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Thread: EVOLUTION: Science or Science Fiction? ~ Battle Royale IX

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    Over 1000 post club Hilston's Avatar
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    Round 6 ~ Part II

    (Cont'd from Part I)



    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    There’s no conflict between belief in a supernatural diety and needing natural explanations for natural phenomena.
    This is false. The very concept of "explanation" is extra-natural, and presupposes the existence and attributes of God. To exclude the extra-natural from consideration of the natural is inherently irrational.

    VII. Stratnerd's contradictions:

    In Round 5, Stratnerd wrote:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    The scientist need not make the assumption that the supernatural does not exist – he or she or it can even posit the workings of the supernatural at work. (Emph. added)
    That statement contradicts the following:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Methodological naturalism assumes that only natural forces are at work. The reason why I say that it really doesn’t matter is that it is impossible to make predictions when supernatural forces are at work. (Emph. added)
    And later, Stratnerd wrote:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Another aspect of science is methodological naturalism but the very nature of supernatural creation is antithetical to a naturalistic explanation.
    In Round 6, Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Methodological naturalism is the concept that science can only include natural explanations for the causes of natural phenomena.
    In light of this glaring contradiction, I asked: HQ23: I must ask: Do you now retract the following statements?

    To which Stratnerd replies: SA_H23. No. I’d have to buy your argument but I don’t.

    What argument? That two contradictory statements cannot be true? Recall Stratnerd's statement:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    However, in the world of science, insulating explanations of the natural world are an abomination.
    It is noteworthy that Stratnerd has insulated his worldview from explanations of the extra-natural world. Again, this is special pleading.

    VIII. Questions, Answers

    SQ35: There is no answer in this response what or why we should test.
    HA_SQ35: We should test to see if we get the same results in order to verify that our knowledge is correct. On the Methodological Naturalist's perspective of reality, there is no basis upon which to assume that same results have any correspondence to reality, or that dissimilar results in fact falsify anything in reality.

    SQ35b: With the exception of two of the critical parts: falsification and methodological naturalism. What is left? Skepticism? What definition were you agreeing with?
    HA_SQ35b: "... [Stratnerd's] definition of science is: the pursuit of reliable knowledge (acknowledging that these are tentative explanations) via making justifiable hypotheses and testing such hypothesis is observation or experiment."

    HQ26 (previously): I'm merely looking for clarity and understanding. What did Stratnerd mean by his earlier statements?
    SA_HQ26 I’ve never given it much thought but now that I have I do notthink that the tools of science (logic, mathematics, falsification, MN) are not tentative. What is tentative is our explanations/hypotheses about natural phenomena.

    I need to ask again for clarity on this. The double negative and the implied contrast ("What IS tentative ...") have thrown me off. It's too important to guess at what you intended to say.

    VI. Stratnerd on Rationality, Logic, Induction
    Stratnerd previously wrote: Actual human experience, however, shows that rational answers are not necessarily correct.

    Hilston replied: I'm slack-jawed at this statement. Please give me an example of such an experience. I have never, ever had one.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Not so serious but real example: I often lose my keys. A rational explanation is that they fell out of my pocket and are sitting on my truck seat.
    It is not a rational explanation if they're not there. Rationality did not fail you. You have a lack of justified information.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    I go to my truck and the keys are not there (case 1) Another rational answer is that the keys are in my shirt pocket (I hate wearing shirts with no pockets) and the keys are not there (wrong again!).
    Again, rationality has not failed you. You were working with insufficient data.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    The keys are actually still sitting in the door but I never even thought of it but there they are, in plain sight (a perfectly rational and correct explanation but I didn’t think of it).
    Not "a" rational and correct explanation, but "the" rational explanation. Suppose someone had followed you around and recorded your every movement. Suppose you said to that person, "I've misplaced my keys. A rational explanation might be that I left them in my shirt pocket." He would reply, "No, it's not a rational explanation, because you did not put your keys in your shirt pocket." Etc.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    A more serious example, at one time human kind thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth – an explanation for the rising and setting of the Sun that was based on sound reason and the clear testimony of the Bible. Sound familiar?
    It was neither based on sound reason nor the testimony of the Bible. That is a myth concocted by anti-theists and their ilk in an effort to repudiate the Bible.

    Hilston previously wrote: If the laws of logic are but a human construct, then they are no longer laws If everything is just matter in motion, ...

    SQ37: why? Are you saying that natural laws are real things that are out there for us to discover? Or are they descriptions of nature created by humans?[/quote]Yes, they are real things, yes we have discovered them. They are not created by humans.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    I prefer the latter – that way we can always modify our descriptions when new and contrary data become available.
    I'm baffled by this statement. If the Laws of logic can be modified, then why aren't there myriads approaches to scholarship? If the Laws of logic can be tailor-fitted to "new and contrary data" (as if such qualifiers as "new" and "contrary" could make any sense apart from existing universal, invariant Laws), then why does not every textbook, every published paper, every scholarly publication have a preface explaining the kind of logic that will be employed in that work? The idea that the Laws of logic can be modified is naive and contrary to every sphere of human experience.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    If natural laws exist and we become committed to them then we end up needing to artificially explain away these contrary cases. You will have a very comfortable position of always being right but then you run the risk of completely deceiving yourself.
    Absolutely naive. I can't believe what I'm reading.

    Hilston previously wrote: If the laws of logic are merely human constructs or conventions, then what justifies the assumption that a law of logic that is demonstrated in one area of human experience be taken as true in other similar areas not yet experienced? On what grounds does someone posit "If A is B, and B is C, then A is C"?

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Brains do not experience “A = B, B=C, therefore A=C” so they cannot be experienced differently by different people.
    Exactly, the abstract description is not experienced by the brain. It's happening as you read these words. Individual cases of the abstract principle are experienced all the time, even this very moment. If the laws of logic are merely human constructs or conventions, then what justifies the assumption that a law of logic that is demonstrated in one area of human experience be taken as true in other similar areas not yet experienced? On what grounds does someone posit "If A is B, and B is C, then A is C"?

    Stratnerd wrote:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    As for the reliability of induction – I believe in no such thing – that’s why I do science – I know induction is not reliable when it comes to more interesting questions.
    Hilston responded: Didn't Stratnerd say: "Science would stall if it wasn’t for induction"? What in the world was Stratnerd talking about when he said that?

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    The relevant definition from the American Heritage Dictionary (working without internet access) of induction is “3.a. The act or process of deriving general principles from particular facts or instances”. That’s what I’m talking about. What in the world is Jim talking about?
    Dr. Stratford!!! You're using induction to write the sentence "What in the world is Jim talking about?" You just claimed that you "believe in no such thing [as the reliability of induction]." Were you concerned that the verb in that previous sentence was not going to be a verb this time around? Of course not, because you trust induction. Is this really the same person I started debating 20 days ago?

