Trusting science

I came across an interesting post on the Saganist bog. Entitled Why I trust science it is a response to a discussion between a ‘philosophical naturalist’ and Christian radio hosts. The discussion was mainly around how we acquire knowledge so is relevant to some of the recent discussion on this site.

I prefer not to use categories like ‘natural’, ‘supernatural’ and ‘naturalism’ because they are usually not defined, can mean different things to different people and can impose unwarranted assumptions. (There is, after all, just one reality so why divide it into meaningless ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ parts). These problems also occurred with the concepts of ‘matter’ and ‘materialism’ during the podcast referred to in the post. (Cartoon from xkcd).

Despite these qualifications I think the post makes a good argument for trusting scientific knowledge above the religious alternatives. It says in part:

“Particularly bad was their [the Christian radio hosts] assertion that the best worldview is the one that explains what others cannot, and therefore scientific naturalism is inferior because it cannot explain the supernatural. So how about the assertion, “I believe science, reason, and evidence are the best way of understanding the world. I accept the scientific consensus on all matters pertaining to reality. Also, I have an invisible dragon in my garage.” Is this a more correct worldview because it explains something supernatural that pure naturalism cannot explain? If my friend says that my garden is beautiful, and I say, “Yes, but did you know there are also fairies at the bottom of it?”, does that make my point of view superior? I don’t think so, because the addendum of “God did it” doesn’t really explain anything. There is no value in arriving at an explanation via Making Stuff Up.

If you’re going to compare worldviews, you need to examine them against the evidence. The evidence for scientific naturalism is that science works. The space shuttle flies, and vaccines work, and the reason they work is because science allows us to make testable predictions about the universe. Our understanding of reality has increased by orders of magnitude in the past, let’s say, 2000 years. We know that we are progressing in understanding because we are able to make successful predictions that we weren’t able to make before. Science is the tool for doing so, and it is also the tool for measuring our progress. That is the evidence.

How has our understanding of reality been increased by Christianity? How would we even know? Does Christianity make any testable predictions about the world? In a way, you could say that prophecy is a testable prediction. Unfortunately, most prophecies in the Christian tradition are so vague that they can be interpreted in dozens of ways. Even prophecies that are specific are not falsifiable, because any failures can be conveniently explained away with “God works in mysterious ways” or “I guess the people weren’t faithful enough” or any other rationalization you can come up with. Would the space shuttle fly in a Christian universe? Sure, probably. Did God tell us how to make the space shuttle fly? No.

Does the practicality of science prove that matter is all that exists? No, but it certainly suggests that it is a very valuable approach to assume that we live in a natural universe. As Steve said during the interview, asking for proof that “matter is all that exists” is really asking for proof of a negative proposition. One can no more disprove the existence of God than one can disprove the existence of the invisible dragon in my garage. It is the onus of supernaturalists to demonstrate a single counterexample to the proposition of naturalism. It is not the onus of naturalists to disprove every conceivable example of anything that would fall outside the realm of naturalism.”

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224 responses to “Trusting science

  1. If you’re going to compare worldviews, you need to examine them against the evidence. The evidence for scientific naturalism is that science works. The space shuttle flies, and vaccines work, and the reason they work is because science allows us to make testable predictions about the universe.

    Why wouldn’t this be evidence that a rational God created a orderly universe with rational creatures that could understand and interact with said universe? Why on earth would I think that a non-rational, non-guided creation event could create a orderly universe with rational creatures that can intelligently grasp the world around them?

    Why choose B over A?

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  2. It is the onus of supernaturalists to demonstrate a single counterexample to the proposition of naturalism. It is not the onus of naturalists to disprove every conceivable example of anything that would fall outside the realm of naturalism.

    No it is on the naturalist to prove that this is strictly natural universe. What observed properties in the universe proves its “naturalness?”

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  3. James, you are adding a completely useless term in the equation. God is by no means needed here to explain the things that we have discovered through science. Yes, it might be that a God have created us and has also given us the scientific method. But: this will not add anything to our understanding, it is not a testable hypothesis, and you can easily substitute ‘God’ with ‘Fairies’, ‘Dragons’, ‘Teapot’ etc.

    Regarding your second argument:
    naturalism is an established proposition with testable predictions and great success in explaining our Universe. If supernaturalists want to counter naturalism *they* have to provide a counter example to overthrow naturalistic theory!

    On the contrary, because God is not a testable and not evidence-based hypothesis, the onus is on God’s supporters to provide evidence for his existence, and not on naturalists to disprove him.

    One can falsify an existing theory (e.g. around naturalism) but one cannot prove a negative (e.g. disprove God). Can you spot the difference?

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  4. Regarding your second argument:naturalism is an established proposition with testable predictions and great success in explaining our Universe. If supernaturalists want to counter naturalism *they* have to provide a counter example to overthrow naturalistic theory!

    I think you missed my point. If you claim that this is a purely naturalistic universe then tell me – how do you know that? What observed properties lead to that conclusion? Now, if you want to say that you have no idea whether this is a supernatural or natural universe – then we have no argument. I’ll live with your ignorance. But if you keep claiming that this is a strictly materialistic universe then it is on you to produce the evidence i.e. what observed observed properties beg that conclusion?

    But: this will not add anything to our understanding, it is not a testable hypothesis, and you can easily substitute ‘God’ with ‘Fairies.’

    Are you saying that true knowledge can only come through a testable hypothesis?

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  5. Observed properties alone cannot lead you to a conclusion I think. You develop a framework to explain observations and then test it experimentally. Every observation and every experiment performed thus far confirms theories that are based on materialistic/naturalistic views of the cosmos. There has not been a single supernatural element to contradict such views yet. So, the naturalistic view remains our best tentative approximation of how the universe works. Notice the terms ‘tentative and ‘approximation’.

    Are you saying that true knowledge can only come through a testable hypothesis?

    If you cannot test a hypothesis how can you verify it and thus reach a significant level of confidence to consider it ‘true’? How can you accept hypotheses as being ‘true’ if you cannot test them? If you have found a way to do this please, by all means, tell us.

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  6. Observed properties alone cannot lead you to a conclusion I think. You develop a framework to explain observations and then test it experimentally. Every observation and every experiment performed thus far confirms theories that are based on materialistic/naturalistic views of the cosmos.

    That’s the point Stavros. Why do our present conclusions about the universe point to a naturalistic universe? Why wouldn’t a supernatural universe display the very same properties and experimental results? How would you know the difference?

    you cannot test a hypothesis how can you verify it and thus reach a significant level of confidence to consider it ‘true’? How can you accept hypotheses as being ‘true’ if you cannot test them? If you have found a way to do this please, by all means, tell us.

    Can you test the above belief? Show me the emperical test data that proves the above claim.

    You may try Stavros, but you won’t be able to. Which means that you believe something is true that is not testable or emperically verified. So you refuted yourself…

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  7. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Particularly bad was their [the Christian radio hosts] assertion that the best worldview is the one that explains what others cannot, and therefore scientific naturalism is inferior because it cannot explain the supernatural.

    I don’t think the author understood what was being asserted here. A worldview, if it is true, will account for major aspects of reality in a consistent and comprehensible way. If a worldview manifestly cannot account for some aspect of reality, then naturally we assume that it is either false or incomplete. In the case of a materialist worldview, there are things that not only cannot currently be accounted for, but which cannot ever be accounted for. Logical inference, for example, or qualia. The Christian will argue that this is a gap which cannot be filled with all the science in the world, because it can be shown that, in principle, science cannot explain these phenomena. They are best explained by the existence of a personal God.

    There are also other obvious questions a materialist cannot answer. How can he know that the laws of nature are really uniform? Why is the universe the way it is? How does it subsist? How can he know that his senses or cognitive faculties are really reliable, especially in light of his own beliefs about how they developed? What reason does he have to think that what he senses correlates in any way with reality as it really is? The materialist wants to reject thoroughgoing skepticism, but he doesn’t have any rational reason for doing so. Again, the Christian is in the superior position here since his worldview is not based on subjective sense data, subjectively interpreted, but on the objective testimony of God.

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  8. As I said, you develop a framework to explain things out. How can you make use of something supernatural to explain the cosmos when by definition supernatural is something you cannot interact with?!? You can only work with what you have i.e. natural and materialistic means. Hence, your explanatory framework will be based on those.

    Can you test the above belief

    Which belief are you talking about? I am saying that you need to test what you are hypothesising otherwise you cannot claim they a hypothesis is ‘true’. That is not a ‘claim’ -it is just reality! Don’t try to escape reality using philosophical tricks.

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  9. Which belief are you talking about? I am saying that you need to test what you are hypothesising otherwise you cannot claim they a hypothesis is ‘true’. That is not a ‘claim’ -it is just reality! Don’t try to escape reality using philosophical tricks.

    Stavros. I’m not playing tricks. I’m stating a fact:

    I asked:

    Are you saying that true knowledge can only come through a testable hypothesis?

    You said yes. But that belief that true knowledge can only come through a testable hypothesis is not a testable hypothesis. So you have a true belief that can not be empirically verified. So you have one of two options – 1. there are true beliefs that are not, or can not be proven empirically, or 2. Your position is self-refuting. Therefore irrational.

    how can you make use of something supernatural to explain the cosmos when by definition supernatural is something you cannot interact with?!?

    First, how do you know the supernatural is something you can not interact with? Says who?

    And let me repeat my question: Why do our present conclusions about the universe point to a naturalistic universe? Why wouldn’t a supernatural universe display the very same properties and experimental results? How would you know the difference?

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  10. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Which belief are you talking about? I am saying that you need to test what you are hypothesising otherwise you cannot claim they a hypothesis is ‘true’. That is not a ‘claim’ -it is just reality! Don’t try to escape reality using philosophical tricks.

    Of course it’s a claim. Whether or not it’s reality, it’s still a claim. It isn’t self-proving; we don’t get logical contradictions if we deny it. And we can imagine plenty of scenarios where something could be true, yet untestable. We can even imagine scenarios where we can claim that something is true, yet not be able to test it. Historical truth-claims are a good example of this.

    Since your claim that we must test claims before we can claim that they are true (let’s call it “C” for short) is not self-affirming, and since it can be rationally denied, and since prima facie counter-examples exist, the burden is really on you to prove C. On your own terms, you can only prove C by using C, so I look forward to you trying this.

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  11. James and Dominic, of course you are using philosophical tricks!

    When you hypothesize something in an effort to explain some of your observations you need some means to see if your hypothesis is true or false! How difficult is that to comprehend? If you test your hypothesis repeatedly and find it to be true then you gain confidence that it does indeed represent an approximation of how our world works.

    Emphasizing ‘true knowledge’ is a philosophical trick because you cannot even define ‘true knowledge’.

    The scientific method, which is based on naturalistic views, has been proven empirically to be the best possible method for understanding our world over the last few centuries. Results speak for themselves in this case. Hence, the ‘claim’ for testable hypotheses, which is the core of the scientific method, *is* in fact proven to be the correct way towards gaining knowledge -the ‘truest’ knowledge we can get to until a better method is devised.

    And of course you get logical contradictions if you deny this claim. A hypothesis can be either true or false. If you do not test it you cannot figure out which one it is. And historical truth claims can be tested indirectly e.g. by having a look at documentation. But keep in mind that historical claims are not about understanding how our cosmos works.

    And let’s please stop using ambiguous definitions of ‘supernatural’. Let’s say that supernatural is something that defies the laws of nature as we currently know them. By definition, supernatural is *always* going to break the laws of nature as we know them at that time. If as you say, a supernatural universe would display the same properties, we would still be unable to test and verify the existence of supernatural since they would always go against our known laws. Hence, we could never understand and gain ‘knowledge’ of the supernatural. Therefore, for all intends and purposes, our knowledge can never contain the supernatural and is thus irrelevant to our understanding.

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  12. 7:

    Merely being able to offer an “answer” to everything, does not make the answers right. In fact it can mean that they are pure bullwocky 😉

    I tihink it’d help to bear in mind what people think “best” and “explains” mean in terms of worldviews.

    Anyone come up with an answer for anything: just invent one. Inventing answers will always be able to “explain” more if “explain” means to give an answer, regardless of if it can be demonstrated to be true. And this would be “best” if you didn’t care about the truth, you will easily have more (non)answers.

    For myself, “best” worldview comes down being able to provide answers that can be demonstrated to be true as far as is possible on current understanding.

    Science works with demonstrating that the answers provided are at least a consistent with what has been previously established.

    Because it work with things that are demonstrated, it follows that there have to be “gaps”. In order to be honest and refrain from presenting “answers” that cannot be demonstrated to be consistent with established knowledge, when evidence is lacking to do such a demonstration, you say so instead of providing an answer that would lack substance.

    Note, these gaps are not because these things cannot be explained at some future time, but because at this point in time there is no evidence to work with to establish a demonstratable explanation.

    Religions seek to provide answers, regardless of any demonstration of substance, by evoking a catch-all solution (“G-d”). Its like the volcano example I gave some time ago.

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  13. I fact science doesn’t get caught up with words like ‘naturalistic’ and ‘supernatural.’ In 40 years of research I never heard these terms being used to seriously consider whether a phenomena should be studied, or is capable of being studied.

    Science researches reality. It serves no genuine scientific purpose to divide up that reality into ‘supernatural’ and ‘supernatural’ – political and religious perhaps, but not scientific.

    In fact, I think it is arrogant to make claims about parts of reality we don’t (yet) understand – such claims are inherent in the use of ‘supernatural’. There is absolutely no reason to use the term and it is arrogant because it is claiming a knowledge about the unknown that one just cannot have. A sort of ‘revelation.’

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  14. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Hold up Stavros. What we’re saying isn’t “trickery”. Thoughtful consideration of something to see whether it is logically consistent is not “trickery”. Finding logical inconsistencies and pointing them out isn’t “trickery”. Expecting you to be a rational person isn’t “trickery”. Holding your stated standard of proof up to itself to see if it can be proved isn’t “trickery”.

    Look, if you want to use empirical testing as a standard for proving any given hypothesis, then you need to justify this. It’s a view called verificationalism, which was quite popular around the middle of last century if I recall. But it’s now widely rejected as being self-refuting—and with good reason, as James and I have shown. You can’t claim that all truth-claims must be subject to empirical testing, when that claim is itself a truth-claim which cannot be subjected to empirical testing.

    Now, you haven’t been entirely clear regarding what kind of truth-claims you believe must be subject to empirical testing. Perhaps you just mean empirical truth-claims. That’s fair, but also basically tautologous and irrelevant. If you’re going to claim something empirical, then by definition you can empirically test it. But that doesn’t say anything about the many claims which Christians make about the world which are not empirical, since these are not subject to the an empirical standard of proof. Neither can you insist that non-empirical claims be defined as empirical so as to show that no “proof” exists. Non-empirical claims need to be examined on their own terms.

    Now, let me talk about some of your claims…

    If you test your hypothesis repeatedly and find it to be true then you gain confidence that it does indeed represent an approximation of how our world works.

    This is an assertion in search of an argument, Stavros. (Can you test it empirically?) It’s also an assertion lacking in any substantial meaning, because you haven’t defined what it entails to find an hypothesis “true”. Assuming that you mean that experimental results match what your hypothesis predicts, then how do you get from this fact to gaining confidence that your hypothesis represents an approximation of how our world works? There are a great number of unstated and unjustified assumptions behind this notion of gaining confidence. Can you explain why more tests are better? Can you explain why you become more confident teach time? Can you explain why you believe that testing confirms an approximate representation of reality?

    Emphasizing ‘true knowledge’ is a philosophical trick because you cannot even define ‘true knowledge’.

    Even assuming this is true, it remains that by definition true knowledge is (i) a redundancy (there is no such thing as false knowledge); and (ii) a necessary condition for truth-claims. When you claim that something is the case, you are making a truth-claim; you are making a claim to know something. So even if neither James nor myself can define knowledge, it remains that in order for you to claim anything whatever about the world, you must be able to define knowledge for yourself. If you have no definition of knowledge, then none of your truth-claims actually mean anything. We’re all in the same epistemic boat; you can’t pretend that we aren’t.

    The scientific method, which is based on naturalistic views, has been proven empirically to be the best possible method for understanding our world over the last few centuries. Results speak for themselves in this case. Hence, the ‘claim’ for testable hypotheses, which is the core of the scientific method, *is* in fact proven to be the correct way towards gaining knowledge -the ‘truest’ knowledge we can get to until a better method is devised.

    Can you define “knowledge” so as to substantiate this statement? Without a definition of knowledge here, your assertion is actually totally meaningless.

    Furthermore, assuming that you do provide a definition of knowledge, how do you know that the scientific method has been proven (whether empirically or otherwise) to be the best possible method for understanding our world? Do you mean that it is the best possible method for understanding the part of our world with which it interacts? Because I wouldn’t disagree with that. I affirm the usefulness of science as a tool for interacting with our physical reality. But this doesn’t in any way correspond to “understanding our world” unless you confine the definition of “our world” to “that with which science can interact” and “understanding” as “mathematical descriptions of the regular principles under which the physical universe operates”. That is arbitrary and question-begging, though. How do you know that our world is limited to phenomena with which science can interact? How do you know that understanding is limited to this sort of mode? Through science? Of course not; knowledge cannot be based on question-begging and special-pleading. If there is a part of the world with which science cannot interact, you wouldn’t know about it by relying purely on science as your method for gaining knowledge.

    And of course you get logical contradictions if you deny this claim. A hypothesis can be either true or false. If you do not test it you cannot figure out which one it is.

    I don’t think you know what a logical contradiction is. You do not, in fact, get any kind of logical contradiction by denying the claim “All hypotheses need to be tested empirically before they can be known to be true”. In fact, you only get a logical contradiction when you affirm it, as I’ve already pointed out. Look: “All hypotheses need to be empirically tested before they can be known to be true.” This statement is a positive statement of criteria for proof.

    To prove this statement is true, we require a criteria for proof (by definition).
    This statement is the criteria for proof (as per its own claim).
    Therefore, to prove this statement is true, we must empirically test it (by merit of its criteria).
    But this statement cannot be empirically tested (self-evident).
    Therefore, this statement cannot be proved to be true (by merit of its criteria).
    Therefore, as a criteria for proof, this statement refutes itself.

    On the other hand, consider “All hypothesis need not be tested empirically before they can be known to be true.” Is there a logical contradiction here? Of course not. Imagine the hypothesis “all cellphones are communications devices”. Do we need to test this empirically to know that it’s true? No; it’s analytically true. On the other hand, according to your criteria we cannot know this is true without empirically testing every cellphone. And of course, this ironically has major ramifications for science. Imagine the hypothesis “Light always travels at 299,798,458 meters per second in a vacuum”. Do you believe this? Well, you certainly shouldn’t (according to your own criteria) since it hasn’t been empirically tested. We can only prove that light sometimes travels at this speed in a vacuum. So in your attempt to define away non-empirical proofs, you have actually defined away science, since it does not itself rest on empirical proofs.

    This isn’t “trickery”. It’s just logic. If your position is so illogical that you have to call valid principles of reasoning “trickery”, then I’d suggest that you have a real problem. I’d also suggest that you aren’t in a position to judge the Christian’s position for rationality or congruence with reality in any way.

    …Hence, we could never understand and gain ‘knowledge’ of the supernatural…

    Only if you confine our process of knowledge-acquisition to empirical knowledge, which is both arbitrary and self-refuting, as I’ve already shown.

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  15. “In 40 years of research I never heard these terms being used to seriously consider whether a phenomena should be studied, or is capable of being studied.”

    Me, neither. Admittedly over fewer years! 🙂

    I agree with your point that in using ‘supernatural’, they are asserting something about the nature of the event, when in practice the best anyone can say is not much at all!

