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Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Philosophy of Evolutionists versus Creationists

"radar, I asked a question some time ago (don't worry, this isn't about horses!); perhaps I failed to recognize your reply as an answer.

Let's say it was shown to you beyond reasonable doubt that not only was evolution correct, at least in its broad outlines (I don't imagine anyone with any degree of science literacy imagines the current account to be complete and infailable), but so, similarly, were those parts of of modern archaelogy, geology, physics, astronomy, cosmology (even mainstream biblical scholarship) that the YEC position denies or contradicts.

How would this affect your faith in God?

-Dan S. "


The above was a question, and a good one, from a consistent (and sometimes humorous) commenter. It ties in with another commenter who expressed surprise when I mentioned that there was a philosophical side to the evolution versus creation dialogue. Thus, this posting.

I want to thank in advance Bill Cooper and also his book, After The Flood ISBN 1-874367-40-X, who has written a great deal about Genesis 10 and 11 in particular and will provide me with some material. The following includes some quotes from his book and also some sources that I used based on information found from his book.

The Philosophy of Evolution versus Creation

Some of my commenters have suggested that their stand on this particular issue is based on science rather than world view. I have tended to take such statements with a grain of salt. In fact, some of the early Darwin proponents were unapologetic in their admission that world view was integral to their scientific stand.

Allow me to mention some quotes from that post:

“[I suppose the reason] we all jumped at the Origin [of Species] was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” - Julian Huxley, British biologist.

"Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually- fulfilled atheist." - Richard Dawkins, Darwinian apologist.

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption ... For myself, as no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneous liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom." - Aldous Huxley, philosopher, author, lecturer -(REPORT, June 1966. "Confession of Professed Atheist."}

The above three men are not necessarily representative of Darwinists, who are not known to be wild and crazy (and amoral) guys, at least not all of 'em. But this quote below is quite representative:

"We [scientists] have … a prior commitment to materialism [and] we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations… Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” -Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31.

Materialism

Lao-Tzu, 6th century taoist philosopher - "Before time, and throughout time, there has been a self-existing being, eternal, infinite, omnipresent.....Outside that being, before the beginning, there was nothing." Tao-te-ching. (English version by Derek Bryce)

Kuo-Hsiang, contemporary (of Lao-Tzu)philosopher - "I venture to ask whether the creator is or is not. If he is not, how can he creat things?....The creating of things has no Lord; everything creates itself." - Nature in Question by John Clarke

It seems that the knowledge of a creator god as described by Lao-Tzu had been known in ancient cultures but there were also the materialists who did not allow for such a god. Long before Jesus walked the earth and long before Darwin sailed on the Beagle the debate had begun on philosophical rather than scientific grounds. It was the commonly held view in ancient cultures like Egypt and Greece and China that there was, indeed, a creator god. This was true even in cultures that were otherwise polytheistic. Some works that have passed down to us include statements that sound remarkably like passages from the Bible.

Bill Clark translates this from a text in Heliopolis in Egypt: "I am the creator of all things that exist....that came forth from my mouth. Heaven and earth did not exist nor had been created the herbs of the ground nor the creeping things. I raised them out of the primeval abyss from a state of non-being..."

From 8th century BC, The Theogony of Hesiod: "First of all the Void came into being ....next Earth...Out of the Void came darkness...and out of the Night came Light and Day." (as translated by Norman Brown)

Plato makes this statement in Timaeus and Criteas: "Let us therefore state the reason why the framer of this universe of change framed it at all. He was good, and what is good has no particle of envy in it; being therefore without envy, he wished all things to be as like himself as possible. This is as valid a principle for the origin of the world of change as we shall discover from the wisdom of men...."

In a later post I will address one reason why men of the ancient world understood the idea of a Creator God who was good, and all-powerful. It was because they were all descended from the same family! This basic knowledge had been taken with people wherever they had gone and was the accepted understanding of beginnings among great men of the day. But materialism appeared in 6 century BC in China, as previously mentioned and around that time there lived Thales of Miletus (625-545 BC) who is sometimes credited with being the author of materialism among the Greeks. But the first recorded challenge to standard Greek creationist wisdom came from one of Thale's pupils, Anaximander. Plutarch quotes Anaximander as having said "...originally humans were born from animals of a different kind...." which sounds rather familiar to us today. No, Darwin was not unique nor were his views entirely based upon his observations of nature, His was a materialistic viewpoint and that viewpoint colored his observations of the world.

Plato spoke concerning materialists thusly: "Some people, I believe, account for all things which have come into existence now, and all things which will do so in the future, by attributing them either to nature, art, or chance." Plato, The Laws. (Trevor Sanders translation) He went on in the same treatise to call such thoughts "pernicious doctrine" that must be "the ruin of the younger generation, both in the state at large and in private families."

It fell to Epicurus of the 4th century BC to mount a challenge to Plato and creationist thought. He argued for random events and a universe that was neither designed nor well-ordered. But outright atheism was easily defeated in arguments with thinkers of the times, so he refused to deny the existence of god or gods while at the same time not allowing for an orderly and created universe. Epicurean materialism had it's followers but the majority of the Greeks remained in the creationist camp. Zeno founded the Stoics in approximately 308 BC and one of their number, Chrysippus, is quoted by Cicero in On the Nature of the Gods:

"If there is anything in nature which the human mind, which human intelligence, energy and power could not create, then the creator of such things must be a being superior to man. But the heavenly bodies in their eternal orbits could not be created by man. They must therefore be created by a being greater than man.....Only an arrogant fool would imagine that there was nothing in the whole world greater than himself. Therefore there must be something greater than man. And that something must be God." - translated by Horace Macgregor.

Whereas it may seem strange for Greeks to acknowledge a creator God when we generally think of their pantheon of gods, which were more like super-men and women who were neither morally nor intellectually superior to men, as being their gods. But they did acknowledge one superior creator god, although that knowledge began to fade over the centuries. Note that the Apostle Paul addressed the greek tradition of acknowledging this god in Acts 17:22-24:

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;


It is Cicero who said this: "When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers? Our friend Posidonius as you know has made a globe which in its revolution shows the movements of the sun and stars and planets, by day and night, just as they appear in the sky. Now if someone were to take this globe and show it to the people of Britain or Scythia would a single one of those barbarians fail to see that it was the product of a conscious intelligence?"

