Why the controversy?

Why the controversy?

There are 70 comments on the The Star Press story from Jun 22, 2013, titled Why the controversy?. In it, The Star Press reports that:

Teaching intelligent design in an elective course on the philosophical implications of cosmology is hardly controversial.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Star Press.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#21 Jan 29, 2014
replaytime wrote:
<quoted text>
There are several things that you can choose to do but sooner or later your choice is of no matter. Take breathing for example. You can choose to hold your breath but you cannot hold it as long as you like. Your body's response will take over and whether you choose to or not you will breathe. There will never be a chosen death by suicide by not breathing. lol
there is stuff you can choose and stuff you cannot.

knowing your body will fight back, you can always choose to hang yourself.

I don't recommend it, as your choices are somewhat limited after the event.

“It is what it is”

Level 5

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#22 Jan 29, 2014
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
there is stuff you can choose and stuff you cannot.
knowing your body will fight back, you can always choose to hang yourself.
I don't recommend it, as your choices are somewhat limited after the event.
I agree 100% with that. My point was just a simple one of you can choose something but your body will make you do just the opposite..
The Dude

Birkenhead, UK

#23 Jan 29, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
I hope to ask a philosohical question.
Wrong forum.
Old Guy wrote:
Perhaps someone can give a thouhtful opinion. Assuming evolution accounts for the existence of human life, then individual traits are not ours by choice. Even our preferences are not ours by choice. This brings into quesion the existence of "free will" (see Hawking & Mlodinow - Grand Design). We do make choices but those choices are made within the limits of our preferences. If we continually make choices inconsistent with our preferences, then the human animal suffers phsychologically. It seems reasonable that the way we see the world is determined by physics and chemistry (biology)...again see Hawking & Mlodinow. How does a belief system founded on the assumption that the natural world is all that exists (naturalism) logically avoid some form of determinism? And if determinism cannot be avoided, is it not true that our perception that we rely on reason, evidence and science is simply a product of our evolutionary journey?
This doesn't even have any bearing on evolution, as it's dealing with the idea of free will for individuals, and nothing to do with the development of biological characteristics across populations. The closest this has to do with biology is the mind-body problem, and how much biological determinism affects our ability to act on our thoughts. However if our thoughts are influenced by our experiences this is not purely biological, as environmental factors also come into play, so it's not simply biological determinism that's "responsible" for our thoughts in that sense. And when we take into account we live in a quantum universe (which deals with phenomena of a random nature) it seems we could not simply be constrained only by biological determinism. Only Polymath is well versed in quantum physics around these parts however, so if that subject tickles your fancy I'd ask him. He's also studied philosophy and I'm sure would be happy to indulge you with your queries.
Old Guy

Napa, CA

#24 Jan 29, 2014
Thank you for the input. I may be unclear myself, and since I do want to be taken seriously I ask for patience as I seek clarity. I was not making a logical argument but asking a question that is philosophical in nature; a question about being and knowing. There were therefore, no premises and no conclusion. I understand also that we make choices. The question was not about the human ability to make choices. Or even the necessity of making choices. But are the choice we make determined in any way? Do we make choices based on our preferences? To maintain psychological homeostasis we make choices designed to reduce stress. If we are “satisfied” our stress is reduced and psychological homeostasis is achieved. This is an evolved human characteristic. Are our preference are a limiting factor in making choices? If so, then at least to some degree our choices are “determined” by our preferences. Do we choose our preferences? I can’t say for sure, but I can say I like ice cream. To choose between eating ice cream and not eating ice cream is a choice I make with a goal in mind; the goal of not gaining weight or of losing weight. The tension between reason and emotion tug and pull as I make this choice. Either reason or emotion will win the argument I have with myself over the question. But if I choose to eat ice cream, which ice cream will I choose? I will choose the one that meets my preference. There are certain ice creams I would never choose and there are others I will almost always choose. I also agree that reason and choice are not outside deterministic framework. If however, our choices are limited, then to at least some degree our choices must also be determined.“Determination” is one facet of determinism and if choices are limited then determination seems unavoidable. Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow say this,“It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.” Hawking has also said that yes, we are determined but since we don’t know what has been determined, we might as well not be. Once again, free will (choice) is an illusion. In the naturalist’s view of our being, there is no explanation for our present condition except evolution. Our bodies do not give us the choice of not breathing because we have evolved as we have. Breathing is not a choice. But we do make choices because we must make choices as Hitchens points out. The question once again is not “do we make choices” but rather, are the choices we make in any way determined by our evolutionary bent? And if our choices are determined, would it not also be reasonable to think that our world views are a product of our determined choices?

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#25 Jan 30, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
The question once again is not “do we make choices” but rather, are the choices we make in any way determined by our evolutionary bent?
But of course they are - influenced anyway.

Given the option of eating a meal of grass or fig, You would choose the fig while a cow would choose the grass.