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  16. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Heraclides,

    Note, these gaps are not because these things cannot be explained at some future time, but because at this point in time there is no evidence to work with to establish a demonstratable explanation.

    But this is not the situation for which the Christian argues. The Christian argues (or at least, he can) that there are certain things, like intentionality for example, that science by definition cannot explain. Not that it can’t currently explain it, but that it actually cannot ever explain it, because if we reduce these phenomena down to events which science can explain, then we actually refute ourselves. In these sorts of situations, the proposed non-scientific explanation is not arbitrary, but deduced from the relevant facts, and used as support for the truth of the Bible (which ultimately is the Christian’s major contention).

    This is why invisible dragons and whatnot just present a strawman of the Christian’s position, and demonstrate that the atheist either has not understood, or is seeking not to interact with, the arguments being forwarded.

    Ken,

    In fact, I think it is arrogant to make claims about parts of reality we don’t (yet) understand – such claims are inherent in the use of ’supernatural’. There is absolutely no reason to use the term and it is arrogant because it is claiming a knowledge about the unknown that one just cannot have. A sort of ‘revelation.’

    I think it’s arrogant to claim that one cannot have the sort of knowledge that Christian’s claim, so who’s right?

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  17. @16:

    “But this is […]” I know that Bnonn, so do most people. Sorry for that, but you are stating the obvious. It also misses my point. (Or perhaps side-steps my point, i.e. intentionally?)

    “the proposed non-scientific explanation is not arbitrary, but deduced from the relevant facts, and used as support for the truth of the Bible.” – as many people, surely, have already pointed out to you, fitting facts to a predefined thing you want to be true, doesn’t make it true.

    I didn’t present dragons: I presented volcanoes. And its not a strawman argument. Its a real example that is really used and happens, even today. Also, I didn’t say anything about Christian, I wrote Religions. These things aren’t special to Christians, the same issue occur in most religions. Christian are no different to, say, animalists in that. Maybe I’ll track my volcano example that I wrote earlier down and repeat it for you–?

    Regards your last statement, a “ready answer” isn’t knowledge. Claims that “G-d did it” can’t be demonstrated and so aren’t knowledge in the usual sense of the word. They are certainly something Christians would like to be true. But wanting something to be true (and fitting facts to it doesn’t make it so, either). But as Christian claims regards G-d (etc.) cannot be demonstrated to be ture, they are not knowledge. Folk remedies can be customs passed down over generations, but are not knowledge until they can be shown to work. Anecdote might suggest that one thing might follow the other, but you can’t know that one causes the other until its demonstrated. And so on.

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  18. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Heraclides, what are you talking about?

    Christians argue that intentionality proves, by way of the argument from reason, dualism. They further make additional arguments from logical laws etc which prove a universal mind. These arguments stand on their own merits; they are validly inferred independent of the truth of Scripture. But they lead to conclusions which are congruent with the truth of Scripture, which is why we use them. We aren’t fitting facts into anything; we are using independent arguments to demonstrate that the facts do, in fact, fit into Christianity.

    Of course, even if we were fitting facts into Christianity, that doesn’t mean that it’s false either. Could be that we’re entirely justified in doing it.

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  19. You wrote that you were fitting facts yourself: “used as support for”. No need to try bluster your way out. Either say that you meant what you wrote, or that you messed up.

    “Could be that we’re entirely justified in doing it.”

    Sorry, but I have to laugh at this. Fitting facts onto anything is rarely justified for pretty obvious reasons.

    I have to go.

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  20. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    Well, consider how the term ‘supernatural’ has been used over the years – to define things that weren’t understood, were beyond normal, beyond ‘natural’. Things like lightning, thunder, disease, etc. Of course the realm of the supernatural has decreased with humanity’s acquisition of knowledge and understanding. There is no reason to think this won’t become tomorrow’s ‘natural’ phenomena.

    I think there is far more humility in this (scientific) position of accepting that we don’t know everything (‘but let’s find out”) and that there may be phenomena we can never know and/or understand. But to declare parts of reality ‘out of bounds’ beforehand seems, to me, to contradict the human spirit. It seems, to me, to welcome the prospect of disease and ignorance.

    And, of course, there is no real reason (except ignorance itself) to make that declaration – a declaration which is implicit in the ‘supernatural’ label.

    But, of course, there are scoundrels who claim ‘revelations’ which provide the knowledge of the unknowable (at least to us mere mortals). These days few people are as willing to be fooled.

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  21. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Heraclides, using some given facts to support some given view which is congruent with them is something we all do. We’d best all pack in the towel if there’s something wrong with it. The whole point of debating issues like the ones currently under discussion with Stavros is to prove that the facts fit one’s own position better than the opposition’s; or to show that the opposition has made some kind of error in his interpretation or understanding of said facts.

    Ken, I don’t tend to use the labels “natural” and “supernatural” all that much myself. I agree that they suffer from the sorts of problems of qualification which you mention. However, I think it’s reasonable to say that supernatural things are those things which cannot, by definition, be investigated empirically. The arguments from reason appeal to supernatural entities inasmuch as they prove that some kind of element of the human person must exist which is independent of the physical universe, and operates according to entirely different laws (laws of reasoning as opposed to natural laws).

    As regards there being more humility in the scientific approach; even if that is true, what does humility have to do with truth? Similarly, what does arrogance, if the Christian position is indeed arrogant, have to do with truth? But if I actually do know some things about reality which cannot be discovered empirically, and I attempt to convey these and argue for them, in what way would I be arrogant? And if science actually is merely one limited tool out of several options for discovering the truth about reality in toto, in what way is it humble to say that we should only use science? Is that not in fact the height of arrogance—to elevate your own preferred knowledge-acquisition tool to the point of precluding all others?

    Or, am I being arrogant or “contradicting the human spirit” to declare that non-physical aspects of reality are, by definition, out of bounds for science? Am I not, in fact, just stating the obvious limitations inherent in the scientific method?

    Why am I a scoundrel to take a different view of knowledge-acquisition to you? Why am I a scoundrel to believe, on good evidence, that God does exist and has communicated to his creation?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  22. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    “Or, am I being arrogant or “contradicting the human spirit” to declare that non-physical aspects of reality are, by definition, out of bounds for science? Am I not, in fact, just stating the obvious limitations inherent in the scientific method?”

    Science has made, and is making, huge progress with ‘non-physical aspects of reality’ despite you declaring them ‘out of bounds’. That’s my very point. We wouldn’t have made that progress if we thought the way you do.

    Frankly, humanity is not served well by people who declare such ‘obvious limitations inherent in the scientific method?’ It takes a certain amount of blindness to declare such things ‘obvious.’

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  23. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    So…science has made huge progress in investigating the immaterial mind then? I don’t think so Ken. It has made huge progress in investigating the physical brain; but that was sort of my point.

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  24. @James & Dominic.

    The impression I get here is one of a desperate search for any arguments to justify your world view, even if those arguments themselves are inconsistent with your world view and are only used as an attack. This is hypocritical, inconsistent and dishonest.

    The latest appears to be some sort of quasi philosophical approach with some sort of floaty subjective reality concepts built into it. This may seem novel and meaningful for you, but as far as any substance in your logic exists, I would suggest that you are not providing anything unconsidered by the people supporting science here.

    I myself fell into the everything is subjective logic game at the age of 11 or so and discarded that within a couple of months as not useful. With logic alone it is not possible to escape that bubble, but conversely that argument provides you nothing at all other than an escape hatch from an argument that you refuse to confront on its own terms. What possible useful inferences can you make from this sort of thinking? Its just a word game.

    For those who choose to accept the existence of an objective reality (which you seem to be able to do at least on some level, at least enough to use that keyboard eh), there exists some clear ways to find our more about that reality, that work well enough to make some solid & useful predictions about that reality. The proof for the results of empirical testing, is the results of empirical testing. The beauty of this is the lack of subjectivity. Did you perchance go to school? And at that school, did you have an opportunity (perhaps in a science class) to do any experiments? Did you get different, subjective results to those experiments from the other members of your class, or what?

    Nobody is trying to convince you about a particular world view, they are just trying to explain what works in terms of interacting with reality. The beauty of this, is that if you choose to interact with reality, you will also find that it appears to be objective. You could try out some empirical testing of your own. If you genuinely are getting different results to others, I am sure that everybody will pay attention to you. In fact, I think that probably most people in science would be delighted to get some new information. I would however, make the prediction, that if you duplicate (with rigour) some of the fundamental experiments in science, you would get the same or similar results as others.

    This is what science is. Discerning the nature of reality. On the contra side, do you have any way to demonstrate to other people , objectively, your beliefs or view about the universe. Anything at all that is demonstrable. This is really all that people are asking here. The support and defence for scientific theories lies in the vast volume of empirical data that is available to you, and even reproducible by you. Is it possible to have better support than that?

    Of course, some of this stuff takes a little more time and effort than what some people are prepared to commit. Some people prefer to sit and cherry pick what they would like to accept about the universe without engaging with anything. Perhaps this comes from laziness or perhaps ego. Ken has said this many times before on his blog, but to paraphrase a little. Somebody choosing to interact or engage with objective reality, has to be prepared to be wrong about things that they believe, and also be prepared to change their mind when that objective reality shows that they are wrong.

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  25. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Nick,

    The proof for the results of empirical testing, is the results of empirical testing.

    Which of course is question-begging. Are you familiar with Hume?

    On the contra side, do you have any way to demonstrate to other people , objectively, your beliefs or view about the universe.

    What exactly do you think that “objective” means?

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  26. And that supports your religion in what fashion? A case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing perhaps?

    I think that various people have pretty clearly defined what objective means to you before. Show us the evidence mate. Tell us about something that we can reproducibly test.

    Citing philosophers that provide no support for your argument is not really going to cut it. If I was looking for short comings in
    todays science, I would try looking in the areas of complex emergent behaviours. In my opinion, these are the areas today where current analytical techniques are not going to yield much success. When it is not possible to meaningfully reduce a complex interrelated system down to smaller understandable chunks, then I think we have a problem. However, hopefully we have already, or will develop other techniques for dealing with these issues.

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  27. Science is limited to natural phenomena. It cannot tell us what goes beyond time and space. We should understand the distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ in these terms. ‘Supernatural’ is unknown by definition, namely it cannot be known through empirical methods. What we know through Christian Revelation about the meaning of life and the ‘after-life’ is ‘supernatural. But ‘supernatural’ has already been ushered into human history. Science is advanced, it can see the mind-body relationship, yet it cannot go much beyond.
    Scientific method has its limits by definition, because it is limited to the natural phenomena. What comes from God has been revealed to us through the prophets and Jesus, the Son of God. We can always discuss these points, but it is faith in the Word of Jesus that ultimately leads us to the Truth…

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  28. @27: Hold up a minute 😉

    “‘Supernatural’ is [should be read as] unknown by definition” OK.

    “What we know through Christian Revelation about the meaning of life and the ‘after-life’ is ’supernatural.” This is a contradiction in terms: you can’t know about something supernatural, as you correctly said earlier.

    And you then go on to give what’s known as the “appeal to authority” argument, which leads to a very well-known logical fallacy. (The authority in question might be right, but you can’t reject criticism of what they say by saying the authority must be right.)

    The use of ’empirical’, or not, in your argument is a red-herring and contradictory. If you can’t observe something, even indirectly, then you can’t know about it either, no matter what beliefs you hold.

    To my mind, the word ‘supernatural’ itself is something of a misnomer by definition, but I’ve been over that before…

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  29. (I’m stretching the meaning of ’empirical’ a tad (!), but the general point stands.)

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  30. In fact, I think it is arrogant to make claims about parts of reality we don’t (yet) understand – such claims are inherent in the use of ’supernatural’. There is absolutely no reason to use the term and it is arrogant because it is claiming a knowledge about the unknown that one just cannot have. A sort of ‘revelation.’

    Ken I think it is arrogant to claim that anything is “natural.” What is natural, who defines it? Can we prove that particles on the quantum level are self-sustaining, self-generating? And if they are not – then it’s the whole ball game becuse everything is made up of sais particles.

    And that is my point, you have no idea whether this is a supernatural or natural universe (I would define a natural universe as one that is self-generating and self-sustaining). And nothing we have tested or discovered thus far throws light on the question.

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  31. Interesting post.
    Although, what I don’t understand is why some always think they have to compare science with religion.
    Scientifically, it would be strange if someone told me he thinks there’s a soul besides our physical body and the whole spiritual dualism stuff. But religions build on this soul-body relationship – for which they have all right to – and make (normally useful) rules to live in communities together.
    It’s just, you can be happy by living and thinking on an scientiffic level. But some need a greater, mystical level that lets them dream about things that might not ever be anything near to possible.
    Anyway, one could probably argue for ages about various beliefs. I maybe like to think of science like a basin filled with water; religions are like fruits swimming on the surface.
    Regards.

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  32. Stavros

    The scientific method, which is based on naturalistic views, has been proven empirically to be the best possible method for understanding our world over the last few centuries. Results speak for themselves in this case. Hence, the ‘claim’ for testable hypotheses, which is the core of the scientific method, *is* in fact proven to be the correct way towards gaining knowledge -the ‘truest’ knowledge we can get to until a better method is devised.

    Then Stavros, like we have made clear, the above belief of yours must be suspect according to your own definition.

    And of course you get logical contradictions if you deny this claim. A hypothesis can be either true or false. If you do not test it you cannot figure out which one it is. And historical truth claims can be tested indirectly e.g. by having a look at documentation. But keep in mind that historical claims are not about understanding how our cosmos works.

    But are historical claims just as true? Of course they are. For instance, I had a cup of tea yesterday morning at 6:15 am. There were no witnesses. Can you now prove that by the scientific method? No, but it is a fact nevertheless. As true and certain as anything science can discover.

    And that’s the point Stavros there are truths that can not be tested or falsified that are nevertheless certain… Science is one way of finding fact, but not the only way.

    And let’s please stop using ambiguous definitions of ’supernatural’. Let’s say that supernatural is something that defies the laws of nature as we currently know them. By definition, supernatural is *always* going to break the laws of nature as we know them at that time. If as you say, a supernatural universe would display the same properties, we would still be unable to test and verify the existence of supernatural since they would always go against our known laws. Hence, we could never understand and gain ‘knowledge’ of the supernatural. Therefore, for all intends and purposes, our knowledge can never contain the supernatural and is thus irrelevant to our understanding.

    But you are question begging. Why not believe that a rational God created a universe that is orderly and open to investigation? Why would a supernatural universe have to be chaotic, with miracles popping up everywhere? And that’s the point Stavros, you have no idea whether we live in a natural universe or a supernatural universe, and nothing we test or observe brings light to the question.

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  33. Nick said

    The impression I get here is one of a desperate search for any arguments to justify your world view, even if those arguments themselves are inconsistent with your world view and are only used as an attack. This is hypocritical, inconsistent and dishonest.

    Show me where I have been hypocritical, inconsistent or dishonest. Be specific please.

    I myself fell into the everything is subjective logic game at the age of 11 or so and discarded that within a couple of months as not useful. With logic alone it is not possible to escape that bubble, but conversely that argument provides you nothing at all other than an escape hatch from an argument that you refuse to confront on its own terms. What possible useful inferences can you make from this sort of thinking? Its just a word game.

    Well it is obvious that many atheist here are irrationl according to the basic rules of logic.

    Nobody is trying to convince you about a particular world view, they are just trying to explain what works in terms of interacting with reality. The beauty of this, is that if you choose to interact with reality, you will also find that it appears to be objective. You could try out some empirical testing of your own.

    That’s our point Nick. Not all “truth” comes by empirical testing. Some here want to suggest that that is the only way to have certainty. That is how Stavros answered. Of course, that is just false. We know may things that are not open to the scientific method and are not able to be falsified – yet they are as true and certain as anything the scientific method has discovered. See my my morning tea example above.

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  34. Dominic, everything I have said makes total sense if you know how the scientific method works. You can try to find something to hold on to if you want in a desperate attempt to strengthen your beliefs, but this will not change the fact that science remains the only good way of understanding our world. As I said if a better way is devised then we can discuss again.

    And I have been clear about the kind of truth claims -you just didn’t pick it up, like so many other things in this discussion. I am talking about claims that describe how our world works. Not what happened yesterday morning and what kind of teat you had.

    how do you know that the scientific method has been proven (whether empirically or otherwise) to be the best possible method for understanding our world? Do you mean that it is the best possible method for understanding the part of our world with which it interacts?

    another thing you didn’t pick up Dominic: I didn’t say I know, I said it has been proven over the years and the results testify to this. And as I mentioned, of course science is only concerned with what is observable and interacts in some way with our world. If it doesn’t have observable effects then for all indents and purposes it doesn’t exist and should not bother us.

    Finally, what you mention about the speed of light is totally ridiculous because it has been tested empirically and is being tested empirically all the time indirectly through the numerous applications that make use of that fact. And if you picked up anything that I said about science you would know that this is a tentative assertion -a hypothesis found to be true. Until ONE instance is found to contradict it, then the speed of light in vacuum is exactly that. Now, you can again start asking philosophical questions like: ‘what is true’, ‘how do you know’ etc but this will only make *you* feel better somehow and make all of us realize that you are doing circles around yourself and you make no effort to understand what I am saying (again).

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  35. Nick,

    Nobody is trying to convince you about a particular world view, they are just trying to explain what works in terms of interacting with reality. The beauty of this, is that if you choose to interact with reality, you will also find that it appears to be objective. You could try out some empirical testing of your own. If you genuinely are getting different results to others, I am sure that everybody will pay attention to you. In fact, I think that probably most people in science would be delighted to get some new information. I would however, make the prediction, that if you duplicate (with rigour) some of the fundamental experiments in science, you would get the same or similar results as others.

    Very well said

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  36. James,

    We know may things that are not open to the scientific method and are not able to be falsified – yet they are as true and certain as anything the scientific method has discovered. See my my morning tea example above.

    we are trying to describe how our world works. In that context if not with empirical testing how do you propose to find out about the world? We do not care about your tea because it is not about how the world works. Can you provide some answers instead of irrelevant philosophical questions?

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  37. Ok James,

    specifically. You are attacking science on a basis of not accepting empirical results due to subjective interpretation, yet you believe and expect others to accept your religion as objective truth. This is inconsistent.

    As far as dishonesty is concerned, to me it is clear that you are skimming through some elementary philosophy texts looking for anything that you can use as ammunition to attack science. I find this dishonest, as I think that your intention is not to clarify, understand or communicate, but instead to muddy, obfuscate and hinder real understanding.

    As far as logic goes, perhaps you are aware of the existence of such things as logical paradoxes. This is why, as Ken has very clearly pointed in his “Lets count teeth” thread, that it is important to refer back to the real word when trying to understand the real world.

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  38. specifically. You are attacking science on a basis of not accepting empirical results due to subjective interpretation, yet you believe and expect others to accept your religion as objective truth. This is inconsistent.

    Ken where in this thread have I talked about subjective interpretation? I may have in other contexts in different threads – but we will have to check out the context. A side note – Ken you do agree that all interpretation are subjective – correct? BTW – if the Christin God exists we believe that He can impart objective truth to the human mind, and it remain objective.

    As far as dishonesty is concerned, to me it is clear that you are skimming through some elementary philosophy texts looking for anything that you can use as ammunition to attack science. I find this dishonest, as I think that your intention is not to clarify, understand or communicate, but instead to muddy, obfuscate and hinder real understanding.

    That is your opinion Nick. Not one that I share. Logic is important in these debates. If you suggest that true knowledge can only come through the scientific method, as stavros suggested, then your belief is self-refuting. That is a fact.

    As far as logic goes, perhaps you are aware of the existence of such things as logical paradoxes. This is why, as Ken has very clearly pointed in his “Lets count teeth” thread, that it is important to refer back to the real word when trying to understand the real world.

