[asa] Re: Coyne = Hume (Was Re: Jerry Coyne's ...)

From: Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2009 - 17:30:09 EST

Hi George,

Good point. The only thing that Coyne adds (which he got from Dawkins) is
the sciencey terminology, for obvious socio-political impact. Essentially,
Coyne is Hume in a cheap tuxedo.


----- Original Message -----
From: <gmurphy10@neo.rr.com>
To: <asa@calvin.edu>; "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com>
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:04 PM
Subject: Coyne = Hume (Was Re: Jerry Coyne's ...)

> I.e., when it comes down to it, the arguments of Coyne & others against
> the resurrection of Jesus (& thus their claim that there is no "evidence"
> for Christianity) is nothing more than Hume's argument against miracles.
> There are worse people to side with than Hume but his argumernt,
> essentially induction from our general experience that the dead stay dead,
> is flawed. It's surprising that Hume, who pointed out the limits of
> induction, didn't see this (or at least didn't admit it. Perhaps less
> surprising for Coyne.
> Shalom,
> George
> ---- Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com> wrote:
>> Ken Miller replies:
>> "Finally, what of his central criticism-the claim that science and
>> religion are not only different, but incompatible and mutually
>> contradictory?
>> He's right on one score, obviously. That is that certain religious
>> claims, including the age of the earth, a global worldwide flood, and the
>> simultaneous creation of all living things are empirical in nature. As
>> such, they can be tested scientifically, and these particular claims are
>> clearly false. Claims of demonstrative miracles in the past, such as the
>> virgin birth or the resurrection cannot be tested empirically, because
>> there are no data from which to work. On such claims, science has nothing
>> to say one way or the other. Coyne's complaint on such things,
>> paradoxically, is that they must not have happened because there is no
>> scientific explanation for them. That amounts, in essence, to saying that
>> these things could not have happened because they would be miracles.
>> Well, that's exactly what most Christians take them for, so Coyne's only
>> real argument is an a priori assumption that miracles cannot happen. Make
>> that assumption, and miracles are nonsense. But it is an assumption
>> nonetheless, something that Coyne fails to see."
>> Indeed.
>> http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/coyne09/coyne09_index.html#miller
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Nucacids
>> To: asa@calvin.edu
>> Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:22 AM
>> Subject: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion Part 2
>> Since I have refuted Coyne's first argument about science having the
>> ability to determine whether or not God exists, let's consider his second
>> argument.
>> "This brings us to the second reason why Gould's explanation does not
>> cohere. It is all well and good to say, as he did, that religion makes no
>> claims about nature, but in practice it is not true."
>> This is a valid point. If a religion makes a claim about the world and
>> that claim is open to scientific investigation, science can judge that
>> claim. But the key words are "if" and "and."
>> "Many religious beliefs can be scientifically tested, at least in
>> principle."
>> When it comes to science, we need more than something that is "at least
>> in principle." We need something that is scientifically testable *in
>> practice.* To claim that something is testable in principle is an
>> admission that no test has been done in practice. Thus, a claim that is
>> scientifically testable only in principle is a claim that has merely the
>> potential of falling within the domain of science. It does not actually
>> fall within the domain of science until it can be empirically tested in
>> practice (the scientific method is not superfluous in science). If it
>> has not been scientifically tested in practice, it is speculation and
>> imagination, rooted in subjective reality, and not science.
>> Let's make this crystal clear. If you want to claim that a religious
>> belief is sciencitifically testable, then *do* the test and *show* us the
>> results. If you can't do the test, it's not science and "in principle"
>> claims will not serve as excuse slip so philosophy can masquerade as
>> science.
>> "Faith-based healing is particularly suited to these tests. Yet time
>> after time it has failed them."
>> Yes, but exactly is being tested here? Have all the variables been
>> removed/controlled such that we can use these data to conclude that God