That is not just a trivial statement. Nearly every choice you have to make is a weighing up of competitive drives, each of which probably has an evolutionary survival component. Probably even stresses or confusions in decision making relate to the conflict of competing survival drives. You want to be satiated and at the same time you want to be attractive and athletic. Which drive wins today?

Of course we can find examples where this is superficially untrue. What is survival about heroin for example? But in that case, we know that heroin is a drug that hijacks the endorphin (pleasure chemical) pathways of the brain, so its a short circuiting of an originally pro-survival driver. Sex, food and other real pleasures give an endorphin release. Heroin does the same thing, but more so, as its "artificial endorphin".

And if our choices are determined, would it not also be reasonable to think that our world views are a product of our determined choices?
To some extent they must be the product of the information available. A person of highly religious bent would naturally become a devout Christian in America, a Hindu in India, and a Muslim in Arabia.

But going further...I think its pretty shaky trying to tie back all our abstract choices to some simple determinism that in any case is usually invisible to ourselves. Lets put it this way - the weather is a determined system but its also a mathematically chaotic one. Technically, this means the tiniest changes in inputs can have enormous impacts on outputs ( a surprising discovery by Lorenz in the 1960s). In fact past a few days, weather forecasting is doomed to failure no matter how good we get at it.(Not to be confuse with climate forecasting which has different issues).

Determinism might be philosophically true but its practically USEFUL only in very simple systems. It has no predictive power when applied to complex systems and the combination of thoughts, feelings, and drives in a human mind are well beyond predictability for the most part.

So you get two individuals that grow up in a very similar environment and one becomes a biologist defending evolution and the other a pastor defending creationism and its almost impossible to pinpoint the multiple factors of environment, genes, and personal experiences that would lead each of them up their respective pathways. Its kind of a blind alley...

Isn't it more relevant and interesting to ask whether one of them is right, and by what criteria we decide he is right?

NB - some paragraphs would make your posts much more readable!

““You must not lose faith ”

Level 5

Since: Jun 11

Location hidden

#26 Jan 30, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
Thank you for the input. I may be unclear myself, and since I do want to be taken seriously I ask for patience as I seek clarity. I was not making a logical argument but asking a question that is philosophical in nature; a question about being and knowing. There were therefore, no premises and no conclusion. I understand also that we make choices. The question was not about the human ability to make choices. Or even the necessity of making choices. But are the choice we make determined in any way? Do we make choices based on our preferences? To maintain psychological homeostasis we make choices designed to reduce stress. If we are “satisfied” our stress is reduced and psychological homeostasis is achieved. This is an evolved human characteristic. Are our preference are a limiting factor in making choices? If so, then at least to some degree our choices are “determined” by our preferences. Do we choose our preferences? I can’t say for sure, but I can say I like ice cream. To choose between eating ice cream and not eating ice cream is a choice I make with a goal in mind; the goal of not gaining weight or of losing weight. The tension between reason and emotion tug and pull as I make this choice. Either reason or emotion will win the argument I have with myself over the question. But if I choose to eat ice cream, which ice cream will I choose? I will choose the one that meets my preference. There are certain ice creams I would never choose and there are others I will almost always choose. I also agree that reason and choice are not outside deterministic framework. If however, our choices are limited, then to at least some degree our choices must also be determined.“Determination” is one facet of determinism and if choices are limited then determination seems unavoidable. Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow say this,“It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.” Hawking has also said that yes, we are determined but since we don’t know what has been determined, we might as well not be. Once again, free will (choice) is an illusion. In the naturalist’s view of our being, there is no explanation for our present condition except evolution. Our bodies do not give us the choice of not breathing because we have evolved as we have. Breathing is not a choice. But we do make choices because we must make choices as Hitchens points out. The question once again is not “do we make choices” but rather, are the choices we make in any way determined by our evolutionary bent? And if our choices are determined, would it not also be reasonable to think that our world views are a product of our determined choices?
Horizon on BBC tv just has a special about Sugar v. fat.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03t8r4h

Icecream (and glazed donuts)50% Sugar and 50% fat is exactly what no mammal can resist. The award system kicks in and we are never satisfied for the ghrelin -hunger pang that gets satiated mainly by protein is not triggered. Which would be the cae if you would take a spoon of Sugar, swallow it. And then a spoon of double fat cream. It would not give you pleasure and your body will give the enough signal.
If you are mentally strong enough you can convince yourself that ice-cream is indeed these two disgusting taste sensations. Good luck!
Old Guy