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Yes, science would stall if not for induction. However, induction is by no means a road to “truth”. It provides a tentative explanation that needs to be tested (i.e., we do our best to falsify it). If a particular inductively-derived explanation stands up to falsification then we can have greater confidence in that explanation (no need to keep testing chairs so to speak). If an explanation is falsified then it gets dumped as an explanation despite being perfectly rational (e.g., the Sun circling the earth).
    The fact that think induction is suspect merely because an inductively derived hypothesis has been falsified shows that you have not given due consideration to the very tools you presume to use, not only in your science, but in every thinking moment of your life. I am frankly flabbergasted that I've gotten six rounds into this debate and I'm only now discovering the utter naivete with which I'm dealing on these most basic and foundational matters of science. Un. Believable.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    I was hoping you might have a letter of Darwin’s. Another reason to reject this assertion is that many “philosophers” in Darwin’s time saw the study of nature as firsthand revelation of God’s handiwork.
    Sure there were. But it cannot be denied that the culture of Darwin's time was ripe for Darwinism before the book was published. Consider the thinkers of that time and their influence declared by history. Such men as Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Goethe, Krause, Hegel, Feuerbach, Engels, Diderot, LaMettrie, d'Holbach, Buchner, and Schleiermacher, Buffon, Lamarck, Saint-Hilaire, Chambers, Spencer, and Darwin's own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin (a so-called "freethinker"). So eager were men to dismiss the notion of the Creator that the culture was primed to leap at the chance to believe something ostensibly scientific in order to no longer need God. Darwin was strongly influenced by "freethinkers" as he rode the crest of a wave of anti-Creationist thinking. Various events of his life indubitably played a role in his repudiation of the God of the Bible. The fact that the Origin of Species completely sold out the day it was released is strongly indicative of the cultural milieu of nineteenth-century England.

    SQ38: Darwin may have rejected Genesis but you have no idea if he was rejecting God do you?
    HA_SQ38: On my own authority and knowledge, no, I could not know that. Based on the testimony of the Bible, yes, Darwin was rejecting God.

    HQ_SA19: It is central to this discussion. Elsewhere you describe yourself as a "non-Theist." What did you mean by that description?
    SA_HQ_SA19: When asking questions about the natural world, I use methodological naturalism which is neutral to claims about the supernatural.

    There is no such thing as "neutral." The core thesis of Methodological Naturalism is the blatant eschewing of the extra-natural. It is not neutral, but hostile, to the very foundation of scientific intelligibility.

    [b]SQ19.1:[b/] Since when is induction reliable?
    HA_SQ19.1: Since the universe was created.
    HQ_SQ19.1: Can you give an instance of when induction has failed? (I can't believe I'm asking this).
    SQ_HQ_SQ19.1:The Sun circles the earth. Or the chair that broke. I don’t claim to have infinite knowledge – if I did I wouldn’t need induction.

    Induction didn't fail you. Induction is what told you that the geocentric model is false, that the chair really broke and that it wasn't the floor that rose to meet your tuchus. Induction is solid. It is your application of it that is flawed when you sit in a chair that breaks. It is the result of insufficient data, not of failed induction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    So in theory, induction is never wrong because you’re always armed with the right knowledge.
    No. The verity of induction is independent of my or anyone's application of it. It is universal, invariant, independent. When our judgments fail, it is not induction that is to blame, but our own false assumptions or faulty data.

    HQ20: On what rational grounds does Stratnerd assert the principle of Occam's Razor?
    SA_HQ20: Parameters added to an explanation are a waste if they do not add to the explanation.
    HQ20b: On what rational grounds does Stratnerd assert that parameters added to an explanation are a waste if they do not add to the explanation?
    SA_HQ20b.Given that you could ask an infinite series of “and rationalize that” it seems pointless to answer.

    You've missed the point. It isn't "turtles all the way down." You're supposed to have already asked yourself these kinds of questions, Stratnerd.

    SQ7: [but related to the questions above] Can you back up this assertion? Do just have to believe it?
    HA_SQ7. I don't see a rational alternative

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Again, this means nothing other than the limitations of your imagination and ignoring the fact that rationalization does not imply reality. So you do just need to believe it.
    No, if you're going to be rational, you have no choice. It isn't a matter of "just need to believe it." Rather, it's a matter of "What else are you left with, if you don't want to be irrational and believe in magic?"

    Hilston previously wrote: It is fascinating to me how often non-Theists will readily criticize what they view as circularity in the views of others, but seem to utterly fail in seeing it in their own view. The reliability of knowledge is grounded linearly, not circularly, in the existence of God.

    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    But you presuppose God. And simply say that you can’t rationalize God because of his transcendence. So the very basis of your argument is irrational.
    No, the basis of my argument is transcendent. That doesn't make God irrational; it makes God infinite. This should come as no surprise to you, Stratnerd. You should have anticipated this response from me, if I am to be consistent with my espoused beliefs.

    Six down, one to go.

  2. #32
    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    DING DING DING

    That's it for round #6. Round #7 (the closing statements) will now begin.

    Stratnerd has until 8:59AM (MDT) on Dec 29th to make his FINAL post in Battle Royale IX
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  3. #33
    Old Timer Stratnerd's Avatar
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    ll be brief in my closing statements. Partly to be merciful to the reader but primarily so I can go play catch, toss a football, watch TV, go see Narnia, visit nature centers and a planetarium with my son, who is only in town for the week.

    Stratnerd, he ain’t no philosopher but he knows when he steps into something smelly

    [center]“But on day one of our venture into the real world of practical applications, we were taught to ignore this principle” Good, P.I. and J.W. Hardin. 2003. Common Errors in Statistics (and How to Avoid Them). John Wiley and Sons.

    I am frankly flabbergasted that I've gotten six rounds into this debate and I'm only now discovering the utter naivete with which I'm dealing on these most basic and foundational matters of science. Un. Believable.
    Within a few words of my opening post I said:
    Perhaps just as important as knowledge of evolution is a knowledge in philosophy[sic]. This is admittedly pathetic– worse that I am a Doctor philosophiae. I’ll do my best, hang in there.
    I do admit that I am not familiar with the lexicon of philosophy but Jim is completely wrong that I do not understand the foundations of science or how science works. This charge comes from someone that admits that they are “not a scientist by training or by profession, as the term is narrowly defined” and he’s leveling his crass assessment against someone that is a professional scientist – and a good one [one that can walk the walk (get published, get grants, win awards) and not just talk the talk (internet debates). The only thing Jim has shown is that he can talk the talk. Maybe he considers himself a scientist in his broad definition where people just think about and look at data. I previously used the term “working scientists”. Unlike what Jim alleges, I was not implying that working scientists are an elite group, rather I was using the term for people that are able to recognize subtleties of definitions, when definitions are apposite, and when they are inappropriate. Examples of our different takes on these definitions are found throughout the six previous rounds. These differences include “test”, “induction”, “hypothesis”. For those readers that are interested in how science works and how it does not I would refer to the works of Hull, Ruse, Popper. The context I used these terms is consistent with these philosophers and with the way that scientists around the world use them.


    Evolution, of definitions and worldviews.

    For me to accept Evolution as true, I would have to contradict and deny my fundamental beliefs about reality.
    So? Why should dictionaries or anyone care about your personal worldview? Or should definitions provide criteria for us to determine if something is or is not something? The question proposed to us was the issue of Evolution and if it was a subset of science. I have consistently used standard definitions of Evolution and of science. Anyone can see this. Jim’s tactic has been to use nonstandard criteria for defining science (whether one can or cannot “justify” their use of logic) and then compared this to a nonstandard definition of Evolution (one that includes ontological baggage). As I pointed out in my first point, if one can change definitions willy-nilly then one can accomplish any goal one wishes.

    That is because Evolution is more than a mere definition about biological change; it is a philosophical vision.
    So Jim could care less about definitions and insists on making more out of Evolution than what is called for. Not surprising.
    As I demonstrated in several quotes of Evolutionists, Stratnerd's vociferous denials are tantamount to linguistic revision.
    Since “linguist revision” is not in any of my dictionaries, I assume that Jim means that I change definitions or I take words out of context, or I have an incomplete definition. If one examines how I define Evolution and science, one can find those definitions in textbooks, in the peer-reviewed literature, and in dictionaries. Jim, on the other hand, has a unique definition of science that is apparently defined by the ability to explain the origin of logic. This is the first case where Jim does his own linguist revisions. The other case is just as obvious. He defines Evolution with extra baggage; that baggage being the ontological implications of Evolutionary theory primarily ontological naturalism. He defines evolution as a worldview, no, he insists on it. Yet you will not find such a definition of Evolution in any text or dictionary.

