Monday, February 06, 2006

Defining Science

Today’s show is going to discuss the history of the scientific method, the method itself, as well as philosophical assumptions scientists must make when formulating theories. Also, some semantics will be cleared up, such as the word theory and how IDists and Creationists often abuse it.

Defining Science

I made a slight word slip: genetic drift does not need two species. It's just the change in allele frequencies in a population over time.

10 Comments:

Blogger mickey coke said...

I find the accuracy of how you present the ID and Creation based viewpoint atrocious. I am no expert in this field, but I have been listening to the argument from both sides for many years.

First off I would like point out that Creationist and IDists agree with 100% of the observable and repeatable science that comes out of evolution.

The issues that are up for debate are the topics that are not observable nor repeatable. They are not fact, but referred to as theory. Theory is not fact and never has been.

- Molecules to men is a theory and not fact.
- Big Bang is theory and not fact.

On Friday I just listened to an argument for the empiricism of Christianity.
check that out here Waterloo Q&A part 2 of 4

11:29 AM  
Blogger mickey coke said...

Atheistic evolution's contribution to society is consistent philosophically with that of which Hitler or Stalin practiced. A good article on the difference between an atheistic evolution viewpoint in contrast to a Christian viewpoint can be found at AIGs website Evolution and social evil.

Again, since you have read one article from one creationist on the topic of Hitler and evolution, does not qualify you to represent that view accurately. Try using a google to search of AIG's website for Hitler and you come up with some very thoughtful articles.
site:answersingenesis.org hitler

11:58 AM  
Blogger mickey coke said...

bad link on the previous post.

Waterloo Q&A Part 2 of 3

sorry.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Lucretius said...

Mickey, thanks for your comments. I'll take them one at a time.

You are making a strawman of Evolution by throwing in Abiogenesis, and claiming evolution involves saltationism. I mentioned this in an earlier podcast that abiogenesis is NOT part of evolutionary theory.

Yes the Big Bang is a theory. Nothing in science is proven. I made mention of this as well. The best we get in science is theory. Theories do not evolve into laws. Facts are explained by theories, logically and falsifiably. Creationism and Intelligent Design do not do this, and I went over why quite clearly in the podcast.

Your next article from the lovely Answers In Genesis goes far in proving my point that Creationists love to misrepresent Evolutionary Theory. I'll directly quote from your site:

"In a consistent evolutionary worldview, there can be no unchanging rules—there is only what is expedient for the society or individual."

What's wrong with this? The author is extracting moral values from facts. This is a perfect example of the ought-is fallacy. It's about as senseless as basing my love life around heliocentrism. Already we have a fallacy.

"And there is no distinction in kind between people and animals, nor ultimately between people and grass, nor even rocks. Thus Stalin is said to have claimed that killing a million people was no different from mowing a lawn. This is chillingly consistent with a materialist view (matter is all there is, we are just evolved arrangements of atoms)."

This is just abhorrent. So because we are formed from the same matter that everything else is means we suddenly have no morals? This person this author is deluded! Of course we are different from rocks and other animals, if we weren't there wouldn't BE rocks and other animals. There would be one type of thing, period. With our genetic makeup comes morality. This is how things are.

"Antiracist Darwinists (including Gould) have howled with indignation when we have brought such things up, claiming that this increase in racism was due to a ‘misuse’ of Darwinism. But it was in fact logically consistent with Darwin’s premises."

Racism is NOT consisent with Darwinian theory anymore than jumping upwards is consistent with Gravity. Again we have the naturalistic fallacy.

Do you think being a Christian makes you immune from doing evil? Do you think atheists are prone to do evil? Let me ask you: why am I not in jail for murder? I don't kill anyone. You can claim I am afraid of the law, but this is your opinion.

The Nazis were deluded and sick, this we know. But do NOT blame a scientific theory for what happened. Morality does not stem from interpretations of scientific theories.

Of course, the God of the Old Testament has no moral qualms with murdering every single living human being in the Noahic Flood (with the exception of Noah and his family). After that, he destroys the two cities Sodom and Gomorrah because the inhabitants lust after those of their own gender. He doesn't care about turning a man's wife into a pillar of salt.

And you are trying to tell me that EVOLUTION is the cause of moral qualms? Yes, I realize the New Testament is all about love and compassion, and that the Ten Commandments are, for the most part, sound moral doctrine. However, Hitler made it clear he was a Christian in Mein Kampf (which I have read from cover to cover) and that in his supposed "second book" (which I also read) he makes a tiny mention about the origin of life that makes no insinuation of tying evolution with murder.

