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Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant (Religion bashing alert)
Times Online UK ^ | May 21, 2005 | Richard Dawkins

Posted on 05/25/2005 3:41:22 AM PDT by billorites

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To: js1138
"Many supporters of ID hope that the existence of God -- or at least an entity or entities with super-human intelligence -- can be proven through their work."

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.

2,651 posted on 06/08/2005 6:54:36 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: chronic_loser
Everything in the Christian construct universe is the result of the moment by moment intervention of a sovereign Creator/sustainer, from the subatomic level upwards. The problem is you see intervention as somehow at odds with what you can observe. I reject utterly the notion that there is some kind of "natural" universe which left to itself chugs along, and only needs "intervention" for a virgin birth, a resurrection, or some other puzzlement.

Our worldviews have no point of intersection at all. I see nothing to be gained by further discussion.

2,652 posted on 06/08/2005 7:17:14 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
what else constitutes scientific evidence if it is not what manifests itself to the senses either directly or indirectly?

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.

2,653 posted on 06/08/2005 9:14:00 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: js1138
Should you choose not to interact, that will be fine. I am actually delighted by your response as it is usually a sign that a materialist for the first time understands the nature of a true Christian worldview. The real issue here is NOT over some weird literalism by fundamentalists which results in a whole spate of bizarre doctrinal issues, from the age of the earth to how special creation occurred to some goofy "left behind" series of millenial screeds. These are "family feuds" within Christendom and while they can be annoying, are not the REAL cause of all the caterwauling and howling. People just don't get pissed off enough about stuff like that to make the kind of effort and display the kind of emotions you see on these and other boards. The kind of "culture war" you see over "evolution" is really about the conflict of these two worldviews.
The mistake many Christians make is to cede the idea that one can start out legitimately from a materialist base and build a coherent and intellectually satisfying worldview. It cannot be done and leads to alot of the silliness you see in the crevo debates. Again, my contention is that the materialist CANNOT build an intellectually coherent nor a personally coherent worldview on rank empiricism. As a matter of fact, you may be surprised at how selective your statement is that our worldviews have no point of intersection. If you wish, we can discuss my root contention with the empiricist, which is that a materialist borrows from a theistic worldview constantly in both your professional (or "scientific") life and your personal life. This borrowing is usually unaware, but always unacknowledged. My contention is that science, divorced from the metaphysical constructs that Christianity originally provided, simply slits its own throat and becomes nothing more than a statitics keeper. The ability to make meaningful statements about the nature of the universe or the reliability of the data collected is contingent on principles of uniformity. The materialist can only arrive there by climbing onto a big soapbox full of nothing. He only has statistics and a heritage that he is doing his best to stab to death while he is sitting on its shoulders announcing the "results of his research."

If you choose not to respond at all to me in the future that will be fine, although disappointing to me. Should our paths cross, I won't be able to jump into some discussion on potassium argon dating, or "transitional forms" or red shifts or any such crap without asking the question "What are we REALLY arguing about here?"

At any rate, you have been civil to me and your brief response, if curt, was not demeaning or hateful. That beats the hell out of most responses on these threads, from theists or non. Thank you.

Whether the philosophical underpinnings of the materialist or Christian actually provide sufficient underpinnings for science, and the complete life of the scientist doing them is the basis for my posts on all these threads.
2,654 posted on 06/09/2005 2:36:53 AM PDT by chronic_loser
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To: Liberal Classic
Q. What am I missing here?
A. That philosophy is not science.>>>>>


The very intimation that "science" can somehow operate independently of any philosophical underpinnings is either
1) silly or
2) (more likely) rife with a whole gaggle of empiricist (i.e. philosophical) assumptions about the nature of science and knowledge.

You are really better than this.
2,655 posted on 06/09/2005 2:45:59 AM PDT by chronic_loser
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To: chronic_loser

I am not interested in philosophical coherence or satisfaction. Methodological materialism creates knowledge that can be used to heal the sick. By their fruits...


