Scientific Knowledge, Faith/God...

This is in response to some issues brought up in other threads, regarding faith, God and the scientific appraoch to knowledge.

Rooster wrote: "prof, evolution is not a "fact". It is not "true". It is called a theory."

To quote an on-line encyclopaedia: "Most non-scientists are unaware that what scientists call "theories" are what most people call "facts".

I've been talking about "facts" and "theories" in the scientific sense. Science does not claim to offer absolute "truth" or perfect confidence. Therefore, all knowledge is provisional, including what we think are "facts." For instance, like most humans throughout our history you may assume it to be a fact that the objects you can touch, like your desk, are solid objects. But that notion is disproved by an introduction to atomic physics. All sorts of things that seemed factual throughout history have been proven otherwise. Facts themselves - even ones we apparently can observe at will - merely hold a high confidence level because they survive our attempts to verify (or falsify) them. And there are all sorts of facts that are not repeatedly observable, which are in essence historical - previously observed passing of asteroids near earth, volcanoe explosions that destroyed towns, plague epidemics etc...the list is endless. But they remain facts because of the preponderance of evidence, and because we observe natural processes that can logically support the idea they happened. (Which is why "historical" reports of supernatural events are not taken as facts because, among other good reasons, there is no currently observable mechanism to lend confidence those events could have happened). Nor, by the way, does a phenomenon held to be factual by science have to be directly observed - it may be inferred. Think mountain formation, gravity, atoms, meteor impacts etc. All scientific facts.

Likewise with scientific theories. The same type of confidence-level-testing that puts something in the realm of "fact" applies to putting scientific theories into the realm of "proven" or "fact." There is the data (facts), and there is the premise of how that data is related (theory). If the theory survives repeated attempts to verify or falsify the premise of how the data are related, we may take it as "fact" the data are related in that way (the Theory is scientifically "proven"). So, a theory may be an explanation for a set of facts, yet after enough testing the theory itself may be taken as factual - especially in the case of extremely robust, fruitful theories like Evolution, Electromagnetism or Relativity.

For evolutionary theory the data - the set of facts or evidence - are found in fossils, genetics, anthropology, comparative anatomy, biochemistry, cladistics, etc. The theory of evolution suggests a relationship between the set of facts. That relationship is tested for, by lab tests that show the basic evolutionary mechanism works, and by searching for evidence of common genetic and phenotype descent in the natural world (via fossils, comparative anatomy, genetic evidence etc.) And the relationships suggested by the theory are indeed found in abundance.

So in evolution we have a theory that is a logical extrapolation from observable processes, it provides an explanatory and predictive mechanism, along with an enormous amount of observed evidence to support that the earth's biology is related in the way evolutionary theory says it should be. Hence, the theory has long ago reached the status of "proven," and is taken by science to be a fact.

Cont'd....

A creationist may take exception to the scientific pronouncements of "fact," when it conflicts with his religion. But...whatever... you can't force someone to believe something. And a scientist may rightly reply: "Well, this is the way WE establish facts - a series of confidence-increasing methods. If you don't accept it fine. But I might ask, if your method is different, how would your method take the same data and establish what is "fact?"

Something to keep in mind: Evolution isn't merely a (confirmed) theory; it's also a large area of research, which spans into many diffferent disciplines. Like any areas of research, there is plenty of discussion about which data should be interpreted which way. Especially in the vanguard areas of research. Unfortunately, creationists tend to mine evolutionary research for any seeming controversies, and use them as "proof" evolution must be wrong. But they only do so out of misunderstanding the field, and the nature of the communal process of science. Physics, for example: That there may be differing views among scientists in how to interprate data in sub-atomic physics does not undermine the reliability of modern Gravitational Theory at the macro level. A rocket will reliably follow the physics described by modern gravitational theory, no matter the controversies concerning physics at it's deeper, less emperically verified layers. (Not that there isn't tons of emperical verification within sub-atomic physics). LIkewise, evolutionary theory reliably describes and predicts biological phenomena, and different opinions within evolutionary research do not undermine the essential premise. (BTW, the creationist Gods of Intelligent Design "theory," Michael Behe and William Dembski, are not trained directly in evolutionary sciences. When an evolutionary biologist looks at their "criticisms" inevitably it's pointed out that those criticisms are borne of incomplete familiarity with the field).

