Science

Creationism, Evolution, and other science issues

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DavidLeon
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Science

Post #1

Post by DavidLeon »

I'm not accustomed to formal debate to any degree so it's difficult for me to begin a debate topic. I'm going to give this a try. I became a believer when I was 27. In school I was disinterested in science. I didn't think of myself as atheist, and looking back I was probably irreligious agnostic. Now I'm irreligious theist. All of my family and friends were and still are irreligious atheists. None of them believed or now believe in evolution. I still have no interest in science but the subject comes up often since I generally prefer to debate and discuss the Bible and religion with atheists.

So, I've been struggling with how to formulate this debate question and I really have no idea. The best I can do is to ask of what significance is science in the atheist / theist debate, and why, if at all, is it significant?
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Re: Science

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Here's a couple of distinctions that will make a difference in how you understand things.

Science is based on what is known as "Methodological Naturalism" (henceforth MN). The committment to MN means that science does not and cannot include supernatural explanations. Why not? Because the supernatural in principle cannot be measured and does not follow rational rules. This doesn't mean that supernatural explanations are not true, it just means that such explanations cannot be scientific. Many scientists are in fact religious.

Philosophical Naturalism (henceforth PN) goes beyond science. PN is the view that there are only natural causal agents acting on natural causal objects. In other words, there is no such thing as the supernatural. PN entails MN, but MN does not entail PM.

In philosophy, to know is defined as justified/warranted true belief. Everything I claim to know I claim to believe. But not everything I claim to believe can I say I know. Without warrant for a belief, there is no knowledge claim.

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Re: Science

Post #3

Post by DavidLeon »

elphidium55 wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 11:35 pm Here's a couple of distinctions that will make a difference in how you understand things.

Science is based on what is known as "Methodological Naturalism" (henceforth MN). The commitment to MN means that science does not and cannot include supernatural explanations. Why not? Because the supernatural in principle cannot be measured and does not follow rational rules. This doesn't mean that supernatural explanations are not true, it just means that such explanations cannot be scientific. Many scientists are in fact religious.

Philosophical Naturalism (henceforth PN) goes beyond science. PN is the view that there are only natural causal agents acting on natural causal objects. In other words, there is no such thing as the supernatural. PN entails MN, but MN does not entail PM.

In philosophy, to know is defined as justified/warranted true belief. Everything I claim to know I claim to believe. But not everything I claim to believe can I say I know. Without warrant for a belief, there is no knowledge claim.
Most of this makes perfect sense to me. The terminology isn't familiar, but the concept is. Supernatural is (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature. I recall reading once that whales and giant squid were supernatural in the sense that mermaids are today. Why? Because they were the stuff of legend. Sea stories. I don't know if there is any truth to that.

The interesting thing to me is that these are scientific classifications. So, for example, if I say to someone you're behaving like an animal you know what that means in an unscientific sense. But it would be redundant from a scientific perspective because science classifies we humans as animals. One is an insult and the other a scientific classification. Now, if I were having a debate with a science minded atheist they would insist that this classification were fact. Perhaps indisputable fact. Well, it isn't indisputable fact because it is disputed. But it can't really effectively be disputed because it's only a classification. So, to me the classification used by the atheist should be specified. It would be acceptable in debate for them to say something to the effect that according to science we are animals. That is an indisputable fact.

Funny enough, Santa Claus is a good example. Perhaps a child is old enough to move past the myth and the father, taking the child one last time to the mall to sit on Santa's lap, passing several Santa's on the street corner ringing bells, tells the child there is no such thing as Santa Claus. That isn't true. It would be far more accurate to say that Santa is a mythological legend allegedly based upon a real person who has been commercialized and is represented by people in costume on the holidays.

Regarding PN you say "Without warrant for a belief, there is no knowledge claim." And MN meaning that science does not and cannot include supernatural explanations. . . . Because the supernatural in principle cannot be measured and does not follow rational rules. This makes sense, but again are sort of classifications.

There are three examples in which I would relate to these in questioning them without any claim on my part to fully understand them. It, uh - it may get crazy.