2,656 posted on 06/09/2005 5:28:39 AM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
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To: js1138
Methodological materialism creates knowledge that can be used to heal the sick.

Or blow them up. Within the world of materialism, both are equally valueless and absurd....... don't worry about the loan. you can pay me later.
2,657 posted on 06/09/2005 5:44:23 AM PDT by chronic_loser
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To: chronic_loser

Knowledge is neither wisdom nor morality.


2,658 posted on 06/09/2005 5:49:35 AM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
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To: edsheppa
Now, is that *true*? I don't know. But there is nothing illogical about it.

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.

2,659 posted on 06/09/2005 6:44:44 AM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
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?

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.

2,660 posted on 06/09/2005 8:12:42 AM PDT by edsheppa
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To: edsheppa
. . . it is vastly more probable than not that the apparent past is real.

Do probabilites not loose their effect when an infinite number of possibilities is assumed? Quantifying obervations becomes an effort in futility insofar as historic veracity is concerned. At any rate, I think I have a fairly good idea of how you come at the universe placed before you, and it is not without merit.

From my own point of view, since I am told a Creator without beginning or end is responsible for all the stuff we are able to observe, a realm of infinite possibilities is reasonable. At the same time, because the universe is organized to a degree I am able to recognize it by way of my own intelligence, I am given to believe those infinite possiblities have been purposely arranged for my viewing, albeit in weak form where my own capacites are involved.

2,661 posted on 06/09/2005 9:07:06 AM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Liberal Classic
Science is a tool for describing the physical world in concrete terms in such a way as to produce repeatable results. Science cannot and should not address the supernatural... There is nothing [wrong] with the study of epistemology. Questions such as 'what is knowledge' and 'how do we know what our senses tell us is true' are all very important questions. It is, however, not relevant to the issue at hand because epistemology is a branch of philosophy...It is not that the objections creationists have with evolution are invalid. It is just that they are philosophical in nature, and as such, non-scientific.

These are essentially philosophical statements about the nature of science, not statements of science, and as such are non-scientific themselves.

Cordially,

2,662 posted on 06/09/2005 9:32:27 AM PDT by Diamond (Qui liberatio scelestus trucido inculpatus.)
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To: js1138
The natural order includes every phenomenon that can be put to the test, directly or indirectly.

And to what test can you put your categorization of what constitutes the "natural order"?

Cordially,

2,663 posted on 06/09/2005 9:49:22 AM PDT by Diamond (Qui liberatio scelestus trucido inculpatus.)
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To: chronic_loser

As a scientist, and also someone who has studied the philosophy of science, I will admit that yes, science does start with some basic assumptions. Among these are 1. The ultimate rationality of the universe., 2. The metaphysical reality of sensory perception, and 3. The spatial and temporal uniformity of the universe.

All of these assumptions are necessary in order for science to work. Assumption 1 simply is the statement that explanations are possible for ALL phenomena seen in the universe. Without this assumption, scientific investigation is pointless. Why investigate something if at the end of the day an explanation is not possible?

Assumption 2 is necessary because if we were to question the ultimate reality of our sense perception, then we would never get past this questioning. Furthermore, we would have no basis to decide whether or not our sense perception was actually in accord with reality (or at least no objective and universally agreed upon basis).

Assumption 3, which is simply the assumption that the laws of nature are constant at all places and for all times, is necessary to allow different scientists to compare their results and build off the work of each other. This also ties in pretty closely with assumption 2, since the objective basis used to determine whether observations are valid is that different observers must agree as to what has been observed.

I mention this because your statement about science having naturalistic presuppositions follows from these basic assumptions of science. Science must assume that there is no supernatural being interfering in the normal functioning of the universe. It is not difficult to see that supernatural interference could potentially contradict any or all of these basic assumptions. A supernatural being could be the cause of some phenomenon. Presumably if that supernatural being didn't want us to know of his/her/its involvement, then it would be impossible for us to find an explanation for that phenomenon, which is contradictory to assumption 1. Given supernatural interference by a being of the proper sort, it is also not difficult to imagine that being causing us to have deceptive sensory perception which would contradict assumption 2. It also is not difficult to imagine a supernatural being interfering in such a way as to violate the spatial and temporal uniformity of the universe by creating a phenomenon that obeys rules that change over time and space.