Bill Clark sums up thus: "With these beautfully simple words, Cicero gives voice to an idea which even today is the most difficult for the materialist to refute, for it is nigh impossible to explain away convincingly, say, the indescribable complexity of living organisms, or even merely parts thereof, as the product of blind chance or accident."

Cicero also spelled out, as it were, the puzzle later presented by Huxley as the odds against the evolution of the horse:

"Is it not a wonder that anyone can bring himself to believe that a number of solid and separate particles by their chance collisions and moved only by the force of their own weight could bring into being so marvellous and beautiful a world? If anybody thinks that this is possible, I do not see why he should not think that if an infinite number of examples fo the twenty-one letters of the alphabet made of gold or what you will, were shaken together and then poured out on the ground it would be possible for them to fall so as to spell out, say, the whole text of the Annals of Ennius. In fact I doubt whether chance would spell out a singe verse!"

But the epicurean, Lucretian, sought to bring in a relativistic view when he said, "It is a matter of observation that one thing is limited by another. The hills are demarcated by air, and air by the hills. Land sets bound to sea and sea to every land. But the universe has nothing outside to limit it." Lucretius - On The Nature Of The Universe

Thus, the materialist's call for longer time and more space in which evolution might take place also began before there was a Darwin. Yes, the creation versus evolution debate is framed differently post-Darwin but it is the same argument that inspired dialogues among great minds of the past. The materialist seeks to view a world where faith is not allowed and the supernatural cannot exist. This is the viewpoint of the majority of scientists today and therefore their belief system guides them.

It was Immanuel Kant who complained that there was no getting away from faith, for even if all outside influences were discarded and one's own senses and reasoning to be relied upon, one had to have therefore faith in his own senses and his own ability to reason and as he stated, "...it remains a scandal to philosophy and to human reason in general that the existence of things outside us...must be accepted merely on faith and if anyone thinks good to doubt their existence we are unable to counter his doubts by any satisfactory proof." The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism - Barry Stroud.

I posit therefore that we all come to the table with a faith, with presuppositions, with a world view. Since well before Christ there have been two dissenting opinions on the origin of things. Once creationists were in the majority, later evolutionists found themselves the more numerous and as I have predicted before that pendulum has swung and creationists are becoming more numerous. No matter which camp you are in, you hopefully are able to admit to yourself that your stated belief begins with your philosophical core and not the evidences you have observed and the doctrines you have been taught.

I was once an evolutionist, Dan S, and it was a combination of the change of world view and the investigation of the evidence that brought me around to the other side. I am at the place now that my faith is an integral part of me and I am certain that no one will be able to show me beyond a reasonable doubt that life evolved. So I don't believe it is available, frankly, nor do I believe my faith is likely to be shaken. This is because I have seen so much evidence for both sides and have already made my choice. I do try to look at all evidences and consider them even as I realize that I have a world view that tends to filter or color that information in a certain way. But who among us can honestly say otherwise?

I shall repeat my previously stated conclusion: There is room for both believers and non-believers in the scientific community. Some, like Einstein, will come to science with a readiness to believe in God but will remain unconvinced. Others, like Tipler, find their predisposition to ignore God tossed aside in the face of the evidence they have found in their research. My personal belief is that the more we learn about life and the cosmos, the more compelling the evidence will be that God does exist and did, indeed create all things. I leave the last word to Sir Francis:

"A little science estranges a man from God; a lot of science brings him back." Sir Francis Bacon

32 comments:

highboy said...

"It was Immanuel Kant who complained that there was no getting away from faith,"

Good post. But I wish you would never broought him up. I had to write a 22 page essay in Ethics class regarding a lot of his thoughts. I spent hours upon hours in the library because of Kant. I'm just burnt out. I'd like to poke my eyeball out than read anything from him for a while.

Anonymous said...

"I am at the place now that my faith is an integral part of me and I am certain that no one will be able to show me beyond a reasonable doubt that life evolved"

And that, ladies and gentlemen is not science; it's faith. And that certainty is why we'll never convince creationists with reason and logic.

It's been an interesting three weeks, but I give up. Uncle! You've won! You've stuck your fingers in your ears and hummed 'mary had a little lamb' loud enough and long enough to convince me that it's just not worth it any more. Please --for goodness sake, do humanity a favor and don't force your crazy beliefs on anyone else. I beg this of you.

Before I go, I have one final thought: Radar, how many people believe in your version of creationism that aren't Christian, Jewish or Muslim?

I haven't heard of a single one.

-scohen

radar said...

"And that, ladies and gentlemen is not science; it's faith. And that certainty is why we'll never convince creationists with reason and logic."

It is to laugh! You didn't even understand that post at all. EVERYONE has a world view and so do you. Your mind is closed so tight I wonder how the blood flows in there.

You will notice that Mr. Cohen objects to my world view. I suspect his world view is the exact opposite but he doesn't understand that his has no more validity than mine, nor does it make his ability to comprehend science or observe facts any better.

Everyone who has had my beliefs forced on them, please raise your hands? That's what I thought, this is a voluntary blog.

Scohen, seeing as how the vast majority of scientists down through the centuries were creationists, your statements ring hollow. But when you say I have "crazy beliefs" you give yourself away. You want to trivialize what I say because you fear that there may be truth there, and it is in fact you that is running away with fingers in ears.

Honest evolutionists that read this will agree that they, too, have a world view that has a great deal to do with their views of either evolution or creation.

Anonymous said...

Science is not a world view. It's a process.
I don't object to your world view, I object to you framing your world view as science when it's clearly not.

"You want to trivialize what I say because you fear that there may be truth there,"

No I don't. I trivialize what you say because it's ignorant and not scientific. It's also not backed up by any observations.

"Everyone who has had my beliefs forced on them, please raise your hands?"

All the kids in Kansas can now raise their hands.

