21 thoughts on “A Taste of New Mystery: Take 2

  1. @Tom Gilson:

    Can you explain a little more how the reductio is supposed to work? To show that materialism leads to absurdities is a factual truth, but one that is arrived at by philosophical considerations (which can and do *start* with empirical considerations or evidence data gathered by the senses, but *must* jump to a higher level of metaphysical considerations), precisely because materialism is a philosophical and metaphysical standpoint. How exactly can you get the reductio off the ground by an appeal to the empirical sciences? I do not see how that can be done — although I do agree that it would be a barrel of fun if the stunt could be pulled off.

    My second point is that I doubt the efficacy of the strategy, even assuming it could be pulled off. For if someone listens only to the idol of “science”, it is a sure sign that his capacity for reason is damaged as he will only listen to what conforms to the pronouncements of his idol. Or to put it in other words, if we are going to pull said idolater from the hole he got himself into, it is by smashing the idol and showing it false (Psalm 115:4-8), but ultimately, this is also a philosophical task and I do not see how appealing to the pronouncements of the idol itself, the empirical sciences, will get the job done.

  2. Thanks for that, G. Rodrigues.

    The reductio most definitely calls on both empirical and philosophical considerations. I am rather perplexed by this either/or, philosophical/empirical bifurcation with respect to ID. I have always seen ID as an empirical and philosophical research program. Sure, ID goes looking for empirical information a lot more than, say, Aquinas did. But it doesn’t claim to process that information apart from philosophical considerations. See here for more on that.

    In short form the reductio would go like this:

    a. If materialism is true, then the universe has existed eternally or else it came to be by natural causes.
    b. If materialism is true, then life and all of its features including humans—and all that goes along with humanness—came to be by natural causes.
    c. If materialism is true, then it is possible for (a) and (b) to be true on materialism’s own terms, but
    d. It is not possible for (a) and (b) to be true on materialism’s own terms. Therefore
    e. Materialism is false.

    This is how the argument would run. I am proposing that ID could be the empirical and philosophical point of engagement with point (d) in that argument, and that in many ways it actually does function as that point of engagement.

    (For those who might want to contest whether the argument succeeds or not, please bear in mind that this is only the framework, not a defense of any of its premises.)

  3. @Tom Gilson:

    The reductio most definitely calls on both empirical and philosophical considerations. I am rather perplexed by this either/or, philosophical/empirical bifurcation with respect to ID. I have always seen ID as an empirical and philosophical research program. Sure, ID goes looking for empirical information a lot more than, say, Aquinas did. But it doesn’t claim to process that information apart from philosophical considerations. See here for more on that.

    I have not followed the link yet (it’s already late), but I will say this much anyway. I understand that the bifurcation may seem puzzling, but it is just the recognition that the MES (reverting to Holopupenko’s acronym) and philosophy have different aims and answer questions at different levels of reality. Take one example: every tidbit of knowledge gathered by the MES testifies to the orderliness of our universe, hence the questions why is the universe ordered and what can account for this order? This for me is The Question and the Fifth Way answers it. Any naturalist reading this is free to cash it on my bias, but the naturalist responses are simply non-existent or right-down absurd. But the Fifth Way is a metaphysical argument; there is nothing in the empirical sciences, whether in its current state or any future state, that could *even in principle* undermine it. Even more, the question is simply out of reach of the MES because order is a *presupposition* for doing science in the first place. I submit to you that to pull off the reductio you present below, the heavy lifting will always be done by philosophy.

    As a useful contrast, let me take the cosmological fine tuning argument (for which I have some sympathy — but see below), which after all is a version of the design argument, as presented say by W. L. Craig. The argument, simplifying a little bit, is that since the constants of the physical theories (these are parameters that are *not* determined by the physical laws themselves like the fine structure constant or the mass of the electron) and the initial state of the universe (or at least some of its properties like the initial entropy) live in a very narrow range of life-permitting universes, and this is due neither to necessity nor to chance, they must have been designed. The problem of the argument is that there are simply too many rabbit holes through which the naturalist can escape. To mention just two: it relies on the current state of knowledge and on appeals to implausibility, which however forceful they may look, always leaves an escape route wide open — and to block these escape routes you *will* have to resort to philosophy anyway. For example, if a naturalist appeals to the Anthropic principle say, no amount of MES will help you.