    I actually like Ken’s point. I’m personally not into navel gazing. But we can not dismiss the laws of logic in this discussion. I accept paradoxes, but not out and out contradictions or self-refuting arguments.

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  39. we are trying to describe how our world works. In that context if not with empirical testing how do you propose to find out about the world? We do not care about your tea because it is not about how the world works. Can you provide some answers instead of irrelevant philosophical questions?

    Stavros, I have no problem with the scientific method as such. Even with the logical problem of induction, it works fairly well. But that was not my point or my question – remember I asked how we came by “true knowledge.” So my point is that true knowledge comes by many avenues. My morning tea event is just as true, just as much a fact, as us splitting the atom. And that morning tea event can not be falsified and is not subject to the scientific method.

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  40. Finally, what you mention about the speed of light is totally ridiculous because it has been tested empirically and is being tested empirically all the time indirectly through the numerous applications that make use of that fact. And if you picked up anything that I said about science you would know that this is a tentative assertion -a hypothesis found to be true. Until ONE instance is found to contradict it, then the speed of light in vacuum is exactly that. Now, you can again start asking philosophical questions like: ‘what is true’, ‘how do you know’ etc but this will only make *you* feel better somehow and make all of us realize that you are doing circles around yourself and you make no effort to understand what I am saying (again).

    No Stavros, Bnonn’s point is that we are ignorant. You can not know what the speed of light will be tomorrow, or what it was in the distant past before we could measure it. We are guessing, asserting without evidence. These points are not stated to make us feel better Stavros, they are facts. Remember it was Hume and Russell (two atheists) who really rammed this point about induction home. Also, there are scientist who question whether the speed of light was/is constant.

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  41. And as I mentioned, of course science is only concerned with what is observable and interacts in some way with our world. If it doesn’t have observable effects then for all indents and purposes it doesn’t exist and should not bother us.

    Stavros, are you really this dense? Can your above belief about science be tested? Where are the observable effects? Remember you are making a claim about science, and since this claim can not be empirically tested or verified I guess “for all indents and purposes it doesn’t exist and should not bother us…” Sheesh…

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  42. Haha you managed to do it again James! Well done! Science is a method for testing how our world works and in that context it can only test what has observable effects. I don’t understand what you keep blathering about (beliefs and claims etc.). This is the definition of science: that it deals with observable phenomena. Since we have defined it like that I do not see a point in asking for proving claims about science: we defined it like that. Get over it and provide some answers or alternative methods instead of irrelevant questions (I don’t like to repeat myself but you seem to be missing all the points here).

    Let me ask you a question for a change: if something doesn’t have observable effects, does it matter to you if it exists or not?

    Also, you say: “No Stavros, Bnonn’s point is that we are ignorant, blah blah blah” which shows ONCE AGAIN that you are not listening! With the means that we have we have reached a tentative answer in regards to the speed of light. We are asserting but we do it WITH evidence. It might be that the speed of light turns out to not be constant. But that is irrelevant! Currently our best understanding points to the speed of light as we know it -this is our current knowledge for the speed of light. We are using this knowledge for many applications.

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  43. I don’t understand what you keep blathering about (beliefs and claims etc.). This is the definition of science: that it deals with observable phenomena. Since we have defined it like that I do not see a point in asking for proving claims about science: we defined it like that. Get over it and provide some answers or alternative methods instead of irrelevant questions (I don’t like to repeat myself but you seem to be missing all the points here).

    I’m glad you agree that the “definition” of science can not be tested or observed empirically. Does that make it any less true or useful? Should we then conclude – “it doesn’t exist and should not bother us?” Or will you finally agree with me that certain truths are known for certain apart from the empirical method?

    Let me ask you a question for a change: if something doesn’t have observable effects, does it matter to you if it exists or not?

    Sure Stavros, the laws of logic would be one such thing. We can not observe them or their effects, yet without them human rationality, or science for that fact, would be impossible.

    With the means that we have we have reached a tentative answer in regards to the speed of light. We are asserting but we do it WITH evidence. It might be that the speed of light turns out to not be constant. But that is irrelevant! Currently our best understanding points to the speed of light as we know it -this is our current knowledge for the speed of light. We are using this knowledge for many applications.

    I understand perfectly Stavros. But remember, a lot of our present assumptions about the universe and its creation depend on the speed of light being constant in the past. But we can not know that. And probably never will – so those theories are suspect.

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  44. Still going eh…

    @38. You do realise that a Paradox is a logical contradiction, I hope.

    @40. I am pleased that you accept that the scientific method works “fairly” well. The fruits of centuries of scientific progress made by countless very smart and dedicated people were not wasted then. Just a bit strange that you seem to spend all your time arguing against it.

    Given this level of progress, perhaps its time for you to explain where your objective truth comes from. The people here have already clearly stated that they have open minds and are ready and willing to change them, all they need is a little bit of stuff called evidence. And, sorry to be a bore, but we are going to need something a bit better than a, quite frankly, very unlikely sounding, contradictory story written in an old book of unclear providence. If this was enough, give me a bit of paper, pen and a couple of thousand years and I can prove anything.

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  45. James when you say: “I’m glad you agree that the “definition” of science can not be tested or observed empirically. Does that make it any less true or useful? Should we then conclude – “it doesn’t exist and should not bother us?” as well as your example with logic: you are once again changing the context to suit you: I have always referred to understanding how our world works and that science is good for that. Your example with logic is thus once again irrelevant. It is not part of how the universe works. Just like your tea…

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  46. 38. You do realise that a Paradox is a logical contradiction, I hope.

    A paradox, as you know Nick, is often an apparent contradiction:

    Webster

    a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true

    Often do to our lack of knowledge. A out and out contradiction is another thing. Like saying that the sun both exists and doesn’t exist at the same moment. The properties of light would be a apparent contradiction – we just don’t know enough yet…

    @40. I am pleased that you accept that the scientific method works “fairly” well. The fruits of centuries of scientific progress made by countless very smart and dedicated people were not wasted then. Just a bit strange that you seem to spend all your time arguing against it.

    Hey, I like my TV, my computer, my microwave, medicine, etc… What I’m arguing against is the high level science is given for discovering truth, to the exclusion of other forms of truth gathering. Like my original point to Stavros.

    Given this level of progress, perhaps its time for you to explain where your objective truth comes from. The people here have already clearly stated that they have open minds and are ready and willing to change them, all they need is a little bit of stuff called evidence. And, sorry to be a bore, but we are going to need something a bit better than a, quite frankly, very unlikely sounding, contradictory story written in an old book of unclear providence. If this was enough, give me a bit of paper, pen and a couple of thousand years and I can prove anything.

    Well you know where I think objective truth comes from. But here is an important question Nick. I believe that the laws of logic are universal and objective to mankind. And that the laws of logic are a necessary to do science. And as far as I can tell the laws of logic only exist in minds. So if God exists then the laws of logic are universal and objective to mankind. If God does not exist then the laws of logic are subjective and non-universal – which would throw all of science and human rationality into question.

    So my question Nick. Are the laws of logic universal and objective to humakind or are they non-universal and subjective?

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  47. James when you say: “I’m glad you agree that the “definition” of science can not be tested or observed empirically. Does that make it any less true or useful? Should we then conclude – “it doesn’t exist and should not bother us?” as well as your example with logic: you are once again changing the context to suit you: I have always referred to understanding how our world works and that science is good for that. Your example with logic is thus once again irrelevant. It is not part of how the universe works. Just like your tea…

    Well let me ask it this way Stavros. Is my tea event true, true as any truth discovered by science?

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  48. “Is my tea event true, true as any truth discovered by science?” James when are you going to realize that this question is irrelevant since your tea event has nothing to do with how our universe works!!

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  49. James when are you going to realize that this question is irrelevant since your tea event has nothing to do with how our universe works!!

    If you remember my original question Stavros then this question is very relevant. And I wonder why you hesitate to answer? Strange… But let me try again: Is my tea event true, true as any truth discovered by science?

    It’s a simple yes or no… But if you answer no, I will have to ask why…

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  50. @49 Unlike you James, I don’t purport to have discovered some profound logical point that undermines evidence based reasoning. The reason that people are not arguing this point with you is that it does not make sense, is not consistent, and is besides the point anyway. As I have been trying to hint to you, playing logic games without evidence is not proof of anything. It might be fun over a couple of pints of beer, but is not demonstrating anything to those of us here in the “reality based community”. Hard mathematical proofs, however might start to get you some attention. But even there, for these to be truly credible as descriptions of physical reality, there has to be some sort of engagement with that same physical reality, preferably some testable predictions.

    Again, I can’t help but believe that you are not honestly arguing these points, as you refuse to put your own beliefs under the same scrutiny. How do your beliefs stack up under your so called objective logical system. As I have earlier asserted, science does not rely on anything so shaky, but is demonstrable and reproducible for all. This is why people here are arguing that it is of a different nature and quality to religion. You are the person trying to convince us of the existence of some sort of supernatural world. I think I have quite clearly stated how you can proceed with that.

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  51. Your tea event might be true in a sense James but it doesn’t explain how the universe works, which is the point of science. That is why you are asking the wrong questions. Science helps us understand the universe. Your appeal to other ways of knowing is pathetic and irrelevant and you still have not provided any answers whatsoever…

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  52. @49 Unlike you James, I don’t purport to have discovered some profound logical point that undermines evidence based reasoning. The reason that people are not arguing this point with you is that it does not make sense, is not consistent, and is besides the point anyway. As I have been trying to hint to you, playing logic games without evidence is not proof of anything. It might be fun over a couple of pints of beer, but is not demonstrating anything to those of us here in the “reality based community”. Hard mathematical proofs, however might start to get you some attention. But even there, for these to be truly credible as descriptions of physical reality, there has to be some sort of engagement with that same physical reality, preferably some testable predictions.

    Your standard for proof Nick is simply nonsense, and self refuting. You can not make testable predictions to prove your definition of science. There are no hard mathematical proofs for my having tea yesterday morning. There is no empirical test to prove that your view of reality actually corresponds to reality (that you are not being deceived). You take many many things as “facts” Nick that can not be empirically tested by predictions. Don’t be a hypocrite Nick, it is unbecoming.

    Again, I can’t help but believe that you are not honestly arguing these points, as you refuse to put your own beliefs under the same scrutiny. How do your beliefs stack up under your so called objective logical system. As I have earlier asserted, science does not rely on anything so shaky, but is demonstrable and reproducible for all. This is why people here are arguing that it is of a different nature and quality to religion. You are the person trying to convince us of the existence of some sort of supernatural world. I think I have quite clearly stated how you can proceed with that.

    Again Nick, you believe many many things that are not reproducible, testable. My tea event yesterday is as true as ANYTHING science can discover. It is neither shakey or reproducible to all. But I did offer an argument, and you ran away, so let me ask you again. Are the laws of logic universal or non-universal, subjective or objective?

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  53. Your tea event might be true in a sense James but it doesn’t explain how the universe works, which is the point of science. That is why you are asking the wrong questions. Science helps us understand the universe. Your appeal to other ways of knowing is pathetic and irrelevant and you still have not provided any answers whatsoever…

    Stavros, what do you mean true in a “sense?” Show me one fact of science that is anymore true than my tea event?

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  54. James why do you keep repeating the same things while you haven’t provided a single methodology for understanding our world? And will you ever realize that science was *defined* like that so there is no need to make tests for it! And your stupid tea remains a truth that does nothing to explain our world. Get serious please.

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  55. James why do you keep repeating the same things while you haven’t provided a single methodology for understanding our world? And will you ever realize that science was *defined* like that so there is no need to make tests for it! And your stupid tea remains a truth that does nothing to explain our world. Get serious please.

    I’m very serious Stavros, You said it was true in a “sense” but why did you qualify it? For what reason? And that is why I keep asking the question – has science discovered anything more true than my tea event of yesterday?

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  56. You are truly incapable of grasping the difference aren’t you? Science has discovered truths relating to how our universe works. Period. Full stop. The tea event has nothing to do with it. It might be true and you may assert it is a true event, and you may have reached this conclusion with other means than science, but IT DOESN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HOW OUR WORLD WORKS! So, it is completely irrelevant. Now, let’s see how long it will take until you repeat the same irrelevant question again…

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  57. You are truly incapable of grasping the difference aren’t you? Science has discovered truths relating to how our universe works. Period. Full stop. The tea event has nothing to do with it. It might be true and you may assert it is a true event, and you may have reached this conclusion with other means than science, but IT DOESN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HOW OUR WORLD WORKS! So, it is completely irrelevant. Now, let’s see how long it will take until you repeat the same irrelevant question again…

    A couple of things Stavros. First,the point is that true knowledge can come in various ways. We can know true things about the world and how to interact with the world apart from the scientific method. And this knowledge is just as true as anything science can discover. And of course, my tea event told me a lot about how the world works. I didn’t get out of bed and fly off into space, gravity worked. My water boiled at 212 degrees f, sugar made my drink sweet, it was a particluar time on a particluar day, etc… Even if I never repeated this event (which I can not on that specific day) it told me a lot about how the world works.

    But I’m glad you agree that true knowledge comes by other means than science.

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  58. Oh James, not again… For the millionth time: true knowledge about how our world works comes through science and only science currently. There is no other methodology (yet). Do you know of one? I have been asking you this question from the beginning but you have avoided to answer it!

    And of course, you learned absolutely nothing about our world from your tea! You cannot learn about gravity unless you empirically test it and mathematically formulate it. You have no clue as to what is the boiling temperature and why water boils unless you empirically test it and mathematically formulate it. You have no idea why sugar made your tea sweet unless you go down to chemistry. You learned NOTHING from your tea don’t fool yourself James!

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  59. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    For the millionth time: true knowledge about how our world works comes through science and only science currently.

    No it doesn’t. True knowledge about how our world works is found in the Bible. This knowledge is needed before scientific endeavor can even get off the ground.

    There is no other methodology (yet).

    Yes there is.

    Do you know of one?

    Yes.

    I have been asking you this question from the beginning but you have avoided to answer it!

    Let me answer for him then. It’s quite simple: read the Bible. This can be as basic or as complex as you like.

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  60. Dominic, that is a very fine joke! I have been laughing for the last 5 minutes! May Poseidon bless you for this…

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  61. @58: James is just an ID troll, he doesn’t care about anything other than poking at “science” (in quotes, as his idea of science, isn’t). He is helping people see that all ID is, is attacking science, though 🙂

    His “tea” example isn’t a demonstratable event. Which means he can’t demonstrate it to anyone else either. He’s got no way of showing its true or not himself. Thus, its not a fault of science, but essentially a tautology regardless of using science or not. Which makes it moot.

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  62. On second though, and judging by your previous comments I start to believe that you were not joking… but then I ask myself: “surely no one would provide as evidence or valid world view a collection of contradictory and violent tales told two thousand years ago?”

    And in the end I remind my self that there are in fact many such people. And this strange thing is called religion…

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  63. @59: Hilarious, the “appeal to authority” argument in extremis! Lets see. You make yourself out to be a philosopher (not). But you give an argument that’s founded on one of the most basic fallacies? Hmm.

    Time to drop the pretend to be philosopher pose, I think 😉 You’ve made it clear you’re either not or a very bad one.

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  64. Heraclides, thanks for verifying my own private hypothesis!

    BTW #62 was referring to #60 obviously…

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  65. Well, well, well,

    here I was, browsing Tennant’s blog for the first time in almost three months, only to find an inane post about the scientific merits of ID which simulatenously manages to once again slander scientists as being allegedly philosophically naive. Apparently some people just can’t help it… )-:

    Upon following the link to this site, I see Tennant himself and my good old buddy James merrily trotting out the same lame talking points straight out of the “Philosophy 101” handbook that were already dealt with on this thread:

    http://bnonn.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2008/square-circles-and-the-trinity-part-3-the-law-of-identity/

    as if Hume’s arguments regarding the topic of induction were some earth-shattering revelation that no contemporary scientist or philosopher has ever heard before. Of course the reliable “prove that we are not living in a supernatural universe” nonsense must also be included as well as “Is science the only way to truth?” and musings about the objective status of logic. Talk about deja vu. Why am I not surprised?

    Since most of these topics have already been covered in the above thread (which I recommend to anyone who is willing to continue the discussion) and I do not feel masochistic enough to go through this tedious process again, I will only leave some general comments before heading off.

    1.) NATURAL VS. SUPERNATURAL
    As several posters have realized, the demand to prove that the universe is “natural” is totally irrelevant and merely a smokescreen that is set up in the hope of enabling him to put a god-shaped foot into the door. The real issue here, which I repeatedly tried to communicate to James (apparently unsuccessfully) is whether reality as a whole is uniform or not, i.e. whether the patterns and regularities we have discovered to govern the behaviour of the part of reality we have explored thusfar are also valid for the rest of reality or not. Currently we have no evidence to corroborate the latter. However, being a Christian, he has to affirm that this is so, i.e. he has to assert that there is another part of reality which is inhabited by his god that is fundamentally different and where these patterns and regularities do not hold. If you press him enough, though, he will concede that his only evidence for this claim is his interpretation of a certain book he deems infallible (see comment no. 74 of the above mentioned thread). Quelle surprise.

    2.) SCIENCE, INDUCTION & “TRUTH”
    The fact that there is no inductive method of a synthetic character which would enable us to derive a general law or principle from a bunch of observational data with an inherent guarantee of its truth has been known to scientists and philosophers of science for 300 years thanks to the work of Hume. Furthermore, Karl Popper showed that the demand of an inductive justification for every synthetic proposition leads to the dilemma between infinite regress and apriorism. Therefore he, along with the German philosopher Hans Albert, devised a methodology based on a consistent fallibilism which they labeled “critical rationalism” and which is the accepted method of modern scientific research. It recognizes the tentative character of scientific theories and propositions as well as the fallible nature of our cognitive faculties and consequently denies the possibility of achieving a status where the truth of a proposition is ever 100% certain.

    It goes without saying that most theists, present company included, see this as a weakness rather than as the strength and realism it is, because they have the erroneous belief of occupying a privileged epistemological position that enables them to combine truth and certainty. Unfortunately, this is an illusion which fails to recognize the impossibility of ever achieving an ultimate justification. You can look up the catchword “Münchhausen-Trilemma” for further explanation.

    Finally, some thoughts regarding other methods of gathering knowledge apart from science.

    First of all, per definitionem science has nothing to say about moral or purely metaphysical matters. On the other hand, questions pertaining to these fields can nevertheless be rationally discussed, so this is no licence that one can simply make stuff up or that every position is equally sound.

    Concerning beliefs about the physical world, there is indeed no methodology currently available which can surpass or even match the scientific method in the realm of reliability and explanatory success. It is no coincidence that the scientific profession is one where personal religious and/or metaphysical believes are of no importance. A Christian scientist will do his science no different from a Muslim, Hindu or atheist scientist since the method they are employing is based inter alia on intersubjective, empirical corroboration.

    And with that I wish you a very good day.

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  66. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Stavros, I wasn’t joking. I just thought that we had dispensed with argumentation and were making assertions of belief. Since the Bible is not contradictory, since it was not primarily written two thousand years ago, and since violence is irrelevant to truth, it looks like we’re continuing with that trend.

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  67. I know I should resist the temptation but… the Bible as a source of true knowledge about how our world works? So we can affect coat colour in goats by driving them past striped poles, & men have one less rib than women??? Please!

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  68. “So we can affect coat colour in goats by driving them past striped poles”

    This is a new one to me! 🙂 Anyone care to give a condensed version of the fable or whatnot associated with it? Or am I asking for trouble?!

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  69. It’s in one of the early Abrahamic bits (I did go to church when younger – sang in the choir 🙂 & consequently soaked up a lot of other stuff by osmosis… and it’s probably been mangulated via my thought processes since!

