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Religion and Science: A Response to Ken Perrott’s “Other Ways of Knowing”

July 23rd, 2009 by Matt

Ken Perrott, at Open Parachute, took issue with some comments I made in my recent defence of Plantinga’s stance on Evolution being taught in state schools. To gain focus let’s look at one thing I said to Ken in the comments section on that post,

If the relevant evidence points towards a theory it does not follow that all the evidence points towards it. That’s because there might be evidence which science does not consider, such as theological claims, that are relevant.”

I went on to say

…on many issues the relevant scientific evidence is the only evidence, but on questions of origins that is not the case. The question of our origins is both a scientific and theological question so a correct examination of the issue will take into account both the theological and scientific evidence that is relevant to the question. To teach evolution is the true theory of origins one would have to show it is probable on all relevant evidence, and seeing science excludes relevant theological evidence from the discussion it cannot claim to have shown it’s true on all relevant evidence.

Central to this argument is a distinction between all the relevant scientific evidence and all the relevant total evidence. The argument assumes that science, while a reliable method of gaining truth in many areas, is not the only source of reliable information we have about the world, that on certain topics we can also discover truths about the world through faith and revelation; hence, on these topics an accurate view of the world must utilise both sources of information.

Ken was clearly displeased with this statement and labeled it the “other ways of knowing argument.” On his own site he asked me to respond to his criticisms; I will do so below.

1. Much of Ken’s response to this appears to be based on a failure to grasp what I actually said. In the above citation I did not say that evolution was not true nor did I say evolution was not probable on all the relevant evidence. Everything I have said is entirely compatible with theistic evolution, where a person comes to a position based both on the scientific evidence and the theological reflection. I did not say, as Ken repeatedly attributes to me, that “theology trumps science” or that theological reflection is more reliable than science. What I said was that a theory which is probable on all the evidence, that is all the theological and all the scientific evidence, taken together, should be believed over a theory which is only probable on the scientific evidence alone. I also maintain the opposite is true; a theory which is probable on all relevant evidence, drawn from both theology and science should be believed over a theory which is supported by theological considerations alone.

The issue then, is not that one discipline “trumps another,” it is that a theory is not worthy of consent unless it takes into account all the relevant information from both disciplines. I think that theological and scientific reflections are both reliable methods and our interpretation of both the theological and empirical data can be fallible.

These clarifications address an awful lot of Ken’s argument such as his statement, “To assert today that we should revert to a pre-scientific era, that theology or philosophy should trump scientific knowledge, is to claim that mythology/logic/reason is more reliable than evidence.” Given that I never said that theology should trump science, this statement is irrelevant.

Similarly, Ken’s claim that my position “is consistent with the Wedge strategy” is misleading. While it is true that my position is consistent with creationism, as I note above, it is also consistent with evolutionary theory. Contrary to what Ken thinks, the mere fact that two views are consistent provides no basis for linking the views together in a kind of guilt by association argument. Creationism is, after all, consistent with the view that Wellington is the capital of New Zealand; however, this does not mean that everyone who claims that Wellington is the capital believes that the world was created in six 24-hour days. Consider a less palatable example; Hitler’s belief in the superiority of the Aryan race is consistent with the claim that there is a city called Cairo this does not mean that anyone who remembers visiting Cairo is a Nazi.

2. Ken’s response also appears marred by a failure to adequately understand the meaning of some philosophical terms I use. In the above citation I use the word “true,” Ken says, in response to my use of it, that “the word [truth] means different things to theologians, scientists and people on the street.” In fact, in the above citation I am using the standard Aristotelian concept of truth which is common to both disciplines. Aristotle stated, “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.” By this definition the claim that the earth is round is true if the earth is, in fact, actually round, and it is false if the earth is, in fact, not round. Similarly in theology, the claim that God created the world ex nihilo is true if there is, in fact, a God and he did, in fact, create the physical universe out of nothing a finite period of time ago.

Ken seems similarly confused about the meaning of the word “logic” and goes to great lengths to assert that “logic must follow evidence.” However, this simply shows he does not understand logic; logic is the study of rules of inference, that is, logic tells one how to deduce conclusions from evidence. Once this is realised, the claim that logic should follow evidence makes no sense. One cannot deduce or infer anything from evidence without logic in the first place.

Similarly Ken’s suggestion that science is more reliable than logic is questionable. Science utilises logic to infer its conclusions from the empirical data; logic, therefore, is a presupposition of science that science needs if science is to conclude anything. Moreover, some axioms of logic clearly are more certain and reliable than many empirical claims, the claim, for example, that Both A and Not A cannot both be true, in the same sense, at the same time is more certain that speculations about how first life arose. Similarly with the rule modus tollens, something of which we can be relatively certain, which states: if A, then B, not B, therefore, not A.

3. Putting aside these misinterpretations and philosophical mistakes, Ken’s main objection is,

Implicit in the “different ways of knowing” argument, and hinted at by Matt in his comments, is the desire to change the science process to include theological “evidence” and claims that are not based on, or tested by, evidence. To give theology a “free pass.”

Elsewhere he claims,

It’s claiming a logic or justification for the theist belief without allowing the normal checking that should go with knowledge claims.”

Here Ken raises a fairly standard argument:

[1] that scientific claims differ from theological claims in that the former are empirically testable and the latter are not; [2] lack of testability disqualifies theological claims from being taken into account in theorising about the world.

This argument is problematic and has been refuted numerous times in the literature; here I can be brief. Turning to [1] Larry Laudan notes “It is now widely acknowledged that many scientific claims are not testable in isolation, but only when embedded in part of a larger system of statements, some of whose consequences can be submitted to test.”[1] Take the claim that there is at least one electron in the universe. To test the truth of this claim we would need a theory about how electrons act under various conditions, what their predicted effects upon things would be and theories about how one could detect these effects if they occur and so on. Only with this kind of background information can we can use the relevant tools to test the predictions; however, in isolation, the claim that there is at least one electron is untestable.[2]

Second, many theological claims are testable in precisely the same way. Take the claim made by Archbishop Usher that the world was created 6000 years ago. This claim is testable; we can muster empirical evidence to assess the age of the earth. The same is true for other theological claims; take the claim, for example, that the cosmos had a beginning in time, an implication of the theological views of St Augustine or that the universe is governed by laws that can only be discovered by empirical means, an implication of the voluntarist theology of the late middle ages or the claim made by 14th-15th century theologians that, contrary to some interpretations of Aristotlian physics, God did make the universe such that the earth orbited the sun or Augustine’s claim that God created the world with seed principles, via which, the whole creation of the universe could unfound over time or Bonaventure’s theologically based contention that the cosmology of his day was mistaken in claiming that the universe was infinitely old.

Turning to [2] the suggestion that only testable claims can be utilised in answering a question about the world is also questionable. Ethical statements, such as, “it is wrong to cause pain just for entertainment” cannot be, by themselves, empirically tested yet in answering many questions about what we ought to do it is impossible to get an answer without appealing to them. Moreover, one cannot empirically test anything without presupposing some truths that themselves cannot be empirically established. Hume showed for example that it is impossible to non- circularly justify the reliability of inductive reasoning. William Alston has argued persuasively that one cannot empirically verify the reliability of one’s senses (the reason for this is quite obvious, to empirically demonstrate anything one needs to use one’s senses, and hence, one needs to presuppose the reliability of the source one is trying to prove the reliability of). It is hard to even conceive of a situation where basic axioms of logic, such as the law of non-contradiction, could be observably false. Yet science proceeds by presupposing the reliability of the senses, the reliability of inductive reasoning and the rules of logic.

Ken’s central argument then is mistaken. His other arguments fair no better, such as his attempt to try to link my position with Stalinism;

So what would the trumping of science by theology/philosophy be like? We have seen some disastrous examples. Such as Stalin’s promotion of Lysenko, trumping of science by Stalinist interpretations of Marxism-Leninism. This put Soviet genetic science back many years and led to the death and persecution of many scientists. In many ways the current theological/creationist/wedge attack on science is of a similar ilk to Stalinism.

Apart from the fact that I did not espouse creationism or claim that theology trumps science, Ken here seems to think that telling state schools that they can teach a theory is true , as opposed to merely saying that it is the best scientific theory, is akin to arresting scientists, censoring their research, persecuting and executing them!

Unfortunately, this logic can be turned on its head as the same logic would entail that refusal to teach Christian theology as the truth in state schools is akin to persecuting Christian theologians, censoring their research, persecuting them and executing them; hence, any atheist who objects to their children being taught religion at a state school is advocating some kind of quasi-Stalinist policy.

Somewhat ironically, however, Ken makes some claims that if taken seriously suggest he is not adverse to religious persecution. Ken states that,

He [Matt] argues that teaching evolution is actually teaching “fundamentalist children that their religious beliefs are false.” Well, of course that is a problem for fundamentalism, not science. We cannot ignore reality because some silly people are offended by it.

Ken here implies that state schools should teach that a particular religious perspective is false if “that’s reality.” In other words, if a person’s religious beliefs really are false then it is not unjust for the state to teach this.

Now as I stated in my original post and as I have repeated several times in correspondence with Ken, this argument is problematic. Both Ken and I agree that Islam is false, that Mohammad is not a prophet. If Ken’s claims were correct then, justice would require that the government run re-education programs for Muslim students telling them that Mohammad is not a prophet. After all, as Ken grants, “this is reality” and the religious sensibilities of other people cannot justify not teaching reality.

Ken’s second argument is that to fail to tell children that evolution is true is “child abuse.” As I pointed out, however, if this were true then the many Muslim, Christian and Jewish parents who home school their kids with creationist texts or send their kids to private schools where creationism is taught should be arrested, charged with child abuse and punished at law on par with child abusers; further, their children should be placed in state care and sent to state re-education centres. The logical implication of both Ken’s arguments is religious persecution.

Now I pointed both these points out to Ken when he raised them in previous discussions. Ken’s response was to apparently ignore the response and just repeat the argument. This, however, is not a rational response at all; simply repeating the same mantra over and over does not make it true.

[1] Larry Laudan “Science at the Bar — Causes for ConcernScience, Technology and Human Values 7: 16-19.
[2] For example see, Alvin Plantinga “Religion and Science” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

RELATED POSTS:
Evolution should not be taught in State Schools: A Defence of Plantinga Part I
Evolution should not be taught in State Schools: A Defence of Plantinga Part II

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129 responses so far ↓

  • In the interests of understanding the issues underlying this dicussion I urge readers to actually read my articles Different ways of knowing? and Epistemolo-what?!!.

    These were written in response to Matt's presentation of his understanding of science – an understanding I find very faulty. Matt's comments also provided a useful opportunity to deal with a few misunderstandings of the scientific process common amongst Chrsitian apologists. So the arrticles hacfe a wider purpose than just responding to Matt.

    Matt – it's unclear if you will. orhave already, respond to the epistemology article. If you are I will leave my reponse to the above post till then.

