Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Review of Answers In Genesis' review of Eugenie Scotts talk on science and faith part 2

Now they begin to discuss how faith affects scientific research, it is true that science owes a significant part of its ideological foundations to a Christian theistic worldview but does this mean that we should force a certain interpretations of the bible on the scientific community? The fact is that while the young earth interpretation was once an adequate interpretation because it did not contradict what science knew at the time evidence of an old earth, evolution, and a very old universe have been uncovered which contradicts it and a better interpretation of the bible is needed.

Anyways the creationist author goes on to state the following paragraph;
What I’ve tried to make clear so far is that one’s belief about God does make a
difference in how one understands science and what one thinks about the origin
of life. Specifically, while creationists do value inferential explanation, we
However, notice that even when we find data that points to design, such as irreducible complexity, Darwinism is not considered falsified or challenged. In fact, we argue that nothing evolutionists find would be considered enough to falsify evolution, because Darwinism isn’t just another falsifiable hypothesis that’s made its way to the core; rather, it is a presupposed, foundational paradigm that is used to interpret the actual facts.value the authority of an infallible, direct observer over inferential
explanations that start out by arbitrarily decreeing that a designer is “less
probable” (ruling out supernatural explanations).

To this, I agree your religious beliefs do have an affect on how you look at science and scientific discoveries. However not to the extent that creationists would suppose, while your religious beliefs or lack thereof give you different philosophical perspectives on different discoveries and the nature of science, it does not and should not cause you to rewrite science and force-fit it into your religious views which is exactly what creationists are doing. While I agree that arbitrarily assuming there is not designer is fallacious, I don't think we should then attribute the origin of everything to direct creation of the deity without good solid evidence, otherwise it is not science.

After describing Eugenie Scotts illustration of core, frontier, and frings ideas of science the creationist author responds;
However, notice that even when we find data that points to design, such as
irreducible complexity, Darwinism is not considered falsified or challenged. In
fact, we argue that nothing evolutionists find would be considered enough to
falsify evolution, because Darwinism isn’t just another falsifiable hypothesis
that’s made its way to the core; rather, it is a presupposed, foundational
paradigm that is used to interpret the actual facts.

That is just the problem, Irreducible Complexity is not evidence of design so by simple logic evolution has not been challenged by IC therefore it has not been falsified, and even if IC did challenge a completely naturalistic outlook on natural history it would not disprove evolution. This doesn't prove that Design has been rejected for philosophical reasons by the scientific community it simply proves the obvious fact that IC has failed to disprove it, evolution is easy to disprove also; just find evidence of human fossils in the Triassic period and evolution is dead. Now it should also be pointed out that in a sense the creationists are right; facts have to be interpreted but there is only one correct interpretation and young earth creationism is not it.

Now onto whether or not evolution (or darwinism as they call it) is a paradigm;
One might suggest that, even if Darwinism is a paradigm rather than a simple
hypothesis, the evidence would still help scientists choose between competing
paradigms (as though they were competing explanatory hypotheses). But facts
don’t speak for themselves; they must be interpreted through a paradigm.
Interpreting facts to prove a paradigm is thus ultimately an exercise in
circular logic. Furthermore, since the only paradigms that challenge Darwinism
are design-based, there is effectively only one paradigm to chose from for those
like Scott who reject that science can discover intentional design.

Although this is true it does not help creationists since evolution is not a paradigm but a testable hypothesis which has passed the test of time. Now on Methodological Naturalism (which is what creationists really mean when they say "Darwinism"), Methodological Naturalism was developed many Christian philosophers (among them being Francis Bacon) who understood that uniformity was the key foundation of science. The supernatural was not to be denied or denigrated but when it came to the natural world the supernatural would be left out since they were dealing with the way God usually upheld his creation (natural forces) rather then the way God upheld his creation only in very special moments (supernatural forces) so the supernatural is left out of the equation when it comes to science. This is wise because capricious supernatural explanations will not give us a better understanding of the natural world. Now it is true that some people will not accept supernatural explanations of any kind (even theists such as Kenneth Miller), if the evidence points toward a deliberate supernatural act (actual evidence not just a God-of-the-gaps argument) I will accept it. I have no philosophical reason to reject design, however the current Intelligent Design movement is disappointingly lacking in evidence for their theory, and that is in a nutshell the reason I am a Christian who believes in Evolution. As a result I am not convinced that anyone, Christians in particular should be so eager to support Intelligent Design for its potential apologetic uses.

In the end it is up the reader to decide which one is true, evolution is a testable hypothesis which has been proven, and if you believe I am wrong don't just sit there, argue with me and tell me why I am wrong, you might even change my mind who knows.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Review of Answers In Genesis' review of Eugenie Scotts talk on science and faith

Excuse the incredibly long name but there isn't really any other way to phrase it.

Anyway I was just reading a recent article on the AiG website about a talk Eugenie Scott gave back in September (yes it took them that long to get to it, but I can see why, they are probably quite busy). It is basically a discussion about how science and religion mix. Now since I am a theist and Eugenie is not I will probably find myself agreeing with a lot of things the creationists are saying from a philosophical standpoint yet rejecting many of their conclusions (example, I agree that there is a God who created the universe and revealed himself to mankind through a book, however I disagree that this means he couldn't have used natural processes to create the universe).

To begin, she points out that there are three ways of gaining knowledge; personal experience (intuition internal knowledge etc.), Authority (a book such as the bible, an experienced individual in a particular field etc.), and science which she describes as a limited way of knowing the world which through natural processes alone. She also points out that science is limited in the sense that it can only know what can be observed and tested. I agree with most of what she is saying, although if evidence of something outside the natural world (say, God) could be gleaned then it would probably be accepted as scientific.