So on what basis do we accept these basic assumptions of science? The main basis is the track record of accomplishment of science. In short, we accept these assumptions about the universe because they seem to work. They have allowed us to investigate many phenomena that previously had no explanation. If there really is some phenomenon that directly involves a supernatural being and cannot be understood otherwise, then science will fail in its explanation of that phenomenon.

I don't think that is the case with respect to the diversity of life. I think evolution provides a good explanation of this phenomenon, whether it is the result of purely naturalistic processes or supernatural design. The theory of evolution is completely neutral regarding the question of whether the ultimate reality involves a supernatural being or not, as are all scientific theories. If there really is a supernatural being guiding the process, then science will never be able to tell us this. Science can tell us what mechanisms that supernatural being used, subject of course to the assumption that the supernatural being hasn't fooled us and that what we perceive with our senses is actually reflective of reality.


2,664 posted on 06/09/2005 10:06:13 AM PDT by stremba
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To: stremba
A thoughtful post. Permit me to add a few points:

There are a few other presuppositions that science requires: First, that logic itself is universally applicable. Were that not so, then (contradictions then being possible) it would be so. QED. Then there's the objectivity presumption -- that the universe exists regardless of our subjective thoughts about it.

... The metaphysical reality of sensory perception ...

I've usually seen this expressed as the validity of sense perception. A mere quibble.

So on what basis do we accept these basic assumptions of science? The main basis is the track record of accomplishment of science.

Before we get to the track record, which is certainly impressive, there's the fact that without these presuppositions, no rational thought is possible.

2,665 posted on 06/09/2005 10:31:52 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Do probabilites not loose their effect when an infinite number of possibilities is assumed?

No. Probabilities of measurements from continuous distributions have long been dealt with as limits. Most problems are solvable with Reimann's integral (the kind you learn about in 1st year calculus). There are some probability distributions it doesn't handle and the more advanced Lebesque integral from measure theory is used.

2,666 posted on 06/09/2005 1:22:05 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: stremba
Assumption 1 simply is the statement that explanations are possible for ALL phenomena seen in the universe. Without this assumption, scientific investigation is pointless. Why investigate something if at the end of the day an explanation is not possible

Assumption 1 reads a little differently than your explanation of it. That is to say, your assumption first asserts the rational nature of the universe, and your explanation asserts a seemingly limitless capacity for science to apprehend the physical nature of the same.

"ALL" implies exhaustive knowledge, but science admits that potential cannot be reached. Science does not yet have an exhaustive explanation for gravity, though it is unseen. It's effects have been well-quantified (though not completely throughout the universe), and its effects are seen continually, but science hasn't completely exhausted what can be known about it. Do you think science will ever know what is the "ultimate cause" of gravity?

Science does not typically think so highly of itself, but it must act as if one day it will find out. That is most like what you are trying to say. But does science have the intellectual capacity to determine the ultimate cause of gravity? What if it is, objectively, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Would science cease to be science if it should arrive at such a conclusion?

At the same time, by admitting to limitations it does not necessarily follow that a quest for knowledge is either bound to be fruitless or "pointless." Science takes place because man is curious by nature. He will explore the universe with or without an end in sight. But, as you said, the only reason man is able to excercise his curiosity is because the universe is "ultimately rational," not unlike an intelligent designer.

2,667 posted on 06/09/2005 2:14:01 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: edsheppa
Probabilities of measurements from continuous distributions have long been dealt with as limits.

Holy cats!

Can you explain briefly, and in layman's terms, what is the proper place of mathematics and probabilities in determining processes of self-organization? There seem to be a good number of people who are lead to conclude the universe as we know it is more likely not the result of unguided, "lucky" combinations of particles. Is science even capable of quantifying intelligence or design?