"Scohen, seeing as how the vast majority of scientists down through the centuries were creationists"

This is an appeal to the majority, which is not a valid argument. It's also patently untrue, as our scientific knowledge at this moment is more complete than at any time in the past. Using that same argument, you can argue that most scientists don't believe in gravity, or heliocentrism or quantum theory, which is just silly. Just freaking silly. You will never be convinced that the world is 6000 years old, so the debate is pointless. I could, by the way, be convinced that the world is 6000 years old if you proved to me that astronomy, biology, physics, geology, anthropology and genetics are all wrong. But you'd have to use things that were, you know, facts and observations --maybe a couple of charts and graphs for good measure. Stuff scientists could get their heads around and have it really blow their minds.

"Honest evolutionists that read this will agree that they, too, have a world view that has a great deal to do with their views of either evolution or creation."

And patently dishonest creationists never answer the queries made of them. You accuse me of ignoring facts? Who has that pathology again? Who kept insisting the ACLU was largely funded by the federal government? Who has not updated his blog to fix this mis-statement? Who repeatedly --and bafflingly uses the 2nd law of thermodynamics to prove their side even though a literate reading of the law shows him to be in error?

This is not about a world view, this is about science. You might think the moon is made of green cheese, but your belief does not make it so. There are answers out there, and like it or not, for biology, evolution is the best model we have that fits the data. That it does not dovetail with your theological beliefs is not the concern of science, it's your concern and something you need to deal with. Come up with an alternate model that fits the data, but don't pretend the data doesn't exist.

You have no idea what my religious beliefs are or how I was raised, so stop trying to insinuate that my theological or political beliefs play into this. They do not and never have. I honestly think you're projecting your foibles on to me on this issue. For me, this is a debate solely on evidence --evidence which your side sorely lacks. Evidence that's in the rocks beneath our feet and the sky above our head. Evidence I saw as a child when I looked up to the night sky and saw stars that were millions of light-years away. Evidence that you routinely ignore, mischaracterize and deny.

Sadly, even the distance to stars is a political issue for you, and that's why this will never be a debate, but an argument. A civil argument perhaps, but an argument none the less.

And I'll take the pepsi challenge. Let's invite actual scientists to see which one of us better comprehends science. I wonder if you would accept the solid drubbing that I'd give you or would you choose to ignore that data as well?

-scohen

Juggling Mother said...

I don't object to your world view radar - you are quite welcome to belioeve whatever you like (I think I've said this before). It's one of the things that differentiates us - I believe that there is no real harm done by you having a different world view to me. You believe that i am deliberately harming myself and others by persevereing in thinking you wrong!

However - i do disagree in your belief that ONLY your world view has any merit, and should be taught as factual truth. I can't speak for American schools, but that is NOT how we teach evolution over here. we say, this is the evidence found, and these are the scientific theories that seem to fit the evidence. we are still looking for further evidence & new theories.

I do not look to science to disprove God. i would be quite delighted if you could come up with a single scrap of scientific evidence to proove he definitely exists - it absolves us of all responsibility. It's the lazy man's way of looking at the world IMO. However, neither you, nor any of your creationist buddies have managed to come up with any proper evidence. Just saying "but we're all here" is not evidence, it is belief (as you have so rightly said) and therefore, we all have the right to believe differently if we so wish.

*phew*

Have I made myself clear yet?

Anyway, what I actually wanted to say in responce to the post, is OF COURSE all ancient cultures had a creator God myth. they needed to explain everything - from creation, the stars, rainbows, thunder etc in terms of a god. as time has gone on, civilisation has advanced, and scientific evidence has shown us why many of these things happen, without the need for a God. (do you still really believe that God magic's a rainbow into the sky personnally each time you see one, or do you accept that it happens due to the refraction of light through the raindrops ect? - of course you can still believe that God deliberately designed the universe so that the refraction of light through raindrops would produce a rainbow - but it doesn't change the underlying scientific theory!)

The same applies to creation of living things. Once we couldn't comprehend the science behind evolution. Now we can. it does not mean God doesn't exist if you don't want it to - after all, he is all knowing, all seeing, timeless & infallible. who are you to assume you know exactly hat he meant when he said "I created all things"

And of all the religions in the world each and every one has a creation myth - mostly along the lines that the first being on the scene started up the universe/world. Only Fundy Christians have problem with evolution. If you're looking at the number of believers proving your "creator God" myth correct, you're looking at a quick and substantial knock-back!

creeper said...

Radar,

And once again Radar blatantly violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics (as he understands it) by putting up yet another blog post...

First I'd like to note that, as with almost every question that is posed to you, you evade Dan's question completely, despite all the verbiage: ”So I don't believe it is available, frankly, nor do I believe my faith is likely to be shaken. This is because I have seen so much evidence for both sides and have already made my choice.” You didn’t engage the hypothetical that Dan posed at all*. Which as it happens is significant within the context of this particular post, as well as the debate that has been going on on this blog.

(* Your response is the equivalent of me asking you which books you’d like to take with you if you ever got stranded on a desert island, and you responding that you never travel and so will never be stranded on a desert island.)

I second what Mrs. Aginoth said about creation myths, and what scohen pointed out about Radar's intellectual honesty.

”There is room for both believers and non-believers in the scientific community. Some, like Einstein, will come to science with a readiness to believe in God but will remain unconvinced. Others, like Tipler, find their predisposition to ignore God tossed aside in the face of the evidence they have found in their research.”

?? Yes, there is room for both believers and non-believers in the scientific community, but since when is science about figuring out whether God exists or not? That question is completely outside the purview of science.

There is an enormous false dichotomy (science vs. religion) at work here, and you had to evade Dan’s question in order to maintain this. The theory of evolution does not necessitate God’s non-existence, hence can not disprove God’s existence – as indeed, all science obviously can’t do, nor does it need to. What the theory of evolution does not necessitate is God’s necessity.

That doesn’t mean you can’t believe God did it. One of the many questions you have ignored was this one: Let’s say God did create the universe, Earth, man, all life on Earth etc. How would you figure out or show that He did it one way instead of another? And why would you care?

I have repeatedly pointed out to you that you, like everyone, are entirely welcome to your faith; it is when you make factual claims (or dispute them) that we can argue their merit and plausibility. In doing so, you have invariably been short of coherent answers when challenged in many cases on obvious contradictions and impossibilities.

