Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised

From: allenroy (
Date: Wed Sep 17 2003 - 17:21:45 EDT

  • Next message: "RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised"

    > I originally wrote,
    > >>> There are two problems here. 1. The supposed "empirical data" regarding
    > the age of the earth is not empirical at all, but interpretation of data based
    > upon a paradigm that expects an old age for the earth. 2. That "massive"
    > amount of data regarding the age of the earth is only relevant within the
    > paradigm that interprets the data (and which calls it empirical). It is
    > irrelevant how much interpreted data there is within one paradigm when that
    > interpretation is irrelevant in another paradigm.
    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > Using the word "supposed" and putting empirical data in quotation marks does
    > not change the reality of the situation. Such data is empirical because it is
    > drawn from observations, tests, etc. of nature as it is. To say that
    > empirical data is relevant only within the paradigm that interprets it is
    > nonsense.

    I, (Allen) refer again to Del Ratzesch quoted earlier:

    "Historically, it was almost universally believed that perception was neutral,
    in the sense that genuinely honest and careful observation was unaffected by
    beliefs, presupposition, philosophical preferences, or similar factors. This
    neutrality guaranteed the objectivity and utter trustworthiness of empirical
    data, which constituted the secure foundation of science. But that perceived
    neutrality came under attack in the mid-20th century. Thomas Kuhn, for example,
    argued that perception itself was an active--not a passive--process, deeply
    colored by the broader conceptual matrices, or paradigms, to which one had prior

    "Thus, this view not only destroyed the allegedly rigid, logical structure of
    science, but also threatened the pure objectivity of its foundation.
    Furthermore, paradigms influenced not only perception, but also theory
    evaluation and acceptance, conceptual resources, normative judgments within
    science, and a host of other consequential matters. And, according to Kuhn,
    paradigms were partially defined by, among other things, metaphysical
    commitments and values. Thus, non-empirical, human-suffused perspectives had
    seeped into the no-longer-inviolable scientific method at all levels, from
    empirical bedrock to theoretical pinnacle."

    When I used the phrase "empirical data," I meant to be discussing the supposed
    neutrality of 'empirical data," The fact is, "empirical data" is not neutral
    because the observation process is biased according to one's paradigm. In fact,
    what is often called "empirical data" (implying neutrality and objectivity) is
    really an paradigm biased interpretation of the data.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > Data is never irrelevant to any paradigm (see the example of Kepler, below).

    I agree. It is the interpretation of the data according to a paradigm that can
    be irrelevant in another paradigm. It is extremely important to be able to
    discern data from interpretation. For instance, accurately measured ratios of
    isotopes is data. The measured half-life of an unstable isotope is data.
    Ancient ages derived from isotope ratios and measured half-lives are

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > Both statements 1 and 2 show a misunderstanding of both "empirical data" and
    > "paradigm."

    Not according to Kuhn.

    > Allen wrote
    > >>> The evolutionary paradigm is just as religious and sacred as a Creationary
    > paradigm. The only difference is that the evolutionary paradigm is based upon
    > and accepted by blind faith. It is blind because it cannot be confirmed by
    > anyone who could know.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > The first sentence of the above paragraph is false. So is the second. And
    > the third makes no sense.

    So, they are false on your say so? Evolutionism is religious because it is
    based on Ontological Naturalism (O.N.) which must be accepted by faith--blind
    faith. See below.

    > Allen wrote:
    > > Your ontological naturalist, when he/she interprets (reads) nature, actually
    > starts with a philosophical statement which supplies the presuppositions
    > needed to build a paradigm--1) Nature is all there is; 2) because we are here
    > (and 1), Abiogenesis and Evolution are absolute facts; 3) Deep time is
    > extrapolated as expected. Thus, Evolutionism is not "solely based on reading
    > nature," but upon presuppositions about nature that nature cannot supply.
    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > The statements in the paragraph are typical of YEC arguments that confuse the
    > empirical science of biological evolution with a naturalistic philosophy that
    > claims to be rooted in and necessarily follows from the science. Although
    > this fact has been pointed out repeatedly to YECs they simply refuse to
    > acknowledge that there is a difference.