    Now, why am I sympathetic to the argument? Because we are talking of the ultimate level of reality; there is very little room for the naturalist to maneuver — eventually, necessarily, he will have to posit brute facts, which means that the naturalist has to give up rationality and intelligibility at the most fundamental level of reality. But what pins down the naturalist in this way, is not the cosmological fine-tuning argument *per se*, but the far more deeper question of whence the laws of nature? In the measure that physical laws are operative on what is to be explained, and meaningless apart from it, they are also part of what needs explanation and not of the explanation itself. And we are back at the Fifth Way; that is, in the background and doing the real, heavy work is metaphysics.

    Is the cosmological fine-tuning argument an effective attention grabber? You tell me.

  4. I’ll throw in my two cents.

    I actually think ID has a use similar to what Tom is outlining. But the use I’m thinking of isn’t that of a reductio. Instead, it highlights what type of explanations are possible and valid given that mechanistic view of the world, and it seeks to both give explanations and make inferences that the typical naturalist desperately wants to avoid – yet which is nevertheless consistent with the naturalist’s program.

    After all, ID relies on some ultimately common-sense arguments and inferences – and strangely, that seems to be downplayed by most ID proponents. They spend very little time playing up the particular accomplishments of human engineering (you’d think this would be front and center with ID) or the forecasts of what humans will accomplish (think singularitarians, Kurzweil predictions, etc), when that’s precisely what gives many ID arguments their power to begin with.

    The naturalist – at least the naturalist who doesn’t want to be laughed out of the room – can’t deny that intelligent design does exist on the human level, and therefore can’t deny that intelligence manifests as one type of cause and legitimate explanation in the world. But at least in principle, and again on the naturalist’s own metaphysical terms, this is a viable explanation for just about everything we see in nature. And so long as metaphysical or theological baggage is put aside (As in, no presupposing that this possible agent is God, is ‘supernatural’ (whatever that means), etc), it seems that the ID proponent has ample warrant to start exploring the question of whether or not this or that part of nature was designed, and even inferring that such and such was, in fact, designed.

    The thomist affirms that there are natures, that the universe is not mechanistic, and that therefore there are some things which can’t be the product of anything less than Pure Act. The mechanist eschews natures, among other things, and thus just about everything can itself in principle be the product of something else – intelligent and not. But the typical naturalist wants to avoid, forget, rule out the ‘intelligent’ part except when absolutely necessary. The ID proponent isn’t under that limitation.

    Which is why I think Thomists should support ID, or at least outlines the way I think Thomists should support ID. By saying – as Ed Feser basically has, mind you – that ID is right at home with naturalism, and that there’s no way to legitimately condemn the ID project without likewise condemning naturalism along with it.

  5. I wasn’t going to reply to this thread (or the one that preceded it), but okay, fine, I will.

    What bothers me about those who reject “materialism” and doubt science is that they are all perfectly happy to accept it when it benefits them but discard it when it doesn’t… they do something with science that they would hotly deny that they do with their scriptures – they cherry-pick the parts that they like and discard the rest.

    Case in point – radiology, specifically nuclear medicine. Our understanding of radioactive isotopes takes us to entirely new levels of imaging the body (diagnostic medical imaging) and treatment using radionuclides and radiopharmaceuticals. To say that it is effing cool is an understatement of epic proportions.

    Yet the exact same science that gives us nuclear medicine gives us radiometric dating, the radiometric dating that shows (among other things) that the earth is billions of years old.

    Can’t have one without the other – but that’s how the science-doubters would have it!

    Is the cosmological fine-tuning argument an effective attention grabber? You tell me.

    Nope, not once you start to think about it.

    If this universe was created for us, why is sooo much of it so inimical to our existence? I mean, we can’t survive in space, we’re on the only planet in our solar system that can support our life, and even on earth there is a lot of hostility – everything from scorching deserts to desolate tundras to polar regions with their sub-zero temperatures.

    The earth was made for us… yet “Covering over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, the ocean represents our planet’s largest habitat, containing 99 percent of the living space on the planet.” (NOAA) The earth was made for us to live on, but we can’t actually live in most of it.

    But what about a more scientific sense? Turns out that even fundamental physical constants of the universe appear to vary over distance. (that article is over a year old and more research has been done since, but the basic observation appears to still hold)

    In other words, there is no regular universe, and it just happens that we live in a part of it where the physical constants happen to actually support life.

    Fine-tuned? Fine-tuned my a… well, you get the idea. Talkorigins has some other points, and probably does a better job of saying them than I do.

    In short form the reductio would go like this:

    I won’t quote the entire argument here, but its important to point out that there is so much that we don’t know still about the origin of the universe that any arguments trying to use it to “prove” (or disprove!!!) God are intellectually barren.

    An argument from ignorance does not lead us to truth!