Now, I'd like to tackle the issue that's often raised about the relationship of "faith" in regards to religion and science. Rooster likes to say that, like his religious beliefs, acceptance of the Theory Of Evolution relies on "faith.' This is not true as there are explicit differences in religious explanations vs scientific explanations, and religious knowledge vs scientific knowledge.

Science seeks to reveal or explain systems, to add to our knowledge of the mechanics or systems underlying the natural world. (And it's conclusions are extrapolated from observations that are usually repeatable for any other observer). For instance, the value in evolutionary theory is not only in it's descriptive power, in how well it adheres to our ever expanding observations of nature. But it also describes the system/mechanism behind the natural phenomena, adding to our understanding of how the world works, and it predicts natural phenomena. Religious explanationes typically do not do this. Saying "god did it" illuminates nothing about how it was achieved, and adds zero to our knowledge of our natural world. Now, some religious folk may wish to add: "But in studying the natural world we find out how God did it." However, when for instance meteorologists describe the physical relationships between temperature, pressure, and water vapor and how they interact to produce weather patterns, we are left with a fully self-contained explanation of how the phenomenon occurs. Inserting "God did it" between the description of each mechanical link isn't required, and it adds nothing of interest at all to the system described. The God assertion is both unprovable and completely superfluous - as illuminating as an engineer inserting "god does this" between all the steps in explaining how your car works.

Cont'd...

This is one important reason why a supernatural God is not used in science (another being there is no scientifically reliable evidence for a God). It's not that science "rejects" the existence of God. Or even presumes there is no God. Rather, it's that science is in the business of explaining how things work in our natural world, and adding "God did it" adds nothing to the process. (There is also the problem of "which" God science would have to infer behind natural processes).

Now, when religions assert that God is a mysterious sentient force outside of nature, and is responsible for our natural world, the scientist can only reply: "That's fine, if you believe that. I only point out that you have not offered me a testable idea, so I can't do much with it."

But what about so-called "creation science," including it's best attempt at being scientific - Intelligent Design Theory (IDT). IDT proponents, despite being affiliated with a particular religion, attempt to avoid the religion/science divide by never alluding to a specific God, or "Designer." They only say: We believe there is evidence that life is the result of an intelligent designer. They fool many people (including themselves) apparently by the positing that their theory is scientific becauase it contains predictions (such as we will find "irreducibly complex" systems that couldn't have been formed naturally), and is empirical (based on observations...can see this stuff in a lab). The key is that because an explanation contains empirical elements, or even predictions, it does not make the theory "scientific." I can say I have empirically observed seeds growing into flowers. My theory is that invisible Flower Fairies help seeds become flowers. If I plant a seed, my theory predicts a Flower Fairy will grow it into a flower. Voila. My theory has both empirical, observable elements and a prediction. Plus, the prediction comes true! Flower Fairies must be the right explanation for the phenomenon.

What's missing? The scientific aspect: An attempt to unravel the mechanism or system behind how the seed becomes a flower, and verification of that process. The addition of mysterious Flower Fairies is neither explanatory, nor verifiable, and hence adds nothing to our knowledge of the nature of flower growth. Likewise with Intelligent Design Theory. It shares the same problem as any other Creationist theory: it adds nothing to our explanation of phenomenon, and it is unverifiable. Intelligent Design simply says: here's an example of something that would seem too hard for nature to arrive at on its own. Since I don't know the explanation of how it could have happened: A God did it. Unfortunately for this approach, positing an intelligent designer adds zero to the theory of how something happens, if you don't know how the intelligent designer did it. It's another version of "God did it." In contrast, Evolutionary theory explains how and why biological forms are the way they are, and it illuminates the verifiable mechanism/system underneath the explanation. If we were to apply the non-scientific approach of Intelligent Design theory, science would have stopped at everything it couldn't explain in the past and simply said: "Well, we don't know how this happens: so God did it." Luckily, unlike Intelligent Design Theory, science doesn't insert an unprovable idea to explain puzzling phenomena; it pushes on, searches for and often finds the previously unknown system underlying the phenomenon.