    So who is guilty of linguist “revisioning”?

    What Jim accuses me of is having an incomplete definition. Well, yea, compared to his “all-encompassing” definition of Evolution (that nobody uses) I do. To back up his atypical definition, he employs quotes where the speakers have played “fast and loose” with definitions. Backing of errors with more errors is no way to win an argument.
    He calls the quotes "errors." I call it history; and connecting the proverbial dots.
    Stratnerd then refers to theistic Evolutionists that he knows, as if the existence of people holding mutually exclusive ideas suffices to prove that Evolution somehow isn't a worldview. Any professing theist who holds to Evolution has compromised the teachings of the Bible and undermines its Truth.
    Dots indeed. Interpreting Jim’s comments, I assume that he is saying that belief in Evolution (dot A) necessitates (draws a line to) an antheist worldview (dot B). This is necessary in Jim’s worldview because his truth claims on the origin of biodiversity (Genesis = reality) overlap with that explained by Evolution. He will deny it until he turns blue but other worldviews make no such demands; one can be a Christian and an Evolutionist. You can believe in God, Jesus, miracles and not take Genesis literally. It is not a dichotomy (God or Evolution) as Jim would like you to believe. And you don’t believe it, do you? If they undermine the Truth of the Bible then bummer for the Bible.
    Any Evolutionist who is not anti-Theistic has simply not adequately reflected on the implications of Evolutionism, nor have they taken the theory to its logical conclusions to fully consider how it ramifies in their worldview.
    It would be silly of me to say that belief in Evolution does not have implications but where does Jim get off saying that you go from Evolution to “God is a joke and Jesus was a fake”? There is an evolutionary worldview (now watch this get taken out of context like methodological naturalism et al.) but only as far as that is claims that organisms have evolved. Darwin, Evolution’s most famous spokesperson, the biggest gun, says:

    There is grandeur in this view of life,with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet as gone cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.


    Jim will claim that Darwin was out to remove God but if we look at Darwin’s personal history (his deep friendship with Rev. Sedgewick and his training to be a country parson), the notion of God at the time, and the last sentence of his great work Origins, we can make a much better argument that he was actually out to find a law, indeed, a God-given law, to explain the origin of biodiversity.


    Survival of the fittest – arguing for the sake of arguing

    After reading this section, I now see why Jim did not want to include anything related to evolution and stuck to philosophy. “Survival of the fittest” is not used by scientists anymore because the terms are vague. Darwin did not want to use the phrase and I’ve only seen criticism of it by modern biologists. I should just drop the issue because it isn’t an issue anymore but such flagrant misunderstandings of biology should be pointed out.
    Let's apply this logic to the Evolutionary hypothesis, referred to as "survival of the fittest."
    Actually “survival of the fittest” is an evolutionary hypothesis:
    Defining evolution more narrowly, one can define it by the mechanisms that supposedly generate change. So that gives us change in populations through time (generations) via sexual recombination, mutation, lateral transfer in cahoots with genetic drift and natural (including sexual selection).
    Evolution is posited regardless of the mechanism such that Evolution occurs and has occurred even if natural selection does and did not occur. Moreover, the strongest evidence for Evolution (independent lines of data: agreement between geology and phylogeny, repeated patterns of phylogenies, etc) has nothing to do with natural selection at all.

    What are the independent criteria for fitness?
    How can the fittest organisms be identified apart from those who survived?
    Fitness is the relative contribution of a genotype to the following generation. Survival is related to mortality. A genotype may have high fitness but low survivorship. Likewise, a different genotype may have low fitness but may have great survivorship. The two phenomena are independent no “buts” about it.
    The Evolutionist worldview assumes that the survivor is the fittest by default, unscientifically.
    That’s an interesting assertion but you provide no evidence of such a thing. The reality of the situation is that there is a great deal of theoretical and experimental work with these two aspects. A person with access to an academic search engine (e.g., Medline) will find a number of articles that examine the relationships between fitness (reproduction) and survival (staying alive).
    The fact is, it is not a testable hypothesis, because the organisms that did not survive are not around to be tested.
    Huh? Sure it is. In fact, the norm is numerous alleles or genotypes per loci. Because survivorship and fitness are dependent on environmental context we can experiment with different genotypes. This type of research occurs with AIDS where the different strains are present in the same individual (resistant and wild-type HIV). I am most familiar with the fruit fly research that looks at the effect of fitness on survivorship. In fact, this research shows the opposite of what Jim asserts – fruit flies with the highest fitness are the least likely to survive! Non-reproducing males live longer but because they have no offspring, the have no fitness.
    Not only that, but the fittest organisms may not have survived for reasons that had nothing to do with their fitness for survival.
    Fitness for survival? What the heck is that all about?
    Yet, immediately above we see that a foundational plank of Evolution is inherently flawed and fails to meet Stratnerd's criteria of testability and observation.
    First, survival of the fittest is not and was never a “foundational plant of Evolution”. Secondly, we can experiment with fitness and survivorship.

    Independent lines of evidence and historical hypotheses

    Here’s another example where Jim is talking about one thing and I am talking about another. To discuss independent lines of data Jim uses an example of microbeers and sales. This is an odd example that really has nothing to do with scientists talk about (the context was wrong). I always wonder why creationists use nonbiological analogies to talk about their biological theories. Makes the reader commit more steps than just talking about the damn thing in the first place.

    When a scientist talks about independent lines of evidence, he or she is talking about phenomena that behave independently of the question but the results can have implications for the question.

    I gave a relevant example. Many people working on islands want to study the spatial and temporal aspects of speciation. So an Evolutionary biologist would take DNA from organisms on the different islands and from a hypothetical ancestor on the mainland, grind it up and get sequences. Using observed rates of mutation we can date the times of divergence. For example, D the mainland split at time T0 from A,B,C. C split from A,B at time T1 and A and B split at time T2. A scientist can do this with a particular gene and repeat the experiment with another gene. If results are consistent then we have greater confidence in our inferences. If we use different organisms and the pattern comes up the same, this again, improves our confidence in our inferences. If we look at geology and this pattern matches our organisms then this increases our confidence in our inferences even more. That is, unless one is a creationista. In this case our inferences will always have to bounded by our presupposition that the earth is only 6000 years old and organisms were poofed here. Since all contrary views are conveniently dismissed, I call it a perfectly insulated worldview. Jim levels the same accusation at science, however, a 6000 year old earth and poofed animals are ruled in as well as other alternatives. So science could come up with a 6000 year old earth and poofed animals. Nevertheless, science cannot explain the supernatural (in the sense that most people understand the supernatural – not Jim’s extranatural). If the world was 6000 years old and organisms were poofed on it then you would think that science would also come up with this conclusion and that they would need to explain away or just say that the implications for this result were beyond their bounds. But this isn’t the case. Instead science, is saying that the universe, the world and the organisms found on our planet are much older and that the organisms on our planet, including ourselves, have evolved. These conclusions were arrived at via the same methods that we use for other areas of science.

    Jim will respond in two very predictable ways. One, he respond by asserting (evidence need not apply) that without the Biblical God we wouldn’t have the tools of science to begin with. Two, he will assert that going that far back in time is simply hand-waving. But, with his counter my example with microbrews nicely demonstrated he fails to understand the nature of how we investigate historical questions.