    At this stage – could you clarify what you specifically mean by "theological evidnece?" Specifically – what "theological evidence" should we as scientists consider in evolutionary science? What "theological evidence" should we encourage inclusion of in NZ science classes in State schools? What "thological evidence" are we specifically missing in this context?

    (Interestingly I not that you seem to actually prefer the term 'theological reflection" rather than evidence. is there a reason for this?

  • Sorry about the spelling – your spell checker doesn't seem to be working and I'm afraid I am a bit reliant on that technology.

  • Matt is dyslexic so we are not about to poke fun at anyone's spelling. The comments system will be greatly improved when we move to WordPress, we just have to sort a fairly major technical issue first.

  • I get the impression that Ken doesn't understand logic very well. He very often doesn't even seem to understand the implications of what he himself is saying.

    It's interesting to read the articles in this series – it's clear that there are some difficult issues in all this.

  • Excuse my breaking this into several posts, but I was unexpectedly caught by a character limit.

    <span style="">That’s because there might be evidence which science does not consider, such as theological claims</span>

    Claims, theological or otherwise, are not evidence. I assume you understand the distinction between the two, e.g. I could claim "the sun is blue", that is not evidence that the sun is blue.

    <span style="">but on questions of origins that is not the case</span>

    Special pleading never impresses me. It invariably is because the person doing the special pleading wants to include what they would like to be true, but which they lack evidence for. Basically, it's an excuse to pander to what an individual wishes were true.

    cont'd

  • <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">My understanding is that theological argument by it's nature cannot present theories, nor be a part of them. (I note you're mix different meanings of 'theory' in your article, I only mean it in it formal scientific sense.) Theology can at most present possible scenarios, or hypotheses. Theology can't draw independent conclusions as such as it has no means of ascertaining anything as an independent truth. It can generate dependent "truths", statements dependent on the assumptions the particular theological argument rests on, but unverified claims are of no use in building a theory (only independently verified observations or findings are).
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">Theology is inherently unreliable as it doesn't use independent verification. (Reliability implies you'd get the same answer from independent sources.) Ray pointed to this issue very nicely on Ken's blog. I'll repeat part of what he writes below, but you're best to read his original words (including a later post that details more on this):
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"><span style="">There are two ways in which I think science, as a way of learning about the natural world can be distinguished from other proposed methods. First, science is not a personal and private experience. It is available equally to all and is identical regardless of gender, creed, etc. It is not dependent on private revelation or a personal experience. Secondly, it is self correcting. Nothing in science is held to be absolutely true; everything is provisional and ready to be discarded or modified when evidence shows science and reality to differ.<span style=""></span></span>
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">cont'd

  • <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">(Doesn't seem to understand HTML, and is playing weird games with the font sizes… don't ask…)
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">Skimming ahead I see that much of your reply rests on using a word under several meanings in a way that is logically inconsistent but clearly trying to use the inconsistency to try "win". I'll leave any reply to that sort of thing to later, as I always find that sort of thing silly and irritating.
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">I would point out, though, that the two examples you give in step two illustrate clear differences and demonstrate why theology is limiting and cannot be a way of knowing (as opposed to wanting to be true). The "roundness" of the earth can be determined by independent measurement and thus can be shown to be universally true (or not) for anyone to confirm. By contrast, because any theology about creation—as you wrote—rests on the assumption that there is a creator, theology can at most raise abstract possibilities but could never demonstrate to all any claims that those possibilities were in fact true (since not all—or rather no-one—can independently show the starting assumption to be true).
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">There is also another difference "hidden" in your first example: what level of accuracy is desired. You write as if the "roundness" of the earth were a Boolean value, true or false, when in fact the reply depends on the level of accuracy desired (and would be probably better expressed in terms of deviation from a perfect sphere). Level of accuracy is not something logic (by itself) comfortably handles, yet one that science routinely works with. My understanding is that the earth is actually slightly pear-shaped. When appropriate it can be approximated as a sphere. To approximate is not an "error", but an understanding of levels of accuracy and their application.
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  • I'm going to carry any further replies on Ken's blog where I don't have to break posts up and I can use HTML to make my points clearer (just in case you wonder where I've gotten to).

  • Pleased to see some of the points I raised in response to Ken at openparachute are repeated and reinforced here. Thanks Matt

  • I read these responses but I find a desire to prove Matt wrong rather than understand what he says. For example, the comment about the precise shape of the earth is irrelevant as Matt was trying to illustrate what is meant by true and false statements, not what is meant by approximation. The earth is a geiod is a more precise statement that the earth is a sphere but one was supposed to insert the earth is a cube (which is both false and imprecise) as the comparitor.

    The attempt to try and fit theology into a scientific framework is false and completely misses the point of the post. While I deny NOMA, to talk about theological claims/ theories/ facts as if they were scientific propositions, then complain they are not testible in a scientific manner is nonsensical.

    Take morality for example. We don't test the rightness of murder by measuring the length of a gun. We apply logic to moral principles. So science is a way of applying logic (Matt's definition) to objects, theology is a way of applying logic to the supernatural, design is a way of applying logic to information.

    A theological claim may be the kalam argument. This argument is one that can be discussed logically, but by it's nature it can not be assessed scientifically. This doesn't make it nonsense, it makes it outside science. So what, Matt has illustrated several examples of things that are not amenable to the scientific method.

  • Related to this is how science has broadened to encapsulate history. It is important to grasp that science intially, and strictly, is about repeatable, observable phenomena. Claims about the past, while using scientific tools and theories, compete with testimony. In these situations, eye-witness accounts (which are not science) are frequently allowed to trump (historical) science.

    2 competing evidences and the courts some times find against the "scientific."

  • "Theology can at most present possible scenarios, or hypotheses. Theology can't draw independent conclusions as such as it has no means of ascertaining anything as an independent truth."

    I guess the question is – "independent of what?"

  • bethyada:

    For example, the comment about the precise shape of the earth is irrelevant as Matt was trying to illustrate what is meant by true and false statements, not what is meant by approximation.
    <div>
    </div>

    Please read what I more carefully. Matt was writing about truth and that is what I wrote about, too. You've side-stepped the comments immediately above what you refer to, which address both examples he gave. I pointed out how they differ with respect to "truth" and to knowing (the point of Ken's post to which Matt is replying). The third example, to which you refer, is about "truth", too. It points out that answers can have approximate values, or more accurately, degrees of accuracy, not just "true" or "false". If you don't understand why I'm replying as I have, fine, but please don't accuse me of not addressing, never mind understanding, what Matt was saying.

    I didn't "try fit theology into a scientific framework", I wrote about theology as it is. There is no "fitting" it into anything. It may help you to read Ken's thread to understand better. Take particular note of Ray's posts, he does a good job of explaining some of this.

    You go on to excuse theology by trying to make it "outside of science". This is the same special pleading I referred to earlier. Theological argument is limited by the need to set premises and by an lack of means to independently determine if any argument is true.

  • Stuart: While I'm sure you feel relieved someone else is saying the same thing, just because someone makes the same errors, doesn't make them right, right? 😉

  • <span style="">Ken’s second argument is that to fail to tell children that evolution is true is “child abuse.” As I pointed out, however, if this were true then the many Muslim, Christian and Jewish parents who home school their kids with creationist texts or send their kids to private schools where creationism is taught should be arrested, charged with child abuse and punished at law on par with child abusers; further, their children should be placed in state care and sent to state re-education centres. The logical implication of both Ken’s arguments is religious persecution.</span>

    It's legal child abuse. That doesn't make it any less disgusting and immoral.

    People who teach magical creation to gullible young children can't be put in prison for their excessive stupidity and child abuse, but they should be laughed at and treated with contempt. Their children should be told their parents are morons.

  • <span style="">Central to this argument is a distinction between all the relevant scientificevidence and all the relevant total evidence. The argument assumes that science, while a reliable method of gaining truth in many areas, is not the only source of reliable information we have about the world, that on certain topics we can also discover truths about the world through faith and revelation; hence, on these topics an accurate view of the world must utilise both sources of information.</span>

    This is bullshit. Truths can not be discovered from faith and revelation. Faith means believing in idiotic nonsense that couldn't possibly have any evidence. Revelation is a mental illness.

  • bethyada:   – I am having trouble getting Matt to be specific. But you seem to be saying "A theological claim may be the kalam argument" in reponse to my question.

    Now, I am not after claims – anybody can make all sorts of claims. Matt referred to theological evidence</B. I want him, or you, to give me examples. After all one should not make the argument that Matt makes without having such evidence in mind.

    On the other hand, I would say that evidence is evidence. It doesn't require a "scientific" or "theological" adjective – to assert that it does is, I suspect, ideologically inspired. And modern science requires that evidence, and the resiulting hypotheses, theories and ideas are tested/validated against reality.

    If Matt want to change that process then he should be up front about it. This after all is the programme outlined in the Wedge document (Matt is diverting things when he interprets my reference to the Wedge document as an assertion he supports creationism – that is not what I am saying).

    I have a few other points to make (eg. about the way Matt uses, or misuses, the word Truth) but really dicussion is a bit irrelevant unless Matt can provide some substance, examples, evidence. All I am left with is a repetition of his original articles/comments without any proper response to my articles (Different ways of knowing? and Epistemolo-what?!!).

  • Scrubone – "I get the impression that Ken doesn't understand logic very well. He very often doesn't even seem to understand the implications of what he himself is saying. "

    Examples please – bare assertions say nothing (and they are playing the man rather than the ball).

    I am prepared to defend the points I have made (or admit them wrong when that is shown) but I can't respond to bare assertion.

    Seeing Matt seems to have dissapeared perhaps I can raise a new issue – his understanding of truth. Despite his reference to Aristotle he actually uses "truth" in a very arbritary way as in: "we can also discover truths about the world through faith and revelation". This is a common relgious hubris to describe their assertions as Truth (and yes usually with a capital T). And they are only assertions.

    In contrast, science shows more humility. It doesn't assert its knowledge as truth. We may have a picture of the world, the universe, of atoms or of biological processes. But we recognise that our knoweldge is provisional, changing and really an imperfect reflection of the real world. That is not to say it is arbritary – as I pointed out in may article on scientific epistimelogy (<a href="Epistemolo-what?!!">Epistemolo-what?!!) older scientific theories live on as limiting cases of newer ones. (Matt seemed to think scienhtific knowledge is arbritary – a very naive assertion).

    And evidence is always involved in arriving at the imperfect reflection – knowledge, and verifying it.

    So Scrubone – perhaps you can respond to this logically.

  • Things aren't working so here is the link Epistemolo-what?!!. You are welcome to comment there if these problems persist.

