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Szostak on Abiogenesis: Just Add Water

This month’s Scientific American is another example of evolution’s influence on science. Read more

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121 Responses to Szostak on Abiogenesis: Just Add Water

  1. Your article contemptuously dismisses the authors’ hypotheses regarding abiogenesis. For all the scorn you heap on their theories, though, is your work any more reliable? Do you have anything else to show that makes your theories more credible?

    The differentiating factor between ID theorists’ work and that of scientists seems to be something you gloss over in passing. In your own words, “In most cases evolutionists working in the laboratory have been able to devise experiments that produce many of the key players.”

    Have ID theorists managed to generate the zero-wavelength information beam that Dembski proposed, or shown supernatural intervention creating any key players? Is there any ID research program we could look to for experimental results such as those generated by empirical scientists? I don’t keep up with scientific literature, but it appears that all that ID can muster up in response to the experiments being done by scientists is rhetoric.

  2. I didn’t read any scorn in Dr. Hunter’s blog. What I read was an account of scientists using terms like “imagine”, “every now and then”, and “must have added” which, to a layperson like myself, don’t sound terribly convincing or scientific.

    The problem with origin of life theories is answering “which came first?” Proteins can’t form withouth nucleic acids, but nucleic acids can’t form without proteins. Also, a cell membrane can’t form without a protein synthetic apparatus, but this apparatus can’t form without a membrane.

    As far as religion driving science goes, I think that The Jerusalem Bible put it best (Romans 1:20,21,28): ” Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity–however invisible–have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse…They made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened…In other words, since they refused to see it was rational to acknowledge God, God has left them to their own irrational ideas and to their monstrous behavior.”

  3. Learned Hand:

    Do you have anything else to show that makes your theories more credible?

    You know, this has got to be one the lamest arguments I know of and it seems to be a favorite of the Darwinist and atheist crowd. This is like saying,

    “My theory hypothesizes that unicorns evolved from donkeys and goats. If you disagree, come up with something more credible. Until you can do so, my theory is viable.”

    This is lame to the extreme. Abiogenesis is hogwash on the face of it and there is no need to come up with an alternative theory to show that it is hogwash. It is hogwash whether or not there is an alternative theory for the origin of life. It is hogwash because it does not make sense. It is hogwash because it insults the reader’s intelligence. And the fact that it is hogwash means that there is an acute need for an alternative theory. And the only alternative is that life was intelligently designed.

    Bravo, Cornelius. You’re doing a great job at rubbing the dog’s nose in its own excrement. This is a lesson that must be repeated over and over for as long as necessary.

  4. Indeed barb. Dr. Hunter does us (as well as others) laypersons a great service in differentiating the fact from fiction.

    There is nothing wrong with pointing out the flaws in scientific thinking on origins Learned Hand.

    The scientists comments are rife with speculation and wishful thinking passed off as the truth. I think it is fine that they speculate on “what might be”, however, when you pass commentary and speculation off as a scientific fact I believe that to be incredulous in the highest order.

    It should come as no surprise that this type of pseudo-science comes under fire from those who know better.

    Thanks for the post Dr. Hunter. Much appreciated!

  5. And why should non-teleological processes be given free reign of consideration in the questions of origin, whether it be the Big Bang or the origin of life?

    It is commonly presumed in many grade school textbooks life slowly arose in a primordial ocean of pre-biotic soup. Yet there are no chemical signatures in the geologic record indicating a ocean of this pre-biotic soup ever existed.

    The Primordial Soup Myth:
    Excerpt: “Accordingly, Abelson(1966), Hull(1960), Sillen(1965), and many others have criticized the hypothesis that the primitive ocean, unlike the contemporary ocean, was a “thick soup” containing all of the micromolecules required for the next stage of molecular evolution. The concept of a primitive “thick soup” or “primordial broth” is one of the most persistent ideas at the same time that is most strongly contraindicated by thermodynamic reasoning and by lack of experimental support.” – Sidney Fox, Klaus Dose on page 37 in Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life. http://theory-of-evolution.net.....p-myth.php

    Moreover, water is considered a ‘universal solvent’ which is a very thermodynamic obeying and thus ‘origin of life’ defying fact.

    Professor Arthur E. Wilder-Smith “Any amounts of polypeptide which might be formed will be broken down into their initial components (amino acids) by the excess of water. The ocean is thus practically the last place on this or any other planet where the proteins of life could be formed spontaneously from amino acids. Yet nearly all text-books of biology teach this nonsense to support evolutionary theory and spontaneous biogenesis … Has materialistic Neo-Darwinian philosophy overwhelmed us to such an extent that we forget or overlook the well-known facts of science and of chemistry in order to support this philosophy? … Without exception all Miller’s amino acids are completely unsuitable for any type of spontaneous biogenesis. And the same applies to all and any randomly formed substances and amino acids which form racemates. This statement is categorical and absolute and cannot be affected by special conditions.”

    Sea Salt only adds to this thermodynamic problem.

    …even at concentrations seven times weaker than in today’s oceans. The ingredients of sea salt are very effective at dismembering membranes and preventing RNA units (monomers) from forming polymers any longer than two links (dimers).

    etc…etc…etc…

    The problem for the “first life” turns out to be the same as with establishing evolution as true in the first place,,namely it is a “information” problem.

    “The problem of the origin of life is clearly basically equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information.”
    Origin of life theorist Bernd-Olaf Kuppers in his book “Information and the Origin of Life”.

    Yet with quantum mechanics we have “information” itself shown to be its own independent entity, which is conserved, as well as free of time and space…

    Scientific Evidence For God(Logos) Creating The Universe – 2008 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQhO906v0VM

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    It is also interesting to note that we can only “destroy” a photon in these quantum teleportation experiments. No one has “created” a photon as of yet. I firmly believe man shall never do as such, since I hold only God is infinite, and perfect, in information/knowledge.

    Reflection on the quantum teleportation experiment:

    That a photon would actually be destroyed upon the teleportation of its “infinite” information to another photon is a direct controlled violation of the first law of thermodynamics. Thus, this is a direct empirical validation for the primary tenet of the Law of Conservation of Information (i.e. information cannot be created or destroyed). This conclusion is warranted because information exercises direct dominion of energy, which cannot be created or destroyed by any known material means, yet a photon of energy is destroyed by this transcendent means. Thus, this experiment provides a direct line of logic that transcendent information cannot be created or destroyed. Clearly anything that exercises dominion of the fundamental entity of this physical universe, energy, must of necessity possess the same, as well as greater, qualities. i.e. All information that can exist, for all past, present and future events of energy, already must exist. Another line of evidence, corroborating the primary tenet of the Law of Conservation of Information, is the required mathematical definition for infinite information needed to correctly specify the reality of a photon qubit (Armond Duwell).
    The fact that quantum teleportation shows an exact “location dominion”, of a photon of energy by “a specified truth of infinite information”, satisfies a major requirement for the entity needed to explain the missing Dark Matter. The needed transcendent explanation would have to dominate energy in a very similar “specified location” fashion, as is demonstrated by the infinite information of quantum teleportation, to satisfy what is needed to explain the missing dark matter. Moreover, the fact that simple quantum entanglement shows “coordinated universal control” of a entangled photon of energy, by transcendent information, satisfies a major requirement for the entity which must explain the missing Dark Energy. i.e. The transcendent entity, needed to explain Dark Energy, must explain why the entire space of the universe is expanding in such a finely-tuned, coordinated, degree, and would have to employ a mechanism of control very similar to what we witness in the quantum entanglement experiment. Thus “infinite transcendent information” provides a coherent picture of universal control, and specificity, that could possibly unify all of physics upon further elucidation. It very well may be possible to elucidate, mathematically, the overall pattern God has chosen to implement infinite information in this universe.

    “I discovered that nature was constructed in a wonderful way, and our task is to find out its mathematical structure”
    Albert Einstein

    Further reflections on the “infinite transcendent information” framework:

    Mass becomes infinite at the speed of light, thus mass will never go the speed of light. As well, distance in direction of travel will shrink to zero for mass at the speed of light (i.e. the mass would disappear from our sight if it could go the speed of light.). For us to hypothetically travel at the speed of light, in this universe, only gets us to first base as far as quantum teleportation is concerned. That is to say, traveling at the speed of light only gets us to the place where time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. gets us to the eternal, “past and future folding into now”, framework/dimension of time. This “eternal” inference for light is warranted because light is not “frozen within time” yet it is shown that time does not pass for light.

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein

    Also, hypothetically traveling at the speed of light in this universe would be instantaneous travel for the person going at the speed of light. This is because time does not pass for them, but, and this is a big but; this “timeless” travel is still not instantaneous and transcendent to our temporal framework/dimension of time, i.e. Speed of light travel, to our temporal frame of reference, is still not completely transcendent of our framework since light appears to take time to travel from our perspective. In information teleportation the “time not passing”, eternal, framework is not only achieved in the speed of light framework/dimension, but also in our temporal framework/dimension. That is to say, the instantaneous teleportation/travel of information is instantaneous to both the temporal and speed of light frameworks/dimensions, not just the speed of light framework. Information teleportation/travel is not limited by time, nor space, in any way, shape or form, in any frame of reference, as light is seemingly limited to us. Thus “pure information” is shown to be timeless (eternal) and completely transcendent of all material frameworks/dimensions. Moreover, concluding from all lines of evidence we have now examined; transcendent, eternal, infinite information is indeed real and the framework in which it inhabits is the primary reality (highest dimension) that can exist, (in so far as our limited perception of a primary reality, highest dimension, can be discerned). Logic also dictates “a decision” must have been made, by the “transcendent, eternal, infinite information” from the primary timeless reality it inhabits, in order to purposely create a temporal reality with highly specified, irreducible complex, parameters from infinite possibilities in the proper sequential order. Thus this infinite transcendent information, which is the primary reality of our reality, is shown to be alive. The restriction imposed by our physical limitations of us ever accessing complete infinite information to our temporal physical framework/dimension does not detract, in any way, from the primacy and dominion of the infinite, eternal, transcendent, information framework/dimension that is now established by the quantum teleportation experiment as the primary reality of our reality. Of note: All of this evidence meshes extremely well with the theistic postulation of God being infinite and perfect in knowledge.

    “An illusion can never go faster than the speed limit of reality”
    Akiane – Child Prodigy – Artwork homepage – music video

    As a side light to this, leading quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger has followed in John Archibald Wheeler’s footsteps (1911-2008) by insisting reality, at its most foundational level, is “information”.

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.”
    Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:

    As well it should be noted that, counter-intuitive to materialistic thought, a computer does not consume energy during computation and will only consume energy when information is erased from it. This counter-intuitive fact is formally known as Landauer’s Principle:

    Landauer’s principle
    Of Note: if no information is erased, computation may in principle be achieved which is thermodynamically reversible,,,, In 2003 Weiss and Weiss came to the conclusion that information processing by the brain has to be based on Landauer’s principle. In 2008 this has been empirically confirmed by a group of neurobiologists.,,, Landauer’s Principle has also been used as the foundation for a new theory of dark energy, proposed by Gough (2008).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L....._principle

    This ability of information to “find answers” in a computer without ever, theoretically, consuming energy strongly suggests that the answers/truth already exist in reality, and in fact, when taken to its logical conclusion, is very suggestive that the “truth of Logos (John 1:1)” is ultimately the foundation of reality itself.

    Michael Denton – Mathematical Truths Are Transcendent And Beautiful – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3zcJfcdAyE

    Euler’s Number – God Created Mathematics – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IEb1gTRo74
    This related website has the complete working out of the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages:
    http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/

    John 1:1-3
    In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    (of note: “Word” in Greek is “Logos”, and is the root word from which we get our word “Logic”)

  6. What I read was an account of scientists using terms like “imagine”, “every now and then”, and “must have added” which, to a layperson like myself, don’t sound terribly convincing or scientific.

    Dr. Hunter is quoting from an article in a mass-media magazine. Their language is appropriate to that venue, as Dr. Hunter’s is to his own. The distinction is that Drs. Szostak and Ricardo are not merely bloggers; their discussion summarizes and relies upon laboratory work that has, as Dr. Hunter admits, generated substantial results. He may find those results unpersuasive, but it cannot be denied that Drs. Szostak and Ricardo bring more than mere rhetoric to the table.

    Dr. Hunter calls these scientists’ comments “a pathetic and embarrassing example of evolution’s influence on science.” But their hypotheses reflect one component of the scientific method; they are suggesting how something might have happened, while performing empirical test to determine whether their hypotheses are possible and/or more probable than alternatives.

    Dr. Hunter’s own work, to the limited extent that I am aware of it, omits every part of that process but the hypothesis. He has his own notions about abiogenesis, but what empirical testing has he, or any other creationist, done to determine their plausibility? What labs are investigating the mechanisms of creation ex nihilo? For as long as the answers are “nothing” and “none,” I will find Dr. Hunter’s fairly bitter complaints about scientists to be fairly ironic. Even a failed experiment produces data, after all; whether or the experiments discussed in the SA article pan out, they will have advanced scientific knowledge. The same cannot be said about the labors of creationists, which remain purely rhetorical.

  7. If the passage printed on Corneliuss blog is representative of what is in the article then Szostak should be embarrassed.

    Having read much of what is known about abiogenesis the correct assessment is that they are nowhere. To proffer such an over the top bit of nonsense is an indication of their embarrassment and their need to cover up what they have or more accurately what they do not have. I will have to see if I can get this article online to see what it really says.

    Isn’t Szostak part of the team at Harvard that was going to solve the OOL problem in a few years.

  8. Here is another exerpt from the SA article from their website. The current issue is all about all sorts of origins, not just life. The last sentence in this excerpt is the essence of the issue.
    ———–From the website

    Key Concepts:

    Researchers have found a way that the genetic molecule RNA could have formed from chemicals present on the early earth.

    Other studies have supported the hypothesis that primitive cells containing molecules similar to RNA could assemble spontaneously, reproduce and evolve, giving rise to all life.

    Scientists are now aiming at creating fully self-replicating artificial organisms in the lab­oratory—essentially giving life a second start to understand how it could have started the first time.

    Every living cell, even the simplest bacterium, teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist. As they incessantly shake or spin or crawl around the cell, these machines cut, paste and copy genetic molecules, shuttle nutrients around or turn them into energy, build and repair cellular membranes, relay mechanical, chemical or electrical messages—the list goes on and on, and new discoveries add to it all the time.

    It is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines, which are mostly protein-based catalysts called enzymes, could have formed spontaneously as life first arose from nonliving matter around 3.7 billion years ago. To be sure, under the right conditions some building blocks of proteins, the amino acids, form easily from simpler chemicals, as Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey of the University of Chicago discovered in pioneering experiments in the 1950s. But going from there to proteins and enzymes is a different matter.

  9. jerry: “Isn’t Szostak part of the team at Harvard that was going to solve the OOL problem in a few years.”

    What?! Really? Hahaha! The materialists really do think they are dealing with a ‘blob of goo’ don’t they? Lol!

  10. 10

    jerry,

    It is virtually impossible to imagine….

    Argument from incredulity. A logical fallacy.

  11. SingBlueSilver,

    “It is virtually impossible to imagine….

    Argument from incredulity. A logical fallacy.”

    And how is your brand of non falsifiable science to be separated from fantasy, if any conjecture no matter how far fetched is allowed to take precedence over what we know to be supremely likely from a teleological based approach from quantum mechanics?
    We know for a fact that highly specified information was transcendentally implemented during the process of the big bang,,,thus why should the sudden implementation of highly specified information for the origin of life and the Cambrian Explosion be of such taboo for you merely if we suggest the implementation to be of transcendent teleological origin?
    I find no reason for you to do as such save for a personal bias of philosophical nature.