Napa, CA

#27 Jan 31, 2014
I have read your input over several times and considered your thoughts carefully. I completely agree with your last sentence. It sums up the importance of the issue at hand. Although this discussion may appear to have little to do with evolution, I think one would be mistaken to draw that conclusion.
A belief system which accepts evolution as the only explanation for man, must deal with the issue of determinism. As you say, it is true that determinism cannot predict human actions. But that truth does not alter the existence of “evolutionary bents” that certainly appear to be determined. As Hawking and Mlodinow point out, there are just too many variables to make prediction possible. And, as with your illustration of the weather, one small variable can have enormous impacts. We simply cannot know all the variables and how the variables affect different people. Prediction is one thing but understanding the existence of this human evolutionary quirk is another.
If an individual accepts the possibility that his or her evolutionary bent will color the perception of and processing of information, then one would certainly exercise more caution before deciding the “truth” or “facts” of a matter. It should always be acceptable to acknowledge the absence of absolute certainty. One would always be on firmer ground to say “I believe” rather than “I know”. Unfortunately, people of all persuasions tend to claim just the opposite even when certainty is impossible to achieve.
In your illustration of two people from similar environments, one a biologist defending evolution and one a pastor defending creationism, the ability to identify variables that account for this difference is not important to us as much as it is import to the two individuals. Each should question “self” at least as much as they question the other. The unfortunate tendency I have seen is to defend self at the expense of other. This may make us feel good but it makes it impossible to grow. Agreement is not always a necessary ingredient of conversation centered on controversial topics.
Evolutionary science for example, is one thing but evolutionary theory is something quite different. Science may be empirical and factual. But theory rests on the assumptions of naturalism. Naturalism demands an explanation that is limited to the natural world. It is therefore assumed that life was created by a lightning strike on a puddle with the right mix of chemicals because that, or some other similar event, can be the only explanation. From this event, life then adapted, changed and evolved into what we see today. When one suggests that evolutionary theory rests on assumptions, one is branded as a heretic. I have no problem with evolutionary science or theory. They have no ultimate effect on belief systems other than presenting a point of division. But those who insist that theory is fact do so thoughtlessly. The facts which support the assumption cannot be confirmed with certainty.
Is it our evolutionary journey that produces this behavior? Perhaps. Perhaps our need to survive produced in us the need to be right even when the facts do not completely support us. Being right is important to survival even in the world of work and society today. If one always succumbs to this evolutionary quirk however (if that is what it is) then one will never be open to new possibilities. One will never grow.“Knowing” one is right erects an impenetrable barrier which filters out information that is not in agreement with what we already “know” to be right. This results in entrenchment rather than enlightenment. Some people appear to be satisfied with this state of affairs.“…..I set my heart to find, inward adornings of the mind: Knowledge and virtue, truth and grace, These are the robes of richest dress.” Watts
Thank you for your thoughts….they have been helpful.
Old Guy

Napa, CA

#28 Jan 31, 2014
If you are mentally strong enough you can convince yourself that ice-cream is indeed these two disgusting taste sensations. Good luck!

If you are correct, then the "just say no" approach to addictions would work. Since there are addictions, either this view is incorrect or addicts are not "mentally strong".

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#29 Feb 2, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
Science may be empirical and factual. But theory rests on the assumptions of naturalism. Naturalism demands an explanation that is limited to the natural world. It is therefore assumed that life was created by a lightning strike on a puddle with the right mix of chemicals because that, or some other similar event, can be the only explanation.
Not really. The "lightning in a puddle" story is not regarded as science by scientists. Nobody knows how life originated, though its being researched on naturalistic lines. However no honest scientist will tell you we KNOW life originated naturally, because we do not know how.

Evolution is different - and only applies as a theory once life exists. It is well supported by every available line of evidence we have.

So why do scientists research the origin of life on naturalistic lines? NOT because they know it happened that way, but because the possibility that it did has to be investigated. And how do you investigate without naturalism?

The origin of life is still a mystery in science because:

1. There is no scientific theory of miracles nor any way to investigate them.

2. There is no scientific theory of the origin of life.

We do have many hypotheses for how life could originate naturally but none will be accepted by scientists until they have been shown to be workable. In the meantime "we don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer!!! You are welcome to assume a miracle if you want to on that count. However its not generally the scientific way to assume that everything we cannot yet explain is evidence of a miracle. If scientists thought that way we would still believe that lightning was proof of Thor's anger.
From this event, life then adapted, changed and evolved into what we see today. When one suggests that evolutionary theory rests on assumptions, one is branded as a heretic.
False. We all know the assumptions embedded in the scientific method. Nobody is branded a heretic for pointing them out.

What you call "heretic branding" is the dismissal of baloney that its proponents call science but which does not meet the requirements of the scientific method. It is clearly pointed out to them why their pet ideas are called baloney.

Take for example someone who says "life cannot be naturally formed because my calculations show that the chance for producing a single protein are 1 in 1000000000000000000000000 " (add zeroes at will). Its not only bad science, its bad statistics. We know why. We tell them why. We show the reasons why. But they rant on, and go running to the court of uninformed public opinion with their "argument" whining that scientists call them "heretics".

Utter trash. They are just doing bad science. And for the most part, we know that the subtext is that they will do anything to attack evolution because they believe it threatens their religious views. They do not really care that scientists easily debunk their "theories", they WANT to be branded heretics by scientists, because they are not trying to appeal to scientists. They are trying to discredit scientists in the minds of the public, which is a very different game.

