" and "viable" and "viable DNA." In complexity theory, the amount of information in X is the length of the smallest program that can calculate X. I suppose the biological equivalent would be the shortest molecule that can perform biological function X.
I assume by viable you mean stable and self-replicating. DNA cannot exist on its own and relies on an organism for its propagation so it is probably more interesting to consider self-replicating RNA or proteins. I recall mention on some other thread of a self-replicating peptide in the some tens of amino acids long, let's say 30 for argument's sake. Letting there be 20 different amino acids (let's call that five bits), I make that to be 150 bits. I'd consider that an upper bound on the minimal amount of information needed for viability.
can the chances of doing so without the aid of intelligence or design be quantified?
"Chances" can only be calculated relative to some definite stochastic process. I assume you mean the chances in our universe, so you'll need a complete description of all ways to achieve viability. Furthermore, as Dembski often warns (but just as often ignores his own warning), you must give an independent specification of "viability." Those two requirements make the problem quite daunting.
I am not interested in philosophical coherence or satisfaction. Methodological materialism creates knowledge that can be used to heal the sick. By their fruits...
Knowledge is neither wisdom nor morality.
Once one assumes an infinite number of possibilities for the combination and interaction of matter, any outcome is a possibility, so yes, this is not illogical, as you say. Actually there are at least two unprovable assumptions involved here: 1.) Enough time has transpired to allow for all the combinations to come about so as to produce the universe as we know it, 2.) the elements are capable of self assembly without the aid of intelligent design.
At the same time, with these two assumptions in hand, why could not all the right combinations occur to produce a universe as you know it, complete with the appearance of age, but only produced the day you were born? In view of a range of infinite possibilities, this is not illogical either.
At bottom it seems the conclusion is assumed on account of these two assumptions, and the evidence will always fit both. At bottom it is a reasonable faith to maintain and support. It remains to be seen how firmly that faith is rooted in reality.
Yes it could. I mean yes it would. So long as it didn't violate any conservation laws that is.
Keep in mind though that multiverse outcomes, even though all are realized are not uniformly distributed but obey a probability distribution - more likely outcomes out number less likely ones. Consequently, should one observe a universe whose present state is like ours, it is vastly more probable than not that the apparent past is real.