    More on methodological naturalism

    Originally I had said:
    I’ll define MN as the assumption that we can only test natural explanationsit does not make any claim, either way as to the existence of supernatural beings or effects. MN is limited to the question at hand and is an assumption that must be made to carry out science – much like the assumption of random sampling for an ANOVA or t-test.
    Jim says “There is no such thing as "neutral." The core thesis of Methodological Naturalism is the blatant eschewing of the extra-natural. It is not neutral, but hostile, to the very foundation of scientific intelligibility.”

    But Jim asserts (sans evidence) mathematics, logic, and other conceptual tidbits that are processed in our brains are extra-natural and asserts (sans evidence) that the only thing that can account for the origin of the extra-natural is the Biblical God (=Genesis). Evidence need not apply. More below.

    Consider the following hypothetical scenario:
    The Pneumatist believes in the existence of air and claims that all breathing depends on the air's existence and that without air, all breathing would be rendered impossible. The Apneumatist does not believe in the existence of air and claims that there is no evidence for the existence of air, and all the while he continues to breathe air. The Pneumatist points out to the Apneumatist the fact that, if air did not exist, he could not be breathing. But the Apneumatist responds and says, "No, you're wrong to say that my breathing would be impossible without air, because I AM in fact breathing!" This is the a similar scenario as we see in this debate.
    Hardly! Either party could test their assertion with evidence. What Jim does make assertions and admits that none of his assertions (God as the source of logic, uniformity of nature, how God goes about creating) can be backed up with evidence. Evidence need not apply.
    The Methodological Naturalist refuses to acknowledge the extra-natural
    What is this? The third time I need to repeat this? MN makes no claims about the supernatural – it only recognizes that one can only include naturalistic hypotheses because the supernatural does not work in a way that it could be incorporated.
    What we see in both of these scenarios is the failure to acknowledge the very foundation of what is being taken for granted. Our ability to know, to learn, to infer, to reason at all, depends upon the existence and attributes of a supernatural, personal God.
    An assertion that, after six chances to do so, has yet to be backed up with some sort of evidence or syllogisms presented so a coherent examination of the arguments could be made.
    Stratnerd insists on justification for one's hypotheses, yet when asked to apply his own requirement to the hypothesis of science itself, he refuses.
    Refuses? Or have I pointed out that your hypothesis are no hypothesis at all? At least not in any sense that science works. You don’t like the falsification criteria but most philosophers of science, most scientists, and myself could care less. Jim can make up your definitions of science willy-nilly but nobody will or should take it seriously. We need falsification to make sure or inductive reasoning is correct because, in the real world, we don’t have all the necessary information where the correct inductive conclusion will be made. History shows this over and over.
    He limits the requirement to "... the hypotheses we invoke to explain natural phenomena." In other words, he wants to be arbitrary and to create for himself "a perfectly insulated worldview." He claims, arbitrarily, that "[w]hat makes something scientific or not relates to the ability of a hypothesis to be falsified." But this he cannot prove, nor is any attempt made to justify this hypothesis.
    arbitrary? This is how science works. And Jims calls me naive. We use methodological naturalism because we cannot test/falsify supernatural (in the sense that most people use) explanations. MN does not apply to ultimate questions (where logic comes from – if it comes from anywhere). And Jim calls me naïve. Jim admits we cannot do experiments on how a horse was created. So we are reduced to MN to answer such a question. He just doesn’t get it.
    The successes of science do not make sense in a naturalistic, random, chance universe.
    And a naturalistic universe is necessarily “random and chance”? Let me guess, Jim will assert that without the Biblical God, there would not be uniformity of nature. Theistic evolutionists say the same thing but also believe in evolution. The naturalistic will simply point out that we don’t know and that the uniformity of nature is a property of the universe itself and the source need not be explained.
    They only make sense on the Creationist worldview, in which nature is created and sustained by a personal, purposeful, all-knowing Creator.
    An assertion where no evidence is given. Jim gives us the opportunity to remove God from this equation but knowing that this is not logistically possible I wonder what his point was if not just being a smart *** (he warned us that he would be – it’s part of his nature so I take no offense).
    but how does Stratnerd himself assess the work and successes of other scientists? By sensory and reasoning faculties and a methodology that have not been proven and for which he has no means of calibration.
    How does one prove a methodology? How does one prove a reasoning faculty? We know that things such as mathematics and logic work because they work for all of us. The why seems hardly relevant (and we leave it to philosophers to quibble about it). How do we calibrate mathematics, logic, etc? These questions make no sense.

    Scientists, myself included can, however, assess the work and successes of other scientists by seeing how well (a simple yes/no) their conclusions stand up to the attempts of falsification by other scientists. This is the crux of how science works so just the fact that Jim asks this question makes me suspect of his knowledge of how science works. The attempts at falsification will often involve repeating experiments but most of the time it will involve independent types of experiments.
    Please consider: I have a worldview that says God is the Creator of the universe, that He created this universe in 6 days some 6,000 years ago, that the Bible is God's inerrant and infallible message to mankind.
    yes. You can never be shown to be wrong because you’ll simply dismiss (“reinterpret”) any contrary evidence. As you admit – how can there be?
    Stratnerd has a worldview that says the universe is random matter in motion,
    Somebody please tell me what Jim is talking about and why he thinks he can read my mind. I do not posit that the universe is “random matter in motion”. Have I ever asserted this? It is obvious that the universe does not work this way so the dispute is why the universe works [somewhat] orderly. Jim claims that only God can do this. I do not counter this claim. I do not know where the [somewhat] uniform nature of the universe comes from or if it just a property of the universe emerged from the elements within that universe.

    Is his view insulated against views that are contrary? Absolutely! He refuses to even entertain the question of how he justifies his assumptions about nature and his method of science: A perfectly insulated worldview.
    Really? All of my ideas and conclusions based on my irrational methods are open to falsification.

    Does Stratnerd ever get the creepy feeling like he might be totally deceived about Methodological Naturalism?
    When it comes to the evolution/creation debate? Nope. MN does not exclude God so I don’t use MN in questions about Him. But given the prior success and demonstrated failures of certain ideas I feel quite confident that science is a good way to understand the natural elements in the universe.

    I did NOT say that the Creationist "never see himself as being wrong." What I am saying is, when the Creationist finds out that he is wrong, he has a reliable foundation (God's existence and the laws that reflect His character) upon which to assess his error and to proceed toward correcting it or finding a better explanation. The Methodological Naturalist does not.
    The methodological naturalist can always invoke God as the source of logic and uniformity of nature. You still do not understand the nature of MN.

    there are no instances where the principle of uniformity clashes with the teachings of the Bible. In fact, the uniformity of nature and the regularity of nature are prerequisite to miracles. If there were no regularity, then nothing could be ascertained as miraculous. If there were no uniformity, there would be no knowledge or learning whatsoever by which to ascertain anything.
    Are you saying that uniformity of nature makes miracles obvious so the uniformity of nature is a “most of the time” phenomenon?

    The Bible says there are limits. I don't make any claims on my own authority.
    Nowhere does the Bible explicitly state there are limits. You state them explicitly because you are forced to. I would be uncomfortable in those shoes. Apparently you are not.

    HA_SQ33: Excellent question! Let's suppose it stopped working right now. How would you determine that it stopped working? By noticing non-uniformity in nature? But wait, how would you notice non-uniformity if the principle of uniformity has stopped working? Once again, the Methodological Naturalist is caught question-begging in the extreme, and Godless science is reduced to arbitrariness and utter skepticism; knowledge becomes absurd. For the Creationist, true and justified knowledge is based on the order and uniformity God has imposed on His creation.
    There was no answer in there.
    Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    So it was a few thousand years ago that continents moved to their present positions within a lifetime?