  12. Clay occurs naturally. Bricks are made from clay. Some houses are made from bricks. Therefore, houses made of bricks can spontaneously emerge from clay.

    This is a quintessentially stupid idea, but it is the basic Darwinian argument, and it’s just unimaginably naive in light of what is known about information in living systems.

    This is not hard, folks. Complex information and information-processing systems don’t just self-generate by random processes. Random processes degrade information, and the more time allowed, the more degradation produced.

  13. learned hand

    Its like this – you spend your whole life and millions of grant money operating as a forensic detective trying to prove (because you believe it) Mt. Rushmore came about by natural causes and you even come up with data to fit your hypothesis. You come across without any real apologetic, but only argument for argument sake. It really seems the your “Learned Hand” is quite closed and this is not meant to be an ad hominem. :)

  14. 14

    bornagain,

    …why should the sudden implementation of highly specified information for the origin of life and the Cambrian Explosion be of such taboo for you…

    Jerry said “I can’t imagine how…”, which I pointed out is a logical fallacy.

    Greeks could not imagine how lightning, and thus got Zeus.

    Those who do not remember the past…

  15. 15

    Learned Hand (1):

    Your article contemptuously dismisses the authors’ hypotheses regarding abiogenesis. For all the scorn you heap on their theories, though, is your work any more reliable? Do you have anything else to show that makes your theories more credible?

    This is a protectionist device used commonly by evolutionists. They bring religion into science, claim it to be a fact, and reject skeptics because they haven’t solved the problem.

    Amazing–it’s all my fault!

    Here’s the difference. I’m not bringing religion into science, nor am I promoting explanations as *fact* that make no scientific sense.

    Folks beware of this protectionism. It opens science up to all manner of speculation and sophistry, and misrepresentation of the science as in the SciAm article.

  16. “Jerry said “I can’t imagine how…”, which I pointed out is a logical fallacy.”

    I was quoting from the actual article by Szostak. So it is Szostak you are accusing of a logical fallacy.

  17. SingBlue,
    You seem fairly cocky as to deny the transcendent origin of the universe as was postulated by theism and to deny Almighty God in doing so…Do you suddenly have a new material basis as to resort to for the origination of the universe? Will you postulate the logical absurdity of a infinite multiverse? You have no proof of such! And yet I have proof of the conservation of information by the controlled violation of the first law of thermodynamics in quantum teleportation! Do you choose logical absurdity over reasoned proof? No one here defends imaginary gods such as Zeus,,,yet you completely blow past all the theistic predictions that have been verified by hard science so as to try to deflect the imaginary world of materialism you live in:

    Summary of paper:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

    Just So as to make your ludicrous atheistic obsession to purely material causes plausible…. Ask yourself Sing,,,why does/did not life “spontaneously generate” more than once on this earth since you hold information generation is of no Big Deal for all the life we see around us? Do you truly believe that life has magical access to this ability to generate information (though I can find no instances) while the origin of life should be left without such a information generation pathway anymore? Do you think of such matters very deeply? Or is what is driving you to make such absurd claims for the magical power of brute material processes of a more personal nature? Do you really and truly find being accountable to God distasteful and would rather blow meaningless rhetoric, hoping to convince yourself of a lie, rather than face the truth that there may be a Creator? I have news for you ,,,God is real and is to be greatly respected as well as feared!!!! and to top all that off you shall certainly face him someday, as shall we all,, whether you want to do so or not! This is just a cold hard fact of reality,,, of how it truly is. You can face this truth as a man or you can hide in your play world of imaginary falsehoods of materialistic conjectures,,, but it will not change the fact that you will face God as all men will…My advice to you is to quit playing stupid games and get right with God and accept the salvation of Christ as is clearly laid out in scripture and evidence….Before it is to late!

  18. Szostak may have been under a lot of pressure to make the article look good. It is an issue on origins and OOL is after the universe the biggest origin question and science is essentially no where on it. Szostak is part of the Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative which started off with big ambitions over three years ago.

    One of the lead researchers said.

    David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard said ”my expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention.” Well I hope Dr. Liu is saying his prayers every night.

    So we should expect a lot of unsupported hyperbole in the article. Can you imagine a honest statement such as “we know essentially nothing on this topic yet, except what doesn’t work. But we are spending millions of dollars every year for hope and change.”

    Go Harvard.

  19. GilDodgen @ 9

    Clay occurs naturally. Bricks are made from clay. Some houses are made from bricks. Therefore, houses made of bricks can spontaneously emerge from clay.

    This is a quintessentially stupid idea, but it is the basic Darwinian argument, and it’s just unimaginably naive in light of what is known about information in living systems.

    Bricks can also be made from straw and so is this argument.

    Leaving aside the fact that Darwin’s theory says nothing about the origins of “life, the Universe and everything”, leaving aside the fact that Darwin himself wrote thus to Hooker (judicious or otherwise):

    But I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion & used Pentateuchal term of creation, by which I really meant “appeared” by some wholly unknown process. It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter.

    this whole debate about the information content of biological systems may be no more than an extended fallacy of reification, as misleading as Paley’s analogy to clockwork.

    A previous post alluded to some thoughts by Australian philosopher of science John Wilkins on this question and it would not hurt to remind ourselves of what he wrote on his blog Evolving Thoughts:

    OK, I know that we live in the “information age” and far be it from me to denigrate the work of Shannon, Turing and von Neumann, but it’s gotten out of hand. Information has become the new magical substance of the age, the philosopher’s stone. And, well, it just isn’t.

    In the article linked, physicist William Bialek at Princeton University argues that there is a minimum amount of information that organisms need to store in order to be alive.”How well we do in life depends on our actions matching the external conditions,” he says. “But actions come from ‘inside’, so they must be based on some internal variables.”

    This is a massive fallacy. Really, really massive. Consider what it relies upon apart from superficial authority and technobabble: it means that organisms must be computers, that they must store data in variables, and that nothing can occur unless it is based on an internal program. For gods’ sakes, hasn’t Bialek heard of causality? You know, physical properties that cause states of affairs? Or is he going to go the John Wheeler route and claim that everything is information (in which case, why care about the information of living systems)?

    Calling everything information is massive projection, or even anthropomorphism. It takes something that exists as a semantic or cognitive property and projects it out to all that exists. It makes observers the sole reality. In biology, the concept of information has been abused in just this way, but it’s a peculiarly twentieth century phenomenon.

    And a little later he writes:

    But merely because we can employ a model or a formalisation doesn’t mean that the system we are modeling or formalising is a formal system itself. Consider game theory – nobody thinks that genes rationally assess their interests and then make choices in interactions with other genes. It just happens that the math is useful to model the evolution of fitnesses irrespective of the cognitive abilities of genes and organisms.

    As for

    Complex information and information-processing systems don’t just self-generate by random processes. Random processes degrade information, and the more time allowed, the more degradation produced.

    Yes, random processes could corrupt information. Lucky, then, that the only random thing about evolution is mutation. And that is only random with respect to fitness.

  20. 20

    jerry,

    Oops! You’re right!

  21. 21

    bornagain77,

    And how is your brand of non falsifiable science to be separated from fantasy

    You have a knack for going off track. All I did was point out that Jerry was committing a logical fallacy, and I was mistaken about that.

    And somehow this leads to a string of accusations hurled at me.

  22. 22

    You seem fairly cocky as to deny the transcendent origin of the universe as was postulated by theism and to deny Almighty God in doing so…

    Huh?! Where are you getting this? The only thing I deny is that “God of the Gaps” is a good theological model. It could very well be that God created a universe with immutable physical laws and does not intervene in those laws at His whim. And thus we are slowly understanding the actual mechanisms He used in the process.

    why does/did not life “spontaneously generate” more than once on this earth

    I don’t know much about abiogenesis, but this explains a lot of your misconceptions. The (admittedly preliminary) theories do not postulate that life suddenly popped into existence fully formed (although ironically some creationism does postulate that), but rather a slow graduation from simple molecules to ever increasingly complex ones.

    Do you really and truly find being accountable to God distasteful and would rather blow meaningless rhetoric, hoping to convince yourself of a lie, rather than face the truth that there may be a Creator?

    Wow, you make a lot of assumptions about me.

    Science does not attempt to “remove God.” Science only assumes that the physical laws, divinely created or not, remain the same. Science assumes that God is not reaching in and tweaking them from time to time.

  23. Learned Hand:

    The differentiating factor between ID theorists’ work and that of scientists seems to be something you gloss over in passing.

    Oh please! Are you giving us the not so subtle old crap that states that “ID theorists aren’t real scientists”? It is evident in your statement and demonstrative of your own erroneous belief that only Darwinists are real scientists! A bogus claim that is older than dino shit.

    Then it gets worse, “

    Is there any ID research program we could look to for experimental results such as those generated by empirical scientists?”

    Are you pretending that Darwinian scientists have empirical evidence of molecule to man evolution? I certainly hope not because Darwinists, outside of basic micro evolutionary experiments, have never once produced a single grain of viable empirical evidence for macro evolution.

    You’re way out of date. Do your homework and try to keep up with the rest of the class.

  24. Sir – with due respect

    Clay occurs naturally. Bricks are made from clay. Some houses are made from bricks. Therefore, houses made of bricks can spontaneously emerge from clay.

    House builidng is a mechanical process, no chemistry there. Don’t you think it might be more relevant to make an analogy from chemistry? Say how a body is built from a single cell?

    (And old cells create new cells, no mystery there.)

  25. SingBlue now veers into theology and says:

    “The only thing I deny is that “God of the Gaps” is a good theological model.”

    Do tell of your expertise in Genesis and explain to me how you got rid of this “God of the Gaps” theological model… As well explain to me how The fossil record, when viewed honestly, is to be viewed as anything other than divine acts of creation for kinds producing after kinds… Do you suddenly know something that paleontologists do not?

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    “In Chen’s view, his evidence supports a history of life that runs opposite to the standard evolutionary tree diagrams, a progression he calls top-down evolution.” Jun-Yuan Chen is professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology
    http://www.fredheeren.com/boston.htm

    “A simple way of putting it is that currently we have about 38 phyla of different groups of animals, but the total number of phyla discovered during the Cambrian explosion (including those in China, Canada, and elsewhere) adds up to over 50 phyla. (Actually the number 50 was first quoted as over 100 for a while, but then the consensus became 50-plus.) That means there are more phyla in the very, very beginning, where we found the first fossils, than exist now.” “Also, the animal explosion caught people’s attention when the Chinese confirmed they found a genus now called Yunnanzoon that was present in the very beginning of the Cambrian explosion. This genus is considered a chordate, and the phylum Chordata includes fish, mammals and man. An evolutionist would say the ancestor of humans was present then. Looked at more objectively, you could say the most complex animal group, the chordates, were represented at the very beginning, and they did not go through a slow gradual evolution to become a chordate.” Dr. Paul Chien PhD., chairman of the biology department at the University of San Francisco
    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....#038;id=52

    The evolutionary theory would have us believe we should have more phyla today due to ongoing evolutionary processes:

    Origin of Phyla – The Fossil Evidence – Timeline Graph Illustration
    http://lutheranscience.org/images/GraphC2.gif

    “The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of orders or of species, we find’ over and over again’ not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another.”
    Paleontologist, Derek V. Ager

    “A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth’s geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin’s hypothetical intermediate variants – instead species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God.”
    Paleontologist, Mark Czarnecki

    “There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways, it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration. The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps.”
    Professor of paleontology – Glasgow University, T. Neville George

    “The long-term stasis, following a geologically abrupt origin, of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists” – Stephen Jay Gould – Harvard

    “Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track. What is the picture which the fossils have given us? … The gaps between major groups of organisms have been growing even wider and more undeniable. They can no longer be ignored or rationalized away with appeals to imperfection of the fossil record.” Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma 1988, Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, p. 9

    “The evidence we find in the geological record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be …. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than in Darwin’s time … so Darwin’s problem has not been alleviated”.
    David Raup, Curator of Geology at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History

    The Fossil Record – Don Patton – in their own words – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....6900194790

    “In virtually all cases a new taxon appears for the first time in the fossil record with most definitive features already present, and practically no known stem-group forms.” Fossils and Evolution, TS Kemp – Curator of Zoological Collections, Oxford University, Oxford Uni Press, p246, 1999

    ” Every paleontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.”
    George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.

    Thus SingBlue how is your arrogant appeal to material processes creating all life on earth to be justified as anything more than a fairy tale when the “red herring” of information generation, greater than that found in parent species, is never even addressed by evolutionists, indeed it never can be.

    but Alas Go back into your little fantasy world (This is not an accusation but a cold hard brute fact of how I see you actually practice science!) But until you start answering the tough questions of science instead of playing games with flimsy evidence that falls apart upon scrutiny you are no better than PZ Myers and his crew of “enforcers” who could care less about what the truth actually is..

  26. Those who denigrate the influence of the concept of information should try to reform modern biology because it is everywhere in this discipline. I recently viewed a Teaching Company course called the Science of Self which is mainly about the DNA of humans. For a while during the early lectures the professor, Lee Silver, a hardened anti ID advocate, used it in nearly every paragraph sometimes several times. He even made the analogy that information is non material and that what you buy on a music CD is the non material information contained on it.

    So all you die hards who continue to challenge the information concept and biology, you are making fools of yourselves. You are more like the Luddites than ID who uses the latest in science to evaluate causes and effects in the world. I understand that the anti ID people here are essentially Luddites holding on to a fatally flawed 19th century idea about evolution but maybe if it is pointed out to you how behind the times you are, you may have the incentive to learn more about science and modern technology.

  27. Dr. Hunter,

    This is a protectionist device used commonly by evolutionists. They bring religion into science, claim it to be a fact, and reject skeptics because they haven’t solved the problem.

    I don’t reject your skepticism because you haven’t “solved the problem.” No one has “solved the problem.” I reject your skepticism because it is ideological in nature and confined to criticisms of scientists who are trying to solve the problem. If you have made any constructive contribution to the effort, I would truly like to know about it.

    Borne,

    Oh please! Are you giving us the not so subtle old crap that states that “ID theorists aren’t real scientists”? It is evident in your statement and demonstrative of your own erroneous belief that only Darwinists are real scientists! A bogus claim that is older than dino shit.

    Most ID theorists aren’t “real scientists,” which is an ambiguous and subjective term. I don’t consider blogging to be a “real science.” Some ID theorists are “real scientists.” I don’t know enough about Dr. Hunter’s work to make an informed decision about whether he fits my subjective definition of a scientist. What I do know indicates that his religion dictates his perceptions of the natural world, and that he doesn’t test his ideas empirically. These characteristics impair his credibility when he complains about scientists who do engage in hands-on research.

    Are you pretending that Darwinian scientists have empirical evidence of molecule to man evolution? I certainly hope not because Darwinists, outside of basic micro evolutionary experiments, have never once produced a single grain of viable empirical evidence for macro evolution.

    Dr. Hunter admits that the scientific OOL program has demonstrated that key components of biological life can be generated by inorganic processes. That, in and of itself, is infinitely more empirical evidence than ID theorists have ever generated for the mechanisms of supernatural creation. The relative fecundity of empirical science is at least partially a product of mainstream scientists’ willingness to put their theories to the test. ID theorists’ failure to do the same is one of the key distinguishing factors that keeps them languishing on the sidelines while empirical scientists publish and discuss their new discoveries.

  28. Learned Hand: “I don’t reject your skepticism because you haven’t “solved the problem.” No one has “solved the problem.” I reject your skepticism because it is ideological in nature and confined to criticisms of scientists who are trying to solve the problem. If you have made any constructive contribution to the effort, I would truly like to know about it.”