    I know full well the difference. You are the one who is confused. In fact, you
    have it all backwards. O.N. does not come from science, evolutionary science
    comes from O.N.
    First: It is impossible to do science unless it is done within a philosophical
    paradigm. Science requires certain philosophical presuppositions before it can
    begin the observational process.
    Second: Because the paradigm comes first, it biases the observational process
    (per Kuhn).
    Third: Abiogenesis and Evolution must be true in Ontological Naturalism.
    Fourth: Necessarily biased "empirical data" (actually, "interpreted data")
    supports the concept of biological evolution.

    This process happens even when those involved are not aware of the philosophical
    foundation in which they are working, and while thinking they are empirically

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > They are the strange bedfellows of adherents of such a naturalistic belief
    > system; in fact the two seem to need one another and thrive on each others
    > embrace of this false notion. As I once said to a former colleague, "These
    > creationists sure love their atheists!"

    As was pointed out above, your are the one who has embraced a false notion, i.e.
    that "empirical" science is somehow independent of any philosophical foundation
    and that a philosophical foundation follows from empirical science. Go back a
    read what Del Ratzesch has said. I quote Del Ratzesch because he is a professor
    of philosophy at Calvin College which is home to many on this list and which
    hosts this email list.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > What both reject is any notion that the empirical science
    > of evolution and the empirical evidence of an earth 4.6 billion years old
    > may be consonant with a Christian theology of creation when biblical
    > creation is rightly understood as theology and not science.

    What YECs and, perhaps, some O.Ns. recognize is that there is no such thing as
    neutral empirical science. They know that all science is done within a
    paradigm. And when one accepts "empirical" data as interpreted within a
    paradigm, one implicitly accepts the interpretive paradigm also.

    YECs (and others) recognize that a creationary theology automatically leads to a
    creationary philosophy and paradigm which supplies the necessary presuppositions
    within which science can be done.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > Thus, an evolutionary old earth creationist like myself does not accept any of
    > the content of the above paragraph as an accurate statement of the facts.

    See, your paradigm determines what you accept a facts and fallacy.

    > Allen Wrote:
    > > A Creationary paradigm is based upon a revealed history and is accepted by
    > faith in the truthfulness of God. His word, though written by flawed humans
    > and using finite human language, tells us what we need to know. A Creationary
    > paradigm also starts with a philosophical statement which supplies the
    > presuppositions needed to build a paradigm--1) In the beginning God created
    > the universe; 2) God created by fiat the biosphere on this planet; 3) There
    > has been only some 6000+/- years since the creation of the biosphere; 4) A
    > global cataclysm involving the complete lithosphere reworked the entire
    > surface of the globe some 4000 years ago.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > The so-called "Creationary paradigm" is not based on revealed history but on
    > a particular interpretation of the meaning of the biblical text by those who
    > confuse interpretation with inspiration and collapse the two.

    #1. The Bible is revealed history, irregardless of our interpretation or
    understanding of the texts.
    #2. It is the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers who will teach us all
    truth -- i.e. interpret what is needed to be known. We are not left to each one
    having their own interpretation if we are willing to follow the leading of the
    Holy Spirit. We can know what the Holy Spirit meant when he inspired the
    writers when we let him teach us what he meant.
    #3. Thus inspiration and interpretation have their fulfillment in one person,
    the Holy Spirit.

    The Creationary paradigm is based on revealed history as it is commonly
    recognized and understood. Interpretations which, in some way or another, try
    to change or modify the typical understanding, do so because O.N. is used as the
    paradigm in which the Bible must be understood.

    > Robert Schneider wrote:
    > What they take on faith is not the inspired text but their interpretation of
    > it. While both an evolutionary creationist and a YEC agree on statement 1),
    > the former would reject statements 2) - 4) for two reasons. First he/she
    > would disagree with the interpretations of the biblical texts that lead to
    > those statements, and proffer a better interpretation. Second, he/she
    > recognizes that the empirical data from the earth itself testifys that
    > statements 2) - 4) cannot stand either as valid scientific statements or as
    > valid interpretations of the text.