If I apply both of these to a belief in gods I see a knowledge claim with warrant for a belief and a measurable rational rule in some examples, while at the same time a separate example immeasurable due to the supernatural. For this reason it's always wise to clarify definition of word god as it is being applied. A definition of a god as an admirable, skillful person or leader, an upper balcony in a theater, inanimate objects like idols are measurable rational knowledge claims regarding gods. And not supernatural. Other gods are supernatural. A mythological god may or may not be supernatural and may or may not have ever existed but still be a god. Not many people, even theists, understand this.

The third example has nothing to do with gods but I'm curious about, and that is hallucinations, night terrors, near death experiences as they might compare to supernatural events.

I've had three supernatural events in my lifetime that can't be explained rationally, and I have no idea what they were inasmuch as I can't logically, rationally explain them.

But I've also had problems related to sleep disorders which I gradually began to understand as such and to thereby stop them from occurring. At first I thought these were dreams but then realized that I was often awake. Sort of in a state in between sleep and awake. Figures huddled in a corner talking about me when realizing I was watching them they flew up through the ceiling and were gone. Animals and burglars coming at me and especially spiders. I would always react to these trying to physically defend myself, then think it was just a dream. Then one night I realized that a spider crawling on my arm was completely visible as if it were daylight when in fact the room was completely dark. If there had been a spider I couldn't have possibly seen it, so I started watching them preventing myself from freaking out. These very real looking spiders would, upon being watched by me, completely disappear before my eyes. Then I stopped having these, night terrors or hallucinations. The question is, could these be measured or not? Could they be classified as supernatural?

My uneducated guess is that a NDE is a sort of neurological (?) experience near death or rapid acceleration. Temporal seizures, retinal ischemia are possible explanations. Probably influenced by religious cultural beliefs, all of which can be rationally explained but can it be measured scientifically?
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Re: Science

Post #4

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@DavidLeon writes:
… science classifies we humans as animals. … Now, if I were having a debate with a science minded atheist they would insist that this classification were fact. Perhaps indisputable fact. Well, it isn't indisputable fact because it is disputed.
Let’s unpack part of your argument.

Definition: an animal is an entity with characteristics A, B, C, D, and etc.
Premise 1: any entity which exhibits the above characteristics is an animal;
Premise 2: human beings exhibit the above characteristics;
Conclusion: therefore, human beings are animals;

There are only two ways this argument can be disputed.
1. the logical form of the argument is invalid;
2. one of the premises of the argument is not sound;

Regarding 1:
The logical form here is “modus ponens,” that is it is of the form: if A then B; A; therefore B;

One way to dispute this syllogism is to deny the validity of the logical form used (in this case, modus ponens). But to deny modus ponens is to deny the validity of logic itself. And denying logic itself renders communication and argumentation impossible.

Regarding 2:
The other way to dispute this argument is to deny one of the premises. But the first premise seems to follow from our definition. Furthermore, in arguments, definitions are just stipulations for the sake of the argument. They are neither true nor false in this context. And no matter which attributes an “animal” is defined as having, it still follows logically that an entity with said attributes is by that fact an “animal.”

The second premise is empirically verifiable. Assuming we are defining “animal” in the standard biological way, then based on what we already know about human beings, it is a fact that humans have the prerequisite animal attributes.

In short, there is no rational way of disputing that humans are animals.



@DavidLeon also writes:
... clarify definition of word god as it is being applied. A definition of a god as an admirable, skillful person or leader, an upper balcony in a theater, inanimate objects like idols are measurable rational knowledge claims regarding gods. And not supernatural. Other gods are supernatural. A mythological god may or may not be supernatural and may or may not have ever existed but still be a god. Not many people, even theists, understand this.
With all due respect, you are being pedantic about your definition of God. The word "God" is almost universally understood in the English speaking world as connoting a kind of supernatural being. The idea that by "God" we might possibly mean a theater balcony is ridiculous. Yes, for the sake of your argument you are entitled to define the word in this way. Just as you are entitled to define a circle as having three sides. But in doing so, your argument is no longer worthy of consideration.