    (in other words, we don’t know if the universe is eternal or not – it very well could be, in a manner that we simply can’t comprehend right now, and that manner might be entirely consistent with “materialism”)

    (Few if any ID proponents would suggest that ID was ever intended to prove God.)

    It took me a few minutes to get over my disbelief, but I’ve managed to. Maybe you’re saying that few ID proponents would willingly admit that ID is intended to prove God?

    What is the reasonable response to such a claim? Well, look at the origin of the “Intelligent Design” movement itself – the term “intelligent design” was invented by a textbook writer named Charles Thaxton who had to come up with a new term after the Supreme Court ruled that Creationism was religion and not science… so he went through and changed all the references about “creation” to “intelligent design”.

    I can’t imagine how, in that light, the argument that Intelligent Design *isn’t* Creationism could be made.

    Look, if you feel that “naturalistic materialism” (or whatever the popular buzzword for “heathens who don’t believe in God” is these days) isn’t philosophically satisfying or doesn’t provides us with sufficient meaning in our life, then you are more then welcome to that idea… but that is a philosophical and metaphysical argument, not a scientific one.

  6. Sault: What bothers me about those who reject “materialism” and doubt science is that they are all perfectly happy to accept it when it benefits them but discard it when it doesn’t…

    Are you saying that materialism =’s science?

    Sault: Yet the exact same science that gives us nuclear medicine gives us radiometric dating, the radiometric dating that shows (among other things) that the earth is billions of years old.

    So all Christians and all supporters of ID reject the evidence of radioactive dating that the earth is billions of years old? (I guess I didn’t get that memo.)

  7. @Sault:

    What bothers me about those who reject “materialism” and doubt science is that they are all perfectly happy to accept it when it benefits them but discard it when it doesn’t… they do something with science that they would hotly deny that they do with their scriptures – they cherry-pick the parts that they like and discard the rest.

    What bothers me about many materialists and science-fetichists is how they consistently miss the points one makes and mis-respond with the stupid charge of being a science-doubter.

    If this universe was created for us, why is sooo much of it so inimical to our existence? I mean, we can’t survive in space, we’re on the only planet in our solar system that can support our life, and even on earth there is a lot of hostility – everything from scorching deserts to desolate tundras to polar regions with their sub-zero temperatures.

    If this, and all that follows, is meant as a response to the cosmological fine-tuning argument you fail and fail resoundingly — simply because, you do *not* even address it. Since I am not really interested in defending the argument, respond as you see fit.

    in other words, we don’t know if the universe is eternal or not – it very well could be, in a manner that we simply can’t comprehend right now, and that manner might be entirely consistent with “materialism”

    Actually, it is the virtual consensus in the physics community that the universe, including space-time itself, had a beginning about 13.7 billion years ago. What this “beginning” means exactly is the subject of hot debate. Are you even aware that there are *philosophical* arguments for the past-finitude of the universe? But once again, I am not really interested in defending the Kalam argument, so you can respond as you see fit. I will point out however that while you are fast to scream foul! at an inference from ignorance (none of the arguments you object to are arguments from ignorance, quite the contrary, but I will let that pass), nevertheless you have no problem in appealing to it to support your preferences. Hey, whatever rocks your boat.

    Look, if you feel that “naturalistic materialism” (or whatever the popular buzzword for “heathens who don’t believe in God” is these days) isn’t philosophically satisfying or doesn’t provides us with sufficient meaning in our life, then you are more then welcome to that idea… but that is a philosophical and metaphysical argument, not a scientific one.

    Here is something I can agree with. The philosophical arguments against naturalism are mainly philosophical and the verdict is clear: it is an absurdity.

  8. If this universe was created for us, why is sooo much of it so inimical to our existence? I mean, we can’t survive in space, we’re on the only planet in our solar system that can support our life, and even on earth there is a lot of hostility – everything from scorching deserts to desolate tundras to polar regions with their sub-zero temperatures.

    The earth was made for us… yet “Covering over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, the ocean represents our planet’s largest habitat, containing 99 percent of the living space on the planet.” (NOAA) The earth was made for us to live on, but we can’t actually live in most of it.

    Sault, you will be disappointed to learn that David beat you to the punch 3000 years ago.

    When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
    4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

    Psalm 8:3-4

    What is interesting to me is the persistence of the straw man, among non-Christians, that the Bible teaches that God’s goal in creating the cosmos was that humans would look at it and conclude that we are awesome and the center of everything. This view is, of course, exactly backwards: the Bible teaches that God’s goal in creating the cosmos was that humans would look at it and conclude that God is awesome, and that He does not owe us any special attention on account of place in the Universe. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, God does not pay attention to us because we occupy a place of cosmic importance; rather, we are only important because He chooses to pay attention to us.