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    <p><span> </span><span>Despite his reference to Aristotle he actually uses "truth" in a very arbritary way as in: <span>"we can also discover truths about the world through faith and revelation</span></span>
    <p style="line-height: 150%;"><span> There is nothing arbitrary in my definition here, on the Aristotelian definition of truth ( which has been the standard one for most of western thought and probably still is) <span> </span>a statement is true if and only if what is stated actually is the case. Hence, my above statement simply affirms that revelation and faith make claims about the world which are actually the case. That’s a perfectly consistent use of the Aristotelian definition of truth</span>

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    Despite his reference to Aristotle he actually uses "truth" in a very arbritary way as in: "we can also discover truths about the world through faith and revelation".

    There is nothing arbitrary in my definition here, on the Aristotelian definition of truth ( which has been the standard one for most of western thought and probably still is)  a statement is true if and only if what is stated actually is the case. Hence, my above statement simply affirms that revelation and faith make claims about the world which are actually the case. That’s a perfectly consistent use of the Aristotelian definition of truth

  • This is a common relgious hubris to describe their assertions as Truth (and yes usually with a capital T). And they are only assertions.

    Even if it were true that theologians only ever assert positions (something I think is false) the argument simply does not follow, because even mere assertions can be true, if a person asserts X and X is the case then his assertion is true. Of course he may have inadequate grounds for thinking its true, it may be just a lucky guess of some sort, but it’s still true.  You seem to be confusing have a warranted or justified belief with having a true belief they are not the same thing, an example: During the middle ages it was true that the planets orbited the sun, but may not have been well supported or warranted by the evidence known at the time. Similarly, goecnetricism was warranted given what they knew but was false.

    In contrast, science shows more humility. It doesn't assert its knowledge as

    truth. We may have a picture of the world, the universe, of atoms or of

    biological processes. But we recognise that our knoweldge is provisional,

    changing and really an imperfect reflection of the real world.

    Sorry but if you assert that you know something then you assert its true.  To know something is the case something is to have a warranted true belief it’s the case.  A false belief no matter how justified it is, is not knowledge.    The geocentricisms of the middle ages had a justified but false belief that the earth was fixed.  The claim then that science “   doesn't assert its knowledge as truth” is incoherent, its not truth is not knowledge.

    None of this is “naïve” Christian apologetics by the way its mainstream secular (and Christian) epistemology.   Moreover your claim that scientists recognise knowledge as provisional seems to me to be false. Is it your position that evolution is merely a provisional theory?  Your reaction to my posts strongly suggests you do not think this.

  • claims, theological or otherwise, are not evidence. I assume you understand the distinction between the two, e.g. I could claim "the sun is blue", that is not evidence that the sun is blue.

     I agree that the claim “the sun is blue", that is not evidence that the sun is blue. But all that follows from this is that a claim can’t be evidence for itself it does not follow that claims can’t be evidence at all. In fact its fairly obvious that claims can be evidence for other claims, for example the claim that “ Toms finger prints are on the gun” is evidence for the claim that “tom held the gun”

    Special pleading never impresses me. It invariably is because the person doing the special pleading wants to include what they would like to be true, but which they lack evidence for. Basically, it's an excuse to pander to what an individual wishes were true.

    That would be valid if I had engaged in special pleading but I haven’t what I said was that in one instance a theory was based on all the relevant evidence, in another it may not be. That’s not special pleading at all.

  • My understanding is that theological argument by it's nature cannot present theories, nor be a part of them. (I note you're mix different meanings of 'theory' in your article, I only mean it in it formal scientific sense.) Theology can at most present possible scenarios, or hypotheses. Theology can't draw independent conclusions as such as it has no means of ascertaining anything as an independent truth. It can generate dependent "truths", statements dependent on the assumptions the particular theological argument rests on, but unverified claims are of no use in building a theory.

    Actually as I pointed out in my post, theological claims can be verified and I also pointed out that scientific theories do and must rely on assumptions which themselves cannot be verified. Simply repeating points I have dealt does not offer any criticism of my position.

  •    I would point out, though, that the two examples you give in step two illustrate clear differences and demonstrate why theology is limiting and cannot be a way of knowing (as opposed to wanting to be true). The "roundness" of the earth can be determined by independent measurement and thus can be shown to be universally true (or not) for anyone to confirm. By contrast, because any theology about creation—as you wrote—rests on the assumption that there is a creator, theology can at most raise abstract possibilities but could never demonstrate to all any claims that those possibilities were in fact true (since not all—or rather no-one—can independently show the starting assumption to be true).

    Ok there are two points here, first you seem to think that if something cannot be empirically verified its not known to be true and this a mere possibility. Well as I noted in my post many things such as the reliability of ones senses, the existence of the past, principles of morality, the necessity of logic, causation, the reliability of inductive reasoning cannot be verified in a non circular manner, hence by your reasoning these claims are not known but mere hypothetical possibilities. This would undercut science because scientists need to presuppose these beliefs in order to do science. Second, the claim “only that which can be verified is known” cannot itself be verified, it’s only then a mere possibility and so I should dismiss it the way you dismiss theology.

    There is also another difference "hidden" in your first example: what level of accuracy is desired. You write as if the "roundness" of the earth were a Boolean value, true or false, when in fact the reply depends on the level of accuracy desired (and would be probably better expressed in terms of deviation from a perfect sphere). Level of accuracy is not something logic (by itself) comfortably handles, yet one that science routinely works with.

    Just because science works with something does not mean it’s a valid or true concept. I don’t take it as given that the world is determined by what the scientific community finds useful.

  • My understanding is that the earth is actually slightly pear-shaped. When appropriate it can be approximated as a sphere. To approximate is not an "error", but an understanding of levels of accuracy and their application.  

    The problem is I did not use the example that the world was a perfect sphere and I said it was round and even if the earth is pear shaped its still round. It seems to me that the claim that the world is a perfect sphere is not true but false.

    But more importantly here you miss the point, which is that when I say a statement is true I mean what the statement says is the case is the case. If you don’t like the example I used to illustrate replace it with another that illustrates the same point. The statement God exists is true if in fact God exists and false if it is not. The claim that I live in Auckland is true if I live in Auckland and false if its not. I take it that when scientists say it’s true that human beings evolved from a common ancestor they mean that human beings actually did evolve from a common ancestor, not that they are trying to say, we have a useful model for explaining the origins of species but whether it actually happened or not we do not affirm.

  • You've got it precisely backwards, which was part of my point. Theological claims cannot be verified by theology in a way that is independent of the person making the claim, as it has no means to. Scientific claims can, as science provides a means to.

    Scientific theories do not rely on assumptions; but theological claims do and have to by the nature of theology. For you to claim that scientific theories rely on assumptions, you must be using an "alternative" definition of scientific theory from what is used by scientists; either that, or you don't understand what a scientific theory actually is.

    You have not "dealt with" these points, I wouldn't bother raise these issues if you had. You have only stated your opinion as assertions, assertions that are not correct from what I understand of how theology works (I'm quite familiar enough with science to say outright that you're just wrong there). To write that you have dealt with them in this manner is to attempt to dismiss what I have written out of hand because it doesn't suit you.

  • Claims can't be evidence. If you don't understand that, we might as well all go away and you might as well give up philosophy.

    A claim that something is present is not evidence. Evidence is what is used to substantiate the claim. Words that someone's fingerprints were on a gun are not evidence; those words are just a claim. They could be quite false and quite empty. Evidence might be a photograph showing that prints are on gun and comparative evidence showing that those prints are that of the person in question.

    Also, try not use examples from court room drama; the word "evidence" there has a "softer" meaning than in science or even philosophy (courts don't seek to find if something is true or not, only what is possible, plausible and/or reasonable). You know we are referring to evidence in a more rigourous sense.

    You did engage in special pleading, don't beg it off. You asked that "in the case of origins" (i.e. a "special case") you want to dismiss the usual rules from applying. That is special pleading, unless you care to show why their should be an exception made to suit yourself. (It is obvious to anyone that you want to create an "exception" to allow your religious views to be "true".)

  • Independent of the person drawing the conclusion, i.e. someone else can independently draw the same conclusion. I quoted Ray for that reason in my second post. Ray and others comment on this issue in the thread Matt's article refers to: you might want to read it for background.

  • "because even mere assertion can be true"

    Both your replies here seem to make the same mistake. The issue isn't that some assertions will happen to be true, it's whether you can *demonstrate* the claims/assertions are true using only theology. Theology can't do this on it's own, because theological arguments rest on assertions.

    How do you demonstrate an assertion is true?: use science 😉

    Regards the second issue, there is such a thing as asserting this is the best you know at the point in time, y'know 😉 You seem to want to only limit things to black or white, "true or false". This is a limitation of using only logic, incidentally. I pointed out in Ken's thread two ways this would fail (I gave one of them earlier above, too).

    Your claim that "scientists recognise knowledge as provisional seems to me to be false" is wrong. It's the nature of science that it does, it'd be a contradiction in terms to say otherwise.

    Yes, evolution as a theory is provisional in the sense that it continually gets improved upon. It's not a "fixed for all time" thing. There is no line of evidence that suggests the core tenants need to be discarded, though.

    Your posts increasingly suggest you have little idea of what science actually is. Could I suggest that being the case, you're not in a good position to judge it? You can't criticise what you don't understand and all that.

    Now I'll get out of the way for others to write for a bit. (I have a DVD to watch anyway!)

  • Scientific theories do not rely on assumptions; but theological claims do and have to by the nature of theology. For you to claim that scientific theories rely on assumptions, you must be using an "alternative" definition of scientific theory from what is used by scientists; either that, or you don't understand what a scientific theory actually is.

    (I'm quite familiar enough with science to say outright that you're just wrong there). To write that you have dealt with them in this manner is to attempt to dismiss what I have written out of hand because it doesn't suit you.

    Actually you are wrong here: I actually argued that science must rely on assumptions which cannot be proven, this is because all knowledge must rest on such assumptions. I gave an argument for this conclusion, to prove a conclusion, one needs to prove it from premises which one assumes to be true, to prove these premises are true one needs to appeal to further premises and so on, this will go on for ever unless one starts the inference with a set of propositions which themselves are not proven.

    Second, I actually listed things that scientists must presuppose to be true:  such things as (i) the belief that the universe has existed for more than six milliseconds (ii)that the principle of induction is reliable (ii) that the an enduring world e exists independently of us (iii) that our senses are reliable (iv) basic axioms of logic I could go on. Now I know enough about the history of epistemology to know these things cannot be proven. Moreover I think I can make a plausible claim they cannot for the obvious reason, what would one appeal to to prove them, one can’t empirically verify that the senses or reliable because to empirically verify something one needs to use ones senses. One can’t engage in any empirical reasoning unless one assumes that induction is reliable, because empirical reasoning involves induction and so on. Similarly to infer anything one needs time to follow the inference and hence has to assume that ones memory about the past is reliable and so on.  This is not terribly controversial.

    If you dispute what I say then please either show me (a) that science can proceed without assuming things like (i) (ii) (iv) etc or (b) that these things can be proven scientifically in a non circular fashion.  Until you do either I put to you that your comments about science are an unproven assumption and hence should be dismissed by you in the way you dismiss theology

  • "Your claim that "scientists recognise knowledge as provisional seems to me to be false" is wrong. It's the nature of science that it does, it'd be a contradiction in terms to say otherwise."

