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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Missing the God point entirely

"cranky old fart said...

Radar,

Guess you missed the point, as usual.

"we don't know" IS very, very different from Goddidit.

"I would also say that if you can honestly say, "I don't know" you might also wish to try to find out"

Duh.

That's what science is all about.

Goddidit has nothing to do with the "finding out". It, as a practical matter, explains nothing. It covers the unknown with a blanket of scripture leading nowhere.

The bankruptcy of Godidit "explanations" are revealed by returning to our fundamental question:

Name one, just one, invention or scientific advancement brought about through the incorporation of a supernatural explanation."


Wrong question. I'll name an invention or discovery based on Goddidit as soon as you show me one based on chancedidit. But I will say that Goddidit is more useful, scientifically, than chancedidit.

If one understands that God, did indeed do it, then that not only provides an explanation for why everything seems to be designed (Duh! It was!) but then allows man to concentrate on learning from the design and not waste time trying to figure out how the dang thing ever came into being. If God designed it, it was well designed and worth studying and applying as we might. Nanoengineering is the science of applying God-designed concepts into manmade systems, for instance. I am sure there are nanoengineers who don't care to admit to God as being the designer of the systems they study, yet they do study those designs and try to incorporate them into our lives.

If one believes chancedidit, then one cannot count on chance doing it again and one must approach all systems with the idea that they may have great flaws and are not to necessarily be copied. Meanwhile, one spends much of one's time researching how chance may have done it. Why? To prove that chance did it. Why? To prove there is not a God. This is why such endeavors will fail. No one will be able to prove that there is no God.

Back when most scientists took for granted that God created and that all things were designed, they concentrated on the "how things work" aspect of science rather than chasing after the mythical unicorn of evolutionary origins.

