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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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.
These are essentially philosophical statements about the nature of science, not statements of science, and as such are non-scientific themselves.
And to what test can you put your categorization of what constitutes the "natural order"?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
UranusDidit place mark
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?
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?
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.
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.
You mean, like an apple is not an orange?
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.
No. It's, in effect, a molecular statement of the Second Law. It's a feature of the Universe as we observe it.
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.