    Ah yes: Genesis 30: 37-42. It was Jacob, actually: thought he would have a better chance of getting the coat colours he wanted (spotted & striped) if he placed peeled, white-striped branches in front of the animals as they mated. And got lots of spotted & striped goats…

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  70. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    So “non-physical aspects of reality” becomes “the immaterial mind” then!!!

    Some people seem to delight in argument as a sport or hobby. Maybe it’s a personality thing. I really haven’t the time or energy to participate at that level – especially if contributions get buried and distorted instead of honestly considered.

    I’ll probably do a future post on the fallacy of the ‘natural’/’supernatural’ concept when used by outsiders to discredit scientific endeavour. Meanwhile I have written about this before (Dogmatism around science – the “supernatural.”)

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  71. @ icsouza:

    Have a look at Dogmatism around science – the “supernatural.” Its a concept which is of no use in really understanding reality. And you reveal the motivation for the concept by claiming ‘revelation’ as a source of ‘truth’. Yet, I am sure, you would refuse to travel on a plane designed and built using principles derived from ‘revelation’ rather than science.

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  72. @69: Thanks. That’s a variation of epigenetics I haven’t come across before 🙂 Hmm, what shall we call it. Ocular-mediated transmutation?

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  73. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Alison, if you think that Genesis 30 teaches that coat color is affected by striped poles, you will need to exegete the passage rather than merely citing it. And I’m not sure where you get the notion that the Bible teaches that men should have one less rib than women.

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  74. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    This has just got (even more) ridiculous.

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  75. In other words, I can read into it whatever I like?

    The rib concept comes from one of the versions of Genesis (two different versions – isn’t that a tad contradictory in an inerrant source of knowledge?) – if one of Adam’s ribs is taken to form Eve, then it would appear that he’s one short? And given the literal appearance that the Biblical version of inheritance is a Lamarckian one, then it follows that his sons would be similarly bereft. I know, you’re going to argue that this is a literal reading & I shouldn’t read things literally 😉

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  76. @73: Given the fallacy you raised in post 59 (see post 63) I suggested that you drop the “philosopher” pose. I also suggest you drop the smokescreen of using erudite words where simpler ones will do too. I guess you think that makes you look “right” in reader
    s eyes (a variation on the fallacy you raised earlier I note, but with you as the “authority”). Exegete = interpret, which of course can include drawing what you would like to be true from the text 😉 Or what lesson you would like it to teach, if you prefer to view it as a fable.

    Exegete can also mean to expound, but that doesn’t fit your words. Unless you mean that by banging on a bit more, it’ll change its meaning!

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  77. @75, re “isn’t that a tad contradictory in an inerrant source of knowledge?”

    BDT at post 66 wrote “Since the Bible is not contradictory”, which had me wondering if he meant irony. A statement with the phrase ‘not contradictory’ that itself was contradictory 🙂

    @74: I agree. This is getting truly ridiculous.

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  78. 78: … but affording a certain amount of harmless entertainment 🙂

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  79. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Alison,

    In other words, I can read into it whatever I like?

    You may want to look up the word “exegesis”; I’m actually saying the opposite.

    And given the literal appearance that the Biblical version of inheritance is a Lamarckian one

    I’ve never heard that suggested before, and I don’t hold to that view.

    I know, you’re going to argue that this is a literal reading & I shouldn’t read things literally

    I’m not going to argue anything; argument is only necessary to counter argument, which has been noticeably lacking in this thread.

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  80. As Heraclides says, ‘interpret’ (which will reflect the mindset of the reader) or ‘expound’…

    Might have been doing Lamarck a disservice – perhaps I should have said, a magical view of inheritance 🙂 In either case, the Bible is hardly a source of ‘true’ knowledge about how inheritance/the world in general operates.

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  81. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Alison,

    As Heraclides says, ‘interpret’ (which will reflect the mindset of the reader) or ‘expound’…

    So now you’re willing to admit that interpretation reflects the mindset of the interpreter. It’s interesting how resistant you were to that idea when I pointed out the same thing about scientific interpretation of data.

    In either case, the Bible is hardly a source of ‘true’ knowledge about how inheritance/the world in general operates.

    Since the Bible is the infallibly true revelation of the all-knowing God, I’m afraid you’re wrong.

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  82. The thing about science – which Ken, Heraclides, Stavros etc have already said again & again – is that interpretations of data are checked by others, tested by experimentation, & models are rejected if they don’t fit this continual cycle of testing. But you don’t seem willing to apply that same testing/probing to interpretations of the bible. Or to accept them if you don’t like the results.

    But to say that the bible is the infallibly true revelation of god, given that it is fallible, internally contradictory, & just plain wrong in places….. Read it as a fable if you must, but as a technical manual for the workings of the world – we’d still be in a geocentric world where diseases came from bad air or were sent as punishments, & women were regarded as second-class citizens (I rather think St Paul had some words to say in that area) if we viewed it in that way.

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  83. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    The thing about science – which Ken, Heraclides, Stavros etc have already said again & again – is that interpretations of data are checked by others, tested by experimentation, & models are rejected if they don’t fit this continual cycle of testing.

    As is scriptural exegesis.

    But to say that the bible is the infallibly true revelation of god, given that it is fallible, internally contradictory, & just plain wrong in places…

    An assertion in search of an argument.

    as a technical manual for the workings of the world – we’d still be in a geocentric world where diseases came from bad air or were sent as punishments, & women were regarded as second-class citizens (I rather think St Paul had some words to say in that area) if we viewed it in that way.

    I never claimed that it’s a technical manual, it doesn’t teach geocentricism, I’m not familiar with the phrase “bad air” (some diseases are attributed to demons and there is no reason to think that this precludes natural causes as well), and it does not teach that women are second-class citizens.

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  84. Umm – Letters is part of the bible? Wherein St Paul says (among other things) that it’s shameful for women to speak up in church – they should rely on their husbands’ opinions & ask for those quietly at home; they should go veiled in public because to do otherwise is shameful; no woman should teach or have authority over men: and so on. Sounds second-class to me.

    You could argue that this is just my interpretation – but then, how do we decide whose is correct?

    Similarly geocentricism – the bible might not actively teach it but various exegeses have certainly seen the world in that light. And Galileo suffered the consequences. Copernicus would have except he was careful enough to die before the mess hit the fan; his books, however, were banned – & burned when available.

    In the 1500s Catholics had Protestants burned at the stake – & the reverse also happened – because the two denominations had differing exegeses of the bible.

    And there’s at least one case – the reference is at home but I can look it up tonight – where a woman was burned at the stake for advocating the use of pain relief in childbirth. Why? Because the prevailing interpretation of the bible’s ‘truth’ was that because women were responsible for the original sin, they deserved to suffer & pain should not be alleviated.

    So far I’ve yet to hear how you would determine whose interpretation (if any) is ‘correct’. Whereas when scientists are in dispute over how an obervation or set of experimental results are interpreted, they can test it and come to some resolution. (The research that received the 2005 Nobel prize for medicine is a case in point.)

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  85. @ 84: some diseases are attributed to demons – what?????

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  86. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Sounds second-class to me.

    Since you are not an authority on the biblical roles of women, that constitutes a fallacious appeal to authority.

    You could argue that this is just my interpretation – but then, how do we decide whose is correct?

    Are you advocating thoroughgoing skepticism? That doesn’t seem very scientific.

    Similarly geocentricism – the bible might not actively teach it but various exegeses have certainly seen the world in that light. And Galileo suffered the consequences. Copernicus would have except he was careful enough to die before the mess hit the fan; his books, however, were banned – & burned when available.

    In the 1500s Catholics had Protestants burned at the stake – & the reverse also happened – because the two denominations had differing exegeses of the bible.

    And there’s at least one case – the reference is at home but I can look it up tonight – where a woman was burned at the stake for advocating the use of pain relief in childbirth. Why? Because the prevailing interpretation of the bible’s ‘truth’ was that because women were responsible for the original sin, they deserved to suffer & pain should not be alleviated.

    Even assuming you have an adequate grasp of these historical issues, I’m not sure why you’re mentioning them.

    So far I’ve yet to hear how you would determine whose interpretation (if any) is ‘correct’.

    One examines the relevant data and evaluates the various arguments. Determining who is right on matters of exegesis isn’t really any different than determining who is right in most disciplines. Unless you’re implying that you adhere to a thoroughgoing skepticism, I must admit that I find your question a bit bemusing.

    some diseases are attributed to demons – what?????

    You may need to clarify your question.

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  87. @65 Hear hear.

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  88. The ‘biblical role’ of women – I simply listed Paul’s statements to show that this true worldview is by western standards effectively relegating women to a lower status than men; hence my ‘second-class’ comment. Are you arguing that Paul’s recorded comments represent a correct worldview? Are you implying that we should return to it?

    You said that ‘some diseases are attributed to demons’ – I was wondering which diseases, exactly. And what evidence there is to back this attribution up, if it’s a modern rather than an historical statement.

    As to the historical issues (& ignoring your ad hominem attack)- I mention them because you are trying to persuade us that the bible (or someone’s exegesis of it) gives us the only true worldview. Yet it’s clear from a range of documented historical events that interpretations of the bible’s worldview vary considerably (& with serious effect). So again, which of all the manifold possibilities (if any) is correct?

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  89. @ alison:

    “interpretations of the bible’s worldview vary considerably”

    Well one way around that is to accept the Koran as providing the only correct world view.

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  90. DBT: I pointed out earlier that your assertion in post 59 that true knowledge only comes first from the bible is a fallacious appeal to authority. You seem to have overlooked my telling you, or that you wish to overlook it.

    I note that of late you are trying to dismiss others pointing out your fallacious appeals to authority out of hand, by accusing them of it!

    Apart from being inconsistent, what it illustrates to me, as I pointed out earlier, is that you’re hardly a philosopher. Poster 65 gave a deeper critique of this, which you have also “overlooked” (or, again, want to “overlook”).

    Regards your reply to Alison saying “Since you are not an authority on the biblical roles of women, that constitutes a fallacious appeal to authority”, I think you’re wrong and that this again illustrates that you’re no philosopher. Alison listed some points of evidence and then wrote “Sounds second-class to me.”. She’s not basing her argument on “who she is”, but on what she put forward, so it can hardly be an appeal to authority. She re-enforced that in the following sentence. Besides your quote reads like a quote-mine 🙂

    More seriously though, it makes me wonder if you really understand what that phrase really means. There are better judges than me (e.g. Iapetus), but that’s the way your posts are coming across…

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  91. @65: Nice post.

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  92. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    The ‘biblical role’ of women – I simply listed Paul’s statements to show that this true worldview is by western standards effectively relegating women to a lower status than men; hence my ’second-class’ comment. Are you arguing that Paul’s recorded comments represent a correct worldview? Are you implying that we should return to it?

    I’m not arguing anything. I affirm that Paul’s recorded comments represent one aspect of the correct worldview (Christian theism). However, my understanding of those comments is evidently different to yours, since I understand that Paul’s view of women is representative of the wider scriptural view, and that this view does not demean women in any way, or relegate them to second-class status. It does assign them different roles to men in some areas; but that is hardly the same thing. And yes, of course we should “return” to this, inasmuch as society is not Christian. But attempting to impose Christian values on non-Christians is pointless. People need to be evangelized; not have Christian laws imposed on them. Within Christian communities, however, the women do act according to the biblical roles; just as the men do. I can speak for my own family, and the families of many people I know. Women are not second-class citizens in any of them. You should take a few moments to look up the biblical view of authority as a serving role, and of submission as an honoring role.

    You said that ’some diseases are attributed to demons’ – I was wondering which diseases, exactly. And what evidence there is to back this attribution up, if it’s a modern rather than an historical statement.

    Let me clarify: in Scripture there are many instances of people having symptoms of (usually) mental illnesses which are recognizable today, and which are attributed to demonic possession or activity. We aren’t given enough information to know if this is (i) general to all cases of those symptoms, such that all such mental illnesses are actually demonic; (ii) specific to these cases, such that they are not the same as mental illnesses with coincidentally identical symptoms; or (iii) somewhere in between, such as that demonic possession can precipitate or cause or manifest as a natural mental illness. We are also not told whether this is specific to the times or locations in question, or if it applies generally throughout world history.

    it’s clear from a range of documented historical events that interpretations of the bible’s worldview vary considerably (& with serious effect). So again, which of all the manifold possibilities (if any) is correct?

    (a) To briefly answer the “serious effect” comment: these were a product of the times, and not of the doctrines per se. There is plenty of exegetical disagreement in the modern day, for example, and no one is killed for it. Similarly within earlier church history.

    (b) I have already answered this question, so I’m not sure what more you want. You seem to be suggesting that disagreement of any kind between experts implies the necessity of thoroughgoing skepticism—which I’m sure if you take a moment to think about you will realize is not a very sensible position to hold, and one I’m sure you don’t actually believe.

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  93. Heraclides,
    I was amazed by finding so many rejoinders on this vital topic. When I said that ‘Supernatural’ is unknown by definition, I explained that science through empirical tests cannot attain the knowledge of ‘supernatural’. It is clear that only God can reveal himself through his words and deeds. What we accept in faith in the authority of God has its effects in our human existence. God has entered human history. It is interesting to discuss this topic. I see how much has been written by young people. It is wrong to say that young people are not interested in Religion. We can discuss more at length on biblical narratives, miracles, parables.
    I hope to come back.

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  94. “I explained that science through empirical tests cannot attain the knowledge of ’supernatural’” and I pointed out that neither can anyone else. All you’ve done is travel around in a circle: I got what you tried to say the first time, complete with its inaccurate implications. In any event you’ve reverted back to arguing by authority (rather than evidence, etc.) which you don’t seem to understand means that your position is fallacious. I tried to point this out to you. Unless you change that, there isn’t a lot of point in discussing “more at length on biblical narratives, miracles, parables” and I certainly won’t.

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  95. NATURAL VS. SUPERNATURAL
    As several posters have realized, the demand to prove that the universe is “natural” is totally irrelevant and merely a smokescreen that is set up in the hope of enabling him to put a god-shaped foot into the door. The real issue here, which I repeatedly tried to communicate to James (apparently unsuccessfully) is whether reality as a whole is uniform or not, i.e. whether the patterns and regularities we have discovered to govern the behaviour of the part of reality we have explored thusfar are also valid for the rest of reality or not. Currently we have no evidence to corroborate the latter. However, being a Christian, he has to affirm that this is so, i.e. he has to assert that there is another part of reality which is inhabited by his god that is fundamentally different and where these patterns and regularities do not hold. If you press him enough, though, he will concede that his only evidence for this claim is his interpretation of a certain book he deems infallible (see comment no. 74 of the above mentioned thread). Quelle surprise

    Hello again Iapetus, well that was not my argument at all. My argument was quite direct – what observed properties tell us we live in a “natural” universe as opposed to a “supernatural” universe (one that is not self-generated or self-sustaining)? In other words, why wouldn’t certain patterns and regularities be constant in a supernatural universe? What is it about universal constants and regularities that point to naturalism? Why? The fact is Iapetus you have no idea which kind of universe you live in. You have nothing to compare it to. Your definition of “natural” is therefore arbitrary.

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  96. I propose James and Dominic come up with new definitions for “natural”, “supernatural”, “science”, and “argument”. Perhaps then their vacuous and irrelevant questions might gain some weight…

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  97. James, how old do you think the Earth is?

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  98. James, how old do you think the Earth is?

    You are joking right? I have already explained my position on this board – which is, I don’t know.

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  99. I propose James and Dominic come up with new definitions for “natural”, “supernatural”, “science”, and “argument”. Perhaps then their vacuous and irrelevant questions might gain some weight…

    I think I have defined these things. My definition of a natural universe is one that is self-generated and/or is self-sustaning. And to this point science has not answered either question. So, all we have is what we observe. But what we observe does not tell us what kind of universe we live in. So asserting that we live in a “natural” universe is just that, an assertion. You can not know that. At least at this point.

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  100. Heraclides,
    You are committing an epistemological mistake–empirical science is not the only source of knowledge. There are other sciences. ‘Supernatural’ cannot be verified in the same way as a chemical test. Even physical theories about the origins of Universe and Life cannot be verified empirically. They are physical models which account for natural phenomena. When one model is not adequate, it is thrown out and another model is pursued. The reason why we use the terms ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ is precisely that one cannot attain the knowledge of ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ in the same way. Yet, the knowledge of God, his design and miracles has its own rationale and grounds. If you do not accept this premise, then you cannot continue the discussion any further. You will simply deny the ‘supernatural realities’…

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  101. James said…”You are joking right? I have already explained my position on this board – which is, I don’t know.”

    So why don’t you know?
    Is it some mysterious puzzle that you just can’t get your head around?

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html

    You do realise that DBT is a YEC, yeah?

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  102. I know I should have stopped trying to argue with James and Dominic (it isn’t possible) but James you say: “But what we observe does not tell us what kind of universe we live in. So asserting that we live in a “natural” universe is just that, an assertion..” I thought that most phenomena in the universe have been explained by science in terms of natural processes, no? Galaxy formation, planet formation, star life, evolution of life on earth, biology in terms of chemical processes etc. That is a very strong indicator that our Universe is purely natural.

    Now, you might say that a supernatural being guides all these processes, but once again you will be saying something that we cannot comprehend and verify and thus it makes no difference.

    Your statement: “And to this point science has not answered either question” clearly shows your “god of the gaps” approach and sums up pretty well your whole reasoning…

    And in order to accept the premise Icsouza states about God and his design, I need some evidence please. Otherwise it is just a baseless belief.

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  103. Is it some mysterious puzzle that you just can’t get your head around?

    At this point science seems to point to a old universe. I accept that, generally – but let me ask you Cedric – is science ever wrong?

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  104. I thought that most phenomena in the universe have been explained by science in terms of natural processes, no? Galaxy formation, planet formation, star life, evolution of life on earth, biology in terms of chemical processes etc. That is a very strong indicator that our Universe is purely natural.

    Why do you call these processes natural? How do you know that? You point to cause and effect – but why wouldn’t cause and effect be operative in a supernatural universe?

    “And to this point science has not answered either question” clearly shows your “god of the gaps” approach and sums up pretty well your whole reasoning…

    If the universe is not self-generating and self-sustaining then it’s not a god of the gaps argument – it’s the whole ball of wax. It’s everything

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  105. James you say: “If the universe is not self-generating and self-sustaining then blah blah blah” and it is absolutely clear now that you have completely lost it. You are contradicting yourself now. You now talk about NOT being self-generating and self-sustaining as opposed to NOT KNOWING if it is or not: “god of the gaps”.

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  106. James you say: “If the universe is not self-generating and self-sustaining then blah blah blah” and it is absolutely clear now that you have completely lost it. You are contradicting yourself now. You now talk about NOT being self-generating and self-sustaining as opposed to NOT KNOWING if it is or not: “god of the gaps”.

    I’ll let your childish rant go Stavros, and try (I must be a saint) to explain it again. We don’t know if the universe is self-generating and self-sustaining. And we may never know. But if it isn’t self-generating and self-sustaining then it’s not a god of the “gaps” argument – because I’m not speaking of specific gaps here or there. It would mean that everything depended on God.

    Anyway, I will repeat my question: Why do you call these processes natural? How do you know that? You point to cause and effect – but why wouldn’t cause and effect be operative in a supernatural universe?

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  107. Ha now I am childish? God of the gaps is *exactly* what you mention: you are introducing God in areas of knowledge we do not yet know. Saying that “IF IT ISN’T self-generating and self-sustaining blah blah” is just a meaningless statement to try and justify your god of the gaps argument.