The irony is that if anyone could come up with a real, legitimate set of evidence against evolution or for an alternative theory, they would become famous. Every biologist would love to challenge aspects of evolution and some have succeeded. They are famous - among biologists of course. You won't see them on the Kardashians. But names like Margulis, Kimura, and Haldane are famous in biology for making significant changes to the theory of evolution. There is not a single aspect of evolution that has not been raked over the coals by scientists themselves for over a century and a half. In other words - nothing is assumed apart from the tenets of the scientific method itself, and that is assumed because it works.
Old Guy

Napa, CA

#30 Feb 4, 2014
"Chimney1"
Not really. The "lightning in a puddle" story is not regarded as science by scientists. Nobody knows how life originated, though its being researched on naturalistic lines. However no honest scientist will tell you we KNOW life originated naturally, because we do not know how.
I agree, we do not know how life originated. Science, as we know it, may never be able to tell us. Unfortunately, many people seem to think that scientific speculation is to be considered scientific fact. The “lightning in a puddle” story is really nothing but a “creation story” for naturalists who happen to believe the story is also science.
So why do scientists research the origin of life on naturalistic lines? NOT because they know it happened that way, but because the possibility that it did has to be investigated. And how do you investigate without naturalism?
The origin of life is still a mystery in science because:
1. There is no scientific theory of miracles nor any way to investigate them.
2. There is no scientific theory of the origin of life.
We do have many hypotheses for how life could originate naturally but none will be accepted by scientists until they have been shown to be workable. In the meantime "we don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer!!! You are welcome to assume a miracle if you want to on that count. However it’s not generally the scientific way to assume that everything we cannot yet explain is evidence of a miracle. If scientists thought that way we would still believe that lightning was proof of Thor's anger.
Agreed. The problem naturalism faces as it attempts to discover the origin of life is the tools of naturalism cannot explain an event that appears not to conform to the laws of nature. Investigating evolution along naturalistic lines is necessary because as you say, the possibility must be investigated. It would be prudent for the scientific laymen, like myself, to keep an open mind.
I do not propose a miracle to explain the origin of life as my quest is to understand how naturalism deals with its dilemmas given its obvious limitations; the origin of life is only one such dilemma. Even those who accept naturalism must see that an event not explained by natural laws must fit what we would describe as a miracle. And so far, the tools of naturalism seen unable to avoid and event that defies natural laws. I have made this suggestion to a good friend that embraces naturalism. His reply is that science does not yet have an explanation but, given time, science will have an explanation. I point out to him that this belief in science fits a definition of “faith”. He vehemently disagrees with my suggestion.
I once found a “creation story” in which a giant lived in an egg. One day he stretched and broke the egg. All above him became sky and all below him became earth. This story is certainly not science. I do not believe this story explains our existence. I do not think the culture that created this story actually believed it to be factual either. But, we (all humans) seek to understand our existence. Naturalism is limited to the natural world because it must be. We have no tools to investigate nature other than those offered by the natural world. But, there appears to be the danger of closed minds in accepting the premise that all explanations must fit the naturalistic model. People begin to believe the story (or theory) of naturalism and begin believing that theory is fact. They seem to be unable to accept the uncertainty that comes with not knowing.
more to follow
Old Guy

Napa, CA

#31 Feb 4, 2014
"Chimney1"

From this event, life then adapted, changed and evolved into what we see today. When one suggests that evolutionary theory rests on assumptions, one is branded as a heretic.
False. We all know the assumptions embedded in the scientific method. Nobody is branded a heretic for pointing them out.

This may be generally true. As scientists struggle to find answers within the limitations of naturalism, even scientists are not immune from making what appear to be, strange, wild guesses. Francis Crick and Fredrick Hoyle, facing the limitations imposed by mathematical possibilities that life could have evolved on this planet, suggested the possibility that life came from space. Is this true? I don’t know. I do understand that both these men should not be labeled heretics or that what they say should be called nonsense. But on the surface, this idea seems to be grasping at straws

I am not really interested in evidence against evolution. I am interested in possibilities. Evolution is only one possibility but, if one is limited by naturalism, one is also limited to some form of evolution. And if one accepts naturalism and therefore, some form of evolution, then one must also accept the premise that science does not “know”. Perhaps science cannot know. And if science does not know, then the person that is not a scientist but happens to be a naturalist cannot know either.

In the meantime, why is there opposition to the concept of intelligent design? It may well be true that some who suggest Intelligent Design do so because they find evolution and religious beliefs to be incompatible. The concept of intelligent design however, has its origin in philosophy of the early Greeks so it is not the invention of a religion. It is possible that for those who believe it is either evolution or design believe this because their minds have been closed by their deterministic bent and therefore, their view of the world.

