Re: The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Nov 26 2005 - 07:59:56 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <>
To: "Pim van Meurs" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2005 3:10 AM
Subject: Re: The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

> Fortunately people like Isaac Newton and John Ray didn't agree with you.
> Rationalism failed in theology and in teh experimental sciences, but it
> has continued in the historical sciences. Behe injected the Big Bang into
> the testimony for good reason. The lawyer didn't get it (or didn't want to
> get it), but the BB is an example where empiricism has broken through in
> the historical sciences, despite stiff resistance. It violated the axioms
> held by many cosmologists, but the evidence was too strong. I guess the
> lawyer should have just said it is vacuous. You wrote:

Cornelius -

The basic distinction you want to make between "experimental" and
"historical" sciences gives inadequate attention to the role of theory. I
suspect that much of what you are calling "rationalism" is what theoretical
physicists call theory construction. Theories are not simply schemes for
organizing data, though of course ultimately they must take observational
data into account. A great deal of the progress in physics over the past
100+ years has had strong elements of what I think you would call
"rationalism" - cf. Einstein's essay "On the Method of Theoretical Physics"
or Dirac's search for "beautiful equations." Of course some of the theories
get winnowed out by the results of observation. That's part of the game.

Your interpretation of what happened with the BB is wrong. It was not a
triumph of empiricism over rationalism but a defeat of one theory, which had
some observational support, by another which turned out to have much more
observational support.

Theory is the bridge which enables us to use the results of what you call
"experimental science" to what you call "historical science," & therefore
blurs any fundamental distinction between the two. Cosmology, & in fact all
of astrophysics, is an excellent example.

Received on Sat Nov 26 08:01:33 2005

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