Creation vs Evolution

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prothero
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:12 pm
@Locke phil,
[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] But the existence of intelligent humans can EASILY be demonstrated scientifically. [/QUOTE] It is not quite so easy as you think. The only direct experience of thought, thinking, intellect is your own. All other attribution of such "qualia" is by analogy and deduction. "What is it like to be a bat"? The limits of science in this realm are significant and profound. I think such limits are inherent. Others think advancing science will eliminate them. Both views are rational speculations.

[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] How's that working out for string theorists? [/QUOTE] Many theoretical physicists including Hawkings's now feel that a complete mathematical theory of everything may not be possible. I do not see how that negates the fact that the universe is overall ordered and lawful and that order can be rationally investigated and mathematically described. Quantum theory, despite having no human conceptual model, is one of the most successful predictive theories in the history of science. Why is there a universe at all? Why is the universe ordered and rationally intelligible instead of being capricious and chaotic? Do you really think our minds impose order, intelligibility and mathematical precision on a universe that does not possess them inherently? When theists maintain that god is rational and ordering agent this is what they mean? Is that notion scientific? No. Is that notion irrational or illogical, no.


[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] Godel did a pretty admirable job showing that even math taken in isolation is rational. Math applied to the world is yet less rational. [/QUOTE] All systems of thought require one or more unproven initial assumptions or postulates. That includes science. The notion that science and sensory experience is your only tool for knowledge and truth is not scientific, it is your metaphysical assumption.

[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] Yeah, but Einstein was a physicist. He's known for his physics and not his metaphysical speculation, and he was no more omniscient than the rest of us. [/QUOTE] And certainly no less. Of course my position is there are no omniscient agents at all not even god. The majority of people in all times, places and cultures believe in a higher power or spirit behind the material world (mythos). Man is a meaning seeking creature (telos). You wish to limit human experience to science (logos). It is a losing battle. It is an incomplete, although not irrational, worldview. The concept of the divine has pragmatic and applied value which the spaghetti monster and the tooth fairy lack.


[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] Neither is the flying spaghetti monster or the tooth fairy. So are we to believe in something just because it's not excluded?? [/QUOTE] The concept of god remains a much more powerful idea than the spaghetti monster or the tooth fairy. The notion of god as rational, creative, and ordering agent for the universe, in a universe which is ordered, creative and rational.


[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] Fear, hunger, pain, and love are also universal parts of human experience, and none of them are rational. [/QUOTE] I am not sure what the point of that would be. My initial response would be exactly, there are many dimensions of human experience which are not scientific and not rational. In fact the most important (value and aesthetic) wise dimensions of experience (love, truth, beauty, goodness) are not purely scientific, purely empirical, or purely rational at all.


[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] But this isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about epistemology. Our conclusions about the physical world are usually based in scientific epistemology. Maybe it's not irrational or illogical to have a conception of God, but it doesn't meet the same evidentiary standards by which we believe in trees or rodents. [/QUOTE] Your epistemology is science and empiricism. Your concern is the physical world. Not everyone constructs their worldview using those assumptions. It does not meet the same scientific evidentiary standards but then religion does not even try to just address the material world, its concern is the spiritual world the world of "total experience".
If all you need to believe in is "trees and rodents" science is your tool, although even there the reductionist, materialist nature of science will leave you with a partial and incomplete view of "what it is "to be" a rodent or a tree.


---------- Post added 12-12-2009 at 11:03 AM ----------

[QUOTE=Aedes;110523] But it doesn't. Even the very word species directly means specific, a kind of life. Not all life. Darwin didn't write "On the Origin of Life on Earth".[/QUOTE] At what point in the chain of life did we stop talking about species?

My whole thesis here is that some conceptions of god can be held which are rational speculations and which have pragmatic value as well. Now I will grant that many traditional conceptions of god are not rational at all and when placed beside scientific knowledge (and I am not granting all knowledge is scientific) create cognitive dissonance. Not all conceptions of god are philosophical (rational speculations) but many are. Dismissing the entire concept of the divine and of god as illogical and irrational is an error.

