Monday, January 10, 2005

The Paradoxical Critique

I just got an email from a fellow attacking my NRO article on Baylor. His rationale was that if I'm willing to discuss Intelligent Design on this website, then I must be one of the people who would stifle inquiry in a university setting. Huh? The way I see it, by being willing to discuss the interplay of I.D. and Darwin's theory, I'm talking about more things rather than fewer things. Why is that so hard to get?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bad episode of Dawson's Creek.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Talk about paradoxes: what is the basis of the premise that Darwinists would be more likely to be open to ideas and debate than religionists? The fact is that if you accept Darwin, all debate about the "why" of life is by definition foreclosed. The answer is predetermined; there can be no "why" in a random world.

On the other hand, once there is a design there must be a purpose. The search for that purpose in all its manifestations, and the search for one's individual role within that overall purpose, is the ultimate mind-opening experience. The possibilities are multifarious.

And even when one takes the next step of assuming that the story of Revelation is likely to be true if there is a Designer, and that His purpose was conveyed to humanity at Sinai, one is hardly putting up the shutters in the parlor of the intellect. Scripture is a broad field of study in its own right, and applying its principles to daily life requires an always alert and active intelligence.

What do Darwinists need to keep an open mind about? Comedy or drama? Slurpee or Haagendasz? Blonde or brunette? Roller coaster or Ferris wheel? Gimme a flipping break.

Tlaloc said...

It's not that difficult to understand, Hunter. The key is that scientific inquiry is not about "talking about more things." Rather its about taking the wide field of possibilities and narrowing it down to closer and closer mathematical approximations of reality.

By insisting on including the non-scientific ID (which consists of nothing more than "maybe someone created it all") you are indeed stifling inquiry. You can no longer use scientific methods to reduce the number of possible scientific (and hence testable) hypothesis because you've forced a non-scientific (non-testable) idea into the running.

Hunter Baker said...

Here's the fly in the ointment. What if it is actually true that design is actually present? If you assume design is not present and work exclusively from that premise, then you will literally never reach the true answer. That doesn't strike me as scientific.

I frequently hear Darwinians say that design can't be the answer because scientific theories must falsifiable. Design is falsifiable. I have always thought that unguided evolution is the falsification of design.

Hunter Baker said...

One more thing, Tlaloc. My complaint with the emailer was that he assumed my interest in ID means that I would crush inquiry and stifle dissent. There is no reason to assume that. That's what I mean about being willing to think about more things rather than less.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Tlaloc is dead wrong for a different reason. The positing of design is not "maybe someone created it all"; it is "this is something coordinated". Not only is that scientific, it is the only scientific answer, because it is the only answer that provides a rationale for any patterns or any bias toward continued existence.

In other words, if there is no design, what right do you have to say that anything "works" a certain way? What right do you have to establish, say, a "Law" of Gravity? Perhaps in the next second things will go upward instead of downward.

Even the idea that science is "falsifiable" is only reasonable if there is design. Why should a later result prove or disprove an earlier premise if there is no element of design guiding the system?

Another way of putting this is to say this. Forget about design at the beginning. Talk about design now. Is there design now? If you say that there is a Law of Gravity, you are identifying a design that is present. And a design can only be present now if there was a design in the original creation.

Q.E.D.

Tlaloc said...

Hunter: "Here's the fly in the ointment. What if it is actually true that design is actually present? If you assume design is not present and work exclusively from that premise, then you will literally never reach the true answer. That doesn't strike me as scientific."

That isn't true Hunter because science never says "this is how it works and that is everything there is." Evolution is a mechanism it says nothing with regards to whether a God or Goddess exists. It can't because such questions are completely outside the realm of what science can answer.
In other words you're confusion stems from asking the wrong question. If you ask "Why are we here" then you need to go discuss it with a philosopher. If you ask "How did man develop" then you can talk to a biologist.


"I frequently hear Darwinians say that design can't be the answer because scientific theories must falsifiable. Design is falsifiable. I have always thought that unguided evolution is the falsification of design."

Design can't be a _scientific_ answer because it isn't testable. You can't prove that a God doesn't exist for the same reason you can't prove any other negative like that. I can't prove that intangible giants don't lug the earth in it's orbit. But the statement "there are invisible giants lugging the earth" isn't a scientific hypothesis and shouldn't be taught in public school as science.



"One more thing, Tlaloc. My complaint with the emailer was that he assumed my interest in ID means that I would crush inquiry and stifle dissent. There is no reason to assume that. That's what I mean about being willing to think about more things rather than less."

Insisting on injecting non-scientific ideas into scientific curricula does indeed crush inquiry because it destroys the whole workings. It's no different than filling out a spreadsheet with letters instead of numbers and getting confused when it won't add them up. You are arguing for breaking a system that has proven itself enormously successful.



"Tlaloc is dead wrong for a different reason. The positing of design is not "maybe someone created it all"; it is "this is something coordinated". Not only is that scientific, it is the only scientific answer, because it is the only answer that provides a rationale for any patterns or any bias toward continued existence."

You're mistaken. List the testable hypothesis of "this is something coordinated." I'll save you the effort, there are none. It fails the most basic test of a scientific hypothesis.



"In other words, if there is no design, what right do you have to say that anything "works" a certain way? What right do you have to establish, say, a "Law" of Gravity? Perhaps in the next second things will go upward instead of downward."

There are no real "laws" of science. Only theories with more or less support. We can say things work in a certain way because we create testable hypothesis and then proceed to test them. We cannot say "gravity will alway s work the way it does right now." We can say "we have several million experiments that all agree gravity has historically behaved as predicted." Trust me, I'm a physicist.