It seems to be a common Creationist tactic to link the actions of cruel dictators with the scientific theories they don't like in order to try and discredit them. Even IF we have people misinterpreting Darwinian Theory, this does NOT mean a) the theory actually implies this or b) that the theory is wrong.

"here were indeed atrocities and wrongful wars in the name of ‘religion’ before then. But many more people have been killed (most by their own governments) in the name of evolution-inspired ideologies than in all the wars of recorded history put together, religious or otherwise. "

Give me a break — evolutionary-inspired ideologies? How about we ban jumping because it's contrary to the Theory of Gravity which states all things are "pulled down to Earth."

Newton's Third Law, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" permits vengeance. If someone shoots my friend, it's okay to shoot theirs, because I am reacting to an action! Thanks to Newton's Third Law.

Do you see where you are going astray here? I'll listen to your argument for Christian empricism and respond later.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Lucretius said...

Listening to your link, I couldn't help but shake my head at what the speaker thinks empiricism.

First of all, he asserts that the history of the Bible is accurate. So you expect me to believe that a worldwide flood occured a few thousand years ago? You expect me to believe that nothing exists that is over 6-10,000 years ago? This flies in the face of every radiometric dating method.

The speaker expects me to then interpret wrongdoing is a strictly Christian way when I could do so in the way Islam does, or Hinduism, or Buddhism. Just because we OBSERVE evil does not mean it verifies Christianity any more than ANY OTHER RELIGION THAT DISCUSSES SIMILAR DOCTRINE. You are being arbitrary in your choosing.

He then mentions Anthony Flew and insinuates that he left atheism because evidence pointed to a God. Flew denies this, and the only reason he considered theism was due to old data involving abiogenesis that was cleared up in a matter of weeks.

Then he asserts that all evidence verifies the existence of Jesus Christ as a historical figure. You can throw Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, and Pliny at me — but I have their selective works where Jesus is mentioned, and have read them all. The evidence is conflated from hearsay to fact. Just read Suetonius to know what I mean.

In all, Mr. Zacariah did not present ANYTHING in favor of Christianity. His claims of what empricism is are in total confliction with the "facts" he mentioned. When you intepret facts of life in your own way, of COURSE they are going to match up with what you believe. The problem is you have interpreted these things illogically, because the facts you mentioned make sense in any other context, like Islam, or Hinduism.

The Bible is NOT totally historically accurate, especially so if one takes Genesisand some of the more outrageous claims presented as being literal.

4:48 PM  
Blogger mickey coke said...

Worldview
Do you understand the term worldview? It is not a scientific term. What is your worldview? My worldview as you can tell is the Christian worldview. My assumption was that you have an athesitic evolutionary worldview. A worldview is a philosophical viewpoint that influences how you view everything. From discussing this topic with many people I have found that each individual doesn't possess a unique worldview, rather they own an existing worldview.

I passed on the article about Hitler and Stalin, not to accuse evolution of these atrocities, but present the view that these atrocities are philosophically consistent with the evolutionary worldview.

Hitler and Stalin were not consistent with the Christian worldview. I hope this is plainly obvious. I don't know why Hitler called himself a christian, but it is obvious that he neither followed nor acted in consistency with the person of Christ.

Evolutionary worldview is amoral. No morals can logically come from the evolutionary worldview besides the behavior of "kill or be killed".

"With our genetic makeup comes morality. This is how things are."

Did I miss something? Has someone scientifically proven that morals come from our genes? Wouldn't that classify as a not observable phenomena.

I do not understand the evolutionary logic behind generation of information from nothing. Genetic information which is the foundation of life is an exhaustive amount of information. This information can not be taken for granted, nor can information come from a vacuum. Information must come from information. Why do I know this? Because it is a law that I can observe today. Information has never come from a void.

Why does evolution uses TIME and RANDOMNESS as an explanation to what they cannot observe or repeat? No matter how much time is given to lifeless matter - information will not come from it. Time and randomness is not magical.

The basis of your argument is that because we observe slight changes in species over time - given enough time - those slight changes are dramatic changes. Not of which any of this can be observed or repeated. I find that I would need much more faith to believe this macro-evolutionary theory than to believe that the bible is historically correct, Jesus lived, was killed and rose from the dead.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Lucretius said...