---------- Post added 12-12-2009 at 10:17 AM ----------

kennethamy;110554 wrote:
Yes, but with as few details as possible. Creationists spend their time trying to pick holes in evolution, without plugging any in their own theory, with the background argument that either evolution is true, or creationism is true, but since evolution is not true (because of their criticisms), it follows that Creationism is true. Of course, both premises are dubious.

IMHO you fail to disthinguish between the

general theistic notion that god creates (method unspecified). Giving god credit for the universe and life even if evolution is the mechanism and science is the tool for the details.

and the fundamentalist doctrine known as "creationism" (a particular method or manner of god creating) six days, 6000 yrs, etc.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:38 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110537 wrote:
Lots of people believe there is a scientific debate between evolutionists and creationists, including the participants.
Only creationists believe there is a scientific debate. I'd be surprised if you find many evolutionary biologists who say that it's a legitimate scientific question as to whether Eve was created from Adam's rib.
 
Emil
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:40 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110542 wrote:
So the dispute between C. and E. is a pseudo-dispute?


It's a dispute, but it's not scientific. It is also political.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:41 pm
@prothero,
prothero;110565 wrote:
It is not quite so easy as you think. The only direct experience of thought, thinking, intellect is your own.
You misread my post. It is as evident and apparent in empirical terms as ANYTHING in science that there are creative, intelligent humans that design things. Period. The nature of all that thought may be more nebulous; but I can show you and 100000 other people an inventor making a machine and we'll pretty much agree on what we see -- an intelligent designer in the body of that inventor.[/COLOR]

But no one can show me that there is an intelligent god creating the universe.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:42 pm
@Emil,
Emil;110577 wrote:
It's a dispute, but it's not scientific. It is also political.


Aedes gave a good explanation in post #32.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:44 pm
@prothero,
prothero;110565 wrote:
The majority of people in all times, places and cultures believe in a higher power or spirit behind the material world.
That's because for the majority of history people have not had access to better, more persuasive explanatory tools. [/COLOR]

[QUOTE=prothero;110565]The concept of god remains a much more powerful idea[/quote]not because of the inherent demonstrability of god -- only because of tradition.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:48 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;110576 wrote:
Only creationists believe there is a scientific debate. I'd be surprised if you find many evolutionary biologists who say that it's a legitimate scientific question as to whether Eve was created from Adam's rib.


Well, it is either true or false that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Science gives the (resounding) verdict that it is false. I don't know why you say it is not a "legitimate" scientific question just because the question is obvious. But I have a lot of trouble with your use of "legitimate" as we have already seen when you claimed that a post of mine was not legitimate. I am glad you do not have to decide on paternity disputes.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 12:58 pm
@Locke phil,
kennethamy wrote:
Well, it is either true or false that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Science gives the (resounding) verdict that it is false. I don't know why you say it is not a "legitimate" scientific question just because the question is obvious. But I have a lot of trouble with your use of "legitimate" as we have already seen when you claimed that a post of mine was not legitimate. I am glad you do not have to decide on paternity disputes.


Would anything be a legitimate scientific inquiry to you, then? Anyone could come up with an asinine question and pose it off as having to do with science. This does not mean we have to entertain the question as having to do with science, do we?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 01:47 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;110590 wrote:
Would anything be a legitimate scientific inquiry to you, then? Anyone could come up with an asinine question and pose it off as having to do with science. This does not mean we have to entertain the question as having to do with science, do we?


I guess so. But whether the question is asinine or not does not seem to me to matter. Can the Adam and Eve question be answered by science? I think so. Don't you?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 01:59 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110598 wrote:
I guess so. But whether the question is asinine or not does not seem to me to matter. Can the Adam and Eve question be answered by science? I think so. Don't you?


I suppose every fantastical story could be scientifically evaluated, but they need not, and in my opinion, should not be. Jesus, we'd be here until the end of time "disproving" all this nonsense.

Please, though, let's at least start with the good ones, like the cat in the hat. I really want to know if a 6' tall cat in a hat can grow to like green eggs and ham. I suppose we should start with how a 6' tall cat standing on his hind legs and speaking in rhyme could come into existence. Science, knock knock!