@DavidLeon also relates the following:
I've had three supernatural events in my lifetime that can't be explained rationally, and I have no idea what they were inasmuch as I can't logically, rationally explain them.


How do you “know” that your “supernatural” events can’t be explained rationally? As I said before, in philosophy, to know entails some version of warranted, true belief. Where is the warrant for your assertion?

Even if it were true that your experiences were not currently explainable by the present state of science, how do you know it won’t be explained by future science? We know that over time, science has been able to explain more and more formerly inexplicable phenomenon. It seems there is strong inductive case for believing this will continue going forward. Isn’t more intellectually honest in cases like these to simply say “I don’t know?”

What your assertion seems to entail is that there can be no possible natural explanation for these experiences at all. You are ruling out a whole class of possible explanation in advance. Instead you are positing a “supernatural” explanation, an explanation that by essence is unfalsifiable. Why? Is the answer “God did it” really a better response than "I don't know? Is "God did it" even an answer at all?

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Re: Science

Post #5

Post by DavidLeon »

elphidium55 wrote: Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:09 pm @DavidLeon writes:
… science classifies we humans as animals. … Now, if I were having a debate with a science minded atheist they would insist that this classification were fact. Perhaps indisputable fact. Well, it isn't indisputable fact because it is disputed.
Let’s unpack part of your argument.

Definition: an animal is an entity with characteristics A, B, C, D, and etc.
Premise 1: any entity which exhibits the above characteristics is an animal;
Premise 2: human beings exhibit the above characteristics;
Conclusion: therefore, human beings are animals;

There are only two ways this argument can be disputed.
1. the logical form of the argument is invalid;
2. one of the premises of the argument is not sound;

Regarding 1:
The logical form here is “modus ponens,” that is it is of the form: if A then B; A; therefore B;

One way to dispute this syllogism is to deny the validity of the logical form used (in this case, modus ponens). But to deny modus ponens is to deny the validity of logic itself. And denying logic itself renders communication and argumentation impossible.

Regarding 2:
The other way to dispute this argument is to deny one of the premises. But the first premise seems to follow from our definition. Furthermore, in arguments, definitions are just stipulations for the sake of the argument. They are neither true nor false in this context. And no matter which attributes an “animal” is defined as having, it still follows logically that an entity with said attributes is by that fact an “animal.”

The second premise is empirically verifiable. Assuming we are defining “animal” in the standard biological way, then based on what we already know about human beings, it is a fact that humans have the prerequisite animal attributes.

In short, there is no rational way of disputing that humans are animals.
None of that changes them from a classification. The same could be classified as creatures. The classification is, as you point out, based upon similarities observed by the field of study classifying them.
elphidium55 wrote: Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:09 pmWith all due respect, you are being pedantic about your definition of God. The word "God" is almost universally understood in the English speaking world as connoting a kind of supernatural being. The idea that by "God" we might possibly mean a theater balcony is ridiculous. Yes, for the sake of your argument you are entitled to define the word in this way. Just as you are entitled to define a circle as having three sides. But in doing so, your argument is no longer worthy of consideration.
It is somewhat pedantic, I'm aware. The universally understood is not very accurate to some degree which is important. In ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, common Greek, Latin, English and any other language I can think of a criteria for a god isn't supernatural being, it is the attribution of might or veneration. Each of the examples I gave are examples of that, both supernatural and otherwise. You don't have to be supernatural to be a god you only have to be considered mighty or venerated.
elphidium55 wrote: Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:09 pmHow do you “know” that your “supernatural” events can’t be explained rationally? As I said before, in philosophy, to know entails some version of warranted, true belief. Where is the warrant for your assertion?

Even if it were true that your experiences were not currently explainable by the present state of science, how do you know it won’t be explained by future science? We know that over time, science has been able to explain more and more formerly inexplicable phenomenon. It seems there is strong inductive case for believing this will continue going forward. Isn’t more intellectually honest in cases like these to simply say “I don’t know?”

