Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Compromise?

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Dr. Sewell’s post below generated a fairly heated debate, but it is not my purpose to address the substance of his claim or his opponents’ responses.  Instead, I was fascinated by a couple of the commenters’ calls for “compromise” between the ID camp and the NDE camp. 

As a general matter, “compromise” is a very fine thing, and if there were more of it the world would doubtless be a better place.  But it seems to me that compromise does not fit in well with the quest for scientific truth.  If two mutually exclusive theories purport to explain the same data, one of them may be right and the other one wrong, or they may both be wrong, but no one suggests we should seek a “compromise” between the two theories.  Should Copernicus have compromised with Ptolemy?  What does it even mean to “compromise” between two mutually exclusive scientific theories?  Because compromise is such a fine thing should we continue to employ epicycles for certain aspects of our cosmology even though we know they are false? 

In human relations compromise is possible because there is usually a middle ground.  When I negotiate a contract, my client might agree to accept less of “X” in exchange for more of “Y” and reach an agreement that does not give him everything he wants, but which he will nevertheless sign, because it is “good enough” and accomplishes his goals. 

But science does not work that way.  Scientific conclusions rarely run along a continuum.  They are discrete functions.  Yes/No True/False  In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them.  Therefore, pleas for “compromise” in the ID/NDE debate don’t make sense to me.

Comments
It is presently a scientific fact, but may not always be. It used to be a scientific fact that the sun was gas, not plasma. (By the way, googling "liquid gas solid -plasma -plasmas states matter" yields about 1.9 million hits. It appears that plasma hasn't caught on with K-12 educationists in the U.S.) Wikipedia says there are at least 13 identified states of matter at present, and I find all 13 in technical sources when I google. In general, when categories proliferate, physicists look to simplify. If there emerges a successful "theory of everything," a useful way of looking at states and phases of matter may be quite different from what we have now. In other words, what we now refer to as water in liquid, gaseous, and solid states will continue to exist, but not necessarily as scientific entities.Semiotic 007
December 23, 2007
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semiotic So are you saying the statement "water can exist as a gas, liquid, or solid" is not a scientific fact?DaveScot
December 23, 2007
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DaveScot: In the 67 comments preceding your first, no one referred to what you said in another thread. It apparently seemed to you we were focused on your remark back whenever, but we were actually engaged in our own debate. It was tribune7 who, in comment 5, responded to BarryA's post with "It would be like compromising on the freezing point of water." When I read technical papers by physicists, I am always struck by the frequency of and emphasis on the word model. That word is hugely deemphasized in popsci writing, and an unfortunate consequence is that many readers make the error of reifying the abstractions of models. "Did a designer tune the cosmological constant?" is a sad, sad example of reification. Somehow the weight of a correction Einstein added to an existing model (adapting it to fit new data) became in the minds of some benighted souls something that exists in physical reality. What I find "amusing," to use your word, is that Einstein removed the correction (including the cosmological constant) when additional data came along to suggest he never needed it. More than thirty years after Einstein's death, physicists again decided they needed a cosmological constant to model observed phenomena. Some physicists suggest that observers in different parts of the universe would assign different values to the constant. This is not a "quibble." From top to bottom, physics is full of tenuous assumptions and definitions (this includes elements of models) that consumers of science mistake for the "truth" about physical reality. The people who are most likely to keep matters of "truth" straight are actually not scientists, but philosophers of science. (The ID movement has benefited from having some highly-educated philosophers of science. Most scientists are philosophical cretins, and someone like Dr. Dembski can tie them in knots when the discussion goes to what science is and what science might be.) Only one discussant, StephenB, showed up at the ballpark where I was playing:
Don’t you think you are getting a little carried away with “social construction” theory.