    And I call these process natural because they are fully understandable by science -which we defined as dealing with nature, remember? Play all you want with terminology and definitions James it will not help anyone but yourself to feel better -when everyone here has seen your “arguments” fall apart so easily…

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  108. And I call these process natural because they are fully understandable by science -which we defined as dealing with nature, remember? Play all you want with terminology and definitions James it will not help anyone but yourself to feel better -when everyone here has seen your “arguments” fall apart so easily…

    Stavros, the problem is you have no idea. First, these things are not fully understood by science. Quantum particles make up all matter, and then we have dark matter/energy. And we are pretty much clueless about both. And just because something is understandable by science, does not tell us about it’s metaphysical reality. Why shouldn’t we expect a supernatural universe to act in predictable ways? Why shouldn’t we expect a rational God to create a ordered understandable universe?

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  109. Can you not see the questions you ask will remain unanswered and are irrelevant? This is the fallacious argument that God is behind everything! You can ALWAYS claim God is behind everything and is guiding everything (even using natural processes)! This will make absolutely no difference to our understanding of the world though. A supernatural universe acting in predictable ways is no different than a natural universe for all indents and purposes.

    “these things are not fully understood by science” more god of the gaps…

    You keep mentioning the same fallacious and/or irrelevant stuff in circles without wanting to notice any rational responses. I am tired of your non-arguments. Everyone have a good day. I enjoyed some comments by Heraclides, Nick and Iapetus. The rest was the same old, same old…

    Like

  110. @James

    As you are the one putting forward the concept of a supernatural universe, it is for you to convince others of the existence of that, not for us to disprove it. I can sit here all day long constructing “supernatural” universes, but without any evidence, why should anybody pay any attention to my imaginings. One way in which (good) science is qualitatively different from religion is that it doesn’t expect people to take things on faith.

    If you require reassurance about what you have separated out into (what I consider) an artificial category called natural, you are quite able to rerun the experiments, look at the evidence and participate in the scientific process (you might have to work a little on gaining some credibility first tho).

    Again, the people here have stated quite clearly what you require to get them to change their minds about these issues, all you have to do is find some evidence.

    In summary (again), define what you mean by a “supernatural” universe, and give us some evidence. I wouldn’t buy a second hand car from you sight unseen, and I am certainly not going to buy a slightly second hand god concept and creation story either without evidence. Am I being unreasonable, or what?

    Another way to think on this. What would we have to do to get you to change your mind about these concepts? From what DBT was saying before, it sounds like all we would need to do is get big in exegesis circles. (Visions of burning buildings in Waco run through the mind). Doesn’t this aspect of accepting things on faith bother you?

    Like

  111. In summary (again), define what you mean by a “supernatural” universe, and give us some evidence.

    Nick, give me some evidence that this is a “natural” universe. And I have already defined what I mean by supernatural.

    I can sit here all day long constructing “supernatural” universes, but without any evidence, why should anybody pay any attention to my imaginings.

    I can sit here all day long constructing “natural” universes, but without any evidence, why should anybody pay any attention to my imaginings?

    Do you get it yet Nick?

    Like

  112. A supernatural universe acting in predictable ways is no different than a natural universe for all indents and purposes.

    Ok, good. So how do you know which universe you live in?

    Like

  113. Hey James, like I said, I am not putting forward the concept of a natural universe at all. That is your concept. You define it. All I am saying is that there are these hard won concepts called “scientific theories” that have been shown (by testing and ongoing checking with reality) to give some damn useful predictions about reality. I personally think of this stuff as understanding, or knowledge. I am not trying to convince you of any of this. If you want to be convinced, as I suggested, go away and perform some experiments.

    Do you get it yet?

    I think that this has gotten down to the naa naaa naaa level. Bye.

    Like

  114. Hey James, like I said, I am not putting forward the concept of a natural universe at all. That is your concept. You define it. All I am saying is that there are these hard won concepts called “scientific theories” that have been shown (by testing and ongoing checking with reality) to give some damn useful predictions about reality. I personally think of this stuff as understanding, or knowledge. I am not trying to convince you of any of this. If you want to be convinced, as I suggested, go away and perform some experiments.

    Well Nick, that is kind of my point. Yes we make some predictions about reality. And we get some things right. But nothing we have observed or tested so far tells us what kind of universe we live in. A natural one (self-generating/self-sustaining) or a supernatural one(not self-generating/self-sustaining).

    And I’m not trying to convince anyone either – just trying to highlight unfounded assumptions. One being that we live in a “natural” universe.

    Like

  115. icsouza,

    Don’t put things I didn’t say into my mouth, please, especially by using false sophistry.

    I have already pointed out to you several times that NO-ONE can say anything positive about something ‘supernatural’, you included. Its a contradiction in terms. Your saying that you can is a contradiction of your own words, your own definition of what supernaturnal means. (Or, that you want one thing to have two meanings: one for some people and one for others in a way that makes you “special”. Gee, I can’t spot the self-congratulatory ploy. Old familiar story from religious people “we are special“.)

    “If you do not accept this premise, then you cannot continue the discussion any further.” If the premise isn’t sound, as in this case, NO-ONE can correctly “accept” it, in the sense of it being a truth, because it isn’t. Its a fallacy. I can accept it as a fallacy, though. Its a contradiction in terms to ask of me to accept someting that is a fallacy. Some people can choose to go with it, because they have some baggage that relies on it, as no doubt what you do.

    Supernatural is a misnomer in itself. If anything it would mean ‘unknown’ (in the case of natural things that haven’t been explained yet) or ‘mythical’ (in the caae of invented things). The most ANYONE can say is “I don’t know” in the former case and “its a fiction” in the latter case. No exceptions for anyone. You said as much yourself, then added that you’re an “exception”. Pass me a tui…

    Your use of ‘supernatural’ just a smoke screen to try create a “space” that you can insert “G-d”.

    Like

  116. “It would mean that everything depended on the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

    “Why shouldn’t we expect a rational Flying Spaghetti Monster to create a ordered understandable universe?”

    ………………………………………………..

    “At this point science seems to point to a old universe. I accept that, generally…”

    What do you mean “generally”?

    Either the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old or…it isn’t.
    This isn’t controversial stuff.
    None of this is wild-eyed imaginings from a few dope-smoking radicals out there.
    Open your standard school science text book and it will tell you the same thing.

    The scientists involved have openly ‘counted the horses teeth’ on this matter and demonstrates through multiple independent means how old the Earth is.

    If you have doubts…then take a good hard look at what they say.
    If you don’t understand something, then ask.

    Though it would be nice of you to actually do your own research first and then ask if you don’t get something.
    (Hint, hint)

    Don’t expect people to provide you with a free education or to do your leg work for you.
    Otherwise you’ll end up like DBT or CNNZ.

    Here’s a very interesting little video to get your curiosity flowing….
    Creationists and the Speed of Light (Tribute to cdk007)
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nRmJbP25m-Y

    …………………………………………..

    James said…”but let me ask you Cedric – is science ever wrong?”

    That’s very deep, James.
    However…try and focus for a little, okay?

    Like

  117. Heraclides,
    You have misunderstood me totally. ‘Supernatural’ is the term used for the reality of God, which empirical Science cannot prove nor disprove. Empirical Science is dealing with natural phenomena. But empirical Science is not the only science and source of knowledge. You are denying outright any other knowledge. This is not “false sophistry”. There is no contradiction in what has been said: God cannot be proved by empirical Science, but Reason and Christian Revelation attest to the existence of God. This is not a fallacy, but a reality. In this case, ‘supernatural’ means that it is not object of observation and experimentation, like natural phenomena, but it has its reality to be sensed by human experience and signs of credibility. People who sense it are not ‘special;, but they are open to the total Reality, not myopic in their vision…

    Like

  118. “‘Supernatural’ is the term used for the reality of God” Oh, so now you want to play word games and redefine the words and now make ‘supernatural’ synomymous with G-d. OK. You earlier wrote, and I quote, “‘Supernatural’ is unknown by definition”. So, lets see… ‘Supernatural’ is unknown by definition. OK. You now say supernatural is equivalent to G-d. Therefore, it would follow that G-d is unknown.

    So, now you either believe in something that is unknown (and unknowable) and/or that G-d cannot exist because no-one could know of G-d, by (your) definitions. Suits me.

    “This is not a fallacy, but a reality.” In a funny way, you’ve just illustrated that its a fallacy 😉

    Like

  119. James said…”but let me ask you Cedric – is science ever wrong?”

    That’s very deep, James.
    However…try and focus for a little, okay?

    No Cedric, it’s a pretty direct question. As far as an old earth, yes the independent lines of evidence seem to point that way. But that could change, after all when it comes to the make up of the universe and time itself we are still quite ignorant. I mean how does time dilation play into this? What is “time” anyway. We were not here to observe the creation event, we can not demonstrate it, we can not recreate it (despite CERN). So yes Cedric, science could be very wrong about this – you agree of course.

    Like

  120. James said…”But that could change, after all when it comes to the make up of the universe and time itself we are still quite ignorant.”

    All science is tentative.

    James said…”So yes Cedric, science could be very wrong about this – you agree of course.”

    Oh it could be. Yes, it could be.
    Many things COULD be.

    Science may be wrong about everything really. If you want to put it all on the table.

    Could the the world be a giant ping-pong ball that’s only cleverly diguised as a planet?
    Yes, it…could be.
    After all, we were not around for the creation event.
    So, it could be.

    Could the Flying Spaghetti Monster really exist?
    Well…it could be.
    Maybe.
    After all, when it comes to the make up of the universe and time and everything in it and how it all got created, well, we are still quite ignorant.

    So yes.
    It could be.
    I hope somebody is doing some deep thinking about it.
    Somewhere.

    (..shrug..)

    So why are you still so coy about the age of the Earth?
    You haven’t managed to spit out a number yet.

    “As far as an old earth, yes the independent lines of evidence seem to point that way.”

    Yes, they cross all of the physical sciences. In multiple ways.
    It’s difficult off-hand to find a more concrete example of scientific knowledge.

    Yet, you remain curiously diffident.
    Is it just some blind gut suspicion (hope?) that the scientists could be wrong or do you know something the rest of the scientific world doesn’t?

    Here’s another video to help you out.
    Evolution vs. Creationism: The Age of the Earth
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=7XDn5SqE9jc

    Like

  121. To Icsouza:

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster cannot be proved by empirical Science, but Reason and Pastafarian Revelation attest to the existence of The Noodly One. This is not a fallacy, but a reality.

    http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

    Like

  122. Cedric,

    The reference to “His Noodly Appendage” in that article is rather, erm, disturbing 🙂

    You’ll be a Pastafarian, I guess? 😉

    Like

  123. Cedric said:

    Yes, they cross all of the physical sciences. In multiple ways.
    It’s difficult off-hand to find a more concrete example of scientific knowledge.

    Yet, you remain curiously diffident.
    Is it just some blind gut suspicion (hope?) that the scientists could be wrong or do you know something the rest of the scientific world doesn’t?

    And Cedric said:

    All science is tentative

    So you wonder why I don’t jump on the bandwagon? Why I have reservations? If all science really is tentative Cedric, then so are our theories about the age of the universe.

    And like I said, what is time? How does time dilation or time realtivity or time frames (reference points), play into this whole discussion?

    We just don’t know enough…

    Like

  124. The Flying Spaghetti Monster cannot be proved by empirical Science, but Reason and Pastafarian Revelation attest to the existence of The Noodly One. This is not a fallacy, but a reality.

    Of course Cedric can not prove by empirical science that he isn’t a brain in a vat. That he is not completely deceived. That his experience of reality actually corresponds to reality.

    Like

  125. Heraclides…”You’ll be a Pastafarian, I guess?”

    You, Sir, can read me like a book.
    May your meat sauce be ever spicy.

    Like

  126. James said…”Why I have reservations? If all science really is tentative Cedric, then so are our theories about the age of the universe.”

    Yes. Everything scientific is tentative. EVERYTHING.
    Cosmology. Biology. Chemisty. Geology. Dendrochronlogy. Meteorology. Genetics. Oceanography.
    It’s all tentative. Really and truly.
    Every high school text book will tell you the same.

    Yet YOU cherry-pick the age of the Earth.
    A subject that covers ALL THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES!
    (watch the video)

    This isn’t something obscure or rarified like string theory or the mechanics of black holes or something.

    This is the age of the Earth that you’re dragging your feet over.
    The. Age. Of. The. Earth.

    It’s the 21st Century. You’ve got access to the Internet and you just can’t accept the science behind the Earth being 4.5 billion years old?

    What’s slowing you down?

    I can understand you being a closet YEC and being ashamed of admitting it in public because it would make you look like a total tool (just like DBT and CNNZ) but…at least you would have the strength of your convictions.

    Say what you believe. Say it loud and say it proud.

    Like

  127. Again Cedric, I said I generally agreed with a old earth. But since all of science is tentative, and since there may be a whole slew of facts out there that may or may not comfirm our present understanding, I will reserve judgement.

    BTW – if I was a YEC I would have no problem admitting it. I really could care less what others think. I’m way beyond that.

    Like

  128. Heraclides,
    You still play with words and with definitions. ‘Supernatural’ is
    unknown by definition, namely it cannot be known through empirical methods. What we know through Christian Revelation about the meaning of life and the ‘after-life’ is ’supernatural. But ’supernatural’ has already been ushered into human history. This is what I wrote.
    The ‘afterlife’ is revealed to us by God through the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.’Supernatural’ is known through Christian Revelation. This is the reality revealed to humanity, not fallacy…

    Like

  129. You accused me of playing with words. I didn’t: I used <b<YOUR OWN words. You’ve contradicted yourself: blame yourself for that, not me. All I did was point it out to you.

    In future, try not to accuse other people of what you do yourself 😉

    Like

  130. Missed an end tag, should have read:

    You accused me of playing with words. I didn’t: I used <b<YOUR OWN WORDS. You’ve contradicted yourself: blame yourself for that, not me. All I did was point it out to you.

    In future, try not to accuse other people of what you do yourself 😉

    Like

  131. This isn’t my morning :-/ Obviously, “YOUR OWN WORDS” should be emphasised. They’re not my words, they’re your words.

    Like

  132. “BTW – if I was a YEC I would have no problem admitting it. I really could care less what others think.”

    Good to hear. The only life form that’s lower than a YEC is a YEC that’s too dainty to actually admit it.
    (Hi, CNNZ)
    I’m glad that, though you and I evidently disagree on many things, you have not sunk that low.

    ……………………………………………….

    James said…”But since all of science is tentative, and since there may be a whole slew of facts out there that may or may not comfirm our present understanding, I will reserve judgement.”

    Yet you single out the age of the Earth to “reserve judgement on”.

    Why?

    Do you reserve judgement on the existence of radiation?
    Or our understanding of electricity?
    Do you hold reservations on the Periodic Table?

    All of the physical sciences support the age of the Earth.
    Not some.
    Not many.
    Not even most of them.
    All.
    All of them.
    The same process of investigation and discovery that supports our understanding of radiation and electricity and oil refining and cough medicine and a zillion other things in modern society are all woven together in that big tapestry the scientist in the video mentioned.

    If you’re going to cherry pick what to “reserve judgement on”, then there has to be a doozy of a reason.

    Or are we dealing with some fuzzy dark undefined malformed thingy deep within your lower intestine that just says “Nah. I don’t buy it! ‘Cause I don’t. So there.”?

    Like

  133. To Icsouza:

    The ‘afterlife’ is revealed to us by the Flying Spaghetti Monster through his creation of a mountain, trees, and a midget..’
    Supernatural’ is known through Pastafarian Revelation. This is the reality revealed to humanity, not fallacy…

    So what awaits you in the afterlife?
    A beer volcano and stripper factory!

    http://www.venganza.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=8942

    Ramen.

    Like

  134. Heraclides,
    We should not be quarrelling about words. Try to understand what I am saying: Empirical science is a source of knowledge, Christian Revelation is another source of knowledge. Revelation tells us about God and eternal life. There is no contradiction. Let others be satisfied with Flying Spaghetti Monster, with the Science or wealth. We respect their freedom.

    Like

  135. Heraclides,
    While we respect the freedom of others to be somehow satisfied with other revelations, can these others offer a stripper factory and a beer volcano in the after-life?
    Can other faiths promote pirate regalia?

    Empirical science is a source of knowledge, Pastafarian Revelation is another source of knowledge. Revelation tells us about His Noodliness and eternal life.

    Icsouza is no doubt well meaning. His beliefs are just another (though erronous) path to “al dente”.

    May your Parmesan ever flow freely.

    Like

  136. Cedric,
    When you say that beliefs have no evidence, how can you affirm that they are “erroneous”? We do lean on the authority of the Christian Revelation. You may no accept it. But then how are you sure of your position? Belief and faith is not the same thing. Faith in God leans on the Word of God, on the experience of God’s power. It is interesting to know that we are living amidst a pluralism of beliefs, faiths and life styles. The way of life should be common to all, it should be human.

    Like

  137. “When you say that beliefs have no evidence, how can you affirm that they are “erroneous”?”

    You’ve confused me. Is this a typo?

    “We do lean on the authority of the Pastafarian Revelation. You may no accept it. But then how are you sure of your position? Belief and faith is not the same thing. Faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster leans on the Word of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, on the experience of Noodle power. It is interesting to know that we are living amidst a pluralism of beliefs, faiths and life styles. The way of life should be common to all, it should be human.”

    May an extra helping of cheese be delivered unto you.
    Ramen.

    Like

  138. Yet you single out the age of the Earth to “reserve judgement on”.

    Why?

    Do you reserve judgement on the existence of radiation?
    Or our understanding of electricity?
    Do you hold reservations on the Periodic Table?

    Well actually I do reserve judgement on electricity, especially electrons. I also reserve judgement on gravity, on light, much of quantum theory (like entanglement) on the ability of randon mutations to created new body parts and systems. Some of these things like light, or gravity or electricity are very basic to our everyday life. We can study and use them, yet we really don’t know what they are.

    So yes, I reserve judgement on many things… And as far as the age of the universe goes. Again, how does the relativity of time, or time dilation play into the whole question? Could we ever know? And the other problem is – we just were not there. The fact is there may be many questions that science can never answer.

    Like

  139. icsouza,

    I’ve told you again and again and again and again and again and again and again that I got what you were trying to say the first time 🙂 Repeating something doesn’t make it “more right”. Its just as wrong as it was the first time I read it. And, yes, I did read you rightly.

    There are perfect contradictions in what you wrote: you just won’t own up to them. So getting back to what you wrote that adds up to something sensible 😉

    You said “‘Supernatural’ is unknown by definition”. You can’t deny that. You also said “‘Supernatural’ is the term used for the reality of G-d” You can’t deny that either.

    I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with these statements, but it follows from your words, not mine, that: “G-d is unknown”. You can’t deny that.

    But, of course, you grant yourself one of two familiar “escape routes”:

    (1) that “Empricial science” cannot test ‘supernatural’ events, omitting to mention that neither can you or anyone else, as I pointed out earlier. This makes this your point, pointless. (See also Ken’s earlier point about the ‘supernatural’, its relevant.)

    (2) that you and your religious colleagues are “special” in such a way that “only you” can “know the truth”. Its a common and rather sad line from many religions that panders to people’s need to feel special and asks of them to overlook that they’re actually not seeing anything.
    (However, note that under your “rules” Christian scientists would it both ways, but they can’t seem to “prove G-d” either!)

    There is a reason that people outside of religion often remark that religious people are “in denial”: they observe religious people denying their own words and contradictions.

    You’re so deep into denial, I fully expect that you’ll just simply deny your own words all over again! 🙂

    So, food for thought: they’re what you said, why deny that? Why be dishonest to yourself?

    You might also want to consider that the reason you keep repeating this stuff isn’t to convince anyone else, but to convince yourself.