A fine point I'd like to put on this: introducing the idea of a sentient intelligence behind natural phenomena isn't, in of itself, ruled out by the scientific approach. It does make things more problematic to be sure. But certainly science can test for the presence of sentient processes - for instance, it is quite capable of establishing that some things are constructed by a humans vs constructed via natural processes. A God theory simply would have to be formulated in a way that can, to a degree, be considered scientific. E.g.: God is responsible for X phenomenon, He has X qualities and He did it this way, and there is no other reasonable explanation for the phenomenon other than this God. However, since the concept of God is almost never offered along with such specific formulations (and when they are, they are easily falsified), we don't see God theories making their way into the body of scientific knowledge. (And even if such a formulation found some scientific support, we would still be left with the problem of a consciousness directing the phenomena we are studying, and hence we would move from describing reliable, blind physical laws to engaging in hopeful mind-reading of this mysterious Deity).

So, to sum up: 1. Scientific concepts and religious beliefs do not operate the same way. 2. In science, "facts" and knowledge are seen as provisional, not absolute in the way many people, especially the religious, tend to want their facts. This misunderstanding, I think, often leads to non-scientists bristling at the factual pronouncements of science, especially if they are unaware of the basis for those facts, or if those facts don't mesh with a religious belief. Finally, in my view it's not that science operates by explicitly rejecting the concept of a God, it's that the vast majority of God concepts are not formulated to be amenable to scientific inquiry, and hence they can't result in the type of knowledge science is looking for.

Hopefully, that clarifies some of my thoughts on the issue. (And my apologies for the length).

Peace,

Prof.

Bludhall,

Yeah, I know. For convenience sake, and because it is pertinent to the Christians on this forum, I was implying the Christian God. However the thrust of my post - the distinguishing features of scientific explanations - should be useful in establishing the scientific attitude toward any God you want to throw at it.

To the religion that asserts that God is the sum total of all things, I'd ask: What then is the difference between God and simply...Nature? What does calling everything "God" add to the explanation, if God amounts simply to the properties of Nature? (Or one simply may use "existance" instead of "God." But in my view all things that exist are Natural).

And of course all religious persons don't reject science. However, I was trying to clear up what i believe are some common misconceptions about science -ones that often lead to confusion, negative reactions and mischaracterizations of scientific knowledge.

Prof.

Very well done.

This is why I said on another thread where Prof and I debated*:

"If every system of philosophy derives from its own unique set of axioms [that is why] it becomes impossible for those who accept one set of axioms to hold a meaningful discussion with those who hold another set. The two parties to the dispute have nothing in common, and hence, neither has any basis for convincing the other.

Well then why bother [talking to each other]?

I present the Gospel as fully as possible. I explain to all as many of the details as I have time for and as many of the logical connections as you will listen to. But arguments and explanations will not convert you. The Christian cannot convince any of the truth of the Gospel because he cannot convince anyone of the truth of the Bible.

But what is interesting is that the Bible says that he is not supposed to. After we present the Gospel, we then pray that the Holy Ghost will convince them, that God will change their minds, grant them repentance, that God will give them the divine gift of faith, cause them to believe the axiom of Scripture and raise them from the death of sin to a new life in Christ.

But the purpose of all of this was never to shirk the question of why do I believe. It is the very answer!
Will I ever convince you [...] that [I am right]? Perhaps not, but that was never the point. The point was to give an account for why I believe what I believe."

-Tom Bombadil

If god is everything how are you not an Athest?

-Tom Bombadil

Thanks Tom.

--"The point was to give an account for why I believe what I believe."--

Fair enough.

But I have a quibble with your quote:

"If every system of philosophy derives from its own unique set of axioms [that is why] it becomes impossible for those who accept one set of axioms to hold a meaningful discussion with those who hold another set. The two parties to the dispute have nothing in common, and hence, neither has any basis for convincing the other."

Actually I dispute that claim. I think that our very physical world, and the way humans are wired to operate, puts us all in a shared framework of reference. Of necessity, we all use observation, logic, reasoning in our daily life. Epistemologies (including certain religious world views) are an attempt to offer an underlying explanation regarding the nature and scope of knowledge. However, life offers unavoidable consequences for how we use our cognitive tools. (Including rational thinking...and I submit that pretty much all humans rely on some basic axioms, whether they are aware of it or not).

So, if you have a certain set of axiomatic beliefs, which inform your interpretation of data, it's perfectly reasonable to point to the logical consequences of your reasoning.