    I think LH is making a reasonable request. I enjoy reading Dr. Hunter’s articles because they do make me think…but on the other hand I always feel left hanging because I never hear something like “Here’s what I think should happen…”. There never seems to be any alternative hypotheses, suggestions for experiments or even any speculation. It actually makes for rather negative and depressing reading (and yes Dr. Hunter does unfortunately at times come across as rather bitter). I work for a large IT company and at times not everything runs as optimally as one would like. It’s easy to make pot-shots and criticize what is being done, but a whole different matter to offer constructive solutions.

    Whatever you may think of Szotak and Ricardo – and, yes I agree that much of their hypotheses are probably speculative and not fully formed, they are at least trying to push our knowledge further through continued hypothesizing that they are trying to back-up with lab experimentation. Again, the challenge to Dr Hunter, given that you think so much of evolutionary theory is wrong, what kind of research program do you suggest to steer it in a different direction? Or are you just going to sit on the sidelines and make potshots?

  29. Seversky:

    Lucky, then, that the only random thing about evolution is mutation. And that is only random with respect to fitness.

    1- How was that determined?

    2- There are other random aspects also- finding a mate and accidents are just a couple.

    3- Is fitness still defined by the number of offspring?

    4- If so do you find that useful?

  30. Learned Hand,

    ID is not about supernatural creation.

    However if Dr Behe, for example, went into a lab a genetically engineered a bacterial flagellum, would that be evidence for ID?

  31. Seversky @ 19: “Leaving aside the fact that Darwin’s theory says nothing about the origins of “life, the Universe and everything…”

    His book is entitled On the ORIGIN of Species, is it not?
    If he only wanted to extrapolate on the changes noted within species (variations within each kind, such as different breeds of dogs or finches), he probably should have called it “On the Development of Species.”

    Learned Hand @ 6: “Dr. Hunter is quoting from an article in a mass-media magazine. Their language is appropriate to that venue, as Dr. Hunter’s is to his own.”

    Which does not change the fact that
    words like “imagine” do not belong in a scientific paper. Either you have the facts on hand through experimentation or calculations or you do not. Guessing doesn’t cut it.

  32. —Learned Hand: “Dr. Hunter admits that the scientific OOL program has demonstrated that key components of biological life can be generated by inorganic processes. That, in and of itself, is infinitely more empirical evidence than ID theorists have ever generated for the mechanisms of supernatural creation. The relative fecundity of empirical science is at least partially a product of mainstream scientists’ willingness to put their theories to the test. ID theorists’ failure to do the same is one of the key distinguishing factors that keeps them languishing on the sidelines while empirical scientists publish and discuss their new discoveries

    The problem is less about ID theorists and more about their critics inability to accept or even understand what they are doing. In fact, ID critics cannot understand the difference between intelligent causes and natural causes or the fact that each cannot be tested for in the same way. For Darwinists, if a “mechanism” can explain how sound comes from a piano as a result of a hammer striking a key, that same mechanism should also explain how Mozart conceived the patterns that create the music. Because Darwinists’ materialistic bias causes them to assume that everything is mechanical, they mistakenly conclude that creativity must be mechanical as well. In keeping with that same point, they cannot understand how a forensic scientist can observed a ransacked house, rule out natural causes [tornado], and conclude intelligent agency [burglar]. For Darwinists, there is no substantive difference between a tornado and a burglar or the ways that each might go about its business.

  33. StephenB,

    For Darwinists, if a “mechanism” can explain how sound comes from a piano as a result of a hammer striking a key, that same mechanism should also explain how Mozart conceived the patterns that create the music.

    Am I reading this correctly? “Darwinists” believe that the same mechanism by which a piano produces sound also explains how a composer writes music? You cannot be serious.

  34. “The relative fecundity of empirical science is at least partially a product of mainstream scientists’ willingness to put their theories to the test. ID theorists’ failure to do the same is one of the key distinguishing factors that keeps them languishing on the sidelines while empirical scientists publish and discuss their new discoveries.”

    This is pure nonsense. There are many major areas where modern science is at a standstill. Origin of life is one. The only honest assessment is that they know nothing. In general modern science does poorly at origins. Where it does well is in those areas where there is constantly repeating phenomena and then there is massive amounts of data and studies published explaining the forces involved. When it does poorly there may still be massive amounts of studies, all showing why certain hypotheses are wrong. OOL is a prime example.

    Second, there is no reason why someone who is pro ID can not do any science in the world such as work on the Large Hadron Collider or cancer research or cosmology or plate tectonics. I suggest you name a scientific study that will or cannot be performed by a pro ID scientist. The type of science a person works on does not determine whether that person is pro ID or not. ID scientists are very interested in areas where the only forces involved are lawful or best described by chance. So what you consider the wonderful world of science is also a wonderful world for ID researchers too.

    There is a third element that explains phenomena and that is the willful acts of an intelligent agency. These sciences are not as precise at those sciences governed solely by lawful forces because the actions of an agent is not subject to the laws of nature. We have psychology, sociology, economics, marketing, archaeology, anthropology, organizational behavior, forensics, history etc. Because in each of these areas there is the phenomena of intelligent acts involved, the nature of the phenomena is not the same as those sciences driven solely by law and chance such as physics and chemistry.

    So just as some of these many sciences investigate phenomena that violate lawful forces, due to intelligent inputs, ID looks at anomalies in the natural sciences to see if an anomaly is due to the intervention of an agency using a willful act to violate or initiate a lawful process. We have numerous places where the act of agent has violated the natural laws such as the steering of a rocket to escape the earth’s gravitation, the damming of rivers, or in general any construction, etc.

    I am sorry but that old worn out argument about ID not being science is so passé these days. It does not hold up to inspection. It implies that one holds a flawed image of what ID means. Those who support ID understand that lawful forces explain much of the world and actively participate in it. But they have a more enlightened view than the narrow minded philosophy of science that rejects agency as a possible cause in the effects noticed in the world. So ID subsumes all of modern science in the sense it is perfect agreement with it but goes further and looks at other possible causes which the straight jacket of methodological naturalism eliminates from consideration in modern science.

    If you want to subscribe to this small minded philosophy be our guest, but don’t expect us to share your illiberal prejudices.

  35. All experiments are helping both sides to the same degree. Sounds like work load mongering. Materialism can be the work horse while ID is mainly the brains of the operation if that’s how it’s got to be :)

  36. Joseph,

    However if Dr Behe, for example, went into a lab a genetically engineered a bacterial flagellum, would that be evidence for ID?

    What do you think?

    (I think Dr Behe would be incapable of going into a lab.)

  37. Adel,

    Your position seems to be incapable of doing anything in the lab that would support the claims made.

  38. Thanks, Joseph, for maintaining your customary high standard of discourse.

    Are you conceding that Dr Behe hasn’t done a lab experiment for the past decade? That’s his business, but it makes your hypothetical question moot.

    What lab experiments has your “position” done lately (to support whatever claims it makes)?

  39. —Am I reading this correctly? “Darwinists” believe that the same mechanism by which a piano produces sound also explains how a composer writes music? You cannot be serious.

    Darwinists aren’t very explicit about this, but clearly they think that “mechanisms” can explain everything. Thus, they look for a mechanistic explanation for Mozart’s compositions, or for the conception of your written sentence, or for the design in a DNA molecule. Thus, when ID explains that creativity or intelligent agency does not proceed by way of a mechanism, as physical laws do, they respond brilliantly with, “well, where is the mechanism.”

  40. StephenB,

    Ok, as long as you are not saying that literally the same mechanism is responsible for both the production of sound by the piano and for the creation of music by the composer.

  41. StephenB @ 32:

    In keeping with that same point, they cannot understand how a forensic scientist can observed a ransacked house, rule out natural causes [tornado], and conclude intelligent agency [burglar]. For Darwinists, there is no substantive difference between a tornado and a burglar or the ways that each might go about its business.

    Stephen knows there is a response that entirely refutes the above. The question has been asked and answered:

    StephenB:

    Can you, if provided with sufficient evidence, observe an alleged crime scene, conclude that the recent disordered arrangement of furnture did not occur as a result of a natural cause, and therefore could best be explained by an intelligent agency?

    My response:

    Of course. We each spend a lifetime, literally starting from birth, immersed in the actions and products of other human beings and navigating the social landscape of others’ motives and intentions – as well as engaging in actions, generating products, and deploying motives and intentions of our own. Moreover, we spend our lifetimes also encountering unguided physical events such as wind, rain and the general increase of disorder observed in non-living processes over time. As a consequence we are quite adept at identifying the characteristic markers of human actions, products, motives and intentions, and distinguishing them from unguided physical events. Indeed, there are significant reasons to suspect that we are adapted to quickly make these distinctions, particularly the subtle discernment of human actions and motives.

    BTW, you will notice that the above immersion and resulting adeptness represents experience with human beings, their actions, and products. “Intelligent agency” supplies unnecessary conceptual baggage, obviously planted by the baggage handler to support the unwarranted generalization that is certain to follow. We accomplish these effortless classifications (natural versus non-natural) without reference to or help from this additional conceptual baggage.

    With that, Stephen abandoned the thread.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-329527

  42. Diffaxial:

    —”With that, Stephen abandoned the thread.”

    Do you delude yourself that I stopped communicating with you because you made any sense or because I had no response? You got the last word because you insisted on having it; not because your arguments are persuasive or even comprehensible.

    My point still stands. What you wrote in those two convoluted paragraphs at the end of 41 reflects nothing more than your own confusion. There is nothing there of any substance. If you don’t believe me, ask another rational person.

  43. —yakky d: “Ok, as long as you are not saying that literally the same mechanism is responsible for both the production of sound by the piano and for the creation of music by the composer.”

    You understand me correctly. Thanks for asking.

  44. Just for the record, I revisited the site at which Diffaxial claims that I abandoned the thread and, as it turns out, I responded to what he said but he simply ignored it.

    Here is is again:

    You just acknowledged that we can draw inferences to “intelligent agency”; now you are telling me that intelligent agency supplies unnecessary conceptual baggage.

    After over a hundred posts, you finally acknowledge that humans can draw inferences about intelligent agency and then promptly disavow the affirmation.

    Are you for real?”

    That pretty much sums up Diffaxial’s confusion, which is profound.

  45. StephenB @ 41:

    What you wrote in those two convoluted paragraphs at the end of 41 reflects nothing more than your own confusion. There is nothing there of any substance.

    Tell us which of the following you find difficult to understand:

    - We spend our lives with other human beings, immersed in human actions and artifacts.

    - We each also have a lifetime of experience with physical events in the natural world.

    - Due to that lifelong intimacy, we are extremely adept at detecting human actions, motives and intentions, and distinguishing them from physical events in nature. Our culture additionally supplies a rich vocabulary for discerning and describing same.

    - That experience (and cultural tutelage) is the basis of our discernment of the causes of surprise disruptions in our homes and, with professional and scientific refinement, the inferences of archeologists and forensic investigators.

    It follows that the following is false:

    They cannot understand how a forensic scientist can observed a ransacked house, rule out natural causes [tornado], and conclude intelligent agency [burglar].

    Yes, we can understand that scientist’s inferences. The above described individual and cultural familiarity with human behavior explains the everyday accomplishment of detecting human agency, including the actions of burglars. References to “intelligent agency” when “human action” will do adds nothing and invites unwarranted generalizations.

    For Darwinists, there is no substantive difference between a tornado and a burglar or the ways that each might go about its business.

    And the above describes how we come to intimately understand that burglars and tornados embody very different sorts of causation, and to discern the characteristic results of each.

  46. This comment jumped out at me:

    Second, there is no reason why someone who is pro ID can not do any science in the world such as work on the Large Hadron Collider or cancer research or cosmology or plate tectonics. I suggest you name a scientific study that will or cannot be performed by a pro ID scientist.

    I did not say that science cannot be done by creationists. I said that it is not being done by them. As for studies “that will or cannot be performed by a pro ID scientist:” any empirical test of the mechanisms of supernatural creation.

  47. —-Diffaxial: “We spend our lives with other human beings, immersed in human actions and artifacts.”

    OK, so far.

    —-“We each also have a lifetime of experience with physical events in the natural world.”

    So far, so good.

    —“Due to that lifelong intimacy, we are extremely adept at detecting human actions, motives and intentions, and distinguishing them from physical events in nature. Our culture additionally supplies a rich vocabulary for discerning and describing same.”

    We don’t need lifelong intimacy with physical events to detect human actions.

    —“That experience (and cultural tutelage) is the basis of our discernment of the causes of surprise disruptions in our homes and, with professional and scientific refinement, the inferences of archeologists and forensic investigators.”

    Not true. A child can detect a sand castle from a mere glob of sand with no cultural experience at all.

    I wrote: They cannot understand how a forensic scientist can observed a ransacked house, rule out natural causes [tornado], and conclude intelligent agency [burglar].

    —- “Yes, we can understand that scientist’s inferences. The above described individual and cultural familiarity with human behavior explains the everyday accomplishment of detecting human agency, including the actions of burglars. References to “intelligent agency” when “human action” will do adds nothing and invites unwarranted generalizations.”

    Incorrect. No cultural familiarity is needed to make a design inference. The first cave man would have known if someone other than himself had written on his wall and he would have known that the writing was not the result of a natural phenomenon. [I know that you like to define nature both as history and law/chance in order to have it both ways, but that will not do.] If he had been only the second human being that ever lived, he could have detected the presence of agency as opposed to natural forces. Design inferences are not dependent on cultural histories in any way shape or form.

    —-“And the above describes how we come to intimately understand that burglars and tornados embody very different sorts of causation, and to discern the characteristic results of each.”

    No, it does not. We do not “come to understand” that tornados embody different sorts of causation, we can detect the difference from the patterns that each produces. I need no cultural history at all to know that a tornado would never open the doors of my refrigerator in search of food or my cabinet in search of jewelry [nor does the caveman need any cultural history to know when someone, not a natural force, entered his cave in search of his stash.] Your materialistic assumptions so inform your every response that you cannot come up for air long enough to grasp the argument. The design inference, which distinguishes law/chance from agency, is not a culturally conditioned phenomenon.

  48. “I did not say that science cannot be done by creationists. I said that it is not being done by them. As for studies “that will or cannot be performed by a pro ID scientist:” any empirical test of the mechanisms of supernatural creation.”

    Another absurd statement. First you mention creationist and this term is meaningless because if you believe in God, you are a creationist so essentially you equating belief in God with the inability to do research. Or are you saying that all scientists are atheists.

    There is now and in the past much research done by people who believe in God so your statement is at best silly and very uninformed. I am not sure why you use the term but in the past the ill-informed tried to use it to disparage people they disagree with. Is that what you are doing?

    Who is talking about supernatural and what do you mean by supernatural? We are talking about design and recognizing it and doing science and research. You are very confused so maybe you should refrain from commenting till you get up to speed.

  49. From listening to some of these old cranks, you’d think life’s formation was as simple as making instant mashed potatoes.

    Yet here we are, with probably millions of man-hours worth of research on the origins of life puzzle, and practically nothing to show for it.

    If brilliant minds can’t do it, why should I or anyone else believe that blind chance could?

    My opinion is that alien-based I.D. will be the dominant origins theory within a decade or two. Any intelligence-free origins of life scenario is simply too absurd to be taken seriously. Combined with the overwhelming (and strengthening) impression of design in biology, it’ll be too much to ignore.
    Alien-based I.D. will allow God-deniers to remain atheists while accepting what all knowledgeable, honest people already know – that Intelligent Design is a fact.

  50. There is now and in the past much research done by people who believe in God so your statement is at best silly and very uninformed. I am not sure why you use the term but in the past the ill-informed tried to use it to disparage people they disagree with. Is that what you are doing?