    No Heraclides, this is quite wrong. Science does not recognise knowledge as provisional. It tends to recognise theories as provisional. But knowledge, by its very definition, is true. If it's not true then it's not knowledge.

    I think what you're trying to say, but using poor terms to get the idea across, is that science only provisionally claims that beliefs *are* knowledge. But it never ever says that knowldge is only provisional. THAT would be a contradiction, because knowledge is warranted true belief.

  • "Independent of the person drawing the conclusion, i.e. someone else can independently draw the same conclusion."

    In your careful study of the history of theology, have you never found examples of theologians drawing the same conclusions, even within disparate theological communities and traditions? Never?

    Since you surely have if you know much about theology, why are you here insinuating that it never happens?

  • On the other hand, I would say that evidence is evidence. It doesn't require a "scientific" or "theological" adjective – to assert that it does is, I suspect, ideologically inspired. And modern science requires that evidence, and the resiulting hypotheses, theories and ideas are tested/validated against reality.

    It does when people are trying to discriminate. I could give you evidence that my mother loves me, but it wouldn't be scientific. And when it comes to various claims, the proof is anything but scientific. How do you prove that 2 + 2 = 4? One can't prove this scientifically, but this does not make it false or unimportant.

    Matt here is trying to be very specific with his words so that common ground can be identified and progress can be made from there. I read your post and most of the comments on Different Ways of knowing. Some of the disagreement was people speaking past each other because they understood words differently.

    For example, you seem to oppose the "philosphers" of old who came up with various atomic theories and cosmologies based on "thinking" about the subject, ie philosophising. Your opponents would agree with you about this. But Matt is using the term "logic" to mean principles of arguing, ie mathematical logic; and using "philosophy" to identify one's underlying belief system.

    Such philosophy is indeed foundational to science. Yes science is more than one's philosophical premises, but it is so dependant on them that if one rejects them then one must also reject science.

    For example, if one denies the universe is orderly, thus repeated experiments give the same results, then one has no basis for science; he doesn't think that the same answer each time means anything.

    It is true that the results in science affects one's premises. Thus quantum mechanic results may lead one to question his premises. So it is not that premises can't change. But then one would have a slightly different philosophical basis.

  • How do you demonstrate an assertion is true?: use science

    Murder is wrong behaviour.

    I think this proposition is true. You probably do also.

    How does science tell us this proposition is true?

  • Glenn, Matt, etc.

    By "let others write", I meant to, for example, reply to Ken, start new threads, not to jump all over me! 🙂 I don't want to "hog" the discussion and I can't see that focusing on me is going to help that. You're making a bit of habit of going back and repeating earlier statements without considering what I've already written about them which I don't think is helpful either (circular discussions are a bit pointless).

  • Matt – you have not replied to my initial – and extremely simple – question. I repeat:


    "At this stage – could you clarify what you specifically mean by "theological evidence?" Specifically – what "theological evidence" should we as scientists consider in evolutionary science? What "theological evidence" should we encourage inclusion of in NZ science classes in State schools? What "theological evidence" are we specifically missing in this context?  
     
    (Interestingly I note that you seem to actually prefer the term 'theological reflection" rather than evidence. is there a reason for this?"

    Now this is pretty basic to you argument (I think you refer somehow to an assumption there). If you can't provide examples of this "evidence" what is the possible point of your  argument/article?

    By the way your agument that "theological truths" are true because they are true is just silly – and surely you know it. Humanity has ways of forming an accurate (but far from perfect) picture of reality. it's called science and it gets better every day. We are long past the stage of claiming a truth by mere assertion (although very young children may still do this). So, I repeat, it is hubris to claim something is true becasue you have "faith" and it has been "revealed" to you (except of course for the mentally ill who we must treat charitably).

    Would you drive a car, board a plane, take medication, etc., developed on the basis of an epsitemology relying on "faith' and "revelation?" I strongly suspect not – yet you do participate in the real world where the scientific epistemology underlies practically everything contributing to your life.

    Bethyada – you know your mother loves you because you have evidence. We don't have to give it an adjective, surely. I am pleased you actually read one of the articles Matt is attacking. It's probably best you make your comments on Open Parachute as things have just got too chaotic here – the discussion thread system doesn't really work for me. And the formatting has problems. Anyway, I think that Open Parachute is the most appropriate place to discuss those articles.

    I am currently reviewing a book on the philosophical and scientific approaches to the atom and my article on this will deal directly with the issues you are referring to – so I welcome any comment you can make. The article should go up in the next fortnight.

  • (Unfortunately I got caught with a word limit – another problem persuing dicussions here. I really wish those interested in my articles had made their critiquyes on Open parachute where we don't have these problems).

    To continue fromn  previous comment:

    Glenn – why don't you engage with a substantive issue. Attempting to redefine words is surely just a diversion. One dictionary definition of knowledge – "general awareness or possession of information, facts, ideas, truths, or principles". I think people get the idea. You and Matt simply demonstrate your unwillingness to deal honestly with the points I made about scientific knwoledge by playing with words this way.

    Matt – you ask "Is it your position that evolution is merely a provisional theory? " – then you answer your own question so I guess you may not really be honest with the request. However, if you are – I outline my attitudes towards evolutionary science in a couple of articles – (Evolution – a theory or a fact? and The facts of evolution – and jealousy. Briefly: “Our knowledge about evolution includes facts (e.g., fossil records, genetics, molecular biology of DNA), theories (e.g, natural selection, sexual selection, genetic drift) and speculation (e.g., much of evolutionary psychology). Just like any other body of scientific knowledge.”

    Like any science parts of evolutionary knowledge are of course provisional. The science is evolving. it is an extremely active, lively science and there are plenty of differences and disputes. In the end we test these different ideas, and validate the resulting theories, against reality.

  • I would go even further than Glenn and say that even within different religious traditions independent people have drawn the same conclusions even though their "theology" might be Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Maori, etc.

  • The old limits of "science diversion."

    How the hell does this relate to Matt's proposition that theological "evidence" msut be incorporated into science classes in state schools?

    Non-one relies on science to determine if murder is wrong – nor do they rely on theology. Its part of humnan moral reasosning and intuition. Nothing to do with either science or religion.

    Now, can we get back to the theological "evidence" that Matt wants inserted into science classes in state schools.

  • Lovely day, so my replies may be short. They might overlap with others, but I'm writing for myself. Matt, see Ken's blog (reply is longer and I can't be bothered editing it, besides I want to use HTML).

  • To the first, you are repeating mistakes from earlier; I'm not going to repeat myself on those. To repeat myself on one point however: I did not "dismiss" theology, I pointed out it is limited; to use a tool, you need to understand it's limitations, etc. More importantly, you have avoided the points I made…

    And, please, do tell us how you propose to know if something is more than a possibility without verifying it!!

    To the second, man are you full of excuses!! 🙂 C'mon Matt, you can admit you didn't get it all right. It's not the end of the world.

  • Theories *are* knowledge 😉 This suggests to me that you don't understand what a theory really is. And please don't tell me what science is or not, especially when you clearly have no idea! I've already explained that knowledge in science is the best you can make out at the time. As a result it's always provisional. You can't "undo" that definition or make it something els, it is just what the nature of the beast is.

    Regards your last paragraph, no need to try smear me ("poor terms", etc.) or put words in my mouth (I can speak for myself, thank you). Science doesn't deal in beliefs, religion does. Only a religious person would write "knowledge is warranted true belief". This both shows that you don't understand science (and thereby aren't in a position to criticise it) and that you don't understand the failing of insisting something is "true belief" either (it's blind to any revision or new information).

  • You're making the same mistake as Matt, the issue regards knowing is being able to *demonstrate* something is right in an independent manner (or, more usefully, that the answer is the best answer you have so far), not if something "just happened" to be right or agreed upon by others. Sure, two people might chance upon the same answer. Many might even choose to agree because it suits something that they want to be true (hint, hint). But we've already been around this one and I want to have to repeat myself.

    I did not "insinuate" theologians never get the same answer. No need to try dress things up in loaded language for one thing, and as I pointed out getting or choosing to agree on the same answer in itself isn't the point. I wrote that theology can't *demonstrate* something to be true. That comes from the nature of theology: theological arguments by their nature rest on the starting assumptions/assertions of each argument.

  • Hmm… looks to my viewing, that some posts are disappearing. It may be some software issue, but I'm going to move any replies to Ken's blog. On that note, any replies to me should be directed to Ken's blog.

  • I suspect this is an issue with how JavaScript or whatever is pulling comments into a page that has been open for a while. Seems the programmer who wrote it needs a few lessons in logic…! 🙁 Just kidding, I just find it ironic…

    A work-around of sorts seems to be to refresh the page to force it to reload all the comments.

    Either way, I'm out of here 🙂

  • Heraclides, theories are not knowledgee. Theories may or may not be true. Knowledge is true. You say that only a "religious person" would say that knowledge is "warranted true belief." That's embarrassingly ignorant. Do a small amount of reading in the study of knowledge (it's called epistemology). You will quickly find that warranted true belief is the standard, widely held definition of knowledge. You might have your own personal use of that word, but you must at least realise that is non-standard.

    So again – and this is not a smear but a helpful correct, your terminology is poor and in need of correction.

    You know that I am religious, and as such you are therefore (by an unstated use of the ad hominem fallacy) assuming that I clearly have no idea what I am talking about (an ironic assumption, given the rather easy to spot error of yours), so I'll go out of my way to help. Here is some light reading on the difition of knowledge (that's not sarcasm, it really is light reading):

    http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/philosophy/faculty/bonevac/301/Knowledge.ppt (this is nice and easy to follow as it's a set of slides from an introductory lecture on the subject)

    http://www.kemstone.com/Nonfiction/Philosophy/Reflections/platoknowledge.htm

    http://philosophy.wisc.edu/comesana/Disjunctivism.pdf

    http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=Lzz1O3z7oyoC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=%22warranted+true+belief%22+-God+knowledge&source=bl&ots=DyCiI_KajG&sig=2_LnoRmMUYY_eRnTBYUqD7MqduI&hl=en&ei=ELBrSorsHYbgswPNuJ2XBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10 (this is part of a scholarly introduction to the idea of epistemic justification)

    I could offer a few more, but hopefully you'll accept these meagre links from a poor religious benighted soul.

    Oh, and you're welcome.

  • I have made another comment on Matt's post here. It's becoming too difficult to comment here – and also I would like to keep any more diversions away from Matt as I think it is most important he answer my question about incorporation of theological evidence into sicence – raised in the first comment here and subsequently.

    Glenn – I will look at some of your links. But really, isn't this still a diversion? After all why can't we just use the dictionary definition of knwoledge that we all understand.

    These diversions really annoy me when we have basic questions here which ar being avoided. I find it hard to treat such diversions seriously.