Yes, I understand the term worldview, and it encompasses my personal beliefs. It is how I view the world. However, my PERSONAL beliefs are all that they are. Evolution is NOT a worldview, NOR is it a philosophy. Atheism is NOT a worldview, NOR is it a philosophy. It is simply a lack of belief in God. My morality does not stem from atheism, nor does it stem from evolution. The two do not contribute to my ethics in any way, shape, or form.

You cannot confuse religious doctrine, which includes dogma involving morals, with scientific theories. There is nothing moral about them, and trying to derive morality from something that doesn't discuss morality is simple foolishness. Again, it's as if I were to try and decide what is most compassionate by turning to Newton's Theory of Gravity. You continually assert that evolution entails a worldview when it does no such thing. It is another scientific theory, just like Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. Or should I suppose that a moral worldview comes with those too?

Regarding morality, it has been sufficiently demonstrated that morals are naturalistic phenomena. If game theory has shown us anything, it is that interactions of social groups are most beneficial if they work together in such a way that is good for the group and, simultaneously for the individual. Morals stem from this type of social behavior. Ultimately we are looking out for ourselves, but at the same time we are doing selfless acts in order to build up our reputations for members of the community. I recommended the book The Origin of Virtue in my podcast, and I suggest you check it out in order to fully understand what I am talking about.

There is nothing in evolution that says information comes from nothing. You are trying to apply the Big Bang to Evolution when the two do not mix. Evolution begins with the first life form. It assumes life. Random mutations occuring within the genetic code will cause a shift in the lay out of ACTG strands, sometimes they will be flipped, one will be deleted, etc. These all produce differences in the phenotype (the observable characteristics of a creature). Though I would challenge you to do define information first, as I know many Creationists who cannot seem to do so.

You can attempt to strawman evolution by claiming it uses time and randomness as some sort of magical element (stick it in a bowl, and stir you get a prince from a frog right?) Like it or not, time and randomness has been demonstrated as key factors in evolution. Mutations are random and they occur within each generation and this takes time. If I were you I would study abiogenesis a bit more before shrugging it off, as it seems you do not know what it is exactly.

I can't even begin to understand how you deny speciation. What you are saying is akin to saying 2+2=4, but 2+2+2+2 doesn't equal 8. The accumulation of changes is going to result in a bigger deviation from the original. It's simple logic. This has been observed in creatures with shorter lifespans like fruit flies and bacteria. Creatures with longevity like humans have will not have much noticable change in 100 years. We wouldn't expect it to.

You can believe the Bible is historically correct, and that Jesus rose from the dead. Neither of which I believe. You can have faith in what you will. Science has shown that the Biblical Genesis should not be interpreted literally, that is of course, unless you don't want to be in tune with the past century of biology.

11:10 PM  
Blogger mickey coke said...

You are kidding (I hope) about Abiogenesis you are quite a kidder.

To believe that you can go from simple chemicals to polymers to REPLICATING POLYMERS to hypercycle to protobiont to bacteria!

This is irrational! To logically cosider the complexity of life reproducing from life let alone a rock reproducing.

**What is the statistcial probablility of this happening in this order?**

How long would that bacteria live once it "came about".

What is the longevity of any of these steps? We are also assuming that this is all happening in the safety and security of a laboratory. So, over the many years it takes for this small process to occur once. There will be nothing to disturb this experiment (natural causes) and destroy this possibility entirely?

YOU HAVE A LOT OF FAITH MAN!

I also read that it is taken almost as FACT withing the scientific community (without proof, repeatabilty, observation). There was one man mentioned who aired his views against this, why not others - fear from exclusion - ridcule, who knows.

Found on Wikipedia

Read on about Yockey and them my conclusion.

Yockey

Information theorist Hubert Yockey argued that chemical evolutionary research raises the question:

Research on the origin of life seems to be unique in that the conclusion has already been authoritatively accepted … . What remains to be done is to find the scenarios which describe the detailed mechanisms and processes by which this happened. One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written. (Yockey, 1977. A calculation of the probability of spontaneous biogenesis by information theory, Journal of Theoretical Biology 67:377–398, quotes from pp. 379, 396.)

