On “seeing” — credibly knowing about — the invisible in science
|September 14, 2012||Posted by kairosfocus under Design inference, Functionally Specified Complex Information & Organization, ID Foundations, Science, science education|
Yesterday, following up from recent comment exchanges, I posted about the electron as an example of how we routinely deal with the invisible in science, and on how inductive — believe it or not that is now a fighting word — inference on sign is vital to science.
This morning, I followed up on a remark by Joe in the UB thread that extends the same theme.
I think this should be headlined, so let me clip (quickly, as I do have a draft to follow up on):
>>I have a draft speech to follow up on, but could not resist this:
[Joe:] the [Darwinist/Evolutionary Materialist] response is always “Eons of time cannot be reproduced in a lab and all we have is eons of time to hide behind. Oh and a bunch of promissory notes”
This brings to front-centre, the issue of the unobservable in science I headlined yesterday with the classic Tek 465 CRO as an illustration of how we infer to the unobserved in science per inductive warrant. (Which surfaces the pivotal importance of that syllabus of 18 Q’s.)
Electronics is built on the electron, which is accepted as very real, even a fact of day to day life, though unobserved or even unobservable. We simply see too many convergent effects that cry out for the electron as common cause.
We are as a result morally certain of its reality, though what we actually see are things like little drops of oil in a Millikan oil drop exercise, drifting up/down as we try to balance the voltage against gravity. (I well recall my own frustrations working with a lab set for replicating that classic exercise!)
Or, we may see curlicues of bubbles in a bubble chamber or droplets of cloud in a cloud chamber, or of course the trace on a CRO’s phosphor screen.
The inferred, convergent, best explanation is the electron.
Never yet directly seen, and probably never will be, but an accepted fact of life from its effects.
Let’s clip someone politically incorrect on that sort of thinking:
Jn 3:3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]”
4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[d] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[e]
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him . . . 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”[h][NIV, cf here on in context and here on in context for a 101 look at some of the warranting context]
Uh huh, believing in the invisible can make a lot of good sense, to those willing to be docile — teachable — before the evidence. No promises for the willfully defiant who will resort to selectively hyperskeptical objections and cling to any absurdity to protect a cherished materialism proudly flying the false flag of science. (And denizens of TSZ et al, that is an exercise of the right of fair comment on responsible investigation.)
In science, too, we often need to assess the reality of the unobserved.
As I have repeatedly pointed out, where that addresses something like origins, that is done by inference to best current explanation in light of traces of the unobserved and cause-effect patterns and characteristic signs we can and do observe in the present. Where, if we know that per repeated experiment a certain causal factor reliably leaves certain characteristic signs, then it is reasonable to infer from sign to associated cause per that body of investigation. I have long used the case of inferring deer from deer tracks as an illustrative case on the logic involved.
What happens, as was already discussed, is that the living cell is full of FSCO/I, which is a characteristic trace of IDOW — intelligently directed organising work, i.e. design. So, if we see FSCO/I, we are properly entitled to infer to design as cause, given what we observe and what we can see on the needle in the haystack analysis.
The verbal stunts and rhetorical gymnastics we have seen for years from those disinclined to accept so simple a pattern of thought, and the number of spurious counter-examples put forth tell us that the inference is obviously cogent and well warranted.
Why it is controversial is not because it is well warranted, but because it is cutting clean across an entrenched ideology that likes to dress up in a lab coat and loves to fly the flag of science, evolutionary materialism, for descriptive convenience. (And yes, TSZ, that is just a descriptive term, and accurate one.)
So, it is time for some serious rethinking that requires leaving the materialist cave of shadow shows and clearing he mind from the poisonous influences of the smoke of burning ad hominem laced strawmen.>>
So, in science, we can learn to see the invisible, and to have well-warranted high confidence in its reality. Which is of course another way of saying, knowledge, in the weaker sense: well warranted, credibly true belief.
So, we see here inference to best current explanation on observed evidence giving us scientific knowledge regarding what we did not actually see.
So, it is quite reasonable to infer in science to the invisible but warranted, on empirical traces and an observed pattern of characteristic signs.
All that we design thinkers are asking for, then is willingness to be consistent on the observation that FSCO/I is observed to be a characteristic sign of IDOW as key causal factor. Design, in one word.
Is that too much to ask? END