The point is that we should not call every inquiry a scientific inquiry. Just as we would not call every inquiry a medical inquiry, or a philosophical inquiry, or a musical inquiry, or an architectural inquiry, or an engineering inquiry, etc.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 02:06 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;110603 wrote:
I suppose every fantastical story could be scientifically evaluated, but they need not, and in my opinion, should not be. Jesus, we'd be here until the end of time "disproving" all this nonsense.

Please, though, let's at least start with the good ones, like the cat in the hat. I really want to know if a 6' tall cat in a hat can grow to like green eggs and ham. I suppose we should start with how a 6' tall cat standing on his hind legs and speaking in rhyme could come into existence. Science, knock knock!

The point is that we should not call every inquiry a scientific inquiry. Just as we would not call every inquiry a medical inquiry, or a philosophical inquiry, or a musical inquiry, or an architectural inquiry, or an engineering inquiry, etc.


I don't think we should call every inquiry a scientific inquiry either. Especially if it isn't a scientific inquiry. But I think it is all right to call empirical inquiries, scientific inquiries.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 02:06 pm
@Locke phil,
Is anything familiar with George Bernard Shaw's strange attempt to fuse Darwin and Bergson? He posited a Life Force behind evolution as it is visible to us. He thought this Life Force was a movement toward greater consciousness of itself and its environment. In Back To Methuselah, an unfortunately forgotten masterpiece of some kind, he paints a picture of what man might become.

I don't subscribe to Shaw's view but at the same I don't find it absurd to contemplate the possibility of an as yet undiscovered factor in evolution. For me, the question of consciousness itself is an open sore -- while being the apparent foundation of all our knowledge.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 02:10 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110606 wrote:
I don't think we should call every inquiry a scientific inquiry either. Especially if it isn't a scientific inquiry. But I think it is all right to call empirical inquiries, scientific inquiries.


You think the Adam and Eve question is an empirical inquiry, from a scientific perspective?

Perhaps I need to understand just what you mean by "empirical inquiry" - Any inquiry which as to do with observation or experience? Or rather, potential or possible (thought up, make-believe) observation or experience?

Do you consider:

"Does Santa slide down my chimney every Christmas?"

a scientific inquiry?
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 02:11 pm
@Reconstructo,
Its no stretch of credibility to say creations objective is to be conscious. At the moment it appears the pinnacle of its success but are we capable of judging success?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 02:14 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;110607 wrote:
Is anything familiar with George Bernard Shaw's strange attempt to fuse Darwin and Bergson? He posited a Life Force behind evolution as it is visible to us. He thought this Life Force was a movement toward greater consciousness of itself and its environment. In Back To Methuselah, an unfortunately forgotten masterpiece of some kind, he paints a picture of what man might become.

I don't subscribe to Shaw's view but at the same I don't find it absurd to contemplate the possibility of an as yet undiscovered factor in evolution. For me, the question of consciousness itself is an open sore -- while being the apparent foundation of all our knowledge.


Sure, in his preface to Man and Superman too. There is always the possibility of discovery. What did you have in mind?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 03:04 pm
@Locke phil,
I haven't immersed myself in the subject. As much as I find biology fascinating, I find human conceptions more fascinating. I like to consider the motives behind belief and the process of belief and persuasion. I'm think Jung would class me as an introverted thinking type with Kant and Nietzsche. He put Darwin on the other side, with the extroverted thinking types. I'll leave the fine details of a such a possibility to them. Good luck out there.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 04:12 pm
@Locke phil,
CREATIONISM is different to CREATION. Creationism, as understood and preached by American Fundamentalists, is not a legitimate form of theology. It is a clinging to a shallow literalistic and almost cartoon-like version of Christian mythology in a desperate attempt to avoid the realities of modern existence.

So what? What does it matter? The point is that Creationism has suckered everybody into a debate on the nature of Deity which is based on a childish, cartoonish misreprentatation of the very idea of deity and the nature of creation. Many scientists, including most of those here on this forum, have as little knowledge of the actual subject of theology and the religious conception of the term of 'creation' as I do have of the intricacies of cellular biology (which is precious little). But then, this is no barrier if it is presumed from the outset that in theology, there is nothing to have knowledge of.