Although I don't think I made temperature into a social construct, it was an entirely reasonable remark. I would have loved to have seen more along those lines.Semiotic 007
December 23, 2007
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One of my favorites from Pascal: "That which is incomprehensible does not cease to exist."BarryA
December 21, 2007
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The quibble over the temperatures and pressures at which H20 undergoes a state transition are amusing but miss the point I made about scientific facts which did not reference any particular transition points. I stated it's a scientific fact that water can exist in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms. I consciously avoided any specific transition points so there could be no pedantic quibbles about it. Science is chock full of facts but not all sciences - just the so-called hard sciences like chemistry and physics. There's a lot of truth in the saying that all of science can be reduced to either physics or stamp collecting.DaveScot
December 21, 2007
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i mean no offense but its laughable how modern COLLEGE biology text book mention the cambrain in about 2 sentences but then go on to write an entire book of speculation represented as scientific fact and consensus = and the sad thing is that the consensus part is largely right- because they all keep useing and teching the same garbage recycleing it over and over- and why is cambrian explosion barerly mentioned? obviously because the most incredibly obvious ting about it is that it refutes the DE theory. It doesnt fit- not into the theory and therefore not into the text books.Frost122585
December 21, 2007
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semiotic007, I really dont think that you are so right about all of this- Darwin's Black Box did very well when it was published and i think that it is less respected today than it was then because the DE group has had time to invent all kinds of creation tales of how IC "might" have happened and thus- it "must" have happened via DE. As far as the design inference- I really think it was until NFL that Dembski's theory was substantiated- NFL is one of the greatest bokks that i have ever read and i think in time it will be held up as one of the greatest works regarding origins ever written- NFL may have replaced the ORigins of Species. "Specified Complexity cannot be purchased without Intelligece"- what a mantra! In any event i think you should look at the ID movement today as stronger than it has ever been= since Darwin that is- and yet it is the same political crowed in the Schools (the teacher's unions etc) that have waged a holly war on ID- ie Dover.Frost122585
December 21, 2007
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H'mm: A few notes are clearly needed: 1] Semiotic, 55: One of the less brilliant things the Dover Area School District did was to single out mainstream evolutionary theory as “just a theory.” It is a commonplace to beat up on the Dover School Board. But much of the adverse commentary is unfair or inaccurate. For instance, actually, THIS is what they said on theories and the NDT:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.
That seems fair enough to me, and it obviously explicitly relates to ALL scientific theories, not just NDT. At least, if my ability to read English is still working. Indeed, it is only because the rhetorical and legal atmospheres are so charged with hostility and suspicion that the statement is even controversial, as I discuss in the blog post which appears at Appendix 2 in my always linked. 2] If the district had prepared a statement saying about all scientific theories more or less what the actual statement said about evolutionary theory, and had instructed all science teachers to read the statement in all science classes, the teachers might well have complied, and the district would have been legally in the clear. Did you see what happened to Sen Santorum's academic freedom amendment -- e.g at he notoriously unreliable on such matters Wiki, whihc refuses to acknowledge that Evo Mat is highly controversial and that its handmaiden NDT is also controversial? [The classic pretence of "consensus" as a "proof" of scientific truth that seems to be exploding over on the Global Warming issue!] I quote:
"It is the sense of the [US] Senate that— (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.