    Fair enough; I should have said that creationists (by which I mean those who subscribe to supernatural creation distinct in some scientifically detectable way from abiogenesis and evolution) do not do research into the mechanisms of creation. I am sure there are creationist psychologists, computer scientists, etc.

    Who is talking about supernatural and what do you mean by supernatural?

    Dr. Hunter is talking about supernatural, as is any IDist who complains that abiogenesis is impossible. If life can’t begin from the undirected operation of natural laws, that leaves only miraculous, magical, or otherwise supernatural methods. See, i.e., Dembski’s zero-wavelength information beam.

    We are talking about design and recognizing it and doing science and research.

    You’re certainly talking about it.

    Yet here we are, with probably millions of man-hours worth of research on the origins of life puzzle, and practically nothing to show for it.

    Except empirical evidence that undirected natural processes can create the building blocks of life.

    My opinion is that alien-based I.D. will be the dominant origins theory within a decade or two. Any intelligence-free origins of life scenario is simply too absurd to be taken seriously.

    Then where did the aliens come from?

    Alien-based I.D. will allow God-deniers to remain atheists…

    Ah – God. Perhaps it’s not reasonable to expect religions to perform original research.

  51. “do not do research into the mechanisms of creation” You should check into the discipline of Synthetic Biology.

    “If life can’t begin from the undirected operation of natural laws, that leaves only miraculous, magical, or otherwise supernatural methods. See, i.e., Dembski’s zero-wavelength information beam.”

    More nonesense. Craig Venter expects to do it within 20 years. Is he is supernatural? Maybe in his mind.

    “Except empirical evidence that undirected natural processes can create the building blocks of life.”

    Not nonsense but highly, highly irrelevant. You have said “Look Martha, they just found some natural lego parts.” And Martha replies, “Now all they have to do is see how the winds and tides and heat from the sun assemble them into a space shuttle. Should be a piece of cake.”

    “Then where did the aliens come from?”

    Just ask the people at Cornell which was the home of Carl Sagan and one of the people who inspired the SETI program. He thought there were millions of little green men out there. Sir Richard also thinks it could be a possibility.

    As I said maybe you should just lurk and not comment. It all seems too off the wall to be of any useful dialogue. You seem to want to vent and nothing else.

  52. LH:

    If life can’t begin from the undirected operation of natural laws, that leaves only miraculous, magical, or otherwise supernatural methods.

    Just because you can say so doesn’t make it so.

    Also just how did those natural laws come about?

    Natural processes cannot account for the origin of nature because natural processes only exist in nature.

    So where does that leave you?

    Learned Hand,

    If you don’t like the design inference then all you have to do is to actually start substantiating the claims of your position.

    It is due to the complete failure of your position that ID has made a comeback.

  53. StephenB @ 47:

    Not true. A child can detect a sand castle from a mere glob of sand with no cultural experience at all…

    …Incorrect. No cultural familiarity is needed to make a design inference. The first cave man would have known if someone other than himself had written on his wall and he would have known that the writing was not the result of a natural phenomenon

    Your denials notwithstanding, there is a deep foundation within an evolutionary perspective for an understanding of how we make these distinctions in the abstract, as well as for making them in particular instances. That basis is understood in light of (at least) three levels of causation: 1) ontogenetic, reflecting immersion from birth in human activities and artifacts that confers an intimate awareness of the characteristics of such human-originated phenomena (and contrasting familiarity with natural physical events); 2) cultural, reflecting internalization of a rich cultural vocabulary for both forms of causation (natural and human) that further amplifies individual experience; and 3) phylogenetic, reflecting biological adaptations for social cognition, particularly human theory of mind, that unquestionably have evolutionary origins. Each perspective continues to be the subject of very deep and interesting research. And each is consistent with the view that human agency arose in the natural world.

    You may wish to dispute the specifics of the above model, in part or whole (a little humor there), but you cannot claim that the “Darwinist” has no basis for understanding and making such distinctions, or distinguishing causal histories that result in tornados from those that result in burglaries. In fact we do, several, all of which drive substantial empirical research. So far as I am aware, no research is conducted from the hypothesis that “intelligent agency is non-natural.”

    Vis sandcastles and cave men: Children on beaches capable of making such a distinction have already experienced years of immersion in human culture, human actions, and human artifacts, experiences that began at birth. And as above, “there are significant reasons to suspect that we are adapted to quickly make these distinctions, particularly the subtle discernment of human actions and motives.” Those adaptations further prime us to soak up the implicit cultural tutelage we experience from day one on these questions. A similar observation may be made regarding your “first cave man.” All Homo sapiens have been obligately cultural creatures.

  54. Learned Hand,

    —”What I do know indicates that his religion dictates his perceptions of the natural world…”

    How do you “know” that? Did you do research in the lab about it? I’m serious, if you claim to “KNOW” something about Cornelius, please tell me how you know.
    And by that same logic, it seems indicative that your non-religion dictates your perceptions of the natural world. Am I wrong? If I am, so are you. For I only use against you what you use against Cornelius.

  55. Diffaxial,

    ——”Your denials notwithstanding, there is a deep foundation within an evolutionary perspective for an understanding of how we make these distinctions in the abstract, as well as for making them in particular instances. That basis is understood in light of (at least) three levels of causation: 1) ontogenetic, reflecting immersion from birth in human activities and artifacts that confers an intimate awareness of the characteristics of such human-originated phenomena (and contrasting familiarity with natural physical events); 2) cultural, reflecting internalization of a rich cultural vocabulary for both forms of causation (natural and human) that further amplifies individual experience; and 3) phylogenetic, reflecting biological adaptations for social cognition, particularly human theory of mind, that unquestionably have evolutionary origins.”

    Let me distill that for you.
    1. Sitting around looking at things.
    2. Talking about it.
    3. Mind arising from the movements of non-rational atoms just by virtue of them moving around.

    Yeah, I believe that evolutionary story. I won’t compare it to fairy-tales, because I think there is quite a lot of truth in fairy-tales, whereas with the above quote there is none.

  56. ——-Diffaxial: ”Your denials notwithstanding, there is a deep foundation within an evolutionary perspective for an understanding of how we make these distinctions in the abstract, as well as for making them in particular instances.”

    Yes, within your evolutionary model, all things are possible: causation comes and goes as it will, life pops out of nowhere, and molecules develop Oedipus complexes. That will definitely open up a few options for you.

  57. —Diffaxial: “Vis sandcastles and cave men: Children on beaches capable of making such a distinction have already experienced years of immersion in human culture, human actions, and human artifacts, experiences that began at birth.”

    Yes, those four year olds are really sensitive to the cultural zeitgeist.

    —”And as above, “there are significant reasons to suspect that we are adapted to quickly make these distinctions, particularly the subtle discernment of human actions and motives.”

    Great. I take it that we now agree. Humans can draw inferences to agency apart from natural causes. Welcome to the ID community.

    —”Those adaptations further prime us to soak up the implicit cultural tutelage we experience from day one on these questions. A similar observation may be made regarding your “first cave man.” All Homo sapiens have been obligately cultural creatures.”

    So, given that he was a creature of culture, could the caveman discern the writings on the cave wall as products of human agency apart from wind, rain, snow, and erosion?

  58. StephenB:

    Great. I take it that we now agree. Humans can draw inferences to agency apart from natural causes. Welcome to the ID community.

    Because, as we all know, those of us outside of the ID community do not believe that artifacts can be identified as such.

  59. How do you “know” that [his religion dictates his perceptions of the natural world]? Did you do research in the lab about it? I’m serious, if you claim to “KNOW” something about Cornelius, please tell me how you know.

    Dr. Hunter is faculty at BIOLA University, which, as I understand it, obliges its personnel to subscribe to a statement of faith. That statement is available online, with the following explanatory text:

    “The origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of kinds of living things, and the origin of humans cannot be explained adequately apart from reference to that intelligent exercise of power. A proper understanding of science does not require that all phenomena in nature must be explained solely by reference to physical events, laws and chance.

    Therefore, creation models which seek to harmonize science and the Bible should maintain at least the following: (a) God providentially directs His creation, (b) He specially intervened in at least the above-mentioned points in the creation process, and (c) God specially created Adam and Eve (Adam’s body from non-living material, and his spiritual nature immediately from God). Inadequate origin models hold that (a) God never directly intervened in creating nature and/or (b) humans share a common physical ancestry with earlier life forms.”

    You can read it yourself at http://www.biola.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/. It is possible that Dr. Hunter secretly dissents from the statement of faith or feels that the explanatory text is in error, but I have seen no evidence of that.

    And by that same logic, it seems indicative that your non-religion dictates your perceptions of the natural world. Am I wrong? If I am, so are you. For I only use against you what you use against Cornelius.

    You are indeed wrong in assuming that my personal beliefs dictate my perceptions of the natural world. My beliefs certainly influence my perceptions, but I have not subscribed to a statement of faith that prohibits me from following the evidence where it leads. That distinguishes me from Dr. Hunter. And because I know that my beliefs may influence my perceptions, I look to empirical evidence to explain the natural world, rather than take the ID approach of relying on “inferences” that just happen to coincide with my preexisting ideology.

    Such statements of faith are, incidentally, one of several reasons why productive science is done at research institutions rather than bible colleges. It seems that ID is a nonstarter among researches who aren’t constrained by religious dogma, and unable to compete in environments where empirical results matter more than preexisting ideologies. I can’t credit the default ID explanation for that phenomenon, a global atheist conspiracy, when ID advocates such as Dr. Hunter don’t even seem interested in attempting to generate their own empirical results. (If he is interested in beginning a research program, please correct me on that point.)

  60. Learned Hand,

    You are indeed wrong in assuming that my personal beliefs dictate my perceptions of the natural world.

    That’s called special pleading. You remove yourself from the picture you put others into, and claim that you’re immune to the process that you yourself use against others.

    but I have not subscribed to a statement of faith that prohibits me from following the evidence where it leads.

    You have a statement of faith, even if it is yet to be written down, for we all do, yourself not excepted. Dr. Hunter’s faith most certainly doesn’t prohibit him from following the evidence and argument wherever it leads, anymore than your religious atheism does. This is motive mongering, and it isn’t arguing on the merits of any science. Indeed, your welcome to “believe” whatever you want about Dr. Hunter, but don’t call it a belief on the level of science, it is your personal belief, nothing more, and I see no grounds whatsoever in considering your anecdotal belief to be authoritative, especially considering that you don’t even know the man. The presumptuousness is really irritating, and I would advise you to stop, I’m serious.

    I look to empirical evidence to explain the natural world, rather than take the ID approach of relying on “inferences” that just happen to coincide with my preexisting ideology.

    The belief that there is an outside world at all is based on inference. All knowledge whatsoever is inference-based. Science is based on inferences. Incredible. I know you’re trained in law and not philosophy, but you’re not discussing law, you’re discussing philosophy.

    Such statements of faith are, incidentally, one of several reasons why productive science is done at research institutions rather than bible colleges.

    Science was an outgrowth of Christianity LH, and at all colleges there are Christians doing science. This ought to be obvious to those who aren’t biased and interested in painting a picture of a false dilemma. If someone at a Bible college cannot critique a scientific point of view because they aren’t a scientist, then you cannot defend a scientific claim because you aren’t a scientist either. Goose, gander, all that good stuff. You seem impenetrable with logic and common sense sometimes LH, I don’t mean that condescendingly, I really don’t. But it just seems obvious that you have a dog in the fight on your side as much as anyone else who you claim shouldn’t have dogs in the fight. You defeat your own credibility by arguing this way. If you can give a critique against ID, so can Dr. Hunter give a critique of whatever he wants in the same way. I reckon if you can’t argue the science, go after the person and their motives. Do what CS Lewis called Bulverism:

    The modern method [of argumentation] is to assume without discussion that [your opponent] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third — ‘Oh you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth [and Twenty-First] Century.

    –C. S. Lewis, “Bulverism,” in God in the Dock, p. 273

    As your moderator, I would advise you to stop.

  61. That’s called special pleading. You remove yourself from the picture you put others into, and claim that you’re immune to the process that you yourself use against others.

    I disagree. It would be special pleading if I had also signed on to the BIOLA statement of faith, but argued that it was inapplicable to me for reasons outside the scope of the discussion. I contend, instead, that Dr. Hunter’s need to comply with that explicit dogma is a material distinction that the distinction can and should be analyzed.

    You have a statement of faith, even if it is yet to be written down, for we all do, yourself not excepted.

    Only for an extraordinarily broad definition of “statement of faith.” (This is similar to Dr. Hunter’s extraordinarily broad definition of “religion.”) Adopting that definition, yes, Dr. Hunter and myself both have “statements of faith.” But Dr. Hunter is also obliged to comply with a literal“statement of faith,” which we can examine directly for ourselves. It explicitly prohibits him from believing certain things, no matter what the evidence shows. (I did not notice any exception along the lines of “unless the evidence shows otherwise.” That distinguishes Dr. Hunter’s “statement of faith” from my own, such as it is.) My predispositions may make me disinclined to accept surprising or unwelcome evidence, but Dr. Hunter’s accession to BIOLA’s dogma expressly prohibits him from doing so.

    I acknowledge that faith, and statements thereof, is a very tricky and subjective thing. It is entirely possible that Dr. Hunter has a more flexible view of the statement, and if he told us so, I would not argue with him. Neither of us has first-hand knowledge of his interpretation of the statement, though, so we can only go by the statement itself. As the document explicitly explains, only certain beliefs are permitted. Is Dr. Hunter open to evidence that contradicts those beliefs? I see no reason to believe that he adopted the statement provisionally. He could change my mind on that point merely by saying so, but you cannot. You are gainsaid by the document itself, which is unambiguous.

    Dr. Hunter’s faith most certainly doesn’t prohibit him from following the evidence and argument wherever it leads, anymore than your religious atheism does.

    Then what does the statement mean? Dr. Hunter has subscribed to a written doctrine that rules out certain beliefs. If he is presented with evidence challenging those beliefs, he would be forced to disavow the statement, which I imagine would entail resigning his post. Both he and I may one day be presented with evidence contradicting our opinions on origins; if I were to change my mind, my life would not change at all. Dr. Hunter, in the same situation, would have his life overturned, because he is bound by an explicit statement of his preconceptions that prohibits him from changing his mind. I do not see those situations as strongly analogous.

    Indeed, your welcome to “believe” whatever you want about Dr. Hunter, but don’t call it a belief on the level of science, it is your personal belief, nothing more, and I see no grounds whatsoever in considering your anecdotal belief to be authoritative, especially considering that you don’t even know the man. The presumptuousness is really irritating, and I would advise you to stop, I’m serious.

    I don’t see the basis for this relatively heated complaint. Where did I call my opinion of Dr. Hunter “a belief on the level of science?” Where have I claimed any special authority? I don’t see any statement here that could be bent so far. My comments are obviously my own personal beliefs. Anyone is welcome to read the statement of faith and come to their own opinions.

    Science was an outgrowth of Christianity LH….

    This is a baffling statement. Of course “science” is not an outgrowth of Christianity. Greeks, inter alia, were doing science long before Christianity. I am amenable to the argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science, but it is not relevant to the point I made.

    ….and at all colleges there are Christians doing science. This ought to be obvious to those who aren’t biased and interested in painting a picture of a false dilemma.

    It is obvious. So obvious that perhaps you should have slowed down and asked yourself whether your indignation was getting the better of you, and whether you actually understood the point I was making.

    If someone at a Bible college cannot critique a scientific point of view because they aren’t a scientist, then you cannot defend a scientific claim because you aren’t a scientist either.