Proper theology, or sound metaphysically-based religious philosophy, as the Thomas Aquinas quote I provided above said, does not bother itself with how the Crested Newt came into existence. Religion concerns itself with the source of being, the very ground of reality, the ultimate cause of existence, why anything can be at all. It is easy to overlook the fact that every single scientific account of the origin of life, the nature of matter, the mass of the universe, and any other question of ultimate import, all end in a question mark at this point in time. We have many 'hopeful lines of enquiry' all of which extend from out of this little pool of light we stand in, into the sorrounding gloom.

So the objects of metaphysical philosophy, or theology, are genuinely out-of-scope for science, and are not simply a degenerate superstitious figment of the imagination that sees God as being like a turbo-charged Santa Claus (which is exactly how 'the new atheists' portray the matter.)

I believe that Tipler and Barrow's Anthropic Cosmological Principle is a better background to discuss this whole question rather than anything published by the creationist lobby. I will go away and read more of it and come back to this topic later. Meanwhile, if anyone would like to read a deeper analysis of the situation of natural theology in light of the very latest understanding of the universe provided by biology and physics, I recommend the 2009 Gifford Lectures on "A Fine Tuned Universe: Science, Theology and the Quest for Meaning", by Alister McGrath, an erstwhile Dawkins classmate and, in my view, his best and most effective critic in matters religious.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 04:43 pm
@Locke phil,
[QUOTE=Aedes;110584] But no one can show me that there is an intelligent god creating the universe.[/QUOTE]
I can show you a universe? Why does it exist?
I can show you order, life, mind and experience. Why not complete chaos?
I can show that the universe itself is "creative" striving?
I can exhibit the universe is rationally intelligible and obeys mathematical laws.
I can infer that "mind" "qualia" is much more extensive in nature than science can demonstrate.
I am not sure what you want. Do you want god to talk to you, to show him or herself. Who is employing primitive and anthropomorphic concepts of the divine in this discussion?
To take a skeptical (agnostic) or atheist (no belief in god) is an entirely rational speculation. It is not the only rational speculation. There are rational conceptions of god. I speculate there is more (to reality, to experience) than what our senses and our science show us. I do not ignore science and the senses but speculative philosophy moves beyond that limited conception of being, of exist, of real, of becoming.

[QUOTE=Aedes;110584] That's because for the majority of history people have not had access to better, more persuasive explanatory tools. .[/QUOTE]You think current scientific explanations are adequate and persuasive? Many others (even while embracing what science can show us) do not. They think science (valuable and powerful tool that it is) still reveals only a limited and partial (and in the realm of values and aesthetics; inadequate) explanation of total human and universal experience (subjective and objective).

[QUOTE=Aedes;110584] not because of the inherent demonstrability of god -- only because of tradition.[/QUOTE] Well tradition should not be entirely discounted. There may be some wisdom, something of value, in the ancient ways. Mythos embodies the meaning, purpose and significance of the society or culture to which it speaks. Science has no inherent values (moral or aesthetic). Science makes no assertion about purposes (telos). All cultures, all societies, all individuals in constructing world views employ all three mythos, logos and telos. Some are having difficulty identifying their own metaphysicial assumptions and philosophical specualations which underlie their worldview. There are many worldviews (some theisms) which while still rational move beyond science and beyond empiricism. In fact all comprehensive worldviews do so.