    Of course.
    No wonder Jim doesn’t like falsification. If we were to actually go out and test this ad hoc does Jim think that it would stand up to reality? He will be forced to say “it doesn’t matter”. It does not matter how much evidence piles up against creationism because evidence is irrelevant – Jim admits it and has steered totally clear of it. I don’t blame him.

    SQ34: the question that is “begged” is “how does divine fiat work to manifest objects out of nothingness?
    HA_SQ34: Stratnerd does it again. "Question-begging" is not the same as "prompting the question" or "raising the question," as Stratnerd seems to think. In answer to his question, the workings of divine fiat, beyond the descriptions that God creates by His power and volition, are not revealed.
    I understand what question begging is but it seemed like Jim answered how God’s will created by replying that it is divine fiat. Which is simply rewording the original answer. But Jim is saying that divine fiat is God’s will and doesn’t know how it works.
    Stratnerd wants to quibble over a disagreement regarding the defintion of "supernatural,"
    Quibble? As if mathematics and the working of omnipresent omnipotent beings were equivalent. Do I have to “deal” with how mathematics and logic work in the brain to use them? I don’t understand how my wrench is built but I use it just fine on my truck. To say that I have to accept Genesis as being true because I can read this sentence and add 2 + 2 is absurd. But that is the upshot of what Jim wants all of us to do.
    More epistemological loafing. The Evolutionist wants to ask questions (which would be impossible in a random chance universe) and to use reason to discover and to know things, but he ignores the foundation of learning and knowledge.
    And loafing get me published, win awards, get grants. Maybe it isn’t as important as you imply. Now Jim will imply that I have been borrowing from the creationist toolbox. Have I? Maybe. I just do not care. Jim’s entire argument rests on the fallacy of many questions – I don’t buy his premises which he simply asserts are true. I’m under no obligation to believe him. The fact that he claims there can be no rational alternative is a big clue that we should be suspect.
    God's existence is screamed at you.
    I just don’t hear the voices in my head that you do.

    SQ35b: With the exception of two of the critical parts: falsification and methodological naturalism. What is left? Skepticism? What definition were you agreeing with?
    HA_SQ35b: "... [Stratnerd's] definition of science is: the pursuit of reliable knowledge (acknowledging that these are tentative explanations) via making justifiable hypotheses and testing such hypothesis with observation or experiment."
    Falsification is the point of testing. So Jim don’t agree with that. Without MN we could make innumerable hypotheses why events occur by including any supernatural beings we would like. So the only thing Jim agrees with is “the pursuit of reliable knowledge”. But without falsification how do we know that something is reliable? Jim would repeat experiments (the same ones?) but not doing this in a falsification framework he is only examining with accuracy and precision in measurements – but his entire hypothesis might be wrong.

    Induction
    Stratnerd previously wrote: Actual human experience, however, shows that rational answers are not necessarily correct.

    Hilston replied: I'm slack-jawed at this statement. Please give me an example of such an experience. I have never, ever had one.
    Instead of repeating the entire dialogue I’ll just say that Jim countered my claim with caveats where I lacked “justified information” or I was working with “insufficient data”. Indeed, the most interesting caveat was that “someone had followed you around and recorded your every movement”.

    Problem with these caveats is that they do not apply to the real word. In the real world we work with insufficient data. This is another case where there’s a difference between armchair philosophers and people that actually do science. Jim talks about induction in a philosophical world. I talk about induction, as other scientists do, in the real world. I’m not saying that a working scientist is elite, certainly not, we just have a different perspective of the problems in science.

    So induction in the real world is unreliable (ask Linus Pauling, who came up with alternatives to the double helix) and we need falsification to test our inductively-derived hypotheses.

    Jim claims that God is the rational explanation for the source of logic, mathematics, uniformity of nature. But he also told us that he doesn’t know how divine fiat or God’s will manifests itself. So Jim is working with insufficient knowledge for the question at hand. In that case, he might be wrong and alternative rational explanations may exist. Now, there’s no reason to believe his primary argument. Science can keep on being science, none of us will need to be creationists or steal from the creationists toolbox, and we will not have to become creationists.

    To counter this, Jim will need to claim that we do indeed have perfect knowledge of God’s will including how it manifests itself (logical God -> logical universe). This he admits he can’t do and he’ll probably rely on Biblical passages. But if his argument is that Genesis is true and uses Genesis in his premises then he’s using yet another logical fallacy – question begging.

    So Jim’s argument rests on two logical fallacies: the fallacy of many questions (a questionable premise) and question begging. There’s no reason to take his argument seriously and most people do not.

    Gratitude

    I would like to thank Jim for pointing out areas where I need to brush up on. And I will just as I am brushing up on Nissan repair (much more of a necessity). The TAG argument is interesting despite it’s flaws. I would also like to thank TOL for allowing me to express my views – I’ll see on the other threads.


    In the words of Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Home Brewing:

    Relax and have a home brew.


    There is an argument worth taking to heart.

    Now I’m off to show an 8-year old the difference between running a post and a fade route.
    Last edited by Stratnerd; December 29th, 2005 at 09:55 AM. Reason: missing "/"
    Battling TOL creationist jerks-for-Jesus since 1998

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    Everything might be wrong! -Richard Feynman

    My God I love Star Trek TNG

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    Closing Statements ~ Part I

    I. The "Debate" (scare quotes intended)
    The American Heritage Dictionary offers the following definitions of "debate":
    1. A discussion involving opposing points; an argument.
    2. Deliberation; consideration: passed the motion with little debate.
    3. A formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.


    A. Agreement on Definitions.

    Stratnerd and I agreed on several key definitions in this debate. We agreed on the scientific method. We agreed on the definition of science. We even agreed on the two senses in which evolution and Evolution could be understood ("Secondly, I agree that we should use evolution and Evolution - that will make my job that much easier." ~ Stratnerd). Shockingly, we even agreed concerning the scientific aspects of Creationism ("Let me surprise some of you and say that certain aspects [of Creationism] are [scientific] ?no doubt." ~ Stratnerd).

    B. Why Debate?.

    Question: Given all this agreement about how Evolution is defined and what science is, what should the debate have been about?

    Stratnerd's implied answer: Nothing. There's no reason to debate because we agree on the definitions.

    Hilston's answer: The ramifications of the Evolutionary hypothesis and its foundational justification, as they present a clash between our respective overall views of the world.

    As I indicated in my second post, and continually affirmed throughout the debate, this is not merely about definitions, but about a difference in our overall views of the world. Recall, on the heels of an agreed-upon definition of Evolution, my following disclaimer:
    Of course, what we each take away from, or infer on the basis of, that definition [of Evolution]will vary widely. Note further that the variance in our views will not be the result of different sets of evidence, or a differing quantity of data. Rather, our disagreement will be the result of our differing overall views of the world and of reality which govern our assessment of the evidence.

    So when Stratnerd utters his mantra against my argument, saying, "Evidence need not apply," he is missing the point of the whole debate. If all we did was talk about definitions and evidences only, we would end up agreeing on everything, except of course where a hypothesis disagreed with the Bible, at which point we'd be back to talking about our differing overall views of the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    The question proposed to us was the issue of Evolution and if it was a subset of science. I have consistently used standard definitions of Evolution and of science. Anyone can see this.
    And anyone can see that I have consistently agreed with Stratnerd's definitions. Given that, we should have ended the debate in the first round as a draw. We both agree; so should we have just packed up our tents and shut down the show? There is obviously a difference of opinion where Evolution is concerned, although not in the definitions of the terms. So, should we have ignored where those differences lie because those differences are not immediately found in the agreed-upon definitions? Or should we have explored the roots and ramifications of Evolution that would expose our differences for the sake of the debate? Isn't it the latter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Jim? tactic has been to use nonstandard criteria for defining science (whether one can or cannot ?ustify?their use of logic) and then compared this to a nonstandard definition of Evolution (one that includes ontological baggage). ... So Jim could care less about definitions and insists on making more out of Evolution than what is called for. Not surprising.
    What Stratnerd has failed to appreciate throughout this debate is that the definitions are useful for enabling us to communicate clearly, not necessarily for setting up the boundaries of the debate. And again, if the debate were to be limited to the definitions only, then there was no need to debate at all, since we agreed on the definitions of the terms.