    Someone at a Bible college can criticize a scientific endeavor. They can do it all day long. They can do it cogently and coherently and well. They can even embark on a research program and make new empirical discoveries. They generally don’t, though, for some fairly obvious reasons. Modern biology research (at least as far as I know) requires financial and other resources that are scarce even at research institutions, much less at smaller, less well-financed schools like Bible colleges. Bible colleges also have specific mission requirements that aren’t served by empirical research, which acts to discourage their faculty from devoting time and attention to such research.

    (The same could be said, for example of law schools. Law school professors could make cogent and coherent criticisms of scientific research. They generally don’t, though, as law schools don’t have a budget to fund such work, and their professors are supposed to spend their time pursuing the school’s mission.)

    The mission of a bible college is particularly relevant to this question, as it may directly impact the impartiality of the subject faculty. One reason we don’t expect bible colleges to do original scientific research is that a bible professor who did, and who reached theologically inconvenient results, would be in hot water. Despite the complaints of IDists, research institutions don’t maintain such binding ideologies.

    You seem impenetrable with logic and common sense sometimes LH, I don’t mean that condescendingly, I really don’t.

    Your comment would only be condescending if you put yourself on a higher level with regard to logic and common sense. Nothing you have written tends in that direction, and so I take no offense.

    But it just seems obvious that you have a dog in the fight on your side as much as anyone else who you claim shouldn’t have dogs in the fight.

    I don’t recall claiming that anyone shouldn’t have dogs in the fight. It would be an odd thing for me to say, because it is antithetical to my arguments. I do not contend that Dr. Hunter should not have a bias; I contend that his bias is apparent, and detracts from his credibility. I acknowledge that the scientists he criticizes also may have biases, although theirs are not as explicit as Dr. Hunter’s. Insofar as both parties have their own biases, I find the party that is willing to subject their theories to empirical, objective testing to be more credible. The fact that Dr. Hunter has been unable to establish his ideas outside his own faith-based context reinforces, rather than mitigates, the perception that his biases influence his work. Conversely, the fact that the scientists he criticizes are making discoveries that even he admits are significant suggests that their beliefs have empirical merit, whether or not they began with their own biases.

    As your moderator, I would advise you to stop.

    Threat noted.

  62. —Learned Hand: “Science was an outgrowth of Christianity LH….

    —”This is a baffling statement. Of course “science” is not an outgrowth of Christianity. Greeks, inter alia, were doing science long before Christianity. I am amenable to the argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science, but it is not relevant to the point I made.’

    For one who claims to value facts, you certainly have no difficulty disavowing those which you find inconvenient. It is a well-established fact that Christianity launched the modern scientific enterprise. One of the reasons that the Greeks gave up pursuing it seriously was because they did not have sufficient faith to sustain them during their setbacks. Christian scientists, convinced that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” and that “God left clues,” and that God had, indeed, created a rational universe, overcame countless obstacles and stayed with their research until it started bearing fruit.

  63. —”Learned Hand: “I don’t recall claiming that anyone shouldn’t have dogs in the fight. It would be an odd thing for me to say, because it is antithetical to my arguments. I do not contend that Dr. Hunter should not have a bias; I contend that his bias is apparent, and detracts from his credibility. I acknowledge that the scientists he criticizes also may have biases, although theirs are not as explicit as Dr. Hunter’s.”

    Actually, there are techniques for discerning the extent to which commentators are bound to their biases and prejudices.

    Test one: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one direction or the other are liable to skew the evidence in their favor, but they do not deny facts outright. On the other hand, those who are totally committed to an ideology go beyond that and deny facts that are indisputable. A minute ago, you denied the obvious fact that Christianity launched the modern science initiative.

    Test two: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one way or the other, are, at least, aware of their own biases and prejudices. They acknowledge them and make allowances for them. On the other hand, those who are totally committed to a no-concession policy are completely oblivious to their own partisan posture. A minute ago, you asserted that Dr. Hunter was biased, and that scientists on you side can be biased, but you conspicuously left out the possibility that you might be biased.

    Test three: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one way or the other are usually up front about where they are coming from. They don’t pretend to be disinterested. On the other hand, those who are totally committed to an ideology, try to create the illusion that they don’t have a dog in the fight. Those who don’t have a dog in the fight don’t post here. You post here, yet you pretend not to have a dog in the fight.

    Test four: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one way or the other typically argue passionately on behalf of the point. On the other hand, those who are totally committed to an ideology, tend to go after the credibility of the individual [not the group, which is fine] who is arguing on matters of substance. You have tried to attack Dr. Hunter’s credibility.

    Get the idea.

  64. For one who claims to value facts, you certainly have no difficulty disavowing those which you find inconvenient. It is a well-established fact that Christianity launched the modern scientific enterprise. One of the reasons that the Greeks gave up pursuing it seriously was because they did not have sufficient faith to sustain them during their setbacks.

    I don’t know what facts you think I’ve “disavowed.” Clive contended that “science” was an outgrowth of Christianity. I assume that was an unintentional overstatement, because of course people were doing science before there were Christians. You apparently agree with me on that point; for the Greeks to have given up science, it stands to reason that they had to be doing it at one point.

    As to whether Christianity was a positive influence on science, I have no particular opinion. I think it’s a very plausible argument, but I’ve never studied the question. I certainly don’t “disavow” the notion. How did you read my statement that I “am amenable to the argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science” as a disavowal of the argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science?

  65. Jerry @ 60:

    Goose, gander, all that good stuff.

    You forgot the sauce.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-331009

  66. Learned Hand: OK, I want to be reasonable. Your qualifying statement that “you are amenable to the notion argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science,” does take a bit of the edge off of the earlier formulation, “science” is not an outgrowth of Christianity..”

    It is, however, an understatement of fairly significant proportions. If we add the word “modern” to Clive’s statement, he is on very solid ground, and I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to assume that he meant that. In fact, based on reasonable comparative standards, the Greeks got almost nowhere, so it wasn’t a case of them just passing the baton.

    Also, your understatement conveniently appears on the heels of Clive’s protest that a committment do a Christian institution can hardly compromise ones orientation to science since Christianity launched what we now know as modern science. Context, context, context.

    Still, I don’t want to overstate the case. We all have biases and prejudices. The argument, as I understand it, is over which preferences are grounded in reason and evidence. I have never known Dr. Hunter to manipulate [or understate] a fact in order to make a point. If only we could all make that claim. That he prefers ID to Darwism is obvious; that you prefer Darwinism to ID is obvious.

    Come on.

  67. Stephen @ 57:

    Yes, those four year olds are really sensitive to the cultural zeitgeist.

    Exquisitely. For example, from age one year children acquire an average of 10 words a day, with a particularly rapid explosion of vocabulary during the third year.

    Welcome to the ID community.

    *Gag*

    So, given that he was a creature of culture, could the caveman discern the writings on the cave wall as products of human agency apart from wind, rain, snow, and erosion?

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. He would certainly discern human acts and artifacts with which he is familiar from natural events adeptly as do we. His evaluation of handwriting would probably turn crucially on factors such as whether the culture in which he resides engaged in artistic activities, particularly representational cave painting.

  68. Actually, there are techniques for discerning the extent to which commentators are bound to their biases and prejudices.

    I’m dubious, but let’s apply them.

    Test one: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one direction or the other are liable to skew the evidence in their favor…

    I said that I “am amenable to the argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science.” You characterized that statement as having “denied the obvious fact that Christianity launched the modern science initiative.” I cannot read your comment as anything other than, at least, a drastic “skew” of the evidence of what I actually said.

    Test two: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one way or the other, are, at least, aware of their own biases and prejudices. They acknowledge them and make allowances for them.

    I stated that “[m]y beliefs certainly influence my perceptions,” and that “Dr. Hunter and myself both have ‘statements of faith.’” You contend that I “conspicuously left out the possibility that you might be biased.” This, too, appears to be a gross misrepresentation of my actual comments. Incidentally, you appear to have “conspicuously left out the possibility that you might be biased.”

    Test three: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one way or the other are usually up front about where they are coming from.

    You say that I “pretend not to have a dog in the fight.” I cannot find any statement that I have made that can be read that way. Would you like to show it to me? And where have you discussed yours? I think you fail this test under your own standard, but you pass it under mind. Although you have not explicitly disclosed your “dog in the fight,” your readers can assume that you have one and take your comments on their own merits.

    Test four: Those who are somewhat inclined to go one way or the other typically argue passionately on behalf of the point.

    I think that Dr. Hunter’s credibility is the point, given the venue and the specific post above us. His complaints are not specific, and contain very few positive assertions that can be tested. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s appropriate to his medium. But without positive assertions of his own, Dr. Hunter’s credibility is of course central to the strength of his critique.

    This is fairly common when laypersons analyze disputes among experts. It is one reason why commenters here frequently call scientists “atheists” and critique their biases—when we do not have the time or information to resolve every claim on its merits, the credibility of the claimant is a relevant topic of conversation. That is the case here. Dr. Hunter’s expertise in the field is greater than mine, as is that of the scientists he is criticizing. They disagree, and I cannot resolve their dispute on the merits. (I lack a research budget!) The credibility of the interested parties is the metric I have with which to judge their dispute. And insofar as Dr. Hunter’s critique is purely rhetorical, his credibility is key to his arguments. His credibility is the point, because Dr. Hunter has given us no other way to judge the merits of his claims.

    (Note that I do not claim that Dr. Hunter is dishonest or immoral, nor do I intend to impugn his character in any way. Nor do I assert that his factual assertions, such as “finding X is wrong,” are incorrect because I find his motives suspect. Rather, I argue that his rhetorical arguments, such as that science is religion and that origins research is going nowhere, are the product of his religious beliefs, and should be assessed as such. I’m curious whether Dr. Hunter would argue with this point; I believe that he would agree with regard to himself, but contend that all other interested parties’ positions are also the product of religious beliefs.)

    To continue the theme of hoisting you on your own petard, you seem quite put out that I “have tried to attack Dr. Hunter’s credibility” by pointing out his religious motives. Does that mean that you will not critique the motives of atheists? It might cut down participation on Dawkins-related threads…

    I think you failed your own tests, through the Herculean effort of accusing me of saying exactly the opposite of what I wrote. As I think the tests are silly, though, it’s of no particular moment.

  69. —Diffaxial: “Perhaps. Perhaps not. He would certainly discern human acts and artifacts with which he is familiar from natural events adeptly as do we. His evaluation of handwriting would probably turn crucially on factors such as whether the culture in which he resides engaged in artistic activities, particularly representational cave painting.”

    So, you think that the early caveman, without benefit of socialization or culture, would not have been able to distinguish between a wind storm and someone who entered his cave and stole his stash.

  70. StephenB in #62 says: “One of the reasons that the Greeks gave up pursuing it seriously was because they did not have sufficient faith to sustain them during their setbacks.”

    This is incorrect. The Greek tradition in science continued, in a diminished form, into the Roman period. A large part of the Greek decline was the result of several centuries of internecine warfare (Pelopenesian, Theban, etc). The Macedonian conquest of Greece and Alexander’s subsequent use of the Greeks as mercenaries also played a role. Additional factors include the deterioration of Greece environmentally – which lead to a decline in wealth, etc,. To attribute the Greek design in science to a lack of faith seems simplistic and monocausal. It also fails to explain how they could become so excellent in science to begin with – lacking faith as they did…

  71. StephenB @ 69:

    So, you think that the early caveman, without benefit of socialization or culture…

    No such animal, as we have certainly been obligately social and obligately cultural throughout the two thousand (give or take) centuries of our history.

    If you are referring to species ancestral to our own, you will have to be more specific about which (and responses become increasingly speculative as species becomes more remote in time.)

  72. —-Learned Hand: “I said that I “am amenable to the argument that Christianity was beneficial to the development of science.” You characterized that statement as having “denied the obvious fact that Christianity launched the modern science initiative.” I cannot read your comment as anything other than, at least, a drastic “skew” of the evidence of what I actually said.”

    Your original statement declared that science did not grow out of Christianity, which is far from the truth; the above qualifying statement acknowledged that you were amenable to something less than the truth. In recounting the event, you left out the former and alluded only to the latter. Clearly, you are doing the skewing. Hey, dig that alliteration.

    —-“I stated that “[m]y beliefs certainly influence my perceptions,” and that “Dr. Hunter and myself both have ‘statements of faith.’” You contend that I “conspicuously left out the possibility that you might be biased.” This, too, appears to be a gross misrepresentation of my actual comments. Incidentally, you appear to have “conspicuously left out the possibility that you might be biased.”

    Oh, but you didn’t say your beliefs influence your actions. You do say that Dr. Hunter’s beliefs influence his actions and his writings. So, it wasn’t an admission of moral equivalence. I notice little things like that.

    .
    —-“You say that I “pretend not to have a dog in the fight.” I cannot find any statement that I have made that can be read that way. Would you like to show it to me? And where have you discussed yours? I think you fail this test under your own standard, but you pass it under mind. Although you have not explicitly disclosed your “dog in the fight,” your readers can assume that you have one and take your comments on their own merits.”

    You need not explicitly declare that you have a dog in the fight. It is obvious that you do. I don’t hesitate to assert that you are not a disinterested observer. At the same time, I think I will retract the word, “pretend” as being a little too judgmental and presumptuous. On the other hand, everyone knows where I stand, so I could hardly fail a test on forthrightness. Now if you were testing for sensitivity, you might be on to something.

    —-“I think that Dr. Hunter’s credibility is the point, given the venue and the specific post above us. His complaints are not specific, and contain very few positive assertions that can be tested. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s appropriate to his medium. But without positive assertions of his own, Dr. Hunter’s credibility is of course central to the strength of his critique.”

    No, his arguments are the point. Your personal attacks are consistent with the prevalent anti-ID propoganda, which holds that ID scientists allow their religious ideology to leak into their scientific methods and their judgment. Dr. Hunter does not reject evidence based on ideology. That is the test. Can you say the same thing? You still peddle the ID=religion fantasy in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary. In other words, you reject facts, presumably for the sake of your ideology. That would fit right in to Dr. Hunter’s thesis.

    —“(Note that I do not claim that Dr. Hunter is dishonest or immoral, nor do I intend to impugn his character in any way. Nor do I assert that his factual assertions, such as “finding X is wrong,” are incorrect because I find his motives suspect. Rather, I argue that his rhetorical arguments, such as that science is religion and that origins research is going nowhere, are the product of his religious beliefs, and should be assessed as such. I’m curious whether Dr. Hunter would argue with this point; I believe that he would agree with regard to himself, but contend that all other interested parties’ positions are also the product of religious beliefs.)

    I suspect that he would insist that his faith directs his attention to the subject matter and that his judgment forms his conclusions. His main argument is that Darwinist ideology is a religious commitment such that its proponents mischaracterize and distort the truth. I don’t think he would say that prominent Christian ID scientists do the same thing, and he would be right. Can you think of any instance in which a prominent ID writer has misrepresented his opponents’ substantive arguments? Is there any ID equivalent of Ken Miller’s proclivity to misrepresent Michael Behe’s conception of irreducible complexity? I challenge you to find one.

    —-“To continue the theme of hoisting you on your own petard, you seem quite put out that I “have tried to attack Dr. Hunter’s credibility” by pointing out his religious motives. Does that mean that you will not critique the motives of atheists? It might cut down participation on Dawkins-related threads…”

    I try to keep my personal criticisms at the group level by referring to Darwinists, atheists, theistic evolutionsts, etc.

    —-“I think you failed your own tests, through the Herculean effort of accusing me of saying exactly the opposite of what I wrote. As I think the tests are silly, though, it’s of no particular moment.”

    That you would say that I accused you of “exactly the opposite of what you wrote,” is an exercise in excess that further undermines your credibility. At the very most, I missed the point about your beliefs influencing your perceptions, though, as I say, they implied a moral equivalency that wasn’t there, and I retracted one mildly controversial characterization. Compare that to the accusation that I accused you of the “opposite” of what you wrote. Which action constitutes the greater breach? And what are the chances that you will retract yours, which is far less accurate?