"Even the idea that science is "falsifiable" is only reasonable if there is design. Why should a later result prove or disprove an earlier premise if there is no element of design guiding the system?"

Because quite simply things are true or not true. Of course somethings change over time which is why we have to test things repeatedly (also part of scientific method). If I throw an apple up and one time out of a hundred it doesn't come back down I know there is something wrong. Either my experiment has been interfered with or gravity doesn't work the way we thought. True/false. Thats why testablility is the absolute key factor in a scientific hypothesis. I cn't emphasize this enough for both of you. If it can't be tested, rigorously and repeatedly, it _isn't_ science.



"Another way of putting this is to say this. Forget about design at the beginning. Talk about design now. Is there design now? If you say that there is a Law of Gravity, you are identifying a design that is present. And a design can only be present now if there was a design in the original creation."

Again false. Identifying how gravity works doesn't mean a design is at work, it only means there are physical forces and we've decided to understand them. Theories like string theory or M theory may explain why the forces broke down the way they did instead of in some other way but then again they may not. It may prove to be the final unanswerable question for science where philosophers can step in and give their opinions without appearing foolish.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Sorry, Tlaloc. Your mind has trained itself to skip over a particular synapse and you don't recognize that you're saying things that are inherently contradictory.

You say: List the testable hypothesis of "this is something coordinated". Simple, does everything work in a coordinated manner? The answer is yes.

In other words, does gravity work with magnetism to create liveable conditions? The answer is yes, i.e. they are coordinated. If things were not coordinated, that would not happen.

Your problem is that you are looking for a proof of outer-imposed coordination. There is only one proof for outer-imposed coordination, namely inner-coherent coordination. You are the one who is operating under an absurd unfalsifiable premise, namely that a thing could operate in internal coordination without that having been actively brought about by a coordinating element. That is the absurdity that the vast majority of humanity can see, which is why Abraham has been beating the Greeks and Darwin since forever and will continue doing so for all time.

By the way, one statement that you averred was really tendered in bad faith; no physicist could be that dense, and that was that there are no laws in science, only theories. Every theory is by definition a version of a law that one is seeking to identify and define. Shame on you for that.

And using a word like "a physical force" as a euphemism for a coordinated system is just more sophistry. There are trillions of cells interacting in the human body, for example, making it a stunningly complex machine; if that is not coordination per se, nothing is. And again, I beseech you to take your mind outside of the constricting envelope that some "teachers" have smothered it in. Internal coordination is THE proof for prior coordination, and no amount of physics can undo that essential premise.

Tlaloc said...

"You say: List the testable hypothesis of "this is something coordinated". Simple, does everything work in a coordinated manner? The answer is yes."

By all means then point me toward the experimental data that proves such.



"In other words, does gravity work with magnetism to create liveable conditions? The answer is yes, i.e. they are coordinated. If things were not coordinated, that would not happen."

A logical fallacy. You see that life has evolved and assume that that means the conditions must have been specially created to enable it. This is false as is shown by the anthropic principle.


"You are the one who is operating under an absurd unfalsifiable premise, namely that a thing could operate in internal coordination without that having been actively brought about by a coordinating element. That is the absurdity that the vast majority of humanity can see, which is why Abraham has been beating the Greeks and Darwin since forever and will continue doing so for all time."

A snowflake is an amazing structure and yet it exists without design. It exists simply because there are ways that our universe works. Your logic is flawed.


"By the way, one statement that you averred was really tendered in bad faith; no physicist could be that dense, and that was that there are no laws in science, only theories. Every theory is by definition a version of a law that one is seeking to identify and define. Shame on you for that."

Again you show an ignorance of basic science. Theories are not a "version of a law." They are theories. They are attempts to describe the physical world as it is. Over time they get refined so that they come closer and closer to the truth of the matter but most likely will never actually be complete.


"And using a word like "a physical force" as a euphemism for a coordinated system is just more sophistry. There are trillions of cells interacting in the human body, for example, making it a stunningly complex machine; if that is not coordination per se, nothing is."

There are many more atoms in a snowflake than cells in the body and yet it is not a function of design. Crystals grow due to well understood physical properties, they do not require a designer.



"And again, I beseech you to take your mind outside of the constricting envelope that some "teachers" have smothered it in. Internal coordination is THE proof for prior coordination, and no amount of physics can undo that essential premise."

Then fortunately you've learned something as I was able to prove your premise wrong in merely a handful of sentences. Form and structure exist independent of design. I'm glad to have been instrumental in helping you uncover a fallacy in your thinking.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Tlaloc writes: "Design can't be a _scientific_ answer because it isn't testable. You can't prove that a God doesn't exist for the same reason you can't prove any other negative like that. I can't prove that intangible giants don't lug the earth in it's orbit. But the statement `there are invisible giants lugging the earth' isn't a scientific hypothesis and shouldn't be taught in public school as science."

Three points here. First, sure you can prove that God doesn't exist. If the concept of God is incoherent, just like the concept "married-bachelor," you've proven that God doesn't exist. Second, the claim that "you can't prove a negative" is itself a negative, and thus on its own grounds lacks proof and thus I have no reason to believe it. Third, absolute disproof is very rare and hard to come by. So, it's probably best that we talk about evidence counting for or against a point of view or theory. In that sense, theories are "criticizable" or rendered more or less plausible given certain evidence and explanatory power. For example, the claim "the Holocaust didn't happen" is a negative claim, but it is unreasonable to say that one cannot offer overwhelming evidence against that claim.