What your assertion seems to entail is that there can be no possible natural explanation for these experiences at all. You are ruling out a whole class of possible explanation in advance. Instead you are positing a “supernatural” explanation, an explanation that by essence is unfalsifiable. Why? Is the answer “God did it” really a better response than "I don't know? Is "God did it" even an answer at all?
Well, that certainly is interesting. I can't explain them rationally. God did it certainly isn't an answer in my case. I know this because the God of which we speak, who is the basis for the common misconception mentioned above, plainly attributes the types of supernatural experiences I had as a product of demons. They were illusions or foretelling of events which I couldn't have foreseen being relayed to me and then coming true.
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Re: Science

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DavidLeon wrote: Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:18 pm

Well, that certainly is interesting. I can't explain them rationally. God did it certainly isn't an answer in my case. I know this because the God of which we speak, who is the basis for the common misconception mentioned above, plainly attributes the types of supernatural experiences I had as a product of demons. They were illusions or foretelling of events which I couldn't have foreseen being relayed to me and then coming true.
Have you ever considered the possibility of confirmation bias, where vaguely remember experiences are imposed upon what happens, and then there is the illusion of it coming true? Have you taken a diary, recording the foretelling of events, and then compared what you wrote to what actually happened, and then saw how many didn't come true?

That also would provide a mechanism to see how close your foretelling was to the actual event, rather than having your mind retrofit details to make it seem true.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Re: Science

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Goat wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:28 pmHave you ever considered the possibility of confirmation bias, where vaguely remember experiences are imposed upon what happens, and then there is the illusion of it coming true? Have you taken a diary, recording the foretelling of events, and then compared what you wrote to what actually happened, and then saw how many didn't come true?

That also would provide a mechanism to see how close your foretelling was to the actual event, rather than having your mind retrofit details to make it seem true.
No, because I wasn't foretelling the events. Two events. The first at about 16 years old. A relative of mine was relatively young and healthy. She was hospitalized with diverticulitis for three days and released feeling fine. I was standing in the front yard, and there were neighborhood kids running around as there usually were. A loud, clear, distinctly separate voice from myself announced that this relative had died. A holographic appearance of her husband, who had died years before standing behind her as she looked at me, then turned and taking his hand walked away a few yards until the two of them disappeared. She was discovered alone in her apartment the next day.

At 21 I had moved into a house out in the country and had lived there for about a year. Walking through the nearby woods the same voice as above told me that a person was moving into the house next door. The voice described the person, age, hair color, sex and said that we would fall in love and it would last forever. I didn't know at the time that the people in the house next door had moved out during the winter. We both kept to ourselves and rarely saw one another. About a week later the person moved into the house and after three years we had an intimate relationship.
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Re: Science

Post #8

Post by elphidium55 »

With all due respect, I have never found personal testimonies for beliefs to be very convicing. Private experiences are just that - private. What you heard or thought you heard or said you heard are beyond my ability to verify. My rule of thumb in cases like these is that it's way more probable that someone was mistaken about what they experienced than that they actually experienced something supernatural.

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Re: Science

Post #9

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elphidium55 wrote: Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:04 pm With all due respect, I have never found personal testimonies for beliefs to be very convicing. Private experiences are just that - private. What you heard or thought you heard or said you heard are beyond my ability to verify. My rule of thumb in cases like these is that it's way more probable that someone was mistaken about what they experienced than that they actually experienced something supernatural.
I agree completely. You couldn't verify anything I've said, and neither can I for that matter, except for that I experienced them. However, the testimony I gave above about the two events has nothing to do with my current beliefs. They both occurred years before I had any beliefs of the supernatural and they did nothing to enforce any presumptions I had then or have now regarding the supernatural. They are events that I can't explain. I don't present these events as having anything to do with the supernatural because I don't know. I can only say that drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation, mental illness and a cultural, traditional or social proclivity to entertain the supernatural were not influential in the occurrences or the testimony itself.

Something happened. I can't explain it. It still happened. I'm not out to convince anyone nor try and explain something I can't explain.
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Re: Science

Post #10

Post by elphidium55 »

@DavidLeon shares the following:
Something happened. I can't explain it. It still happened. I'm not out to convince anyone nor try and explain something I can't explain.
Fair enough. After all, who am I to tell you what your experience means. Sometimes,"I don't know" is the most true thing we can say.

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