Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

From: Dave Wallace <>
Date: Sun Apr 26 2009 - 19:38:56 EDT

Gregory Arago wrote:
> John, have you read Feyerabend and Lakatos? Doing so would start to
> help you get up to date...and then there is still much more in the
> contemporary philosophy of science and likewise in the sociology of
> science, which reveals many things about the 'pseudo-mysterious'
> behaviours/actions/systems of the 'new priests' i.e. the natural
> scientists of our day.
> What 'valid purpose' does MN serve, other than to discredit YEC and to
> try to discredit ID, the latter which is wise to the MN pseudo-philosophy?
Gregory what aspect of Feyerabend's thought do you see relevant to this

Ever since I first became somewhat interested in PoS in the early 70s my
approach has been to read/scan a small book/article summary of their
work. Sort of a Wittgenstein for Dummies. Wittgenstein did not
resonate with my experience so I basicially ignored his thinking.
Popper, Polanyi and Kuhn all seemed to have worthwhile ideas, although
by the time I got to Kuhn I was too busy to read much of his work.
Frankly I do not find Feyerabend's ideas worth spending much time on.
In fact some of his ideas I totally reject. Sure he may be worth
reading for someone who is a specialist but not for me. Partially this
may because I worked in an engineering discipline where we had lots of
rules of thumb about how to write good programs, and yet I have seen
cases where the rules were broken but the resulting program was clear,
maintainable etc. I apply the same thinking to what I read in PoS, thus
MN or falsifiability I would not treat as absolutes although I would
want to see a very strong reason justifying why they are inapplicable.
Being finite creatures I think that we can't exhaustively describe
almost any principle we set out to define. Knowing when to adopt a
given theory, even though it fails falsifiability for some marginal
cases, but has esthetically pleasing mathematical equations is something
that takes the experience of a great scientist, engineer, whatever.
IMHO you have not supplied any justification as to why MN is
inappropriate, stupid whatever, in say the case of ID. As I understand
Feyerabend he would deny the applicability of any rules like MN.

> And who really cares if Cameron is not always 'on scientific ground'
> IF he is at the same time still speaking the truth? Science has no
> monopoly on 'truth,' does it John?
IMO, in general because one needs to be careful what one claims is
science and what is world view or religion... Thus I would not say the
ID was a scientific result but would say that variation plus natural
selection seems unlikely to be able to produce some features of the
biological world ie I don't know how something came about but we are
still working on it. However, as philosophy I am not unhappy to point
to a designer and as religion point to a Designer ie God. This seems
to be an unfortunate point of division between ID and EC folks and I
think if it were understood then some of the heat might be removed from
the rare discussions we have between groups.

Science absolutely does not have a corner on truth.

> Let's get serious about MN, John. I'll soon open another thread about
> this, but for now we can ask two things: 1) is science limited *only*
> to natural things? and 2) are any scientific methods of study (i.e.
> methods which are possible to consider 'scientific') possible to apply
> to humanity?
Using your definition of natural (which at least excludes humanity) I
would answer 1) No, using my definition of natural Yes, and 2) Yes

I have though about your definition of natural (as I understand it) and
I wonder how one would exclude the great apes, dolphins. Maybe your
definition is based upon humans having the image of God? You have not
yet answered the questions I asked so I am guessing at your basis for
excluding humans from natural. I'm not very interested in an answer
from authority so please don't tell me to go and read a book but give me
an answer in your own words and thinking.

> I
> Surely there are some responsible philosophers of science out there
> that ASA could recruit to educate its participants!
I looked at a review of Feyerabend's thought by philosophers at Stanford
University (in California) and they expressed doubts about the value of
his work but said that it was too soon to establish his place in the
history of PoS. Thus you might not get the result you expect.

Dave W

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Received on Sun Apr 26 19:39:11 2009

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