Next she goes onto the creationist argument that you cannot know anything about something if it happened in the past because there were no witnesses. Eugenie uses a humorous example of finding on a road, cow dung with a road stripe painted over it, and then humorously asks the audience if we would not be able to figure out what happened because it happened in the past. She goes onto state that we could figure out what happened through seeing a logical sequence (cow comes and defecates on a road stripe, the road maintenance crew comes to paint fresh stripes on the road and doesn't clean of the dung but simply paints the line over it).

The creationist argument that we can't figure something out because it happened in the past is indeed a weak argument. And although I agree that an omniscient witness who can't lie is a good witness to have I also believe Creation is a witness from God telling the human race how he created the universe, it is simply logical that God's creation would be just as reliable as his on natural history as his revealed word would be on matters of human history, spirituality and morality.

Now enough babbling, lets get to the creationists' response;
Now, let me make it clear that, unlike Scott’s implication, creationists do
believe inferential explanation is, on the whole, pretty accurate. If you return
home and your dog is out of the cage with trash scattered about, it’s not
unreasonable to conclude, based on past experience and circumstantial evidence
(e.g., teeth marks on garbage, the dog’s dirty snout) that the dog is
responsible. This sort of deduction can be quite reasonable when there are no
observers and can be important even when there are observers—if they’re fallible
(for example, the aforementioned witnesses to a crime).
Likewise, Scott’s
answer to her highway conundrum makes sense based on what we know about the
behavior of cattle, the physics of highway paint striping, and so forth.
just as it seems foolish to conclude that inferential explanations are never
right, it also seems foolish to conclude that inferential explanation—especially
about unrepeatable historical events—is just as reliable as directly observing
repeatable, carefully controlled scientific experiments. This is where we get
into the distinction between operational (or observational) science and origins (or
historical) science
—a distinction evolutionists fail to recognize, by the
For instance, a dog tearing up garbage isn’t a one-time event; it’s
something that happens more regularly than most people would like, has been
observed many times, and violates no laws of science. We could even set up a
two-way mirror or hidden camera and document Fido’s destruction.

And now for my rebuttal: While it is true that sometimes accurately describing historical events can be difficult it is not impossible. Although we cannot absolutely know how a battle happened we can get a pretty good idea (like from where the enemy attacked, we can tell what era it occured in by the armour of the soldiers, etc.). A dog tearing up garbage isn't a one time event but neither is biological change, and we can actually observe it happening in the same way we can see dogs tearing through garbage. Creationists need to show that these two cases are somehow different; now it is true that we have not actually watched a reptile evolve into a bird but we don't have to. Just like in at a crime scene you look for clues from the site to see what happened, scientists look for any changes of that type in the fossil record which is essentially (not to use a word twice but) a record of earth's history. If we didn't find any evidence of this sort of change whatsoever evolution would have been thrown in the garbage can a long time ago.

Now onto why they think evolution is different;
But as for the differences: first, Darwinian evolution is based on
conjecture about a one-time event that we cannot repeat experimentally; the
“documentation” of the fossil record is actually just an interpretation of unevolving fossils that
presupposes evolution.3 Second, Darwinian evolution violates the law of biogenesis and the second
law of thermodynamics. Third, there are good alternatives to evolution regarding
the origin of life/biodiversity. These differences distinguish the dog-and-trash
and the cattle-and-road-stripe examples from Darwinian evolution.

Well I am sorry to say this creationist is w-r-o-n-g; Darwinian evolution is not based on conjecture and it is based upon an event which we can repeat experimentally, evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics or the law of biogenesis (evolution has nothing to do with abiogenesis), and no there are no good alternative explanations. It should also be pointed out that Intelligent Design as a concept is valid, however the current movement which wants to make Intelligent Design a scientific alternative to evolution has failed to make a convincing case. I would like nothing better then for a more theistic framework for biology to appear but until that happens, I will stay with evolution. Next he makes the point that inference is only accurate if the source is accurate. Now this is true, but if data gained through careful examination and experimentation is not a good source of inference then I don't know what is. Creationists deny it but that is indeed how our knowledge of evolution has been gained over the past 150 years.

The last point I am going to address tonight is that God being incapable of lying and omniscient would be a perfectly reliable witness; this is very true but creationists need to remember that creation was also made by God and it was made to give a reliable account of the past, shouldn't we also take the witness of God's creation into account?

I will be making a part two of this tomorrow (I apologize for my laziness in updating this blog, I will attempt to do better next month) but for now, farewell and goodbye.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Glaciers found buried on Mars

Now this is interesting, evidence of buried glaciers have been found on Mars miles off of cliffs and mountains. This helps explain aprons (gently sloped areas with rock deposits at the base of the slope carried by water) found in that area.

This is of course more evidence of water on Mars and an earthlike martian environment in the distant past.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ten myths about evolution part 5

The next myth appears to be that just because you find an ape fossil with human like characteristics doesn't mean its a transitional form. So just because it has all of the appearances of being a transitional form its still not a transitional form? Does that make sense to anybody? Now it is true that some characteristics attributed to apelike ancestors of humans are found in apes today, but this does not automatically mean that that early hominids could not have been ancestors to humans anymore then the fact that mid browns being alive today proves that we did not come from Adam and Eve (mainstream creationists believe that Adam and Eve were mid browns therefore having greater variability).