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Thread: Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Design

  1. #1 Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Design 
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    It seems that many atheist scientists want to have their cake and eat it too. It doesn't want information theory with a teleological slant to be discussed in a biology class room (neither do I by the way) but it makes statements all the time, which are nothing short of critiques of the teleological implications of the universe, that it must not, in fact, be designed. And it bases this on science. Sorry babe, but that's called metaphysics. Do you know how many biology books I have thumbed through over the years in which I have found the statement: "the universe may appear to be designed...but really it's not". Atheist scientists often want the privilege of making philosophical statements about God within the context of science by they don't want theists doing the same thing.

    Of course, there may be atheists reading this right now thinking, "right, but the difference is that we're right and theists are wrong". And it's that very thought process that proves my point.

    To say that a scientist can rule out design by analyzing the structure of matter is to admit the very premise that ID advocates try to use to get ID to be allowed in biology curricula. You are admitting that there would actually be a way to infer design if it were present. You cannot deny design on a scientific basis unless you assume that attempts to determine design fall within the purview of what can be considered a legitimate scientific activity, thus 'intelligent design' should be allowed in a biology classroom.

    I don't think it should be allowed in a biology classroom because even though I am a Christian I think the only methodology proper for science is provisional naturalism, or methodological naturalism as it is also called. This doesn't mean that I don't think it's possible that nature possesses characteristics of design, but that even if it did, such characteristics would be 'unsolvable' scientifically. In fact, any discussions of metaphysical inferences from nature do not fall under the magesterium of science. There are scientific problems and philosophical problems, and although philosophy can and should use science to formulate its thinking, science has a cutoff point beyond which it cannot speak while claiming that such speech is scientific. For instance, 'there is no god' is not a scientific statement (I am assuming we are talking about 'natural science'). It may be a rational empirically founded (and even true) statement, but it is not a scientific statement.

    And statements to the effect that 'nature is not designed' should never be allowed in biology textbooks. Unless of course you are willing to allow the often painstakingly rigorous work being done by IDers to also be allowed.


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  3. #2 Re: Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Des 
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Hi papazulu

    An interesting thesis you present here.

    I have a few notions or comments to add, just in case it helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    It seems that many atheist scientists want to have their cake and eat it too. It doesn't want information theory with a teleological slant to be discussed in a biology class room (neither do I by the way) but it makes statements all the time, which are nothing short of critiques of the teleological implications of the universe, that it must not, in fact, be designed. And it bases this on science. Sorry babe, but that's called metaphysics. Do you know how many biology books I have thumbed through over the years in which I have found the statement: "the universe may appear to be designed...but really it's not". Atheist scientists often want the privilege of making philosophical statements about God within the context of science by they don't want theists doing the same thing.
    Here we may be making the error of conflating two different uses of the word design: "has a functional design" versus "was purposefully designed".

    If any atheist claims, in absolute terms: "the universe may appear to be designed... but really it's not", I would suggest that s/he is making slipshod use of the language.

    The universe may exhibit design but, thanks to our knowledge of evolution and natural selection, we have no warrant to assume that design is teleological - hence the banishment of ID from classrooms.

    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Of course, there may be atheists reading this right now thinking, "right, but the difference is that we're right and theists are wrong". And it's that very thought process that proves my point.

    To say that a scientist can rule out design by analyzing the structure of matter is to admit the very premise that ID advocates try to use to get ID to be allowed in biology curricula. You are admitting that there would actually be a way to infer design if it were present. You cannot deny design on a scientific basis unless you assume that attempts to determine design fall within the purview of what can be considered a legitimate scientific activity, thus 'intelligent design' should be allowed in a biology classroom.
    A scientist does not rule out the existence of design features, nor does s/he rule out absolutely the notion that there is a telos at work in the universe, but what a scientist can do, and ought to, is demonstrate, as so many do, that there is no necessity for a Creator to explain what goes on.

    Let's not forget that 'scientific debate', to the layperson, actually includes the sort of debate that went on during the Scopes trial. No true scientific debate invokes any of those unnecessary entities (following Occam's Razor). When scientists make public pronouncements, however, as from time to time they do, they are almost invariably drawn into the metaphysical side of things by those wishing to, somehow, defend the teleological agenda. At such times, in order to try to draw the lines clearly, scientists may well make statements with metaphysical implications. But bear in mind it is because they did not, for the most part, choose the context of the discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    I don't think it should be allowed in a biology classroom because even though I am a Christian I think the only methodology proper for science is provisional naturalism, or methodological naturalism as it is also called. This doesn't mean that I don't think it's possible that nature possesses characteristics of design, but that even if it did, such characteristics would be 'unsolvable' scientifically. In fact, any discussions of metaphysical inferences from nature do not fall under the magesterium of science. There are scientific problems and philosophical problems, and although philosophy can and should use science to formulate its thinking, science has a cutoff point beyond which it cannot speak while claiming that such speech is scientific. For instance, 'there is no god' is not a scientific statement (I am assuming we are talking about 'natural science'). It may be a rational empirically founded (and even true) statement, but it is not a scientific statement.

    And statements to the effect that 'nature is not designed' should never be allowed in biology textbooks. Unless of course you are willing to allow the often painstakingly rigorous work being done by IDers to also be allowed.
    Your talk of separate magisteria seems to reflect Gould's (IMO) mistaken opinion here. Science frequently influences philosophy and scientists like Richard Dawkins are considered to have dramatically changed some facets of modern philosophical thinking, by their work and ideas. For philosophy to have an influence upon science, however, is something that should, I think, be approached warily (we all know about Kuhn and the influence of paradigms).

    Besides, by the Popperian criterion of falsifiability, "there is no god" is an eminently scientific statement as it can, empirically, be falsified. The opposite case, you may note is not scientific because claimants that there is a god will usually allow for no experience/phenomenon that could falsify the claim.

    cheer

    shanks


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    Wow, you just lived up to my whole post. So, Dawkins' debunking of a deity is scientific, but Paul Davies suggestions of a deity are not. How convenient.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Papazulu -

    I agree that science has no business saying, with certainty, whether or not there is a god or a designer. However, there are statements made by ID proponents that they take as support for the existence of a designer, and it is these statements that are falsifiable through the scientific method.

    The most basic statement, used especially in irreducible complexity arguments, is: "It is not possible for these structures to have arisen naturally without the aid of an external designer." This statement is falsifiable, as science can show that it is in fact possible for complex structures to arise naturally without the aid of a designer.

