12/26/08

Richard Dawkins - Looking for God in All the Wrong Places (and in all the wrong ways)

During a conversation between Prof. Richard Dawkins and Dr. Alister McGrath that took place at Oxford, Prof. Richard Dawkins stated, “What I care about is what’s true; I want to know, is there a God in the universe or not?”

To read/Or not to read


I freely admit that it may have been a simple misstatement but this little sentence is jam packed with various typical atheist fallacies.

In this essay I would like to address a few of the fallacies:

It is certainly admirable that Prof. Richard Dawkins is interested in truth, seeks to acquire truth and wants to know, really know, if God does or does not exist. He has claimed that God’s non existence is almost a certainty which he has quantified to 99% certainty. Incidentally, other scientists have quantified the likelihood of God’s existence at 62% (see the Statistical Probability portion of my parsed essay Is Richard Dawkins a Fundamentalist?” for more on both percentages). He is interested in truth—science is about ascertaining our best guess thus far and its conclusions are necessarily are tentative. Thus, he cannot find God through scientific means alone since he could never claim to have the final scientific word on the subject. This is probably why Creationists or Intelligent Design proponents claim that discoveries in the natural world serve to point us towards a super intelligent cause.

But this is getting way ahead of ourselves. Let us consider what Prof. Richard Dawkins is looking for, “is there a God in the universe or not?” He, at least in this particular statement, has in view a God who, if it exists at all, exists in the universe. This means that he seeks for the God of a very particular theology: not a good who is outside of the universe, not one that is the universe, not one that is part of the universe, or whatever else one can imagine. Rather, he seeks a God who would be inside of the universe. It is perhaps in conceiving of God according to this particular theology that Prof. Richard Dawkins would think to apply the scientific method to seeking to ascertain God’s existence.

But this is getting way ahead of ourselves. Since Prof. Richard Dawkins does not know God, does not know what God is like, he does not know if God exists or not so how does he know what to look for and how does he know how to look? Prof. Richard Dawkins is an adherent of a sect of atheism and scientism which asserts that one cannot come to supernatural conclusions until one has exhausted absolutely every possible materialistic explanation. This not only refers to material causes of which we are aware but it is also the expectation that if we cannot explain it materialistically now, today, we may uncover as of yet unknown material causes tomorrow, or next week, or in one hundred years, or one million years. This is the fallacy of validation by expectation of future human omniscience.

In other words, this sort of scientifically façaded atheist asserts that you cannot appeal to a supernatural agent until we humans know everything that there is to know about everything and we know everything that there is to know about everything that there is to know. Until we know everything, and how it all interacts in every scenario any and everywhere they reject supernatural concepts that have at least some merit and instead accept materialistic concepts that have no merit. For example, consider the concept of miracles: atheists generally claim that the do not ever occur—they do this without having investigated all such claims or sometimes not even one. They make the claim based on the presumption that the natural laws cannot be broken—they do this while not knowing if we know all of the natural laws, nor if we understand them fully, nor if there are as of yet undiscovered ones, nor if we understand their interactions in every situation. Alternatively, they claim, without evidence, that miracles are not divine occurrences but the out-workings of as of yet unknown or not understood natural laws. Prof. Richard Dawkins has a particular and peculiar view of miracles which plays of off our imperfect knowledge of natural laws—he claims miracles are really coincidences, it had to happen that way at some time and in some place (see the Miraculous portion of “Is Richard Dawkins a Fundamentalist?”).

But this is getting way ahead of ourselves. Prof. Richard Dawkins is asking for evidence.
But why?
Why?
What do I mean by asking, “Why ask for evidence?”?
Well, I would ask him to please show me the evidence upon which he bases his claim to require evidence. Also, if science is the manner by which to acquire knowledge of God it must first be scientifically demonstrated that science is the manner by which to acquire knowledge of God. He is asking for evidence of God without knowing if God gives off evidence. Prof. Richard Dawkins may be seeking material evidence of an immaterial being. Do we look for wet evidence of a dry object?
This is why he is ultimately seeking for a God in the universe.

Thus, Prof. Richard Dawkins is looking for a particular god, in a particular way, in a particular location—let us see what he uncovers.

36 comments:

  1. He is interested in truth—science is about ascertaining our best guess thus far and its conclusions are necessarily are tentative. Thus, he cannot find God through scientific means alone since he could never claim to have the final scientific word on the subject.

    This is a very peculiar statement. You seem to be asserting that if there were some definite scientific evidence that God existed and the community of scientist came to the consensus conclusion that the best, in fact the only, theory that can account for that evidence is the existence of this entity, then science has STILL not found God. Now if you are using the phrase ‘find God’ to refer to the psychological process of conversion, then I can agree with you. Dawkins, given his statements about the psychotic nature of the God depicted in the Old Testament and given that it was THAT God that was shown to exist, would not be an atheist any more but he would, no doubt, be an anti-theist.

    On the other hand if you are asserting that Dawkins is incapable of accepting a solid scientific conclusion simply because is can never be the FINAL word, then you have no basis for making that claim. There are, no doubt, many atheists that because of the emotional attachment to the concept of atheism would be incapable of accepting that conclusion. (Anti-evolutionists have long demonstrated that an emotional commitment to a belief can prevent that person from accepting a scientific conclusion despite overwhelming evidence supporting that conclusion.) However, I my humble opinion, Dawkins would not be in that camp.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This means that he seeks for the God of a very particular theology: ...

    Piffle. You are just playing word games with this point. I'm sure that Dawkins is supremely indifferent about any theological perspective. What he is saying is IF there is such a thing as a deity that exists in some non-subjective way AND that entity has (or has had) some relevance, impact or interaction with (or in) the Universe that is different that what would be if that entity didn't exist then there would be some way to verify that entity exists.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Since Prof. Richard Dawkins does not know God, does not know what God is like, he does not know if God exists or not so how does he know what to look for and how does he know how to look?

    Since Dawkins is not the one proposing that God exist, it really isn't up to him to answer any of those questions. That onus falls entirely on those people who make the extraordinary claim that they know what God is like and that He exists. What Dawkins is saying is that given what we know about the Universe and how that Universe works, NONE of those extraordinary claims fit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Prof. Richard Dawkins is an adherent of a sect of atheism and scientism which asserts that one cannot come to supernatural conclusions until one has exhausted absolutely every possible materialistic explanation.

    This is not true. If you have a good theory (and I mean theory in the deep scientific sense) that happens to include what we would commonly classify as 'supernatural' then that theory would be readily accepted. The problem is that what we commonly classify as 'supernatural' is simply not true and, as such, if does not fit into any good theory. When people try to package their bogus supernatural beliefs into a theoretical frameworks, what you get is a BAD theory.

    Anybody that has read any amount of fantasy or science fiction where some supernatural element is posited to exist, has seen what those worlds are like and has seen how they are, in fact, NOT what we see around us. Take Terry Pratchett's DiscWorld, here is a world where the gods exist (along with any number of other supernatural beings) and it is very easy to see that the Universe we live in is not riding on the backs of four elephants standing on a giant sea turtle.

    ReplyDelete
  5. they reject supernatural concepts that have at least some merit and instead accept materialistic concepts that have no merit.

    Again, piffle. What are rejected are supernatural concepts that, despite your insistence to the contrary, really just don't have any merit. What is completely invalid, is to say, I want you to stop looking for the real explanation and accept my supernatural explanation just because. When we see a stage magician perform his act, we can be very comfortable is assuming that the tricks have a materialistic explanation. Is it at all possible that the magician is actually truly Magical? Sure, it's possible but completely unlikely. Now, I think that I'm pretty well justified is claiming that all stage magicians tricks have a natural explanation even if I don't happen to know what that explanation is. If some stage magician wants to claim his is real magic, then it is up to him to demonstrate that it is real magic (whatever that is) in some definitive way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "I want to know, is there a God in the universe or not?"