    Christians do, of course, hold that God created the Universe/Earth in such a way as to support human life, but this belief is not the same thing as saying He created it “for us”, nor does this belief entail that God had to use the most efficient means possible when creating, so as to end up with no more galaxies or oceans than were absolutely necessary. If anything, a hugely “wasteful” creative process involving mind-boggling amounts of matter and energy seems to fit better than such a minimalist concept with the Biblical idea of God demonstrating his transcendent power through Creation. For Christians, the fact that Astronomy continues to show us the vastness of the Universe and the non-centrality of humans is confirmation that the Universe is the work of the God of the Bible.

    By the way, even if your argument weren’t a straw man (i.e. even if Christians claimed that God created the Universe/Earth to maximize its efficiency for human habitation), your argument would be flawed. Consider a large metropolis like New York, obviously “created” by humans as a place for humans to live. Looking at New York, your argument would go something like this: “Large portions of New York are taken up by roads, bridges, sewers, subways, power plants — massive infrastructures of concrete and steel where humans cannot live (or should not live, at least). Given that so much of New York is uninhabitable, it is, therefore, ridiculous to think that New York was intended as a place for humans to live.”

    Do you even know whether it would be possible for humans to live on the earth without oceans covering its surface? If the oceans were gone or significantly smaller, what would have oxygenated Earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago to make complex land-based life possible? What would form the basis of the global food chain and ecosystem, upon which our existence rests? Indeed, how do you know that all the inhospitable parts of space and Earth are not a necessary consequence of the infrastructure needed to support the relatively small habitable environments we do have, just as all the public works of New York, while themselves uninhabitable, are necessary to support the city’s population?

    Sorry if I come off a little testy, but this straw man attack on Christianity is one that should have died 3000 years ago, but for some reason, it seems to be a recurring favorite these days.

  9. Yet the exact same science that gives us nuclear medicine gives us radiometric dating, the radiometric dating that shows (among other things) that the earth is billions of years old.

    What does “exact same science” mean? Of course nuclear medicine and radiometric dating share some theoretical foundations. They differ in crucial assumptions, however.

    Now, it so happens that I’m not inclined to be skeptical about those assumptions. You used it for your example, though, so I thought I’d use it for my example of how you have done something a lot like this:

    What bothers me about those who reject “materialism” and doubt science is that they are all perfectly happy to accept it when it benefits them but discard it when it doesn’t… they do something with science that they would hotly deny that they do with their scriptures – they cherry-pick the parts that they like and discard the rest.

    You cherry-picked the parts that nuclear medicine holds in common with radiometric dating and discarded the rest. Does it bother you when you see that in yourself, too?

  10. G. Rodrigues, I’m still puzzled about something.

    I wrote that

    I am rather perplexed by this either/or, philosophical/empirical bifurcation with respect to ID. I have always seen ID as an empirical and philosophical research program. Sure, ID goes looking for empirical information a lot more than, say, Aquinas did. But it doesn’t claim to process that information apart from philosophical considerations.

    You answered (in part),

    I understand that the bifurcation may seem puzzling, but it is just the recognition that the MES (reverting to Holopupenko’s acronym) and philosophy have different aims and answer questions at different levels of reality.

    We agree on that. There is a distinction between the MESs and philosophy. My point, which I may not have communicated well enough, was that ID has never been just about applying the MESs to the question of origins and design; it has always been about science-and-philosophy. So to criticize it as if it were not paying sufficient attention to philosophical considerations is wrong on at least one count; and I have heard that criticism bandied about from some theists. It seemed to me that was what you were saying your self in comment 1. You said,

    To show that materialism leads to absurdities is a factual truth, but one that is arrived at by philosophical considerations (which can and do *start* with empirical considerations or evidence data gathered by the senses, but *must* jump to a higher level of metaphysical considerations), precisely because materialism is a philosophical and metaphysical standpoint. How exactly can you get the reductio off the ground by an appeal to the empirical sciences?

    Your implication in that was that ID was only appealing to the empirical sciences. This is factually incorrect.

    Note that I’m talking about a specific kind of criticism. If your complaint is that ID’s philosophical approach is wrong, that’s not the same complaint I’m talking about here.

    (Some materialists criticize ID for the opposite reason: “it’s all philosophy and no science.” Sometimes you just can’t win.)

  11. @Tom Gilson:

    We agree on that. There is a distinction between the MESs and philosophy. My point, which I may not have communicated well enough, was that ID has never been just about applying the MESs to the question of origins and design; it has always been about science-and-philosophy. So to criticize it as if it were not paying sufficient attention to philosophical considerations is wrong on at least one count; and I have heard that criticism bandied about from some theists. It seemed to me that was what you were saying your self in comment 1.

