RE: [asa] FYI: Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is the new enemy of

From: Peter Loose <peterwloose@compuserve.com>
Date: Sun Aug 26 2007 - 16:10:30 EDT

PvM Wrote:

"The problem is that ID is not providing any tools to resolve if their
'explanation' is better, since they are not interested in
explanations.

Complexity, design etc are all shrouded in confusing re-definitions
based on a negative argument. While I appreciate and applaud your
position, I urge you to continue your explorations and studies to come
to the conclusion that science should never be seen as an obstacle to
our faith and should never be seen as anti-God.

At a scientific level however, there is no real debate, as ID is not
offering anything that can guide science in its debate. Proclaiming
the existence of an edge based on flawed logic surely shows how ID can
lead one down an irrelevant path."

---------

Peter responds:

Again as it appears to me, this question of science-faith turns on our
understanding of the term 'science' and to some significant extent what we
mean by 'our faith' also.

At a practical level it seems absurd to claim that 'science' and faith are
not opposed - there's a huge debate raging in the culture (rightly or
wrongly) and the mere fact one feels a need to say, as PvM does, that
'science should never be seen as an obstacle to our faith' implies of course
what most young people know - that 'science' is an obstacle to our faith. I
believe it was R. Lewontin who spoke about 'not allowing a divine foot in
the door'.

 (Evolutionists must believe that materialism is absolutely true
"we have a prior commitment ... to materialism ... Moreover that materialism
is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door"
http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/philsp02.html)

That's why Prof Richard Dawkins says that Darwin made it possible to be an
intellectually fulfilled atheist. -- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker,
p. 6

A most helpful analysis of Methodological Naturalism (Alvin Plantinga) was
briefly cited in a recent post. I paste here the Abstract and full web links
of those two-part papers running in total to some 38 or so pages. Here is a
pertinent sentence from Plantinga's Abstract:

"In many areas, science is anything but religiously neutral; moreover, the
standard arguments for methodological naturalism suffer from various grave
shortcomings."

Alvin Plantinga

Department of Philosophy
Decio Hall

University of Notre Dame

Abstract

The philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism holds that, for any
study of the world to qualify as "scientific," it cannot refer to God's
creative activity (or any sort of divine activity). The methods of science,
it is claimed, "give us no purchase" on theological propositions--even if
the latter are true--and theology therefore cannot influence scientific
explanation or theory justification. Thus, science is said to be religiously
neutral, if only because science and religion are, by their very natures,
epistemically distinct. However, the actual practice and content of science
challenge this claim. In many areas, science is anything but religiously
neutral; moreover, the standard arguments for methodological naturalism
suffer from various grave shortcomings. [This is the first part of a
two-part article.]

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga
_alvin/methodological_naturalism_part_1.pdf

Philosophical Analysis

Origins & Design 18:2
Methodological Naturalism?
Part 2

________________________________________

Alvin Plantinga
Department of Philosophy
Notre Dame University
[This is the second part of a two-part article.] The philosophical doctrine
of methodological naturalism is flawed. In many areas, science is not
religiously neutral. Furthermore, neither claims about the definition or
essential nature of science, nor theological presuppositions (e.g.,
"functional integrity"), can properly support methodological naturalism.
However, one may find stronger support for the doctrine in what might be
called "Duhemian science" -- i.e., those empirical inquiries pursued by all
parties on common ground, independently of whatever metaphysical assumptions
may be held by only some investigators. Duhemian science is thus "maximally
inclusive." "Augustinian science," on the other hand, may employ particular
theological or philosophical assumptions. The ideal of Duhemian science
should not exclude Augustinian science: both are valid forms of inquiry.
________________________________________

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga
_alvin/methodological_naturalism_part_2.pdf

Blessings

Peter

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of PvM
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 6:12 PM
To: John Walley
Cc: AmericanScientificAffiliation
Subject: Re: [asa] FYI: Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is
the new enemy of

 
On 8/26/07, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> On the plus side for randomness we see variation within species and the
> fossil gene arguments from Carroll and from Collins examples', the fusion
of
> chromosome 2 between chimps and humans. These are all very powerful
> indicators that there are random NON-directed and thus NOT designed
factors
> in the history of life.

This is based on a fallacy that random cannot be designed. What we may
see as random can very well come from an intelligent mind. What
science has show is that an explanation of design is not required.

> However even assuming we grant Hox genes and gene replication as the
> mechanism for adding complexity to the genome, I still contend that it is
> faith-based to assume that all these processes can randomly produce the
> elegant structures like in Behe's IC. And you still have the origins and
> information problem as well.