Also, how fast does an electron move?

2,668 posted on 06/09/2005 2:23:53 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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UranusDidit place mark


2,669 posted on 06/09/2005 2:49:44 PM PDT by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
what is the proper place of mathematics and probabilities in determining processes of self-organization?

Funny you should ask. From conversation with another poster, it appears that self-organization has no agreed definition and you'd need a pretty rigorous one before it could be treated mathematically.

Is science even capable of quantifying intelligence or design?

Based on what I know, there is no MNS theory of intelligence. Like pornography, it is one of those things we recognize when we see it. My guess is that before too long, say in the 20-30 year time frame, we will have a much better handle on it and, not too long after that, will be creating computers rivaling and then surpassing people in intelligence. I think people will also integrate that capability into themselves. I hope I get to see it.

Design is a different matter, assuming you mean by it the same as I - an intention or plan carried out. Programs that create and then effect plans in simple virtual worlds are old hat, but uninteresting because they're so limited. However, it has been done. For example, a program living in a worlds of blocks is given a goal, make a stack of three blocks with a blue block on top, and will generate and test plans to achieve the goal. When it's found one it executes it.

how fast does an electron move?

Trick question?

2,670 posted on 06/09/2005 10:24:04 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: edsheppa
Trick question?

No. Curious change. Did some checking into it. Looks like 2,200 kilometers per second for the electron from a hydrogen atom. What is it that governs all those atoms so that the elements do not go into chaos? Can science adequately address such a question?

2,671 posted on 06/10/2005 5:33:32 AM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew

I don't mean to imply that the ability of science to find explanations is in fact limitless. Rather, the basic assumption of science is and must be that it is possible, at least in principle, to find an explanation for all phenomena. Like any other assumption, this may or may not prove to be true.


2,672 posted on 06/10/2005 11:20:25 AM PDT by stremba
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To: Fester Chugabrew
I love these long-lived threads. Sorry to butt in, but the short answer to your questions is easy.

Is science even capable of quantifying intelligence or design?

No, because intelligent design is not science.

Also, how fast does an electron move?

In a television set electrons are traveling at nearly the speed of light in a vacuum. If you have more energy, you can push them closer to the speed of light, but you can't push them at the speed of light.

2,673 posted on 06/10/2005 11:28:36 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
No, because intelligent design is not science.

You mean, like an apple is not an orange?

2,674 posted on 06/10/2005 12:05:16 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: chronic_loser
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"

Boltzmann's law is completely general. It's a little easier to apply to gases; because the number of states is easier to count for a gas; but it's a completely general relation between the number of states and the entropy. If we know the entropy change for a process, we know the change in the number of states the system can have over the process. And if we know the number of states the system can have, we can calculate the probability of any single state.

2,675 posted on 06/14/2005 2:18:55 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: betty boop
So tell me, Professor, does Boltzmann's equation have a material cause?

No. It's, in effect, a molecular statement of the Second Law. It's a feature of the Universe as we observe it.

2,676 posted on 06/14/2005 2:24:57 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: chronic_loser
A naturalist would tell me to save my breath, but he is just one more person telling me that there is only half an orange.

If it's half an orange now, what was it five centuries ago, when we sought non-material explanations for so much more than we do now? And if your fraction of the orange has been getting ever smaller with time, and it clearly has, why shouldn't we apply inductive reasoning to deduce the fraction will eventually become zero?

To say you reject a dualism between natural and supernatural ignores the clear distinction that exists between actions intended to influence the world through intercession with the supernatural, and actions intended to influence the world through the natural. I mean, you can equate the administration of penicillin with a form of prayer, if you want, but then you're just fudging.

2,677 posted on 06/14/2005 2:32:56 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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Were that not so, then (contradictions then being possible) it would be so. QED


2,678 posted on 06/15/2005 7:29:08 AM PDT by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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