  • Ken, I'm sorry it annoys you. However, it seemed that Heraclides thought that there was an important mistake being made by me when it comes to understsanding what knowledge is, and by extension, what theories are. Since Both of these claims about me weren't true, I defended my comments. I don think that basic matters like that need to be clearly understood by anyone who wants to go deeper, so I think it's important that Hercalides become acquainted witht hem so that he is then in a position to go on to competently discuss the subject he apprently wants to discuss.

    I also don't see why you would be "annoyed" at me doing this. You've complained that Matt isn't answering a question to your liking, and I'm complaining that those defending your position can't even seem to get basic terms and concepts correct. You don't see me getting annoyed though, do you?

  • Glenn I have had a brief look at your links. While I may read one of them further I can assure everyone here that this is just a diversion on Glenn's part. You can quite profitably depend on the dictionary defintion of knowledge. In fact you may give up altogether if you try to read the links – so many words and pages to redefine a simple concept! And perhaps that's the reason for the diversion.

    What if the scientifically motivated people here resorted to using abstract chemical and mathematical formulae? Perhaps that might impress some people. Most would probably see it as childish skiting about ones educational acheivements. And the discussion would not be advanced one little bit.

    As my article is the one being attacked in Matt's post I wish the discussion could be concentrated on the relevant points (and I raised one in my first comment) and not be diverted unnecessarily in this mannner.

  • "Revelation is a mental illness"

    Throwing question on the mental health of one's opponents is a pretty cheap tactic don't you think?

  • Theological evidence:

    Tis could fall into several categories including (but notlimited to)

    – historical evidence (from both written sources and archeological discoversies)
    – evidence from one'sown mind (ie. insight/meditation/prayer – where a direct awareness of God is possible. I know this will be rejected out og hand by many people, but shoud not be)
    -scientific evidence (despite athiestic claims, evidence from our observation  of the world can point towards the existence of God – not away from it)
    – Biblical evidence (least convincing for the non-believer obviously – but this evidence forms PART OF an over all body of evidence)
    – evidence from behaviour of individuals (morality,pychological)
    -evidence from the behaviour of societies (in particualar the common beliefs held in very divrse populations)

    Now,I have not talked about any SPECIFIC examples I know. I am just outlining the areas to look in if you are really sincere in looking for evidence.

    I am sure Matt can provide more categories.

  • Your mistake is to think that science is about being able to demonstate things as an individual.  I could not demonstrate, by my own means, the truth of 95% of the scientific beliefs I hold.  Could you? Could even most scientists?  As Newton said "I only see further than other men because I stand on the shoulders of giants"…. or whatever.

    Science is a communal activity.  The idea of the individualist in his lab working everything out from first principles is a myth.

    Sientific endeavours ALSO rest on the work of other scientists that went befor them. As does theology.

  • So Max – you actually want these included in science? If so, how do you imagine that can occur? In terms of the scientific requirements for objective evidence and testing/validating against reality?

    Matt – do you agree with this list? Does it satisfy the requirements outlined in your post? And how do you envisage this happening?

    Perhaps Max (and Matt) you do have to talk about specific instances to clarify what you mean by evidence.

    And, yes Max, I am sincere about the requirement of evidence, true evidecne and all the evidence (wherever it leads) in science. I believe that most scientists are. The scientific process and scientific ethos of honesty surely require this.

    Obviously things like historical evidence, "scientific evidence," human and social behaviours are very much part of the evidence considered within evolutionary and other sciences. I don't see why you should list them as "theological evidence." Evidence is evidence.

    But at the moment half of your list doesn't look like evidence to me. It looks like  preconceived ideas/mythology which couldn't withstand any scientific rigour.

    But, perhaps if you provide specific examples I might change my mind.

  • Ken, that you actually think I am offering an alternative to the dictionary definition of anything just reveals how out of your depth you actually are when it comes to basics. It is not in the least abstract to definie knowledge this way. Not in the least. 
     
    I thought you cared about precision. Or have you slackened off, and are you now happy for Christian science proponents to call it a scientific "theory"? Or intelligent design? No, that's when you'll get up in arms about it not meeting some abstract definition of being a theory, right? Accuracy is only used when it suits you. 
     
    Go ahead, ignore it when people call you or those who agree with you when they make factual errors. call it a diversion. I suppose it is a diversion in the sense that it's an annoying distraction from you and yours saying whatever you like and wanting to get away with it. 
     
    But suit yourself. Free speech and all that.

  • I agree to an extent – but there is certinly some evidence which can never (or at least can not NOW) be assessed via objective scientific measurements.  For instance our internal mental states (NOTE: not brain states – I do not accept a 1 to 1 correspondence here.  Please don't use this philosophical starting point and claim it is a "scientific"one…)

    My love or sense of awe can also not be measured objectivy (AGAIN: there is nt a 1 to 1 correspondence between love and physical events in the body – whatever Pop-pychologoy and dawkinss migh tell you)

    There is thus at least some evidence which is not "scientific" in the sense you seem to mean.

    Rather than argueing whether a particular bit of evidence is "theological evidence" or "scientific evidence" I would phrase it rather – there is a theological framework within which all this evidence is interpretted.  Just as there is a materialist framework within which all of this can be interpretted.

    In fact!  Thankyou Ken I have it now… the theological framework has just as much right to claim to be the "scientific worldview" as does the materialist framework.

    So I agree with you.  All of this IS scientific evidence after all!

  • PS. which half of the list don't you like?

  • The old limits of "science diversion." 
     
    How the hell does this relate to Matt's proposition that theological "evidence" msut be incorporated into science classes in state schools? 
     
    Non-one relies on science to determine if murder is wrong – nor do they rely on theology. Its part of humnan moral reasosning and intuition. Nothing to do with either science or religion.

    This question was to establish that we agree that things can be true but not testible by science. This is a key part of the argument. Matt's point is that God creating the universe is true if in fact God did. And if God told someone he created the universe, then such knowledge is theological (and revelational).

    No you can argue that such information is subjective, or unreliable, or you may wish to say that it is not testable (though I would argue it is not necessarily testible in a scientific manner). Or you may state how are we to know that the Christian version is true and not the Muslim one. And all these are reasonable questions, but they are different types of questions to the question of whether knowledge can (at least theoretically) be obtained via revelation.

  • Your reply bears no resemblance to the points being made. I never said anything about "as an individual", you added that. As result the rest of your post is not connected with what I was writing about.

  • See Ken's blog. (I'm certain I replied to this effect earlier, but it's not here!)

  • Personally you need to add what tools you are going to examine these things with. If the only tool you have is "logic", then you're not going to get that far. 

    But looking at the list quickly, you'll have to reject personal accounts, etc., as anecdotal accounts of any kind can't stand up to examination as to if they're "true" or not. This isn't rejecting them "out of hand", but because there is no way to resolve if they are "true" or not. (It's why anecdote is not considered evidence.)

    Your "Biblical" "evidence" has the same failing: just because an anecdote is written down or involves a larger number of people doesn't turn it into "evidence".

    Behavioural evidence could be used in principle, but all that I'm aware from neuroscience points against you, I'm afraid.

    Behaviour of societies isn't evidence (it's circular "logic", among other things).

    Evoking a "theological framework" looks suspiciously like special pleading to me (i.e. trying to create a "special case" in which your wished-for-views can't be examined critically).

  • All you're doing is demonstrating that you either don't know what constitutes a scientific theory, or want to "redefine it"—as apologists so often seem to want to—to suit yourself.

    There is a reason I wrote that only a religious person would write "true warranted belief" and I told you quite clearly, so there is no need to make a mountain out of it. Science doesn't deal with *belief*: religion does. That is not ignorant at all, it is literally true.

    You may not "get" the key point, but that is no excuse to make out I am "ignorant" or your other silly (and I must say, arrogant) put-downs. I will stop replying to you as it's clear you are only interested in "just winning" and not in reading what I've written. As such it's clear there is no discussion to be had with you.

    Since you give out "homework" links, here is one for you: http://www.wilstar.com/theories.htm

    I trust you will take the good sense to learn what 'theory' actually means before writing about it in future.

  • Heraclides, it has become clear that there's no point pursung this with you. Nobody has put you down, you are simply being thin skinned, and are not able to tolerate criticism. As you wish.

    On the plus side, you've motivated me to up my efforts in promoting the public understanding of the nuts and bolts of philosophy, starting with the idea of knowledge, which, as I indicated earlier, you were misconstruing. I do that here. For that reason at least, I'm glad we had this encounter.

  • Heraclides, it has become clear that there's no point pursung this with you. Nobody has put you down. I certainly have not done so. You appear to think that a criticism is a put down. It's not. You are simply being thin skinned, and are not able to tolerate criticism. As you wish.
      
    On the plus side, you've motivated me to up my efforts in promoting the public understanding of the nuts and bolts of philosophy, starting with the idea of knowledge, which, as I indicated earlier, you were misconstruing. I do that here. For that reason at least, I'm glad we had this encounter, and who knows, you might actually benefit from what I've done because of this.

    On another note – I read your link. I daresay, if I supplied you with a link that was explicitly religious, you would hardly take it seriously, yet you lack scholarly practice to such an extent that you present a link to a piece written on someone's personal website, and article that is overtly (i.e. explicitly) anti-religious? You've a bit to learn about footnoting, to put it mildly! But in any case, as you wish I will no longer try to reason about it with you.

  • "At this stage – could you clarify what you specifically mean by "theological evidence?" the original statement was “If the relevant evidence points towards a theory it does not follow that all the evidence points towards it. That’s because there might be evidence which science does not consider, such as theological claims that are relevant.”

    Here I referred to theological claims that science does not consider. What I had in mind are the kinds of claims which are ruled out by methodological naturalism which is involved in science as currently practised. Many writers (Ruse Pennock, Forrest etc) have given definitions of methodological naturalism. But I think Plantinga gives the most comprehensive in the Stanford Encyclopedia article on Religion and Science:
     (1) the data set (data model) for a proper scientific theory can't refer to God or other supernatural agents (angels, demons), or employ what one knows or thinks one knows by way of (divine) revelation. (2) A proper scientific theory can't refer to God or any other supernatural agents, or employ what one knows or thinks one knows by way of revelation (3) the epistemic base of a proper scientific theory can't include propositions obviously entailing the existence of God or other supernatural agents, or propositions one knows or thinks one knows by way of revelation.

    A theological claim then is any claim which refers to God, a supernatural agent, or a proposition one knows by faith or revelation.


  • Specifically – what "theological evidence" should we as scientists consider in evolutionary science”? What "theological evidence" should we encourage inclusion of in NZ science classes in State schools? What "theological evidence" are we specifically missing in this context?

    I didn’t say that theological evidence should be included in science or in science classes, what I suggested is that evolutionary theory should be taught as the best theory relative to a scientific epistemic base.