You seem to have strong objection to even the notion that any vision or conception of god might be rational and compatible with science. I have to question the reason for that?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 06:33 pm
@prothero,
prothero;110681 wrote:
I can show you a universe? Why does it exist?
I don't know. But the fact that I don't know has no bearing on whether there was a priori an intelligent creator.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I can show you order, life, mind and experience. Why not complete chaos?
Because there are physical properties that facilitate all this even at a subatomic level. Why are they there? See my previous answer -- it could be dumb luck just as easily as it can be an intelligent creator.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I can show that the universe itself is "creative" striving?
I look forward to you showing me this one.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I can exhibit the universe is rationally intelligible and obeys mathematical laws.
And I'll just as soon exhibit where you don't understand the mathematical laws that you think the universe obeys. How? I'll just find a single solitary exception. Or I'll show you how a mathematical law is a human construct developed from a finite data set, and its universal application cannot be completely assumed.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I can infer that "mind" "qualia" is much more extensive in nature than science can demonstrate.
And I'll respond that your personal inferences are not empirical proof to a group of impartial observers.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I am not sure what you want. Do you want god to talk to you, to show him or herself. Who is employing primitive and anthropomorphic concepts of the divine in this discussion?
We're not talking about the divine. We're talking about an intelligent creator of the universe. I've got a birthmark on the bottom of my left foot. I can prove its existence to the entire world without a shred of doubt. Easy as pie. I can prove that cats eat mice but mice don't eat cats. I can prove that plants need sunlight. I can prove that insects have ectoskeletons and vertebrates have endoskeletons.

But your proof of the ultimate creator of the entire universe rests on your inferences, and rests on human equations?? That is proof? That is a poetic story. You need to do better than that to sit at the table with scientific epistemology.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I speculate there is more (to reality, to experience) than what our senses and our science show us.
That's fine -- speculate all you want. You'll convince people who are primed to believe anyway. You won't convince people who want something as huge and basic as god to be as demonstrable as the fact that squirrels have bushy tails.

prothero;110681 wrote:
You think current scientific explanations are adequate and persuasive?
Some, and variably. But the whole thing about science is that it needn't be complete. The idea is that there is probably truth out there; and though we cannot learn it all at least we can learn more.

prothero;110681 wrote:
Well tradition should not be entirely discounted. There may be some wisdom, something of value, in the ancient ways.
Absolutely. I'm a Jew and I happen to accept wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada, and the Tao Te Ching.

But we're not having a conversation about wisdom, which we'd certainly agree upon. We're having a conversation about how to demonstrate that the universe was created by an intelligent designer. I'll take certain things from the ancients, like wisdom, and leave other things, like hunting aurochs and burning witches at the stake. I also will leave a literal interpretation of creation stories, even though I will enjoy a literary reading of them.

prothero;110681 wrote:
Science makes no assertion about purposes.
Right. But this conversation is not about purpose. It's about how the universe came into being. It's about epistemology. A separate debate is about where ideas of purpose come from.

prothero;110681 wrote:
You seem to have strong objection to even the notion that any vision or conception of god might be rational and compatible with science.
We are not talking about a "vision of god" or "conception of god". These may be compatible with science insofar as they are compatible with our culture or brain or whatever.

But for the umpteenth time, prothero, this thread is not about that. It's about the existence of god. If this is compatible with science, then it will be a big day in science when someone publishes that study.

I've asked people on this forum on numerous occasions to write me a mock grant proposal on how you would design a scientific study to prove the existence of god. And no one has even tried. Feel free to take up the challenge if you'd like.

prothero;110681 wrote:
I have to question the reason for that?
Because I understand a scientific question. I understand hypothesis generation. And I understand hypothesis testing. If your hypothesis is "the universe was created by an intelligent designer", I'd be eager to review the methods by which you will test that question.

kennethamy;110586 wrote:
Well, it is either true or false that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Science gives the (resounding) verdict that it is false.
Uh, not quite -- it's a meaningless question if there never had been an Adam and an Eve to begin with -- it's not a simple true / false question.

Furthermore, science doesn't say FALSE. Science says nothing, because there is no evidence to support that line of inquiry to begin with.

kennethamy;110598 wrote:
Can the Adam and Eve question be answered by science? I think so. Don't you?
No, it cannot. You can't prove a negative. You can only speak to lack of evidence.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 12 Dec, 2009 06:53 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;110709 wrote:
It could be dumb luck


This seems to be a handy backstop for a lot of people nowadays. But what are the odds? I don't think the word 'astronomical' contains enough orders of magnitude to describe them.
 
 

 
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