    By doing so science isn't making any final judgments on the existence of a designer, but only showing that it is most certainly possible the universe could have come into existence without one. When IDers make scientific arguments in support of a designer, scientists can provide falsifying scientific evidence in response.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i once did a logical analysis of Intelligent Design, which i'll post below :

    a typical argument of Intelligent Design runs as follows

    X is unexplained by Darwin's theory of natural selection. It is unresolvable because it is a problem of irreducible complexity. Since natural selection can't solve the problem, this calls for a designer.

    when we have a closer look at this argument, we see the following gaps in the logic :

    1. equating unresolved with unresolvable

    science is always full of gaps where the current status of knowledge doesn't know the answer yet - it's what keeps scientific enquiries going, but the operating word is not yet

    2. irreducible complexity is postulated, not proven

    by irreducible complexity is meant that various complex parts need to be present and interact in specific, complex ways for X to work properly (i.e. in ID's view of the world, it's all or nothing) - this is ignoring several cases of exaptation, items that are present but used for a different purpose, and later on co-opted to play a part in the new complex activity (in short, the all or nothing scenario has many times over been proven to be no more than a straw man)

    3. the false duality [NOT A = B]

    in maths it is well known that if you can't directly prove that A is true, then you can try and follow a more indirect route
    you prove that there is 1 and is only 1 solution
    you prove that there's only 2 possible solutions A and B
    you prove that B is not true
    conclusion = A must be true
    ID presents the situation as if only natural selection or Intelligent Design can explain some natural phenomenon, claim to prove that natural selection doesn't explain the phenomenon, hence ID must be the correct explanation, hence even if they managed to prove natural selection powerless, Intelligent Design could not be accepted as a suitable alternative until there was positive proof for it
    apart from not really proving anything about natural selection's power of explanation, ID people also fail to prove that no other explanation but natural selection and Intelligent Design is possible
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    That's very good, marnix. I'm going to remember those points exactly for the next time I get in an argument with an IDer.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Wow, you just lived up to my whole post. So, Dawkins' debunking of a deity is scientific, but Paul Davies suggestions of a deity are not. How convenient.
    If, by 'lived up to' you are taking a post-modernist stance where your opinion is a truth, then fair enough - I have neither a quarrel with you, nor any desire to continue the discussion.

    If not, please demonstrate why you made a personal remark about me and my attitudes without even attempting to address, logically, philosophically or scientifically, the points I made?
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  9. #8 Re: Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Des 
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Do you know how many biology books I have thumbed through over the years in which I have found the statement: "the universe may appear to be designed...but really it's not".
    No, I don't. How many and what are the titles of these books, please?
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    Ok, so you are saying that ID is science? But what I keep hearing is that ID is not science. Opponents of ID want the privilege of contradicting ID using statements that are not just founded on science but that are themselves scientific in nature, but in court battles they argue that ID is not science at all but metaphysics.

    The problem is that science has this precious assumption that they are not willing to dispense with, namely, that the universe represents a uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. Now that, indeed, is a metaphysical and not a scientifically verifiable statement.

    It is not at all necessary to believe that nature is 'closed' in order to conduct top rate scientific investigation. But from a methodological standpoint it's best to assume that there is always a natural explanation for physical phenomena. That is not the same as saying that it is impossible that there are supernatural explanations for physical phenomena, but rather that such possibilities are not within the purview of a purely scientific discussion.

    I don't consider the philosophy of naturalism as a necessary basis for good science. But I do consider the methodology of naturalism as the only proper method for science. It could be possible that certain kinds of complexity are irreducible but it's not the business of science to say so. It's fine to discuss but not behind a smock in a laboratory. The reason I oppose ID is not for the same reason that I oppose a flat earth. It is the job of science to keep exploring the physical limits of mechanism, and to do so asymptotically. At no point in approaching these limits should there be something like a 'stop' of the likes of 'irreducible complexity'. Even if irreducible complexity is true it is unscientific to approach it as such.

    The reason many scientists reject ID from being allowed into biology is because they think they have disproved it scientifically. But that is not the reason I reject it from being allowed in curricula. I reject it because it does not fit within the methodology of naturalism.
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Papazulu -

    I agree that science has no business saying, with certainty, whether or not there is a god or a designer. However, there are statements made by ID proponents that they take as support for the existence of a designer, and it is these statements that are falsifiable through the scientific method.
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    I have not seen any biology texts that make the statement that you imply you have seen in biology texts.

    Can you provide a reference for your claim, please?

    ...the statement: "the universe may appear to be designed...but really it's not".
    I contend that biology texts do not say any such thing.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Ok, so you are saying that ID is science? But what I keep hearing is that ID is not science. Opponents of ID want the privilege of contradicting ID using statements that are not just founded on science but that are themselves scientific in nature, but in court battles they argue that ID is not science at all but metaphysics.

    The problem is that science has this precious assumption that they are not willing to dispense with, namely, that the universe represents a uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. Now that, indeed, is a metaphysical and not a scientifically verifiable statement.
    ID as a theory is not science, as it presumes to be able to support the existence of a supernatural being. ID proponents, however, are not only trying to support the existence of a designer, but they are also trying to falsify evolutionary biology. It is these attempts at falsification that are really what scientists are responding to. And it often shows that IDers have a rather poor understanding of evolutionary theory and biology in general.

    Science does not work on any assumptions - it increases our knowledge of the physical world by observing and testing phenomena that are knowable to humans. If some scientists (the people, not the process) believe that the universe represents a uniformity of natural causes within a closed system, then they must gather evidence in support of that idea. If it is not possible to falsify this idea with knowable evidence, then it is no longer in the realm of science.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Fair enough. I want to provide you with specific textbooks but I'll have to get back with you on it. These are perhaps not texts in the strictest sense, but I am sure I can find actual college biology textbooks on evolution that positively address the arguments for intelligent design as if they were falsifiable.

    I recall over the years browsing through books on evolution in a library and finding statements such as "biological systems may appear at times to be invested with creative purpose but this is only apparent". I tell you I have seen that statement in biology textbooks. And I am willing to hunt them down for you. But it may take a bit.
    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    I have not seen any biology texts that make the statement that you imply you have seen in biology texts.

    Can you provide a reference for your claim, please?

    ...the statement: "the universe may appear to be designed...but really it's not".
    I contend that biology texts do not say any such thing.
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    The following is a link to a good article-blog where this very issue is addressed. If the author of it is correct then I may stand somewhat corrected and need to retract my statement about numerous textbooks overtly debunking "creative purpose". And yet I recall reading more than a few statements to that effect in various biology books. Perhaps they were not textbooks in the strictest sense. Certainly I would have to concede to free radical that 'anti-theistic' statements in biology textbooks are not the rule but the exception. I officially retract my original overarching claim. I stand corrected.

    http://litcandle.blogspot.com/2005/0...evolution.html

    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    I have not seen any biology texts that make the statement that you imply you have seen in biology texts.