We are dealing with censorship of freedom of thought, and censors seldom gently surrender power, however politely the request is put. 3] If you buy into Einstein’s relation of mass and energy, matter cannot exist at absolute zero. That is, the way you got an absolute was to introduce a theoretical construct. First, it is the Third Law of Thermodynamics, the Nernst Theorem [if memory serves -- too lazy to go over and pull a tome or two just now . . .], that forbids reaching Absolute Zero in any finite number of refrigeration cycles. Second, if one looks at say the C18 - 19 Charles Law etc, one sees that the behaviour of real but dilute gases is pointing somewhere as T falls. Just like, Galileo was pointing somewhere as he thought through to the issue of ideal friction-less, air resistance less mechanics. That one may not actually achieve perfectly the ideal state does not diminish its utility or objective reality as a limit. [Indeed, this issue of the reality of a limit that one may only approach is also -- and in context rather unsurprisingly (guess why Newton is the founder of the fully synthesised classical dynamics AND of calculus along the way) -- the foundational premise of the differential and integral calculus!] So, do you deny the reality of limits? If so, why do you use devices that rest on their reality, including not only the thermometer but also the automobile, the air plane etc? Not to mention, infinite impulse response [feedback-incorporating] digital filters; which includes many an economically important forecasting model. 4] There is no clear relation of the triple point of water to temperature on the microscopic scale, because the water is in three different states. Excuse me! First, simply insert the relevant object into the triple point cell's cup! [This is one of the ways that thermometers are calibrated.] Next, the concept that there is an average amount of energy per molecular degree of freedom which is metrically related to temperature is not a vague concept, it is a key point in the elucidation of what temperature means in physics. Molecules tend to have 1/2 kT energy per degree of freedom, on average, k being Boltzmann's constant. That energy goes into translational modes for a monoatomic gas, which as noted can approach the ideal gas as it gets sufficiently dilute. From the premise of such random energy [more generally also in rotational and vibrational modes --things get complex once we deal with complicated molecules and introduce the quantum effects and freezing out of degrees of freedom], we may accurately deduce the observable macroscopic properties, through first Kinetic Theory, then Statistical Thermodynamics. 5] I can easily locate the definitions and/or assumptions any “truth” you identify depends upon. And in some cases, such as the notion of temperature, I can easily determine how the “truth” has changed over time. First, I think you need to read my remarks on the provisional nature of science, e.g in my briefing for primary level Science teachers, here. Next, you should read my base-level comments on reason and belief here. Proof and truth are two separate things, and we may confidently know truths that are unproven and unprovable. For instance, following Josiah Royce, try: "error exists." Deny it, and you instantiate it -- it is undeniably true. But, that's not a demonstrative proof beyond all assumptions and faith-point commitments. It is an example of adequate/sufficient and good warrant. And BTW, a commitment to a given Scripture as a credible revelation from God, is a faith-point commitment. It may be well warranted, but it is not the subject of demonstrative proof. Here is Clarke Pinnock in a telling remark on the Christian Scriptures:
Why, in the last analysis, do Christian people believe the Bible is God’s Word? Not because they have studied up on Christian evidences and apologetics, however useful these may prove to some. Christians believe the Bible because it has been able to do for them exactly as Paul promised it would [i.e. in 2 Tim 3:13 – 17]: introduce them to a saving and transforming knowledge of Christ. Reasons for faith and answers to perplexing difficulties in the text, therefore, are supportive but not constitutive of faith in God and his Word. Faith rests ultimately, not on in human wisdom, but in a demonstration of the Spirit and power. [The Scripture Principle, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1985), p. xix.]