    Wouldn't it be fun if God gave Richard Dawkins what he claims to want in the form of a profound revelatory religious experience comparable to those claimed by Biblical prophets? I would like to see God give Richard Dawkins some all but irrefutable evidence of Intelligent Design in the world or the universe and demand that he evangelize that evidence every bit as fervently as he evangelizes on behalf of atheism at the moment. :-)

    I cannot offer Richard Dawkins absolute proof of God's existence but I can offer him some rather compelling hard evidence for ID of the Creator right here in our solar system. I can also offer Richard Dawkins 'The Atheist Supremacists's Song' which I kind of plagiarized from Gilbert & Sullivan's little known operetta 'The Atheists of Oxford'. . .

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mariano: I can't really add anything to what jdhuey has said. But I'd be curious if you know which scientists calculated the likelihood of God's existence as being "62%", and exactly what methodology they used. P.M. is not Nature: it is more on the order of "Popular Mechanics", and doesn't really carry much weight.

    Robin: a total eclipse is compelling hard evidence for the "ID of the Creator"? Pray tell, how? If that's "hard evidence" for ID, I would say that George Bush and hernias are "hard evidence" against ID. Pish and tosh.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Let me sum up jdhuey:

    "I'm a materialist. God cannot exist! I've already decided that existence, in order to be meaningful, must be explained naturally. If God does not fit those parameters (that's my standard for "facts", after all), then God is meaningless concept.

    Just to sure up this argument, have you read Orson Scott Card or other sci-fi fantasy with lots of alian sex? That's not like this world at all...therefore, God does not exist."

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jdhuey and Zilch;
    Thanks for the comments.

    Jdhuey;
    I was attempting to imagine Prof. Dawkins’ perspective. He states that the question of God’s existence is a scientific question—I am not certain that he has planned any experiments. I agree in wondering whether the FINAL word would break through his adherence to the Darwinism that he accepted when he was taught it.

    I have never encountered a atheists that did not, very rigidly and dogmatically, hold to a theology.

    You appear to be committing the same fallacy as Prof. Dawkins, or so it seems to me, you are attempting to fit all of reality into whatever “deep scientific sense” may mean.

    You are, sadly, trailing off into atheist mythology in stating that theists “want you to stop looking for the real explanation.” Theists seek material explanations for material phenomenon because they believer that God created the material real along with time which makes material cause and effect relationships possible. They are studying God’s handiwork and are not satisfied by filling the gaps in our knowledge with time, chance, matter, accidents, coincidences, happenstances, arbitrary-just-right-stories, or in the case of Prof. Dawkins—faith and imagination.

    Zilch;
    Well, I am not dead set on the 62% thing either. I just thought that if one scientist can set it at 1% why not mention that others set is at 62%.
    Yet, although Prof. Dawkins admitted to having absolutely no reason for quantifying it at 1% while Populärwissenschaftliche Magazin was “using mathematical formulae devised to determine plausibility and probability. Researchers started with the hypothesis ‘God exists’, then tried to analyse the evidence in favour or against the hypothesis in five areas: creation, evolution, good, evil and religious experiences. The scientists applied the formulae to calculate how statistically probable different answers were to questions such as ‘How probable is it that the evolution of life took place without God?’, and ‘How probable is it that God created the Universe?’ Their conclusion will be cheering to many, although not, perhaps, Richard Dawkins.” [Bojan Pancevski, Did you hear? – God probably exists, The [London] Times (November 20, 2006)]

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mariano: thanks for the reply. I would still be curious about exactly how these scientists, whoever they were, arrived at their figure. In any case, assigning a percentage likelihood to a one-off case (if we don't quibble about possible pantheons of gods and goddesses, demigods, etc.) seems misguided to me. It's not like a coin toss, which can be repeated ad lib, in which case one can confidently assign a likelihood of 50% for heads: it's either true or not, and I quite understand Dawkins'
    reluctance to put a number on it.

    Calling atheism a "theology" because it is materialistic and does not accept supernatural explanations is just silly. Not accepting supernatural explanations is merely common sense: if someone gave you a dollar change instead of the two dollars you should get, and said that the second dollar was eaten by your "bad vibes" and therefore your responsibility, would you accept that explanation? If not, why not? Materialism is simply the default position, and unless and until there is evidence for supernatural phenomena, it's commonsensical to reject it.

    Dawkins is looking for God within our Universe because our Universe is, by definition, all that there is (the size, number of dimensions, etc, are of course all subject to revision, pending new evidence). If you lost your wallet, with the dollar change in it that you got because you believed that your bad vibes ate the other dollar, and you started looking for it under the table, what would you say if I told you that you were being rigid and dogmatic, because you were not looking in the parallel world to the left and to the green of our world? You would probably say that I was crazy, or demand evidence that this parallel world, to the left and to the green of ours, even exists, and you would probably add that the concept of "to the left and to the green" was incoherent. And you would probably not be impressed if I showed you an ancient book (perhaps Accadian, in cuneiform) that claims that such a world exists, and that lost wallets go there.

    It's exactly the same for me with religious people. They claim the existence of all kinds of beings (God, the Devil, angels), worlds (Heaven, Hell), and forces (supernatural) of which I have no experience and they have no evidence, except the sayso of some old book or other. So for me, your claims are exactly the same as the claims of some guy saying your wallet is in a parallel universe: the only difference is that there are a whole lot of people who believe more or less as you do, and they are doing their best to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
  11. ...if someone gave you a dollar change instead of the two dollars you should get, and said that the second dollar was eaten by your "bad vibes" and therefore your responsibility, would you accept that explanation? If not, why not? Materialism is simply the default position...

    Not at all, materialism is not the default position if by materialism you mean the pseudo-Newtonian worldview promoted by Dawkins and others. So you would now look to that person's supposedly "selfish" genes for an answer, nor would you attempt to trace the history of their biology to the brain events which supposedly caused them to fail to give your money back. Although you could imagine little mythological narratives of materialism or gradualism as to how it is that you did not get your money back but natural selection operating on the mating habits of ancient worm-like creatures actually has little to do with it. The common sense position is that things like sentience, intelligence and intelligent design probably have something to do with why the money was not returned. That's common sense, yet Dawkins says that we must play pretend and imagine things about the past in the name of science instead of admitting to common senses that we know by our own experience (which are probably typical to other organisms as well).

    In the end he believes in the Darwinian creation myth despite common senses rooted in sentience because he is seeking explanations that seem "natural" to him instead of seeking rational explanations:Electrons and nucleons are not known to be sentient, while the higher animals are. If a rat laps up a solution of saccharine, the rational explanation of this lies in the fact that the solution tastes sweet and that the rat likes that. The tasting and liking are facts that physics and chemistry as known today cannot explain.
    And this conclusion gives the whole show away. Because it acknowledges a conscious desire by an individual capable of such desire, it leads on further to the recognition of deliberate actions by individuals and the possibilities of error on their part. Thus a whole series of conceptions emerges that are absent from physics and chemistry as known today. Indeed, nothing is relevant to biology, even at the lowest level of life, unless it bears on the achievements of living beings: achievements such as their perfection of form, their morphogenesis, or the proper functioning of their organs; and the very conception of such achievements implies a distinction between success or failure—a distinction unknown to physics and chemistry.
    But the distinction between success and failure is present in, and is indeed essential to, the science of engineering; and the logic of engineering does substantiate in fact what I am saying here of biology. No physical or chemical investigation of an object can tell us whether it is a machine and, if so, how it works. Only if we have previously discovered that it is a machine, and found out also approximately how it works, can the physical and chemical examination of the machine tell us anything useful about it, as a machine. Similarly, physical and chemical investigations can form part of biology only by bearing on previously established biological achievements, such as shapeliness, morphogenesis, or physiological functions.
    A complete physical and chemical topography of a frog would tell us nothing about it as a frog, unless we knew it previously as a frog. And if the rules of scientific detachment required that we limit ourselves exclusively to physical and chemical observations, we would remain forever unaware of frogs or of any other living beings, just as we would remain ignorant also by such observations of all machines and other human contrivances.
    The achievements which form the subject matter of biology can be identified only by a kind of appraisal which requires a higher degree of participation by the observer in his subject matter than can be mediated by the tests of physics and chemistry. The current ideal of “scientificality” which would refuse such participation would indeed destroy biology but for the wise neglect of consistency on the part of its supporters.
    (Scientific Outlook: Its Sickness and Cure
    by Michael Polanyi
    Science New Series, Vol. 125, No. 3246 (Mar., 1957), pp. 482)