    Can you provide a reference for your claim, please?

    ...the statement: "the universe may appear to be designed...but really it's not".
    I contend that biology texts do not say any such thing.
    f
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Can somebody tell me exactly what the IDer designed? Everything? Was it the universe popping into existence and then letting nature taking over? Was it the universe followed by designing nature to build each and every little thing? Did the IDer design the Earth and all its life by carefully designing supernovas, gravity, amino acids, DNA, asteroids, bacteria, built in natural disasters, continental drift, extinctions, ice ages and whatever factors that affect the adaptability of lifeforms. There is too much randomness to think someone designed it that way or am I reading this wrong? Can someone straighten me out?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Science most certainly does work on assumptions. The idea that the physical world is knowable is one of them. One tentative list of such assumptions is that the universe is rational, accessible, contingent, objective, and unified. There is debate over certain supposed assumptions but there are at least a few to which most scientists would give assent. As for the universe being closed, I think that such a notion is neither scientifically verifiable nor a necessary assumption of science. I would like to qualify that it is incorrect to think of assumptions as either true or false, rather they are to be thought of as useful or not useful, or perhaps successful.
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Science does not work on any assumptions - it increases our knowledge of the physical world by observing and testing phenomena that are knowable to humans. If some scientists (the people, not the process) believe that the universe represents a uniformity of natural causes within a closed system, then they must gather evidence in support of that idea. If it is not possible to falsify this idea with knowable evidence, then it is no longer in the realm of science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    The reason many scientists reject ID from being allowed into biology is because they think they have disproved it scientifically. But that is not the reason I reject it from being allowed in curricula. I reject it because it does not fit within the methodology of naturalism.
    One of Darwin's great-great-grandsons, according to a recent New Scientist interview, argues that ID should be allowed into the science curriculum so that it can be systematically shown to be false.
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    I recall over the years browsing through books on evolution in a library and finding statements such as "biological systems may appear at times to be invested with creative purpose but this is only apparent". I tell you I have seen that statement in biology textbooks.
    But surely it will be hard to take exception with this statement?

    'invested with crerative purpose'? Well, that's what Paley and others would say.

    'this is only apparent'? Absolutely, because thanks to evolution through natural selection we can be clear that:

    a. No 'creative purpose' is necessary to create these biological systems, and

    b. Given the circumstances (inheritance with variation) natural selection is inevitable.

    The metaphysical assumptions of science, another issue that seems to be of interest here, are metaphysical assumptions without which science cannot proceed. Unless you make the assumption of uniformity you cannot compare today's experiment with yesterday's. Unless you make the assumption of naturalism, you cannot seek useful explanations for phenomena because each line of inquiry will be blocked by "this or other entity caused it, and there's no explaining that entity, in principle".

    The assumptions underpinning science are, of course, not empirically demonstrable since, as Kant points out, the noumenal and phenomenal can never in principle be compared. Even Ayer's formulation (following on from Hume's fork) has been criticised for being assumptive and strictly speaking nonsense, by its own standards.

    Scientists therefore, simply tend to let those assumptions lie unexamined, just as most philosophers are quite happy never to try to 'tackle' solipsism', not because those assumptions are true, or solipsism is 'too good', but just because neither line of inquiry is productive.

    The assumptions used by IDers, on the other hand, directly interfere with, as opposed to allowing, the process of science. So no, I don't think ID is science and also I don't think scientists denying 'creative purpose' in any way let's ID in through the back door.

    cheer

    shanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    The assumptions used by IDers, on the other hand, directly interfere with, as opposed to allowing, the process of science. So no, I don't think ID is science and also I don't think scientists denying 'creative purpose' in any way let's ID in through the back door.
    Would you care to prove to me on scientific grounds and positively that the mechanisms of evolution are not invested with a divine creative purpose? The processes and associated laws of natural causation can be construed themselves as a part of a divine scheme. Not only that but that happens to describe my own metaphysic. And if you can prove to me on scientific grounds that I am wrong then I will divest myself of it in short order.

    But I heartily agree with you that IDers do interfere with the processes of science and actually represent a retrogression to the Aristotelean paradijjum. What's funny is I actually heard one of them appeal to Aristotle as precedence. Ah the boogie man of mechanism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Would you care to prove to me on scientific grounds and positively that the mechanisms of evolution are not invested with a divine creative purpose? The processes and associated laws of natural causation can be construed themselves as a part of a divine scheme. Not only that but that happens to describe my own metaphysic. And if you can prove to me on scientific grounds that I am wrong then I will divest myself of it in short order.
    Nope. Science is not, or certainly should not, be in the business of 'proving' the non-existence of a putative deity. Science is (adventitiously, as it were) in the business of demonstrating that a deity is not required in circumstances like: the existence of the current variety of life on this planet; the apparent movement of celestial bodies; illness; the production of strong materials etc

    Was it not Diderot (or Laplace?) who allegedly said, when Napoleon inquired as to why the encyclopedists had not made mention of god in their tome: "We had no need of that hypothesis."

    That's all that can be said, and all that needs to. And yes, as we discussed earlier, that simple application of Occam's Razor has become something of a foundational principle in science, but it is so for very good reasons (again discussed already, though I would be happy to further expound upon them).

    cheer

    shanks
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    I'll just throw in a thought en passant - ignore it if you will. I am concerned by the strong, almost mandatory association between teleological explanations for phenomena and the existence of a God. I find many aspects of the Universe suggestive of a teleological aspect, quite separate from any divinity. The opportunity to investigate such issues seems to be automatically ruled out of bounds by this perceived teleology/God duality. I think we may be missing somethign important.
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    If there is a purpose to the Universe, that requires a mind in which the purpose has been formulated, doesn't it? If this isn't God what is it?
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    Ophi

    I'm with Bunbury on this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    If there is a purpose to the Universe, that requires a mind in which the purpose has been formulated, doesn't it? If this isn't God what is it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I'll just throw in a thought en passant - ignore it if you will. I am concerned by the strong, almost mandatory association between teleological explanations for phenomena and the existence of a God. I find many aspects of the Universe suggestive of a teleological aspect, quite separate from any divinity. The opportunity to investigate such issues seems to be automatically ruled out of bounds by this perceived teleology/God duality. I think we may be missing somethign important.
    I'll have to go with the others on this as well. Even the more savvy of ID proponents stay away from a specifically Christian god and refer to a nebulous, teleological designer of some kind or another, whatever it may be. So whether or not you are talking about a specific god according to religious texts or an ill-defined extrinsic supernatural being, the difficulty such views bring to scientific advancement and education is the same.