Below is a post that not only illuminates my point to an extent, it is also about a great deal of very wasted effort, an attempt to find what will not be found. It is also ironic that their very methods fly in the face of evolution!

~~~~~~~

SETI: Design in Spite of Itself

by David F. Coppedge

Researchers involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) use scientific equipment, collaborate with scientists, attend scientific conferences, publish scientific articles, and generally look and smell like scientists, lab coats and all. Most have degrees in science. This has not made them immune from accusations, though, that they are engaged in a quasi-scientific religious quest.

Novelist Michael Crichton and science historian George Basalla have been among the critics. Leaders in the Intelligent Design (ID) movement also have taken great glee in pointing out SETI's assumption that intelligence is detectable with scientific methods. Twice recently, leading SETI spokesmen have fought back against these charges, defending their work as scientific and materialistic. But did they succeed?

A better defender could hardly be found than Seth Shostak, Director of the SETI Institute. He appeared briefly in the ID film The Privileged Planet, not defending Intelligent Design, but explaining that "unless there's something very, very special—miraculous, if you will . . . about our planet Earth . . . then what happened here must have happened many times in the history of the Universe." Apparently irked by the suggestion that SETI uses the same assumption as ID that coded messages indicate an intelligent cause, he attempted to rebut this claim head-on in an essay for Space.com (12/01/2005).

Shostak argued that SETI is not looking for a complex code or message, but a "persistent, narrowband whistle" in a context that would make it appear artificial instead of natural. Yet SETI is clearly not restricted to such a narrow goal. From the beginning, SETI devotees have wished to communicate with other intelligent beings and learn from them; does this not explain repeated attempts to send messages out, whether on radio waves, Pioneer plaques, or Voyager records?

Shostak also made a false distinction between complexity and artificiality. ID argues that specified complexity is detectable by scientific means. The point is that if an intelligent agent wishes to communicate, it can use natural materials to convey a message, and humans can discriminate such attempts (e.g., smoke signals) from natural processes.

More recently, David Darling of the SETI Institute responded on Space.com (06/01/2006) to charges that SETI is a religion. He tried to contrast the scientific-looking appearance of SETI researchers and their equipment to religious believers praying in a worship service. He compared SETI to other research endeavors that took time to prove. He also claimed that we already know about non-human intelligence: apes and dolphins. These responses, however, create false dichotomies and comparisons. They attempt to hide the reality that no evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence has ever been found.

Opponents of creation argue that belief in God (or a designing intelligence) brings science to a halt. They say scientists should seek for underlying natural mechanisms, not just throw up their hands and say "God did it." If SETI researchers ever do detect a signal and conclude "aliens did it," could we not counter-argue they are bringing science to a halt by inferring design?


* David F. Coppedge works in the Cassini program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

10 comments:

creeper said...

"I'll name an invention or discovery based on Goddidit as soon as you show me one based on chancedidit."

If you're using this phrase "chancedidit" as shorthand for the naturalistic process of science (i.e. one that does not invoke supernatural explanations), then just about all inventions and scientific discoveries are based on chancedidit. At least I can't think of any off the top of my head that aren't. You've been challenged to come up with a single one on many occasions and have consistently failed to do so.

If I misunderstood you, then please bring a usable definition of "chancedidit" to the table.

"If one understands that God, did indeed do it, then that not only provides an explanation for why everything seems to be designed (Duh! It was!) but then allows man to concentrate on learning from the design and not waste time trying to figure out how the dang thing ever came into being."

Since we know nothing about the intentions and methods of the designer, this gets us precisely nowhere. As soon as you have to resort to "The Lord works in mysterious ways" (as you often do), this "method" of yours becomes utterly useless.

"If one believes chancedidit, then one cannot count on chance doing it again and one must approach all systems with the idea that they may have great flaws and are not to necessarily be copied."

Do you approach all systems with the idea that they are perfect and must necessarily be copied?

"Meanwhile, one spends much of one's time researching how chance may have done it."

Science is about naturalistic explanations. This research has consistently been able to show results, which is why it is used by scientists like to use it.

<"Why? To prove that chance did it. Why? To prove there is not a God.">

Scientists (or at least the vast, vast, vast majority of them) don't set out to prove there is not a God, or that "chance did it". Scientists may well believe in a God, but that belief is consistently not useful to them in their scientific research. So church on Sundays, the lab the rest of the week. No contradiction.

"Back when most scientists took for granted that God created and that all things were designed, they concentrated on the "how things work" aspect of science rather than chasing after the mythical unicorn of evolutionary origins."

Careful where you put those unicorns. What makes you say that scientists today don't concentrate on the "how things work" aspect of science? Sure, some of them react to the misrepresentation and pseudo-science from the anti-science crowd, but that doesn't mean they're not actively looking into "how things work". The problem is just that they happen to disagree with you.

Surely you've noticed that the naturalistic approach to science has been far more consistently useful and effective than anything invoking a supernatural explanation. If you disagree, why aren't some of the institutes you look to for "creation science" coming up with solid research instead of pandering articles full of misrepresentations?

Mazement said...

I just remembered a passage from "The Clouds" by Aristophanes. It was written in 423BC, which just goes to show how long this debate has been going on.

Starting at line 480, there's a debate between the atheist Socrates and the believer Strepsiades. (The "Socrates" character is actually a composite of several Greek thinkers; the historical Socrates wasn't an atheist.)

At one point, Strepsiades asks: "Where does lightning come from? [...] Clearly Zeus is hurling that at perjurers."

Socrates points out that the biggest perjurers in Athens haven't been struck by lightning, and in fact lightning often strikes Zeus' own temple and the sacred oaks there: "What’s his plan? Oak trees can’t be perjured."

Socrates then goes on to offer a naturalistic explanation for lightning...and of course he gets it all wrong; scientists didn't figure out what lightning was until the 1700's and even today there are some unanswered questions.

So, both of them were wrong. But which approach is the best path to the right answer? Strepsaides' confident attitude of "Zeus said it, I believe it, that settles it!" Or Socrates' fumbling attempts to apply logic to the question?

xiangtao said...

You're absolutely right, Radar. Invoking naturalistic processes as the cause of natural phenomena has gotten us absolutely nowhere because we're just so busy trying to prove that there is no god so that we can go and be immoral. It's so plainly obvious to me now. What was I thinking.

xiangtao said...

