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

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Sun Aug 26 2007 - 19:01:39 EDT

I have been distinctly underwhelmed by Plantinga's claims, even while he
is lionized by many Christians. He says that some science is
anti-Christian because he does not recognize the difference between what
some scientists read into science from their naive philosophical
commitments and the actual science. Note that one has also to make a
distinction between evolutionists who believe in scientism and those who
believe that evolution represents the divinely established process for
the production of the vast variety of living creatures.

Of course science is opposed to faith when one's faith is predicated on a
half-baked reading of the first chapters of Genesis, including the gross
stupidity of flood geology. The notion that one must read divine activity
into the formulas of scientific models is as foolish. I note that there
is seldom any such claim for the development of the universe from the Big
Bang on, but insistence that science has to change to theism for the
origin and development of living things. When these guys are able to pin
the Almighty down and force him to reveal his non-physical methods, then
Plantinga and the other IDers will convince me. But the God I worship is
not subject to human strictures.
Dave (ASA)

On Sun, 26 Aug 2007 21:10:30 +0100 "Peter Loose"
<peterwloose@compuserve.com> writes:
>
>
> 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/planti
nga
> _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/planti
nga
> _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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