    See. You have done exactly what I said is done. You proffer a "better
    interpretation" recognizing that empirical data (actually "interpreted data"
    from within a non-biblical paradigm) defines how one interpreted the Biblical

    > Allen wrote:
    > > Those in the Evolutionary/O.N. camp may promote a massive amount of
    > 'empirical' evidence for a vast age of life on the earth. But, to those in the
    > Creationary camp, that 'empirical' evidence is irrelevant and seen for what it
    > really is--interpretation within the O.N. paradigm that expects deep time.
    > > The paradigm determines the age of life on earth, not the raw data.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > I partly agree and partly disagree. It is true that any empirical evidence
    > for the ancient age of the earth is irrelevant to YECs because they simply
    > refuse to accept any evidence that calls their INTERPRETATION of the Bible
    > into question.

    Allen: True

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > I disagree, in that empirical evidence for an ancient earth is not interpreted
    > within an ontological naturalistic paradigm; it is interpreted within an
    > scientific paradigm.

    Ain't no such animal. Other propose methodological naturalism as a scientific
    paradigm, but Del Ratzesch wrote:
    "There are many who insist on some version of methodological naturalism--that
    whatever the ultimate metaphysical reality, genuine science as science must
    (either definitionally or practically) be completely detached from everything
    other than the purely natural. But rigid cases for such prohibitions are
    increasingly difficult to construct." (as quoted in first post in this series.)

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > The data determines the age of the earth, not the paradigm. The fact that the
    > earth is several orders of magnitude older than 6000 yrs (+/- a few) arose as
    > a RESULT of the empirical data that determined it. It was the data that
    > finally called the BELIEF in a 6000-year-old earth into question.

    Sorry, whether you recognize it or not, all data is biased according to some
    paradigm. Even if you try to ignore the fact that the data is influenced by the
    paradigm, you still buy into the paradigm when you accept its interpretation of
    the data. The BELIEF that the earth is old arose from interpreted data based
    upon certain philosophical assumptions. It was the false belief that empirical
    data is neutral and objective that caused the Biblical story to be rejected.

    > Robert Schneider wrote:
    > In the same way, the conviction that we live in a circular universe,
    > maintained even by Copernicus, was shattered by Kepler's discovery that
    > planets move in elliptical orbits. Kepler kept trying to fit his data into
    > the circular model, but it wouldn't fit. But he didn't say, "Oh, this data is
    > irrelevant because it doesn't fit the circular model." Instead, he tried
    > other models, first an oval, which didn't work, then an ellipse, which did.
    > YECs do the opposite.

    What Kepler discovered was that the empirical data as interpreted within the
    circular universe paradigm would not work. So he developed another paradigm
    within which to interpret the data where there was consistency. You are not
    functioning like Kepler. You don't recognize that the data is interpreted
    within a paradigm. Un like Kepler, you don't even know there is a paradigm.

    > Robert Schneider wrote:
    > They invent arguments such as the "moon dust" argument or the "human remains
    > in older rock strata" argument to justify their particular interpretation of
    > the Bible to teach a young earth. The most they will do is admit that certain
    > of their arguments are invalid, such as the above, but they will never, never,
    > never, give up their interpretation of the Bible that leads them to hold to
    > the belief in a young earth.

    Absolutely! Just as you will probably never recognize that "empirical data" is
    not neutral but is paradigm interpreted.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > Paradigms are discarded and replaced by new paradigms when the discoveries of
    > empirical science demonstrate that the old paradigm no longer does the job.
    > It may take some time for this to happen, but it happens.

    Sorry again, but old paradigms are discarded because they cannot interpret the
    data in a logical, satisfactory way. A new paradigm is invented which can then
    interpret the data logically and consistently. Its all about interpretation.
    It has nothing to do with "neutral" empirical science.

    > Robert Schneider wrote
    > I do not expect YECs to abandon their young earth position because they are
    > ideological wedded to it, and any evidence to the contrary, as Allen said, is
    > irrelevant to them.

    Wrong again, we don't reject "evidence to the contrary" we reject
    interpretations of data to the contrary.

    Robert Schneider wrote:
    But they will not convince others who have at least some scientific literacy by
    rejecting well-established scientific evidence, and cloaking their ideology in a
    jargonized use of such terms as "paradigm."

    You appear to be functioning in a scientific world some 50 to 100 years out of
    date. I suggest you go back and read the article I posted by Del Ratzesch. So
    far, you have only responded to my statements and have ignored what Dr. Ratzesch
    (not a YEC by the way) has said.

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