Those who suggest intelligent design are told it is not science. Agreed. But much of what opponents of design call science is not science either. Life from space is not science but Crick and Hoyle do not face a barrage of opposition and name calling from orthodox scientists. Richard Dawkins says there is only the appearance of design. This does nothing to explain apparent design but does a great deal to dismiss those who believe there is a designer. For the extremes on both sides of the issue it is an “either / or” proposition. Why does this have to be? It need not be unless one is unwilling to consider new possibilities.

It is an interesting reversal from the Galileo incident. Forgotten in the Galileo incident is the fact that it was scientifically minded priests that supported the publication of his work; Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. For these scientifically minded priests, a heliocentric universe did not threaten their religious beliefs. Remembered in the Galileo story is the refusal of religious ideologues to even look through his telescope. Today, it is the non-scientific ideologues that refuse to look through the telescope and consider other explanations. This I suppose, can only be chalked up to “human nature”. This also seems strong evidence that evolution produces “bents” in humans that are difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. Something we humans must live with.

Another interesting fact lost in time regarding the Galileo incident is that opposition to his work did not come originally from religious zealots; it came from scientists that clung to the Ptolemaic model of the universe. That model was the scientific explanation for over one thousand years. This at least demonstrates that resistance to change is a human trait and not just a religious trait.

Thank you once again. It is refreshing to speak with someone that does not insist that their view is the only right view.

Since: Nov 07

St. James, NY

#32 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
I am not really interested in evidence against evolution. I am interested in possibilities. Evolution is only one possibility but, if one is limited by naturalism, one is also limited to some form of evolution. And if one accepts naturalism and therefore, some form of evolution, then one must also accept the premise that science does not “know”. Perhaps science cannot know. And if science does not know, then the person that is not a scientist but happens to be a naturalist cannot know either.
Science is naturalistic in that it only observes and measures the natural world, so only naturalistic results will come from it. But science does not convey the philosophy of Naturalism, that only the natural world exists. Evolution is the 'answer' only to the question of why there is a diversity of living things on Earth, nothing more and nothing less. It is not meant to provide meaning in existence.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#33 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
Thank you for the input. I may be unclear myself, and since I do want to be taken seriously I ask for patience as I seek clarity. I was not making a logical argument but asking a question that is philosophical in nature; a question about being and knowing. There were therefore, no premises and no conclusion. I understand also that we make choices. The question was not about the human ability to make choices. Or even the necessity of making choices. But are the choice we make determined in any way? Do we make choices based on our preferences? To maintain psychological homeostasis we make choices designed to reduce stress. If we are “satisfied” our stress is reduced and psychological homeostasis is achieved. This is an evolved human characteristic. Are our preference are a limiting factor in making choices? If so, then at least to some degree our choices are “determined” by our preferences. Do we choose our preferences? I can’t say for sure, but I can say I like ice cream. To choose between eating ice cream and not eating ice cream is a choice I make with a goal in mind; the goal of not gaining weight or of losing weight. The tension between reason and emotion tug and pull as I make this choice. Either reason or emotion will win the argument I have with myself over the question. But if I choose to eat ice cream, which ice cream will I choose? I will choose the one that meets my preference. There are certain ice creams I would never choose and there are others I will almost always choose. I also agree that reason and choice are not outside deterministic framework. If however, our choices are limited, then to at least some degree our choices must also be determined.“Determination” is one facet of determinism and if choices are limited then determination seems unavoidable. Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow say this,“It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.” Hawking has also said that yes, we are determined but since we don’t know what has been determined, we might as well not be. Once again, free will (choice) is an illusion. In the naturalist’s view of our being, there is no explanation for our present condition except evolution. Our bodies do not give us the choice of not breathing because we have evolved as we have. Breathing is not a choice. But we do make choices because we must make choices as Hitchens points out. The question once again is not “do we make choices” but rather, are the choices we make in any way determined by our evolutionary bent? And if our choices are determined, would it not also be reasonable to think that our world views are a product of our determined choices?
Actually you're not trying hard enough. If you WANTED to stop breathing, you could.

Also atheists can be just as flawed as any other group. Even they have cranks in their ranks. Which is why some can even reject evolution. UFO fanatics for example.

Also you may be unintentionally misrepresenting Hawking. Since we appear to live in a quantum reality, randomness is also a factor, thus negating the idea of "naturalists must adhere to a pre-determined destiny". If you REALLY want free will to be an illusion, then look to creationism.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#34 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
A belief system which accepts evolution
Beliefs are irrelevant to science, period.
Old Guy wrote:
If an individual accepts the possibility that his or her evolutionary bent will color the perception of and processing of information, then one would certainly exercise more caution before deciding the “truth” or “facts” of a matter. It should always be acceptable to acknowledge the absence of absolute certainty.
Nothing to worry about. Since science doesn't DEAL with absolute certainty, your call for caution is unwarranted. Science doesn't deal with "proof". It deals with facts and evidence. For proof, look to math and alcohol.
Old Guy wrote:
Evolutionary science for example, is one thing but evolutionary theory is something quite different. Science may be empirical and factual. But theory rests on the assumptions of naturalism.
ALL science does. This is not a bad thing, especially in light of the fact that no alternative that works has ever been proposed.

