Re: skepticism

Murphy (
Tue, 08 Oct 1996 10:49:06 -0400

Paul Arveson wrote:
> Glenn wrote:
> >
> >Notice that the evolved programs were better than the intentionally designed
> >programs. The interesting thing to me is that in a real sense both types of
> >programs are designed. The traditional algorithm is well thought out by an
> >intelligent agent with each part intricately designed. The other is designed
> >by designing an environment in which solutions to various problems can be
> >found via random mutation. Design can take several forms. It does not have
> >to be the traditional form of design.
> >
> -----------
> This reminds me of the argument that was used by ICR in response to Miller's
> chemistry experiment that formed amino acids using only simple gases,
> electricity and a water trap. The rebuttal was that the experiment was
> man-made, therefore it was an example of intelligent design.
> Such an argument can be made against any laboratory experiment, right? That
> means that NO experiment can rule out intelligent design as a possibility. Or
> conversely, it implies that intelligent design is a non-falsifiable notion.
> ICR also rebuts arguments about the early history of the universe, by asking,
> "How do you know? Were you there?" This argument implies that ANY inference
> about the past is suspect. In other words, drawing any inferences from the past
> is not valid. Alternatives such as instantaneous creation with the appearance
> of age therefore cannot be falsified in principle.
> So we see that neither experiment nor historical inference can decide questions
> about origins. That doesn't leave any empirical alternatives, so I guess we
> will have to take the creationist's (revealed) word for it.
> Right?
> (Warning to novice readers: some of the above may be sarcastic).
> Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
> Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20084
> (301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)

"We can't see the past so ..." is an argument heard often enough
to deserve an explicit, though simple, response: It is false." In
astronomy, the only thing we _can_ see is the past. When we detect the
MW background radiation we "see" the "surface of last scattering" circa.
1/2 million years after the beginning. Geologists "see" signals from
the past rather like time capsules. (Of course they have timelike
rather than lightlike worldlines.) Of course theories are needed to
interpret these signals AS from particular epochs in the past, but
that's true of any observations: There is no purely "raw" data.