    I think the key word here, however, is supernatural. Some kind of being above and beyond physical reality. However, if there was some kind of intelligent supreme being that did in fact exist in physical reality and was knowable to humans, then it is discoverable by science and is no by means automatically ruled out.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Science most certainly does work on assumptions. The idea that the physical world is knowable is one of them. One tentative list of such assumptions is that the universe is rational, accessible, contingent, objective, and unified. There is debate over certain supposed assumptions but there are at least a few to which most scientists would give assent. As for the universe being closed, I think that such a notion is neither scientifically verifiable nor a necessary assumption of science. I would like to qualify that it is incorrect to think of assumptions as either true or false, rather they are to be thought of as useful or not useful, or perhaps successful.
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Science does not work on any assumptions - it increases our knowledge of the physical world by observing and testing phenomena that are knowable to humans. If some scientists (the people, not the process) believe that the universe represents a uniformity of natural causes within a closed system, then they must gather evidence in support of that idea. If it is not possible to falsify this idea with knowable evidence, then it is no longer in the realm of science.
    You're right, papazulu; especially after seeing shanks' excellent post on assumptions, I realize it was pretty silly for me to say something like that.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    If there is a purpose to the Universe, that requires a mind in which the purpose has been formulated, doesn't it? If this isn't God what is it?
    1. Teleological aspects need not require absolute explicit purpose, but may imply a direction and more than that an inevitable direction.
    2. I am impressed/puzzled/intrigued by the heirarchical structure of emergent properties. It seems to me that direction, or, if you insist, purpose, may emerge retroactively.
    3. This is largely metaphysical in character rather than scientific, but that does not automatically render it as flawed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paralith
    So whether or not you are talking about a specific god according to religious texts or an ill-defined extrinsic supernatural being, the difficulty such views bring to scientific advancement and education is the same.
    I am absolutely not talking about an entity. I think it is limiting and unnecessary to assume that purpose and direction must be associated with entities, unless we wish to consider the Universe itself an entity. (In my lighter moments I am with Heinlein and declare myself a pantheistic multi-person solopsist. :wink: )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am absolutely not talking about an entity. I think it is limiting and unnecessary to assume that purpose and direction must be associated with entities, unless we wish to consider the Universe itself an entity. (In my lighter moments I am with Heinlein and declare myself a pantheistic multi-person solopsist. :wink: )
    Perhaps I don't understand the concept of teleology very well, but from what I gather it in general states that everything has a purpose - as in, the universe exists as it does in order to accomplish a certain function, to work towards to a certain goal. To steal the example from the wiki page, humans evolved eyes because we need to be able to see. It seems to me that teleology implies a specific desire or goal for all things, and whatever has desires or goals must possess something in the way of a mind, and be some kind of entity. And if the goal itself is ultimately the result of an emergent process of reality - well, then it's not really teleological anymore, is it? It's a metaphysically natural creation of a desire/goal/purpose.

    (Sorry if my comment is kind of muddled - I don't have much experience with this whole philosophy thing )
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    I think you have captured the conventional view of it. My own grasp of philosophy is questionable. I think, though, that purpose can emerge.

    Humans now act with purpose (unless we are unremitting believers in Skinner and Pavlov and the rest). Therfore purpose now exists in this remote speck in a corner of the Universe, and perhaps on another, or a hundred billion other, similar specks. That purpose, or purposes, were implicit in the character of the laws of the Universe before any conscious entities evolved.
    I am not securely wedded to the notion that cause and effect must happen in order, for I have only the dimmest idea of what time is. Therefore I can, for example, envisage a causative loop where the teleological aspects of the Universe arise (emerge) through its evolution and recursively effect its origin.
    All of this is wildly speculative and I am not explaining it at all well, for I am still formulating my thoughts on it. On a more practical level, taking a different tack, it does disturb me that teleological explanations are automatically discarded by science - something that would have astounded Galileo. If (and I recognise what a large, speculative, ephemeral if it is) there is a teleological aspect to any part of the Universes development to date we are not about to identify it precisely because we will not look. That approach seems to me counter to the best attitudes of science.
    As a side point related to this: Occam's razor. Marvelous tool for pruning ideas in the initial stages. To often I see it applied as if it were some immutable law. Sometimes, just sometimes, the more complex explanation is the correct one.
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    Hi Ophiolite

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I think you have captured the conventional view of it. My own grasp of philosophy is questionable. I think, though, that purpose can emerge.

    Humans now act with purpose (unless we are unremitting believers in Skinner and Pavlov and the rest). Therfore purpose now exists in this remote speck in a corner of the Universe, and perhaps on another, or a hundred billion other, similar specks. That purpose, or purposes, were implicit in the character of the laws of the Universe before any conscious entities evolved.
    I am not securely wedded to the notion that cause and effect must happen in order, for I have only the dimmest idea of what time is. Therefore I can, for example, envisage a causative loop where the teleological aspects of the Universe arise (emerge) through its evolution and recursively effect its origin.
    All of this is wildly speculative and I am not explaining it at all well, for I am still formulating my thoughts on it.
    Wildly speculative it may be, but it's certainly an interesting idea. I'd love to know any further thoughts you may have on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    On a more practical level, taking a different tack, it does disturb me that teleological explanations are automatically discarded by science - something that would have astounded Galileo. If (and I recognise what a large, speculative, ephemeral if it is) there is a teleological aspect to any part of the Universes development to date we are not about to identify it precisely because we will not look. That approach seems to me counter to the best attitudes of science.
    As a side point related to this: Occam's razor. Marvelous tool for pruning ideas in the initial stages. To often I see it applied as if it were some immutable law. Sometimes, just sometimes, the more complex explanation is the correct one.
    The problem for scientists here is that any suggestion of teleology entails the question: who's purpose? That 'who' is the bugbear here - how can there be a purpose without a will that drove it?

    It is possible that we may come to a dead end, to an inability to explain certain phenomena without invoking a telos. Fair enough, and if that time ever comes, we will have to take the notion seriously (by we I mean humanity - I could not, given my 'general ignorance', claim to be 'we' with real scientists). In the meantime, notions like 'irreducible complexity' are simply standard strawmen that a few good arguments dispose of - I think it was Marnix above who provided a good demolition of the majority of ID-type arguments?