    Ironically the people most likely to murmur about "science" as if science is a sentient being that just came up and whispered in their ear the other day actually undermine all scientia/knowledge as we know it, including their own. So it's little wonder that they tend to be proponents of the pseudo-science of our day like Darwinism.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are just playing word games with this point. I'm sure that Dawkins is supremely indifferent about any theological perspective. What he is saying is IF there is such a thing as a deity that exists in some non-subjective way AND that entity has (or has had) some relevance, impact or interaction with (or in) the Universe that is different that what would be if that entity didn't exist then there would be some way to verify that entity exists.

    You could say the same thing of Dawkin's mind if we supposedly do not assume traditional theological perspectives having to do with man, nature and God. Can you verify that such an entity exists or do his texts have more to do with brain events and genes which have more to do with natural selection operating on ancient worm-like creatures?

    For that matter, won't science eventually show that your mind-of-the-synaptic-gaps is generally an illusion brought about by natural selection operating on the excretory and reproductive organs of ancient ape-like creatures? How could we verify the existence of sentience and intelligence in any organisms (let alone an infinite Intelligence) if the pseudo-science typical to Darwinism is treated as if it is science? It seems that when people are allowed to treat imagining things about the past as if it is the equivalent of scientific evidence intelligence and knowledge dissolve, naturally.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Robin Edgar "I would like to see God give Richard Dawkins some all but irrefutable evidence of Intelligent Design in the world or the universe..."
    That would be interesting to see, but He won't.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mariano "He states that the question of God’s existence is a scientific question—I am not certain that he has planned any experiments."
    Well, he didn't design them, but there have been several double-blind prayer experiments, and He fairly consistently fails to rise above the anecdotal.
    A statistical analysis of Lourdes would almost doubtlessly come to the same conclusion.

    "They are studying God’s handiwork and are not satisfied by filling the gaps in our knowledge with time, chance, matter, accidents, coincidences, happenstances, arbitrary-just-right-stories, or in the case of Prof. Dawkins—faith and imagination."
    Because there's no way that flagellum thingy could've evolved on its own (that would be like a hurrincane running through a junkyard and making a 747). And what use is half an eye, anyway?
    In other words, Newton is dead and the world is a poorer place for it. Behe is here, and the world is something something.

    zilch "Calling atheism a "theology" because it is materialistic and does not accept supernatural explanations is just silly."
    Not excepting things that aren't so is a religion, you hear me? A religion!

    mynym "For that matter, won't science eventually show that your mind-of-the-synaptic-gaps is generally an illusion brought about by natural selection operating on the excretory and reproductive organs of ancient ape-like creatures?"
    Mind is an emergent property of a sufficiently complex brain, probably (and mutation and selection and time). I'm not sure about that "excretory" bit.

    "It seems that when people are allowed to treat imagining things about the past as if it is the equivalent of scientific evidence intelligence and knowledge dissolve, naturally."
    Creation science?

    ReplyDelete
  15. ...Newton is dead and the world is a poorer place for it.

    The history of science shows that theism is the beginning of sound scientia/knowledge while the denial of the necessity of sentience and intelligence to understanding the world is linked with pseudo-science. So ironically those who murmur the most about "science" as if it is some sentient being and intelligent safeguard of Progress actually tend to believe in pseudo-science.

    Newton is actually a challenge to the mythology of Progress that the purveyors of "pure" science promote:One of the first actions of those who proclaimed the ‘Enlightenment’ was the ‘deification of Newton.’ Voltaire set the example by calling him the greatest man who ever lived. Thus began an unexcelled outpouring of worshipful prose and extravagant poetry. David Hume wrote that Newton was ‘the greatest and rarest genius that ever rose for the ornament and instruction of the species.’ As Gay noted, ‘the adjectives ‘divine’ and ‘immortal’ became practically compulsory.’ [...] In 1802 the French philosophe Claude-Henri de Sain-Simon (1760-1825) founded a Godless religion to be led by scientist-priests and called it the Religion of Newton (his pupil Auguste Comte renamed it ’sociology’).
    However, as the ‘Enlightenment’ became more outspokenly atheistic and more determined to establish the incompatibility of science and religion, a pressing matter arose: what was to be done about Newton’s religion? Trouble was that Newton’s religious views were not a matter of hearsay or repute. He had, after all, in 1713 added a concluding section to the second editions of his monumental Principia, the ‘General Scholium’ (or proposition), which was devoted entirely to his ideas about God. In it, Newton undertook to demonstrate the existence of God, concluding that:
    ‘…the true God is a living, intelligent, powerful Being….’
    ‘…he governs all things, and knows all things that are done or can be done.’
    ‘….He endures forever, and is everywhere present.’
    ‘…As a blind man has no ideas of colors, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things.’
    Worse yet, Newton had written four letters during 1692-1693 explaining his theology to Richard Bentley. In the ‘Bentley Letters’ Newton ridiculed the idea that the world could be explained in impersonal, mechanical terms. Above all, having discovered the elegant lawfulness of things, Newton believed that he had, once and for all, demonstrated the certainty that behind all existence there is an intelligent, aware, omnipotent God. Any other assumption is ‘inconsistent with my system.’
    (For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch Hunts and the End of Slavery by Rodney Stark :167-168)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mind is an emergent property of a sufficiently complex brain, probably (and mutation and selection and time). I'm not sure about that "excretory" bit.

    If you believe that the hypothetical goo typical to the "theory of evolution" explains the intelligence typical to Homo sapiens then you may as well have excrement for brains. It is clear that the theory of natural selection does not apply to man.

    Change happens, Nature selects and when Nature calls excrement happens... that's all that your mind seems to amount to.

    Creation science?

    Even most creationist rubes do not try to pass their mythology off as science itself. In contrast, leading Darwinists do often cite their capacity to imagine things as if it has something to do with the empirical evidence. The reason that the Darwinian creation myth is in competition with other creation myths is because it is one.

    ReplyDelete
  17. mynym; Don't make me mention that Laplace quote again. I'll do it, too!
    When Newton looked at the stars, he didn't fill the gaps in his knowledge with oogity boogity. It's not his fault that the way that God worked ended up leaving Him so little to do (I assume that He, in various guises, messes with Man because He's bored). Plus, Newton stuck a sewing needle in between his eyeball and eye socket just to see what would happen, which shows a level of commitment that would probably get a lesser mind committed.

    ReplyDelete
  18. mynym "...explains the intelligence typical to Homo sapiens then you may as well have excrement for brains."
    Which is why chimps are also self aware, also experience emotion, also invent and use (but don't seem to improve) tools to a limited degree.
    This is also why some dolphins and the Indian elephant (but not the African) are self aware.
    This meant that the Lord had to come down as chimp Jesus, dolphin Jesus and Indian elephant Jesus to save them from the terrible sin of being what they are.
    I assume they managed a nibble at the Tree of Knowledge.

    "It is clear that the theory of natural selection does not apply to man."
    No. It's clear that our talent for changing our environment makes us pretty good at avoiding it. Get cancer and die before you reproduce and you're still not passing on the (potential) genetic predisposition for getting cancer and dying before you reproduce, however.