6] Frost, 58: I feel [ID] benefited from the dover trial. I think the courts and the teachers unions were exposed as exactly what they are- intolerant demagogues . . . teachers and scientists today . . . have been caught in the web of institutional bigotry towards the theory of teleology that was displaced by Darwinism 10[0] [nb probably more like 70 - 80] years ago. In the long run, yes. In the short run, look at the tactics being used by the Wikipedians in their main article on ID (As I briefly reviewed based on my straight or spin grid at no 26 in the Comer actual email thread of Dec 13). Then, look at my above on atmosphere poisoning, as Aristotle points out. Let's just hope it won't take a judicial murder or the near equivalent for today's Athenians to wake up. 7] Semiotic, 62: it’s clear that ID theorists are not just asking for admission of a new theory into the existing framework of science, but for a radical transformation of science itself. Actually, the impact of design theory is to call Science back FROM such a radical, ideologically motivated restructuring that is unwarranted by reason ands experience. Namely, the injection -- as my aleways linked will document and link, it is neither historically (cf Newton's General Scholium to Principia) nor philosophically (cf link to e.g. Peterson on why the ID issue matters, in the link to basics at the end of the updated intro] well-warranted -- of so-called methodological naturalism into the definition of science. For, what that does, a priori, is that by asserting that scientific explanations must be "natural" [i.e tracing in the end ONLY to chance + necessity acting on matter -energy in space- time; agency being only an accidental consequence of the first two causal factors on this planet], it seriously and too often closed-mindedly begs several questions on origins. And it runs straight into our exceptionless empirical observation that organised complexity, especially manifested through functionally specified, complex, often fine-tuned information-bearing structures are the product of agents. No to mention, as I have argued at length in say the Aug 20 Charles Darwin thread from no 48 on, evo mat is self-stultifying on the origin and credibility of mind and morals. 64] Trib 7: If I said water froze at 32F and you said 28F we would not agree that it froze at 30F and still be expect to be taken seriously (unless maybe we claimed to be deconstructionists) Right. The factt hat we have persons involved in a process does not automatically mena that their decisions are just politics and power games. Sometimes, we actually can act in the light of empirical evidence and the light also of logic, and find a consensus that makes sense objectively. The Fahrenheit scale is an example of something that was in the first instance fairly idiosyncratic -- the zero was set off getting as cold a brine as one could, but then the basic point that water freezes at 32 and boils at 212 under the condition of an atmosphere at 760 mm pressure on the classic Fortin barometer, was used to identify fixed points for practical use. Thus, we have operational definitions that are empirically well-grounded and can then be refined. They are not just matters of opinion and politics of Committees. (This is not bleeding edge literary criticism accursed under Rom 1:19 ff or Eph 4:17 ff here!) GEM of TKIkairosfocus
December 21, 2007
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International standards are established by committees. The standards by which we measure temperature were not created by committees. If I said water froze at 32F and you said 28F we would not agree that it froze at 30F and still be expect to be taken seriously (unless maybe we claimed to be deconstructionists)tribune7
December 20, 2007
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tribune7,
None of which of course involves compromise.
International standards are established by committees. The members sometimes compromise in the process of building consensus. It is an empirical observation that this is how standards committees work, StephenB.Semiotic 007
December 20, 2007
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Frost, I distinguish the intellectual content of ID from the socio-political ID movement. I don't think the Dover trial said anything about the scientific viability of ID. That's for scientists to decide, not judges (and also not juries, and also not voters). ID has not always been a dirty word in intellectual circles. Nobody but the choir listened to Johnson's sermons. Mainstream biologists immediately slammed Darwin's Black Box. But Dembski's The Design Inference was quite unlike anything we'd seen before. In the years soon after its publication, it aroused a fair amount of interest among intellectuals, and I think their responses were open and reasonable. "Maybe he's onto something with this notion that there's information in some objects allowing us to infer reliably that they're designed." Things took a downturn, in my opinion, when it became difficult to tease apart Dr. Dembski's political action and his scholarly output. (His recent collaboration with Prof. Marks seems like a move in the right direction.) My point is that there was a time when scientists and other intellectuals were open to the notion of design inference, and that if the leading advocates had left political action to others, ID (the intellectual component) might have fared better. Now it's clear that ID theorists are not just asking for admission of a new theory into the existing framework of science, but for a radical transformation of science itself. Just how fast do you think a change like this should happen in a culture that on the whole is fabulously successful in achieving its ends? Keep it in mind that readmission of teleology to science has ramifications throughout.Semiotic 007