    I wrote a slightly longer note once (long ago) called "Why no why questions" and if you're interested I could paste the relevant portions of the text here.

    cheer

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    Wildly speculative it may be, but it's certainly an interesting idea. I'd love to know any further thoughts you may have on this.
    I have been greatly taken by the work of Stuart Kaufmann at the Santa Fe Institute. He has written several popular books, including Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, and At Home in the Universe. He sees the self organisation of matter as being a vital component in the evolution of the cosmos, the origin of life and the emergence of complexity, including consciousness.
    I then find myself asking why should a handful of elementary particles and four fundamental forces lead to all this complexity? Why should the structure of galaxies, the creation of the 'metallic' elements, the devlopment of planetary systems, the origin of life, the evolution of more complex forms, and the emergence of sentient, sapient beings able to contemplate and investigate the whole, arise from something so simple? Such observations almost push one towards a teleological explanation.

    In a similar way I have been influenced by Henderson's The Fitness of the Environment , written almost a century ago, but still remarkably relevant today. Why is the Universe, or at least this corner of it, so suited to life? The Weak Anthropic Principle provides a possible explanation, but that smacks to me of laziness. I don't think we should avoid these questions and I certainly don't believe it is scientific to begin an investigation by eliminating one possible explanation.

    In the meantime, notions like 'irreducible complexity' are simply standard strawmen that a few good arguments dispose of ...
    The irreducible complexity arguments of the IDiots are, as you say, pure nonsense. My concern is that the association of teleological considerations with ID distracts from serious consideration of these matters.

    Let me also make it clear that I am no closet fanatic who thinks that the Universe has clearly been designed. I simply see some interesting questions that are being ignored, for many reasons, not all of them good.
    I wrote a slightly longer note once (long ago) called "Why no why questions" and if you're interested I could paste the relevant portions of the text here.
    By all means, or if you think it might merit a separate thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I wrote a slightly longer note once (long ago) called "Why no why questions" and if you're interested I could paste the relevant portions of the text here.
    By all means, or if you think it might merit a separate thread.
    I agree - I don't have much to add at this point because this is out of my realm of experience, but I'd love to hear more thoughts on the subject.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I then find myself asking why should a handful of elementary particles and four fundamental forces lead to all this complexity? Why should the structure of galaxies, the creation of the 'metallic' elements, the devlopment of planetary systems, the origin of life, the evolution of more complex forms, and the emergence of sentient, sapient beings able to contemplate and investigate the whole, arise from something so simple? Such observations almost push one towards a teleological explanation.
    I like some of Kaufman's ideas - autocatalysis in networks and so on. Fascinating stuff.

    John Gribbin's Deep Simplicity (which I may have referred to in another thread) takes these ideas, and others, to show how simple mathematics makes it almost inevitable for order to emerge. A shot across the bows for the Strong Anthropic Principle I feel.

    In a heated debate many years ago on a board far far away... two friends had a long discussion about this notion and it came down to this:

    A. I had a one-in-17 million chance of winning the lottery and I won it. You cannot tell me there's nothing special at work here - a one-in-a-17-million chance!

    B. Any individual certainly has a 1:17,000,000 chance of winning the lottery, but that does not mean that the lottery need not be won - in fact it is the point of the lottery that, invariably, the jackpot will be won.

    A. Yeahbut - the game of Universe doesn't have 17 million players so there's no guarantee that the lottery of life will be won: your analogy doesn't work.

    B. How do you know there aren't x million universes, with life occurring only in those that did win the lottery?

    Stalemate, and much bad blood.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    By all means, or if you think it might merit a separate thread.
    I've re-read it, and it seems pretty much to go over the same ground, but in a far more orotund fashion. So probably not worth posting. Here's a link, though.

    cheer

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    The problem I have with the multi universe postulate as an explanation for the anthropic principle is that it seems like it could be used to say that anything whatsoever is possible. I mean given endless time and endless universes it's possible that our universe is just a mad experiment of someone in the laboratory of another universe. Probability has thresholds. A simple example of this is if you took a 1000 marbles and threw them down on a gym floor, given an endless # of throws, there is never going to be a throw that has the marbles falling perfectly into the configuration of even a simple sentence. There are all sorts of interesting, improbable patterns the marbles are going to assume at some point or another, but there are some configurations that they are never going to assume. There is a reason why this is the case. But because I am not a probability theorist I won't try to explain.

    I am quite aware that Intelligent Design advocates misuse probability theory to make their case but there is work that has been done by IDers that has been mistakenly been lumped in with the abusers. Both sides abuse probability theory and both sides use it soundly. From what I understand Hubert Yockey's work in Information Theory represents a formidable extremely compelling use of mathematics to conclude that...well I just let him speak for himself:

    "1. What should be taught in science classes is why the origin of life is one of science’s unsolvable problems. Information theory and coding theory show why life could not originate proteins first, RNA first, in a pond or ocean, on a rock or on other planets. Life originated, but must be taken as an axiom [something we know to be true, but cannot prove]. For a more detailed explanation, contact Dr. Yockey. "

    Hubert Yockey is not a member of the ID camp. In fact, he has vehemently rejected ID's core position.

    universe
    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    (which I may have referred to in another thread) takes these ideas, and others, to show how simple mathematics makes it almost inevitable for order to emerge. A shot across the bows for the Strong Anthropic Principle I feel.

    In a heated debate many years ago on a board far far away... two friends had a long discussion about this notion and it came down to this:

    A. I had a one-in-17 million chance of winning the lottery and I won it. You cannot tell me there's nothing special at work here - a one-in-a-17-million chance!

    B. Any individual certainly has a 1:17,000,000 chance of winning the lottery, but that does not mean that the lottery need not be won - in fact it is the point of the lottery that, invariably, the jackpot will be won.

    A. Yeahbut - the game of Universe doesn't have 17 million players so there's no guarantee that the lottery of life will be won: your analogy doesn't work.

    B. How do you know there aren't x million universes, with life occurring only in those that did win the lottery?

    Stalemate, and much bad blood.

    shanks
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    "Intelligent design" brings with it a fundamental problem. Who/what designed the designer? Any "explanation" based on a designer/creator founders on this point and no amount of obfuscation (first causes, existing outside of time etc.) really gets around this. Except, perhaps, time travellers from the future!
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    Intelligent design is just a group of people who are too lazy (Maybe intellectually incapable) to try to interpret nature and how it was formed.

    Remember this: The more naive you keep your followers, the more control you have over them. If all religious people were as intelligent/ understood as many things as I understand, then there wouldn't be religion. And guess what? Every conclusion that I have come to over my life time have been due to objective observation of the universe; One side of my family is HIGHLY religious, and the other side is very atheist- because of this, my parents have had absolutely no say in my current opinions.