    ReplyDelete
  19. When Newton looked at the stars, he didn't fill the gaps in his knowledge with oogity boogity.

    The ignorance of those who believe in the mythology of Progress typical to the Enlightenment is amazing. The only gap in knowledge at issue here is your own.

    If you're not too busy developing a mythology of Progress rooted in imagining things about the past maybe you could spare a moment to think about a chain of cause and effect here and now. Take the physical substrate of the brain events which are necessary for your metaphysical ignorance as an example, they trace back to neural nets, which trace back to fields of energy and so on. Putting the past aside, what is their cause here and now?

    It's not his fault that the way that God worked ended up leaving Him so little to do...

    Other than sustaining all things in being as Newton believed?

    Plus, Newton stuck a sewing needle in between his eyeball and eye socket just to see what would happen, which shows a level of commitment that would probably get a lesser mind committed.

    Shrug, you're only seeking to denigrate Newton without actually dealing with anything he wrote because you disagree with him. It's irrelevant. After all, you seem to be mentally retarded just like others who seek scientia/knowledge without sentience and yet I'm still dealing with the text you write as if it is information. Darwin liked to shoot animals while also condemning God for his projection of survival of the fittest onto Nature. So what? If he could actually specify his theory of natural selection and generally predict trajectories of adaptation with it then he would be responsible for progress in knowledge. Of course, Darwinian reasoning is actually far from the epistemic equivalent of Newtonian reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
  20. mynym "The ignorance of those who believe in the mythology of Progress typical to the Enlightenment is amazing."
    Not too long ago, I'd be grubbing for grub and calling my neighbour a witch for making my beets rot. If I was rich, I'd have a slave or two. My wife would be my property. She'd die birthin' the seventh of our little brood. Three of the seven wouldn't survive to adulthood. A hundred thousand years ago, we'd be following our food around, quaking at thunder, and trying not to be eaten. Before the KT event, I'd have spent most of my time avoiding being stepped on. Now, not so much. That sounds like progress to me.

    "Putting the past aside, what is their cause here and now?"
    Clearly the answer is that an immaterial, eternal and undetectable soul is willing the neurons of the brain (using an unknown and undetectable interface) to send impulses around itself in a fairly slow but massively multiparallel neural net. This pulses, and the interaction between neurons are then interpreted by the soul. While chimpanzees and other self-aware animals look like they have at least the precursors of souls, they don't, and the appearance of such is merely a natural-looking simulation of them. When a mother chimpanzee is filled with grief at the death of a child to the point where she stops eating, that's only the appearance of grief and the appearance of not eating. When a zoo keeper reached for something just out of range, and the chimp gets it for him and gives it to him, that's just the appearance of altruism.

    "Other than sustaining all things in being as Newton believed?"
    And which force did that turn out to be? Strong? Weak? EM? Gravity?

    "Shrug, you're only seeking to denigrate Newton without actually dealing with anything he wrote..."
    Oh, tosh! Newton was an odd, lonely, irascible, kooky genius. I would love him like a brother if he wasn't so insufferable.

    ...because you disagree with him."
    Well, I disagree with his alchemy papers. Even you disagree with some of his theology (he was, after all, a heretic).

    "Darwin liked to shoot animals while also condemning God for his projection of survival of the fittest onto Nature."
    Darwin came from the era when naturalists tended to shoot things. I don't remember him "condemning" God for working through natural selection. Doubting and misgivings about an all-good, 3-O'd God who nonetheless chose to work in bloody and brutal manner would probably fit better.

    "If he could actually specify his theory of natural selection and generally predict trajectories of adaptation with it then he would be responsible for progress in knowledge."
    We can predict mutation rates on the genome as a whole probabilistically (you have 75 mutations, compared to your parents, if memory serves). We can't, however predict which genes or when (thus probability), and hence can't predict what effect the unpredictable mutations will have on the possessor of them. Only God knows, and His lips, inevitably, are sealed.
    If you're going to harp on that, take chemistry while you're there (half-life?).
    ToE is better at predicting gaps in the past history of life than the future.

    "Of course, Darwinian reasoning is actually far from the epistemic equivalent of Newtonian reasoning."
    Math is different than biology. It's far cleaner than the squishy squooshes of biology.

    ReplyDelete
  21. mynym, you say:

    The common sense position is that things like sentience, intelligence and intelligent design probably have something to do with why the money was not returned.

    Sentience and intelligence, yes. But as M.O. said, these are emergent phenomena. "Intelligent design" is a part of common sense in the same way that a thundergod who hurls lightningbolts is a part of common sense: a stopgap account until we knew better. But both thundergods and intelligent designers are placeholders at best: they are not explanations for anything, because they do not add any knowledge. Nowadays, most of us know better than to call thundergods commonsensical, and many of us (including most scientists) know better than to invoke "intelligent design" to account for our intelligence. Show me some evidence for intelligent design, other than picking at the gaps in evolutionary theory, and I promise I'll pay attention. Until then, the "Intelligent Designer" can keep Thor company. Perhaps they can go bowling together.

    While chimpanzees and other self-aware animals look like they have at least the precursors of souls, they don't, and the appearance of such is merely a natural-looking simulation of them. When a mother chimpanzee is filled with grief at the death of a child to the point where she stops eating, that's only the appearance of grief and the appearance of not eating. When a zoo keeper reached for something just out of range, and the chimp gets it for him and gives it to him, that's just the appearance of altruism.

    You've got it down pat, M.O.! All you need now for enlightenment is to realize that when atheists behave nicely, it's just the appearance of moral behavior, not real moral behavior.

    ReplyDelete
  22. That sounds like progress to me.

    History shows that a theistic worldview was and is linked to the abolition of slavery, human rights, science as we know it, etc. I.e. most of the things that you mention as progress.

    Clearly the answer is that an immaterial, eternal and undetectable soul is willing the neurons of the brain (using an unknown and undetectable interface)...

    Not necessarily, you seem to be choosing between the philosophic "naturalism" of which Darwinism and the mechanistic philosophy of Descartes or some such. The answer may be that transphysical information is a reality defined by language that is detectable by minds that exist in neural nets and so on.

    At any rate, it would be better to say that we do not know than to say that a grand mythology of naturalistic Progress ensures that we will inevitably fill in every "gap" and so on. The greatest barrier to progress in knowledge is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.

    ...the chimp gets it for him and gives it to him, that's just the appearance of altruism.

    How ironic, you are aware that most proponents of "materialism" or "naturalism" (although how natural multiple universes are is yet to be seen) explain away altruism as an illusion brought about by natural selection, correct? And they explain away much of what we experience as intelligent agency and design as only the appearance of such things.

    Doubting and misgivings about an all-good, 3-O'd God who nonetheless chose to work in bloody and brutal manner would probably fit better.

    It is interesting how some see Darwin as a pioneer in that respect, if no philosopher or theologian had realized the brutal nature of existence before an effete and sensitive little Darwin pointed it all out. Given that Darwin was educated as a theologian one would think that he would remember that given the Christian mythos a Lamb of God (i.e. an animal) is sacrificed for the sake of redemption and so on. It is central to Christianity that God is reduced to the level of a man and sacrificed as nothing more than a brute and so on. As philosophers pointed out if God is infinitely good and things like redemption, mercy and so on are good then that sort of "brutality" is to be expected.

    Do you actually think that no one realized the brutality of existence before?

    ToE is better at predicting gaps in the past history of life than the future.

    There is no "theory of evolution," there are many hypotheses about evolution which generally do not predict anything. Here is an interesting question, what biological observation would not be predicted by the so-called "theory of evolution"?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sentience and intelligence, yes. But as M.O. said, these are emergent phenomena.

    So do they emerge from the past or the present?