    If one wants to say it’s the best theory on all the relevant evidence then one needs either to show that the scientific epistemic base is the only relevant epistemic base, which will mean either that one shows (a) revelation and faith are unreliable or (b) they are reliable but say nothing of relevance or (c) they are reliable and say things of relevance but taking this into account does not alter the conclusion.  Now science has demonstrated none of these claims as true. They are largely philosophical theological questions which could be discussed in a philosophy or religious education course alongside the teaching of science.

  • Actually Ken, as Glenn stated, the definition of knowledge as warranted or justified true belief is the standard definition of knowledge. There is a consensus amongst those who study and analyse the concepts of knowledge that something like this definition is correct (the debate is about what warrant or justification is). Hence, Glenn is not re-defining the term this way; in fact, Plato proposed something like it 2000 years before the dictionary was written.

    But given that you think using terms the way they are standardly used is a diversion and as you seem to want to argue dictionary definitions, I note that the oxford English dictionary defines a theory as “a supposition that explains something;” there is no reference to empirical testing or empirical verification in this definition and this definition suggests theories are simply suppositions. Hence, your definition of a theory must be a diversion and an attempt to redefine terms.

    Now if you object to this and claim the term is mistaken in the dictionary and scientists who develop theories use a different definition then I will note that those who analyse concepts of knowledge use different definitions of knowledge and truth, namely, the ones I have used.  Please be consistent.

  • You can use the editing buttons in the comment box, just highlight and click – there's bold, italics, underline and even an insert hyperlink button.

    As for your comments disappearing – try refreshing the page.

    If you are writing your comments in word and then pasting them in, paste them into notepad or wordpad first then re-copy them and paste them here – this step will strip the extra hidden coding that Word adds to text which eats up your character limit.

  • "you'll have to reject personal accounts"

    …well say goodbye to the discipline of history then.  And much of science as well if you sit down and think about this for a moment.

  • The idea that two theologians " chance upon the same answer" is both patronizing and ignorant.  If you said this about anyother academic discipline you would be laughed off the stage. Hencemyreply:

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

  • Then you don't mind the evidence being treated in the normal scientific way – compared with, tested and valiudated agaisnt reality. That is what we do with science – evidence is evidence we don't give it an adjective.  And it's got nothing ot do iwht "worldview" – unless you wordview wants to call white balck, make a claim without or against the evidence, etc. If evidence doesn't measure up – found to be false as claimed, etc., then it is rejected. Similarly if a claim, theory, idea is found to conflict with the objective evidence it is rejected.

    If you are ahppy with that we are on the same side.

  • I have received a couple of email replies from Matt regarding my questions in the first comment (thanks Matt). Unfortunately, they are not showing up here so I have posted them at Open parachute: Different ways of knowing… and Different ways of knowing….

    I will (propbably) also respond to them at Open Parachute – as can anyone else.

    Sorry for the diversion but there just doesn't seem to be any other way of handling discussion while the problems here persist.

  • Matt – seeing this reference to knowledge has arisen from Glenn (and presumably you) attmepting to redefine scientific knowledge – claiming that scientists assert their knowledge is "true" in an absolute sense (something which any person who understands scientific process would object to) I think it is worthy of a more detailed response. Fortunately Glenn has written an outline of his approach and will respond to that.

    I think it is a subject woerthy of a more detailed reponse thanh can be given here – especially witht he current problems (I'll porobably do a seperate post at Open Parachute) because it does appear to be another theological argument aimed at undermining, or at least misrepresenting, scientic process.

  • Ken, the definition of knowledge as a justified or warranted true belief is not a theological argument, nor is it a redefinition. Its the standard way the term is defined by those analysing the concept( subject to the Gettier problems). Its hard to know why you keep repeating what we have already addressed.

    Nor did I claim anywhere that scientists assert their theories are  true in an absolutist sense. I simply said you cannot know any thing (wether in science or theology whether its a theory or not) unless its true.

    I am willing to grant on many issues both scientists and theologians should and would be willing to state they might be mistaken and will change there position should new evidence require them to, but thats not the same as claiming a false theory consitutes knowledge.

    I also think there are many scientists who do hold that certain scientific claims are absolutely certain. Dawkins for example has said this about evolution on numerous occasions.

  • Sigh – After making a thoughtfull contribution in the comments section of Glenn's post on knowledge at his site I find it treated as "spam" and rejected!

    Looks like the sensible thing to do is my own article at Open Parachute.

    I have a policy of not wasting my time trying to comment further on sites which delete me. Cosequently no more commenting on Thinking Matters, NZ Christian News, Say Hello, Being Frank, Uncommon Descent, etc.

    Seems to be a pattern there! I hope MandM sticks with its comment policy and doesn't get caught up in this censorship

  • Knowing Glenn rather well as I do, I doubt strongly if he would delete your comments. I can't comment on the other blogs you named as I don't know the owners as well but Glenn deleting your comments? I doubt it. His views are much like ours on such things.

    It sounds more like his spam filter is the problem rather than his policy. Did your comment have more than one URL in it? It has probably just been automatically moved to moderation and when he gets home from work tonight he'll approve it.

    Feel free to leave your comment for him here though.

  • Ah – if it were only that simple. And that's what is so annoying about comment censorship – after having made all the effort everything is lost. (Mind you – I should have learned and prepared my comments in a text editor beforehand so I had a copy when dealing with suspect blogs).

    So – I am afraid I can't repeat my comment here. I don't have a copy.

    Maybe Glenn just hasn't got around to checking his moderation list (although its been several days).

    We'll just have to wait and see.

  • That is unfortunate. I always copy my comment before clicking on submit so if there is some technical glitch or the page fails to load properly or if at that moment my internet connection dies I can still paste it and try again.

    Glenn will be receiving notifications of our discussion so I am sure on reading them he will check his moderation queue – I check ours extremely rarely as I simply forget that some comments end up in it that should not.

    Even though we don't delete comments here at MandM I am still uncomfortable with calling the practice censorship. Blogs are privately owned and like private property there is no right to be permitted to remain there; the owner can pick and choose who they wish to turf off for whatever reason they want to.

    However, I do agree that it seems odd that blogs that seem to want to engage particular issues would not allow such engagements to occur in their comments threads. Its as if they miss the point of such discussions.

    I can understand deleting the more troll-ish comments that offer little substance, the sort that just repeat slogans with no argument or evidence and generally inflame or abuse but I think you can deter or at least minimise such comments by setting the calibre or tone of your blog by example rather than the delete button. If the standard of your own argument and that of the majority of your commenters is well reasoned and high then those idiotic troll comments loaded with personal abuse stand obvious for what they are and simply make the person who left them look stupid without you having to say a word – given this why would you delete them?!?

  • Ken, my comments are not moderated at all by me, and the Spam filter keeps copies of everything that it picks up as spam. I have checked through all the SPAM picked up in the last week. There's plenty of the typical porn spam, but not a single comment from you. You did not post at my site. If you like I can supply a screenshot of the list of spam received.

    My wordpress blog (the one at my site) has never simply lost a comment before, and I have never manually deleted one before unless it was genuine spam that slipped throught he filter. Whatever may have happened at your end, no comment from you was ever submitted to my blog.

  • If anyone would like to see for themselves, an image of the spam queue is here: http://www.beretta-online.com/comments.pdf

  • Well, sorry about jumping to that conclusion, Glenn. Obviously something has gone wrong. I did get an ambiguous message about spam and moderation when I posted the comment which suggests that the problem is probably at your end rather than mine. Spilt milk and all that.

    Pity, though, because the comment was lost and my effort was wasted. However, when I write a response (because I think it deserves one) there will be a chance to discuss it then. The advantage of doing it as a post at Open Parachute is that I want to have a collection of referable articles on a range of common arguments used to criticise science.

    Madeliene – I don't like deletion except for obvious spam. Have had a few problems with trolls. But as the resulting activity usually leads to an excessive confusing list of comments I have found the best way to handle it is actually close of discussion on the specific post. That way the deletion is not aimed at a single person. Of course they can then crop up in comments on other posts. But I have found they usually just go away.

  • Glenn – I should have added I no longer have your blog on my "list" of those to avoid contributing to.

  • Quick head's up. I've been hit with a workload that has me working literally all hours from dawn until midnight or so. I'm unlikely to find time to reply, at least in the immediate future. If you do want to get a reply from me, you'll probably have more luck if you post at Ken's blog as I'm more likely to get around to visiting there than here (nothing personal, it's just I rarely visit here even when I have time). I don't use RSS feeds for "leisure" blogs so I won't see posts that way either! (I have enough email as it is from work-related sites and correspondence.)

    Ken has put up some new posts from Matt and there are a few replies to these for those who haven't checked them out yet.

  • We have the same problem Heraclides, insane workload and personal issues going on which severely impacts our time and ability to follow discussions on other blogs. We'll do what we can but between us we have 3 major deadlines still to meet this week, each requiring a fairly hefty amount of research to be complete plus a funeral and a conference to speak at, plus our blog commitments and normal daily life.

    You'll get email notifications for new replies here provided you've entered your email address in at least one of your comments before posting.

    You'll also be pleased to know that I have fixed some of the commenting issues here, replies are not longer threaded in but fall at the bottom of a single page of comments.

  • Most of the evolution we've seen have been the evolution of the evolution theory itself. The evolution text books have been replaced so many times since 1960s (no other science text books have been so wrong so many times like that).

    Practically ALL about theory evolution they taught me back in school that I could remember are now either wrong or found to be fraud. The most famous one is probably the Haekel's embryonic drawing; that was taught me back in school in science class.

    More complete list at http://www.nwcreation.net/evolutionfraud.html … I still remember many of them from school's science class.

    Evolution prediction about transitional fossils have also been wrong if we really look at the evidence. See these graphs comparing the prediction vs the evidence we actually found http://www.rae.org/FAQ01.html … and to this day they are still not settled with the definition of transitional … perhaps because the evidence do not fit their current definition?

    But not all hope is lost, slowly but sure more and more honest scientists have stepped forward. Check this group http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/ consisting of hundreds of PHDs (you can download the list in PDF):

    " We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

    But how can this be? How can this part of science be like that? Well, there are two possibilities:
    1. The scientific methods are not robust
    2. Evolution scientists have not been sticking to scientific methods when it comes to evolution theory

    Now, despite of all this, schools got sued for putting a label like this one:

    "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

  • <table class="js-singleCommentBodyT" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%">
    <tbody>
    <tr style="vertical-align: top;">
    <td style="padding-bottom: 8px;" colspan="2">
    <div class="js-singleCommentText">This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."</div>
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    Wouldn't you think all science (and other academic study) should be approached with this attitude?

  • Yes, and does it not make you wonder, why ACLU got involved? Now, ACLU is a really big organisation with really big budget. It makes you think why such big organisation would sue a small school over a label like that.

  • A fanatical hatred of religion maybe?