    Think about this: In a nutshell, lets just say people could live forever from the very beginning, and life was so perfect that it left nothing to be desired. Do you think people would create a religion? Religion is the product of fear and suffering. It is a way for people to say, "Oh, life will be better after I die, once my miserable life is over". People without hope turn to religion because it gives them something to believe in, in order to keep them going. I'm not sure if this is true EXACTLY (though I think it is), but they say that Jesus was not considered a "god" by everyone at the time, and was only given that status later on, around 500 A.D. by some king. That was the beginning of the middle ages!!! The near 1000 years of the most suffering our race has ever encountered...and thats where religion started, and prevented weak people from killing themselves due to their awful lives. And heres the thing, "dead men tell no tales". So whose to say after they have died that there isn't god, and that there is only pure oblivion? No one! Those 1000 years acted as the iron root for religion to take its hold on our society; unfortunately it gained so much momentum that it is still apparent to this day. And I know, religion existed long before that, but I feel like it only amplified it.

    People just need to get some sense and start thinking objectively and logically.
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    The question 'who designed the designer?' seems no more of a rebuttal to the idea that there might be one than the question 'where did stuff come from?' is a rebuttal to the idea that stuff seems to exist. In other words, if there was a slam dunk case for the presence of intelligent design, the question "But who designed the intelligent designer?" would not cast a shadow over the fact that intelligent design is apparently present. It is not a strong argument against intelligent design. If it were then, the question "why is there something rather than nothing?" would be a strong argument against the idea that there appears to be something. The idea that material existence can be self originating and self perpetuating is not less absurd than the idea that God can be self originating and self perpetuating.

    This has nothing to do with whether Intelligent design has a strong case or not. Just that if it did, your argument would not just be weak, but sterile.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen
    "Intelligent design" brings with it a fundamental problem. Who/what designed the designer? Any "explanation" based on a designer/creator founders on this point and no amount of obfuscation (first causes, existing outside of time etc.) really gets around this. Except, perhaps, time travellers from the future!
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    The question 'who designed the designer?' seems no more of a rebuttal to the idea that there might be one than the question 'where did stuff come from?' is a rebuttal to the idea that stuff seems to exist. In other words, if there was a slam dunk case for the presence of intelligent design, the question "But who designed the intelligent designer?" would not cast a shadow over the fact that intelligent design is apparently present. It is not a strong argument against intelligent design. If it were then, the question "why is there something rather than nothing?" would be a strong argument against the idea that there appears to be something. The idea that material existence can be self originating and self perpetuating is not less absurd than the idea that God can be self originating and self perpetuating.

    This has nothing to do with whether Intelligent design has a strong case or not. Just that if it did, your argument would not just be weak, but sterile.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen
    "Intelligent design" brings with it a fundamental problem. Who/what designed the designer? Any "explanation" based on a designer/creator founders on this point and no amount of obfuscation (first causes, existing outside of time etc.) really gets around this. Except, perhaps, time travellers from the future!
    Not at all, papazulu. And here's why:

    1. The case that ID tries to make is this: "There cannot be design without an intelligence directing it". This claim is instantly susceptible to Stephen's rebuttal, and does not have a logical leg to stand on.

    2. The case that scientists make is different: "Something may have come from nothing, and design almost certainly evolved through natural selection." There is no similar rebuttal to this - because scientists tend not to be in the business of making incoherent claims.

    The analogy you are attempting is, therefore, not just imperfect, but actually the opposite of what it attempts to do: it shows even more strongly the basic logical incoherence (and dare I suggest intellectual incompetence) of IDiocy.

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    With the huge advances in AI in computer games and the complexity of character creation and computer generated environments, could man be the designers. If time is not a straight line thing and instead is more of a loop, then what if man is the designer from the far distant future. The paradox being that he created the universe and life in a computer generated model that was designed to evolve and that we are living in, then in the future we will create it again and the whole things starts over. Well, it's not rational and more like something i'd like to see in a Sci-fi movie but it does explain the design and the designer. The chicken before the egg thing to a universal degree. This distant future man may have also designed the universe to expand with man's exploration so that before man was aware of the stars they didnt exist, and so on. This would be why the universe is expanding faster and faster, because we are observing it more and more. when he designed it, it was just a very small program that evolved and grew with each new observation by the characters in it. Kind of like playing a map on PC game that is black in the areas that you havent observed. Outside of the viewed areas there is nothing, nothing at all. Hehehe, yea i like this and of course you would have to prove it wrong before i believed anything else.
    O'k now back to my game :-D
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    We really should try to distinguuish between intelligent design and Intelligent Design. It is unfortunate that Intelligent Design has inhibited rational consideration of intelligent design.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    We really should try to distinguuish between intelligent design and Intelligent Design. It is unfortunate that Intelligent Design has inhibited rational consideration of intelligent design.
    O'k, i'll put my serious cap on for just a minute. For the layman, could you explain the difference between the IE and ie,
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    Intelligent Design is a creationist attempt to promote creationism without actually mentioning the word, and to do so, for the most part, on a pseudo-scientific basis.
    In contrast, intelligent design is a term which describes the possibility that aspects of the Universe and its operation are deliberately crafted, rather than the product of chance, or the simple working of natural laws.
    If such intelligent design were to be found it does not mean that the intelligence is God. It could equally be an alien race, entities from another Universe, or, as you have suggested, our own descendants exercising powers we cannot yet imagine to overturn causality and influence the character of the past.
    There are suggestive elements in many branches of science that hint at intelligent design. Unfortunately a paranoia about giving even accidental, indirect support to Intelligent Design prevents almost every researcher from considering such elements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Intelligent Design is a creationist attempt to promote creationism without actually mentioning the word, and to do so, for the most part, on a pseudo-scientific basis.
    In contrast, intelligent design is a term which describes the possibility that aspects of the Universe and its operation are deliberately crafted, rather than the product of chance, or the simple working of natural laws.
    If such intelligent design were to be found it does not mean that the intelligence is God. It could equally be an alien race, entities from another Universe, or, as you have suggested, our own descendants exercising powers we cannot yet imagine to overturn causality and influence the character of the past.
    There are suggestive elements in many branches of science that hint at intelligent design. Unfortunately a paranoia about giving even accidental, indirect support to Intelligent Design prevents almost every researcher from considering such elements.
    Hmm, thanks Ophiolite, I would like to hear more about other people' s ideas on intelligent design. I dont really want to hear the God theory as i figure i've heard more than enough dogma and so on about this theory. Where would i look to find more on something a bit more along the lines of what i was talking about?
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  43. #42 Re: Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Des 
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu

    the only methodology proper for science is provisional naturalism, or methodological naturalism as it is also called.
    The reason why scientists claim to value methodological naturalism is because it has been successful in explaining a wide variety of observations. Now, assuming that a natural cause and an intelligent cause are mutually exclusive, as anti-IDists insist, then methodological naturalism is not successful in the social sciences, history, or archeology. Second, if the importance of methodological naturalism is its ability to explain, then what matters most is the explanatory power of an idea and not whether it refers to something "natural". Third, scientists have yet to develop a decent description of the difference between natural things and non-natural things. This lack of distinction makes it impossible to scientifically identify an explanation as natural-only or non-natural-only. This means that labeling the explanation provided by ID as "non-natural" or "supernatural" is not science, but philosophy. Fourth, if intelligent agency is necessarily supernatural, as many anti-IDists seem to affirm, then even the most hardcore atheist would have to admit that he has a supernatural quality, a quality he often uses to explain his atheism.