In a book he wrote 15 years later, Yockey argued that the idea of abiogenesis from a primordial soup is a failed paradigm:

Although at the beginning the paradigm was worth consideration, now the entire effort in the primeval soup paradigm is self-deception on the ideology of its champions. … The history of science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available to replace it. Nevertheless, in order to make progress in science, it is necessary to clear the decks, so to speak, of failed paradigms. This must be done even if this leaves the decks entirely clear and no paradigms survive. It is a characteristic of the true believer in religion, philosophy and ideology that he must have a set of beliefs, come what may (Hoffer, 1951). Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of the false alternative. In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance. This has been universally the case in the history of science as Kuhn (1970) has discussed in detail. There is no reason that this should be different in the research on the origin of life. (Yockey, 1992. Information Theory and Molecular Biology, p. 336, Cambridge University Press, UK, ISBN 0-521-80293-8).

Yockey, in general, possesses a highly critical attitude toward people who give credence toward natural origins of life, often invoking words like "faith" and "ideology". Yockey's publications have become favorites to quote among creationists, though he is not a creationist himself (as noted in this 1995 email [1]).


To sum this all up. YOU BELIEVE IN BIOGENESIS BECAUSE OF YOUR BLIND FAITH IN IT.

I believe in the testimonies of many men throughout time over the scrutiny of history.

You still don't have facts for your claims.

I maintain that the hisoricity of the scriptures has yet to fail under the evidence of the archaelogical record.

You have the right to dig up some lone author with secret knowlege on some Bible consipiracy that has taken place over the past 4 thousand years. Or you can look at the same evidence as I and come to my conclusion:

The bible is an accurate historical account. The bible is not a scientific document, but is a record of history of the earth. Anything that contradicts it should be put to severe scrutiny.

There is an obvious bias in the scientific community. In which err'ing on the side of ignorance and a bad theory rather than admit there is no good theory for origins to side with.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Lucretius said...

First of all, I noticed you drop the claims about Evolutionary "worldviews". Glad to clear that up.

Let's get right into your claims about abiogenesis. Again, I see an attempt by you to strawman a scientific theory. As you put it, abiogenesis is akin to "logically cosider the complexity of life reproducing from life let alone a rock reproducing."

No one said anything about a rock reproducing. This is a Kent-Hovind style argument. This is all chemical evolution (note that evolution in this context does not have anything to do with the Theory of Evolution; it just means change) and there is nothing different in simple chemicals and polymers than there are in protobionts and bacteria except different chemical structures. You are trying to put a magical barrier between life and non-life.

Next you bring up probability. I'd ask you to listen to my podcast regarding probabilities Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates like to bring up. Here's a little experiment for you to do. Roll a dice about fifty times. Find the probability of that exact string of numbers. Low, yes? Try it with any other order and you will get that same probability. However, the probability of getting SOMETHING is 100%, as long as the experiment is performed. The same logic applies to the universe. No one predicted that abiogenesis would occur in the order that it did. It just did. Applying probability in hindsight we can say that the odds were low. But if we roll a dice fifty times, in hindsight we can say the odds were low there as well. The point is: we still got the string of numbers, just like the order of abiogenesis. Don't try to strawman science by abusing probability.

Next, you quote an information theorist who is very critical of the origin of life via primordial soup hypothesis. I'm glad the man is being critical, but you have quoted one man. James N. Hanson, prominent astronomer and computer scientist, is a geocentrist. Does that mean my acceptance of heliocentricity is purely faith as well? Besides, Hubert Yockey seems to have a problem with the methodological naturalism of science. In the entire passage of his which you quoted, he provided no problems with the science behind abiogenesis — just a rant about how he dislikes the theory itself. he claims it is based on no facts, but never exemplifies this. With no scientific qualms presented by Yockey, I don't see why you even quoted the passage. if you wanted to change my views, I would have suggested bringing some science with you.

You continually insist you have evidence for the Bible. Tell me this: how does complaining about a certain model of abiogenesis verify the Bible? If the primordial soup theory was demonstratably wrong, it would not verify the Bible. It would just mean we must look for the correct answer. Nothing in the Bible's claim of Genesis has been verified by science, in fact it has all been falsified, with the exception of Genesis' claim of a beginning, which there obviously was.

You can go ahead and trust the testimonies of men. I will put my trust in the veracity of science, experimentation, and logic.

Until then, I challenge you to bring up some scientific qualms with abiogenesis. Let's see what you have.

3:03 PM  
Blogger modiglianni said...

lucretius,

great show. don't worry about fundy idiots like mickey coke, there are plenty of others who find you informative.

idiots like mickey coke are why i'm no longer a christian.

3:12 PM  

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