    Like

  140. Science cannot either prove or disprove the existence of God. The existence of God cannot be known through empirical sciences, but through the Revelation of God himself. Nobody knows the Father except through his Son, Jesus Christ. This is what we believe…

    Like

  141. @ icsouza:

    Everyone has beliefs – and you are welcome to yours. But, to be honest and realistic, these are only beliefs.

    I just can’t see what the relevance of your assertions are to the subject of this post.

    Like

  142. These are not “only beliefs”, but faith in the Person of Jesus, who is a historical Person. The relevance of these assertions consists in the fact that Science cannot exhaust the whole reality. There is not conflict between Science and Bible.

    Like

  143. These are not “only beliefs”, but faith in the Person of Jesus, who is a historical Person. The relevance of these assertions consists in the fact that Science cannot exhaust the whole reality. There is no conflict between Science and Bible.

    Like

  144. @ icsouza:

    “There is no conflict between Science and Bible.”

    So – evolutionary science is very different to the Genesis myths in the Bible. Which one do you think is correct? The one based on evidence or the one based on ‘revelation?’

    Like

  145. I am sorry to say that you are totally wrong. Bible does not teach science. Therefore, creation is not a scientific theory. There is no incompatibility between the scientific theory of Evolution and the theological concept of Creation. Creationism cannot be accepted, because Bible is not a book which teaches the scientific origin of the Universe. We find there pre-scientific knowledge of the constitution of the Universe. It teaches about God and his saving design.
    The debate is sometimes portrayed as being between Science and Religion. However, as the National Academy of Sciences states:
    “Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.”
    —Science, Evolution, and Creationism, National Academy of Sciences

    Like

  146. So – evolutionary science is very different to the Genesis myths in the Bible. Which one do you think is correct? The one based on evidence or the one based on ‘revelation?’

    Like I said in the other thread Ken. When I went to school I was taught an eternal, steady state universe, it was settled science. But Revelation taught that the universe began – which one was right?

    Is it possible that your present theories about the age of the universe, the genesis and development of biological life be overturned (like the steady state universe) in the future?

    Besides, there are other ways to look at the book of Genesis:

    http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/4viewsofcreation.shtml

    Like

  147. @143: Exactly.

    Like

  148. Everyone has beliefs – and you are welcome to yours. But, to be honest and realistic, these are only beliefs.

    Again, like your unprovable belief that your view of reality actually corresponds to reality?

    Like

  149. @147: While the article you give may give “reasons”, it doesn’t give evidence, nor proof. You could also read their alternatives as excuses. But, regardless, without evidence, never mind proof, they are at most hypotheses, aka hand-waving.

    As such, they are hardly comparable to the science-based position. They are a set of options a person could choose to believe in if they chose to disregard the lack of evidence (etc.), i.e. “take on faith”.

    So, you’re be back to choosing between evidence-based conclusions, derived from a reasoning process designed to weed out rubbish, or assertions presented as “just right” with no support (perhaps other than a book that is also “just right”).

    Like

  150. To Icsouza:
    Science cannot either prove or disprove the existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. The existence of a great clump of invisible pasta and meat-balls cannot be known through empirical sciences, but through the Revelation of Tasty One itsself. Nobody knows the savoury dish except through a healthy dollop of sauce, grated cheese and perhaps a modest glass of red wine, This is what we believe…

    Like

  151. “These are not “only beliefs”, but faith in the serving of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, who is a historical menu item. The relevance of these assertions consists in the fact that Science cannot exhaust the whole reality. There is not conflict between Science and Pastafarian Belief.
    🙂

    (isn’t this fun)

    Like

  152. James said…“So yes, I reserve judgement on many things… And as far as the age of the universe goes. Again, how does the relativity of time, or time dilation play into the whole question? Could we ever know? And the other problem is – we just were not there. The fact is there may be many questions that science can never answer.”

    That’s very sad.

    As Dr Powell said in the video I linked to…”If you reject the age of the Earth, it’s completely illogical.
    It’s rejecting the ability of humans to reason and to determine cause when all they can see is effect. It’s a repudiation of our intellect.

    However the prime-time tidbit from you is…“And the other problem is – we just were not there.”

    Let’s read that one again, folks!!
    We were just not there.

    (…awkward silence…)

    Damn. How’s that for logic.
    😦

    You do realize that you are repeating verbatim the Young Earth Creationist nut-jobs?

    Listen carefully to the language used by Ken Ham in his talk.

    Friends of God – Evolution
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=8KwpkzaVjzw

    and now for a dose of reality…

    Were You There?
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=W5Jt0j-1Zzs

    Like

  153. As such, they are hardly comparable to the science-based position. They are a set of options a person could choose to believe in if they chose to disregard the lack of evidence (etc.), i.e. “take on faith”.

    Heraclides, let me try this again:

    1. When I went to school I was taught an eternal, steady state universe, it was settled science. But Revelation taught that the universe began – which one was right?

    The evidence pointed to a steady state universe. “Revelation” said that the universe “began.” Which one is correct.

    2. Heraclides, again! You can not prove empirically that your your view of reality actually corresponds to reality. That you are not a brain in a vat. You can not prove empirically that most of your memories are true. You can not prove empirically that you actually love most of your loved ones. You may just be faking it. These are unproven beliefs. Yet these unproveable beliefs make up some of the most important, certain things in life.

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  154. Cedric said:

    …”If you reject the age of the Earth, it’s completely illogical.

    Let me reword how that would sound 60 years ago:

    “If you reject a Steady State Universe, it would be completely illogical.”

    How about from 90 years ago?

    “If you reject Newton’s theory of gravity it would be completely illogical.”

    Are you really saying Cedric that our theories of the age of the universe could not be falsified in the future?

    Like

  155. So, you’re be back to choosing between evidence-based conclusions, derived from a reasoning process designed to weed out rubbish, or assertions presented as “just right” with no support (perhaps other than a book that is also “just right”).

    Which evidence-based conclusions are you speaking of Heraclides? Are not most of these conclusions merely tenative?

    Like

  156. Ken,
    Science deals with natural phenomena. It does not prove or disprove the existence of God. Bible does not teach scientific theories about the origins of the Universe and of Humankind. Creationism cannot be accepted, creation is not a scientific concept, it is theological. Without God’s power the Universe cannot come into existence. But Creation does not exclude Evolution. We can accept the scientific theory of Evolution, which is still in process, and also the theological concept of Creation. Bible and Science are not in conflict.
    The debate is sometimes portrayed as being between Science and Religion. However, as the National Academy of Sciences states:
    “Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.”—Science, Evolution, and Creationism, National Academy of Sciences

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  157. Dr Powell stated in the video…”If you reject the age of the Earth, it’s completely illogical.”

    James replies…”Let me reword how that would sound 60 years ago:
    “If you reject a Steady State Universe, it would be completely illogical.”
    How about from 90 years ago?
    “If you reject Newton’s theory of gravity it would be completely illogical.”
    Are you really saying Cedric that our theories of the age of the universe could not be falsified in the future?
    ………………………………………………………………………..
    No. No. No.
    There are several things wrong here.
    First it’s dishonest of you to compare the scientific evidence for the age of the Earth with any theory about the origins of the universe.
    As I mentioned before, our knowledge of the age of the Earth is supported COMPLTELY by ALL of the physical sciences. If you were to demonstrate that the Earth is, say, 6000 years old, then what you have effectively done is overturn ALL of the physical sciences.
    All of them.
    This is something so fantastic that it genuinely staggers the imagination.
    Yes, (before you start) it COULD happen. All science is tentative. Yet you have to REALLY indulge yourself in intellectual dishonesty to think that something like that is going to happen any time soon.
    However, our understanding of the universe is (and was) much more limited.
    Sixty years ago, if you were to suggest to any scientist, that our theoretical understanding of the universe was as robust or in some way comparable to our (60 years ago) evidence of the age of the Earth….then you would have been told to stop being so BLOODY DAFT!
    😦
    It’s that simple. It’s childish to make such a comparison.

    “How about from 90 years ago?
    If you reject Newton’s theory of gravity it would be completely illogical.”

    Well, yes it would be illogical.
    It would be illogical to reject it today!
    Nobody “rejects” Newton’s theory of gravity.
    Einstein certainly didn’t, so why should anybody else?
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/newton/einstein.html

    It’s in use all the time. Satellite launches? Apples? Yes? No?

    (Sheesh. Never mind.)

    Ah but I hear you say…
    “The Theory of Relativity superseded Newton’s Theory. That’s what I really meant to say”.

    Yes.
    However, you also said that your situation happened 90 years ago.
    Ninety years ago? That was back in 1918.
    Einstein presented his paper in 1905.

    (Do I have to spell it out or can you pick it up from here?)

    Hang on though…
    You also said previously…” And like I said, what is time? How does time dilation or time realtivity or time frames (reference points), play into this whole discussion?”

    Gosh darn it. You’ve managed to leave yourself an escape hatch.
    Clever you.
    Yes. Of course. 1918. 1905.
    How can we be sure of the difference between the two dates?
    I mean, how does time dilation play into this whole discussion?
    Can we really be sure that 1918 and 1905 are not actually the same time frames?
    I say we “reserve judgement” on that one and put it in the “just too hard box”.

    (There now. That gets you of the hook. Looks like you didn’t flub the dates, after all. Lucky you.)
    😉
    If anybody asks any pesky follow-up questions, we can always slap them down with the old “Were you THERE in 1905? Were you THERE in 1918?”

    Can’t beat that argument. Most people will probably give up at that point.
    Who could blame them?
    It’s a winner!
    …………………………………………………………………….
    Now, don’t go away just yet. I haven’t finished with you.
    Let’s pretend that it’s fine and dandy to compare apples and oranges and so validate your Steady State example.
    Let’s pretend that Einstein completely trumps Newton and that this had yet to happen 90 years ago, thereby validating your theory of Gravity example.
    No problem.
    1) Sixty years ago, if you reject a Steady State Universe, it would be completely illogical?
    Answer :Yes.

    2) Ninety years ago, if you reject Newton’s theory of gravity it would be completely illogical?
    Answer: Yes again.

    3) Are you really saying Cedric that our theories of the age of the universe could not be falsified in the future?”
    Answer: No.

    Now try to figure out on your own why I can answer you like this.
    If you don’t get it, then say “I give up” and I’ll spell it out for you.
    Though perhaps it would be better if you just picked up a science book and connected the dots for yourself.
    (Hint. Hint)

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  158. Icsouza said…”Bible does not teach scientific theories about the origins of the Universe and of Humankind. Creationism cannot be accepted, creation is not a scientific concept, it is theological. Without God’s power the Universe cannot come into existence. But Creation does not exclude Evolution. We can accept the scientific theory of Evolution, which is still in process, and also the theological concept of Creation.”

    Oh, you’re a mainstream, sane Christian?
    A theistic evolutionist?
    That’s MUCH better.
    Welcome.

    If I’ve caused you any offence because of my humour, I apologise.

    (I thought you were an anti-science YEC nutter.)

    Again, my apologies.

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  159. Sixty years ago, if you reject a Steady State Universe, it would be completely illogical?

    Answer :Yes.

    Why?

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  160. Ken,
    I did not feel offended, but I thought that you were mocking at such a serious topic. It deserves much study. As a matter of fact, I heard from you about The Flying Spaghetti Monster…
    This is a delicate theme. I cannot imagine that the Universe can start without God. Bible teaches us that God is the Originator. Science is trying to study how the Universe was born… LCH (Large Hadron Collider)can help us to some extent, but cannot replace the Creator. What was before the Big-Bang? “Multiverse” or “gravitational waves” or “steady state universe” are different models to account for the natural phenomena. They can be (and really are) discarded, one after the other. How did we come to this planet? Where are we going after our death? These are the vital questions to be answered in the light of Reason and Faith…

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  161. @154:

    “Heraclides, let me try this again”
    You don’t have to. Like icsouza, your intended meaning was clear the first time.

    re point 1: You didn’t reply to what I wrote. In fact, your point 1 reply is entirely consistent with what I wrote: read it again, slowly this time. What you’ve actually done is illustrate the point I made.

    re point 2: why should I or anyone else bother if you can’t/won’t show how something can be demonstrated to be true without evidence? You’re asking things of others without presenting anything of your own again. Its becoming a familiar theme from you and your religious colleagues 😉

    @157: I was referring to Ken’s post @146. By the way post 156 is asking things of others, without… etc., again. (For fun consider your post: you ask what the evidence is, showing that you don’t know what it is, then go on to make a flat assertion about something you don’t know…)

    Your posts are like the whole ID thing. Nothing “for” ID, never mind even defining it, but only attacks directed at science and asking that others show things, all whilst not showing anything. Can you see how that looks to others?

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  162. James asks “Why would it be illogical to reject a steady state theory 60 years ago?”

    Ok. Think about it.

    Scientist A: Hey. Here’s a theory. Like all theories, it follows the rules of science and it’s open to falsifiablity.
    Like all theories, it takes the facts that we know and builds a framework to explain them. Somebody comes along and does one better, then fine.
    We advance our knowledge!
    So here’s my theory. I call it the Steady State Theory.”

    Scientist B:” I reject your theory”.

    Scientist A: “Ok. Where’s your better theory”

    Scientist B: “Don’t have one. Your theory doesn’t have the right answer. I reject it.”

    Scientist A: Wha..? I’m not sure I follow you. If you don’t have a better theory then how can you possibly say…
    Look, here’s my research and the data I observed. Where do you think I went wrong. Why am I in error?

    Scientist B: You’re just in error. Deal with it. You don’t have the right answer. I just know this. Take my word for it.

    Scientist A: Hang on a second. If you think I’m in error then…

    (Scientist B sticks his fingers in his ears and starts screaming “LALALALALA” very loudly.)

    Scientist A: Are you on drugs?

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  163. Icsouza, Cedric here.

    Listen, I’m glad you’re not a YEC.
    Just a couple of things…

    “I thought that you were mocking at such a serious topic.”

    Not so much the topic as the structure of your argument.

    (You bring up Jesus. He brings up Allah. She brings up Vishnu.
    They bring up The Sky Mother. Etc.)

    You believe in god? That’s fine. Nobody has a problem with that. Go in peace.

    When you preach, however, be prepared to be challenged on your thinking. Nobody is going to just blindly accept your word because you’re a nice guy.

    (and I’m sure you ARE a nice guy)

    If you have a claim, then please make it a rational one and defend it in a rational way.
    If somebody make a point and refutes your position or causes you to modify it, then be courteous enough to acknowlege it and try another arguement from a different angle.

    Ignoring other people’s posts directed at you and just repeating unsupported assertions will just frustrate people.

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  164. James asks “Why would it be illogical to reject a steady state theory 60 years ago?”

    Ok. Think about it.

    Scientist A: Hey. Here’s a theory. Like all theories, it follows the rules of science and it’s open to falsifiablity.
    Like all theories, it takes the facts that we know and builds a framework to explain them. Somebody comes along and does one better, then fine.
    We advance our knowledge!
    So here’s my theory. I call it the Steady State Theory.”

    Scientist B:” I reject your theory”.

    Scientist A: “Ok. Where’s your better theory”

    Scientist B: “Don’t have one. Your theory doesn’t have the right answer. I reject it.”

    Scientist A: Wha..? I’m not sure I follow you. If you don’t have a better theory then how can you possibly say…
    Look, here’s my research and the data I observed. Where do you think I went wrong. Why am I in error?

    Scientist B: You’re just in error. Deal with it. You don’t have the right answer. I just know this. Take my word for it.

    Scientist A: Hang on a second. If you think I’m in error then…

    (Scientist B sticks his fingers in his ears and starts screaming “LALALALALA” very loudly.)

    Scientist A: Are you on drugs?

    First Cedric, if we did believe in a Steady State universe we would have believed a falsehood. Why not just say that since science is often wrong, and since we don’t have all the facts, we will suspend judgement for now? The universe could be eternal or perhaps not – we just don’t know enough. That seems like the prudent thing. You know when I was in school this really was settled science – as certain as the sun rising. They should not have taught it as such.

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  165. You keep harking back to when you were in school. One thing you need to remember is that school textbooks are generally not written by scientists. And they are always behind where the science is currently at. This means that, with the best intentions in the world, they will always present a somewhat ‘dated’ worldview. This is not done deliberately but of necessity. (Actually, on reviewing that sentence, I would have to take many US textbook publishers out of the mix, given that they have in the past omitted any mention of evolution wherever possible.) If anything, their sins lie in failing to make it clear that our scientific knowledge of the world is never 100% certain & there’s always the possibility that new data may lead to modification or rejection of an existing model. (Unlike some other worldviews.) Hopefully our new school science curriculum, with its much stronger emphasis on having students learn about the nature of science, will correct that.

    In the 50s & 60s the scientific consensus was that the universe appeared to be in a steady state, so of course that’s what the textbook authors said. They’d have been remiss to do otherwise (& how could they, given that they had no more knowledge than the scientists?). New technology has enabled us to accumulate further data that – after stringent review & testing -suggest quite strongly that this isn’t actually the case. And so, after a lag period while this model entered the mainstream of scientific thought, the textbooks changed to incorporate this.

    This is the nature of science, James! And if you look into the history of science you’ll see the same thing happening again and again and again. That capability for continued review, testing, checking, probing, is just what makes science such a powerful tool for looking at how the world works.

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  166. @167 I would like to add one or two comments on this topic also. A bit risky at the moment encumbered headwise with a heavy autumn cold.

    1) There are differing levels of strength of evidence. I wasn’t personally exposed to the school system of the fifties or sixties, but my memories of this topic were of 3 different ideas about the life cycle of the universe being: steady state, big bang and some kind of yo-yo expand and contract idea.

    In fact, there seems to have been not much consensus at that time on any one theory if you can take wikipedia as a guide.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady_State_theory. Have a read of the first paragraph.

    So, I am not too sure about the quality of textbooks/education that were presenting any of these as definitive science at that time. Of course, now, there is much stronger evidence for the big bang, but I imagine that good textbooks would still reference at least steady state theory. Maybe this is, or was a valid case for “teach the controversy”, as these are actual scientific theories that can be considered and/or discarded based on evidence and predictive power.

    2) Scientific theories with high levels of evidence tend not to be overthrown at all, just refined. One example that has been mentioned before is Newtonian gravity vs Einstein’s special relativity. As I understand it, Newton’s equations still operate very reliably in the vast majority of cases until you start dealing with very high relative velocities. In other words, Newton’s equations were approximations (very good ones at some levels) that have been subsequently improved on by other equations that handle a wider range of situations (relativistic velocities). These may well turn out to be approximations also to be superseded in the future.

    The important point here, is that when you have good evidence, a theory that fits that evidence and makes verifiable predictions, that can never be taken away again. The theory will still operate in the same way in the future (probably with an increasing array of caveats), but maybe/hopefully is replaced at some point by a deeper or more fundamental theory that explains more of the evidence and makes more predictions.

    This is the progress in steps and on the shoulders of giants stuff that makes the history of science so interesting.

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  167. 🙂
    & I hope you can shed the cold sooner rather than later.

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  168. In the 50s & 60s the scientific consensus was that the universe appeared to be in a steady state, so of course that’s what the textbook authors said. They’d have been remiss to do otherwise (& how could they, given that they had no more knowledge than the scientists?). New technology has enabled us to accumulate further data that – after stringent review & testing -suggest quite strongly that this isn’t actually the case. And so, after a lag period while this model entered the mainstream of scientific thought, the textbooks changed to incorporate this.

    This is the nature of science, James! And if you look into the history of science you’ll see the same thing happening again and again and again. That capability for continued review, testing, checking, probing, is just what makes science such a powerful tool for looking at how the world works.

