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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why Methodological Naturalism is unscientific - helping to overcome Darwinist ignorance

 Hat tip Karl Priest for cartoon   The Evolution of puppets

Darwinists are like dogs in some ways, coming in all sorts of sizes and styles and attributes.   I am being kind here, as I do like dogs as a rule, so there is no disrespect towards Darwinists meant.  (Dogs might resent the comparison but they cannot read, so...) There are the profoundly ignorant and brainwashed, such as Richard Dawkins.  There are Christian compromisers like Francis Collins.  There are the angry and nasty atheopaths like P.Z. Myers.   There are fakers who pretend to be mere skeptics, like Michael Schermer.   There are the pragmatic like Stephen Hawking (who kept putting in gratuitous references to God in his earlier works in order to sell more books despite his complete disregard for the Deity or His Laws).   There are even the apparently stark-raving mad like Jason Hribal and if you doubt me, read what he says for yourself!

Ventriloquists for the Powerless

Translating the revolutionary consciousness of voiceless animals is no more silly than doing the same for human beings.

No, that is NOT a parody piece taken from The Onion, the guy really believes this stuff!!!  As to the man responsible for the review, Thaddeus Russell, he credits prostitutes, drunks, pirates and organized criminals for the building of a free America rather than those fakers like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  He was quoted on the Huffington Post (a liberal loonybin) as follows:

"...I was raised by pot-smoking, nudist, socialist revolutionaries as an egghead white boy in black neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland. I nearly flunked eighth grade and finished high school with a C average. Then I went to the anarchist, ultra-hippy Antioch College in Ohio, which accepted all their applicants, didn't give grades, and didn't have a history department.

So even though I managed to pull myself out of that background and into and through Columbia for a PhD, then onto a job at an elite college, I was highly uncomfortable moving from the world of weed to the world of tweed. I hated being "Professor." I cursed in class. I talked about sex. I used politically incorrect terms. My students said they had never heard the things I was teaching them in class. They called me "Bad Thad."..."

Astonishing...yet considering the kinds of people being cranked out by liberal colleges in the USA in the last few decades, I suppose Thaddeus Russell is not so singular as one might suppose.  Unfortunately...

Then there are those who are simply ignorant and for these there is hope.   I have little hope that an illogical sort not inclined to deep thinking could be swayed by logic or evidence away from his cherished Darwinist belief system but it is somewhat conceivable that he could someday understand that he actually HAS a worldview that filters his science.   Maybe.  So far very few of my commenters have been able to even grasp this incredibly simple fact.

The Scientific Method (developed by creationists, by the way) uses what we call methodological investigation.   One takes a good look at a process and makes a hypothesis about the way said process works based upon observation and any tests done by others.   Your hypothesis will make a prediction about the way the process works.   You then devise a test that can help determine whether your hypothesis is true or not.   If your test supports your hypothesis, you repeat it a few times with perhaps a few variables to check the results.   If you keep getting the same answers then you have yourself a working theory.

The next step is to share your hypothesis and test results with others so they can also test this and see if they are willing to agree with your theory.   If scientists from various places find that the get repeatable results every time then a theory it is!   A theory eventually gets to be accepted as a law over time as testing continues to confirm the original or modified hypothesis that became the theory.

Hypothesis - test - retest - revise or theorize - test some more - have others test and review - theory is supported or refuted - if supported every time it is often termed a law.   This is the scientific method of investigation.

The Law of Biogenesis was subjected to this strenuous and long-range process.  Scientists all around the world tested the hypothesis of spontaneous generation and found it to be faulty.   They then changed the hypothesis and determined that they should test thoroughly to see whether the revised hypothesis was true.   This testing process went on for around 150 years until Louis Pasteur got agreement from all of science that no organism of any kind or any size from simple microorganisms to complex vertebrates spring from matter alone but rather only living organisms can produce living organisms.    Therefore God was given credit for having produced the first life and first living creatures and science was satisfied that this was true.   The Law of Biogenesis has NEVER been refuted, it has continually passed every imaginable test over and over again.    So why would science abandon one of the most tested and proven hypothesis-became-theory-became-laws of all time?