    "Intelligent design" is a part of common sense in the same way that a thundergod who hurls lightningbolts is a part of common sense: a stopgap account until we knew better.

    Drivel, the vast majority of the progress cited by those stupid and ignorant enough to believe in the mythologies of Progress typical to the Enlightenment actually came about as a result of theism. The reason that we do not believe in the old superstitions is because Christian scientists who believed that the world is ordered by the Mind of God did away with the old mythologies of pagan magick, gods, etc.

    A summary of history:The mystery that now confronts us is this: How did human beings acquire their extraordinary ability to crack the cosmic code, to solve nature’s cryptic crossword, to do science so effectively? I have mentioned that science emerged from a predominately Christian culture. According to the Christian tradition God is a rational being who made the universe as a free act of special creation, and has ordered it in a way that reflects his/her own rationality. Human beings are said to be 'made in God’s image,' and might therefore be considered (on one interpretation of 'image') to share, albeit in grossly diminished form, some aspect of God’s own rationality. If one subscribes to this point of view it is then no surprise that we can do science, because in so doing we are exercising a form of rationality that finds a common basis in the Architect of the very natural world that we are exploring.
    Early scientists such as Newton believed this. They thought that in doing science they were uncovering part of God’s rational plan for the cosmos. The laws of nature were regarded as 'thoughts in the mind of God,' so that by using our God-given rationality in the form of the scientific method, we are able to glimpse the mind of God. Thus they inherited a view of the world—one which actually stretches back at least to Plato—that places mind at the basis of physical reality. Given the (unexplained) existence of rational mind, the existence of a rationally ordered universe containing rational conscious beings is then no surprise.
    (Paul Davies, "The Intelligibility of Nature," Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature, ed. Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, and C.J. Isham (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory Publications, 1996) :155)


    But both thundergods and intelligent designers are placeholders at best: they are not explanations for anything, because they do not add any knowledge.

    Except that the rational structure of the universe is the ground of scientia/knowledge as we know it.


    Nowadays, most of us know better than to call thundergods commonsensical, and many of us (including most scientists) know better than to invoke "intelligent design" to account for our intelligence.

    Very well, if you know better than to admit to intelligent design then your own views should be applied to you. The text that you write here is not an artifact of intelligent design, instead any symbols and signs typical to design actually only "appear" to be designed. So your text probably has more to do with natural selection operating on a group of ancient worm-like creatures than intelligence. It seems that I may as well study worms instead of your words.

    Show me some evidence for intelligent design, other than picking at the gaps in evolutionary theory....

    There is no theory of evolution, there is a generally unspecified collection of hypotheses that degenerate back into total hypothetical goo if any gap is present. The irony is that so many believe that the explanatory power of the "theory" is increasingly "overwhelming" the more "gaps" that it fills. If you can explain all observations with a theory then you've explained nothing. Here's an interesting question, what type of biological observation would not comport with the "theory of evolution" as you understand it?

    ReplyDelete
  24. mynym "That sounds like progress to me."
    Good. We're in agreement. Break for lunch, everybody!

    "History shows that a theistic worldview was and is linked to the abolition of slavery, human rights, science as we know it, etc. I.e. most of the things that you mention as progress."
    And the best part about having people on both sides of every conflict, is that you can go back and pick the winners to be your side.

    "At any rate, it would be better to say that we do not know than to say that a grand mythology of naturalistic Progress ensures that we will inevitably fill in every "gap" and so on."
    I doubt very much that we will fill even a small portion of the gaps (for one thing, everytime we think we're close, some fool invents a way to look at it at a smaller resolution).
    It's better to look at inquiry as a journey rather than a destination.

    "The greatest barrier to progress in knowledge is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge."
    That should be posted in front of the Creation Museum.

    "How ironic, you are aware that most proponents of "materialism" or "naturalism" (although how natural multiple universes are is yet to be seen) explain away altruism as an illusion brought about by natural selection, correct?"
    I'm pretty sure that "I" is an illusion. Free will, too. "I" am altruistic because for millions of years, not screwing over your neighbour (and him doing the same) resulted in both of you consistently not getting screwed. Helping him when he needed it meant that you stood a higher chance of getting help when you needed it. It's win-win. No soul required.

    "Do you actually think that no one realized the brutality of existence before?"
    Obviously, the Problem of Suffering has always been a problem. Of suffering. In the old YEC view, there wasn't all that much of it compared to the more modern Deep Time view. The scale of Deep Time alone dwarfs the YEC view, and with it, the scale of suffering. 6,000 years after The Fall is a hill of corpses. 500,000,000+ (and no Fall) is a mountain chain of them. Ken Ham does have a point.

    "...what biological observation would not be predicted by the so-called "theory of evolution"?"
    Rabbits in the Cambrian (or worse, Cambrians in the rabbit).

    ReplyDelete
  25. And the best part about having people on both sides of every conflict, is that you can go back and pick the winners to be your side.

    There was no conflict before it was invented by charlatans who defined themselves as "enlightened" and former ages as "dark" and so on. Do you honestly believe in the mythology of Progress typical to the Enlightenment?

    That should be posted in front of the Creation Museum.

    Actually it seems that it should be tattooed on your forehead.

    I'm pretty sure that "I" is an illusion.

    Good, I agree with you that you are an illusion. You're only saying what you say because Mother Nature selected for your ignorance to be exceeded by your stupidity. To verify this view all one need do is imagine things about the past, some little mythological narrative of naturalism like this: ...not screwing over your neighbour (and him doing the same) resulted in both of you consistently not getting screwed. Helping him when he needed it meant that you stood a higher chance of getting help when you needed it. It's win-win. No soul required.

    One can just as easily imagine the opposite. As the philosopher David Stove noted that's the way that Darwinism was actually specified in the past*, although now it has generally degenerated back into the hypothetical goo typical to the various theories and hypotheses of evolution.

    *Huxley naturally realized that, as examples of Darwinian competition for life among humans, hypothetical ancient fights between Hobbesian bachelors were not nearly good enough. What was desperately needed were some real examples, drawn from contemporary or at least recent history. Nothing less would be sufficient to reconcile Darwinism with the obvious facts of human life [evidence of cooperation]. Accordingly, Huxley made several attempts to supply such an example. But the result in every case was merely embarrassing.

    One attempt was as follows. Huxley draws attention to the fierce competition for colonies and markets which was going on, at the time he wrote, among the major Western nations. He says, in effect, “There! That’s pretty Darwinian, you must admit.” The reader, for his part, scarcely knows where to look, and wonders, very excusably, what species of organism it can possibly be, of which Britain, France, and Germany are members.
    [...]
    A third attempt is this. Huxley implies that there have been “one or two short intervals” of the Darwinian “struggle for existence between man and man” in England in quite recent centuries: for example, the civil war of the seventeenth century! You probably think, and you certainly ought to think, that I am making this up; but I am not. He actually writes that, since “the reign of Elizabeth . . . , the struggle for existence between man and man has been so largely restrained among the great mass of the population (except for one or two short intervals of civil war), that it can have little, or no selective operation.”

    You probably also think that the English civil war of the seventeenth century grew out of tensions between parliament and the court, dissent and the established church, republic and and the monarchy. Nothing of the sort, you see: it was a resumption of “the struggle for existence between man and man.” Cromwell and King Charles were competing with each other, and each of them with everyone else too, à la Darwin and Malthus, for means of subsistence. So no doubt Cromwell, when he had had the king’s head cut off, ate it. Uncooked, I shouldn’t wonder, the beast. And probably selfishly refused to let his secretary John Milton have even one little nibble.

    Huxley should not have needed Darwinism to tell him— since any intelligent child of about eight could have told him— that in a “continual free fight of each other against all” there would soon be no children, no women and hence, no men. In other words, that the human race could not possibly exist now, unless cooperation had always been stronger than competition, both between women and their children, and between men and the children and women whom they protect and provide for.