    Fair enough, ID is a combined effort on the scientific and philosophical fronts. Still working on the basis of your reductio, and assuming the division of labor sketched in previous posts where Philosophy does most of the heavy lifting of showing that naturalism is self-contradictory, here is what I envisage as a role for the MES within it and taking the cosmological fine-tuning argument as an example:

    – Show, following the usual standards of scientific rigor, that the currently proposed naturalistic mechanisms that account for an Anthropic universe are either impossible, or at least highly improbable.

    If you tell me that this is what ID is doing, or at any rate, it embodies your *own* vision of what ID *should* be doing, then I am perfectly fine with it and cheer you on.

    Note: I should probably add that I am not completely blind to the fact that most of the flak that IDers get is due to ideological reasons. The idea that natural evolutionists are the bastions of reason whose only concern is to safeguard the purity of the empirical sciences is just a myth that should be junked with so many other myths (like Science, suitably hypostatized, is eminently “self-correcting” or that scientists are supremely rational and auto-magically free of the petty squabbles and envies plaguing other fields of knowledge).

  12. You cherry-picked the parts that nuclear medicine holds in common with radiometric dating and discarded the rest. Does it bother you when you see that in yourself, too?

    I only chose that example because it has seemed to be a major sticking point with ID proponents – an old earth is a requirement for evolution and weakens Creationism, especially the kind that uses a literal interpretation of Genesis.

    I accept valid scientific findings to be the best indicators of material truth that we can achieve at this point in our development. Apparently that’s a form of “scientism”, but I’m okay with that.

    I shouldn’t have let myself get distracted by the particulars of any one argument (ie the fine-tuning argument in whatever form it is presented). Instead, I need to focus on the OP.

    They’ll listen if we catch their attention, that is. Anyone trained in communication knows this is the vital first step.

    What you’re essentially describing is the Wedge Strategy 2.0…. how to capture the public attention and raise awareness and a sense of validity to the ID movement.

    Well, look at my responses – I may personally be steeped in “scientism” and be a “science-fetishist” to some degree (I don’t own an iPad however, so I don’t know how valid that moniker is), but most Americans aren’t like me.

    Let’s say you wanted to gain my attention, though.

    One, the ID movement would have to have scientific validity. For a movement that claims itself to be scientifically valid, I haven’t seen jack for proof of that claim. What you need are scientific credentials. And by that I mean you need someone better than another Gitt or Spetner…. you need to stop relying on probability and start showing valid scientific worth.

    To me, a valid science is one that adds tangible benefits. If ID can’t accomplish anything besides show that we were created and not evolved from monkeys (ha ha you know what I mean), then to me it’s not valid as a “hard” science.

    Two, you’d need to divorce yourself completely from religious bias. Completely! Everything would have to be clearly on the table, from the supernatural to alien creation. If ID can detect design, then it should be able to discern if aliens built us, too!

    If you can’t do that, then you can’t convince me that ID is valid science. Philosophy? Sure. But philosophy ain’t science.

    Let’s get back to the American public, who are far less skeptical than I am.

    To impress the American public, you’ll only need the appearance of scientific validity. You can’t place all of your eggs in the basket of one Gitt or Spetner or Behe, because they’ll be examined too closely and the flaws in their arguments will discredit them. What you need are a dozen Gitts and Spetners, ones that can step in as soon as another is examined too closely and run distraction – either by focusing on a completely different topic or by creating an echo chamber of scientifically-sounding explanation.

    It doesn’t have to be true, only true enough for your average Fox-news-watching Republican to believe it.

    You need at least one scientific discovery – just one and only one. Get it, and the entire movement is vindicated, and you can ride the resulting PR campaign right into every scientific textbook in the country. Remember, its valid science that keeps ID out of textbooks, so it will take valid science to get ID into textbooks – but with only one scientific breakthrough and enough spin, nothing else will matter.

    A lot of the rest of it is business as usual – keep a tight lid on any impropriety, for instance. Any scandal and ID will suffer setback for years. Just like with any other cult of personality, in lieu of independently-verified scientific discovery, the movement hinges upon the perceived integrity and validity of its figureheads.

    Since the average American (and most every Republican) is religious, it is very important to walk that careful line and speak about science when talking to the media and only about religious conviction when speaking to “the congregation”. The converted don’t need to hear about science – they’ve already bought into it and take the scientific validity for granted… so you’ll need to keep satisfying their religious and philosophical needs to keep them happy.