Because Darwinists artificially insert their worldview into the scientific method and thus skew the results before testing begins.   One cannot rule out possible solutions to a problem before you even begin to investigate and test!   Yet this is what they do when they claim that the scientific method is....wait for it...

Methodological Naturalism!

Now take a look at these three statements and tell me which one seems most sensible?

1)Methodological Naturalism is the scientific method

2)Methodological Creationism is the scientific method

3)Methodological Investigation is the scientific method

Gee, Naturalism and Creationism are metaphysical in nature, they are belief systems.   So choices 1 and 2 would be tilted in advance towards an expected result, while number 3 is completely agnostic towards worldview and entirely focused upon evidence and the investigation of said evidence.   Individual scientists may well bring a naturalist worldview to a problem or a creationist worldview to a problem but SCIENCE doesn't put the worldview ahead of the investigation.   How can you not understand this, surely it is too simple to miss because I am quite sure a fourth grade elementary school class could easily grasp the concept.

If naturalists were pet birds...

"the real struggle between science and the supernatural" continues

Was a post I made in 2007.  Here is an excerpt:

"You name Newton, Kelvin and others, but all of them adhered to methodological naturalism in their scientific explorations. Their individual worldviews may have been Christian or whatever, but when they got down to their work as scientists, they adhered to strict naturalism/materialism - no mention of the supernatural in their discoveries.

You are 100%, totally and remarkably WRONG!!!!! You are so wrong it is rather humorous. Newton slung references to God around like pro athletes sling cusswords. But let us examine said method to which you refer. It was designed by a believer, Francis Bacon, and it makes no mention whatever of natural or supernatural at all. None. In fact, Bacon saw that the inductive method of Aristotle was incorrect because it began with a presupposition/axiom and proceeded from there. This is the very folly of so many of today's naturalistic materialists, that they have reverted to Aristotle by beginning with the axiom that only natural causes and explanations may be accepted.

Bacon suggested a better way, commonly known as the Scientific Method, and allow me to quote from the Physics Department of the University of California:

"The scientific method is the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion. The simple version looks something like this:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

When consistency is obtained the hypothesis becomes a theory and provides a coherent set of propositions which explain a class of phenomena. A theory is then a framework within which observations are explained and predictions are made.

(Eventually a theory that is tested over and over with the same results is proclaimed to be a Law - radar)

The great advantage of the scientific method is that it is unprejudiced: one does not have to believe a given researcher, one can redo the experiment and determine whether his/her results are true or false. The conclusions will hold irrespective of the state of mind, or the religious persuasion, or the state of consciousness of the investigator and/or the subject of the investigation. Faith, defined as belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence, does not determine whether a scientific theory is adopted or discarded.""  January 18th, 2007.

Now I will yield the podium to a writer from the Discovery Institute:

We often hear Darwin lobbyists claim that evolution (meaning neo-Darwinian evolution) is "both theory and fact." For example, Wikipedia (which is never shy about advocating specific points of view) has a page titled "Evolution as theory and fact" that cites various authorities on this, including Larry Moran's Evolution is a Fact and a Theory, Stephen Jay Gould's article "Evolution as Fact and Theory," Richard Lenski's article "Evolution: Fact and Theory," and Theodosius Dobzhansky's infamous paper Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.

Now, Northern Arizona University philosopher Peter Kosso has blown the cover on the claim that evolution is "both theory and fact." He does so in a short piece published by Springer Briefs in Philosophy, "A Summary of the Scientific Method" (Springer, 2011). In the paper, he challenges the typical definition of "theory" used by the Darwin lobby.