"I'll name an invention or discovery based on Goddidit as soon as you show me one based on chancedidit."

This is just as wrong. science deals with things that can be observed and measured in an objective way. As soon as a creation scientist gives us a way to OBJECTIVELY observe god, then you can bring him with you into the lab. Until then...

I'm not holding my breath.

radar said...

You don't wish to concede the point, so you talk all around it. Most of science is based upon observing the world around us and trying to understand it better and learning how to manipulate things to our advantage. This is good. Some of the energy is directed towards figuring out how life evolved or towards proving evolutionary thought, which is useless.

You may observe natural selection, but you cannot put it on a glass slide and observe it through a microscope. I can see the evidence of God everywhere but not God Himself.

I can observe the wind, but I cannot put it in a jar and carry it nor can I dissect it. The evidences of God are all around but you cannot extract God from the evidence and place Him on the table.

chancedidit or Goddidit, either way, you cannot directly observe either one. They are not things to be manipulated or placed in a specimen container.

"just about all inventions and scientific discoveries are based on chancedidit." What are you talking about? That is completely wrong. Just about all inventions and scientific discoveries are based upon cause-and-effect and logical conclusions based upon observations in which predicted outcomes do occur. There is no room for chance in the hypothesis-theory-law method of determining how things work. Any operation that seems to be random cannot be predicted and is not useful to understanding what will take place in the future. Science depends on surety to move forward, not chance. Chance is not the friend of science except to explain what is inexplicable apart from God.

Many of today's scientists who do not call themselves creationists believe in God but find it awkward to publicize this due to the likelihood of being ostracized by their peers. I have noticed, though, that once they rise to the top of their profession they are more free to admit they believe in God. I have already mentioned several award-winning scientists who believe in God and reject evolution but they are not considered creation scientists because they remain in their chosen field of study.

Creation scientists spend much of their time compiling evidence that evolution did not happen. They publish papers, few of which are "pandering articles full of misrepresentations" but rather compilations of facts and observations. If there were no teams of evolutionists trying to prove evolution, there would be no teams of creationists trying to prove creation and both sides would be working on more beneficial research.

xiangtao said...

Yes, you can observe the wind. And through science doing so, we know that it is caused by changes in temperature, which cause differences in pressure, making the air flow from one point to another, rather than being caused by god blowing.

creeper said...

""just about all inventions and scientific discoveries are based on chancedidit." What are you talking about? That is completely wrong. Just about all inventions and scientific discoveries are based upon cause-and-effect and logical conclusions based upon observations in which predicted outcomes do occur."

I note that in order for you to present this dishonest argument, you had to take my comment completely out of context: "If you're using this phrase "chancedidit" as shorthand for the naturalistic process of science (i.e. one that does not invoke supernatural explanations), then just about all inventions and scientific discoveries are based on chancedidit."

Since you're not willing to go with that, I'll repeat my request that you bring a usable definition of "chancedidit" to the table. You seem to have some version of "chance" in mind that amounts to a complete absence of natural laws, and I don't entirely see what point that serves, since that has nothing to do with any kind of scientific understanding of the world. Actually, I can see what point it serves from your perspective: it's a vast strawman designed to avoid having to deal with actual scientific understanding of the world, which you find it difficult to argue against.

"chancedidit or Goddidit, either way, you cannot directly observe either one."

We can observe natural laws in action, repeatedly and with predictable results. From there we can explore the world around us, using the naturalistic process of scientific exploration.

creeper said...

"Some of the energy is directed towards figuring out how life evolved or towards proving evolutionary thought, which is useless."

Why do you say it's useless to figure out how life evolved? Keep in mind that life evolving is not incompatible with the existence of God.

radar said...

creeper, if you won't deal honestly with dialogue it makes people want to give up on you. You must know that chancedidit is the evolutionists equivalent of Goddidit and has nothing to do with normal scientific procedures, used by both believers and non-believers down through the centuries. If you insist on being a naturalist, throwing all supernatural explanations out the window because you don't like them, then you just go ahead and tilt at your windmills all you like. You call it science and I call it a waste of time and effort. God did create the Universe and you will never find a means of proving that matter just happened to make itself and you will never find a means to prove that life came from non-life by chance because it didn't happen.

creeper said...

"if you won't deal honestly with dialogue it makes people want to give up on you."

It's a simple fact that you've left quite a few questions unanswered in the course of the sprawling discussion regarding evolution on this blog - and now you accuse me of not dealing honestly with dialogue?

I asked you for a workable definition of "chancedidit" - you appear unable to provide one.

"You must know that chancedidit is the evolutionists equivalent of Goddidit"

So chancedidit is simply the absence of God. Is that it?

"and has nothing to do with normal scientific procedures, used by both believers and non-believers down through the centuries."

Normal scientific procedures are what is behind our current understanding of evolution, which I'll emphasize again does not stand in contradiction with the existence of God, merely the literal interpretation of some parts of the Bible.

"If you insist on being a naturalist, throwing all supernatural explanations out the window because you don't like them, then you just go ahead and tilt at your windmills all you like."

Supernatural explanations aren't thrown out the window because lil ole me happens not to like them, but because they are useless in a scientific context.

"You call it science and I call it a waste of time and effort."

That's why you're in the anti-science brigade.

"God did create the Universe and you will never find a means of proving that matter just happened to make itself"

Why should matter need to make itself?

"and you will never find a means to prove that life came from non-life by chance because it didn't happen."

Barring the invention of a time machine, we'll never be able to 'prove' it either way - but since a naturalistic understanding of the world has stood science in good stead so far, why shouldn't scientists explore, say, the origin of life?

And you know what, Radar? Even if scientists construct a perfectly functioning, plausible, even likely scenario for the origin of life and evolution of species to such a mindboggling extent that even you can't deny it - even if all that were to happen - it still wouldn't mean that God doesn't exist.

Because that's completely beside the point. There is absolutely nothing to say that God didn't create life on Earth using the very mechanisms that we understand as natural selection, genetic mutation etc. etc.

Studying nature naturalistically can well be seen as studying the work of God - and I have no idea why you're so antagonistic to that notion.