    I have more ideas, but I’m scared that someone might actually pay attention to them and do them, and that might set our scientific progress back for decades or longer. Our students are already falling behind in math and science scores, and instilling a preference for “magical thinking” and religious propaganda over valid science and especially doubt would cripple our ability to compete on a global scale.

    (the Republican mantra of cutting government spending at all costs damages our ability to create a new generation of scientists and mathematicians, but that’s another topic entirely)

    This is largely why I didn’t reply to the first post… it troubles me greatly to see the Wedge Strategy redux crop up. Philosophy and metaphysics and religious ideology should never trump science, and I’m a little scared that it will.

    I could ask you to encourage a debate about meaning and philosophy and leave the science classroom to the scientists, but I don’t think that you (the movement as a whole I mean) would ever listen.

    I look at the tangible benefits that evolutionary theory has given us, and it bothers me to no end that if the Creationists had won, that we would have none of it.

  13. Sault,

    Did you notice that your answer to my question, “Does it bother you when you see that in yourself,” wasn’t in any way an answer to my question? You failed to address the fact that you were cherry-picking when you claimed that nuclear medicine and radiometric dating were the exact same science. I’m calling you out for hypocrisy, you understand: you faulted us for cherry-picking, and in the very example you used, you were cherry-picking. Doesn’t that bother you?

    What you’re essentially describing is the Wedge Strategy 2.0…. how to capture the public attention and raise awareness and a sense of validity to the ID movement.

    Nice rhetorical flourish there, with a totally irrelevant nod toward what was considered distasteful in Strategy 1.0. That’s called deflection. Stick with the point, okay? Didn’t you just get done saying you planned to do that?

    My strategy is of course intended to lead people away from being convinced of materialism. People who are debating these kinds of issues do that, you know: we think of ways to make a convincing point in favor of our positions. Hopefully we also think of ways to take other, contrary points, into consideration, and adjust our positions if there is good evidential/rational reason to do so. If you deflect my argument by calling it Wedge 2.0, then you deflect yourself from having to give it consideration on an evidential/logical basis. You don’t want to do that to yourself, do you?

    This, now, is most interesting:

    Let’s say you wanted to gain my attention, though.

    One, the ID movement would have to have scientific validity. For a movement that claims itself to be scientifically valid, I haven’t seen jack for proof of that claim. What you need are scientific credentials….

    To me, a valid science is one that adds tangible benefits. If ID can’t accomplish anything besides show that we were created and not evolved from monkeys (ha ha you know what I mean), then to me it’s not valid as a “hard” science.

    Let’s analyze this. The “attention-getting” to which I referred in this reductio argument was that which might, if successful, cause someone to doubt that the materialist explanation of origins was sufficient. In order to accomplish this, you require that ID prove its scientific validity. In order to do that, it would have to be valid in terms of its benefits. If it showed that we were created but did nothing more than that, it would not be valid. Turning that around:

    Science that shows that we are created, but accomplishes nothing more, is not valid science, and since it’s not valid science, it would not get your attention in terms of questioning the materialist explanation of life. Or, science that shows we are created would not cause you to question materialism.

    I’m only using your own words, Sault, and applying some strictly valid logical conversions to them. The last paragraph is an exact logical equivalent of what you said. Do you care to re-think that? Or are you so committed to materialism that you have made an advance commitment to reject any conclusion that might flow from any hypothetical evidence whatsoever? I wouldn’t consider that a very rational stance if I were you.

    But I don’t need to persuade of that. You wrote,

    Two, you’d need to divorce yourself completely from religious bias. Completely!

    I hope you understand that the same could be said of anti-religious bias. Completely! Note, by the way, how biased your anti-religion is, when you insist that we won’t even get your attention unless we can rule out all other possibilities besides the supernatural.

    I don’t disagree with you on the need for more science (Gitts, Spencers, Behes). I’m laying out a framework, not claiming victory. I think you’re rather over-stating the case, though, when you say all it takes is one scientific discovery, and when you discount the importance of philosophy alongside of it. I should think that fine-tuning would constitute that one scientific discovery, but as Bernard Carr so eloquently said (and I paraphrase), if you don’t want God, you can always revert to multiverse theory. In other words, there is no such thing as a simple scientific discovery when it comes to questions of origins. There is always an interpretive element, even for those who deny God.

    Since the average American (and most every Republican) is religious, it is very important to walk that careful line and speak about science when talking to the media and only about religious conviction when speaking to “the congregation”. The converted don’t need to hear about science – they’ve already bought into it and take the scientific validity for granted… so you’ll need to keep satisfying their religious and philosophical needs to keep them happy.