When attacking opponents, Darwin lobbyists typically define "theory" as "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested hypotheses" (National Academy of Sciences, 1999) or "a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence" (National Academy of Sciences, 2008). Using such definitions, saying the "theory of evolution" now necessarily implies an idea that is "well-substantiated" and "supported by a vast body of evidence." Darwin lobbyists then scold those who say that "evolution is just a theory" as misunderstanding the definition of the term "theory" and also mock them for unwittingly implying that evolution is well-supported. But is that what "theory" really means?

Kosso observes that in practice, the term "theory" says little about the degree of certainty that characterizes an idea. As he notes "neither 'theoretical' nor 'law' is about being true or false, or about being well-tested or speculative."

How does Kosso define theory? He writes that "all theories describe objects or events that are not directly observable. This is the core concept of theory. A theory describes aspects of nature that are beyond (or beneath) what we can observe, aspects that can be used to explain what we observe." He continues:
Germs, atoms, caloric, curved spacetime, and elemental strings are all, to one degree or another, unobservable. That's what makes them theoretical. But that doesn't make them unreal.
Kosso goes on to explain that saying something is a "theory" doesn't necessarily imply it is a "fact," or even that it is well-supported by the evidence:
A theory is true if it describes unobservable things that really exist and describes them accurately. Otherwise it is false. This shows the mistake in contrasting "theory" and "fact." A fact is an actual state of affairs in nature, and a theory, or any statement for that matter, is true if it matches fact. Some theories are true (atomic theory), some are false (caloric theory), and the scientific method is what directs us in deciding which are which.
Thus, Kosso has blown the cover on the Darwin lobby's attempt to redefine theory to necessarily imply a concept which has strong evidential backing and is "well-tested" or "supported by a vast body of evidence."

Kosso continues, stating: "To say of some idea, That's a theory not a fact, is a confusion of categories, a comparison of apples and oranges." While I agree with Kosso on this, it would stand to reason that it is also a confusion of categories to say "That's a theory and a fact." Thus, Kosso's argument also could cut against Darwin proponents who say "Evolution is both theory and fact."

Amending My Recommendations For Expressing Skepticism of Neo-Darwinian Evolution
 A few years ago, I wrote a series where I explained why using the line that "evolution is a theory, but not a fact" is an ineffective way of expressing skepticism of neo-Darwinism. As I wrote:
I've long opposed using such a rhetorical line of "evolution is just a theory, not a fact" to oppose evolution because it gets you caught up in a semantic debate over the proper definition of fact and theory, and communicates very little about the most important component of this debate -- the scientific evidence. ... What follows is a slightly longer description of what one might say to communicate doubts about neo-Darwinism while avoiding semantic mistakes and communicating more than mere soundbyte arguments:
When evolution is defined as mere change over time within species, no one disputes that such evolution is a fact. But neo-Darwinian evolution -- the great claim that unguided natural selection acting upon random mutations is the driving force that produced the complexity of life -- has many scientific problems because such random and unguided processes do not build new complex biological features. According to the technical definitions of "theory," "fact," and "hypothesis," such neo-Darwinian evolution is neither theory nor fact. It's just a hypothesis."

(Is "Evolution" a "Theory" or "Fact" or Is This Just a Trivial Game of Semantics?)
Today, I continue to very much stand by the position that the "evolution is a theory, not a fact" or "evolution is just a theory" lines are poor and ineffective means of expressing skepticism of neo-Darwinism. However, in light of Kosso's definitions of "theory," driven by no discernible agenda, I would like to amend myself. What follows is an amended description of what one might say to communicate doubts about neo-Darwinism while avoiding semantic mistakes and communicating more than mere sound-byte arguments:
When evolution is defined as mere change over time within species, no one disputes that such evolution is a fact. But neo-Darwinian evolution -- the great claim that unguided natural selection acting upon random mutations is the driving force that produced the complexity of life -- has many scientific problems because such random and unguided processes do not build new complex biological features. Neo-Darwinian evolution is a theory that has been falsified by the evidence.
And that's a fact.