    And why was it that Huxley himself swallowed, and expected the rest of us to swallow, this ocean of biological absurdity and historical illiteracy? Why, just because he could not imagine Darwinism’s being false, while if it is true then a struggle for life must always be going on in every species. Indeed, the kind of examples for which Huxley searched would have to be as common as air among us, surrounding us everywhere at all times. But anyone who tries to point out such an example will find himself obliged to reenact T. H. Huxley’s ludicrous performance.
    (Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution
    by David Stove :7-9)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Rabbits in the Cambrian (or worse, Cambrians in the rabbit).

    I said what biological observation could possibly falsify Darwinism. It is a theory which is said to explain the origins of all species, form and biological specification, after all.

    But at any rate, numerous fossil anomalies have already been found and discarded. Even on orthodox accounts in which periods of time can be "read" from an imaginary "geologic column" the time of highly complex life forms keeps receding.

    An example from Wikipedia:"At approximately 570 million years old, this new fossil, most likely an arthropod, not only provides the earliest suggestion of animals walking on legs, but it also shows that complex animals were alive on earth before the Cambrian period."

    At some point a pattern of supposed anomalies to a theory is actually a regularity which can be advanced against it.

    The general patter is that only those interested in evidence that does not comport with the Darwinian creation myth report it, e.g.:David L. Bushnell, an ethnologist with the Smithsonian Institution, [imagined a little story about the past to suggest that] the prints were carved by Indians. In ruling out this hypothesis, Dr. Burroughs used a microscope to study the prints and noted: “The sand grains within the tracks are closer together than the sand grains of the rock just outside the tracks due to the pressure of the creatures’ feet. . . . The sandstone adjacent to many of the tracks is uprolled due to the damp, loose sand having been pushed up around the foot as the foot sank into the sand.” These facts led Burroughs to conclude that the humanlike footprints were formed by compression in the soft, wet sand before it consolidated into rock some 300 million years ago. Burrough’s observations were confirmed by other investigators.
    According to Kent Previette, Burroughs also consulted a sculptor. Previette wrote in 1953: “The sculptor said that carving in that kind of sandstone could not have been done without leaving artificial marks. Enlarged photomicrographs and enlarged infrared photographs failed to reveal any ‘indications of carving or cutting of any kind.”(The Hidden History of the Human Race
    by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson :150)


    On the other hand, supporters of the Darwinian creation myth have generally overlooked evidence of stasis, a whole pattern of so-called "rabbits in the cambrian":…if we adopt openness to empirical falsification as a criterion for strong and active theories in science, consider the empty protection awarded to gradualism by Darwin’s strategy. [Noting that the fossil record is imperfect, see Shrink's quote above.] For the data that should, prima facie, rank as the most basic empirical counterweight to gradualism-namely the catalog of cases, and the resulting relative frequency, for observed stasis and geologically abrupt appearances of fossil morphospecies-receive a priori interpretation as signs of an inadequate empirical record. How then could gradualism be refuted from within?
    The situation became even more insidious in subtle practice than a bald statement of the dilemma might suggest. Abrupt appearance…might well be attributed to the admittedly gross imperfection of our geological archives. The argument makes logical sense, must certainly be true in many instances, and can be tested in a variety of ways on a case by case basis…
    But how can imperfection possibly explain away stasis (the equilibrium of punctuated equilibrium)? Abrupt appearance may record an absence of information, but stasis is data. …I became so frustrated by the failure of many colleagues to grasp this evident point (though a quarter century of subsequent debate has finally propelled our claim to general acceptance…) that we urged the incorporation of this little phrase as mantra or motto. …
    ….a conclusion of stasis rests on the presence of data, not on absence!
    (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould :758-759)


    But that's generally just the skeletons of organisms and so on, what type of biological observation would falsify the so-called "theory of evolution"?

    ReplyDelete
  27. 6,000 years after The Fall is a hill of corpses. 500,000,000+ (and no Fall) is a mountain chain of them. Ken Ham does have a point.

    Given the Christian mythos the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is essentially an infinite amount of suffering. And if an infinite God is good and things like mercy and redemption are good then the existence of suffering shouldn't be a surprise. Indeed, it was not a surprise to the ancient prophets, many philosophers and so on who were well aware of the brutality of existence. It seems it's only surprising to effete little fellows who believe in prissy Victorian era interpretations of Christianity. Animal sacrifice, the brutality of brutes, redemption and suffering and so on are actually central to the Christian mythos.

    ReplyDelete
  28. mynym "Do you honestly believe in the mythology of Progress typical to the Enlightenment?"
    And just what is the mythology of Progress typical to the Enlightenment? That astrology lead to astronomy? That alchemy lead to chemistry? That religion lead to moral philosophy?
    The only pattern I see at first glace is the attenuation of oogity boogity leading to the amplification of actual knowledge.

    "Actually it seems that it should be tattooed on your forehead."
    Way to lower the level of discourse.

    "You're only saying what you say because Mother Nature selected for your ignorance to be exceeded by your stupidity."
    Oh you, and your tu quoques.

    "One can just as easily imagine the opposite."
    Because it's there, too. People are messy, you see. Sometimes the collective wins, on others simple individual greed (you can see both among our nearest evolutionary cousins). It's all shades of gray, man.

    "Huxley naturally realized that...(Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution by David Stove :7-9)"
    From the introduction (apparently):
    "My object is to show that Darwinism is not true: not true, at any rate, of our species. If it is true, or near enough true, of sponges, snakes, flies, or whatever, I do not mind that. What I do mind is, its being supposed to be true of man." (fm a review)
    What he minds, it should be mentioned, makes no difference on what actually happened. For example, I do mind that common descent means that my ancestors in Deep Time quite likely threw poo at each other when they were scared or angered. My line should be above such nonsense, dagnabit! My misgivings, sadly, have no bearing on the brutish status of the brutes that preceded me.

    "I said what biological observation could possibly falsify Darwinism."
    If by Darwinism you mean ToE, then a pattern of genetics between species that doesn't indicate common descent would throw a wrench in the works, or Man's DNA having nothing to do with the other species would do so, at least for Man.

    "At some point a pattern of supposed anomalies to a theory is actually a regularity which can be advanced against it."
    What, because there was stuff before the Cambrian, ToE is wrong? You do know that it used to be the Devonian "explosion"? Then it was the same, but in the Cambrian. All the really cool people have been chilling in the Ediacaran for a while (but the Cambrian one is so whiz-bang that the Ediacaran never got the credit it deserved). As periods go, it's a wallflower (except among the hep cats in the know).
    The oldest life we've found direct evidence of is only the oldest until something older is found. That's how it works.

    "...by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson"
    Cremo? Seriously? Are you going to bring out Gish next? Maybe a link from Dr. Dino? Sir, I may be a buffoon, but even I have standards!

    "….a conclusion of stasis rests on the presence of data, not on absence! (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould)"
    The thing is, no matter what Gould says, he's not arguing what you'd like to believe that he's arguing. Punctuated equilibrium is not creationism, it's, um, evolutionism.

    "But that's generally just the skeletons of organisms and so on, what type of biological observation would falsify the so-called "theory of evolution"?"
    Land mammals giving birth to whales (lots of the creationist's "I'd believe in evolution if..." would work to wreck ToE, if they were to happen).

    "Given the Christian mythos the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is essentially an infinite amount of suffering"
    One man having one very bad day, being temporarily dead for the better part of a weekend, then majiking up to sit at his own right hand is hardly an infinite amount of anything.

    "Animal sacrifice, the brutality of brutes, redemption and suffering and so on are actually central to the Christian mythos."
    Well then, thank God for secularization. Your God sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The only pattern I see at first glace is the attenuation of oogity boogity leading to the amplification of actual knowledge.