December 20, 2007
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-----Semiotic 007: "I’m sure you know considerably more about physics than I do. But it gains you nothing here, because I can easily locate the definitions and/or assumptions any “truth” you identify depends upon. And in some cases, such as the notion of temperature, I can easily determine how the “truth” has changed over time." Don't you think you are getting a little carried away with "social construction" theory.StephenB
December 20, 2007
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Semiotic --Certainly water freezes, but the term freezing point is misleading. The freezing of water is a relatively complex crystallization process involving kinetic factors. Crystallization is not a discrete event. OK, Semiotic. What "compromise" do you propose on the freezing point of water? Would you say we should use thermoresistors rather than mercury bulb thermometers? What if we measure the point at which water freezes and the electronic thermometer reads a different temperature than the mercury one? Should we split the difference (compromise) or assume that one is faulty? The circumstances that you cite are matters of clarification not compromise. Compromise is not appropriate in science. What is appropriate is to admit that one does not have all the answers and could be wrong or that a description long-held as a standard might be wrong, or that there might be a clearer description. None of which of course involves compromise.tribune7
December 20, 2007
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the theory of evolution is not a theory, it is a conjecture or a model.ari-freedom
December 20, 2007
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Nonsense, the way most scientists see things at the present is the way that they have been taught it in school. This is the classic institution blocking the exercise of free thought. You must realize that this is a pattern to say the least in human history- one that refuses to go away. On the contrary ID I feel benefited from the dover trial. I think the courts and the teachers unions were exposed as exactly what they are- intolerant demagogues. You are absolutely correct in saying that no scientific theory deserves the status of "scripture" as you so eloquently put it- yet that is exactly the position of teachers and scientists today because they have been caught in the web of institutional bigotry towards the theory of teleology that was displaced by Darwinism 10 years ago. and why id Darwinism simply a theory? Because, ID or design is still on the table and should be taught. or at least mentioned.Frost122585
December 20, 2007
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Semiotic 007-
The ID movement also paid dearly for DASD’s errors, and it seems to me it would be wise for the movement to promote training in science as “the way most scientists see things at present.”
Frost122585
December 20, 2007
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Kairosfocus, it is telling that you go to "absolute zero" for an absolute in science. If you buy into Einstein's relation of mass and energy, matter cannot exist at absolute zero. That is, the way you got an absolute was to introduce a theoretical construct. Your vague reduction of measured temperature to temperature on a microscopic scale was appropriate in its vagueness. There is no clear relation of the triple point of water to temperature on the microscopic scale, because the water is in three different states. I'm sure you know considerably more about physics than I do. But it gains you nothing here, because I can easily locate the definitions and/or assumptions any "truth" you identify depends upon. And in some cases, such as the notion of temperature, I can easily determine how the "truth" has changed over time. Nothing in a science textbook should be assigned the epistemic status of scripture.Semiotic 007
December 20, 2007
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As I pointed out above, many IDists talk out of both sides of their mouths about scientific authority. They want to discredit some texts while citing chapter and verse of others as "truth." One of the less brilliant things the Dover Area School District did was to single out mainstream evolutionary theory as "just a theory." If the district had prepared a statement saying about all scientific theories more or less what the actual statement said about evolutionary theory, and had instructed all science teachers to read the statement in all science classes, the teachers might well have complied, and the district would have been legally in the clear. Dover is a case in which laypeople sharing the dubious notion that some science is "true" and some is "false" (in the everyday sense of the terms) adopted an uncompromising position on a theory they believed false, and paid dearly for it. The ID movement also paid dearly for DASD's errors, and it seems to me it would be wise for the movement to promote training in science as "the way most scientists see things at present."Semiotic 007