At least we are progressing here from evolution explaining complexity
to the issue of origins and 'information problem', although there is
no clear reason why there is a problem for information here since we
already accepted the evolution of complexity. So all that is needed is
for science to explain the origins of life. This may take some time
although some scientists believe that it may take less than 20 years
to achieve the necessary steps.

> If as TE's we accept God's involvement in the origin of life why is it so
> foreign to consider it along the way? I am not invoking intervention like
> Progressive Creationism, but it could have been embedded. That is what I
> thought Behe's book was relevant, because he challenges this role of
> randomness and its importance in explaining the overall story.

The problem is that he does little to challenge this from a scientific
perspective, so all he does is appealing to your religious senses.

> Although I am not a biologist I do find it fascinating and try to keep up
> with it at a layman's level. As a software developer however, I do infer
> what I recognize as parallels in this debate. I construct algorithms of
> processing data to guarantee certain outcomes in the midst of lots of
> variables and conditions that have to be trapped for and coded. Assuming
> that guaranteeing an outcome is valid which I think it is (at least to
wind
> up with a sentient spiritual being), this is analogous to God's embedded
> program of life.

Now take the next step and imagine an algorithm of selection and
variation and we see God's program of life.

> All programming languages have a rand() function and they all have
> parameters to specify the range that you want the rand value constrained
by.
> It seems logical to me to deduce that God used the rand() function in the
> embedded programming language of life as it is obvious there is a
component
> of randomness but it appears it was also constrained within some range.
The
> main logic of the overarching program though still had a goal in mind and
> was therefore not completely random.

Constraints are everywhere, history, physics, chemistry,
developmental, you name it. Ruse has some interesting ideas on this
topic.

> And for you physicists, another analogy that struck me was the following.
> Consider gas bubbles being released under water. The gas forms bubbles and
> they all travel to the surface but each takes its own trajectory and some
> collide with other bubbles and merge and this process when combined with
> currents in the water would probably appear as random. But the buoyancy of
> the gas in the water directs the guaranteed outcome of all of them
reaching
> the surface.

Sounds similar to the argument Gould uses about complexity. There is a
wall of single cell complexity at the left, and life, evolving
randomly like a drunkards walk, can only move towards higher
complexity.

> This is as opposed to the same gas being released in space with no gravity
> where no outcome would be directed or guaranteed. I contend the former
> analogy is more like what we see in life where I feel some Darwinists just
> for the sake of dogma argue the latter, which to me seems unjustified.

If you call science a dogma then fine. What scientists argue is that
such boundary and initial conditions guide the evolutionary paths
taken, just like the motion of planets, which Newton believed had to
be under constant supervision of a deity, and which we now know need
not.
 Does that mean that there could not be a deity monitoring the orbits
of planets and stars? Of course not.

> So, that is the perspective I am coming from. I am not an evolution denier
> or a fundamentalist bible thumper, but just what I consider to be a
rational
> and objective thinker with no prior commitments either way. But I guess
> there is still not enough evidence to resolve this conclusively so I guess
> the concluding thought it as one commented "the debate continues...".

The problem is that ID is not providing any tools to resolve if their
'explanation' is better, since they are not interested in
explanations.
Complexity, design etc are all shrouded in confusing re-definitions
based on a negative argument. While I appreciate and applaud your
position, I urge you to continue your explorations and studies to come
to the conclusion that science should never be seen as an obstacle to
our faith and should never be seen as anti-God.
At a scientific level however, there is no real debate, as ID is not
offering anything that can guide science in its debate. Proclaiming
the existence of an edge based on flawed logic surely shows how ID can
lead one down an irrelevant path.

