Re: [asa] What causes students to move from faith?

From: <>
Date: Wed Sep 13 2006 - 12:49:20 EDT

Moorad wrote:

> Let me take another crack at it. The laws of experimental science are
> generalizations of historical propositions. For that to be the case, we
> must be able to reproduce precise initial conditions so that the
> outcomes of experiments are as similar as possible so that we can
> generalize and thus infer the existing laws that govern Nature. The
> latter is the inductive essence of experimental sciences.

Ok the rule that we defer to experiment is based on an
inductive process. However, I don't think, as you comment
later on historical sciences, that it is so clearly defined as
you are saying.

For two classic examples:

First, at the time Ptolemy devise
the geocentric system, it seemed common sense, and given
the knowledge of the time, it was probably the most
reasonable model. Of course, there was no explanation
for how epicycles work and lots of other stuff, but all
of this is with 20/20 hindsight. At the time, the proposition
was quite reasonable.

In our own generation, we have no explanation for quantum
mechanics, so we also take as given what we observe and
try to go on and deal with problems we can address. Perhaps
there never will be an adequate explanation of QM, but at any
rate, we cannot find one right now, and so we simple accept it;
just as people in Ptolemy time would have accepted epicycles.

So then in both these examples, we have inferred something
that may not even be there. In Ptolmey's case, it was not,
for QM, we don't know. A consistent picture can be shown
(__in respective historical context__), and observational
evidence is used to support each model: one wrong, and one
where we still don't know.

Moreover, the proof by induction in mathematics still starts
with a premise that is at least inferred. It is rather hard
in my mind at least, to distinguish sometimes between inference
and deduction when people cite examples of experimental
science and history.

Perhaps the main difference is that experimental sciences
can (in principle) acquire large quantities of identical data,
and therefore can reduce the margin of doubt significantly,
whereas history is forced to seek other means to achieve
some of the same certainty. Skilled craftsmen in the respective
vocations would have the best experience to achieve this
objective, but both are falible to mistakes, misinterpretations,
oversights, etc.

> However, when one deals with unique events, viz. questions of origins,
> one can make certain suppositions and see if the extant data
> substantiates that supposition. This is precisely the basis of solving
> crimes and using forensic data in the light of the results of
> experimental sciences. As in crimes, the only thing one can use is the
> circumstantial evidence and the ability to convince a jury beyond a
> reasonable doubt of who did commit the crime. Therefore, there is some
> element of deductive, as is the case in cosmology, paleontology, etc.,
> rather than pure inductive as is the case in the experimental sciences.

The thing is, I do not think in most cases of paleontology
or cosmology people are using deduction at all. I think they
__infer__ a particular interpretation from the available data,
and support it with similar examples, corroborative evidence,
models (in some cases), and as many other independent angles as
they have experience, knowledge and creativity can get a handle on.
Rarely would anyone like to stake his/her reputation on a single piece
of non-corroborating evidence. We all learn a kind of "instinct" in our
respective fields, but sometimes, that "instinct" is wrong.

The reason I find the evolutionary model so persuasive is not
because of any one thing, but because every angle you look at it
from only seems to lend further support. The reason I find YEC
models so unpersuasive is because they don't produce a
consistent picture. We must tolerate violent tsunamis
yet kms of finely laid out silt layered neatly with organisms
all strangely (and consistently) appearing stratigraphically
in the same locations in rocks that can be independently
corroborated with radioactive dating, common organisms etc.
We must accept a large release of radiation, yet an uncooked
Noah. We must accept seamless
transitions between apparent age and actual age (YEC cap on).
Perhaps evolution doesn't answer everything about what happened,
but it looks a lot better than insisting on a 6000 year old
earth and a global flood.

Nevertheless, though I may disagree with YEC model, I would
still say that they inferred this model based on their
preference to read the scripture in a particular way, just
as TEs have inferred evolution from the data we see and turn
to a different reading of the same book of Genesis.

Some models are clearly better, but all models in the end, are
simply human attempts at connecting the dots --- at least
in my opinion.

By Grace we proceed,

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Received on Wed Sep 13 12:50:01 2006

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