December 20, 2007
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H'mm: Sidenote on triple point etc. Water's triple point is an identifiable point, as also holds for other multiphase systems that have the same convergence of phases at one point on a P-T phase plot. Taking it together with the absolute zero -- note the name! -- we can define an ideal temperature scale, an this is the foundation of practical temp scales such as the one cited above. The scientifically and technologically relevant ones are the Kelvin, Celsius, Rankine and Fahrenheit scales. I should also note that temperature is in effect a metric of the average random energy per microscopic degree of freedom in a body. For instance, an ideal monoatomic gas's molecules can move in each of three dimensions and have 1/2 kT of energy per degree of freedom. Based on this we can go to the classic ideal gas expression: PV = n RT Thereafter, we can identify that a sufficiently dilute gas approaches the ideal gas' behaviour under certain conditions, and make relevant measurements. And, of course, we are able to show that for a black body, which is closely approximated by a cavity radiator, we have a measurable spectrum following the now famous Planck relationship that started quantum theory going. In short, we have a balance of theory and praxis, with conventions being anchored in empirical observations. by sharpest contrast on the isues tied to design, the notion that chance + necessity can credibly give rise to organised complexity and thence life and biodivrsity, onward man with mind and conscience, is a highly subjective and dubious assertion. For, to get to functionally specified, complex information -- especially when we are dealing with discrete state data strings capable of storing more than 500 - 1,000 bits of information -- on chance plus necessity on the gamut of the observed cosmos is maximally improbable. But, we DIRECTLY and routinely observe such FSCI being made by intelligent agents. We KNOW a credible source of such organised complexity, ands we have good reason to infer that chance + necessity is not credibly capable of getting to FSCI. No wonder, even in the teeth of noise and what it may logically and physically do, we routinely infer to intelligent agency on observing FSCI -- e.g the messages in this thread. So, why then is it that once certain worldviews are under challenge, some suddenly want to impose a philosophically question-begging and historically unjustified redefintion of science that would take science out of the business of being an empirically anchored search for truth, into being a shill for a self-refuting, intellectually and morally bankrupt worldview, namely evolutionary materialism? Could we not, instead, get back to approaching science as:
. . . a provisional -- thus open-ended and open-minded, empirically anchored quest for the truth about the way the world works, that seeks to accurately and reliably describe, explain, predict and influence or control the forces, materials and phenomena of our observed world?
In that context, we must always be open to the possibility that for certain important things [e.g. those exhibiting signs such as FSCI], proper and accurate explanations may not only infer to chance or mechanical necessity showing itself in law-like regularities, but also agency. For, agents and their traces are long since known, observed phenomena in our world! GEM of TKIkairosfocus
December 20, 2007
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StephenB (#33), I mentioned that of course Darwinists would scoff at any notions like the one I posed. "Can the EFFECT of a materialistic process suddenly become the CAUSE of ensoulment?. Even if “Spirit”could become a cause, and therefore capable of ensouling, we have to wonder why. Did it intend to do so all along? If it did, then how can the process be “natural” or Darwinistic, which by definition, can intend nothing?" Souls are here conceived to be inherently above and separate from the physical world and not limited by its laws, including time. So they would not be any effect of any materialistic process. They could have simply waited until there was a suitable vehicle. If one never appeared, then try again somewhere else. I am not saying this is totally satisfactory, but I was merely suggesting a way in which (all evolution = Darwinist RV + NS) could be compatible with spiritual/physical dualism. We are of course committed to the proposition that this is not the explanation for at least the core machinery of life and its major structural innovations. As to why souls would do this, a lot of speculations could plausibly apply. These are metaphysical/spiritual concepts and somewhat off-topic, but for instance soul entities could wish to experience limitation and the forgetfulness of their true home and Source, and the challenge of finding that Source again under such conditions.magnan
December 19, 2007
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P.S.--I mean to say that Dr. Dembski leaves open the possibility that design occurs gradually.Semiotic 007
December 19, 2007
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They are discrete functions. Yes/No True/False In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them. Therefore, pleas for "compromise" in the ID/NDE debate don’t make sense to me.