    In sum, I currently believe that "naturalism" is a useless and meaningless term. Its significance exists only in debates about the interpretation of data after the science has already been conducted. While in the process of doing science, scientists are not constantly asking themselves if what they are observing is natural or if their explanations are natural.
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  44. #43 Re: Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Des 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu

    the only methodology proper for science is provisional naturalism, or methodological naturalism as it is also called.
    The reason why scientists claim to value methodological naturalism is because it has been successful in explaining a wide variety of observations. Now, assuming that a natural cause and an intelligent cause are mutually exclusive, as anti-IDists insist, then methodological naturalism is not successful in the social sciences, history, or archeology. Second, if the importance of methodological naturalism is its ability to explain, then what matters most is the explanatory power of an idea and not whether it refers to something "natural". Third, scientists have yet to develop a decent description of the difference between natural things and non-natural things. This lack of distinction makes it impossible to scientifically identify an explanation as natural-only or non-natural-only. This means that labeling the explanation provided by ID as "non-natural" or "supernatural" is not science, but philosophy. Fourth, if intelligent agency is necessarily supernatural, as many anti-IDists seem to affirm, then even the most hardcore atheist would have to admit that he has a supernatural quality, a quality he often uses to explain his atheism.

    In sum, I currently believe that "naturalism" is a useless and meaningless term. Its significance exists only in debates about the interpretation of data after the science has already been conducted. While in the process of doing science, scientists are not constantly asking themselves if what they are observing is natural or if their explanations are natural.
    ufcarazy,

    Science most certainly is philosophy - it is a very specific philosophy that makes very specific assumptions - in particular, that the world operates on laws that are consistent and the we humans are capable of detecting and understanding those laws. However, the distinction between natural and supernatural is, I think, an easy way for scientists to explain to lay people what is and isn't science. But the root of what is and isn't science is not in defining what is natural or not, but in what is falsifiable or not.

    If I say, "All leaves are green," I know that this statement can be falsified by the observation of a single non-green leaf. Thus "all leaves are green" is a testable, scientific hypothesis. But what is the falsifying evidence for "God exists" ? Many of the definitions of god describe him/her as largely unknowable to humans anyway. But it is not just things that can conveniently be termed supernatural that are not testable, scientific statements. For example, the statement "All humans are immortal" is falsified when a single human dies. The statement "All humans are mortal" is not falsifiable! Sure, we may one day have people that go on living for years and years and years, but how are we to know that they will go on indefinitely? How are we to know that someone at some point might live on past all other humans? Seems unlikely, to be sure, but there's really no way to falsify it. Stating that "all humans are mortal" is just as non-scientific as stating "God exists," even though I'm pretty sure a lay-person would say the first statement is pretty "natural."

    Now, there are some statements that creationists and/or IDers and the like make that [i]are[i] falsifiable. Statements like, the earth is 6000 years old. Animals do not change over time. These are scientific hypotheses that have been falsified. The devil put dinosaur bones in the ground and made them perfectly convincing in order to test our faith. That's not falsifiable if, as the statement is usually meant to imply, the devil intended that we would not be able to determine the true nature of fossils by our faculties alone and we have to use nothing but our faith to guide us toward the right answer.
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    Ufcarazy, we addressed your arguments regarding naturalism over on the Pseudoscience forum. Are you going to ignore those explanations? The remit of science is the observable. That which can be observed, be it directly or indirectly, can be measured and can be integrated into our models of the universe. The observable is natural.

    What is supernatural? The categorically unobservable? The incomprehensible? The first has no measureable influence on the universe and is thus irrelevant until influence is detected, whereupon it is no longer supernatural but natural. The second is still amenable to modelling, at the very least in broad or simplified terms and certainly couldn't be called supernatural in my view.

    You are correct in one way, to consider things in terms other than natural makes no sense, but I suspect you're trying to make a case for taking such a distinction out of the hands of science rather than suggesting that the supernatural does not exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu
    Science most certainly does work on assumptions. The idea that the physical world is knowable is one of them. One tentative list of such assumptions is that the universe is rational, accessible, contingent, objective, and unified. There is debate over certain supposed assumptions but there are at least a few to which most scientists would give assent. As for the universe being closed, I think that such a notion is neither scientifically verifiable nor a necessary assumption of science. I would like to qualify that it is incorrect to think of assumptions as either true or false, rather they are to be thought of as useful or not useful, or perhaps successful.
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Science does not work on any assumptions - it increases our knowledge of the physical world by observing and testing phenomena that are knowable to humans. If some scientists (the people, not the process) believe that the universe represents a uniformity of natural causes within a closed system, then they must gather evidence in support of that idea. If it is not possible to falsify this idea with knowable evidence, then it is no longer in the realm of science.
    It's not an assumption of "knowability", it's the assumption that you can use the laws of probability to predict things. If your hypothesis makes a prediction that would be extremely unlikely to bear out by random chance, if it were wrong, and then it bears out, then you've only got two possibilities in front of you:

    1)- The theory is true

    2)- You just did the probabilistic equivalent of winning the lottery.

    If you repeat the experiment multiple times for different values, and you've consistently gotten the predictive results, then either you're right, or you've just won the lottery multiple consecutive times. No scientist anywhere honestly believes they can reduce the odds of being wrong down to zero. (Maybe they can get it so close to zero sometimes that you would round it down to zero, but never true zero.) What makes creation scientists so annoying is that they constantly argue from the perspective of demanding a zero possibility of error. Even Galileo couldn't provide that.