    Alison, I understand how science works. But the fact is, it has believed/taught falsehoods over the years. Yes the process is somewhat self regulating but how do we know which theories that seem so “settled” today will be found to be false or nearly false tomorrow?

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  169. 1) There are differing levels of strength of evidence. I wasn’t personally exposed to the school system of the fifties or sixties, but my memories of this topic were of 3 different ideas about the life cycle of the universe being: steady state, big bang and some kind of yo-yo expand and contract idea.

    In fact, there seems to have been not much consensus at that time on any one theory if you can take wikipedia as a guide.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady_State_theory. Have a read of the first paragraph.

    Not quite correct Nick, from your link:

    Problems with the steady-state theory began to emerge in the late 1960s, when observations apparently supported the idea that the universe was in fact changing: quasars and radio galaxies were found only at large distances (i.e., redshift, and thus, because of the finite speed of light, in the past), not in closer galaxies. Whereas the Big Bang theory predicted as much, Steady State predicted that such objects would be found everywhere, including close to our own galaxy.

    For most cosmologists, the refutation of the steady-state theory came with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation in 1965, which was predicted by the big bang theory. Stephen Hawking said that the fact that microwave radiation had been found, and that it was thought to be left over from the big bang, was “the final nail in the coffin of the steady-state theory.”

    It really was settled science, there was consensus.

    2) Scientific theories with high levels of evidence tend not to be overthrown at all, just refined. One example that has been mentioned before is Newtonian gravity vs Einstein’s special relativity. As I understand it, Newton’s equations still operate very reliably in the vast majority of cases until you start dealing with very high relative velocities. In other words, Newton’s equations were approximations (very good ones at some levels) that have been subsequently improved on by other equations that handle a wider range of situations (relativistic velocities). These may well turn out to be approximations also to be superseded in the future.

    Yes Newton got somethings right and somethings wrong. But even generally false theories can make correct predictions.

    Let me quote Karl Popper

    Although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are
    conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have
    got it….In science there is no “knowledge,” in the sense in which
    Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which
    implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the
    belief that we have attained the truth.…Einstein declared that his
    theory was false – he said that it would be a better approximation
    to the truth than Newton’s, but he gave reasons why he would not,
    even if all predictions came out right, regard it as a true theory
    .

    Popper Selections, edited by David Miller; Princeton University Press, 1985.

    And I always wondered, how does one know if he is approximating the truth if he doesn’t already know what the truth is?

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  170. @ 170: oh for goodness sake, James – they didn’t teach ‘falsehoods’ – this would suggest that textbooks & teachers were knowingly lying to their students. And that scientists were lying to them. They were teaching what was generally known & accepted (in the absence of better or contrary evidence) at the time. This is NOT teaching falsehoods, no matter how much you’d like it to be the case.

    Lamarck proposed that organisms had some inner ‘drive’ that caused them to evolve. This wasn’t a falsehood, simply an interpretation based on evidence available to him that was subsequently found to be incomplete. Galileo taught that the movements of the Earth caused the tides. This wasn’t a falsehood; he simply had no concept of gravity & couldn’t know that the distant moon is able to influence tidal movements on Earth. In other words, there’s a big difference between falsehoods and interpretations based on the best current evidence.

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  171. Oh here we go again. Did you not read the first paragraph :

    Although the model had a large number of supporters among cosmologists in the 1950s and 1960s, the number of supporters decreased markedly in the late 1960s with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation, and today only a very small number of supporters remain.

    A large number of supporters does not a consensus make. Or more explicitly perhaps. Try the wikipedia link on the history of the big bang:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#History

    In particular, this bit here:
    After World War II, two distinct possibilities emerged. One was Fred Hoyle’s steady state model, whereby new matter would be created as the universe seemed to expand. In this model, the universe is roughly the same at any point in time.[12] The other was Lemaître’s Big Bang theory, advocated and developed by George Gamow, who introduced big bang nucleosynthesis[13] and whose associates, Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman, predicted the cosmic microwave background radiation.[14] Ironically, it was Hoyle who coined the phrase that came to be applied to Lemaître’s theory, referring to it derisively as “this big bang idea” during a BBC Radio broadcast in March 1949.[15][16] For a while, support was split between these two theories. Eventually, the observational evidence, most notably from radio source counts, began to favor the latter.

    Did you spot the “For a while, support was split between these two theories” bit. I was not around in the 50’s and this is only Wikipedia after all, but I am beginning to suspect that your memory of these “events” might be a little biased. This again does not sound like a consensus position.

    But, on the other hand, perhaps you should ask a cosmologist about this. They might be able to provide an estimate on the relative strength of evidence. You might also want to read and and try and understand the point I was making in number 1. In case there is some fuzziness about how I stated it, try these other words:

    Uncertainty about everything does not mean that all things are equally uncertain. Although we may be relatively uncertain (at this stage) about what you had for your breakfast yesterday, this does not mean that we have the same level of uncertainty about other things such as the world being a sphere, that species evolve from common ancestors or that the speed of light is constant.

    The fact that you are always trying to equate these uncertainties, and raise the levels of these uncertainties in readers minds underlines my earlier point about the fundamental dishonesty of your comments. You are not trying to understand, or raise understanding in any of the subjects that you have been discussing over the last several days. As far as I can see, you are trying to further your world view by obfuscation and sophistry.

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  172. @163: 154 should read 155, sorry.

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  173. @167: School textbooks tend to be prescriptive, which has the effective of implying that science presents “absolute” truths, rather than an on-going process that includes “review, testing, checking, probing”, etc., as you were saying.

    Many (most?) first-year undergraduate textbooks don’t include enough of the “how we got there” stuff, either. (For my liking, anyway.)

    “Hopefully our new school science curriculum, with its much stronger emphasis on having students learn about the nature of science, will correct that.”

    This sounds interesting, and good!

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  174. @168: My memory is of being taught that it was a case of several possibilities with evidence in favour of each of them.

    One of the things about Newton’s work is that the observations of his day didn’t involve the sorts of speeds that needed a more subtle explanation. Newton’s Laws are certainly still used.

    One of the very interesting comments I’ve seen made about both Newton and Einstein’s works is that both were considerably more accurate than the experimental techniques of their day.

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  175. @170:

    In a funny way, your post illustrates that you don’t really understand how science works. That you think its a bother that a theory now might later need revision illustrates that.

    Its isn’t a matter of “settling” theories, once for all time. Theories work with the evidence available. As new things come to light, they get reviewed and revised if need be, as both Alison and Nick told you in their own words earlier.

    Newton’s Laws of Motion, that I referred to is a fine example. It explained the observations of his day just fine. (And it still explains most observations that occur, extreme velocities, etc., excepted.) Einstein’s work extends the understanding into conditions that Newton’s work doesn’t apply well.

    Likewise, evolutionary theory has moved on to from Darwin’s day, incorporating what we understand of genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and so on.

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  176. @171:

    Your use of the phrase “settled science” is telling. Just so you know, I didn’t read post 171 until after replying to post 170, above. My point being that post 171 illustrates that you don’t really understand how science progresses. Pretty much all scientists know that theories are only “good as their day” and they’ll get revised further as more is learnt. It isn’t a matter of “settling” theories “once for all time”. That’s popular media stuff, really.

    (All: Excuse me if my typing, spelling and grammar is shoddy: its rather late at night!)

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  177. A large number of supporters does not a consensus make. Or more explicitly perhaps. Try the wikipedia link on the history of the big bang.

    Perhaps I’m not making myself clear.First if the Steady State model was not a consensus, then why was it taught? I never even heard about the possibility of a Big Bang in school, ever. Of course by the 1940s there were Big Bangers around. Second, I don’t blame “science.” The idea of an eternal universe goes back to the ancient greeks. And until the last century we really did not have the instruments to conclude a that universe was finite. In other words Nick, there was really nothing that earlier science could observe that would led them to believe in a creation event. BTW – there are still scientist that believe in a Steady State universe – should we put them in the same camp as YEC? If not why not?

    Uncertainty about everything does not mean that all things are equally uncertain.

    I agree, of course the question is what falls in which camp?

    Although we may be relatively uncertain (at this stage) about what you had for your breakfast yesterday, this does not mean that we have the same level of uncertainty about other things such as the world being a sphere, that species evolve from common ancestors or that the speed of light is constant.

    1. I am certain about what I had for breakfast for yesterday morning.

    2. How can we know that the speed of light has remaind constant throughout the expansion of the universe? How could you possibly prove that it was – those billions of years ago?

    And:

    The variable speed of light (VSL) concept states that the speed of light in a vacuum, usually denoted by c, may not be constant in some cases.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varying_speed_of_light

    But most of this theory is beyond me…

    3. And yes, I would like to see you prove a common “ancestor” (singular) for all living things past and present.

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  178. Its isn’t a matter of “settling” theories, once for all time. Theories work with the evidence available. As new things come to light, they get reviewed and revised if need be, as both Alison and Nick told you in their own words earlier.

    Or Heraclides, they get thrown out completely.

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  179. Your use of the phrase “settled science” is telling. Just so you know, I didn’t read post 171 until after replying to post 170, above. My point being that post 171 illustrates that you don’t really understand how science progresses. Pretty much all scientists know that theories are only “good as their day” and they’ll get revised further as more is learnt. It isn’t a matter of “settling” theories “once for all time”.

    Well it often scientists that make the “settled” claim. I mean don’t Dawkins and others claim that purposeless, unguided evolution is a “fact?”

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  180. Lamarck proposed that organisms had some inner ‘drive’ that caused them to evolve. This wasn’t a falsehood, simply an interpretation based on evidence available to him that was subsequently found to be incomplete. Galileo taught that the movements of the Earth caused the tides. This wasn’t a falsehood; he simply had no concept of gravity & couldn’t know that the distant moon is able to influence tidal movements on Earth. In other words, there’s a big difference between falsehoods and interpretations based on the best current evidence.

    No Alison, there is not a big difference. I’m not saying they indended to deceive. They did the best with what they had. But their conclusions were false, and we were taught these falsehoods. And if the modern understanding of the evolutionary process is correct (which I don’t believe is) then Lamarckism is generally false.

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  181. @169 Thanks Alison. Although I suspect a day off work is coming up tomorrow.

    @180 James, I have already stated that I don’t know anything about the quality of yours (or anybody elses) education in the fifties. I would find it a bit sad if teachers were presenting such a recent scientific theory (1948 was stated in the quoted wikipedia article) as the only game in town without even mentioning the earlier big bank theory. Quality of education is important… maybe, this might help you to understand why people are so dismayed by attempts to get ID taught in science classes.

    As for how to assess the relative uncertainties involved with various scientific knowledge, might I suggest that you consult the people who spend their whole working lives investigating the phenomena involved. In my opinion, anything else is the height of arrogance.

    On the subject of variable speed of light theories, I am also not in a position to assess uncertainties other than to say, that as I understand it, this concept is rather speculative and most physicists would back special relativity over a variable speed of light. Perhaps there is somebody else reading this who has a background in or a better idea than I of this area?

    The last point is more about there being abundant evidence for the common ancestry of species rather than necessarily a single common ancestor (although there may well be strong evidence for that also, I don’t know offhand). Again I would advise asking somebody with a background in biology or evolutionary science. I seem to remember people with a biology background posting here in the past.

    As you can probably tell, I am not currently in the position to be checking the evidence on these issues myself, due to a current lack of the appropriate educational background and the minor impediment of holding down a full time job. This however, does not stop me having some knowledge of the scientific process plus respect for the people involved in the pursuit of knowledge.

    The little that I have learnt of these subjects mostly increases my awareness of how little I personally know and of how much progress has been made and will hopefully continue to be made in the pursuit of this knowledge. The fact that I don’t personally understand a particular theory (yet 😉 does not mean that it is not understandable or that it does not make meaningful predictions. To think otherwise is, in my opinion, self centred arrogance.

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  182. Nick Said:

    James, I have already stated that I don’t know anything about the quality of yours (or anybody elses) education in the fifties. I would find it a bit sad if teachers were presenting such a recent scientific theory (1948 was stated in the quoted wikipedia article) as the only game in town without even mentioning the earlier big bank theory. Quality of education is important… maybe, this might help you to understand why people are so dismayed by attempts to get ID taught in science classes.

    Nick, the point was that an eternal universe was pretty much a give since the ancient greeks. The opposite concept of a universe that had a beginning came mostly from religious texts. I don’t know of any secular scientist before the 1900s that concluded a finite universe from observation. Nor could they…

    As far as ID goes. Listen Nick, the claims of evolutionists are so off the wall that ID looks tame. Just as a laymen I think – which came first – a beating heart or veins or blood? What good is a beating heart without veins or blood, or veins and blood without the beating heart? Did they all magically appear at the same time? Connected and functioning? Yes evolutionists make up “just so stories” – but they are myths, there is no actual evidence that these things happened that way.

    The last point is more about there being abundant evidence for the common ancestry of species rather than necessarily a single common ancestor (although there may well be strong evidence for that also, I don’t know offhand). Again I would advise asking somebody with a background in biology or evolutionary science. I seem to remember people with a biology background posting here in the past.

    Well from what I have read they don’t have any real proof of a single common ancestor. It is pretty much assumed.

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  183. Back here again eh? Oh well, I have already stated who I find more credible on this topic James and don’t really have anything new to add. Bye.

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  184. Back here again eh? Oh well, I have already stated who I find more credible on this topic James and don’t really have anything new to add.

    Ok, you find evolution myths more credible. That’s fine…

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  185. Re the “eternal” vs “finite” universe discussion.

    Current “big bang” theories by no means conflict with the concept of an eternal (or infinite) universe. (Nor do they give any support to theist beliefs as the astronomer and Catholic priest Georges Lemaître who developed the Big Bang theory pointed out to Pope Pius XII.)

    All the time we are discovering that the universe is much “bigger” than we think. Our “big bang” probably applies to only part of the whole universe. It may be difficult, or impossible, to investigate events ‘before” our big bang, or outside out own bubble of the universe. (However, cosmologists like Sean Carroll are claiming that we can investigate residual evidence of these within our own part of the wider universe. So one should never say never).

    Regarding “religious” mythology about the beginnings og our universe – I guess they must be ubiquitous. So who do you believe?

    I personally prefer Maori ‘creation” mythology to the Christian mythology. Maori have the concept of Te Kore – the potential to come into existence – before Te Po, the actual coming into existence. That can be equated to modern concepts of vacuum energy and the potential production of matter out of “nothing”. I really like that idea for a myth.

    However, the sensible approach is to ignore these myths (or at least treat them for what they are and enjoy the stories) and go for the evidence if we want to know what really happened.

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  186. Regarding “religious” mythology about the beginnings og our universe – I guess they must be ubiquitous. So who do you believe?

    I’m a Christian Ken, I believe that Scripture is the revealed communication of God.

    I personally prefer Maori ‘creation” mythology to the Christian mythology. Maori have the concept of Te Kore – the potential to come into existence – before Te Po, the actual coming into existence. That can be equated to modern concepts of vacuum energy and the potential production of matter out of “nothing”. I really like that idea for a myth.

    This is how far one is willing to go to reject a personal Creator. To believe that something came out of nothing. And they call us irrational…

    However, the sensible approach is to ignore these myths (or at least treat them for what they are and enjoy the stories) and go for the evidence if we want to know what really happened.

    But you don’t know what happened. You have no idea how biological life began, you have no idea what created the universe. I know, we have “materialism of the gaps” – we don’t have a clue but there must be a material cause. And of course we will find it. You have a lot of faith Ken…

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  187. @188:

    You think you’re clever trying to write others off, don’t you James? You’d do better to just be honest and say that you want to believe in something because you want to, despite the lack of evidence supporting it and despite the evidence against it. It’d a least be honest, even if it seems irrational to others.

    Ironically, I would have thought that would be “true faith.” All these excuses in many ways show you have no faith: you have to fill in the blanks and attack others. I would have thought those with “true faith” wouldn’t have the need to. Food for thought.

    Its like something I read once: all the “bible bashing”, etc., isn’t to convince others, its for the bible bashers to convince themselves. Those with true faith would just leave it knowing it’d speak for itself. Obviously you haven’t that confidence. But you have good reason to doubt: its on a pretty shaky foundation, to be polite.

    (“Bashing” others is also a good diversionary tactic by the churches: you focus frustration, etc., on others rather than honestly question what you believe.)

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  188. You think you’re clever trying to write others off, don’t you James? You’d do better to just be honest and say that you want to believe in something because you want to, despite the lack of evidence supporting it and despite the evidence against it. It’d a least be honest, even if it seems irrational to others.

    Of course you believe a lot of things without evidence Heraclides (like I pointed out in the other thread). And what evidence do you present against God? BTW – I will ask again – do you even have a rational, non-refuting definition of “evidence?” Do you even know what evidence is Heraclides?

    Please enlighten us all!

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  189. James said…”If a man is wrong about the age of the earth it doesn’t mean he is divorced from reality.”

    Of course it does.
    30 seconds on the Internet will get you the correct information.

    Do you believe the Earth is 6000 years old?
    Hell no. Of course you don’t.

    You may have all sorts of unfounded doubts about science.
    You may be prepared to commit to all sorts of silly arguments in order to preach to the supposed “heathen” but a 6000 year old Earth???

    You know and I know and the vast majority of mainstream Christians think that belief in a 6000 year-old Earth is not just astoundingly bad science, it’s damn poor theology.

    Nobody is going to come up with any evidence at all that such a thing is true. You are VERY careful to steer clear of it.

    Sure, you’d like to chip in and help out Bnonn ’cause somehow you mistakenly believe that he’s “on your side” yet you’re ever so careful not to step in the same camp.
    (You’d never clean that muck off your shoes, for a start.)

    With allies like Bnonn, you don’t need opponents!

    James said…”Well actually there are many ancient myths about the universe that do not have contain the creation of the universe.”

    The ones that do, however, neatly fall into step with modern science, yeah?
    Lucky them. Gosh. How right their religion must be.
    You do realise that this is the same silly argument that some Muslim groups make?

    http://rationalreality.50webs.com/hec.htm

    Stop it. Stop it. It’s such an awful argument to make.

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    James said…”So that leaves me depending on the “authority” of science – and we know science is never wrong!”

    (Love the scare quotes around science.)

    You’re wrong of course. You don’t have to depend on the “authority” of “science”. Nobody’s asking you to. If you want to, you can investigate ANY claim made by ANY scientist.
    ALL of their work is open to anybody. You want to study biology?
    Do it.
    Chemistry? Do it.
    Every single step of the process that scientists do to make the claims that they do is ON PUBLIC RECORD.
    You don’t have to nod your head and meekly do what the nice person tells you. Save that for your charismatic cult leader.
    Everything in science is TENTATIVE. Don’t you get it?

    You don’t understand science? Fine. You don’t trust it? Ok then.
    Then get an education in the sciences and enough of this hand-wringing about “Oh, it’s all too hard” and “There’s so much we don’t know” and “I’ll just have to defer judgement” and “Scientists can get it wrong too” etc, etc, ad nauseum.

    James said…”And why is it science “bashing” when we point out it’s limitations?”

    You don’t understand anything about science. That’s painfully clear from your statements. You are in no position to point out anything at all about science, especially it’s limitations.
    Learn first. Criticize later.

    At present, you are a back-seat driver.
    Yelling out instructions on how to drive.
    “Slow down”. “Turn right here”. “Mind that old lady”

    However, you are a BLIND back seat driver.
    Plus there’s the fact that you are sitting in a PARKED car.

    However, your ignorant maligning of science helps promote a culture of anti-intellectualism causing suffering and unnecessary loss.
    You vapid and unfounded assertions create confusion and suspicion in the gullible, unsuspecting public where none should rightly exist.

    Every single pseudo-scientific crack-pot out there is jumping with joy at your declarations about how you doubt it all because you doubt it all because you doubt it all.