I'm not aware of any scientific statement that does not depend critically on definitions and assumptions. Anyone who's spent a great deal of time reading research papers, as I have, knows that most conclusions are qualified. What makes its way into pop science and lower-level textbooks is often simplified by omission of qualifiers. Oddly enough, I've tried to explain to detractors of ID that its more sophisticated proponents have in fact adopted compromise positions. Dembski and Behe do not deny that Darwin and the life scientists who have followed have obtained good scientific explanations of certain phenomena, but take exception to the extrapolation (I think I'm safe in using that term) to other phenomena. This makes the leading advocates of ID remarkably different from creationists, who historically have no use whatsoever for mainstream evolutionary theory. Another aspect of compromise I see in Dembski's work is to leave open the possibility that design, as an influx of information, is continuous rather than discrete in time. This is a very difficult concept for many ID advocates to grasp. Dembski's theoretical work allows random and design processes to proceed simultaneously.Semiotic 007
December 19, 2007
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BarryA,
Surely you don’t mean this. If there were no humans to observe and define the event water would nevertheless go on freezing, no? With respect to your earlier point, let me put it this way: Under certain conditions an event occurs with respect to water. That event will always occur under those conditions. How we measure that event and what we call it are completely different issues. The measuring and the defining are human-related events where compromise is possible. The event itself is not.
It may seem that I'm wrecking your thread, but what I'm addressing here is how complex and tenuous scientific beliefs are, and how little they have to do with ordinary notions of "truth." Certainly water freezes, but the term freezing point is misleading. The freezing of water is a relatively complex crystallization process involving kinetic factors. Crystallization is not a discrete event. The only freezing points included as defining points (calibration points) in the international temperature scale, ITS-90, are of metals. I think it is worth emphasizing that the temperature points in ITS-90 are referred to as defining points. A consequence of the authoritarian approach to teaching science is that students believe they have learned what is, rather than what has been defined or assumed, or what follows from definitions and assumptions. Students are told that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius, and while that is fine as a provisional teaching, most adults know no better. High school students should learn that water crystallizes at about 0 degrees Celsius, and that 0.01 degrees Celsius is defined as the temperature component of the triple point of standard water. Students learn that the speed of light is constant, when this is actually an assumption of Einsteinian mechanics. There is an alternative mechanics -- I don't know the name -- that essentially reverses Einstein's assumptions about the speed of light and distance in space, and yields better explanations of some phenomena than Einsteinian mechanics does. It seems ironic to me that the ID movement seeks to undermine the authority of science in certain regards, and yet so many ID advocates cling to the authority of science (or "good science"). The beliefs scientists hold by consensus may be presented by authority figures as fact, but they are as tenuous as those of the scientists who worked 300 years ago. Perhaps theories are in some sense coming closer to reality, as Thomas Kuhn suggested, but with problems like those in reconciling quantum and Einsteinian mechanics, it appears a great deal will change in coming years.Semiotic 007
December 19, 2007
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EndoplasmicMessenger @ 22: And, Ari @ 45:
They [evo mat thinkers] would recognize the arrowhead dated 2000 years ago as the result of human design but if that same arrowhead appeared to be from 2 billion years ago, they wouldn’t recognize the design. They claim that ID must be the extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence . . .
And so they begin the slippery slide down the slope to Cliffordian/Saganian evidentialist selective hyper-skepticism and associated worldview level question-begging that leads to plain old fashioned closed-mindedness. I also note that indeed, scientific theorising can only arrive at provisional inferences to best current explanation. Just ask the ghost of Newton about his theories, post 1880 - 1930 or so. Though of course, actual observations and real facts of science -- e.g. the triple point of water and the linked fact that water does freeze under certain commonly encountered conditions, however we may choose to measure or set them up -- are matters of moral certainty in many cases. As to methodological naturalism/ materialism, my take is that we need to toss it out, root and branch -- the whole concept is CHOSEWN because it has that slippery slope effect that distracts us form trying toe find out the empirically anchored truth about the cosmos, through describing, explaining predicting and controlling or influencing the world. Let's start again, instead from the classical observation Plato made in his The Laws, Book X:
Ath. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine. Cle. What doctrine do you mean? Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many. Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer. Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance. Cle. Is not that true? Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples. Cle. By all means. Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul's kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.