    There is a clearly controversy between the Evolutionist and Creationist. Obviously that controversy does not lie in the definitions of the terms. Should we have just gone home? Or should we have gotten busy finding out where the controversies lie, and exposed those differences and hashed them out? Isn't it the latter?

    C. Debate What?

    I demonstrated by quoting several prominent Evolutionists that the subject we're debating extends far beyond the definitions of the terms. Despite Stratnerd's efforts to repudiate matters concerning the origins of life, morality and human dignity, his Evolutionist forebears saw fit to include them.

    Darwin himself, "Evolution? most famous spokesperson, the biggest gun" according to Stratnerd, recognized the philosophical implications of his theory when he challenged theistic evolutionist Asa Gray in a letter, saying:
    One more word on 'designed laws' and 'undesigned results.' I see a bird which I want for food, take my gun and kill it, I do this designedly. An innocent and good man stands under a tree and is killed by a flash of lightning. Do you believe (and I really should like to hear) that God designedly killed this man? ... If you believe so, do you believe that when a swallow snaps up a gnat that God designed that that particular swallow should snap up that particular gnat at that particular instant? I believe that the man and the gnat are in the same predicament. If the death of neither man nor gnat are designed, I see no good reason to believe that their first birth or production should be necessarily designed. [Gould, Stephen Jay. Rocks of Ages, p. 203, Emph. in original]

    D. The Shame of Modernity and the Epistemological Loafer

    Modern science (soi-disant) has spawned a generation of epistemological loafers (who publish papers, get grants and win awards) and unabashed pragmatists. Stratnerd offered a quote that says: "But on day one of our venture into the real world of practical applications, we were taught to ignore this principle."

    The physical sciences originated as a subset of philosophy. In fact, Newton titled his work, Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis. ("The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"). This is why Stratnerd's degree is called a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy). So, how is it that a book on Common Errors in Statistics (and How to Avoid Them) not only sees no need to address the foundational matters of our factual knowledge, but apparently sees no interest in or need concerning such matters coming from their target audience.

    I partly blame our public education system; I partly blame the general climate of thought (or the lack thereof) in our age; and I partly blame the philosophical laziness and poor, unbiblical argumentation promulgated by modern creationists. These combined factors, among others of course, have resulted in a generation that can hear a challenge such as I've offered in this debate, and their eyes glaze over, their brains short-circuit and they find they have no patience for carefully formulated arguments and tough-mindedness philosophical inquiry.

    The typical creationist, instead of confronting their opponents with the foundational questions of knowledge and of one's worldview and philosophy, chooses instead to offer the standard (philosophically inadequate and biblically inappropriate) theistic proofs with a pseudo-scientific veneer of irreducible complexity thrown in for good measure. So when the Evolutionist who is accustomed to hearing the usual Creationist patter hears instead an argument that is transcendentally formulated, exposes the problems of induction, or focuses on foundational epistemological and metaphysical matters, he doesn't know what to do with it, and resorts to demanding "evidence," and "models," etc. Sadly, the average Creationist doesn't know what to do with it either, so much so that they disregard such arguments as "an" argument (if that) among many, rather than seeing the powerful and exclusive biblical methodology that it is.

    II. Stratnerd's Alleged Bummer for the Bible

    A final word on theistic evolutionists: I do not deny they exist, nor do I doubt Stratnerd's claims regarding the lack of atheistic evolutionists in his own circle. But among theists, Evolution and old earth cosmology are part of an intramural debate. Stratnerd is not claiming to be theistic, so anything he has to say concerning theistic evolutionists is irrelevant to our conflict. Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    You can believe in God, Jesus, miracles and not take Genesis literally.
    No. You. can't. Because believing in God and Jesus and His miracles requires also believing Jesus' own words about Moses and Genesis, which unambiguously indicate that Jesus was a Creationist who understood Genesis "literally." Those who presume to believe in a god who used long ages of geologic history to bring about the current biodiversity witnessed on planet earth have presumptuously opposed the unequivocal teaching of the Bible and have done violence to the biblical language, sound exegesis and clear logic. Such people create a god in their own image, one that satisfies their specious "scientific" sensibilities, dressing their god and their speculations in the robes of theism, adorned with the scholarly and scientific affectations of Evolutionism, all the while acting like Creationists in order to even formulate their arguments. That is to say, the theistic Evolutionists are as irrational as non-theistic Evolutionists.

    III. The Persistent Fitness Tautology

    Note the contradiction:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    A genotype may have high fitness but low survivorship.
    If "high fitness" doesn't contribute to the organism's "survivorship," then it isn't "fit to survive." Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Likewise, a different genotype may have low fitness but may have great survivorship.
    If an organism has "great survivorship," then its genotype is "fit to survive." Stratnerd claims,
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    The two phenomena are independent no 'buts' about it.
    Stratnerd must be defining "fit" in a way differently than I understand it, and at this late stage in our debate, further exploration of this may have to be relegated to the Grandstands. I wrote: The Evolutionist worldview assumes that the survivor is the fittest by default, unscientifically. Stratnerd replies:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    That? an interesting assertion but you provide no evidence of such a thing.
    Let's see. Everything that survives was "fit to survive." If a genotype didn't survive, it was not "fit to survive." If a genotype was not "fit to survive," it did not survive. How is fitness defined? As "reproduction"? So perhaps Darwinism can be described as "survival of those who stay alive long enough to reproduce." It's still a tautology.

    IV. Creationism and Evolutionism as Insulated Worldviews

    The ultimate "insulated worldview" is the invocation of Methodological Naturalism. Stratnerd has built an impenetrable dome around his worldview that protects him from explanations or considerations of the extra-natural world. This is special pleading, with the added bonus of keeping out any possible intrusions of Deity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    That is, unless one is a creationista. In this case our inferences will always have to bounded by our presupposition that the earth is only 6000 years old and organisms were poofed here. Since all contrary views are conveniently dismissed, I call it a perfectly insulated worldview.
    This is true. The Creationist view is perfectly insulated against irrational Old Earth argumentation and pseudo-scientific assumptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    If the world was 6000 years old and organisms were poofed on it then you would think that science would also come up with this conclusion and that they would need to explain away or just say that the implications for this result were beyond their bounds.
    This is more naivete. Stratnerd would do well to read more creationist literature on age-of-the-earth issues. The evidences for a young earth are pervasive, but such evidence is summarily dismissed when presented to an insulated Evolutionist community whose bread and butter depends on the belief in an Old-Earth cosmology.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    But Jim asserts (sans evidence) mathematics, logic, and other conceptual tidbits that are processed in our brains are extra-natural and asserts (sans evidence) that the only thing that can account for the origin of the extra-natural is the Biblical God (=Genesis). Evidence need not apply. More below.
    Note the contradiction in Stratnerd's thinking. He is a Methodological Naturalist, demanding natural evidence for the extra-natural. Nevermind the fact that his request is, itself, extra-natural, as is the very premise of Methodological Naturalism.