And since we take it that we exist in this shared reality, we may together examine to what kind of consequences your axiomatic beliefs hold in this reality. And if the two are consistent. For instance, if it were asserted God made the world in seven days, around 6,000 years ago, then it may be pointed out that it is inconsistent with the observed data. If it were asserted: "God is benevolent and hears all prayers, I was sick and he healed me," I may point out that another sick Christian who prayed to live simply died. Which would imply that God either didn't hear their prayer, or that God did hear it but desired that person's death. Likewise, if God is all powerful and may be praised for "miraculous" survival of persons in tragic conditions, then it follows that He is responsible for letting people die in tragic accidents as well. And to every "God does this" assertion there is a "then why does He do, or not do, this?" question springing from it.

Are there religious answers to these observations? Sure. But the discussion then simply continues along the same line: what are the logical consequences of those answers, how well do they mesh with our shared reality etc.

So, we sit here in a shared reality, using the same cognitive tools. Having different world views does not stop us from discussing the logical consequences of those world views within the realities we share. And it's not uncommon for someone to find that, indeed, his axioms have been demonstrated to lead to inconsistencies, both logically and in relation to reality. (Which has often led to de-conversions, or re-conversions). So holding one world view, or set of axioms, is no insurmountable barrier to reaching agreement with someone of another world view. That goes likewise for your ability to examine my, or anyone else's world view.

Prof.

"Having different world views does not stop us from discussing the logical consequences of those world views within the realities we share."

Excellent!

Let's start from the foundation with a disscussion on Epistemology (the philosophical theory of knowledge).

Every system of philosophy must have a first indemonstrable axiom, a first principle laid down dogmatically (with out any possibility of having proved it). Any system of thought must begin somewhere. Even empiricism begins with axioms.

That beginning, by definition, is just that, a beginning. Nothing comes before it. That means that those who start with sensation rather than revelation, in a misguided effort to avoid axioms, have not avoided axioms at all: They have merely traded the Christian axiom for a secular axiom. (More on this later.)

Mine is ‘the Bible is the Word of God’, Empiricism’s is ‘all genuine information about the universe must be derived from sense perception’, Rationalism’s is ‘all genuine information about the universe must be derived from reason’, and so on.

Now, the Christian should, though many do not, choose as his axioms the proposition that the Bible alone is the Word of God, and from this axiom he may develop an orderly system. Upon hearing this, many friends and enemies alike will object that this begs the question. It does not. The question is, ‘Where shall we start?’ Empiricists say sensation; Christians say revelation. (Pay close attention) One does not beg the question by answering the very first question of ‘Where shall we start?'.

You hold to Empiricism (the heart of the modern scientific movement) which has as its first indemonstrable axiom the presupposition that "all genuine information about the universe must be derived from sense perception".

All empiricists, let me emphasize, since it sounds paradoxical to those accustomed to thinking otherwise, are Presuppositionalist: They presuppose the reliability of sensation. Empiricism itself requires a first non-empirical principle. (If you wish to push the issue than I should ask you to prove the claim that all that can be known must be known via the senses.) And so, Empiricists can only assume, they can never demonstrate from some more remote proposition, that this presupposition MUST be true.

But that is ok, for nothing can precede the starting point; for as we have already declared: Every system of philosophy must have a first indemonstrable axiom.

Now, what are the logical consequences of your answer to the question of Epistemology (how do we know what we know). If one claims as does the Christian, that the Bible alone is the Word of God, it would be a very embarrassing problem if the Bible itself did not make that claim! (Rest assured it does and if proof of that claim is needed let me know.) But what is even more interesting is that the axiomatic starting point of the Empiricist is self refuting for it denies itself!

Empiricisms’ axiom is not itself sense derived and therefore it is false by its own means of determining falsity. Empiricisms’ axiom is self refuting and therefore illogical.

Any attempt to deny this will cause me to charge you with demonstrating how it is that the axiom “all genuine information about the universe must be derived from sense perception” can be derived using nothing but sense perception; which is, as you can see, an impossible task.

So it's perfectly reasonable to point to the logical consequences of your reasoning; Empiricisms’ axiom is self refuting and therefore illogical..

-Tom Bombadil

Please, re-read my last post MASK. I edited it massively.

Sorry!

-Tom

And to Bludhall:

Saying that god is everything is called pantheism. But pantheism is just a form of atheism. You have the appearance of believing in god very much. Indeed you assert the existence of god. (My guess is you do so because you do not want to be known as an atheist or as irreligious.) But if you define god as all that exists then you are an atheist plain and simple. It is commonly called Pantheism but it really resolves to atheism.