    Would you like a clearer, fuller explanation of that issue? One less tainted by politically bias? One less unwisely rejecting of philosophy? (I spoke highly of another comment of yours earlier today, but I just don’t get how any thinking person can think philosophy is irrelevant or useless to ultimate matters of life, origins, the universe, and everything. I mean, come on, guy, give it some thought!)

    I offer you that link to help you understand that your biased rhetorical jab is the kind of thing to which some of us have actually given some thoughtful consideration.

    I could ask you to encourage a debate about meaning and philosophy and leave the science classroom to the scientists, but I don’t think that you (the movement as a whole I mean) would ever listen.

    Do you have even the slightest clue how far out of touch that is? Wow. It’s at least as outdated and irrelevant as your repeated references to the Wedge.

    I look at the tangible benefits that evolutionary theory has given us, and it bothers me to no end that if the Creationists had won, that we would have none of it.

    Wow again.

    Let me help you on that. What you’re guilty of here is a massive rhetorical flourish whose success depends on utter carelessness with terminology.

    Evolutionary theory is multi-faceted. It includes exploration of species’ relatedness, observations and theories regarding how populations can change over time, theories regarding common descent, ideas regarding how all species might have come to be without design, and so on. “Creationism” is multi-faceted. The founders of modern science were all creationists in one sense. Now the term is used as a pejorative catch-all, usually connoting “people who say we don’t need to study the world because we only have to study the Bible.” It applies to a very, very tiny minority of people on the fringe.

    Now, suppose we take that portion of evolutionary theory that has actually produced benefits; mostly the first several areas I listed in the prior paragraph. Suppose we also take the larger proportion of non-fringe scientists who are believers in God’s reality and his creative work. What you’ll find is that there’s no disagreement there. Scientists who support ID also support and participate in research on population changes over time and species-relatedness. I don’t think you’ll find any tangible benefits from evolutionary theory that come from theories of common descent (separated out from species-relatedness) or theories of undirected development of the species.

    In other words, when you look at the portions of evolutionary theory that have produced benefits, they are the uncontroversial portions with no particular metaphysical implications that stand in disagreement. So your exclamation of relief that evolutionary theory won out over the creationists is based on a distorted view of both terms.

    You were so anxious that we not confuse the supernatural with possible alien influences. Please use the same care yourself not to confuse concepts and terms, okay?

    And please take a close look at yourself. You are being very triumphalist, but based on what you wrote here, there is literally no rationality behind your claimed victory. That’s a strong statement I just made, but I make it intentionally and advisedly. In order for there to be rationality to it, you should be able to display that it can be expressed without major logical fallacies. You haven’t done that, at least not in this extended comment that you just left. Would you do yourself the favor, please, of asking whether you have misunderstood the situation?

  14. I have displayed my bias in my response, both philosophically and emotionally. I have no problem admitting that. Does that fact alone discredit what I’ve said? I don’t think so.

    I claim to enjoy being wrong, so I will do my best to consider your response as thoughtfully as I can.

    You failed to address the fact that you were cherry-picking when you claimed that nuclear medicine and radiometric dating were the exact same science.

    I believe that the science that lays the foundation for the one lays the foundation for the other, just as much as it does for nuclear energy or the atomic bomb.

    However, the truthfulness of my beliefs isn’t really the point, is it? It is an indication that the ID PR campaign would have to convince me that either I am absolutely wrong (unlikely, would take too much time), or that the ID movement is neutral to or rejects the controversy that YEC science-doubting has caused.

    Convincing me that I’m wrong probably isn’t the way to go – any good PR campaign shouldn’t focus on the little stuff, or it’ll get dragged down into details. It needs to lay the foundation for the argument, not prove its case.

    Or, science that shows we are created would not cause you to question materialism.

    …after I typed out a 6 paragraph response to this, I realized that I am so skeptical of ID proving anything that I had automatically put quotations around the word “show” in my mind…

    restated –

    ‘If ID can’t accomplish anything besides “show” that we were created and not evolved [..] then to me it’s not valid as a science.’

    I am skeptical of science that can’t provide tangible results… one reason why I am skeptical of string theory, for instance. I would be likewise unconvinced of a science that purported to prove that we were created but couldn’t do anything tangible with that knowledge.

    This is all personal bias, I freely admit that, and doesn’t extend to the population at whole. The point is that whether I’m right or not, the ID PR campaign would have to show me (through very convincing propaganda or through valid science) that it has tangible scientific validity. I presume that the rest of the population has a far lower bar than I do.

    Scientists who support ID also support and participate in research on population changes over time and species-relatedness.

    Instead of simply refusing to believe you out of sheer incredulity that such a thing is possible, may I ask you for references on that?