> Thanks
>
> John
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: PvM [mailto:pvm.pandas@gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:38 PM
> To: John Walley
> Cc: AmericanScientificAffiliation
> Subject: Re: [asa] FYI: Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is
> the new enemy of
>
> On 8/23/07, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > <quote>
> > All in all, Behe's arguments sound poorly founded in data, contradicted
by
> > data and irrelevant to any discussion of the edge of evolution other
than
> by
> > accepting that 1 in 10^40 may be insurmountable odds but Behe has done
> > little to show that any evolutionary transition has such odds. To
conclude
> > design in face of these major shortcomings seems to do a disservice to
> > science and faith alike.
> > </quote>
> >
> > Agreed that Behe should not conclude Design but my takeaway here is that
> at
> > best, you can say that malaria and its evolutionary history is not a
> > relevant gauge of the power of evolution in general. This leads me back
to
> > my original point that most of the reviews of Behe's book took issue
with
> > his numbers and how many mutations may be observed, but none
substantively
> > showed that his basic premise of there existing an edge to evolution was
> > flawed.
> >
>
> Of course there exists an edge to evolution. After all we do not
> sprout wings or gills now do we :-) However, what Behe is trying to
> do, and failing, is to show that for existing structures, evolution is
> unable to explain them.
> He tried irreducible complexity and failed, now he tries to argue that
> a double simultaneous mutation is unlikely and that this or at least a
> quadruple simultaneous mutation is impossible and thus it forms an
> edge to evolution. Since Behe's strawman of evolution is flawed, it
> seems that his arguments need to be rejected.
>
>
> > How do we really know that the current evolutionary theory of
compounding
> > complexity and the continuum of molecules to man is not mostly "fanciful
> > Darwinian speculations" like Behe suggests? How often do we observe gene
> > duplication in the lab and how often should we expect to find that in
> > nature? Why did we not see it in malaria?
>
> We do see duplications in malaria. In fact, gene duplications and the
> mechanisms involved are quite well understood. Of course many of these
> are speculations founded in positive evidence, unlike ID. If ID wants
> to present a better explanation, they are certainly welcome to do so,
> but somehow ID is not up to such a task.
>
> > I am familiar with Sean Carroll's popular book on the forensic DNA
> evidence
> > of evolution and I agree that it is a logical and rational way to
explain
> > the power of evolution but in fairness, a new species of ice cod fish
> > without hemoglobin and color vision in monkeys is not all that powerful.
>
> There we go again with moving those goalposts.
>
> > This fits easily on this side of Behe's edge of species and classes.
>
> So you agree at least that evolution has the evidence that gene
> duplications happen and that they play a significant role in nature?
> It's a first step to the logical deduction beyond species level.
>
> > What would disprove this premise of an edge of evolution? What would it
> take
> > to show empirically that Behe is wrong and that evolution can do all
that
> > Dawkins suggests? How could we ever settle the Design debate
conclusively?
>
> Fascinating, Behe has argued that there is an edge to evolution,
> although what this edge looks like seems quite vague and speculative.
> On the other side scientists are showing how nature is open to
> evolution in all its aspects. I think we can all agree that there is
> an edge to evolution, however Behe haphazardly places it arbitrarily
> at certain points.
>
> Perhaps your question should be: How will Behe support his fanciful
> stories with actual data?
>
> > Behe may be guilty of assuming uniformity and extrapolating the
> evolutionary
> > history of malaria on to humans when it may not be the same, but Carroll
> and
> > others are just as guilty of finding a few forensic single point
mutations
> > and concluding evolution as a fait accompli.
>
> It's not just a few single point mutations that have people convinced
> on the veracity of the theory of evolution, its a logical argument,
> based on actual observations of the mechanisms, it is supported by
> finding historical evidence from the full animal and plant world that
> support evolutionary theory. It's because the hard work of scientists
> continues to support these 'fanciful' ideas.
> So you may want to ask yourself the question: If the evidence is so
> overwhelming, why is Behe making these strawmen arguments?
> Is it because his faith leads him to these conclusions? Is this what
> drives you to reject evolution, because you seem to be unfamiliar with
> its premises as well as the meaning of random?
>
>
> > Just to get from chimps to humans we need on the order of millions of
just
> > right sequential mutations but here in this thread Behe's edge of 2
> > mutations was dismissed due to the evidence of another example of a
> whopping
> > 5 mutations.
>
> Again, this shows a major ignorance of evolution. Remember that we are
> talking about 2 _simultaneous_ point mutations. Run the numbers, take
> the various forms of mutations and their rates, and simulate to see if
> the number of genetic differences between humans and our closest
> relatives can not be explained.
>
> > Is it just Behe and I or does the hard evidence for macroevolution
beyond
> > just theories and conjecture seem somewhat faith based?
>
> It's you and Behe... But let's for the moment focus on Behe's book and
> come to the conclusion that it has some major flaws. Let's also
> remember that contrary to Behe's musings science continues to find
> evidence that shows that small Darwinian like mutations are well
> within the grasp of reality. Of course connecting all the dots between
> humans and primates is non-trivial but science already has
> reconstructed some remarkable histories for protein evolution and
> shown it to be quite explainable by Darwinian processes.
>
> So John, how does ID explain macro-evolution? How does it compare to
> the scientific explanation and the available evidence?
>
>
> > John
> >
>
>

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