Regarding your Kant quote, it seems to me that you conflate two different kinds of faith here. In order to function in this world, we must all take an initial ‘leap of faith’, namely that the sensations delivered by our senses reflect the world around us (something we accomplish in our first year or two of life). We can’t scientifically prove that we don’t live in a “Matrix”-style world where we are little more than brains in a jar, and that the world around us is a mere illusion – that is what Kant found so scandalous. We have to assume that we exist, and that the things we know exist. I assume my family and my friends and the places I frequent all exist. (I’ll even, for the sake of argument, assume that Radar exists, even if according to his own understanding he represents an ongoing violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Whoever enforces these laws should really be told.:-))

That initial ‘leap of faith’ – that we exist – is a very different thing from religious faith, however, and it does not represent an irrational world view. It is necessary for us to function – and we all have this assumption in common, all the way from Christian fundamentalist to Muslim to atheist. By itself this assumption does not dictate one particular world view, nor even that one should be particularly religious. Nor does it represent a religious belief by itself.

(Also, Radar, you seem to equate world view with closed-mindedness, especially in your response to scohen above. This may be projection on your part. If you were open-minded, you wouldn't have an ever-increasing heap of questions you won't respond to, nor would you need to evade uncomfortable questions.)

Everyone does indeed have a world view. Picking out some who say their personal beliefs drove them is not particularly significant, as you’ve acknowledged. Lewontin’s quote is significant only insofar as it describes an aspect of the scientific method. Science does not aim to answer questions about ultimate truth or spirituality – it merely seeks explanations based on what we can observe and verify. This is not necessarily a worldview as such but, as scohen pointed out, a process. A scientist can spend Monday to Friday 9 to 5 examining naturalistic explanations for phenomena and go to church on Sunday because the two are simply not contradictory, though they can be complimentary.

You may also be projecting in seeing such a close relationship between people's religious or spiritual views and their acceptance of the validity of the theory of evolution. Insisting on such a close link is mostly an issue for certain Christian fundamentalists. I have nothing to lose or gain by whether the theory of evolution is true or not. If Dembski comes up with convincing evidence supporting intelligent design, I can take it on board without needing to alter my moral view of the world. To you, however, it seems that much more is at stake, and that you must therefore discount any logic or science that contradicts your belief in a literal reading of certain parts of the Bible.

It would do you well to look at the actual arguments and questions that have been raised and discuss them on their merits.


P.S. note that Dawkins said "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually- fulfilled atheist", not "Darwin made it necessary to be an intellectually- fulfilled atheist".

(btw, scohen, I hope you stick around - really enjoyed your comments.)

Mark K. Sprengel said...

anonymous

"Science is not a world view. It's a process."

It is hampered by a world view when only by natural means alone is allowed. It becomes the hand maiden of an unfalsfialbe proposition. Let the evidence lead where it may.

Anonymous said...

"The doctor attempted to look sorrowful, suceeding only from the nose up, for his lips could not evert their usual smile. "Here in Bastion a cart loses a wheel and the carter utters an aversive prayer to drive off the demon who broke it. That doesn't fix the wheel, so he calls a local carpenter who probably prays for angelic intervention. That doesn't fix the wheel, either, so he drags it off to a wheelwright, who fixes it without invoking anyone."

The captain smiled. "Oh, sir, that's just human nature. Angels won't intervene with stuff we can do ourselves, That's in the Dicta."

"Which is the point. We're getting less and less able to do things for ourselves as we get further and further from the time when our machines were designed and built. What will happen to our population when we use up the last preserving jars, the last wheels, the last drill bits and metal cog wheels? We don't make steel, we salvage it. We don't make glass, we salvage it, that's why our windows have those tiny little panes made of old bottles. So far we've kept going by stealing from the past. What happens when there's nothing left to steal?"

The captain said severely, "What you just said is totally unorthodox, Colonel Doctor. If I didn't know any better, I'd think you'd been touched by Sciencism!"

"Ah, Sciencism. One of the heresies. How would you define Sciencism, Captain?"

"A heretical belief that men once did the things you've mentioned through their own efforts, without angelic assistance. The Dicta teaches us that our ancestors depended on angels for their power, just as we will when we rediscover the Art."

"Well, I wouldn't want to be taken for a heretic, Captain, but I'm a physician, and I spend a lot of time learning how to better heal people. A few times when I've been up near the boarder, I've even met some people who might have been outsiders."

"Unless you're on a mission for the Regime, that's against standard rules of behavior, sir!"

"It is. Quite right. But the general has been kind enough to overlook it because there are many things we don't know about healing, and some outsiders have known about herbs and cures that really work." He sighed. "They've kept the general and the bishop alive, as thet wouldn't be if I'd stuck to the standard rule of behavior."

"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't get where this conversation is going!"
_______

After touching upon another topic of some importance today (that is, many centuries in their past, before the Bitch - that is, the asteroid that hit Earth, wiping out 99% of humanity, and bringing something else with it), the doctor convinces the captain that it was all just a test, and accepts him as his assistant, which is to say, as a spy for the bishop. And so Sheri S. Tepper's The Visitor continues on, until an ending that, like most of her books, takes these ideas and goes somewhere I never could have imagined (and possibly might have not wanted to, and find both intellectually and perhaps even somewhat morally disturbing - but don't let that dissuade you, they're good books.

All you guys beat me to it - I don't know if I have anything left to add! Very interesting reading.

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Dan,

"All you guys beat me to it - I don't know if I have anything left to add!"

You could always re-post your question, seeing as Radar didn't answer it.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S graphs]

methodological naturalism
....................|.................PN
....................|....................
........1 ..........|.........2.........
....................|....................
Rel________________________Ath
....................|....................
.........3..........|.........4.........
....................|....................
....................|....................
Methodological supermaturalism

(rel = religion, ath = atheism)
1, 2 - in everday life (as long as we have any understanding/control over events), everyone, albeit to verying degrees, related to the degree of control vs. chance, etc.

3, 4 - Where we don't have (or need to have) understanding/control over events, when they're non-practical, non-touchable, beyond our ken, experience, etc.