Also science doesn't assume naturalism is all there is - it's quite happy for you to invoke Gods, ghosts, goblins, fairies, whatever you like - all you need to do is demonstrate these things empirically via the scientific method.
Old Guy wrote:
It is therefore assumed that life was created by a lightning strike on a puddle with the right mix of chemicals because that, or some other similar event, can be the only explanation.
Wrong. The theory of evolution does not rely on abiogenesis. Evolution is happy whether it was chemistry, God, aliens, or some currently unknown fourth option.
Old Guy wrote:
When one suggests that evolutionary theory rests on assumptions, one is branded as a heretic.
ALL science rests on assumptions. But these are not baseless. They are called axioms, and are merely a starting point for a practical framework. They are not "assumptions of something unknown but is considered true anyway", since scientific theories are tested. Got another theory? Just come up with a different set of axioms. If yours works better, it will replace evolution. 150 years later, no-one's done that yet.
Old Guy wrote:
But those who insist that theory is fact do so thoughtlessly. The facts which support the assumption cannot be confirmed with certainty.
They can if the theory has facts. Evolution is both fact and theory. There are facts of evolution - life changes over time for example. And the theory explains those facts.

It's not that you're a "heretic. It's just you do not understand the scientific method. Hence those people's criticism of science tend to be ignored.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#35 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
Is it our evolutionary journey that produces this behavior? Perhaps. Perhaps our need to survive produced in us the need to be right even when the facts do not completely support us. Being right is important to survival even in the world of work and society today. If one always succumbs to this evolutionary quirk however (if that is what it is) then one will never be open to new possibilities. One will never grow.“Knowing” one is right erects an impenetrable barrier which filters out information that is not in agreement with what we already “know” to be right. This results in entrenchment rather than enlightenment.
Translation - "I know evolution must be wrong somehow, but I just can't demonstrate it. Therefore I must paint science as dogmatism!"

Except that science accepts all its concepts are tentative, even with theories whose validation has long been established by decades upon decades of scientific testing, such as evolution.

Yes, it's always POSSIBLE that some future evidence may be discovered that either modifies or even maybe outright falsifies evolution.

It's just that it simply hasn't happened yet.

Now, to be sure, humans themselves can be dogmatic, even in science. This is not a **completely** bad thing. For example, scientists rejected plate tectonics when it was first proposed. You don't go throwing away an old theory which has worked for years just because someone comes up with any old new idea. But eventually, after years of evidence gathering and experimentation, plate tectonics was accepted due to the weight of evidence. Now with evolution, that's ruled the roost of biology for 150 years. MAYBE one day it will be completely replaced by a new idea that does the job of explaining the evidence better.

But unfortunately all we have today are people repeating flawed philosophical arguments and creationist apologetics.(shrug)
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#36 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
The “lightning in a puddle” story is really nothing but a “creation story” for naturalists who happen to believe the story is also science.
No, actually the "lighting puddle" story is a caricature invented by the anti-science mob to mock the idea that life may have developed naturally. There are a number of hypotheses for abiogenesis, all of them being researched. And none of them involve anything "non-natural", "supernatural" or even artificial. But the advantage that those "natural" hypotheses have over the rest is that, unlike the others, they CAN be researched.

As the beginning of life is an event that took place over 3.5 billion years ago it's not an easy task to investigate, but this is what we know:

1 - Life first appeared 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago.

2 - Chemistry is responsible for the creation of life all over the world every day, so there is no reason to presume that it could not be responsible for the start.

3 - Abiogenesis expects that if life started from basic chemistry we should see that in the geological record. We do. The first life wasn't fully-grown adult mammals and plants like today, it was microscopic protocells, and before that, organic chemistry Once we had life, evolution took over which eventually led to single-celled organisms, then multi-celled organisms, then more complex forms of life.
Old Guy wrote:
The origin of life is still a mystery in science because:
1. There is no scientific theory of miracles nor any way to investigate them.
2. There is no scientific theory of the origin of life.
1: That's a problem for those who promote "non-natural" miracles. Science doesn't care.
2: But there are at least scientific hypotheses. That's better than nothing, which is what everyone else who dislikes abiogenesis has.
Old Guy wrote:
In the meantime "we don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer!
And that IS what science says. But it ALSO says: "Let's try to find out!"
Old Guy wrote:
The problem naturalism faces as it attempts to discover the origin of life is the tools of naturalism cannot explain an event that appears not to conform to the laws of nature.
There is nothing about abiogenesis to suggest that the event doesn't conform to the laws of nature. Any claim otherwise is just wishful thinking on behalf of the people who prefer magical miracles.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#37 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
Investigating evolution along naturalistic lines is necessary because as you say, the possibility must be investigated. It would be prudent for the scientific laymen, like myself, to keep an open mind.
Remember two things:

1 - Evolution does not rely on abiogenesis.