A word, like "God" for example, to mean something, must also not mean something!

For example, if I say that some cats are black, the sentence has meaning only because some cats are white. If the adjective were attached to every possible subject - so all cats were black, all stars were black, and all politicians were black, as well as all the numbers in arithmetic, and God too - then the word black would have no meaning. It would not distinguish anything from something else. Since everything is called god, god is devoid of information.

Ask a pantheist to decribe god and the pantheist points to every individual object in nature and says "god".

Logically, there is no difference between Atheism and Pantheism. To deny that there is a god and to apply the name god to everything are conceptually identical.

-Tom Bombadil

Bludhall, just to clarify, do you believe in one conciousness overseeing everything, or is God 'everything'. Also, if God is everything, are we parts of God, or are we all God.

Or is there no we?

*rooster eyes profs "elixir" and wonders what the big deal is. After taking his first drink, he notices a bitter after taste. "what's the big deal, why do all the adults and cool people think you have to consume this stuff as you get older?"...to much of this stuff would probably kill ya!

Prof, I just noticed this thread. To quickly defend the charge of "God did it" I reposted from another thread:

You fail to note the distinction between normal (operational) science, and origins or historical science. Normal (operational) science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present, while origins science helps us to make educated guesses about origins in the past.

Operational science has indeed been very successful in understanding the world, and has led to many improvements in the quality of life, e.g., putting men on the moon and curing diseases. And it's vital to note that many historians, of a wide number of religious persuasions, from Christians to atheists, point out that the founders of operational science were motivated by their belief that the universe was made by a rational Creator. An orderly universe makes perfect sense only if it were made by an orderly Creator. But if atheism or polytheism were true, then there is no way to deduce from these belief systems that the universe is (or should be) orderly.

When tested by logic and reality, the evolutionists' contention that ‘creationism is a religion that has nothing to do with science’ is hypocritical. Both creationists and evolutionists accept the same facts of science, they just interpret them based on different frameworks. One interpretation is based on atheistic materialism, and the other is based on God's perfect, revealed Word.

Nothing in operational science discourages the believer to seek how God has constructed the world or to dismissively throw ones hands in the air and state, "God did it.".

I found other fallacies to your reasoning and if I have some time I'll address it. I think at the end of the day, you play a word game with truth, facts, theory etc. and ultimately your confidence in the interpretation of the data is "faith" despite your denials. (I don't mean that as a personal charge of deceitfulness, just something you've convinced yourself of).

Further, I think your idea that science allows for a God if a bit utopic. Many "leaders" of the evolution movement are decidedly anti Christian and vocal about it. The association with atheism is not a hidden conspiracy.

I am enjoying the debate and thanks for taking the time to articulate your position.

prof: I've been talking about "facts" and "theories" in the scientific sense.

me: I didn't know that "facts" and "theories" have relative meaning.

fact

PRONUNCIATION: AUDIO: fkt KEY

NOUN: 1. Knowledge or information based on real occurrences: an account based on fact; a blur of fact and fancy.
2a. Something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed:

theory

SYLLABICATION: the·o·ry
PRONUNCIATION: AUDIO: th-r, thîr KEY

NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. the·o·ries
1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

Prof, words mean something. There is not the layman's definition of fact and theory and the "scientific" definition of fact and theory.

prof: Science does not claim to offer absolute "truth" or perfect confidence. Therefore, all knowledge is provisional, including what we think are "facts."

me: provisional

SYLLABICATION: pro·vi·sion·al
PRONUNCIATION: AUDIO: pr-vzh-nl KEY

ADJECTIVE: Provided or serving only for the time being. See synonyms at temporary.

me: then you undercut the certainty of your own "facts". Ultimately knowledge, fact, truth is temporary or unknowable which becomes a contradiction as it becomes a postulate for truth or fact.

prof: For instance, like most humans throughout our history you may assume it to be a fact that the objects you can touch, like your desk, are solid objects. But that notion is disproved by an introduction to atomic physics.

me: They are solid objects. They are by definition with shape and volume, not liquid or gas.

prof: All sorts of things that seemed factual throughout history have been proven otherwise. Facts themselves - even ones we apparently can observe at will - merely hold a high confidence level because they survive our attempts to verify (or falsify) them.