Also:
1 = eg, theistic evolution - Ken Miller, Catholicism, mainline Protestantism, reform Judaism. Includes some number of scientists in general.
2= eg, non-theistic evolution, etc. Eventually (PN) becomes philosophical (or ontological) naturalism - Dawkins.
3 = In non-everyday life, some versions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. Also ~magic? From religion at its most superstitious, the 'age old, world wide religion of saints and amulets and etc.' (I'm paraphrasing someone, but can't remember who), to new agism, to traditional magic around the world. But the whole religion/magic/science thing is a horrible tangle, so let's back away slowly.
4=? Does anything go here? 'Fate,' perhaps?

mark, radar - read that Lewontin quote (in the original, preferably). Think about it deeply. Imagine what the world would be like if we let the supernatural into science - or law, or engineering, or computing, or practical daily life . . . (Which isn't to say that things called supernatural can't be studied by science - except in that case they would be, in some sense, natural). radar, your heading, that just says materialism - that's a big part of the problem. Do you have to believe in God to drive a car? Do you have to disbelieve in God to drive a car?

(You know, my neighbor's an old woman who lives alone, she's kinda odd . . . )

It's like fixing a car, or marketing&sales.

You might really, really think the world is ready for sardine-chocolate chip cookies, even if surveys, focus groups, etc. don't properly reflect it. But when it turns out they're not selling, explaining that they're immensely popular in the spirit world, it's just that the ghosts are eating their essence (even as the material cookies themselves just sit on the shelves) will get one fired even quicker. Which isn't to say that there aren't ghosts, or that they don't in fact relish the taste sensation of sardine and chocolate mixed together - it's just that (if that's the case) the ectoplasmic cheapstakes don't pay.*

(Moral: In science, some ideas are just half-baked.)

ID creationism is most responsible for this, this, backwardism. Oh, if things are the way Tepper suggests at the end of that book, oh, are they gonna get it! (well, they wouldn't, exactly . . . you'll have to read it)

""Everyone who has had my beliefs forced on them, please raise your hands?"
All the kids in Kansas can now raise their hands.
But not all of them, luckily - one local school district has already rejected the anti-science state standards (NCSE commentary here.

Kids (and teachers) in Arkansas, on the other hand, are de facto out of luck.

highboy - !ha! Urgh, 22 pages . . .
I emphasize with the eyeball poking - but how does that fit in with the whole categorical imperative thing? If everyone who had to read Kant went and poked their eyeball out . . .

Ok, I'll go away now.

* Now, if they did, that would be a whole different story, and you would be hailed as opening up a whole new very, very big market.** The free trade people would be wetting themselves!

** While the dead in fact outnumber the living (silly Laurie Anderson), it's quite possible - brought up above - that the number of modern scientists - even if we have a lower limit of 1900 CE - might well be more than all those previously . . .

-Dan S, Cartesian duelist . . .

highboy said...

"This is an appeal to the majority, which is not a valid argument."

Remember that when you guys use the fact that the majority of the science community is convinced of evolution to validate your arguments.


" Who kept insisting the ACLU was largely funded by the federal government? Who has not updated his blog to fix this mis-statement?"

I'm pretty sure he fixed it when clearly said he was wrong in the ACLU not being LARGLEY funded by U.S. tax dollars. But since he was not wrong about them being funded by tax dollars, I fail to see the relevance. Debating creation and evolution is one thing, but questioning the integrity of someone who has absorbed condescension and insult without retaliating in the interest of debate is another, and doesn't do your side much credit. YOU guys claim that none of your questions were answered. That's a laugh. I've read numerous answers, whether they satisfy you or not is irrelevant.

creeper said...

Mark,

scohen: "Science is not a world view. It's a process."

you: "It is hampered by a world view when only by natural means alone is allowed. It becomes the hand maiden of an unfalsfialbe proposition. Let the evidence lead where it may."


Science proceeds from the observable outwards, which has worked extraordinarily well and benefited all our lives significantly; actually, it is this that has made science work so well.

What's with this jealousy of trying to wedge God into science anyway? What's with the aversion to nature?

1. Science observes nature and tries to figure out how it works.
2. You believe that God created nature.
3. Therefore, science observes something that you believe God created.
4. Therefore, what science is examining is, at least from your perspective, coming up with additional information as to how God did what He did.

The only thing that I see speaking against this conclusion is the notion that God used one method instead of another. Every time you say that God has been defined out of the equation, you're assuming that that which has been proposed and defined (say, the process of natural selection, gene mutation, DNA) is not connected to God.

What exactly are you basing this on?

I'll pose this question to you as well as (again) to messrs. Radar, Highboy et al.:

Let’s say God did create the universe, Earth, man, all life on Earth etc. How would you figure out or show that He did it one way instead of another?

And why would you care?

Shygetz said...

Mark K. Sprengel said...
"Science is not a world view. It's a process."

It is hampered by a world view when only by natural means alone is allowed. It becomes the hand maiden of an unfalsfialbe proposition. Let the evidence lead where it may.


This is where creationists often jump the tracks. What do you think is supernatural? Science readily accepts and studies data that are not explainable by current theory. That's how we get our new theories in the first place--we don't think them up and then try to prove them (unlike creationism). So, if we see that people are able to move objects using only their mind, we will study how that happens. "Supernatural" only means "Things that are asserted to exist, but not observed", like faries, elves, and God. As soon as they are observed, science can begin to address them. So, we do not automatically discount the possibility of God; we just haven't seen physical, observable evidence of his existence yet.

creeper said...

(Just had a cool verification word: "Yawsh". Now why don't we have that as a word? It's even fun to say... Hey! I propose we use it for YECs. It's somewhat similar, and it sure is easier (and more fun) to say than "Why-Eeh-Cee", and less offensive than "yeck". All those in favor? Opposed?)

creeper said...

Highboy:

Dan: "This is an appeal to the majority, which is not a valid argument."

you: "Remember that when you guys use the fact that the majority of the science community is convinced of evolution to validate your arguments."


Nice try. An appeal to the majority is not automatically a fallacy. The argumentum ad populum (to which scohen was referring here) rests on a fallacious emotional appeal, not whether a majority of experts have formed a consensus on a particular topic.

scohen: "Who kept insisting the ACLU was largely funded by the federal government? Who has not updated his blog to fix this mis-statement?"

you: "I'm pretty sure he fixed it when clearly said he was wrong in the ACLU not being LARGLEY funded by U.S. tax dollars."


