They said it: Dr Nick Matzke (late of NCSE) vs UD commenter Joe on science as it studies “the usual course of the world” applied to signs of design
|May 3, 2012||Posted by kairosfocus under Atheism, Design inference, ID Foundations, Philosophy, science education, Science, worldview issues/foundations and society|
In the course of the exchanges on Dr Matzke’s clip on what “science” says can and cannot be so regarding miracles, he has made an interesting comment, here at 15:
. . . I still haven’t seen anyone present a good argument as to why we can’t just say that science is the study of the usual course of events . . .
Of course, he — sadly, misleadingly — failed to inform us that this highlighted phrase was taken from my own remarks in the original post (and which were followed up in the thread):
It goes without needing emphasis that those who experienced the sequence A –> B –> C . . . here [–> A, the last supper, C: the supper the following Sunday night, B: the kangaroo court ordered execution of the friend the core disciples had supper with at A and C], were at first doubtful or even dismissive, exactly because they knew the usual course of events per the patterns of nature. However, quite reasonably on the grounds of recognising that the Creator of the world has powers beyond those of the usual course of nature, they were open to the possibility of exceptions, they did not close their mind by a priori decision that laws of nature by their logic cannot have exceptions. Indeed, it is worth citing Paul on trial before the king and governor of the jurisdiction where the events in question were reported to have happened: “Why do you people think it is unbelievable that God raises the dead? . . . . the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely to him, because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.” [Ac 26:8 & 26, NET.] Of course, Paul’s underlying point is that once the reality of God is even a possible explanation of our cosmos, we must be open to the possibility that he can act in ways that transcend the usual order of things, for good purposes of his own; on pain of blatant closed-mindedness and self-refuting selective hyperskepticism.
This of course is focussed on the issue of the miraculous and whether or not science can properly rule that on “massive observational evidence” and “the logic of our understanding of natural laws rules” that miracles “can’t happen.” This position was plainly endorsed by Dr Matzke, but falls afoul of the warning that the headless ghost of Lord Russell’s inductive turkey who inferred on abundant evidence that there were no exceptions to the rule that he would be fed outside the farmhouse kitchen come 9:00 am every morning, and so showed up for the usual good feed on Christmas eve, would give. As the ghost of Newton, pointing to key passages in Principia and Opticks, would add: inductive generalisation is subject to limitation and correction in light of experience and we ought not to subject inductive inference to the control of metaphysical a prioris, even disguised as methodological rules of science.
Be that as it may, Joe has aptly highlighted something else and has rightly requested that it should have a full post.
Indeed, and here it is:
[NM:] So, I still haven’t seen anyone present a good argument as to why we can’t just say that science is the study of the usual course of events,…
[J:] I agree with that so I won’t be presenting any argument against it.
In the usual course of events agencies, and only agencies, are responsible for complex specified information and irreducibly complex configurations.
Perhaps you [KF] could start a new thread that declares Matzke says ID is scientific as he says “science is the study of the usual course of events” and in the usual course of events agencies, and only agencies, are responsible for complex specified information and irreducibly complex configurations.
That would put a bee in someone’s bonnet…
In my own comments in the thread, this is what I last said, at 36 and 37, on this:
on the [main] subject of this blog, design, there are well established signs of design, which are based on abundantly repeated patterns of what happens when intelligent agents act. So, we have signs that reliably point to ART. This gives us the epistemic right to infer from such signs to ART as cause, as opposed to chance and necessity. This is of course subject to empirical test and falsification, but is known on billions of test instances to be reliable.
So, contrary to the scapegoating, ad hominem laced strawman contrast your side is ever so apt to make: natural vs supernatural, the proper contrast, ever since Plato in The Laws Bk X, is nature vs art. Just as the UD weak argument correctives have pointed out for years.
if we respect inductive reasoning, we would take seriously the massive observational evidence — the Internet alone provides multiplied billions of test cases — that FSCO/I is an empirically well tested, and reliable sign of design. So, the usual course of the world grounds the conclusion that where we see such FSCO/I we are looking at traces of design. This implicates the living cell, major body plans including our own, and the underlying cosmos based on complex fine-tuned physics that undergirds the possibility of such life, as credibly being designed, art not chance and or blind necessity acting on matter in arbitrary initial conditions.
Signs of design on earth, of course need point no farther than a high tech molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond that of Venter et al. It is cosmological design that — even through a multiverse hypothesis [which is arguably phil not sci] that points to a massively intelligent powerful and purposeful necessary being as the best explanation for the world in which we live.
In which case the precise mechanisms and possible secondary causes that have led to us are immaterial, we credibly live in a designed, created universe.
So, now, if science studies the usual course of the world and that usual course points to functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (FSCO/I) being empirically credible characteristic signs of design, which do we listen to, (a) the logic of inductive generalisation or (b) the arbitrary rulings of methodological naturalism wrapped in the holy lab coat? (c) Why? END