me: So where are we? Specifically is evolution subject to your premise that knowledge is unknowable or that the science is temporary, fleeting and failing?

prof: And there are all sorts of facts that are not repeatedly observable, which are in essence historical - previously observed passing of asteroids near earth, volcanoe explosions that destroyed towns, plague epidemics etc...the list is endless. But they remain facts because of the preponderance of evidence, and because we observe natural processes that can logically support the idea they happened. (Which is why "historical" reports of supernatural events are not taken as facts because, among other good reasons, there is no currently observable mechanism to lend confidence those events could have happened).

me: LOL in one fell swoop you embrace Ceasar, and with the other hand, dismiss Jesus Christ because you do not accept the testimony or eyewitness of his contemporaries.

prof: Nor, by the way, does a phenomenon held to be factual by science have to be directly observed - it may be inferred. Think mountain formation, gravity, atoms, meteor impacts etc. All scientific facts.

me: c'mon man. Inferrance and interpretation does not make for FACT. It makes for an educated guess. You said yourself what we know today may change tomorrow.

more

prof: Likewise with scientific theories. The same type of confidence-level-testing that puts something in the realm of "fact" applies to putting scientific theories into the realm of "proven" or "fact."

me: since when are 'confidence level testing' something that creates facts?

prof: There is the data (facts), and there is the premise of how that data is related (theory). If the theory survives repeated attempts to verify or falsify the premise of how the data are related, we may take it as "fact" the data are related in that way (the Theory is scientifically "proven"). So, a theory may be an explanation for a set of facts, yet after enough testing the theory itself may be taken as factual - especially in the case of extremely robust, fruitful theories like Evolution, Electromagnetism or Relativity.

me: Can you show me how evolution has been tested!?!?

prof: For evolutionary theory the data - the set of facts or evidence - are found in fossils, genetics, anthropology, comparative anatomy, biochemistry, cladistics, etc.

me: as for the theory of creationism

prof: The theory of evolution suggests a relationship between the set of facts.

me: as is for the theory of creationism (in fact, theory is used to lightly. It's a fact that the universe, the earth, the species had origin and as such, all were "produced, caused to be, brought into being." No one will argue that either the universe or the species are eternal. There was a cause.

prof: That relationship is tested for, by lab tests that show the basic evolutionary mechanism works,

me: Source please! You are not talking about Dr Barry G. Hall of the University of Rochester and his "invitro bacteria" are you? Please tell me what experiment/lab test shows BASIC EVOLUTIONARY MECHANISMS (specifically the introduction of new information and an 'upward movement' from less complex to dramatically more complex organisms)

prof: and by searching for evidence of common genetic and phenotype descent in the natural world (via fossils, comparative anatomy, genetic evidence etc.) And the relationships suggested by the theory are indeed found in abundance.

me: SUGGESTS...we don't build facts on suggestions. The 'evidence' is viewed by the creationist and the conclusion changes.

more...

steps into thread and quickly realizes that the water is too deep... after some thrashing, gulping, and gargled screaming Puzzled manages to grab the side and pulls himself violently out

soaked, shaking, out of breathe but relieved I quickly exit

prof: So in evolution we have a theory that is a logical extrapolation from observable processes, it provides an explanatory and predictive mechanism, along with an enormous amount of observed evidence to support that the earth's biology is related in the way evolutionary theory says it should be. Hence, the theory has long ago reached the status of "proven," and is taken by science to be a fact.

me: Long ago? Since when? When Darwin first proposed it? After the Scopes trial? 50 years later? When did this theory, which is dramatically different then darwinian evolution reach "proven status"? You speak in an absolutist way that belies your interjection of opinion.

Lemoine, Paul (1878-1940), was the President of the Geological Society of France, director of the Natural History Museum in Paris and a chief editor of the 1937 edition of the Encyclopedia Francaise. In writing an article on evolution, he stated:

The theory of evolution is impossible. At base, in spite of appearances, no one any longer believes in it....Evolution is a kind of dogma which the
priests no longer believe, but which they maintain for their people.