    Instead, they should be arguing from probability. Only an argument that intelligent design is more probable than evolution is going to sway anyone in the scientific community. Just trying to raise the bar, and argue that evolution isn't probable enough, is counterproductive. 95% is the typical cutoff for science to adopt something as true (One of my professors mentioned that's the common threshold to publish a statistical study). I'm pretty sure evolution meets that.
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  47. #46  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    TheBiologista,
    I believe you have an incomplete definition of the supernatural. The supernatural is perfectly detectable - if it exists - but it is inconsistent. It is a breaching of the laws of nature in apparently random, or selective ways. It is God, or one of his agents, temporarily suspending the rules he has written for the Universe to suit some intention. So while you are correct that we would be unable to observe God, we would be able to observe the random infringements of the natural laws that he directly or indirectly 'authorised'.
    JG
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  48. #47  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    TheBiologista,
    I believe you have an incomplete definition of the supernatural. The supernatural is perfectly detectable - if it exists - but it is inconsistent. It is a breaching of the laws of nature in apparently random, or selective ways. It is God, or one of his agents, temporarily suspending the rules he has written for the Universe to suit some intention. So while you are correct that we would be unable to observe God, we would be able to observe the random infringements of the natural laws that he directly or indirectly 'authorised'.
    JG
    Well, this goes back to my comments on falfsifiability and kojax's comments on predictability. If a supernatural entity truly follows no predictable logic and its incursions are truly random, we may see evidence of its actions but we would be unable to make any predictions of this entity's behavior that would allow us to predict future actions, we would be unable to devise any tests that would differentiate these occurrences from the broader field of actual random chance.

    There are also those who claim the supernatural can act in ways identical to natural processes, in which case, again, how can we differentiate between what the supernatural entity does and what is "natural"?

    As I tried to describe before, I really think supernatural is a term of convenience for scientists to lay down the rules to laymen (I certainly use it in my little sticky on mod standards), but it is not the act of being what we call supernatural in itself, but how the methodology of science is simply inapplicable to understanding entities or phenomenons with the above listed and other commonly listed characteristics of the supernatural.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  49. #48  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I think we are agreeing, but are viewig the 'problem' from different perspectives, so the words tend to cross like commuters in a tube station.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    TheBiologista,
    I believe you have an incomplete definition of the supernatural. The supernatural is perfectly detectable - if it exists - but it is inconsistent. It is a breaching of the laws of nature in apparently random, or selective ways. It is God, or one of his agents, temporarily suspending the rules he has written for the Universe to suit some intention. So while you are correct that we would be unable to observe God, we would be able to observe the random infringements of the natural laws that he directly or indirectly 'authorised'.
    JG
    Well I didn't really bring up reproducibility, though of course I recognise its central role in the scientific method. I suppose my argument would be that when faced with the unexplained without reproducibility, the unique miracle, we cannot differentiate between the "supernatural" and mere error. If we can't tell the difference, where does that leave us?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    I think we are agreeing, but are viewig the 'problem' from different perspectives, so the words tend to cross like commuters in a tube station.
    Yep.
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  51. #50  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    I think we are agreeing, but are viewig the 'problem' from different perspectives, so the words tend to cross like commuters in a tube station.
    Yep.
    Ditto. Though I don't think we're at such odds; I understand your points, and just wanted to elaborate a bit.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  52. #51  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    TheBiologista,
    I believe you have an incomplete definition of the supernatural. The supernatural is perfectly detectable - if it exists - but it is inconsistent. It is a breaching of the laws of nature in apparently random, or selective ways. It is God, or one of his agents, temporarily suspending the rules he has written for the Universe to suit some intention. So while you are correct that we would be unable to observe God, we would be able to observe the random infringements of the natural laws that he directly or indirectly 'authorised'.
    JG
    Well, this goes back to my comments on falfsifiability and kojax's comments on predictability. If a supernatural entity truly follows no predictable logic and its incursions are truly random, we may see evidence of its actions but we would be unable to make any predictions of this entity's behavior that would allow us to predict future actions, we would be unable to devise any tests that would differentiate these occurrences from the broader field of actual random chance.
    I very much agree. If science has no way of approaching it, then why use the scientific method as your tool instead of some other method that might work better?
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  53. #52  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    TheBiologista,
    I believe you have an incomplete definition of the supernatural. The supernatural is perfectly detectable - if it exists - but it is inconsistent. It is a breaching of the laws of nature in apparently random, or selective ways. It is God, or one of his agents, temporarily suspending the rules he has written for the Universe to suit some intention. So while you are correct that we would be unable to observe God, we would be able to observe the random infringements of the natural laws that he directly or indirectly 'authorised'.
    JG
    Well, this goes back to my comments on falfsifiability and kojax's comments on predictability. If a supernatural entity truly follows no predictable logic and its incursions are truly random, we may see evidence of its actions but we would be unable to make any predictions of this entity's behavior that would allow us to predict future actions, we would be unable to devise any tests that would differentiate these occurrences from the broader field of actual random chance.
    I very much agree. If science has no way of approaching it, then why use the scientific method as your tool instead of some other method that might work better?
    The scientific method is built with our own limits in mind, it is an extension, scope-wise, of our own senses and other learning-abilities. If the scientific method cannot approach it, it means we can't.

    That, at least, is my layman's impression.
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  54. #53 Re: Hey bud, close the door, your letting in Intelligent Des 
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Quote Originally Posted by papazulu

    the only methodology proper for science is provisional naturalism, or methodological naturalism as it is also called.
    The reason why scientists claim to value methodological naturalism is because it has been successful in explaining a wide variety of observations. Now, assuming that a natural cause and an intelligent cause are mutually exclusive, as anti-IDists insist, then methodological naturalism is not successful in the social sciences, history, or archeology. Second, if the importance of methodological naturalism is its ability to explain, then what matters most is the explanatory power of an idea and not whether it refers to something "natural". Third, scientists have yet to develop a decent description of the difference between natural things and non-natural things. This lack of distinction makes it impossible to scientifically identify an explanation as natural-only or non-natural-only. This means that labeling the explanation provided by ID as "non-natural" or "supernatural" is not science, but philosophy. Fourth, if intelligent agency is necessarily supernatural, as many anti-IDists seem to affirm, then even the most hardcore atheist would have to admit that he has a supernatural quality, a quality he often uses to explain his atheism.

    In sum, I currently believe that "naturalism" is a useless and meaningless term. Its significance exists only in debates about the interpretation of data after the science has already been conducted. While in the process of doing science, scientists are not constantly asking themselves if what they are observing is natural or if their explanations are natural.
    I disagree, natural is anything that can be tested. An omnipotent personality is not natural because a scientist cannot test its existence, the personality could always find a way of messing up the experiment or covering up its existence.

    However a personality that can be defeated by scientists or is restricted to some moral code might be considered natural (although some here might disagree). However ID describes a 'whimsical' creator and describe no limits on its abilities, so I'd say the ID creator is non-natural.
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