It appears you overestimated your ideological colleague's ethics, Highboy. Radar's last pronouncement on the topic was this: "So one last time: The ACLU is funded in large part by taxpayer funds. Period. Like it or lump it! "

That's not exactly Radar "clearly saying he was wrong", is it?

Yes, it was pointed out to him that even this was utterly wrong (me: "(1) 'In large part' means mostly. (2) You have yet to establish that it's even as much as 20%.") - to which he did not respond, nor did he do the honorable thing and update his false claim on the original post.

So, in contrast to your claim, he did not "fix it".

"But since he was not wrong about them being funded by tax dollars, I fail to see the relevance."

The erroneousness of this claim was likewise addressed in the comments on that post, notably in a series of comments by cranky old fart. You're free to address it, or to study those arguments to see if you can spot the relevance.

Debating creation and evolution is one thing, but questioning the integrity of someone who has absorbed condescension and insult without retaliating in the interest of debate is another, and doesn't do your side much credit."

It was pointed out to him that he has evaded a good number of questions, and that he has made false claims and not reacted when this was pointed out to him. That's hardly disreputable behavior on our side, and your attack hardly excuses his behavior in being so evasive and insistent in propagating mistakes and dishonesty in the first place.

YOU guys claim that none of your questions were answered. That's a laugh. I've read numerous answers, whether they satisfy you or not is irrelevant.

What is relevant is whether he answered the question. The question at the beginning of this blog post is a clear example of a question evaded via much verbiage, but there are plenty of questions that Radar ignored entirely, ie. didn't even try to obfuscate around.

As I clarified in an earlier comment, Radar has indeed not responded to a number of questions, and by that I don't mean that he did respond but didn't agree with whoever posed the question, but that he didn't answer them at all. (Not that that means that incoherent answers are fine, of course.)

So how about it, Radar - care to explain how you came to be born, even if that necessitated (a) a violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, as well as (b) overcoming impossible odds?

creeper said...

Come to think of it, Highboy, wasn't it you who accused the ACLU of attacking the Got Jesus kid?

Would you care to post a link?

You could always retract the claim, of course, should you find that you were mistaken.

creeper said...

CORRECTION:

In an earlier comment I posted this:

Dan: "This is an appeal to the majority, which is not a valid argument."

you: "Remember that when you guys use the fact that the majority of the science community is convinced of evolution to validate your arguments."

Nice try. An appeal to the majority is not automatically a fallacy. The argumentum ad populum (to which scohen was referring here) rests on a fallacious emotional appeal, not whether a majority of experts have formed a consensus on a particular topic.


Two corrections:

1. The first comment should be credited to scohen, not Dan.

2. The sentence "An appeal to the majority is not automatically a fallacy" should read "An appeal to a majority is not automatically a fallacy".

Anonymous said...

Yawsh - what a great word! But it should be for something else, methinks . . .

radar, you touch on ancient philosophical approaches to evolution (the quotes you give overall concern a rather larger debate than evolution vs. creationism) - although you left out Empedocles, who "claimed that the Earth had given birth to living creatures, but that the first creatures had been disembodied organs. These organs finally joined into whole organisms, through the force of Love, but some of these organisms, being monstrous and unfit for life, had died out." How could you!

Yet while there are some philosophical continuities, the fact is that these early thinkers are, in terms of modern science, simply irrelevent in any but a historical sense. It's the same with atomic theory. Ancient philosophers came up with the idea of atoms (ie, Democritus) by logic, but this has almost nothing to do with modern science, which is based on empirical observation and hypothesis testing (yes, simplified version).

Is my belief in atomic theory based on my world view? Is my belief that opening my window and jumping out would have adverse consequences the result of an ideologically impelled belief in Newtonian dogmatism? If I go splat because God didn't reach down and catch me, does that mean he doesn't exist? (Does it say, with certainty, anything at all about God?)

Take global warming. People's beliefs may indeed be influenced by broader world views (especially to the degree that they don't know/understand the science), but ultimately it comes down to, well, science. The climate scientist and the industry lobbyist both have worldviews, but the scientist has a much more reasonable chance of being right.

" EVERYONE has a world view and so do you."
Of course (well, definitional issues and philosophical questions, but let's just go with it). But if your world view includes science, you have a big leg up in understanding and influencing the material world. In the limited but quite useful sense of effectiveness, not all world views are equal. The ones with the little sticker saying 'Science Inside' run a lot better, whether or not they also include God or gods.

"In fact I doubt whether chance would spell out a singe verse!"
Of course, using this as analogy to evolution is faulty, since evolution is not 'powered' solely by chance. As we've gone over. As numerous web site point out. As any book actually on evolution (rather than on the strawman happily constructed by those opposed to modern science on religious grounds) will point out. In fact, this whole argument, methinks it is like a weasel! (although as Dawkins points out, this demonstration is rather different from our understanding of evolution - although it would match certain kinds of theistic evolution).

"Thus, the materialist's call for longer time and more space in which evolution might take place also began before there was a Darwin."
1) No. Within classical philosophy, this call was not motivated for more time for evolution, but rather fairly obscure philosophical issues (as far as I understand it, which is, frankly, not saying much).

2) The philosophisizing of ancient Greeks is of extremely limited relevance to modern science.

However, the call for more time! (or rather, the recognition that more time was necessary) does predate Darwin - first with Hutton (1785) and then Lyell
(1830, etc.) In fact, it would be more proper, if one must, to speak of "the geologist's call for longer time . . . in which erosion and deposition might take place," which did indeed begin before there was a Charles Darwin."

Scorn "the materialists" all you want - [I'll finish this thought later, for reasons of both general decency and yes, superstition.]

" I am certain that no one will be able to show me beyond a reasonable doubt that life evolved. So I don't believe it is available, frankly, nor do I believe my faith is likely to be shaken."

(ok, creeper . . .)

I agree with your first statement here! But let's play pretend! Let's imagine that someone could show you this beyond reasonable doubt. If that could, in make-believe land, happen, how would make-believe radar's faith in God be affected?

