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

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Mon May 07 2007 - 20:57:49 EDT

Human explanations need not be scientific in order to be correct. That is why I classify different kinds of knowledge by subject matters. Chemists, physicists, biologists, physiologists, theologian etc can study a human being. Each such kind of knowledge has a different subject matter. The knowledge thus acquired by the different disciplines must then be integrated to give us a real and accurate description of what a human being is. Usages such as political science, social sciences, etc. need not the appendage of science to make them respectable. One cannot equate all human reasoning with science only. Much confusion would be eliminated if such order of knowledge were more commonplace.


I quote part of a letter I wrote in Physics Today <>


"A first, reasonable, and useful definition of science is the study of the physical aspect of nature, and its subject matter is data that can be collected, in principle, by purely physical devices. Therefore, the laws of experimental science are generalizations of historical propositions-that is, experimental data. Note that consciousness and rationality are purely nonphysical, since purely physical devices cannot detect them. In addition, life cannot be reduced to the purely physical, so living beings are both physical and nonphysical.


Human rationality develops formal logic and creates mathematics to summarize data into laws of nature that lead to theoretical models covering a wide range of phenomena. However, scientists deal with secondary causes. First causes involve metaphysical (ontological) questions, which regulate science. Without the ontological, neither the generalizations nor the historical propositions of the experimental sciences would be possible.


An extreme form of reductionism supposes that all that exists is purely physical and that the nonphysical aspect of reality follows from the purely physical and the laws governing their interactions."


I wrote a letter in the March 2007 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, "Theistic Science: The Metaphysics of Science," and another in the September 2006 issue, "Set Theoretic Analysis of the Whole of Reality." In the former, I discuss the theistic science of Roy Clouser but it really applies to any attempt at a theistic science and in the latter the need of the supernatural as part of the whole of reality, besides the physical and the nonphysical.



From: on behalf of Terry M. Gray
Sent: Mon 5/7/2007 2:05 PM
To: AmericanScientificAffiliation
Subject: Re: [asa] Demarcation was Re: thinking was prosecutors and not that of the judge


Exactly. This is part of my general complaint about the naive
definitions of science floating around on this list and in our
courts. Classification, careful observation and description, data
collection--these are all part of science. Yes, we strive for
explanation, prediction, postdiction, etc. But, often, and, this is
particularly evident if we take the long view of the history of
science, "mere stamp collecting" is the crucial predecessor to
hypothesizing and theorizing. And contrary to some opinions on the
list, I don't believe that science is restricted to physical
phenomena. Biology, psychology, sociology, economics, linguistics,
anthropology, etc. all are sciences. Granted we may want to
distinguish between physical sciences, biological sciences, human
sciences, social sciences, etc. but this in no way is prejudicial to
a proper, broad definition of science. Also, if the supernatural is
causal in some extraordinary way, why can't it be part of the
explanation? (Please notice the "if"). I don't see any "in principle"
reason to exclude it from the side of science. (My personal
opposition to such has more to do with a theological perspective than
a scientific one.)

It seems that the main reason that we have to have "rules" for
science has nothing to do with science, but with social and political
realities. No one complains (or should complain) if I discuss YEC or
ID in the science classroom of my homeschool or my private school or
university. It's a simple matter here of who's in power with respect
to public schools and universities. It's fairly clear to me that the
current system has little regard for religious viewpoints that differ
from the secular mainstream and the political force is the way that
that regard is enforced.

Don't get me wrong here--I don't agree with ID or YEC to any large
extent with respect to scientific details, but I do agree with them
in their opposition to materialism, secularism, and the general
pushing of God-talk out of the public square. I also think it's a
serious blow to religious liberties in our nation to require taxpayer
funded public school indoctrination in secular thought. Even if the
presentation is not explicitly anti-religious (and I believe this is
usually the case), the belief that you can talk about science or any
aspect of reality for that matter without building on theistic and
Christian foundations tells us and our children that God isn't
necessary to think rightly about these things. This is what is most
offensive to me about our current public education system. Strong
parental or church based education that supplements such an
education, while perhaps a partial solution, in reality contributes
to the compartmentalization of our knowledge and our view of reality.