    In any case, you are getting a small taste of what it is like to be put on the couch.

  73. —grannyape02. “This is incorrect. The Greek tradition in science continued, in a diminished form, into the Roman period. A large part of the Greek decline was the result of several centuries of internecine warfare (Pelopenesian, Theban, etc). The Macedonian conquest of Greece and Alexander’s subsequent use of the Greeks as mercenaries also played a role. Additional factors include the deterioration of Greece environmentally – which lead to a decline in wealth, etc,. To attribute the Greek design in science to a lack of faith seems simplistic and monocausal.

    Incorrect. The Greeks made progress in philosophy and mathematics, but science did not exist in their society. Christianity launched the scientific enterprise. Like it or not, this is a fact.

    —”It also fails to explain how they could become so excellent in science to begin with – lacking faith as they did…”

    What scientific achievements did you have in mind?

  74. Incorrect. The Greeks made progress in philosophy and mathematics, but science did not exist in their society. Christianity launched the scientific enterprise.

    How are you defining “the scientific enterprise?”

  75. I guess Thales, Archimedes, and Pythagoras, to name a few weren’t scientist then? There was also a thriving school of science in Alexandrian, to name one, during the Hellenistic period. I also guess that all those classical scholars that have written about the history of Greek science were also wrong? Going a step further one of the preeminent scholars in the study of Greek science, G. E. R. Lloyd, does give a role in the decline of Greek science to Christianity, mainly because of an emphasis on revelation hampered the attainment of knowledge based on observation and reasoning.

  76. The Teaching Company has a course on Science to the 1700′s. “History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 ”

    It has 36 lectures. Seven of them are about the Greeks.

    3. The Presocratics
    4. Plato and the Pythagoreans
    5. Plato’s Cosmos
    6. Aristotle’s View of the Natural World
    7. Aristotelian Cosmology and Physics
    8. Hellenistic Natural Philosophy
    9. Greek Astronomy from Eudoxus to Ptolemy

    It may have been mainly wrong but they started the ball rolling and did come up with the term atom and that was fairly close. Aristotle is considered the Father of Biology to many.

    Another Teaching Company course titled “Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World”. The first two ideas were about Greece.

    2. Writing Makes Science Possible
    3. Inventing Reason and Knowledge

    The ancient Greeks were awesome and the 5th century BC in Greece was one of the two or three most important times in the history of mankind.

    The Teaching Company courses are highly recommended.

  77. StephenB,

    Christianity launched the scientific enterprise. Like it or not, this is a fact.

    Yes, that is exactly, right.
    http://www.churchinhistory.org.....cience.htm

    And from C.S. Lewis’s book Miracles,

    Professor Whitehead points out that centuries of belief in a God who combined “the personal energy of Jehovah” with “the rationality of a Greek philosopher” first produced that firm expectation of systematic order which rendered possible the birth of modern science. Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died; it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it” (see Alfred North Whitehead; Science and the Modern World; p. 13-14).

    Miracles, A Preliminary Study, by C.S. Lewis, pages 168-169.

  78. I am familiar with what you folks are talking about. However, I don’t think real science is done without systematic methods and experiments to explain the natural world. The Greeks didn’t even have a conception of the universe. We had to wait for Newton to provide one for us. Granted, the ancient Greeks built the foundations for science, but I don’t believe what they did can rightly be called the practice of science. I think natural philosophy would be a better word.

    It was the combination of Athens (Greek thought) and Jerusalem (Christian faith) that provided the intellectual fuel for modern science. The difference is in what Clive refers to above as the “firm expectation of systematic order” that turned the tide. Or again, they became scientists Christian thinkers became scientists because “they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator.”

    The Greeks, for all their brilliance, just didn’t have that. What they did have, though, was a philosophy that surpasses most of what passes for rational thought today. If only our modern thinkers had one tenth of their wisdom, we would be far better off.

  79. That should read, “Christian thinkers became scientists because they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a legislator.” [As described by Lewis]

  80. The Greeks may not have had a christian conception of the universe, but they most certainly perceived it as orderly, regular and knowable. They were also quite able to do experiments and use those to understand the universe. This is how Eratosthenes calculated the earths circumference, discovered that the earth had a tilted axis, and calculated the distance of the earth from the sun. That is just one example of many. It seems you are also ignoring the massive influence the Greeks had on the early church fathers, not to mention their impact on Hebrew thought.

  81. Folks:

    Take Stephen as speaking of Modern Science and the transforming scientific revolution of 350 years of so ago, and I think all will be clear.

    Individual results are one thing, the rise of the culture-transforming scientific enterprise is completely another.

    GEM of TKI

  82. Clive:

    Since people often do not read linked materials, pardon a reproduction of that essay:

    __________________

    >> The Christian roots of modern science

    By Dr. Donald DeMarco

    Adjunct Professor, Holy Apostles College & Seminary, Cromwell,CT.

    The cancellation of Pope Benedict XVI’s address at La Sapienza University in Rome in January, 2008, has received a great deal of attention around the world. A particular comment by Andrea Sterbini, one of the 67 academics signatories who protested the Pope’s visit, however, warrants special attention because it represents, in a nutshell, a pervasive ignorance concerning the sizeable debt modern science owes to its Judeo-Christian roots.

    “I think the Pope’s visit is not a good thing,” said Professor Sterbini, “because science doesn’t need religion.” It should be noted here that he made this comment erroneously assuming that the Holy Father and religion are opposed to science. Nonetheless, his words may be fortuitous since they offer a golden opportunity for setting the historical record right and explaining how modern science actually has developed from conceptions of reality that were essentially religious.

    The most comprehensive and detailed treatment of the history of science was given to posterity by a distinguished physicist and mathematician, Pierre Duhem, (1861-1916) in his 10-volume magnum opus, Le Système du monde: les doctrines cosmologiques de Platon à Copernicus. The first five volumes—each more than 500 pages in length—were published in consecutive years, from 1913-1917. Although another five volumes were ready for publication when Duhem passed away in 1916, they were not published until four decades later (1954-59) thanks, in great part, to the courage and determination of his daughter Hélène.

    The reason for the long delay in publishing the last five volumes of this masterpiece, which is without parallel in its field, was the strong opposition by influential academics who did not want to consider the demonstrable fact that modern science cannot be divorced from its religious foundations.

    In the intervening years between the publication of the first and second group of 5 volumes, many studies of medieval science were conducted — by Anneliese Maier, Marshall Clagett, E. Grant, Alistair Crombie and others. These studies served to extend and confirm Duhem’s work and add credibility to his central thesis concerning the continuity between medieval and modern science. As a result of Duhem’s pioneering research and the contribution by other historians of science, the value of studying medieval science is now well established, and can no longer be dismissed by honest scholars.

    Science historian A. C. Crombie, for example, comes to the conclusion that

    “The natural philosophers of Latin Christendom in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries created the experimental science characteristic of modern times.”

    Stanley Jaki, who holds doctorates in physics as well as theology, has this to say about Duhem’s work:

    “What Duhem unearthed among other things from long-buried manuscripts was that supernatural revelation played a crucial liberating role in putting scientific speculation on the right track. . . . It is in this terrifying prospect for secular humanism, for which science is the redeemer of mankind, that lies the explanation of that grim and secretive censorship which has worked against Duhem (and his few allies) by two principal means: . . .”

    These two means that Jaki amplifies are: 1) An orchestrated censorship that existed on the part of prominent publishing companies against printing major scholarly evidence in favour of Duhem’s perspective. 2) The practice of selective indignation in scholarly societies and their journals against Duhem’s work.

    Dr. Peter E. Hodgson, who is University Lecturer in Nuclear Physics at Oxford University, has this to say about Duhem’s scholarly accomplishment:

    “The work of Duhem is of great relevance today, for it shows clearly the Christian roots of modern science, thus decisively refuting the alleged incompatibility of science and Christianity still propagated by the secularist establishment. Science is an integral part of Christian culture, a lesson to be learned even within the Christian Church.”

    Duhem’s study and documentation of the Christian origin of modern science has been deliberately neglected because it is unwelcome both to the disciples of the French Enlightenment and those of the Reformation. For different reasons, they would like to paint the Middle Ages as darkly as possible.

    Alfred North Whitehead, co-author with Bertrand Russell of Mathematica Principia, offers timely approbation of Duhem’s research when he states, in Science and the Modern World, that

    “the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivation from medieval theology.” And so does Norbert Wiener, the “Father of Cybernetics,” when he urges his fellow scientists to adopt an “Augustinian approach” to their enterprise

    “Science is a way of life,” he states, “which can only flourish when men are free to have faith. . When we do not know whether a particular phenomenon we observe is the work of God or the work of Satan, the very roots of our faith are shaken.”

    The faith factor that science presupposes is multifold and includes faith that similar causes will be followed by similar results, faith in the validity of extrapolation from conceptual models to the “real” world, and faith in the very existence of such a real world. For such reasons, Wade Rowland, author of Galileo’s Mistake (2001) can say:

    “To the extent that a foundation in faith defines religion, science is every bit as much a religion as Christianity.”

    Both the Old and New Testaments provide views of the world as well as human capacities that are most congenial to the development of science. First, the notion that God’s creation is ordered means that the physical universe is organized in a rational manner that is consistent, unified, and free of contradiction. The notion that man is created in God’s image gives him the confidence that he is capable of discovering the orderly pattern of nature. Third, since every thing that God created is good, it is worthwhile to uncover and utilize the good wherever he finds it. The Commandment to love is a powerful incentive to utilize what one has discovered and developed for the practical benefit of others. The notion of the Incarnation means that matter has a certain dignity and is a suitable substance for celestial bodies, as opposed to the pagan belief that they were composed of a higher and imperishable element. As historians of science have noted, the idea that creation took place in time and came out of nothing, and the linearity of time, played important rules in the development of modern science.

    The following passage from the Book of Wisdom (7:15-21) offers a frame of mind that is most conducive to the development of science:

    “For He hath given me the true knowledge of the things that are: to know the disposition of the whole world, and the virtues of the elements, the beginning, and the ending, and midst of the times, the alterations of their courses, and the changes of the seasons, the revolutions of the year, and the disposition of the stars, the natures of living creatures, and rage of wild beasts, the force of the winds, and reasonings of men, the diversities of plants, and the virtues of roots, and all such things as are hid and not foreseen, I have learned: for wisdom, which is the worker of all things, taught me.”

    St. Augustine, in his City of God, states that God is the Author of

    “all measure, form and order; of all size, number and weight. He is the source of every nature . . . of the seed of every form and the form of every seed and the movement of both seeds and forms.”

    This view has been echoed by Kepler, Galileo and Newton. It is at the heart of Einstein’s famous remark that the most incomprehensible thing to him is that the universe is comprehensible. And this is why he concluded that:

    “God does not play dice.”

    The names of Jordanus Nemorarius, Jean Buridan, John Philoponus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, Nicholas of Oresme, and Leon Battista Alberti may not be known to many, even to many contemporary scientists. Yet they are Christian pioneers of science and provided an indispensable bridge that connected the Medieval world of science to that of modernity. It is estimated that there are between 30,000 and 35,000 medieval Western scientific manuscripts scattered throughout the world. Jordanus, An International Catalogue of Medieval Scientific Manuscripts has now been made available by the Institute for the History of Science at the University of Munich and by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. The database is accessible on the Internet for any current browser. It provides information about medieval manuscripts written in Western Europe between 500 and 1500 A. D.

    By permission of CatholicInsight.com

    This version:www.churchinhistory.org >>

    __________________

    A lot of the above sounds rather familiar, including the controversies and tactics used to censor the unwelcome truth.

    “Dwell on the past, you’ll lose an eye; forget the past, you lose both your eyes.” [Russian proverb often cited by Solzhenitsyn]

    GEM of TKI

  83. Take Stephen as speaking of Modern Science and the transforming scientific revolution of 350 years of so ago, and I think all will be clear.

    I agree, you have to explicitly exclude all the science done before Christianity became a globally dominant religion in order to make Stephen’s point coherent. If you do that, there’s a decent argument to be made for his position.

  84. I’ve read through much of this thread and some of the linked material. I am first and foremost a Christian. But I honestly don’t understand crediting Christianity with scientific advances progress in general. Most of the support seems to come from the subjective opinions of well-meaning individuals who wish to attribute good things to Christianity.

    A Google search for “eurocentricism+science” reveals a number of cases (I can’t speak for any of them individually) in which African and Asian advances and discoveries are either downplayed or credited to Europeans and Americans much later on.

    The scriptures reveal God as He chooses to reveal Himself, His purposes, and the best way to live. Those same scriptures describe that same knowledge as a vast treasure, and downplay everything else as secondary in value.
    Their worth is great enough, even if their wisdom isn’t responsible for science.

  85. —Learned Hand: “I agree, you have to explicitly exclude all the science done before Christianity became a globally dominant religion in order to make Stephen’s point coherent. If you do that, there’s a decent argument to be made for his position.”

    OK. Call it “modern” science and the difficulty is solved. I have no problem with it.

    On the other hand, a little proportionality is in order here. After the Greeks put forth their sincere but modest attempts at “science,” [I tend to call it natural philosophy, but I'll accept the amendments proposed], virtually nothing happened for almost two thousand years and then everything took off in the 1600′s. It was the Christian world view that made it happen.

  86. —Scott Andrews: “I’ve read through much of this thread and some of the linked material. I am first and foremost a Christian. But I honestly don’t understand crediting Christianity with scientific advances progress in general. Most of the support seems to come from the subjective opinions of well-meaning individuals who wish to attribute good things to Christianity.”

    I don’t understand this comment at all. What is your response to the work of Duhem, who Clive and kairosfocus alluded to, and, for that matter, to the more recent works of Thomas Woods and Rodney Stark? These men and others have carefully researched the subject matter and have made an air tight case. It has nothing to do with eurocentrism.

    —”Their worth is great enough, even if their wisdom isn’t responsible for science.”

    But their wisdom is responsible for modern science, as the record clearly shows. Science was of little consequence until the 1600′s when Christian thinkers decided that “God left clues” and set out to follow those clues. Do you think it is a coincedence that everything took off after that. Almost nothihg happens for 2000 years and then suddenly the cup runs over. Come on.

  87. StephenB:
    Do you think it is a coincedence that everything took off after that.
    Honestly, yes. “Everything” didn’t “take off” in the 1600s. Science was progressing for years before that. People all around the world studied astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and agriculture throughout history. That is a reality, a carved-in-stone fact which does not harmonize with the idea that science stems from Christianity.

    Certainly, the concept of a law-giving God is science-friendly. But neither the motivations nor the methods for studying our surroundings are inherently Christian.

    If the evidence is air-tight, find a Muslim or Jewish scientist who agrees. I guarantee you there are Muslim scientists who will insist their faith is the foundation of science, and they will cite all sorts of evidence. (For example.) The Greeks will say the same, and so one.

    I stand by my faith, but I feel its direct, relevant accomplishments are enough and don’t need any embellishment.

  88. StephenB: After the Greeks put forth their sincere but modest attempts at “science,” [I tend to call it natural philosophy, but I'll accept the amendments proposed], virtually nothing happened for almost two thousand years and then everything took off in the 1600’s.

    Really? Virtually nothing? May I suggest reading Gavin Menzies’ 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance.

  89. —Scott: “I stand by my faith, but I feel its direct, relevant accomplishments are enough and don’t need any embellishment.”

    You are suggesting that I am allowing my religous views to influence my perception of history. That is not very complimentary, and it isn’t true.