2 - Evolution has been demonstrated whether you keep an open mind or not. Just because you don't understand biology doesn't mean biologists don't. Layman's opinions from the incredulous do not matter, period.
Old Guy wrote:
I do not propose a miracle to explain the origin of life as my quest is to understand how naturalism deals with its dilemmas given its obvious limitations; the origin of life is only one such dilemma.
Given that methodological naturalism is the only thing that works, I'd say it has far LESS limitations than any alternative you propose. The problem with the "super"-natural is that it's undemonstrable, untestable, unpredictable. So while anything may be possible under supernaturalism, you could never show it. That's why people who claim magic powers or events can't do so when the camera's switched on. That's why it's pretty much useless. Unless you happen to be the God that's ultimately behind all of it, but that entity has apparently chosen to stay anonymous.
Old Guy wrote:
Even those who accept naturalism must see that an event not explained by natural laws must fit what we would describe as a miracle.
Really? And what happened to "I don't know yet. Let's try to find out!" ?

Incredulity is not evidence of miracles. In fact the terms evidence and miracles are utterly contradictory.
Old Guy wrote:
And so far, the tools of naturalism seen unable to avoid and event that defies natural laws.
No, you have that totally backwards. Events that defy natural laws avoid empirical validation. That's why not one person on Earth today can present a single event that is categorically non-natural (bear in mind "artificial" causes are natural in the sense their effects and methods can be detected via natural means).
Old Guy wrote:
I point out to him that this belief in science fits a definition of “faith”. He vehemently disagrees with my suggestion.
Your friend is correct, as scientific evidence makes faith superfluous.
Old Guy wrote:
But, there appears to be the danger of closed minds in accepting the premise that all explanations must fit the naturalistic model.
Unless you can provide a non-naturalistic model that does the job better.

No-one has been able to do so for THOUSANDS of years. Something to consider.
Old Guy wrote:
People begin to believe the story (or theory) of naturalism and begin believing that theory is fact. They seem to be unable to accept the uncertainty that comes with not knowing.
There is no story of naturalism. If it's natural then it has an explanation. If it's not natural then it has no explanation. Your issue appears to be that if something has an explanation then it's WORSE than something which has NO explanation. In short, for ANY phenomenon we have an explanation for, we should be wary, because instead it may be magic.

This isn't only anti-science thinking, this is Dark Ages thinking.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#38 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
facing the limitations imposed by mathematical possibilities that life could have evolved on this planet
This is wrong. Those limitations do not exist, and are really an invention by creationists. Since we don't have enough information to know all the variables of an event from 3.5 billion years ago, we therefore don't have enough information to assign accurate values TO those variables. Hence those "limitations" you claim are known are NOT known. Also you are forgetting to take the size of the universe into account - even if life was SO rare that it developed on only on planet in every 100 galaxies, there would STILL be BILLIONS of habitable planets in the universe. The odds of life on a PARTICULAR planet may be low, but the chances increase with each extra planet.
Old Guy wrote:
I am not really interested in evidence against evolution. I am interested in possibilities.
Except your possibilities are as verifiable as the claim we're all living in the Matrix.
Old Guy wrote:
Evolution is only one possibility but, if one is limited by naturalism, one is also limited to some form of evolution.
Already shown wrong. However the fact is evolution is demonstrable. Don't blame others because you can't back up your own claims. Science doesn't depend on PHILOSOPHICAL naturalism, but METHODOLOGICAL naturalism. Hence no philosophical assumptive bias.

If anything, reality appears biased against your philosophical claims. Which is why creationists literally have issues with reality.
Old Guy wrote:
In the meantime, why is there opposition to the concept of intelligent design?
It's not the idea in principle, it's the fact it's a front for pseudo-scientific creationism. It's invisible Jewish magic couched in big sciencey-sounding words. Couple that with the fact they have zero evidence and no intention of doing any research. ID-Creationism is a political movement and nothing to do with science.
Old Guy wrote:
The concept of intelligent design however, has its origin in philosophy of the early Greeks so it is not the invention of a religion.
Since religions predate those, you're wrong. Plus the fact the DI are known liars for Jesus. It's just they like to plagiarise from everybody, including the ancient Greeks.
Old Guy wrote:
Life from space is not science
Actually it is a scientific hypothesis, since it has the virtue of being possible to investigate by science. ID on the other hand proposes magic Jews, which is NOT possible to investigate by science.
The Dude

Macclesfield, UK

#39 Feb 4, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
Richard Dawkins says there is only the appearance of design. This does nothing to explain apparent design but does a great deal to dismiss those who believe there is a designer. For the extremes on both sides of the issue it is an “either / or” proposition. Why does this have to be?
It doesn't. Theists who accept evolution exist. However the theology side isn't science, while evolution is. The ID crowd on the other hand spend all their time arguing AGAINST evolution (with recycled creationist arguments) so they can take much of the blame (most I'd say) for promoting the dichotomy of evolution without God or design.
Old Guy wrote:
For these scientifically minded priests, a heliocentric universe did not threaten their religious beliefs.
But it DID threaten the religious establishment, who wanted to hang Galileo. Just as science today threatens creationists, so they're attempting to hang science education. By the neck. Permanently.