On May 7, 2007, at 11:09 AM, David Opderbeck wrote:

> Quite honestly, I don't see why the focus on "predictions" is all
> that crucial. Is an accurate historical description of a natural
> phenomenon not "science" unless a "prediction" can be derived from
> that description? Why? What if the description is of a
> remarkable, one-off, incredibly improbable event or series of events?
> I can see that the social utility of "science" might relate to
> predictive ability. But even then, I can't see why a merely
> historical description lacks any social value at all -- it may have
> value just because it's interesting to some people, or because it
> helps us place other beliefs in a broader context. Or, some merely
> historical descriptions may have social value because they negate
> predictions based on mistaken notions of history.
> If evidence were produced that conclusively falsified an existing
> paradigm, that would have enormous social value even if that
> evidence was entirely negative and resulted in no predictions about
> what should replace the existing paradigm. Human knowledge
> advances when false beliefs are proven false as well as when new,
> more accurate beliefs replace the false ones. That doesn't always
> have to happen concurrently, it seems to me.
> None of this is to say ID has proven Darwinism false, but it seems
> to me that the "no predictions" meme is overstated in terms of
> simply demarcating "science."
> On 5/7/07, PvM <> wrote: IDers have claimed
> that ID 'predicted' that Junk DNA is not all junk.
> Of course there are several problems with this a) they claim that Junk
> DNA was a Darwinian prediction when in fact it was an observation
> presented in support of neutral evolution b) evolutionists already had
> discussed potential roles for Junk DNA and finally c) there is no
> logical foundation for ID to have made this 'prediction'.
> Remember that ID is based on inferring design based on complexity and
> specification. Since Junk DNA has no specification, how can it lead to
> a prediction. But at a deeper level, ID does not propose ANY
> foundation for it to make positive predictions about anything. That's
> because ID is inherently a negative argument. When creationists argued
> that Junk DNA must have function, their 'prediction' was in response
> to claims by scientists who showed how pseudogenes were better
> explained by evolutionary processes. While ID is unable to state 'our
> designer would not design junk', one could make an argument that God
> would be far more tidy in his 'design' of humans and note waste all
> this space with Junk. But that requires us to assume something about
> the intentions of the designer and as ID points out, it cannot make
> such inferences.
> In other words, ID is totally unable to present ANY positive
> prediction beyond 'well science will never be able to explain X,.
> let's called X designed'...
> Ryan Nichols has discussed the problems with ID in "Scientific
> content, testability, and the vacuity of Intelligent Design theory"
> The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 2003 ,vol. 77 ,no 4
> ,pp. 591 - 611
> <quote>
> Before I proceed, however, I note that Dembski makes an important
> concession to his critics. He refuses to make the second assumption
> noted above. When the EF implies that certain systems are
> intelligently designed, Dembski does not think it follows that there
> is some intelligent designer or other. He says that, "even though in
> practice inferring design is the first step in identifying an
> intelligent agent, taken by itself design does not require that such
> an agent be posited. The notion of design that emerges from the design
> inference must not be confused with intelligent agency" (TDI, 227, my
> emphasis).
> </quote>
> On 5/7/07, Dave Wallace <> wrote:
> > Maybe someone else knows of something testable that ID predicts
> then it
> > would be interesting to know what it is. Even the "for all" sort
> or of
> > the "never" will be explicable sort would be somewhat
> interesting. As
> > best I can tell Behe's assertions about irreducible complexity in
> the
> > cases he mentions in his book are being cast into more and more
> doubt,
> > so one more assertion that feature X is irreducibly complex is
> not very
> > interesting.
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Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

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Received on Mon May 7 20:58:48 2007

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