So, I guess it was after 1940? So it's been long 'proven' for oh...60 years?

prof: A creationist may take exception to the scientific pronouncements of "fact," when it conflicts with his religion. But...whatever... you can't force someone to believe something. And a scientist may rightly reply: "Well, this is the way WE establish facts - a series of confidence-increasing methods.

me: facts are now a series of 'confidence increasing methods'.

prof: If you don't accept it fine. But I might ask, if your method is different, how would your method take the same data and establish what is "fact?"

me: The same way scientist who believed in a Christian worldview did. They started with a premise creation is fact. I would concede, that since neither of us were there for either the birth of the universe or the the birth of the species, we rely on educated guesses.

Maury, Matthew Fontaine (January 14, 1806-February 1, 1873), was a scientist and pioneer hydrographer. He was known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas" for having charted the sea and wind currents while serving in the U.S. Navy. Considered the founder of modern hydrography and oceanography, he was Professor of Meteorology at Virginia Military Institute. In his book Physical Geography of the Sea, 1855, Matthew Maury wrote:

I have always found in my scientific studies, that, when I could get the Bible to say anything on the subject it afforded me a firm platform to stand
upon, and a round in the ladder by which I could safely ascend. As our knowledge of nature and her laws has increased, so has our knowledge of many passages of the Bible improved. The Bible called the earth "the round world," yet for ages it was the most damnable heresy for Christian men to say that the world is round; and, finally, sailors circumnavigated the globe, and proved the Bible to be right, and saved Christian men of science from the stake. And as for the general system of circulation which I have been so long endeavoring to describe, the Bible tells it all in a single sentence: "The wind goeth toward the South and returneth again to his circuits."

prof: Something to keep in mind: Evolution isn't merely a (confirmed) theory; it's also a large area of research, which spans into many diffferent disciplines. Like any areas of research, there is plenty of discussion about which data should be interpreted which way.

me: BINGO! My opint exactly. The data is OPEN to interpretation!

prof: Especially in the vanguard areas of research. Unfortunately, creationists tend to mine evolutionary research for any seeming controversies,

me: 'seeming controversies...?!!?"

prof: and use them as "proof" evolution must be wrong.

me: no, rather proof that evolution is not the certitude, the absolute, the fact, the smooth ride from single cells to complex organisms painted by your local HS biology teacher.

prof: But they only do so out of misunderstanding the field, and the nature of the communal process of science. Physics, for example: That there may be differing views among scientists in how to interprate data in sub-atomic physics does not undermine the reliability of modern Gravitational Theory at the macro level. A rocket will reliably follow the physics described by modern gravitational theory, no matter the controversies concerning physics at it's deeper, less emperically verified layers. (Not that there isn't tons of emperical verification within sub-atomic physics). LIkewise, evolutionary theory reliably describes and predicts biological phenomena, and different opinions within evolutionary research do not undermine the essential premise.

me: bias and opinion. Evolutionary theory is not akin to gravity and to try to draw a relatability is a stretch. The essential premise of evolution is what is 1) fundamentally contradicted by SCIENCE and 2) the differing opinions become the refuge of "proof" despite the wide variances of opinion!

prof: a(BTW, the creationist Gods of Intelligent Design "theory," Michael Behe and William Dembski, are not trained directly in evolutionary sciences. When an evolutionary biologist looks at their "criticisms" inevitably it's pointed out that those criticisms are borne of incomplete familiarity with the field).

me: Would you like me to list creationist who were directly trained in evolutionary science? "Intelligent design" is only one of various theories concerning creationism. What specific field would you view as adequate to be an expert? Frankly, you undercut our conversation unless you are an evolutionary biologist trained directly in evolutionary sciences. You seem to forget that modern science was founded by men who believed the Bible was the revelation of their Creator. Furthermore, many competent, practising scientists today are Biblical creationists. You are essentially using the informal logical fallacy of argument from authority. Nonetheless, let me give you one...

Creationist molecular biologist
and microbiologist:
Dr Ian Macreadie

Dr Ian Macreadie is a highly regarded Australian researcher in the fields of molecular biology and microbiology. Author of more than 60 research papers, he is a Principal Research Scientist at the Biomolecular Research Institute of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and national secretary of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

In 1997 he was part of a team which won the CSIRO’s top prize, the Chairman’s Medal. In 1995 he won the Australian Society for Microbiology’s top award, for outstanding contributions to research. He is also adjunct professor of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Would you like me to list more? Are they authorities or because their conclusion is different, they are discluded?

prof: Something to keep in mind: Evolution isn't merely a (confirmed) theory; it's also a large area of research, which spans into many diffferent disciplines. Like any areas of research, there is plenty of discussion about which data should be interpreted which way.