  • <span style="font-family: Times; ">
    <div style="color: #000000; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; background-image: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; -webkit-background-clip: initial; -webkit-background-origin: initial; background-color: #ffffff; background-position: initial initial; margin: 8px;">
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">I haven't gotten get any emails and to be honest I like it that way! 🙂 (I have quite enough email as it is…)
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">I don't have time to comment here and I have be honest Matt has discouraged me from wanting to. He repeatedly foisted on me some things despite my repeatedly pointing out that I didn't write what he claims I did, which has put me off (see Ken's blog). I don't think it is appropriate to respond to someone protesting that he has been misrepresented them by repeating the statements that they object to. I'm not perfect it, no-one is, but I don't go on shoving things down someone's throat if they continue to say they feel they are being misrepresented.
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">I'm not writing this out of malice, just explaining why I'm discouraged from interacting with him here.
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"> 
    <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">As a practical matter, this is seems to have died on Matt accepting that he agrees that theological evidence should be accepted in scientific theories, but he won't back his statement, so at the moment it stands as an empty claim.
    </div>
    </span>

  • My understanding of this article is that since science is limited to naturalism, it should not be taught as true, because it is in fact a subset of what is true which includes things naturalism does not account for.

    Only naturalists believe that nature is all there is. But this belief must not trump other beliefs in state schools.

  • Sid, as a scientist with 40 years of research experience I never had to confront questions of naturalism and supernaturalism in my job. I think that is the common experience. These are terms that have been used by those attacking, and defending, science. Political terms, in effect.

    Good science goes for evidence, all the evidence, and follows the evidence wherever it leads. That is why I have continually asked Matt for specific examples of actual evidence (not theological "claims") that science excludes. He can't produce any. Science would be happy to follow any "theological" evidence available (after all, evidence is evidence – it doesn't need an adjective). This, of course requires evaluating against objecitve reality, testing and validation, the normal scientific procedure – which makes the process so powerful. We are not going to give that away – no matter how muych Matt desires it.

    In fact, in New Zealand when people talk about naturalism and naturalists – they mean nhudists.

    In my experience, when people use terms like this they aren't interested in science. They have ideological/political aims.

  • Sorry – a can't get by without a spell checker.

    I of course was referring to nudists.

  • Sid, finally someone who can actually read what I said (though I would limit the naturalist comment to methodological naturalism).

    Ken you write, as a scientist with 40 years of research experience I never had to confront questions of naturalism and supernaturalism in my job. I think that is the common experience. These are terms that have been used by those attacking, and defending, science. Political terms, in effect.

    Err No, actually the idea that science should be based on methodological naturalism is insisted on my numerous leading philosophers of science and scientists who have spent 40 years or so studying what science is how it works and getting published in the field. Nearly all of them are supporters of evolution, Michael Ruse , Robert Pennock, Howard Van Till, William Hasker, Ernan Mcmillan, Barbara Forrest to name a few. I learnt it from them.

    To claim this is invented by “opponents of science” is simply false. These are all opponents of creationism. In fact Ruse definition of science was the basis of the Overton decision which banned creationism from public schools in the US. The anti ID writings are full of defences of methodological naturalism the work Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics for example by Robert Pennock is full of defences of it by Darwinists defending evolution against ID

    Good science goes for evidence, all the evidence, and follows the evidence wherever it leads. That is why I have continually asked Matt for specific examples of actual evidence (not theological "claims") that science excludes.

    Well as I pointed out Ken, I think theological claims can constitute evidence, by "claim" here I simply mean a proposition and propositions can provide evidence for other propositions.  Theological propositions are precisely the kinds of propositions science excludes from its evidence base.

    The fact that you will consider any evidence except theological propositions actually tends to confirm my point.

  • Following from my previous comment
    He can't produce any. Science would be happy to follow any "theological" evidence available (after all, evidence is evidence – it doesn't need an adjective).

    Well I agree I can’t produce “specific examples of actual evidence that science excludes which  are not theological "claims"because the examples I had in mind were theological propositions.

    This, of course requires evaluating against objecitve reality, testing and validation, the normal scientific procedure – which makes the process so powerful. We are not going to give that away – no matter how muych Matt desires it.

    Actually, as I have repeatedly stated,  I have no problem with testing theories against objective reality. I think God exists and hence is part of objective reality, I also believe that what he reveals to us is true and hence part of objective reality. What I don’t accept is that objective reality is limited to natural objects or properties

    In fact, in New Zealand when people talk about naturalism and naturalists – they mean nudists.

    That’s what the word means in one context, but as you know its not how its used in this context, the word theory can have different meanings in other contexts to, but that does not stop you using a precise definition in a certain context.

    In my experience, when people use terms like this they aren't interested in science. They have ideological/political aims.

    Then you need up on methodological naturalism a bit more, do you consider Michael Ruse for example to be not interested in science.

  • "To claim this is invented by “opponents of science” is simply false. These are all opponents of creationism."

    Guest, that is a very telling statement.  You seem to be implying that there is science on one side and creationism on the other.  Is this really what you mean to say?

  • The guest 3 comments up was Matt, he inadvertantly posted anonymously.

    I don't he think he meant that, he was using Ken's terms to demonstrate that his position was wrong on Ken's own terms.

  • Good science goes for evidence, all the evidence, and follows the evidence wherever it leads.

    I will rephrase slightly: Science must go for evidence, all the evidence, and follows the evidences wherever they lead.

    But where the evidences lead to multiple paths, science must not discard some evidence in favour of another. This is because I believe that science's first and foremost job is to validate, preserve, and explore ALL the evidence, no matter where they lead, no matter how many different paths those evidence lead.

    Further more, there is something far more important than evidence, it is the scientific method. Because the method is what will make science objective/non-biased/neutral. It will make science robust or flaky. This is the deal breaker.

    So now tell me, do you consider Intelligent Design as scientific? If your answer happen to be no, please tell us why.

  • Sid, I think even the more sane IDers would say ID is not science. Nelson, for example, points out that it is only an idea – the research just hasn't been done.

    I have no problem weith people advancing ideas in  science. And lets, face it, most of these ideas turn our to be wrong. We know that because they get tested against reality. We then abandon them or modify them to make progress.

    Now that has not been done with the ID ideas. While they are trying to impose ID onto school  science classes and in textbooks, absolutely no research has been done. The propoents don't attend scientific coinferences. Most of them don't work in scientific research.

    So, no Sid at this stage ID is not scientific, its not even scientific speculation. I would love it dearly if decent hypotheses were formulated and tested. If some decent ID theory came out of this I am sure it would be worth a Nobel prize.

    Now that isn't happening, and you have to ask why it isn't happening.

    It's worth actually considering ID research in terms of Matts claims of matierialism.naturalism etc. These are claims right out of the Wedge Strategy document – which outlines the Discovery Insitutuer ID strategy. They talk about research and we should ask if they have been able to incorporate "non-naturalism", "non-materialism" into their research methodolyg.

    Have a look at Micheal Behes work – where is the evidenc his methgods are any different to the "naturalism Matt complains about? Look at Gonzales. The same question? If Matt is serious and not mouthing off he would be absle to demonstrate how his ideas work in these specific cases.

    Now the Discovery Insitute set up a "research institute' headed by Axe. Tell me what "non-naturalist" methods they are using? In fact the work Axe has published has been about protein folding – all based on"naturalist" metholodology.

    So I ask this – if even the Wedge people that are involved in anything resembling true scientific research do not use "non-naturalist" methodolgy – and their strategy wishes to impose such a methodolgy on science and society, what the hell is Matt talking about??

    In fact Matt has no idea what he can mean in practical terms. He just shies away from practivcal questions. And if Behe, Gonzalez and Axe don't use "non-naturlaist" methodlogy – who can blame Matt.

  • Matt – you misrepresent me – I did not say that terms like "naturalism", "materialism", etc. are "invented by "oppenets of science."". Far from it. I said they were terms that are used politically by both sides – opponents and defenders of science.

    My personal feeling, after 40 years scientific research experience where I never had to use such terms, is that they are not really all that useful. What defenders of science mean by these terms is "evidence based" – and by implication "supernatural" is not evidence based.

    I have written quite a bit on this because many people would have rejected (and probably did) the ideas of Einstein, or even Newton, because they seem too supernatural, to magic. That would have been dogmatic – and is the reason why I would opposes such temrs being used in research. Fortunately they aren't – and we actually do get round to testing and validating ideas like realtivity, laws of gravity and motion, or quantum mechanics. Based on the evidence.

    And, Matt, you suffer form living/existing in an apoplogetics ghetto (see The ghetto of apologetics “science”). You have a select group of people who you pull oUT AS AUTHORITIES. mATT, LIFE IS MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT. yOU CAN PERSIST IN THE GHETTO MENTALITY, OF FINDING AUHTHOiRTY AND QUOTE MINING TO SHORE UP YOUR ASSERTIONs. OR YOU CAN LOOK AT THE WORLD AND REALISE IT'S A LOT MORE CoMPLIUCATED THAT THE DOGMA YOU ESPOUSE.

    i HAVE ALSO READ fORREST AND rUSE. rUSE, IN MY OPINION MAKES PLENTY OF MISTAKES. fORREST i RESPECT – BUT i DON'T LIKE HEr philosophical analysis.

    But so what. In my research I just got on and did my job. I took on board the phiolsophical ideas I thouyght useful, and ignored those I didn't. I could think for myself.

    In the end, the final arbiter for me was reality, ideas tested agaisnt the real world. Not the words of some ideologue or phislopher I happened to like.

  • Sorry about the spelling and capitals. Not intended.

  • Ken,

    I'm not going to turn this into ID debate, as it will be off topic from the original post.

    In my opinion, ID is scientific. The fact that most ideas turn out to be wrong, or that not much research [yet] have been done, etc doesn't make an idea any less scientific. What makes an idea scientific or not is the method used. Hence things like the wedge document is irrelevant to deciding whether a theory is scientific or not.

    Imagine if Louis Pasteur did his experiment today and say that living things can only come from other living things. The court would have banned his experiment from schools.

    I have mentioned in another thread about how wrong evolution theory has been since 1960's. That no other science books have to be replaced so many times. Most of the evolution we see is the evolution theory itself. Almost everything taught to me about theory evolution have all been replaced (not improved), found to be fraud, or now questioned. This out of proportion errors don't happen with science branch like engineering, electronic, etc. You have to wonder why.

    Evolution theory is a controversial theory, and please don't say this isn't controversial amongst scientists (http://www.dissentfromdarwin.com). Yet it has been taught as fact in state schools.

  • No Sid – it is not controversial amongst scientists. It's controversial amongst relgionists. In New zealand about 40% of Chrsitians don't accept efvolutionary science. (80% of the total population does.)

    I have analysed the dissenters' lists (see Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”?) and Scientific dissent from . . . science? and other articles on my blog). This showed that in almost every individual I could identify – the "scepticism" was based on relgious beliefs – not scienctifc knowledge.

    If you followed the recent debate with Glenn you would realise scientific knwoeldge is not a dogma – it is provisional. Evolutionary science is a dynamic, active science. Ideas are continually developing. New evidence continually comes in. There a hell of a lot of converging evidence confirming ideas like natural selection.