(I'm not trying to get you to say "Oh, then make-believe radar would realize Christianity is just a big silly mess! (unless, of course, that's what make-believe radar would likely do!))

"I posit therefore that we all come to the table with a faith, with presuppositions, with a world view"
Yes. This has been discussed already above.

Although I in fact know I'm a brain in a vat.*

What? Whatd'ya mean, how do I know I'm not a whole person hallucinating that they're a brain in a vat?! Oh, get outa here . . .

"There is room for both believers and non-believers in the scientific community."
Certainly! Just ask Ken Miller . . .

"My personal belief is that the more we learn about life and the cosmos, the more compelling the evidence will be that God does exist and did, indeed create all things."
I would say that the more we learn, the more wonderous the world becomes. Whether or not that relates to God will depend upon one's beliefs, of course . . .

"The materialist seeks to view a world where faith is not allowed and the supernatural cannot exist. "
No. Some materialists seek to view such a world (and if you use allowed in a legal sense, you rule out almost everyone, at least folks within the liberal tradition). . Others do not. I sometimes wonder if the end result of the creationist push will be to convince more people that God and science are mutually exclusive, and since science works . . .

"It is to laugh!"
where is that from . . .? ]scratches head[

"I leave the last word to Sir Francis:"

One of these days I want to write a children's book about great pigs in history and literature - Sir Francis Bacon (and don't forget Roger, and Kevin), Hamlet . . .

Ok, maybe it's best if I don't . . .

Mrs. A says:
"Only Fundy Christians have problem with evolution."
Well, this isn't strictly true:
"At first, creationism was taught only in religion and ethics classes in [Turkish] high schools. Later, in the mid-1980s, creation was made compulsory in biology courses. In 1985 Vehbi Dincerler, the Minister of Education in Ozal's government and a member of a religious tariqa, sent a bulletin to high schools that accused educators who taught and defended evolution of being communists. . . . creationism was introduced to high school biology textbooks as an alternative "hypothesis". This form of creationism was mostly adopted from Henry Morris's Scientific Creationism , which was translated into Turkish by the Ministry of Education in 1985." [citations removed]

When the Social Democrats came to power it 1988, it goes on to say, textbooks were rewritten in a less misleading fashion, albeit with creationism still taught as an alternate theory, This outraged people, leading to "a series of belligerent actions against Turkish scientists at universities and at institutions . . .The BAV aims to convince the majority of the politicians in the parliament that evolution is not a fact, but a hoax. In February 1999 a representative from the fundamentalist Virtue Party proposed a Bill of Anti-Evolution to ban teaching of evolution in the schools and to collect and destroy all the books about evolution in the official libraries, on the grounds that evolution is against Islam."

Wikipedia mentions that "as in the Christian context, the theory of evolution is typically held to be responsible for a materialistic and atheistic world-view and their alleged social and political consequences" within Islamic creationism.

At one point the IDers had support from one of the big Turkish creationists - can't remember the details - I think it was during the Dover debacle?

And there are orthodox Jews who don't like evolution, and the Vedic creationists have people billions of years ago (whether they evolved or not, I dunno) - so in general, it's really the fundamentalist anti-modernists who have a problem with evolution . . .

Luckily, it's pretty unlikely that they'll ever team up and act together, otherwise we'd all be screwed . . .

To be fair, radar isn't forcing his views on us, although many folks who believe largely as he does are trying to do so, in state after state, school after school - and, as we've seen, country after country. (

* In fact, the great philosopher Theodor S. Geisel's famous 1957 book was orginally entitled "The Brain in the Vat," and was to begin with an altogether different work, until his pet cat shreded the manuscript, forcing him to start anew . . **

** Ok, I made that up. But you can't prove it didn't happen! Oh, the places we'll go, with just a little illogic . . . (and we will go far! albeit not back to the moon, or even the stars!)

-Dan S., who does not like green eggs and ham! (And I have subjected this belief to experimental verification, having tried them at Dartmouth's Moosilauke Lodge. Yuck! (Although there wasn't ham, so these results are flawed . . .)

My verfication word's "oioolxg"! Now that should be a word (pronounced oi-ooo-lexg?")
Now it's ziayytfw! even better . .

p.s.: entirely non-evolution related - if ~20% (which may or may not be a representative figure re: ACLU funding) is a "large part," what do you call the % of people who disapprove of Bush . . oh, wait! I get it! This way folks can say Bush is still popular with a large portion of americans (what's the latest poll numbers? Is he still bouncing around the 30s or has he broken out, one way or another?)

p.p.s. - What if it was really the Dairy Board who went after the Got Jesus kid - intellectual property issues and all . . *

creeper said...

Dan,

"if ~20% (which may or may not be a representative figure re: ACLU funding) is a "large part,""

Actually, Radar erred in two different ways:

1.) "The ACLU is funded in large part by taxpayer funds. Period. Like it or lump it!"

"In large part" means mostly, whereas Radar can't even show in any way that they receive as little as 20%, which is a far cry from "mostly".

and 2.) "the statements I made were true in that they do get a large portion of our tax dollars"

Anyone care to guess what "portion of our tax dollars" the ACLU - even indirectly - receives? Radar and Highboy, if you think it's more than, say, half of 1%, could you show this in some way?

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to say, except that the verification word that was up when I peeked at the new comment was (and is):

zdumft.

That really sums it up.

Hmm. Better yet, what % of our tax dollars do you think goes for foreign humanitarian* aid (ie, foreign aid - weapons, training, etc.)?

"You've stuck your fingers in your ears and hummed 'mary had a little lamb' loud enough and long enough . . ."

Oh, so that's what radar's doing in te picture! Huh!

* Like vegetarian aid, but with more Soylent Green.

-Dan S., zdumfted

radar said...

Dan, doggone it, natural selection is not an intelligent force. It is simply a phenomenon that is observed. It is a description of the built-in (I would say designed) feature of an organism's genetic code that allows it to vary to some extent to take best advantage of the ecosystem within which it must survive. The variations are already in the genes.