>> does not exist? An inability to scientifically and statistically
>> detect "faith-healing" does not allow us to reach conclusions about the
>> existence of God; it helps us reach conclusions about faith healing -
>> they are not scientifically detectable.
>> Coyne:
>> "Like Giberson, Miller rejects a literal interpretation of the Bible.
>> After discussing the fossil record, he contends that "a literal reading
>> of the Genesis story is simply not scientifically valid," concluding that
>> "theology does not and cannot pretend to be scientific, but it can
>> require of itself that it be consistent with science and conversant with
>> it." But this leads to a conundrum. Why reject the story of creation and
>> Noah's Ark because we know that animals evolved, but nevertheless accept
>> the reality of the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ, which are
>> equally at odds with science? After all, biological research suggests the
>> impossibility of human females reproducing asexually, or of anyone
>> reawakening three days after death."
>> We can reject the "story of creation and Noah's Ark" because they
>> entail claims that can be tested by science. We can say, "If evolution is
>> not true, we would expect to see this" or "If the planet was entirely
>> covered by water, we would expect to see that." But neither the virgin
>> birth nor resurrection of Jesus allow us to make those testable claims
>> about the world. If you doubt me, present your hypothesis and then test
>> it.
>> The virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus are one-time miracles that
>> pertain to one person - Jesus - and have deep theological meaning. His
>> virgin birth, as a miracle, does not mean science would be able to
>> discover virgin births among other humans. Nor does his resurrection
>> entail that science would be able to discover a natural pathway for
>> bringing the dead back to life. If science did discover that natural
>> causes cause humans to have virgin births and rise from the dead, then
>> these events would hardly qualify as miraculous or special. And this is
>> where people run into trouble when they use science to pass judgment on
>> religion. If such judgment is to be passed, one has to understand the
>> thinking of that religion and the meaning of that miracle. For example,
>> the virgin birth of Jesus is not some whimsical display of divine power.
>> Nor is it a miracle that services the isolated need of some individual.
>> From the biblical perspective, miracles were never called miracles - they
>> were known as signs. The miracle comes with a message that, like all
>> messages, is highly context dependent. As any Christian will tell you,
>> the virgin birth represents the divine entry into our reality. If God is
>> not going to continually incarnate in people across time, then why expect
>> the virgin birth to be repeatable? If it is not repeatable, science
>> cannot address it.
>> And let us not forget that the only way that science can "corroborate"
>> a miracle is to adopt and endorse the "god-of-the-gaps" approach. The ID
>> debate has taught us that such an approach violates the essence of
>> science. Thus, science cannot ever corroborate a miracle.
>> If Coyne wants to set science against the resurrection of Jesus, then
>> he needs to actually *use* science against the resurrection of Jesus
>> while avoiding the "god-of-the-gaps" approach. [New Atheists are also
>> fond of the "god-of-the-gaps" argument (no gaps -> no God).] But as with
>> all the New Atheists making such claims, not one has a single peer
>> reviewed, published study that uses the scientific method to make
>> measurements that determine Jesus did not rise from the dead or was not
>> born of a virgin. Unless Coyne designs and conducts an experiment to
>> determine if these one-time miracles are true, he's just engaging in
>> armchair philosophy that sounds, well, sciencey.
>> So Coyne's error here is as follows: If a religious belief makes a
>> claim about the world that science can test, then science can test it.
>> But just because a religious belief makes a claim about something that
>> happens in the world does not mean science can test it, as not all claims
>> about the world can be tested by science.
>> -Mike Gene
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> No virus found in this incoming message.
>> Checked by AVG.
>> Version: 7.5.552 / Virus Database: 270.10.10 - Release Date: 1/19/2009
>> 12:00 AM
> --
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG.
> Version: 7.5.552 / Virus Database: 270.10.16/1925 - Release Date:
> 1/30/2009 7:37 AM

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Jan 30 17:30:38 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Jan 30 2009 - 17:30:38 EST