    Every faith healer. Every homeopath. Every HIV denialist.
    Every anti-vaccinationist. Every nut that doesn’t believe that we made it to the moon. Every Breathairian. Every Cold Reader.
    You have left yourself nothing to intellectually defend yourself against the fraud, the charlatan and the quack if you truly mean what you’ve been posting on this site for the past few days.

    Remember that site that’s linked to my name?
    Check it out.
    Go there and find a completely cracked belief there that astounds you because it’s so self-evidently stupid.
    Something that you AND I would agree is wrong, dangerous and should be stopped for the benefit of the community.
    (There’s lot’s to choose from.)
    Now ask yourself how do you rationally understand that the particular subject is wrong? Can you figure out why outwardly sane and perhaps wealthy people would fall for such an obvious con?

    People, ordinary people, get suckered into dangerous and costly beliefs.
    If it was a loved one of yours, how would you reason them out of it?
    Think about it. I’m not kidding. Check out the site properly.
    You want to talk science? Then let’s abandon the hypothetical.
    Let’s go for the real-life tragedies.
    Here’s an example:
    http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/09/another-tragically-unnecessary-death.html

    Ignorance of science kills people.

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  190. Heraclides – count to 10. S-l-o-w-l-y. On second thoughts, count to 100. E-q-u-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y 🙂

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  191. & Cedric – what you said.

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  192. @192: I wasn’t angry when I wrote post 189. Aside from the first sentence, it was rumination as to why these people behave as they do and just for them to think about. The first sentence James deserves: he needs a mirror held up for him to see himself, I think.

    I’m not sure why it is the people think I write “angrily”. I don’t think the icon I’ve been given helps! It probably sets people’s minds before even reading my words :-/

    I do try get to the point, but that’s as much about trying to be being clear and having limited time.

    @190:

    I wrote referring to it: I was referring to more than just “G-d”, but the various bible stories when taken literally, e.g. the creation story, etc.

    Besides, with your “ask things of others” approach, we’re back to my earlier ruminating that your posts are like ID itself: nothing “for” and all “against”.

    re defining “evidence”, I’m tempted to return to “Dearest James”! With the same message: do your own homework 😉 Type g-o-…, or w-i-k…, or look in a dictionary… 😉 Go on, try.

    Besides, you have avoided the key point of my post.

    Taunts like “Do you even know what evidence is Heraclides?” are childish and what I was referring to in the first sentence of post 192 😉

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  193. 194 – I was thinking of post 190…

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  194. @195

    Sorry, I don’t follow. Post 190 is written by James and I hadn’t replied to it at the point you wrote post 192. In any event, I’ve replied to post 190 since!

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  195. Me being silly, I guess – anticipating a large ‘bang’ & I hadn’t got the sandbags in place yet 😉

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  196. re defining “evidence”, I’m tempted to return to “Dearest James”! With the same message: do your own homework Type g-o-…, or w-i-k…, or look in a dictionary

    No Heraclides, you won’t define evidence. Perhaps you know, once again, that any definition you offer will be either self-refuting or arbitrary. So when you ask for “evidence” it is a meaningless request. See Heraclides, you live by blind faith…

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  197. @198: I’ve been through this before. Of course I can define it. But like a good teacher, I’ll insist that you learn how to research and to show that you can. Fair enough to ask someone more knowledgeable for help on complex things, but for the trivial you should at least try do it yourself. Hint: there is even a wikipedia entry 😉 Not that its good to blindly trust wikipedia.

    PS: Using illogical arguments to put words in my mouth only demonstrates that you are an idiot, which I’m happy for you to demonstrate to others 😉

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  198. I’ve been through this before. Of course I can define it. But like a good teacher, I’ll insist that you learn how to research and to show that you can. Fair enough to ask someone more knowledgeable for help on complex things, but for the trivial you should at least try do it yourself. Hint: there is even a wikipedia entry Not that its good to blindly trust wikipedia.

    PS: Using illogical arguments to put words in my mouth only demonstrates that you are an idiot, which I’m happy for you to demonstrate to others.

    Heraclides, I know the definitions of evidence. And they are sef-refuting or arbitrary and subjective.

    From Wikipedia

    The most immediate form of evidence available to an individual is the observations of that person’s own senses. For example an observer wishing for evidence that the sky is blue need only look at the sky. However this same example illustrates some of the difficulties of evidence as well:

    Someone who was blue-yellow color blind, but did not know it, would have a very different perception of what color the sky was than someone who was not.

    Even simple sensory perceptions (qualia) ultimately are subjective; guaranteeing that the same information can be considered somehow true in an objective sense is the main challenge of establishing standards of evidence.

    There is also the question of what is meant by ‘blue’, and how we measure it. (If determined by a particular wave-length of colour – then how do we actually measure this?)

    Obviously Heraclides, you have not thought deeply about these things. Because when I ask for a definition of evidence (what YOU consider evidence) it is a very vaild and relevant request. How could we possibly go on without a agreed upon definition?

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  199. You skipped over the definition, what was asked for (and said you were presenting). You get a fail mark 🙂

    But seriously, you have skipped over the definition. (Why?) What you’ve quoted is a portion of examining a couple of issues related to evidence, not a definition, which you don’t give.

    That subjective evidence is, well, subjective is hardly news to modern science: its one of the things that the modern science process counters. For what its worth, to a scientist, colour perception would just be another variable in an experiment relying on colour perception.

    Also, consider this: the statement you quoted relies on the science of colour blindness 😉 How do you think scientists got to that point?

    PS: You’re still trying to fit stupid statements “on” me. You do realise what that makes you look like? I told you why I’m not giving you a definition in the last post, but you try foist an “alternative” “reason” on me. But it seems to be a pattern with creationists: foist false statements and arguments on people. *shrugs*

    You might want to think about why you have to keep reworking someone’s position after they have already put their position to you. (Hint: its a way of externalising the dishonesty or inaccuracy of your own arguments and making it “someone else’s fault” instead of looking at what you are saying.) Make that your “mediation” for tonight, eh?

    PPS: I’m beginning to wonder if you understand what evidence is. Its much, much simpler than the complicated thing you’re trying to make it out to be. Obfuscation attempt, perhaps?

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  200. But seriously, you have skipped over the definition. (Why?) What you’ve quoted is a portion of examining a couple of issues related to evidence, not a definition, which you don’t give.

    PPS: I’m beginning to wonder if you understand what evidence is. Its much, much simpler than the complicated thing you’re trying to make it out to be. Obfuscation attempt, perhaps?

    Like:”Evidence in its broadest sense includes anything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion.”

    But this does not solve the problem Heraclides. The question is what do you “accept” as evidence and why? Man A may accept one thing as evidence and Man B may reject it. Who is correct? And what about a truth claim with out evidence as defined (like my having tea yesterday morning, memories) – are they any less true if they can’t be demonstrated? Why is my memory not evidence?

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  201. Then said evidence came from a bad experiment, i.e. said “answer” was given to an insufficient “question”. Man A and Man B (or Woman A and Woman B for that matter) should conceive an experimental approach that allows for proper, i.e. objective (=mutually accepted) evidence. This procedure is, according to my understanding, the essence of the scientific method. It´s also the reason why scientists present their work to peers (not necessarily people who share their opinion, by the way) in journals, conferences etc.
    Quite possibly I´m repeating an argument here that has been voiced in this blog many times. Sorry about that.

    They might be true, James, but altogether useless in science.

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  202. “Man A may accept one thing as evidence and Man B may reject it.”
    Then said evidence came from a bad experiment, i.e. said “answer” was given to an insufficient “question”. Man A and Man B (or Woman A and Woman B for that matter) should conceive an experimental approach that allows for proper, i.e. objective (=mutually accepted) evidence. This procedure is, according to my understanding, the essence of the scientific method. It´s also the reason why scientists present their work to peers (not necessarily people who share their opinion, by the way) in journals, conferences etc.
    Quite possibly I´m repeating an argument here that has been voiced in this blog many times. Sorry about that.

    “are they any less true if they can’t be demonstrated?”
    They might be true, James, but altogether useless in science.

    Problem with the tags here. Sorry about that!

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  203. Then said evidence came from a bad experiment, i.e. said “answer” was given to an insufficient “question”. Man A and Man B (or Woman A and Woman B for that matter) should conceive an experimental approach that allows for proper, i.e. objective (=mutually accepted) evidence. This procedure is, according to my understanding, the essence of the scientific method. It´s also the reason why scientists present their work to peers (not necessarily people who share their opinion, by the way) in journals, conferences etc.
    Quite possibly I´m repeating an argument here that has been voiced in this blog many times. Sorry about that.

    They might be true, James, but altogether useless in science.

    But Tobi, I’m not limiting knowledge to what we can gleen from the scientific method (as good as it may be). This was my point: We believe many true things that are not open to the scientific method of investigation. Like I said – I accept my memory of having tea yesterday morning as evidence that I actually had tea yesterday morning (6:00am 9/30/08) – it was a true event. That event at that time can not be repeated. So, do we accept memories as evidence? That is why I questioned what Heraclides would accept as “evidence.” And why this can be subjective.

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  204. @205:

    Put it this way, the first time you actually asked me, you wrote “ask again”, even though you hadn’t asked before (!), then followed it with a pathetic, childish taunt. That’s was plentiful reason for me not to bother, and ask you do you own homework.

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  205. Put it this way, the first time you actually asked me, you wrote “ask again”, even though you hadn’t asked before (!), then followed it with a pathetic, childish taunt. That’s was plentiful reason for me not to bother, and ask you do you own homework.

    Oh well, another non answer. And the “ask again” part was refering to your past refusal to define science in a non-arbitrary, non-self-refuting way. But even if I should not have linked the two without being explicit that does not change your failure to answer this last point.

    And Heraclides, I have done my homework, I have studied definitions – and a lot more. This is how I know that they will end up being either self-refuting or arbitrary. If you don’t believe it to be so – then have at it. Tell me your definition of “evidence.” Or stop posturing – it’s not very becoming…

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  206. “And the “ask again” part was refering to your past refusal to define science in a non-arbitrary, non-self-refuting way.”

    No, you wrote that it was about not providing a definition of ‘evidence’:

    BTW – I will ask again – do you even have a rational, non-refuting definition of “evidence?”

    Its very explicit and I can’t see how it can possibly be misread as defining science… You not trying to re-invent the past to make an excuse are you? 😉

    If you want people to believe that you do your homework, give them a reason to believe it. People who do their homework do, but you rarely do.

    Your last sentence is another piece of childish silliness. [sarcasm] It really encourages me to treat you with respect [/sarcasm]

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  207. Another non answer Heraclides. Why don’t you just be man enough to admit that you can not offer a non-refuting, non-arbitrary definition of evidence? The fact is, what one considers as evidence can be very subjective, I included a few end quotes from the link. So the next time Heraclides that you demand “evidence” be prepared to tell us exactly what you mean by the word, and what you consider that as evidence, and why – or don’t ask…

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evidence/

    Inasmuch as he denies that there are any general restrictions on the subject matter of an evidence statement, Austin’s way of thinking about evidence is considerably more liberal or inclusive than that of much of the tradition. In this respect, his account of evidence resembles Williamson’s (2000) later theory. As we have seen, Williamson holds that one’s evidence consists of everything that one knows. In particular, one’s evidence is not limited to one’s knowledge of one’s experiences, nor is it limited to one’s observational knowledge—one’s evidence also includes any theoretical knowledge that one might possess (p. 190).

    On such liberalized views, although one’s evidence is not limited to one’s introspectively arrived at knowledge of one’s experiences, it includes everything that one knows about one’s experiences on the basis of introspection. In this respect, such views are incompatible not only with the phenomenal conception of evidence but also with views that would rule out the objects of introspection as evidence on the grounds that the objects of introspection lack the objectivity and publicity that is characteristic of genuine evidence. However, it is dubious that any view on which evidence plays a role in justifying belief can consistently observe a constraint which would preclude the objects of introspection from counting as genuine evidence. Goldman (1997) argues that any such constraint is inconsistent with the introspectionist methodology employed in various areas of contemporary cognitive science and that this undercuts ‘the traditional view … that scientific evidence can be produced only by intersubjective methods that can be used by different investigators and will produce agreement’ (p. 95).

    Reflection on examples drawn from more homely contexts also casts doubt on the idea that all genuine evidence is in principle accessible to multiple individuals. When one has a headache, one is typically justified in believing that one has a headache. While others might have evidence that one has a headache—evidence afforded, perhaps, by one’s testimony, or by one’s non-linguistic behavior—it is implausible that whatever evidence others possess is identical with that which justifies one’s own belief that one has a headache. Indeed, it seems dubious that others could have one’s evidence, given that others cannot literally share one’s headache.

    Here then we see another context in which theoretical demands are placed on the concept of evidence that seem to pull in different directions. On the one hand, it is thought central to the concept of evidence that evidence is by its very nature the kind of thing that can generate rational convergence of opinion in virtue of being shared by multiple individuals. This encourages the idea that any genuine piece of evidence can in principle be grasped by multiple individuals; anything which cannot be so grasped is either not genuine evidence or is at best a degenerate species thereof. On the other hand, evidence is taken to be that which justifies belief. And it seems that many of the beliefs which individuals hold about their own mental lives on the basis of introspection are justified by factors with respect to which they enjoy privileged access. Notably, the positivists’ embrace of the idea that protocol sentences refer exclusively to publicly-observable physical objects and events was accompanied by an embrace of behaviorism in psychology.[40] It is characteristic of behaviorism to denigrate the idea that the deliverances of introspection can constitute genuine evidence; on this combination of views then, the thesis that all evidence consists of that which can be shared multiple observers is upheld. For those who reject behaviorism, however, the idea that at least some evidence does not meet this condition is a more difficult one to resist.

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  208. @209

    I take it from your avoiding my post 208 that you accept the point/correction I made there.

    Your first paragraph in post 209 is just more game playing. I didn’t “demand” a definition at all, I said you should do your own homework. The two are not the same.

    I don’t have to satisfy your boorish behaviour and ridiculous slights on me. Given the way you treat me, I’m not inclined to bother take this further. Over to you to change your behaviour 😉

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  209. Your first paragraph in post 209 is just more game playing. I didn’t “demand” a definition at all, I said you should do your own homework. The two are not the same.

    No you did not demand a definition, you claimed that I did not have evidence:

    You said:

    You think you’re clever trying to write others off, don’t you James? You’d do better to just be honest and say that you want to believe in something because you want to, despite the lack of evidence supporting it and despite the evidence against it. It’d a least be honest, even if it seems irrational to others.

    In particular you suggested that I had no “evidence” for my beliefs. This is what started this whole mess.

    Ergo, how can you possibly suggest that I have no “evidence” for my beliefs when you can’t even define what “evidence” is. Or what you accept as evidence and why.

    You started this mess Heraclides, and you could not even back up your assumption (that I had no evidence).

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  210. re “No you did not demand a definition, you claimed that I did not have evidence”

    Thank you for clarifying that you were wrong to write:

    “Why don’t you just be man enough to admit that you can not offer a non-refuting, non-arbitrary definition of evidence? “

    😉

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  211. re “No you did not demand a definition, you claimed that I did not have evidence”

    Thank you for clarifying that you were wrong to write:

    “Why don’t you just be man enough to admit that you can not offer a non-refuting, non-arbitrary definition of evidence? “

    Heraclides, are you living on a different planet? My question was perfectly valid. You claimed that I had no “evidence” for my beliefs. Then I asked you to define “evidence.” And you folded like a house of cards…

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  212. James, please stop the boorish behaviour. You are trying to travel in a circle to finish with a childish tit-for-tat. My last post had a wink on it for goodness sake.

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  213. Ok, sorry….

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  214. I am finding a childish games in several postings. Name-calling will not provide any evidence for our statements. In this discussion it should be clear that there is evidence for scientific statements as well as there is evidence to believe. Evidence cannot be of the same order, otherwise there would be no discussion on evidence to believe. But there is a rationale to believe. Christian Faith has reason to believe. We Christians do not believe what is absurd… It should be clear that there grounds of credibility. We believe because there are reasons to believe.We remain rational in this process. Scientific theories are models explaining the natural phenomena. They can be improved or discarded…

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  215. We Christians do not believe what is absurd…

    This can be read as: We make out to be “absurd”, out of hand, in order to dismiss without evidence. It is inappropriate to ask that on one hand that “that there is evidence for scientific statements” without doing the same from your position. Do note that your argument is “in the negative”: it seeks to dismiss, without evidence, rather than present an argument for your position by presenting evidence.

    We believe because there are reasons to believe. Believing there are reasons (i.e. without evidence) is not the same as showing reasons (i.e. evidence). Without showing reasons (evidence), never mind a sound logical argument, there is no reasoned argument for your belief. It is the evidence that makes it founded in reality, after all. You can still have ad hoc, unfounded beliefs, but that’s the point really.)

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  216. Heraclides,
    You are wrong. Empirical evidence is not the only evidence for our knowledge. There are self-evident principles which do not need evidence. In Christian Revelation there are reason to accept the authority of God, of Bible, of Jesus of Nazareth. When we say that we believe without empirical evidence, it does not mean that it is absurd what we believe. In our daily life we do not have empirical evidence for whatever we say or do. Religion is a meta-phenomenal sphere, we believe the authority of the One who revealed. Without faith we cannot live… It is not unfounded, it is real, but not empirical. If it had been empirical, it would not have been accepted through faith. Does faith not play any role in scientific realm? Certainly, it plays. There is no science without assumptions which are taken with faith…

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  217. Empirical evidence is not the only evidence for our knowledge.

    Boring, done before, and patently silly: non-empirical evidence is literally a contradiction in terms. Evidence is by definition empirical. I have to laugh at how creationists, again and again and again try “redfine” things to somehow support their views (goodness knows how given they are just word games). Why it doesn’t ever dawn on your lot that you are making horribly desperate attempts to justify yourself always amazes me.

    There are self-evident principles which do not need evidence.

    These are not knowledge: if they are not supported by evidence, then they are either assertions or assumptions.

    In Christian Revelation there are reason to accept the authority of G-d, of Bible, of Jesus of Nazareth.

    No, you have an assumption that you should, based on what others have told you. (More the fool you, etc. Your so-called “relevations” were written by people, people with all the usual flaws that people have.)

    The rest is just babble that has been dealt with before. I’m not into “rinse and repeat” so I can’t be bothered with it. If you can’t learn from previous discussions, that’s your problem.

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  218. @218 – this appears to be saying that the Bible is the authority that proves itself to be ‘true’: a circular argument if I’ve ever heard from.

    Your statement that ‘without [Christian?] faith we cannot live’ is open to refutation – by the continued existence of those of us who are atheists, not to mention the millions of people round the world who belong to other religious persuasions 😉

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  219. By repeating you do not convince us. Our knowledge can come not only through senses (empirical observation) but also through internal experience (experience of love, of God). Faith is necessary for human life. I do not believe that the atheists do not have faith in the Absolute. I challenge any one of them…

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  220. By repeating you do not convince us. Erm, that is what you are doing as I pointed out earlier. You shouldn’t “accuse” others of what you do yourself, y’know, it has the effect of shooting yourself in the foot 😉

    Besides, it should have long ago been clear that the over-riding objection is that you don’t present anything to back your claims.

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  221. Erm – you can believe all you like about others’ beliefs. Personally I don’t have the presumption to tell others what to believe, or what they believe.

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  222. Those not familiar with science might like to look at the video Skewed views of science (link above). Excuse me if I post this in a few other threads, as I think it’s relevant to a number of posters. I’m posting this in this thread in particular for Icsouza.

    (I’ve only seen the first portion of the video (too busy), but it seems clear, straight-forward and relevant.)

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