Re: [asa] Demarcation was Re: thinking was prosecutors and not that of the judge

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sat May 05 2007 - 19:13:39 EDT

I think you're mixing science with philosophy in trying to justify the ID
approach. The approach of Dawkins is that science proves that there is no
God. But it can't. IDers claim that science can prove that there is a
designer. But it can't. Science began with what could be measured by
physical means, whether crude, like Galileo's pulse, or more precise,
like his weighing water. But it is not confined to such measurements. For
example, there is no instrument that can measure pain. If there is need
of a measure of the intensity of pain, we are stuck with some relatively
simple approaches: "On a scale of 1-10, how intense is the pain you're
feeling (or felt)?" "Does the pain we're giving you keep you from feeling
the other pain?" But there is a problem if the person is unresponsive.
The physician will say the person is comatose to vegetative if there is
no response to something that would be very painful to a normal person.
But is this because the individual does not feel it or because the
response route is shut down? I'm not sure we can have a proof that it is
the former. On a different level, how could you respond to the challenge:
Prove to me that you have a headache.

You note the demarcation problem connected to science. I understand it
has been proved that there is no a priori criterion. This means that one
cannot determine what can be examined scientifically. If it can be
detected and measured, if only statistically, it can become a scientific
discipline. But that does not mean that any notion can be arbitrarily
added to some discipline to produce a new one. IC and ID, arbitrarily
added, have been found to be dead ends, productive of nothing. But the
declaration that only scientific knowledge is relevant is equally
irrelevant. Note that all of this paragraph deals with philosophical
matters, not scientific ones.

On Sat, 5 May 2007 15:22:09 -0600 Rich Blinne <>
> On May 5, 2007, at 12:16 PM, PvM wrote:
> > You may be missing the point, the judge merely addressed if ID
> was
> > science or not. While the demarcation problem is a much larger
> issue
> > about if there can be generic rules defined as to how to recognize
> if
> > something is science or not, this issue was much smaller, namely
> is ID
> > science (or scientifically relevant).
> >
> Terry and David O. have done us a great service in getting us to
> focus on the larger demarcation problem. I have been doing some
> thinking and have come to the conclusion that the re-definition of
> scientific theory by Behe et al damages science and specifically
> science education well beyond the question of origins and
> naturalism.
> First off, before I start I want to be clear that I relate with and
> sympathize with what Michael Behe and other ID proponents are trying
> to do. Namely, they desire to head off the ontological naturalists
> by
> not allowing the a priori dismissal of supernatural causation. This
> is an admirable goal and as Christians we are shoulder to shoulder
> with our ID brothers here. So, we do not assume before the fact
> that all effects only have natural causes. Nevertheless, our belief
> in a Creator that as the Apostle Paul noted in 1 Corinthians is also
> a God of order causes us to expect under most cases to find ordered,
> natural, causes. These natural causes are the basis for proper
> evaluation of supernatural causation. For example, natural causation
> causes us to conclude that death is permanent. This establishes the
> divine origin of the resurrection of Jesus. We don't presume that
> the
> resurrection is impossible but the natural order makes the
> supernatural stand out. ID rightly desires to argue from the natural
> to the supernatural in a similar fashion and for this they should be
> commended and I encourage them to continue to explore such
> arguments.
> So, as can plainly be seen, the goals of ID both generally and
> specifically are not what causes my opposition but rather the means.
> The problem with ID is the route chosen (irreducible and specified
> complexity) and the vehicle driven (science) won't get you from
> natural to supernatural causation and will -- and this the main
> point
> of my post -- break the vehicle. The modern definition of science
> does not include the arguments above. So, ID responds by rolling
> back
> the definition to an earlier one. The primary reason why modern
> science is demarcated to only consider natural causes is the use of
> falsification and other testability techniques post Popper won't
> work
> otherwise. You cannot falsify the supernatural. ID goes well isn't
> that arbitrary particularly given this gives aid and comfort to the
> ontological naturalists? Why can't we roll back the clock sixty
> years? These are both fair questions and I will try and answer
> them.
> The reason you don't want to demarcate science differently is this
> removes much of the power of the method and more importantly causes
> bad inferences for problems that are purely natural. These in turn
> impoverish the entire human community. We have already beaten the
> astrology horse well past dead and I don't think that it's a
> particularly good example anyway. A better example is the popularity
> of so-called alternative medicine amongst evangelicals. Here
> observed
> cause and effect is not verified so if a correlation between an herb
> and a positive effect is noted then there is no saying otherwise.
> The
> same is true of toxins and negative effects. In the latter case, the
> fixation on ethyl mercury preservatives in childhood vaccines was
> improperly correlated with autism. The National Academies showed all
> sorts of evidence that falsified this hypothesis. But, this was not
> enough because falsification was not a integral part of what it
> means
> to be science. So, we still have people doing chelation therapy that
> on occasion kills kids. We also have a large number of evangelicals
> that refuse vaccination not because of some Biblical reason but
> because they have a bad definition of science. This, in turn, puts
> their neighbors at risk -- not a very good witness for Jesus Christ.
> Another example is climate change. Here we have a different testing
> mechanism than falsification but still fits into the modern
> definition, prediction via models. If the models do not conform to
> reality then underlying theory is suspect. So, we have two different
> kinds of models one that matches the temperature record that
> confirms
> that theory. We have another that totally whiffs with respect to ice
> flows. The latter means that the theory behind that needs to be
> updated. The evangelical critiques of climate science see no use for
> either kinds of models and thus remove the power to accurately
> predict future climate change which is vitally important to good
> public policy. Finally, the lack of understanding of what scientific
> consensus is caused again by failing to understand that all modern
> scientific theories need to be testable. The process of peer review,
> testing, and repeating is completely alien to the popular concept of
> science. Somehow, they believe that consensus is merely scientists
> voting for their favorite theory.
> I started this post with a statement that ID's redefinition breaks
> science. That is somewhat of an overstatement. Science will survive
> just fine. Since secular scientists understand and appreciate
> testability and since they are the vast majority science will
> continue to progress. But, given the popularity of the re-definition
> with evangelicals it will continue to marginalize us in the
> scientific enterprise. Even this is a limited problem because those
> of us who are practicing scientists and engineers appreciate the
> importance of testing hypotheses. This is because even for those
> evangelical scientists who embrace ID's definition of science in
> theory, we deny it in practice. This leaves us with science
> education
> for lay people. This is where the damage done by the re-definition
> is
> most patent. Not only does this cause a misunderstanding of science
> in general this is also negatively effecting the future generation
> of
> voters who vote for school boards and thus the problem reinforces
> itself.
> So, what's a proponent of ID to do? First, be real. Admit that
> currently ID is not science. I know many ID proponents do this and
> have done this, but it needs to be communicated more patently to the
> evangelical audience. Admitting ID is not science is not the
> equivalent of being not true and don't let the atheists bully you
> into thinking that your arguments need to be "scientific". Second,
> continue to look for arguments that could fit into modern science
> without re-defining it. Just because the current arguments don't do
> this does not imply that there exists no such arguments that may be
> found in the future. As the resurrection example I gave earlier
> shows
> you can argue from the natural to the supernatural and thus a future
> "scientific" argument may be out there. I pray good success for you,
> brothers. Godspeed.
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Received on Sat May 5 19:19:15 2007

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