    I am sure if youy honestly looked at how these scientific ideas had developed over the years you would see this. I can't really make any more ocmnment than that because you don't give any specific examples.

    Interesting though – your definition of sicentific doesn't seem to require any aelation with evidence. Does sort of confirm the point I made – "naturalism" is really being used as a code-word for "evidence."

  • Interesting though – your definition of sicentific doesn't seem to require any aelation with evidence. Does sort of confirm the point I made – "naturalism" is really being used as a code-word for "evidence."

    Because when scientific method is used, it will lead to reliable evidence. It's a given.

    When you start discarding idea as non-science based on how many research done, by how many percent of population accept it, by who the proponents are …  you start to become biased

  • From your website

    He found that only about 2% of the signatories may have had any training in evolutionary biology. The fields of expertise most highly represented on the list are chemistry (19%) engineering (14%) and physics (13%)

    May be because evolution contradicts all other known science? It contradicts most of physics (thermodynamic, enthropy, etc), engineering (design vs evolution), and chemistry (animals might be able to adapt, but not non-living chemical, so how the heck did the chemical cross the boundary of non-living to living and suddenly through some reaction become… alive?).

    Someone who has invested a lot into evolution theory would not likely to disagree. It is simply conflict of interest. So the number is not unexpected.

  • Evidence, and the mapping against reality, is an integral part of scientific method. If there is no research done – you shouldn't call it scientific – let alone impose it on science classes and incorporate into textbooks.

    Bald claims of contradiction don't carry any weight. have a look at that Walter Mitty character on "Thinking Matters" who claims that formation of life (and life itself) violates the second law of thermnodynamics!!! When his mistake is pointed out he resorts to bafflegab. Disgusting.

    So if you want to justify ID – do so. Provide the evidence. But don't make unsubstantiated claims about scientific knwoledge. You will only be show up as silly – and you, of course, will then have to resort to bafflkegab, just like Johnson Phillip.

  • Sure if there's no research then one has to asked where do the evidence comes from. But science is not a contest of the number of research done. How many research did it take to prove that rats don't evolve from rags?

    There are already plenty of places to read and debate about ID. The complexity of DNA, RNA, and life can not simply be ignored and explain away with evolution theory, it'll come back on your face again and again.

  • Why Christians get so hung up about the evolution thing I find perplexing.

    What is it that is so offensive about humanity having arrived via a long process?  The central claim of Christianity is supposed to be (surprise surprise) about Christ – and the salvation he provides.  To make the cetral issue of Christianity about the exact mechanism which led to the origin of life seems to miss the point and worse distract people from what should be central.

    Just a thought.

  • As I said – this is a controversy for Chrsitians – not scientists.

    However, Sid, it's noticeable that you start by asserting that ID is scientific, you can't provide any evidence for this (I think you are conceding there isn't any) and then you revert to attacking evolutionary science – and making unsubstanitated claims against it.

    It seems to me that you may not even know what ID is, or have an ID hypotheiss. Your real issue is the hatred of evolutionary science (and possibly other science).

    I suggest you forget about evolution – unless you want to debate that with your Christian colleagues here who seem to mostly disagree with you. Just advance your ID hypotheiss, lay out the evidence and discuss that. You might make progress. But forget abgout evolutionary science. If ID has any value at all it will be able to stand on its own feet (evidence).

  • More perplexing is why seemingly intelligent people get so hung up about defending abiogenesis.

    One day people just remember, oh, there's that Christian guy called Louis Pasteur from way back, and he did proof that living things come from living things.

    I mean, you see it before your eyes every single day. There is no shred of evidence that life comes from non life. Talk about following the evidence?

    Just a thought

  • So, Sid. Do you conclude that life has always existed? For the last 13.7 billion years? Before the earth formed?

    Come of it!

    Whatever ones philsophical beliefs life obviously did arise at some stage. Surely!

    We have to follow the evidence – but not be silly about it.

  • Whatever ones philsophical beliefs life obviously did arise at some stage. Surely!

    What's silly is that one philosophy/belief is to be taught as true in state schools.

  • "More perplexing is why seemingly intelligent people get so hung up about defending abiogenesis. 
     
    One day people just remember, oh, there's that Christian guy called Louis Pasteur from way back, and he did proof that living things come from living things. 
     
    I mean, you see it before your eyes every single day. There is no shred of evidence that life comes from non life. Talk about following the evidence? 
     
    Just a thought"

    I agree.  I think abiogenesis (whether defending or attacking) is equally irrelevant to the central message of Christianity.

  • "So, Sid. Do you conclude that life has always existed? For the last 13.7 billion years? Before the earth formed? 
     
    Come of it! "

    This is an intersting question – and not one which I think you should reject out of hand as ridiculous.  It is possible that "life" or "consciousness" of some kind is just as much a natural feature of the Universe as matter and energy.  If this is the case then we would expect life (and consciousness) to arise wherever the circumstances were favourable.

    I guess there is a deep philosophical question here about whether matter/energy or consciousness if the primary reality.

    Some evolutionary world views hold to the view that originally there was only matter and after a long process out of this consciousness arone.  But I would ask you to consider the opposite – that consciousness existed first, and then via a long process they physical world of matter ermerged out of this. 

    Yes – I am talking about Creation.  My point is that the MATTER -> CONSCIOUSNESS theory is just as much a philosophical claim as the CONSCIOUSNESS -> MATTER claim, and I don't think one can claim to be more "scientific" or "neutral" than the other.

    I guess since God is the source of all live and is still a Living God – I would like to say that "(L)ife has always existed? For the last 13.7 billion [or however many] years? [and] Before the earth formed? "

  • I am currently reviewing the book Biocentrism which makes a case for the primacy of life or consciousness. I am not convinced, although I do recognise this is a (very much) minority speculation within cosmology. It comes back to a particular interpretation of the measurement problem in quantum mechanics.

    According to the authors the universe existed only as a number  possibilities (wave equation) until consciouness arose. Then the ocnsciousness created the past universe. Pretty far fetched to me.

    However, I think Sid is making the claim that rats have always existed – which is silly. That life, as we know it, did not have a beginning. He hasn't raised gods, demons, spirits, angels, devils, or anything magic, as far as I know.

  • Ken,

    I didn't say rat always existed, I believe that God always existed, not rat.

    I was being sarcastic and referring to the time when some people believed that rats were from rags, then Louis Pasteur showed that the living things they observed coming out of the non living things were just false observation.

  • Ken:  Is this a question that the authors of Biocentrism think can be answered through observation?  Or is it more a philosophical work?

    Sid: Louis Pasteur demonstrated that fully formed living creatures do not emerge from non-life.  I am not aware of any evolutionist who claims they do…

  • What would be non-fully formed living creatures?

  • Half formed ones. 😉

  • These are claims right out of the Wedge Strategy document – which outlines the Discovery Insitutuer ID strategy. They talk about research and we should ask if they have been able to incorporate "non-naturalism", "non-materialism" into their research methodolyg.

    Actually the issue of methodological naturalism has been raging in biblical studies for a long time, quite independently of the ID science issue.

    Moreover, the fact that an organisation  follows an idea does not mean the idea commits one to the beliefs of that organisation. Social Darwinism’s used Darwin’s idea of natural selection ideas it does not follow that anyone who expounds natural selection is a social Darwinist.

    Have a look at Micheal Behes work – where is the evidenc his methgods are any different to the "naturalism Matt complains about? Look at Gonzales. The same question? If Matt is serious and not mouthing off he would be absle to demonstrate how his ideas work in these specific cases.

    Actually I would say Gonzales and Behe do not follow a methodological naturalist program. This is because they put forward as a hypothesis a supernatural agent of some sort which designed the universe, methodological naturalism would rule that out as an unscientific hypothesis. 

    Where I myself would question them is whether they are incorporating theological claims into their background set of beliefs via which theories are tested against.

  • Actually in Behe's case I think he would want to say that the super natural agent is a CONCLUSION of his research – not that it is a starting point.  The starting point is actually one of naturalism.

  • many people would have rejected (and probably did) the ideas of Einstein, or even Newton, because they seem too supernatural, to magic. That would have been dogmatic

    Yes, I would cite Newton as an example of a scientific research that was not based on methodological naturalism. Newton proceeded on the assumption that God exists and created the world ex nihlio this was the reason he believed there were laws of nature, that they were mathematical and that they could be discovered by empirical research

  • i>. Fortunately they aren't – and we actually do get round to testing and validating ideas like realtivity, laws of gravity and motion, or quantum mechanics. Based on the evidence.

    But I could add here that the whole idea that there exist laws of nature which can be detected empirically actually was a teaching of Christian theology in the middle ages. Similarly relativist views of time were implict in Augustines theology of creation.

    But to the point I agree we should test theories against evidence, the question is what  constitutes relevant background evidence. I would include theological properties in the background evidence you would not. Simply stating we need to base theories on evidence does not address this question.

  • Actually in Behe's case I think he would want to say that the super natural agent is a CONCLUSION of his research – not that it is a starting point.  The starting point is actually one of naturalism.

    His starting point is based on his research and observation, not naturalism, it's different.

  • OK Sid.  Interesting to know you think that.  But would be nice if you said WHY.

    WHY I say his starting point iis naturalism is that he is basically doing a huge reductio ad absurdum.  He assumes that there is an explanation within naturalism, but due to all of the issues he (thinks) he finds he has to reject this hypothesis.

    Now – I am not stupid enough to think that he REALLY starts believing in naturalism.  But methodologically he starts off this way.

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    <p><span>Actually in Behe's case I think he would want to say that the super natural agent is a CONCLUSION of his research – not that it is a starting point.  The starting point is actually one of naturalism</span>
    <p><span> </span>
    <p><span>I agree, however methodological naturalism as I understand it excludes both theological premises and hypothesis. Hence Behe is not following methodological naturalism. Moreover as you suggest, he is offering a reduction ad absurdum, hence it would be mistaken as Ken does to interpret his starting with naturalism this as a commitment to methodological naturalism. </span>
    <p><span> </span>
    <p><span>The other problem with Ken’s claim is that in many contexts a commitment to methodological naturalism and a commitment to methodological theism will look the same, an obvious example would be explanations of phenomena in terms of a laws of nature.  </span>

  • Actually in Behe's case I think he would want to say that the super natural agent is a CONCLUSION of his research – not that it is a starting point.  The starting point is actually one of naturalism
    I agree, however methodological naturalism, as I understand it excludes, both theological premises and hypothesis. Hence Behe is not following methodological naturalism.

    Moreover as you suggest, he is offering a reduction ad absurdum, hence it would be mistaken as Ken does to interpret his starting with naturalism this as a commitment to methodological naturalism.

    The other problem with Ken’s claim is that in many contexts a commitment to methodological naturalism and a commitment to methodological theism will look the same, an obvious example would be explanations of phenomena in terms of a laws of nature.