    I just read your link about what is right and wrong about ID. It’s one of the most honest and thoughtful reflections on the movement that I’ve seen.

    I mean, look at the language that I’ve been using already – that ID must conduct a PR campaign for me or the American public to be convinced, because I cannot honestly divorce the spectre of Christian Creationism from ID. I simply can’t – because of those very same attributes that ID must attribute to the Designer, PPMPCHIOID as you put it.

    In the end, for me personally, ID must convince me that it isn’t fundamentally and thoroughly religious in nature, because of the well-deserved bias that I have regarding the conservative and fundamentalist factions within religion that oppose scientific research into anything that might disprove their ideology.

  15. Do you have even the slightest clue how far out of touch that is? Wow. It’s at least as outdated and irrelevant as your repeated references to the Wedge.

    Are you trying to tell me that ID is not constantly and incessantly attempting to interject its ideology into science classrooms around the nation? How about the stickers in textbooks saying that evolution is “just a theory”?

    Proponents of ID are waging a war against evolution in the classrooms, and sometimes they’re even winning.

    Don’t tell me that the Wedge document isn’t relevant or that ID isn’t trying to sneak God into the classroom – its right there in plain sight.

    I’m not pulling this stuff out of thin air! There is a very real Creationist agenda to bring God back… and injecting ID ideology into science textbooks, in lieu of scientific discovery, is only one such way that they’re doing it.

    If you believe that ID is a science, then perhaps you should denounce such actions, for legitimate science wouldn’t need them.

  16. One example six years ago, one nine years ago; neither of them initiated by ID leadership… Is that “ID constantly and incessantly….”

    Sault, in this interchange I have two interests. One is establishing a general theory. One is you yourself. Here’s where the two connect. I think I’ve proposed a viable theory, and you seem to disagree, but you cannot explain any rational reason for your disagreement. As far as my interaction with you is concerned, there’s no reason to believe there’s any credible challenge being raised. Meanwhile you’re rejecting a relationship with God for reasons that are not reasons at all, and I’m very concerned for you on that. I’m speaking of the current thread; I haven’t forgotten your other recent comment. But as far as the current discussion is concerned, it grieves me to see you holding on to a view that you yourself know you cannot support. Why do you do that to yourself?

  17. Sault:

    Tom is not correct: ID is not a viable MES theory. It’s not an MES theory to begin with. Moreover, in it’s current pseudo-MES form it’s not winning: it is, in fact, losing adherents.

    BUT, please be aware, there are a serious group of people slowly coming together to make it a much more robust argument. It won’t be taught in the biology classroom because it can’t… but my sense is that, while it may take some time and soul-searching among current ID folk, it will come back. Only now is it dawning among people that a serious catharsis of bad ideas must be undergone. That catharsis must happen. My sense is that once that happens and once more solid arguments are put forth, ID will be unstoppable.

    A knock-on effect will be the following: the biggest fear (and angry reactions) from atheists will arise from their being exposed as charlatans grasping at pseudo-philosophical straws–straws that allegedly show science either “disproves” God or makes Him “very improbable.” The four atheist horsemen will be a historical footnote over which people will sadly chuckle and shake their heads.

    Here’s a truism both IDers AND atheists have to swallow: Reason (as well as faith) can lead to knowledge of the Creator, but the path is in metaphysics and the philosophy of nature as animated by natural theology–NOT in the natural sciences. The natural sciences cannot lead to any proof or improbability that God IS not, for any such argument must happen through metaphysics and the philosophy of nature. The philosophy of science is utterly unable to help because it is epistemically (not ontologically) based, and its object is not a thing but a method.

  18. ID can be a theory based on the perceptions of rational individuals, where scientists look at the physical makeup and the physical process of objects that appear (to the rational mind) to be designed in order to help them understand what is going on.

    This is no different than studying consciousness. Nobody cries foul when a scientist comments that an individual appears conscious or that science is studying consciousness. You can’t measure consciousness directly, nor can you infer it from measured sense data. You can only infer it from rational perceptions.

    So the study of consciousness is really science animated by metaphysics.

  19. Some will say ID theory brings nothing new to the table. After all, the same scientific studies can be performed without referring to the object in question as “designed”.

    Perhaps I am wrong on this, but I’m inclined to think that is not the case. Take the example of consciousness I referred to above. Would the data be looked at differently if the object in question was thought to be no more conscious than a rock? Would different conclusions be drawn using the same data? I think the answer is yes to both questions. That shift in perspective could lead to new discoveries and new insights. It also could lead nowhere, but I fail to see the harm in letting people try.

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