    Apparently you've exchanged the Christian doctrine of Providence for a mythology of Progress for which there is little or no historical evidence. Ironically alchemy has the hallmarks of the Darwinian urge to merge specification and form together, the urge to merge was typical to the Nature based paganism that was generally reformed or done away with by Christianity. Ironically magic is now a stigma word only because the magicians and charlatans who used scientia/knowledge before were systematically done away as it was systematically reformed into science as a result of Christian theism.

    It's all shades of gray, man.

    That may be so but wallowing around in your own hypothetical goo is not a scientific theory.

    What he minds, it should be mentioned, makes no difference on what actually happened.

    If you actually read what he wrote you would know that what he minds is based on the evidence and human behavior, not some special little feeling he has about man. To the extent that the so-called "theory of evolution" actually predicts anything (generally the only move to specify an actual theory is Darwinism) it does not predict that people will use condoms, be celibate, have abortions, etc.etc.

    If by Darwinism you mean ToE, then a pattern of genetics between species that doesn't indicate common descent would throw a wrench in the works, or Man's DNA having nothing to do with the other species would do so, at least for Man.

    Darwinism never predicted common descent in the first place because it fails to deal with the origin of life. There could be more than one origin, etc. If genetics did or did not indicate common descent Darwinism would generally still lie safe within the hypothetical goo typical to the theories of evolution from which it arose.

    On the other hand, one can only imagine what people would say if life was not unified by the "Language of God." Someone like Dawkins would probably cite any lack of unity as evidence that there was not be a common designer, etc.

    Cremo? Seriously?

    Of course, as far as I can see he has more credibility than you do. After all, your intellect is limited and you hardly even seem to know what it is or believe that it "exists."

    The thing is, no matter what Gould says, he's not arguing what you'd like to believe that he's arguing. Punctuated equilibrium is not creationism, it's, um, evolutionism.

    Of course he's not arguing against the Darwinian creation myth in general, that would be professional suicide. But at least he made a move to reform the hypothetical goo typical to theories of evolution by focusing on the actual evidence for a moment. Of course eventually Gould generally must imagine that evolution happened in such a way that hardly any evidence is left that it actually happened. Imagine that!

    Occasionally even biologists have noted that imagining things about the past has little to do with what is actually observed in biology: The viewpoint of Coyne et al. (1988) is one in which past events are argued to explain, in a causal sense, the world around us. Such explanations cannot be verified or tested, and the only biological observations they require are that variation and differential reproduction occur. This is not a caricature, as a reading of Coyne et al. will verify. In keeping with this general viewpoint, proponents claim that species are explained with reference to history. Important characters are hence “mechanisms” that have established and maintained the separation between diverged lineages of an ancestral population. According to Coyne et al., even the adaptive purpose of the changes that resulted in these mechanisms is irrelevant.
    We would ask where biology enters into this schema. The answer is that it does not. Rather, biology is interpreted in terms of a range of historical processes, including selection of variation over time. This could, with equal relevance, be used to understand any nonbiological phenomenon such as the development of the automobile, agricultural methods, culture, or men’s suits (Lewontin, 1976).
    (Points of View
    Species and Neo-Darwinism
    by C. S. White; B. Michaux; D. M. Lambert
    Systematic Zoology, Vol. 39, No. 4. (Dec., 1990), :400-401)


    Land mammals giving birth to whales (lots of the creationist's "I'd believe in evolution if..." would work to wreck ToE, if they were to happen).

    Only to the extent that theories of evolution are specified as Darwinian gradualism and that is not the case given that Darwinism seems to be receding back into the hypothetical goo from which it arose. In their retreat from theoretical specification and verification with empirical evidence some proponents of evolutionary creation myths have even argued that the term "Darwinism" is only used by creationists and so on.

    Ironically theories of evolution would actually be well supported by the observations you mention, for that matter it would have been much easier to synthesize Lamarckism with Darwinism than it was to supposedly merge it with Mendelism.

    So again, what type of biological observations would falsify "evolution" of all sorts? And what type of biological observations would lend support to the Jewish creation myth or a common designer? You keep arguing that if God exists then He did a bad job and so on, so what do you have in mind? How would you create organisms to be a message of common design? If each organism is kept distinct, generally cannot interbreed and has virtually no shared characteristics wouldn't people then say that there was more than one designer, therefore it could not be the God of the Jews? On the other hand, if many organisms have shared characteristics and can interbreed people would say that they are all descended from one. If one of the main purposes of organisms was to be observed as evidence of common design then how would you create them?

    One man having one very bad day, being temporarily dead for the better part of a weekend, then majiking up to sit at his own right hand is hardly an infinite amount of anything.

    It's symbolism and messages. The right hand is associated with righteousness and so on, the same patterns are still prevalent in politics with the Right supposedly representing separation, intolerance, etc. and the Left tending toward unity, etc. The message is that God is willing to cut off his own "right hand man" out of mercy. Ironically the first thing that those who hate the Christian God will think of is that He is not righteous and so on.

    Well then, thank God for secularization. Your God sucks.

    The very term secular only came about as a result of Christianity and the Christian doctrine of separation of church and state, a tradition that goes all the way back to the Jewish prophets pointing to a higher law and Lawgiver than their tribal leader. Given Nature based paganism there is no separation of church and state and the tribal leader is looked on as a god.

    E.g.Reich Bishop Ludwig Mueller, picked by Adolf Hitler to "nationalize" religion in Germany, was to have been consecrated today as head of the German Evangelical Church. The ceremony will not take place. Back of that slip in the Nazi program lies the development of the first real fight in Germany against the National Socialists' scheme of effecting a "totalitarian" State in which every factor of life was to be subjugated to the one purpose of a State coordinated into a machine.
    (Hitler Given First Jolt by Protestant Pastors: Refusal of 4,000 Lutheran Clergymen to be Nationalized Brings Nazi Regime Significant Check
    By Edwin L. James
    The New York Times; Dec. 3, 1933 pg. E1)

    ReplyDelete
  30. mynym "You keep arguing that if God exists then He did a bad job and so on, so what do you have in mind?"
    I do? I think that if He did what is, that He did a pretty good job. It's not perfect, by any means, but it's works pretty well. It works well enough that He doesn't have to intervene. At all.
    Effectively God engineered Himself out of a gig, which is probably for the best, as He when He does appear, He does a half-assed job, appearing on an anecdotally placeboish scale (which is why your house is miraculously spared from that tornado, but your neighbour loses everything. It's also why your neighbour's cancer goes into remission, while yours kills you), and He also appears as a different god (or gods!) to different people in different places.
    As a deist god, he's pretty good. As a heavenly parent, watchful, helpful and loving, He's lax, unmotivated, and hardly worth His 3-O's.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I asked what biological observations would falsify theories of evolution and you said that and mammals giving birth to whales would but that would clearly be counted as evidence for an evolutionary creation myth. And on the other hand it would be counted as evidence against the pattern of separation and formation specified in the Jewish creation myth. So the question remains, exactly what are you expecting to observe in biology if the Jewish creation myth is true in some sense? And on the other hand, exactly what biological observations are to be expected if an evolutionary creation myth of some type is true? Is there any biological observation that is not to be expected. It's not even clear that there is any specification to "evolution" which can be verified, at least the Jewish creation myth contains some general biological specifications.

    And again, how would you design organisms in order to show common design instead of common descent?