They were wrong then, and they're wrong now. This is because they are stupid. Reality isn't real because Jews are magic. By the way, did you remember to say grace? No? A DOZEN LASHES YOU COMMUNIST GOD-HATING MUSLIM ATHEIST BUDDHIST HEATHEN!!!

http://www.theind.com/news/cover-story/16379-...
Old Guy wrote:
Another interesting fact lost in time regarding the Galileo incident is that opposition to his work did not come originally from religious zealots; it came from scientists that clung to the Ptolemaic model of the universe. That model was the scientific explanation for over one thousand years. This at least demonstrates that resistance to change is a human trait and not just a religious trait.
Except it was the religious establishment who tried to hang him for heresy. Yes there was scientific resistance to change, and I already pointed out why it was understandable. It may be hard, but it's up to the new guy to back up his claims. And as history shows us, Galileo's claims won out, via the natural application of empiricism and the scientific method. Because he came up with a model that explained the evidence better.
Old Guy wrote:
Thank you once again. It is refreshing to speak with someone that does not insist that their view is the only right view.
Evolution may not be the only right view. It may even be the wrong view. But from what we can tell so far (thanks to evidence) is that the probability of evolution being correct is EXCEEDINGLY high. So much so that it likely will change (as science should adapt to new evidence and new discoveries), but (probably) not a whole lot.

Of course anyone else is free to chime in any time with a better alternative. Hasn't happened in 150 years, and doesn't look as if that will change for another few hundred. But in MY personal opinion, I wouldn't place much stock in "non-natural explanations", as they have been a complete and total utter failure for the entirety of human history.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#40 Feb 5, 2014
Old Guy wrote:
"Chimney1"
Francis Crick and Fredrick Hoyle, facing the limitations imposed by mathematical possibilities that life could have evolved on this planet, suggested the possibility that life came from space. Is this true?...both these men should not be labeled heretics
It is perfectly fine to make a conjecture in science.

But to propose it as a seriously alternative to current theory, you have to do far more than that. You have to show where its scientific predictions will differ and improve on the current theory.

You have to be able to say "if my theory X is true, we should see THIS instead of THAT as YOUR theory would predict" (confirmation) AND "If my theory X is false, we should never see THAT (phenomenon)" (falsifiability). Especially the last one!!

Neither aliens nor intelligent design have passed these tests or even been able to propose them. But nobody is demanding that "alien theory" be placed in the science curriculum as a viable alternative, nor demanding that we "teach the controversy" etc. Proponents of ID are doing that, without a shred of valid supporting evidence and no offer of any falsifiability test for their conjecture.
In the meantime, why is there opposition to the concept of intelligent design?... The concept of intelligent design however, has its origin in philosophy of the early Greeks...
Virtually every ancient people had an Intelligent Design creation story.
Those who suggest intelligent design are told it is not science....Life from space is not science but Crick and Hoyle do not face a barrage of opposition and name calling...
As explained. They did not propose it being taught as an alternative, they knew it was just a conjecture. As scientists, they WOULD NOT propose that it be taught until they had been able to develop it into a serious hypothesis with testability.
Richard Dawkins says there is only the appearance of design. This does nothing to explain apparent design
No, but he has written several detailed books that DO explain, step by step, WHY there is the apparency of design in evolved systems but no actual conscious design required. "Climbing Mount Improbability" is one.
For the extremes on both sides of the issue it is an “either / or” proposition.
You have been presented with the appearance of "extremes". Get it clear now: 99.85% of biologists accept the theory of evolution without intelligent design. Not a majority, not most, but virtually ALL of them, including the ones who believe in God. Evolution is not extreme, any more than the Periodic Table is in chemistry.

The "controversy" and the painting of them as an "extreme" is a political ploy to convince the layman. There is no controversy in the science. NOTHING so far discovered in biology requires the existence of intelligent design nor has falsified evolution.
It is an interesting reversal from the Galileo incident....Remembered in the Galileo story is the refusal of religious ideologues to even look through his telescope.
There is nothing in biology that is taught without "looking through the telescope".

FACTS, not authority, are the arbiters of truth.

They will alter their theories when the facts demand it. They teach what has been discovered in the fossil record, the genome, bio-geography, embryology, systems theory, organic chemistry. These facts support evolution, and do not support ID. No facts so far do. Which is why ID proponents are trying to appeal in the school boards and courtrooms and writing non-scientifically reviewed books - they have nothing academic to present and they KNOW IT.

They lie, quote mine, misrepresent, ignore contrary evidence, fail to answer rebuttals with evidence or logic (all that SCIENTISTS care about in the end) and then whine and play the Martyr Card with the public.

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