    Western Civilization and the scientific enterprise are two pieces of the same puzzle. Before that, there was no Western Civilization and there was no modern science. The two go together. Begin with Thomas Wood’s, “How the Catholic Church Build Western Civilization.” Then proceed to, “The Rise of Christianity” and “The Glory of God” by Rodney Stark. Then, try Michael Bumbulis’ “Christianity and the Birth of Science.”

    You are taking a great many things for granted. Christianity had to do several things in concert:

    [A] Preserve literacy in the Dark Ages. The preservation of literacy in the Dark Ages

    [B] Establish the doctrine of the lawfulness of nature
    nature.

    [C] Examine the real world rather than rely on pure reason.

    [D] Propose that science was a sacred duty.

    Not all of these things were exclusive to Christianity, but Christianity pulled them all together as it built Western Civilization.

    There are a great many anti-Christian websites, [and a few books] out there that try to discount and even deny all these realities.

  90. ScottAndrews,

    I stand by my faith, but I feel its direct, relevant accomplishments are enough and don’t need any embellishment.

    The purpose of this discussion is not to “embellish” Christianity. Everyone who is a Christian would agree that Christianity needs no such embellishment that being the cause of science may offer. It is a wholly different question than embellishment of Christianity that is being discussed. The question is what role Christianity had in the beginning and development of science, and on that question, which is a historical question, there isn’t any other motive needed than to study what actually happened as best as we can. If Christianity played a significant role, so be it, that historical claim isn’t posited to bolster Christianity, but just to be honest with the history. No historical evidence of the type that considers people’s motivations and systems of thought, outside of Divine Revelation, is airtight, and we shouldn’t expect it to be, for it’s not airtight even today. But we can get a general, and sometimes specific, picture. And if there is disagreement among people of different faiths, as you mentioned, pertaining to the origin of science, that doesn’t mean that there is no correct answer at all. It only means that historians have to be as meticulous as possible and discern what they can on a case by case basis. And some have determined that the modern scientific endeavor was an outgrowth of Christianity. I see nothing wrong with this historical claim. I don’t see this claim as being forwarded to bolster Christianity.

  91. —riddick: “May I suggest reading Gavin Menzies’ 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance.”

    May I suggest that you read Duhem, Stark, Woods, Bumbulis, and several others that I could put you on to.

  92. StephenB,

    May I suggest that you read Duhem, Stark, Woods, Bumbulis, and several others that I could put you on to.

    Don’t forget Professor Whitehead!

  93. re LH, 83:

    you have to explicitly exclude all the science done before Christianity became a globally dominant religion in order to make Stephen’s point coherent

    Basic problem: Christianity was NOT a globally dominant religion in the time of the scientific revolution, c15 – 17.

    It was the main worldview of Europe at that time, and it materially contributed to the worldviews of the founders of science as we know it as a major cultural institution.

    Indeed, it was in large part the CONSEQUENCE of that theistically inspired scientific spirit — for all the sins and follies that were also implicated — that Europe rose to global prominence across the 1500′s – 1800′s, and moreso at the back end of that period.

    GEM of TKI

  94. Riddick:

    You may find it instructive to read the Wki article on the Menzies thesis.

    Cheng Ho et al had major accomplishments to their record, but mostly in the indopacific zone.

    (I actually think that had the bureaucrats not stopped progress China would have been probably globally dominant . . . but then maybe that is one of my pet peeves against petty, short-sighted officiousness speaking.)

    GEM of TKI

  95. Clive & StephenB,
    I have a self-imposed rule against discussing religious doctrine and the like in internet forums. That means I’ve tied my own hands from explaining my objections in more detail. It’s my fault for jumping in anyway.
    But I will note that the three authors mentioned in #89 who associate the origins of modern science with Christianity are all professed Christians. I don’t see a Jew or Muslim who has reached the same conclusion.
    I don’t mean this to be disparaging to anyone. It’s just human nature that a culture often emphasizes its own accomplishments with a blind spot for what other peoples have done. It’s ordinary – it’s not some huge failing.

  96. —Scott: “It’s ordinary – it’s not some huge failing.”

    Yes, and even the desire to appear neutral and disinterested can prompt a Christian to understate his own case when there is a case to be made.

    —”But I will note that the three authors mentioned in #89 who associate the origins of modern science with Christianity are all professed Christians. I don’t see a Jew or Muslim who has reached the same conclusion.

    Why would a Jew or a Muslim write a tome explaining the Christian roots of modern science? On the other hand, do you know of any Jews or Muslims who have written 500 or more seriously researched pages with hundreds of references drawing from non-religious sources advancing the cause that Judaism or Islam launched modern science.

    For that matter, do you know of any Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists arguing that their religion provided the intellectual resources to build Western Civilization, describing the natural moral law and introducing such concepts as the inherent dignity of the human person, the equality of individuals, the principle of consent by the governed, due process, and the compatibility of faith and reason?

  97. StephenB:
    Why would a Jew or a Muslim write a tome explaining the Christian roots of modern science?
    If it’s air-tight, why wouldn’t they?

    For that matter, do you know of any Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists arguing that their religion provided the intellectual resources to build Western Civilization
    They tend to write more about building the Eastern Civilization. :)

    I can’t see crediting Christianity with western civilization. If that were the case, there would be a lot less bad news in the papers. And maybe less porn.

  98. —”Scott: “If it’s air-tight, why wouldn’t they?” [Why would a Jew or a Muslim write a tome explaining the Christian roots of modern science?]

    Well, I wouldn’t want two little words separating us. How about I change it to, “overwhelming and well-documented evidence.”

    —[Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists] “They tend to write more about building the Eastern Civilization.”

    Which would answer your earlier challenge about why there are few authors on my list of those persuasions.

    —”I can’t see crediting Christianity with western civilization. If that were the case, there would be a lot less bad news in the papers. And maybe less porn.”

    So, are you arguing that we should deny Christianity’s role in building Western Civilization because Western Civilization was once good and then went bad? I thought you were the one who didn’t want religious convictions getting in the way of facts. [insert smiley face]

  99. For a Jew’s perspective on the history of science get the Teaching Company course

    “Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World ”

    http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/co.....x?cid=1120

    The instructor is Stephen Goldman who is definitely a Jew though I did not detect any bias based on religion.

    In reality little developed outside the Western World or Western Civilization. Certain things were invented in China or the Muslim world but they never did much with them. For example, the printing process was developed in China but it was Europe that made it happen. Within a few years of Gutenberg’s introduction of printing people were composing books strictly to be printed. The book publishing industry started as a result. The printing press was one of the main driver of all things Western

    Western Civilization has a peculiar quality of seeing the potential for something and pushing it. The Muslims developed algebra but did nothing with it and all they had were word problems. When it was introduced to Italy, they introduced variables and letters and our familiar x, y, z etc let this discipline take off. The concept had stagnated in the Muslim world but in Italy they were solving complicated equations and using it for practical applications.

    Here is the author’s bio

    “Steven L. Goldman
    Lehigh University
    Ph.D., Boston University

    Steven Goldman is the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Lehigh University, where he has taught for 30 years. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics at the Polytechnic University of New York and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.

    Before taking his position at Lehigh, Professor Goldman taught at Pennsylvania State University, where he was a cofounder of one of the first U.S. academic programs in science, technology, and society studies.

    A prolific author, Dr. Goldman has written or edited eight books, including Science, Technology, and Human Progress, and has an impressive list of scholarly articles and reviews to his credit. He has been a national lecturer for the scientific research society Sigma Xi and a national program consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    Professor Goldman has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Lehigh University.”

    Get this from your local library or buy it from the Teaching Company. It is not currently on sale but wait till they put it on sale and you will enjoy it immensely and have some hard facts for the science debates.

  100. I was on two week program a couple years ago with a group discussing ancient Greece. The Greeks were very inventive in a lot of things and one of the things we discussed was technology. I cannot remember the details but the essence of the discussion was that the Greeks were very inventive in technology, warfare and agriculture.

    However, a lot of these breakthroughs in technology got lost and only rediscovered several hundred years later. I kept on asking why since the Romans who conquered the Greeks were essentially Hellenized. The answer was that Greek society was transformed by the Romans and the freedom that sparked their advances were stifled. Essentially Byzantium became a typical thuggish Eastern tyrannical government that stifled independence that had existed under the Greek city states. The thesis was that independence or freedom was what fueled innovation and this would arise again only in the West after the beginning of the Renaissance.

  101. “The thesis was that independence or freedom was what fueled innovation and this would arise again only in the West after the beginning of the Renaissance.”

    I have to modify this, since it essentially happened earlier in the 11th and 12th centuries but accelerated during the Renaissance.

  102. Folks:

    I think a bit of a pause to do a tutorial on the Scientific Revolution c 1543 – 1700 will be helpful.

    Why not start with Wiki?

    NB: the very name, revolution, comes from the title of Polish Canon — Wiki, surprise, surprise [NOT} finds it difficult to simply name that title -- Copernicus' book, on the revolution of the heavenly bodies, published of course in 1543.

    And of course, to the men who were central to the scientific revolution, science was a reverse engineering of God's order of creation in service of humanity as a stewardship of Creation -- "thinking God's thoughts after him" [Boyle, I think] — was a natural platform for thinking. Also, this they definitely inherited from Christendom. [Cf John 1, Rom 1, Col 1 etc on this.]

    From 1543 – 1700 or so, the trend of developments across the Middle Ages achieved critical mass and a wide-ranging epistemological crisis, and the hitherto magisterial power of the classical [and BTW, mostly pagan: e.g. Aristotle, Galen, Ptolemy] authorities crumbled as a new age of Christian scholarship used the concept and vision of God’s orderly and intelligible creation [Cf Jn 1:1 - 3, Rom 1:19 - 20] to unlock the principles through empirical investigations and reasoned (increasingly, mathematical) argument.

    Dan Peterson’s review on the significance of design theory here, gives a good balance to the Wiki article, and connects the issue to our current controversies. (Let’s just say there is a REASON why the same people who are ever so willing to reel off long litanies of the real; and imaginary sins of Christendom, are utterly unwilling to acknowledge its signal achievements; ESPECIALLY the Scientific revolution.)

    When people resort to deep-sixing plain and central — or at the very least highly material — facts of history, that should warn us on the danger our civlisation is in.

    Surely, we can do better than this, a lot better.

    GEM of TKI

  103. 103

    The claim, in Dan Peterson’s words, is that “…the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only belief system that actually produced [science].” If by “worldview,” Peterson is referring to theology, I doubt that theology had much to do with the rise of science in the late Renaissance. There were other forces, including economic development, global exploration, and the rise of secular humanism. After all, Christian theology had been the reigning paradigm for a more than a millenium. If one wants to explain a singular historical event, it might be more pertinent to consider proximate related historical changes.

    Since the Renaissance, science has grown to become a world-wide secular and a-theistic enterprise. That genie is out of the bottle and it’s too late to put it back in.

  104. “Since the Renaissance, science has grown to become a world-wide secular and a-theistic enterprise. That genie is out of the bottle and it’s too late to put it back in.”

    I am sorry that doesn’t compute. It is not necessarily secular or a-theistic. They certainly participated but so did the religious institutions. Many natural scientist in England were churchmen and many Catholic scientists were priests. Galileo worked closely with the Church on some of his work and even his controversial work was to have been published by the Vatican till there was a plague which sealed off Florence so he had it published locally.

    The bias of some people here gets tiresome after awhile. Try and get it straight especially if you do not really know anything about the topic and there will be less commenting to get it right.

  105. 105

    Try to read for comprehension. “Since the Renaissance” and “has grown” include right now. Today.

    Keep trying to put that genie back in the bottle.

  106. Adel:

    Why did you cherry-pick your quote and substitute theology for worldview?

    Cf, from Peterson:

    ________________

    >>”What are all living things really for?” Dawkins replies to his own question: “The answer is DNA. It is a profound and precise answer and the argument for it is watertight….” “Flowers and elephants are ‘for’ the same thing as everything else in the living kingdoms, for spreading Duplicate Me programs written in the DNA language.” Dawkins argues that all cellular forms of life, including human beings, are specialized robots, of a kind that can duplicate themselves without external machinery for doing the duplicating.

    Under this view, our senses and minds are not designed to perceive objective truth, but are simply evolutionary products that have turned out to be useful for survival. As Dawkins puts it, “We are jumped-up apes, and our brains were only designed to understand the mundane details of how to survive in the stone-age African savannah.”

    Another confirmed Darwinist and outspoken opponent of intelligent design, historian of biology William Provine, frankly states the conclusions to be drawn from Darwinian materialism: “There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will.”

    Judeo-Christian theism, on the other hand, not only admits but affirms that God is the creator of the universe and life. In its physical workings, the universe obeys laws ordained by God, although that is not seen as inconsistent with God’s active participation in it. G.K. Chesterton compared the two views a century ago:

    The materialist philosophy (whether true or not) is certainly much more limiting than any religion….The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle.

    According to the theistic worldview, we can have genuine knowledge of scientific truth and other kinds of truth because God has endowed us with senses and reason that are designed by Him to understand the created order in which He has placed us. Since God created the universe and life, it would also not be surprising for science and reason to uncover evidence of His design in nature.

    Contrary to the materialist conclusions enunciated by Provine, the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview maintains that there is indeed an ultimate foundation for ethics. God’s creation has an inherent moral order; there is objective right and wrong; and these can be known by us through revelation and reason. Far from life being a blind unfolding of material processes, life has purpose and meaning in God’s plan. We are not chemical machines or robots. Human beings have free will, and are accountable moral agents.

    The materialistic and theistic worldviews are thus opposed on virtually every important issue . . . .

    IN HIS RECENT BOOK For the Glory of God, Rodney Stark argues “not only that there is no inherent conflict between religion and science, but that Christian theology was essential for the rise of science.” (His italics.) While researching this thesis, Stark found to his surprise that “some of my central arguments have already become the conventional wisdom among historians of science.” He is nevertheless “painfully aware” that most of the arguments about the close connection between Christian belief and the rise of science are “unknown outside narrow scholarly circles,” and that many people believe that it could not possibly be true.

    Sometimes the most obvious facts are the easiest to overlook. Here is one that ought to be stunningly obvious: science as an organized, sustained enterprise arose only once in the history of Earth. Where was that? Although other civilizations have contributed technical achievements or isolated innovations, the invention of science as a cumulative, rigorous, systematic, and ongoing investigation into the laws of nature occurred only in Europe; that is, in the civilization then known as Christendom. Science [of course in the modern sense -- KF] arose and flourished in a civilization that, at the time, was profoundly and nearly exclusively Christian in its mental outlook.

    There are deep reasons for that, and they are inherent in the Judeo-Christian view of the world which, principally in its Christian manifestation, formed the European mind. As Stark observes, the Christian view depicted God as “a rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as his personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting human comprehension.” That was not true of belief systems elsewhere. A view that the universe is uncreated, has been around forever, and is just “what happens to be” does not suggest that it has fundamental principles that are rational and discoverable. Other belief systems have considered the natural world to be an insoluble mystery, conceived of it as a realm in which multiple, arbitrary gods are at work, or thought of it in animistic terms. None of these views will, or did, give rise to a deep faith that there is a lawful order imparted by a divine creator that can and should be discovered.

    Recent scholarship in the history of science reveals that this commitment to rational, empirical investigation of God’s creation is not simply a product of the “scientific revolution” of the 16th and 17th centuries, but has profound roots going back at least to the High Middle Ages. The development of the university system in medieval times was, of course, almost entirely a product of the Church. Serious students of the period know that this was neither a time of stagnation, nor of repression of inquiry in favor of dogma. Rather, it was a time of great intellectual ferment and discovery, and the universities fostered rational, empirical, systematic inquiry.