me: BINGO! My point exactly. The data is OPEN to interpretation!

prof: Especially in the vanguard areas of research. Unfortunately, creationists tend to mine evolutionary research for any seeming controversies,

me: 'seeming controversies...?!!?"

prof: and use them as "proof" evolution must be wrong.

me: no, rather proof that evolution is not the certitude, the absolute, the fact, the smooth ride from single cells to complex organisms painted by your local HS biology teacher.

prof: But they only do so out of misunderstanding the field, and the nature of the communal process of science. Physics, for example: That there may be differing views among scientists in how to interprate data in sub-atomic physics does not undermine the reliability of modern Gravitational Theory at the macro level. A rocket will reliably follow the physics described by modern gravitational theory, no matter the controversies concerning physics at it's deeper, less emperically verified layers. (Not that there isn't tons of emperical verification within sub-atomic physics). LIkewise, evolutionary theory reliably describes and predicts biological phenomena, and different opinions within evolutionary research do not undermine the essential premise.

me: bias and opinion. Evolutionary theory is not akin to gravity and to try to draw a relatability is a stretch. The essential premise of evolution is what is 1) fundamentally contradicted by SCIENCE and 2) the differing opinions become the refuge of "proof" despite the wide variances of opinion!

prof: a(BTW, the creationist Gods of Intelligent Design "theory," Michael Behe and William Dembski, are not trained directly in evolutionary sciences. When an evolutionary biologist looks at their "criticisms" inevitably it's pointed out that those criticisms are borne of incomplete familiarity with the field).

me: Would you like me to list creationist who were directly trained in evolutionary science? "Intelligent design" is only one of various theories concerning creationism. What specific field would you view as adequate to be an expert? Frankly, you undercut our conversation unless you are an evolutionary biologist trained directly in evolutionary sciences. You seem to forget that modern science was founded by men who believed the Bible was the revelation of their Creator. Furthermore, many competent, practising scientists today are Biblical creationists. You are essentially using the informal logical fallacy of argument from authority. Nonetheless, let me give you one...

Creationist molecular biologist
and microbiologist:
Dr Ian Macreadie

Dr Ian Macreadie is a highly regarded Australian researcher in the fields of molecular biology and microbiology. Author of more than 60 research papers, he is a Principal Research Scientist at the Biomolecular Research Institute of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and national secretary of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

In 1997 he was part of a team which won the CSIRO’s top prize, the Chairman’s Medal. In 1995 he won the Australian Society for Microbiology’s top award, for outstanding contributions to research. He is also adjunct professor of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Would you like me to list more? Are they authorities or because their conclusion is different, they are discluded?

prof: Science seeks to reveal or explain systems, to add to our knowledge of the mechanics or systems underlying the natural world. (And it's conclusions are extrapolated from observations that are usually repeatable for any other observer). For instance, the value in evolutionary theory is not only in it's descriptive power, in how well it adheres to our ever expanding observations of nature. But it also describes the system/mechanism behind the natural phenomena, adding to our understanding of how the world works, and it predicts natural phenomena. Religious explanationes typically do not do this. Saying "god did it" illuminates nothing about how it was achieved, and adds zero to our knowledge of our natural world. Now, some religious folk may wish to add: "But in studying the natural world we find out how God did it." However, when for instance meteorologists describe the physical relationships between temperature, pressure, and water vapor and how they interact to produce weather patterns, we are left with a fully self-contained explanation of how the phenomenon occurs. Inserting "God did it" between the description of each mechanical link isn't required, and it adds nothing of interest at all to the system described.

me: You fail to note the distinction between normal (operational) science, and origins or historical science. Normal (operational) science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present, while origins science helps us to make educated guesses about origins in the past.

prof: The God assertion is both unprovable and completely superfluous - as illuminating as an engineer inserting "god does this" between all the steps in explaining how your car works.

me: quit now. lay people may do that just as lay people may technically describe evolution incorrectly. Is the "no God" assertion that scientists make provable?

prof: This is one important reason why a supernatural God is not used in science (another being there is no scientifically reliable evidence for a God). It's not that science "rejects" the existence of God. Or even presumes there is no God. Rather, it's that science is in the business of explaining how things work in our natural world, and adding "God did it" adds nothing to the process. (There is also the problem of "which" God science would have to infer behind natural processes).