    I asked for what possible biological observations would falsify the so-called "theory of evolution" and you focused on skeletal remains instead, then cited possible evidence that would actually greatly support evolutionary creation myths and undermine the Jewish creation myth. As far as skeletal remains go (i.e. thin and spotty evidence) the things that paleontologists imagine about soft anatomy and transitions based on skeletal remains have been proven to be incorrect on the rare occasions in which living fossils have been found. It’s also important to note that organisms are not being studied as they are naturally stripped of the majority of their complexity in the process of fossilization. It is easier to arrange skeletons in a sequence than it is to arrange actual organisms. It is also easier when the environment itself is arranged in a sequence from aquatic to semi-aquatic to land when actual evidence of transitions remains largely imaginary or skeletal. Skeletons lack the majority of the complexity typical to organisms and yet all species, specification and biological complexity is said to be “explained” based mainly on imaginary or skeletal evidence.
    E.g.”Look at this skeleton and imagine things about the past with me. Given my way of imagining things this is just what I expected!”.
    or
    "If I could be shown an organism which I could not imagine coming about in a gradual sequence of events then my theory would absolutely break down. I can imagine things about the past, so my theory has been overwhelmingly verified!"

    Given Darwinian "reasoning" the imagination typically takes the place of biological observation.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Effectively God engineered Himself out of a gig...

    So are organisms front-loaded with the information necessary for adaptation?

    ...which is probably for the best, as He when He does appear, He does a half-assed job, appearing on an anecdotally placeboish scale...and He also appears as a different god (or gods!) to different people in different places.

    Shrug, reality appears different to different people.

    As a deist god, he's pretty good. As a heavenly parent, watchful, helpful and loving, He's lax, unmotivated, and hardly worth His 3-O's.

    Given your status as an illusion it would seem that whatever ignorant opinions you have matter little. Given that you believe that pointing to history "explains" away intelligent agency and design one could say that your opinions probably have more to do with a cosmic Oedipus complex in which Father God is rejected in favor of Mommy Nature. After all, I can imagine that your father was a failure. He failed to provide because he didn't reflect the three O's so you project that onto notions of Providence in general. I can imagine that your father was stupid and thus here you are. But given that the pseudo-science of Freud is no longer in style but the pseudo-science of Darwin is it would probably be better to imagine things about natural selection operating on an ancient group of ape-like creatures and thus here you are with your opinions about God.

    At any rate, it is well known that relatively simple rules and attributes can give rise to unexpected results. You expect, given the three O's, for things to be different. Yet I keep asking how you expect things to be different when it comes to what should be observed biologically if the God of the Jews created organisms and you can't seem to state how you would do things any differently.

    Of course that whole "how" and your conception of metaphysical perfection apparently has more to do with the physical substrate of existence than much else. But it's always interesting to see a creature of blood and excrement who believes themselves to be a product of natural selection operating on an ancient group of worm-like creatures shake their fist at the sky and so on. To paraphrase Nietzsche it's human, all too human. Given that we're almost just humus it's curious that we tend to have so little humility.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Mynym:
    Why bother? I gave a small list of books (both on this site and on that other site, assuming you're the same Mynym) that explain it better than I possibly could. You don't believe in the fossil evidence. Comparative genomics doesn't sway you. You don't believe in common descent (which both of those support). Consensus is impossible if we can't agree on facts. Yes, the fossil evidence is incomplete. It always will be. Nonetheless, more are being found every day. They form a pattern. That pattern is evolution. Genetics too, form a pattern, one of species splitting over Deep Time. That's why you have broken genes from back in your evolutionary past; genes that were no longer selected for once they ceased to serve a function (the cost in energy needed to maintain the organs to extract smells from water greatly exceed the benefit animals that don't breathe water. You and fish both have those genes. Having them functional gives you no survival advantage, at least not one outweighing their cost. In fish the opposite is true. With them, you're no "fitter", while without them, fish become lunch).
    They aren't broken in you because of The Fall. Decay, disease and death all precede homo sapiens sapiens by a considerable margin. This is why we've found dinosaur bones with arthritis, as well as others that survived grievous bodily injuries. It's not Adam's fault that dinosaurs got arthritis, and only the thickest skull ensconced in the shiniest tinfoil cap can imagine that it realistically could be so.
    Eden is a dangerous fiction; a hypothetical and perfect past that never existed.
    And make no mistake, Eden is fictional. Progressing ahead to a very real future must take precedence over trying to get back something that we never had. We're stuck on this boat together. One side paddling backwards just means that we go around in circles, which benefits no one.
    ToE is not right but it's close, and it's the best and most rational conclusion we have, based on (sometimes radically) incomplete evidence. The only thing creationism is is wrong. ToE gets closer to being right with each new dig and each genome sequenced, while creationism only gets more wrong. If God is, and if that God is working in our universe, God is working through evolution. That it's not the way your God says He works changes nothing about the brute facts of the universe. That His official tale conflicts with the facts on the ground does not mean that the universe is what the universe patently is not.
    You are entitled to your opinion. You are not, however, entitled to your own facts.
    No Eden. No Fall. No Deluge. On the universal scale, Man simply isn't that important. You are special, you just aren't that special.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Mynym, you say:

    Drivel.

    As M.O. said, way to go in defining the level of discourse. Luckily, I know many Christians who are polite as well.

    The reason that we do not believe in the old superstitions is because Christian scientists who believed that the world is ordered by the Mind of God did away with the old mythologies of pagan magick, gods, etc.

    Yes, most European scientists before the twentieth century were Christians. But that doesn't say anything about causality: most European scientists before the twentieth century had the measles too, and most of them were white and male. Maybe it was the measles, or the whiteness, that enabled them to do away with the old mythologies. Unless you can show a connection between Christianity and scientific prowess that is more than just a historical accident, this argument doesn't prove anything.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Zilch;
    I could not agree more, it would be silly to refer to “atheism” as a theology and to do so “because it is materialistic.”
    My claim was not that, it was not about “atheism” but about “atheists” and was due to atheists who do not accept supernatural explanations.
    The very moment that the atheist thinks/says “If God were then God would not…would…should not…should…does not…cannot…” etc. they are engaging in theology.

    I am likewise empathetic to Prof. Dawkins’ reluctance and the lesson learned is that if you are reluctant—do not do it.

    Not surprisingly we are polar opposites: supernaturalism is simply the default position, and unless and until there is evidence for the assertion that all things can be explained materialistically, it is commonsensical to reject it absolute materialism. That is to say, until there is a materialistic explanation for our deepest questions (origins of universe, life, etc.). Yet, we agree to a great extent as well: since I believe that God created the material realm I can, following logically, continue seeking material causes for material effects.

    You referred to my “claims” and that they are “exactly the same as the claims of some guy saying your wallet is in a parallel universe…”

    To which “claims” are you referring?

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  36. Greetings Mariano, and a Feliz Año Nuevo to you!

    You say:

    Not surprisingly we are polar opposites: supernaturalism is simply the default position, and unless and until there is evidence for the assertion that all things can be explained materialistically, it is commonsensical to reject it absolute materialism. That is to say, until there is a materialistic explanation for our deepest questions (origins of universe, life, etc.). Yet, we agree to a great extent as well: since I believe that God created the material realm I can, following logically, continue seeking material causes for material effects.

    As I explain in another thread, materialism is my default position because it is simpler than supernaturalism, and supernaturalism doesn't explain anything that materialism cannot explain. Of course, there are many things that materialism doesn't explain- but supernaturalism (religion) doesn't explain them either. So until I see evidence for the existence of the supernatural, or for its superior explanatory power, then I will stick with materialism. You say:

    You referred to my “claims” and that they are “exactly the same as the claims of some guy saying your wallet is in a parallel universe…”

    To which “claims” are you referring?


    The claims to which I am referring are your claims for the existence of a supernatural realm, and I reject those claims (provisionally, of course) because there is no more evidence for their existence than for the existence of a realm to the left and to the green of our world. Just because billions of people believe in your version of an invisible realm doesn't prove anything, other than that people would like to live forever, and make up stories of gods who live in such a realm and can grant eternal life. Until such time as I see evidence for the existence of this realm, I will continue to believe in what I perceive to be true: this world is what we've got. Dum vivimus, vivamus.

    cheers from frosty Vienna, zilch.

    ReplyDelete