    A newly published work by Thomas Woods (How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization) is replete with far more examples of the contributions of medieval scholars than can be mentioned here. But as Woods recounts, one need only look at some of the leading figures in the universities in the 1200s to see that they were already well along in the development of principles of empirical scientific inquiry. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan who taught at Oxford, wrote in Opus Maius:

    Without experiment, nothing can be adequately known. An argument proves theoretically, but does not give the certitude necessary to remove all doubt; nor will the mind repose in the clear view of truth, unless it finds it by way of experiment.

    Albertus Magnus — prodigious scholar, naturalist, teacher of Thomas Aquinas, and member of the Dominican order — affirmed in his De Mineralibus that the purpose of science is “not simply to accept the statements of others, that is, what is narrated by people, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature for themselves.” Another 13th-century figure, Robert Grosseteste, who was chancellor of Oxford and Bishop of Lincoln, has been identified as “the first man ever to write down a complete set of steps for performing a scientific experiment,” according to Woods.

    WHEN THE DISCOVERIES of science exploded in number and importance in the 1500s and 1600s, the connection with Christian belief was again profound. Many of the trailblazing scientists of that period when science came into full bloom were devout Christian believers, and declared that their work was inspired by a desire to explore God’s creation and discover its glories. Perhaps the greatest scientist in history, Sir Isaac Newton, was a fervent Christian who wrote over a million words on theological subjects. Other giants of science and mathematics were similarly devout: Boyle, Descartes, Kepler, Leibniz, Pascal. To avoid relying on what might be isolated examples, Stark analyzed the religious views of the 52 leading scientists from the time of Copernicus until the end of the 17th century. Using a methodology that probably downplayed religious belief, he found that 32 were “devout”; 18 were at least “conventional” in their religious belief; and only two were “skeptics.” More than a quarter were themselves ecclesiastics: “priests, ministers, monks, canons, and the like.”

    Down through the 19th century, many of the leading figures in science were thoroughgoing Christians. A partial list includes Babbage, Dalton, Faraday, Herschel, Joule, Lyell, Maxwell, Mendel, and Thompson (Lord Kelvin). A survey of the most eminent British scientists near the end of the 19th century found that nearly all were members of the established church or affiliated with some other church.

    In short, scientists who were committed Christians include men often considered to be fathers of the fields of astronomy, atomic theory, calculus, chemistry, computers, electricity, genetics, geology, mathematics, and physics. In the late 1990s, a survey found that about 40 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God and an afterlife — a percentage that is basically unchanged since the early 20th century. A listing of eminent 20th-century scientists who were religious believers would be far too voluminous to include here — so let’s not bring coals to Newcastle, but simply note that the list would be large indeed, including Nobel Prize winners . . . >>
    ____________________

    The picture reads a lot different from your comments above, when taken in context.

    Now, can we have a discussion on a fair view of relevant facts and issues?

    GEM of TKI

  107. kairosfocus, thanks for your contribution at 106. I have read much from Stark and Woods and I know from experience that these authors are careful and meticulous researchers. Further, they, and other informed commentators, speak with the same authoritative voice, and none of the facts that they share are disputed by those who know the facts.

  108. 108

    Why did you cherry-pick your quote and substitute theology for worldview?

    No “cherry picking.” The statement I quoted, “”…the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only belief system that actually produced [science],” was typical of several in Peterson’s document, as can be seen in the extensive copy you just posted. If you disagree, make your case.

    No substitution. I said

    IF by “worldview,” Peterson is referring to theology, I doubt that theology had much to do with the rise of science in the late Renaissance.

    Note the conditional.

    However, I think that my conditional is correct, because I count 14 instances of the word “Christian” in your excerpt. IF you want to argue against theology being the bedrock of the “Christian worldview,” please proceed. (You will be arguing against Peterson, and against this whole line of fundamentalist apologetic argument.)

    One glaring omission from Peterson’s list of Christian scientists is Louis Pasteur. See Catholic Encyclopedia for their (circa 1911) view of Pasteur’s religious convictions. I challenge you to find an iota of theological content in any of Pasteur’s scientific publications. Likewise, I challenge you to find a scintilla of theological content in the scientific output of any of the eminent Christian scientists cited by Peterson.

    I said earlier that science is a-theistic. I say now, as a clarification, that science is a-theological in its content.

  109. —-Adel at 108: “I said earlier that science is a-theistic. I say now, as a clarification, that science is a-theological in its content.”

    You seen to be confusing theology with metaphysics. The idea that “God left clues” speaks to the metaphysics of a creative, purposeful effort. Theology implies things like the Trinitarian God, a savior, a redeemer, sin, the fall, and so forth. The former has everthing to do with science; the latter has nothing to do with science.
    Science is not a-metaphysical. Quite the contrary, all science stands securely on metaphysical principles, the first of which is the assumption that the universe is rational and ripe for investigation. The Christian worldview [or metaphysical formulation] that launched modern science is as follows: God created [A] a rational universe, [B] rational minds to comprehend that universe, and [C] a correspondence between the two.

    Much of modern science has tried to distance itself from that paradigm, even as it continues to depend on it, but that is only because much of modern science is illogical, as I often point out on this thread.

  110. 110

    Point 1:

    You seen to be confusing theology with metaphysics. The idea that “God left clues” speaks to the metaphysics of a creative, purposeful effort.

    Once you mention “God” you’ve left metaphysics and entered theology.

    Point 2:

    Quite the contrary, all science stands securely on metaphysical principles, the first of which is the assumption that the universe is rational and ripe for investigation.

    Principles be damned. I was talking about content.

    And you think I’m confused…

  111. 111

    And, I should also ask:

    Since when is an assumption that the universe is intelligible a “metaphysical principle”?

    To me, it’s a working hypothesis.

    By your reasoning, the assumption that the universe is unintelligible is also a metaphysical principle.

    I say, let the metaphysicians duke it out.

  112. —-Adel: “Once you mention “God” you’ve left metaphysics and entered theology.”

    Metaphysics is, among other things, a study of first causes. God is a very good candidate for a first cause.

    From Wikipedia: “Whether there is a God (monotheism), many gods (polytheism) or no gods (atheism), or whether it is unknown or unknowable whether any gods exist (agnosticism), and whether the Divine intervenes directly in the world (theism), or its sole function is to be the first cause of the universe (deism); these and whether a God or gods and the World are different (as in panentheism and dualism), or are identical (as in pantheism), are some of the primary metaphysical questions concerning philosophy of religion.”

    Unfortunately, you don’t seem to understand that theology can overlap with metaphysics, which causes you to approach the problem from an overly simplistic vantage point.

    In fact, all science stands securely on metaphysical principles, the first of which is the assumption that the universe is rational and ripe for investigation. Other metaphysical assumptions are the correspondence between the human mind and the universe that it hopes to investigate.

    —-“Principles be damned. I was talking about content.
    And you think I’m confused…”

    Yes, deeply. If you think that metaphysical principles have no content, then you are
    definitely confused.

    —-“Since when is an assumption that the universe is intelligible a “metaphysical principle”?

    —-“To me, it’s a working hypothesis.”

    No, it is an assumption on which hypotheses depend. To hypothesize gravity, for example, is to assume a regularity and rationality about the world that makes it comprehensible. It is the very opposite of assuming that God whimsically whacks the world with thunderbolts in a disorderly and unpredictable way, which by the way was an earlier metaphysical foundation that retarded science. See how that works?

    —-“By your reasoning, the assumption that the universe is unintelligible is also a metaphysical principle.”

    That is correct. Consult the above example. Also, have you never heard of materialism, naturalism, atheism, and existentialism, all of which assume that the world has no purpose? I have asked Darwinists informed by one or more of these metaphysical promptings why they bother to do research since, for them, there is no truth to find. None have ever answered my question. Can you answer it?

    —-“I say, let the metaphysicians duke it out.

    It happens daily. Materialists Darwinists come here to peddle their atheism in the name of science, and they dominate almost all of higher education, persecuting anyone who dares question their ideology. It has nothing at all to do with science, because science doesn’t act like that. You are fighting with me right now, and it isn’t about science. No Darwinist comes here to discuss science for very long because they have nothing to talk about. They certainly have no evidence to support the idea that naturalistic forces can generate information and new body plans.

  113. Adel (and Stephen):

    I had intended to take a look a this thread, but it is plain that Stephen has the matter well in hand:

    ou seen to be confusing theology with metaphysics. The idea that “God left clues” speaks to the metaphysics of a creative, purposeful effort. Theology implies things like the Trinitarian God, a savior, a redeemer, sin, the fall, and so forth. The former has everthing to do with science; the latter has nothing to do with science.
    Science is not a-metaphysical. Quite the contrary, all science stands securely on metaphysical principles, the first of which is the assumption that the universe is rational and ripe for investigation. The Christian worldview [or metaphysical formulation] that launched modern science is as follows: God created [A] a rational universe, [B] rational minds to comprehend that universe, and [C] a correspondence between the two.

    Much of modern science has tried to distance itself from that paradigm, even as it continues to depend on it, but that is only because much of modern science is illogical, as I often point out on this thread . . . .

    Metaphysics is, among other things, a study of first causes. God is a very good candidate for a first cause . . . . theology can overlap with metaphysics, which causes you to approach the problem from an overly simplistic vantage point.

    In fact, all science stands securely on metaphysical principles, the first of which is the assumption that the universe is rational and ripe for investigation. Other metaphysical assumptions are the correspondence between the human mind and the universe that it hopes to investigate . . . .

    To hypothesize gravity, for example, is to assume a regularity and rationality about the world that makes it comprehensible. It is the very opposite of assuming that God whimsically whacks the world with thunderbolts in a disorderly and unpredictable way, which by the way was an earlier metaphysical foundation that retarded science. See how that works?

    Thanks Steve!

    GEm of TKI

  114. 114

    Gentlemen:

    The the issue I was addressing in my #103 was the notion (as expressed very well by Dan Peterson) that the Judeo-Christian worldview (in particular the concept of a divine lawgiver) is an essential ingredient of science. I then, in my #108, challenged kairosfocus to find theological content in any scientific product. My unstated premise was that the existence of a divine lawgiver is irrelevant to scienctific practice.

    Neither kairosfocus nor StephenB responded to my challenge, leaving claims that sectarian religious belief has any special relevance to scientific practice unsupported.

    Instead of providing such support, StephenB accused me of confusing theology with metaphysics. I was diverted by that accusation, but I will grant arguendum that the term “theology” can be replaced by the term “metaphysics” in my challenge.

    Indeed, since we have this:

    The Christian worldview [or metaphysical formulation] that launched modern science is as follows: God created [A] a rational universe, [B] rational minds to comprehend that universe, and [C] a correspondence between the two.

    Much of modern science has tried to distance itself from that paradigm, even as it continues to depend on it, but that is only because much of modern science is illogical, as I often point out on this thread.

    the change in terminology makes no difference.

    So my challenge translates into a search for metaphysical content in a scientific product. To meet my challenge, do not claim that no science would be possible without an assumption that the universe is comprehensible. I want to see unique metaphysical content. For example, what specific metaphysical content distinguishes Newton’s first law of motion from his second law of motion? Or, what specific metaphysical content distinguishes Galileo’s heliocentrism from Pasteur’s optical chirality?

    StephenB,

    —-“Principles be damned. I was talking about content.
    And you think I’m confused…”

    Yes, deeply. If you think that metaphysical principles have no content, then you are
    definitely confused.

    I was talking about the content of scientific findings, not the content of metaphysics. See above.

    Also, have you never heard of materialism, naturalism, atheism, and existentialism, all of which assume that the world has no purpose? I have asked Darwinists informed by one or more of these metaphysical promptings why they bother to do research since, for them, there is no truth to find. None have ever answered my question. Can you answer it?

    It’s easy to answer, and I hope you will remember that I have answered: One does not require an assumption of purpose in the world to have curiosity about its workings. Nor does one need to have an abstract or metaphysical notion of truth to enjoy the same motivation. Have you never seen a child take apart a mechanical toy? Scientists are curious children.

    You are fighting with me right now, and it isn’t about science. No Darwinist comes here to discuss science for very long because they have nothing to talk about. They certainly have no evidence to support the idea that naturalistic forces can generate information and new body plans.

    I’m not fighting with you, I’m disagreeing. It may not be about science for you, but it is for me. As I have mentioned to you before, defining science is a current interest of mine. I find the efforts of ID believers to redefine science along sectarian religious lines to be misguided. I believe that my comments on this thread have been directed to that issue with fair consistency.

    When you say “They certainly have no evidence to support the idea that naturalistic forces can generate information and new body plans,” you are rejecting much evidence (and it keeps growing) that practicing biologists of many stripes take seriously as supporting the idea. As I said earlier, evolutionary theory is deeply embedded in biology today. It can’t be simply replaced by design. All of biology would have to be rethought and rebuilt around a design paradigm (assuming one existed). I don’t think that is a realistic prospect.

  115. No Darwinist comes here to discuss science for very long because they have nothing to talk about.

    Horsefeathers.

  116. 116

    Dave Wisker,

    Try to be a bit more polite in your discourse.

  117. —-Adel: “One does not require an assumption of purpose in the world to have curiosity about its workings. Nor does one need to have an abstract or metaphysical notion of truth to enjoy the same motivation. Have you never seen a child take apart a mechanical toy? Scientists are curious children.”

    If, on being told, a child learned that there were both mechanical causes and intelligent causes, would the child say, “tell me more about the natural causes, but forget about the other kind.”

  118. —Adel: “I want to see unique metaphysical content. For example, what specific metaphysical content distinguishes Newton’s first law of motion from his second law of motion? Or, what specific metaphysical content distinguishes Galileo’s heliocentrism from Pasteur’s optical chirality.”

    Metaphysical content does not do things like that any more than the foundation that supports a house distinguishes the living room from the kitchen.

    To get a better idea of what is going on, consider another metaphysical formulation.

    a. The universe is best understood mechanistically.

    b. Matter is primary over mind.

    c. Matter arose from mind.

    d. Brains give rise to consciousness.

    e. God is not necessary—law and chance can explain evolution, life, and consciousness.

    Now we have considered three metaphysical formulations.

    1) God friviously shoots thunderbolts

    2) matter arose from mind–the universe was created–life was designed, first causes exist and causation is a low of logic.

    3) mind arose from matter–the universe created itself, life just happened, first causes don’t exist, and causality can come and go.

    Can you understand how each of these metaphysical orientations affect the way science is done? Can you understand why formulation #2 provides the optimum approach, since the other alternatives rule out intelligent causes and forbid us to follow where the evidence leads.

  119. 119

    If, on being told, a child learned that there were both mechanical causes and intelligent causes, would the child say, “tell me more about the natural causes, but forget about the other kind.”

    There’s a problem. Learning doesn’t come just from being told. You seem to be assuming the existence of the intelligent creator in your hypothetical.

    Do you accept my answer to your original question?

  120. 120

    Can you understand why formulation #2 provides the optimum approach, since the other alternatives rule out intelligent causes and forbid us to follow where the evidence leads.

    Formulation #2 being,

    matter arose from mind–the universe was created–life was designed, first causes exist and causation is a low of logic.

    Nobody is ruling out any possibility. Formulation #2 (with all its disparate clauses) has been considered and so far found untestable and unfruitful, so it’s natural to ignore it for the present. An optimal approach must be fruitful and testable or our curiosity will not have a path to follow.

    But you and your colleagues are invited to prove otherwise. I would especially encourage you to demonstrate the fruitfulness of the non-human-intelligent-causation hypothesis. That would turn some heads your way.

  121. Well, I waited to give StephenB the chance to have the last word on this thread, but he seems to have left the premises.

    Anyway, it’s been fun, and I look forward to further discussion at another place, another time.

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