Then, we can without unnecessary and question-begging constraints on our explanations, look at [a] what is of chance, [b] what is of law-like natural regularity resting on mechanical necessity, [c] what is of agent action. [In commonly met with situations two or more of these forces can easily be acting. Cf my discussion here.] Then, we can rebuild the structure of the sciences and science education, on a surer footing that does not beg questions and close minds to otherwise credible and reasonable truth. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
December 18, 2007
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Semiotic 007 "The phenomenon of freezing is intimately linked to human definition and observation." Surely you don't mean this. If there were no humans to observe and define the event water would nevertheless go on freezing, no? With respect to your earlier point, let me put it this way: Under certain conditions an event occurs with respect to water. That event will always occur under those conditions. How we measure that event and what we call it are completely different issues. The measuring and the defining are human-related events where compromise is possible. The event itself is not.BarryA
December 18, 2007
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Semiotic 007 Re Micro vs Macroevolution "Speciation preceded by genetic variation on a larger scale is more problematic for mainstream theories." Could you please expand on this. e.g. I understand human vs chimp to differ by at least 150 million bp (5%) compared to a few thousand changes that Haldane's Dilemma allows, as further detailed by Walter Remine.DLH
December 18, 2007
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Semiotic 007 -- Even with present definitions of states of matter, to say that a volume of water has transitioned from liquid to solid is a matter of definition. Are you saying that water doesn't freeze?tribune7
December 18, 2007
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However if ari-freedom is correct on science that we can’t prove ID or Darwinism to be true, just show that one is highly probably and the other improbable, we should tolerate the existence of Atheistic Darwinists. - There is still a difference of perspective. We think that the burden of proof must be on the evolutionists to show that life can evolve by natural processes. I think it is an extraordinary claim that requires...at least some evidence in the lab. Evolutionists see ID as some proof of the supernatural since "obviously" life was not the result of human design. They would recognize the arrowhead dated 2000 years ago as the result of human design but if that same arrowhead appeared to be from 2 billion years ago, they wouldn't recognize the design. They claim that ID must be the extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. Otherwise it was the result of evolution... somehow.ari-freedom
December 18, 2007
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Semiotic 007 at 41 You are commenting on semantics, not the physical phenomena. Physical chemistry models and quantifies such changes of state and can give quantitative models with precise definitions for the boundaries. See NIST on SI Units and Fundamental Constants. Note particularly the triple point of water that defines the Kelvin (absolute) temperature scale. That is an unequivocal thermodynamic fixed point that will not change. With Einstein's theory of the constant speed of light, that is now defined as the fundamental constant for measurement. Definitions of frequency, time and length are now fixed and based on that absolute standard. That will not change (until you can show that the speed of light in vacuum changes.) The kg standard is the remaining issue of more precise measurements and refinement leading to a new definition based on nature instead of an artifact. The present work on a natural standard for the kilogram has come out of more precise measurement systems. It will likely provide a definition of the Avogadro number or equivalent on which to base the kg which will not vary. The issue of ID vs macroevolution is fundamentally different in addressing whether intelligent causation exists behind life or if the stochastic processes with the four forces of nature are sufficient to explain abiogenesis and macroevolution. That is not an issue of refining measurement systems, but a total paradigm shift. I agree with jerry at 40 on clearly including in ID much of microevolution of variations in alleles, mutations etc. Lets get back to the critical issues of how to address macroevolution heavy vs ID.DLH
December 18, 2007
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EndoplasmicMessenger at 21 Suggest The Fallacy Detective Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn, 2003 Christian Logic ISBN 0-9745315-0-2 as having some stimulating discussion on the various logical fallacies commonly encountered. Nancy Pearcey Total Truth 2005 ISBN-13: 978-1581347463 is excellent for older students in showing the overall context and solution.DLH
December 18, 2007
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