    V. Induction: Foiled Again!

    In his efforts to undermine induction (amazing!), Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Problem with these caveats is that they do not apply to the real word. In the real world we work with insufficient data. This is another case where there? a difference between armchair philosophers and people that actually do science. Jim talks about induction in a philosophical world. I talk about induction, as other scientists do, in the real world. I? not saying that a working scientist is elite, certainly not, we just have a different perspective of the problems in science.
    Not concerning induction! Scientists do not have a corner on the market for induction! Every waking second, humans apply the inductive principle, whether they're conscious of it or not. Every time a driver hits the lever for his turn signal, he is using the inductive principle. When the time comes that the blinker does not turn on, induction has not failed. Induction is what tells the driver that the bulb is out; not that God has intervened or some spirit gremlin is playing games. Whether you're a biologist or a beautician, everyone uses induction. There is nothing "armchair" about the subject of induction. At. All.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    So induction in the real world is unreliable (ask Linus Pauling, who came up with alternatives to the double helix) and we need falsification to test our inductively-derived hypotheses.
    I'm baffled. How is it that an inductively derived hypothesis is being conflated with the Inductive Principle?

    Showing how little he has understood of my argument, Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    But if his argument is that Genesis is true and uses Genesis in his premises then he? using yet another logical fallacy ?question begging.
    I agree with you, which is why I wouldn't be caught dead making such an argument.

    VI. Stratnerd's Self-Indicting Standards of Science

    A. Stratnerd's Self-Indicting Methodological Naturalism and Falsifiability


    Stratnerd writes:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    The common elements of the two definitions of science (not ?y?definitions but the definitions used and understood by scientist around the world) involve falsifiability and methodological naturalism (MN).
    What follows is the refutation that Stratnerd dismissed in an earlier post, but suffices to summarize his failure to justify his thesis:
    1. Before Methodological Naturalism and Falsifiability can be warranted as criteria for what constitutes science, they cannot be arbitrarily stipulated, but should be "justified," to borrow a term from Stratnerd. The Evolutionist cannot rationally justify these criteria, and that they are accepted blindly and axiomatically by the Evolutionist.
    2. Even if we assume the verity of MN and Falsifiability as valid standards of what constitutes science, Evolution collapses under the weight of these criteria.


    a. Methodological Naturalism (MN): Stratnerd defines MN as "the assumption that we can only test natural explanations." One of the explanations of Evolution is the unwarranted assumption of the uniformity of nature, which cannot be tested without begging the question or appealing to some "extra-natural" principle. Since this assumption itself does not come under the purview of MN, Evolution fails as science on this point.

    b. Falsifiability: Similarly, Stratnerd says he considers "falsifiability to be an element of a scientific approach." However, one of the explanations of Evolution is the unwarranted assumption of the inductive principle (that individual cases infer general principles). As a foundational tenet of the Evolutionist conception of the universe, induction cannot be falsified without begging the question or appealing to some "extra-natural" principle. Since this assumption is not falsifiable, Evolution fails as science on this point as well.

    Thus, on the one hand, we have a view (Creationism) that is antithetical to naturalistic explanation. On the other hand, we have a view that summarily excludes the extra-natural, whose very foundation makes unwarranted appeals to "extra-natural" assumptions, magic axioms, and mythical inventions.

    B. Stratnerd's Self-Indicting Information-Theoretic Approach

    In his first post, Stratnerd wrote,
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Usually presented as an alternative, which I prefer to think of as a complement, to Popperian science is the information-theoretic framework where multiple hypotheses compete to explain a particular observation.
    Stratnerd says in an Information-Theoretic approach, the data are fixed and the hypotheses are variable. So,
    Given the fixed data of morals, human value and law of logic,

    Let x = Hypothesis (Explanatory view of reality)

    The question then is: Which hypothesis better explains the data without adding so-called "unwarranted complexity"?

    Hypothesis #1: The Evolutionary view. This view says that things can become their opposites; that moral principles popped out of amoral matter; that molecules in motion spawned human dignity; that acausal chance and chaos produced universal laws of logic.

    Hypothesis #2*: The Creationist view. This views says that the Creator made the universe and all that is in it, that moral principles come from His righteous character, that human dignity comes from being created in God's image, and that the laws of logic reflect the nature and attributes of God.

    Applying the concept of parsimony/Occam's Razor (which I do not affirm, but merely apply here for the sake of argument), can there be any doubt which view fares worst according to the Information-Theoretic approach? Never mind the fact that the Information-Theoretic approach itself cannot be validated or verified without appealing to "extra-natural" explanations.

    *I refer to Creationism as a hypothesis merely for argument's sake. I do not actually view Creationism as hypothetical, but rather objectively true.

    VII. Conclusion and Summary: Evolution~Science or Science Fiction?

    Answer: Yes.

    A. Evolution as Science.

    If one strictly consider only the definitions of Evolution and of science and narrowly examines certain aspects of work done by the Evolutionist in light of the scientific method, then Evolution clearly involves science and can be regarded as scientific.

    A.i. Creationism as Science.

    Of course, the very same thing can be said of Creationism, which Stratnerd himself admitted:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Let me surprise some of you and say that certain aspects [of Creationism] are [scientific] ?no doubt.
    B. Evolution as Science Fiction.

    1. The Belief in Magic.
    Taken to its logical conclusions and examined in lights of its underpinnings and how it ramifies as a worldview, the Theory of Evolution reduces to utter absurdity. Given Stratnerd's Self-Indicting Standards of Science in Section VI, above, combined with inescapable contradictions demanded and that must be believed according to the Evolutionary hypothesis, the conclusion is a belief in magic. When a magician claims to do "magic," we know it isn't actually true, but we politely humor him and gasp in awe at his apparent "power". By magic, I refer to the use of sleight of hand, legerdemain, prestidigitation, parlor tricks, misdirection and deception in order to give the appearance of inexplicable power. By magician, I refer to someone using deception to give the appearance of possessing inexplicable power. We pretend, for the sake of entertainment; we suspend our disbelief and play along. It's fun and entertaining. Sadly, this is also what we're being asked to do regarding Methodological Naturalism. Nature is the magician. We are asked to suspend our disbelief that life could arise from non-life, that moral standards make any sense in a Godless, mindless universe, that the laws of inference and of mathematics could come into existence by accident. In a universe that is mindless, Godless, purposeless, as Evolution/Methodological Naturalism necessarily demands, it is the equivalent of believing a magician actually possesses the powers he pretends to wield. One must believe in a cosmic trick to conceive of diversity springing from singularity, of non-life producing life, of non-conscious matter spawning minds and consciousness, of matter in motion producing universal, invariant laws.

    2. No Science is Science Without Justification.

    When one denies or disregards the existence and attributes of the Creator, all knowledge, all logic, all human experience, all science becomes irrational, unintelligible, and reduced to absurdity. This is not to say that scientists do not do science. This is not to say that the planets are capable of changing direction at any moment. Rather, it is to say that the things we all experience -- the uniformity and regularity we see in our constant daily experience, our very thought processes and self-awareness -- make no sense if God does not exist and sustain every aspect of our being. Whether one is a real live professional scientist with dirty boots who "walks the walk" and gets the grants, or an armchair philosopher who only talks the talk, no one is immune from having to account for the basic tools of life, and no one is able to do so apart from God's power and personal volition being expressed in the world. Even the pagans recognized the rational truth of this when Aratus of Cilicia wrote, "In Him we live and move and have our existence" (Acts 17:28). In the absence of a rational justification for the tools and methods of science, not only Evolution, but all anti-/non-theistic science ceases to be science. Only the Creationist can pursue science rationally. All others can only do so by pretending to be a Creationist, hijacking tools and methods that only comport with the Theistic world- and life-view. Apart from the existence and attributes of God, irrational stories, speculation, conjecture and fantasy must be "imagined" (to borrowed a parsing of Stratnerd's term). The phenomenon of existence, laws and order can only be explained, albeit ostensibly, by appeals to fanciful stories that defy rationality and undermine human experience.