Macroevolution requires mutations that are beneficial to the organism, and the mutated creature must be able to survive and reproduce and pass the mutation along. This mutation must then become a part of the gene pool before the organism itself has been changed. It would require millions of such mutations, successfully passed along, to make a significant change in any organism.

I understand and I don't agree. Tell me what part of what I just said is observably incorrect???

radar said...

Highboy, sorry that you just Kant get away from him, mwuhahahahaha!

creeper said...

Radar,

"Tell me what part of what I just said is observably incorrect???"

Well there's one that springs to mind, and one that is open to interpretation.

"The variations are already in the genes."

If by this you mean that all variety is already built-in and just waiting to be selected as if from some menu, I wouldn't say this is so. In the case of mutations, new information can spring from copying errors. There is a good, clear description of how that can happen here. That's an example of a variation that wasn't in the genes.

"It would require millions of such mutations, successfully passed along, to make a significant change in any organism."

That depends entirely on what you mean by "significant". An additional feature like being able to take advantage of a whole new food source is significant in that it can potentially allow an organism to inhabit a whole new environment.

If you mean this in the sense of "But they're still bacteria!" then yes, it's going to take a lot of changes to result in the kind of significance you're interested in. But given a very large number of organisms and sufficient time, that is not insurmountable.

Also re. "successfully passed on" - well that is exactly what natural selection is all about. Harmful mutations are obviously not passed on, since they fail to survive and/or reproduce, while beneficial mutations stand a much better chance of being propagated down the line.

I wasn't quite sure what you meant by this:

"This mutation must then become a part of the gene pool before the organism itself has been changed."

Before the organism has changed how? Or into what?

Shygetz said...

Dan, doggone it, natural selection is not an intelligent force. It is simply a phenomenon that is observed.

Absolutely true.

Macroevolution requires mutations that are beneficial to the organism

*Bzzzt* wrong! Evolution (there is no functional difference between macro- and micro-, and no semantic difference until you come up with a complete definition of "kind") does not require an accumulation of beneficial mutations. Most mutations are not 100% beneficial or 100% harmful--they fall somewhere in between. These drive evolution--they subtly change the information in the genetic code and also subtly alter the fitness of an organism in its current environment. More drastic changes can occur when
A.) The environment changes, so the fitness of an organism changes rapidly, favoring the new strain, or
B.) A particular mutation or set of mutations occurs that, cumulative with all previous mutations or on its own, changes the fitness of an organism, or
C.) Other stuff happens (horizontal gene transfer, sexual recombination, etc.)

It would require millions of such mutations, successfully passed along, to make a significant change in any organism.

Nope. Especially as organisms get more complex, they can show drastic phenotypic changes based only on a small number of genetic mutations.

Anonymous said...

Dan, doggone it, natural selection is not an intelligent force./

I'm confused - when did I say it was?

It would require millions of such mutations . . . to make a significant change in any organism.

Nope . .

If it wasn't for the mortage and all, I would send radar a copy of Endless forms most beautiful: The new science of evo-devo.. Maybe he'll get ahold of a copy himself - if he's brave enough . . .

-Dan S.

radar said...

The post below won't cost you anything, is peer-reviewed and I am sure you are not afraid to view it...



http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10%2E1371%2Fjournal%2Epbio%2E0040064

Anonymous said...

"The post below won't cost you anything, is peer-reviewed and I am sure you are not afraid to view it..."

I'm not, but since the address is cut off, I'm not sure which article it is. I browsed around - thanks! I had entirely forgotten about PLoS! - but I can't tell if it's any of the featured ones. Maybe the gene losses during human origins one?

My favorite is:
"Ultrasonic Songs of Male Mice
Previously it was shown that male mice, when they encounter female mice or their pheromones, emit ultrasonic vocalizations with frequencies ranging over 30–110 kHz. Here, we show that these vocalizations have the characteristics of song, consisting of several different syllable types, whose temporal sequencing includes the utterance of repeated phrases. Individual males produce songs with characteristic syllabic and temporal structure . . ."
Now I have this image of a mouse serenading his love,* strumming a guitar and all . . .

This is really cool - they have pitch-shifted sound files (so we can hear them not all slowed down . . .)

In terms of 'world view', this really does show how our view of the world is affected simply by our physical nature: mouse songs! who knew? - because we're not naturally equipped to hear them . . .

There's a German term (of course!) that covers this, and a lot of other stuff - but I can't remember it . . .

". While the neural and motor mechanisms used to produce song and other communication sounds vary across species, recent work has indicated some commonality at the molecular level: the Foxp2 transcription factor, expressed in the brain of zebra finches during vocal learning [28], seems to be required both for mouse ultrasonic vocalization [29] and normal human speech [30]."

Interesting . . .

* or her urine, anyway . . .

-Dan S.

radar said...

http://biology.plosjournals.org/
perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=
10%2E1371%2Fjournal%2Epbio%2E0040064


Grrrrr...

creeper said...

Dan,

"I'm not, but since the address is cut off, I'm not sure which article it is."

It's only the display that's cut off. If you select starting from the left and kinda swing over to the right past that grey divider line (or down to the next line), then copy, you should get the full URL.

The article Radar was referring to is this one: Mutations Change the Boolean Logic of Gene Regulation

creeper said...

"It is a description of the built-in (I would say designed) feature of an organism's genetic code that allows it to vary to some extent to take best advantage of the ecosystem within which it must survive."

Actually, I missed this earlier on. Natural selection is not a "built-in feature". It is the simple logical consequence of a number of factors, like so:


1. If there are organisms that reproduce, and
2. If offspring inherit traits from their parents(s), and
3. If there is variability of traits, and
4. If the environment limits the size of natural populations,
5. Then those members of the population with maladaptive traits (as determined by the environment) will die out or reproduce less, and
6. Then those members with adaptive traits (as determined by the environment) will survive to reproduction or reproduce more

Anonymous said...

Radar,
I just wanted to chime in and point something out about this scohen who has been whining at you: your blog is visited by a variety of thoughtful individuals with varying opinions, most of whom include references to other scholarly works. Meanwhile, 95% of the comments on scohen's blog ARE ONE-LINERS FROM HIS FATHER. 'Nuff said. Carry on!

creeper said...

anonymous,

I'm sure Radar's Dad loves him too.