    science fiction n. A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background. [American Heritage Dictionary (online)]

    myth ('mith) n. 1 a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. [Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary; Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary]

    VIII. What's Important

    I must admit, despite my claims of being thick-skinned and not easily offended, I did take offense at one thing Stratnerd said, but not initially. It had to sink in, and the more I thought about it, the more offended I became. It occurred in Stratnerd's final post, at the beginning and at the end, where explains the reason for the brevity of his post, saying:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    ... primarily so I can go play catch, toss a football, watch TV, go see Narnia, visit nature centers and a planetarium with my son, who is only in town for the week.
    Stratnerd reiterates this thought in his closing lines, saying:
    Quote Originally Posted by Stratnerd
    Now I? off to show an 8-year old the difference between running a post and a fade route.
    Anyone who knows me will attest to the importance I place on family and how seriously I take my role as a parent. But I would like to point out, and express my disdain for, something deeper that is suggested by my opponent's comments and affirmed in his overall attitude to this debate. It is this: "What is really important?", as Stratnerd intimates by his comment. Answer?: Family, dirty boots, publishing papers, getting grants and winning awards. Who gives a rip about how we justify the tools of science? What does it matter whence the laws of logic originate? Why should anyone care one whit about how we account for morality and human dignity? Who gives a flying fudgepan about the foundations of the intelligibility of human experience? What does any of this matter compared to what's really important?

    But here's the thing: We should all give a rip. It does matter -- to all of us. We all should care. We all should give a flying fudgepan about how we know what we know, and why we should be moral, and where did we come from, and what our origins have to say about morality and our value as human beings. Why should we all give a rip? Because our children will ask us; succeeding generations need to know these things. Our society is busy teaching pragmatism. Whatever works is what matters. Our culture is spawning generations of epistemological loafers. Stratnerd's son needs to know more than how to distinguish between a post pattern and a fade route. He needs to know why he should obey his father, where his father's rules originate, what are the benefits of obeying his father, and why are benefits actually beneficial. He will eventually need to know why it is that he can even process the characteristics that distinguish a post pattern from a fade route. He needs a better answer than "we were taught to ignore this principle."

    Stratnerd's attitude throughout this debate has been one of pragmatism: Whatever works. Whatever gets results. Forget the theoretical; forget the philosophical. His non-theistic methodological naturalism tells him not to care about foundational questions of where the laws of logic originate, what justifies the tools of science, or how does one account for the uniformity of nature. "Ignore this principle." Just get your boots dirty, publish papers, get your grants and win your awards.

    Stratnerd can say that the universe is random. Yet, his science is based on the opposite premise. The Methodological Naturalist can say that the tools of science are merely conventions. Yet, he does his work as if there is something universal and invariant about how those tools operate. The Evolutionist can claim that human beings are nothing more than advanced and highly evolved animals. Yet, he will still attend a funeral or decry human suffering as if there were such a thing as human dignity. The non-Theist can say that everything is the result of chance processes and mindless matter in motion. Yet, he will go through life expecting nature to be orderly and uniform in his interactions with it. The materialist will declare that there is no such thing as transcendent moral standards of thinking and behavior. Yet he will watch the news and express disgust and disapproval of child molestation and spousal abuse.

    Stratnerd's devotion to his son is commendable and a wonderful example to fathers everywhere, and on the Biblical worldview, such an assessment is both rational and warranted. But the problem is, on Stratnerd's worldview, his loving behavior and moral example make no sense. In fact, for Stratnerd to behave as a devoted father, to teach his son by example and by explicit instruction, to expect his good efforts and loving care to have a real and lasting benefit for his son, he must step into the Theist's world, pretend to be a Creationist for a while, and presume to function in a manner that is not at all consistent with his Methodological Naturalism and non-Theistic Evolutionism.

    Cont'd in Part II ...

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    Over 1000 post club Hilston's Avatar
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    Closing Statements ~ Part II

    (Cont'd from Part I)

    Thus Stratnerd, just like everyone who claims to be a Methodological Naturalist, Evolutionist, and/or a non-theist, becomes a living contradiction. For all his claims to being scientific, adhering to proper method and definitions of science, etc., his world is, at base irrational, not scientific at all, but built upon blind assumptions and faith commitments. I recognize that Stratnerd would rather have avoided the philosophical questions and the foundational issues of science and logic. His head-in-the-sand approach to these questions may only be strategic. Or perhaps he truly has not taken the time to work these issues out. Whatever the case, to spend so much effort to avoid taking Evolution to its logical conclusion is to embrace a blatant Ignorance-Of-The-Gaps scenario, which ought to be regarded with contempt by anyone who claims to be a rational and thoughtful person who care about scientific integrity.

    IX. Thanks and kudos.

    I wish to thank the following blokes and blokettes:

    Knight: For inviting me to participate in this debate; for working with me and my unresolved computer annoyances; and for offering and maintaining Theology Online to the world as a venue for debate and discussion.

    My wife and children: Laura, for your unwavering devotion and encouragement, your clear-minded suggestions and more-than-capable handling of life's pressures and annoyances while I was tied up with this debate. Caleb, Tabitha and Ethan, for loaning your dad to these nice people for the past 30 days. We can go see Wallace and Grommit now. Is it still showing?

    My church: I have the best church in the world (for me, anyway). I wish to thank my co-laborers in the Gospel at Trinity Grace Fellowship for their unflagging support of me and my apologetics endeavors. They were all kind enough to let me off the hook on various responsibilities to free up my time for this debate. They've also encouraged me, given me pointers, let me borrow their books, and cheered me on throughout the debate.

    Phil Dennis: Apologetics advisor and quantum physicist par excellence (with whom I've never discussed quantum field theory or relativity; altho' we talk quite a bit about the foundations of science and the irrationalities of anti-theistic reasoning), for giving so generously of your time, for sharing your keen and rapier-like insights, for helping me to keep a clear focus on what this debate, and others like it, is really about.

    The Grandstand participants: Thank you all for contributing to the debate from the sidelines. Watching your discussions and engaging some of you in them proved to be more useful to me than you are probably aware. I've enjoyed getting to know some of you, albeit in a limited manner, via our dialogues and private messages. I do regret that I haven't been able to keep up with the many posted arguments and questions, but I hope to do better and catch up with some of that discussion once things slow down a bit. Also, Balder, I did see your challenge and I hope to jump in within the next few days.

    Dead people: There are dead people for whom I am thankful, and I would thank them, except for the fact that they're -- well -- dead.

    Stratnerd: Last, but certainly, by any stretch of the imagination, not least, Dr. Stratford. I've learned a lot from you. I once presented an apologetics talk criticizing the Intelligent Design movement. It was tentatively subtitled, "How to go toe-to-toe with a scientist." The paper was written from a theoretical and philosophical standpoint, based on years of informal clashes with scientists of various stripes. I wish to earnestly thank you for this opportunity to engage in a hands-on, real live debate in a formal setting with a working scientist. I usually gauge the success of a debate according to whether or not it at any point made me uncomfortable and forced me to work hard and to think about things or in ways to which I'm not accustomed to thinking. Not only did this debate offer those opportunities, but I've developed a love for the history of Darwin and his contemporaries that I expect will endure beyond the close of this debate. You've been especially kind and generous in our discussion, and I am deeply honored that you gave of your thoughts, time and energy to meet and debate with me in this venue.

    Fin.

    James Hilston
    31 Dec 2005

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    DING DING DING

    Battle Royale IX is OVER!

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