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Reload this Page EVOLUTION: Science or Science Fiction? ~ Battle Royale IX
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Exclamation EVOLUTION: Science or Science Fiction? ~ Battle Royale IX - November 3rd, 2005, 06:21 PM

EVOLUTION: Science or Science Fiction?
Battle Royale IX

Hilston vs. Stratnerd


The Battle will start on Monday December 5th 2005. Battle Royale X will be a 7 round battle and follow the existing Battle Royale rules.

BATTLE ROYALE IX DETAILS

What: The debate is titled Battle Royale IX: EVOLUTION: Science or Science Fiction?

Where: The debate will take place on the Internet at TheologyOnline.com (TOL), the popular online Christian forum, with the moderator, opponents, and spectators all participating and observing over the web.

Who: The debate will be moderated by the site’s webmaster, through his TOL screen name Knight, who can be contacted at knight@TheologyOnline.com. Hilston and Stratnerd will be the combatants

When: The debate will begin on Monday, December 5, 2005 at noon. TOL’s webmaster, Knight, will determine which side will go first by flipping a coin ten minutes before noon Mountain Time (1:50 p.m. Eastern Time). Each side will have 48 hours to upload their successive posts, THERE WILL NOT BE A WEEKEND BREAK FOR THIS BATTLE. Each combatant has 48 hours from the time of the previous post to make their next post. If for some reason a combatant cannot make their post on time they can make arrangements with me (Knight) and we can make an adjustment as long as it is a reasonable adjustment.


How: The debate will last for seven rounds. The recommended maximum word limit for the average post is 6,000 words, but any or all posts could be much briefer or possibly longer if need be. For each round, the opponents will login to TheologyOnline.com to upload their posts prior to each round’s 48-hour “move clock” running out of time. The official BR IX clock will be set by Knight and will show the countdown on TOL. (Remember to log in to TOL so that the system will automatically adjust references to your time zone and remember to make sure your time zone is set correctly in your TheologyOnLine USER Control Panel)

So why seven rounds?

10 rounds seems a bit too long and 5 too short, so 7 it is!

Think of the battle like this....
Round #1 - opening statements
Round #2 - rebuttals
Round #3
Round #4
Round #5
Round #6
Round #7 - closing statements

Guidelines

Clarity: Both sides will attempt to achieve clarity and avoid obfuscation.

Responsiveness: Each side will make an effort to be responsive to the other, to interact, and to answer relevant questions forthrightly, which also ensures that the participants actually debate one another and not simply post material written for other purposes, especially if that material is not specifically responsive.

Specific BR IX Rules

Rule 1:
Question Numbering:
To help focus the opponent on the topic(s) of a particular post, and to enable readers to follow the debate more easily, participants will sequentially number their questions using TOL’s Battle Royale convention of first and last initial, a Q for question, an A for answer, and then the question number. Hilston and Stratnerd would identify their questions with SQ1, SQ2, HQ1, and would mark any answer given with HA-SQ1 (Hilston answers Stratnerd’s first question), SA-HQ1, etc. After reading a post of, say, fifteen paragraphs, without such a convention, it may be unclear to the audience and even to the opponent exactly what is being asked. So this also saves participants time in evaluating an opponent’s post. And it discourages unresponsive replies that focus for example on rhetorical questions or incidental details while ignoring the primary challenges. Of course there can be valid reasons why an opponent may refuse to answer a given question.


Only Admins and Battle Royale participants will be able to post in this thread.
Stay tuned for more info.





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Last edited by Knight; November 4th, 2005 at 09:28 AM..
   
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Exclamation The Tale of the Tape... - November 23rd, 2005, 07:54 PM

In this corner....

Stratnerd.
Born in Pennsylvania, raised in NJ, schooled in the South. Welsh/English ancestry. I speak English and Portuguese.

Was married now divorced with an 8 year old son.

I do ecological research for a living - I study birds.

I don't hunt but I do own a gun (.54 caliber blackpowder) and I do fish (mainly saltwater now but I do prefer trout fishing).

I'm not religious but I am faithful to family and friends and Rutgers football (which is finally paying off).

Favorite donuts are Boston Creme and Blueberry Jelly.

And in this corner....

Hilston
Basic bio info
James Hilston is a young-earth creationist and holds the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, to be God's inerrant and infallible word. Jim is formerly evolutionistic and atheistic in his philosophy and worldview, formerly Arminian/Open Theist in his theology, and formerly Covenantal in his eschatology. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Laura, his wife of 14 years, and his three home-schooled children, ages 7 through 12. Jim is also one of five pastors of the Trinity Grace Fellowship of Pittsburgh, Pa. He is a former university instructor (informational graphics and web publishing, Youngstown State University), and is currently employed as a journalist and an artist at a local daily newspaper. Jim also does freelance work in illustration, graphic design and web publishing.

Jim has served as the Foundations of Science Technical Peer-Review Committee liaison for the International Conferences on Creationism (2001-2003), a symposium recognized around the world as the preeminent gathering for peer-reviewed technical exchange and debate among the world's top creationist scientists. He also contributed technical and promotional graphics to the marketing and conference proceedings of the 1994, 1998 and 2003 ICCs.

Education
Jim's educational background includes an Associate degree in Engineering Mathematics, a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design. His theological training comes from 21 years of Bible study and 12 years of instruction in the Trinity Grace Fellowship.

Horn-tooting
Jim is the recipient of numerous local journalism design awards, as well as national and international awards. These include the Society of Professional Journalists award for Best Graphic Designer in Ohio, the Associated Press of Ohio first place award for informational graphics, and the Society of News Design award for Best of Newspaper Design for Information Graphics/Breaking News.

Hobbies, interests
Jim enjoys music (plays piano and guitar), writing, racquetball, philosophy, the paranormal, origami, the cognitive sciences, breakfast cereal (in moderation), rhetoric, digital photography and image manipulation, tent-camping, second-hand book stores and library book sales, volleyball, skiing, biking, frisbee, table hockey (not air hockey), cigars and beer (in moderation), barbecuing, psychology, politics (in moderation), doing his own oil changes, getting together with friends and long walks on the beach.

Both fighters have agreed to the stated rules the fight will begin December 5th 2005.





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Lightbulb November 30th, 2005, 03:01 PM

Battle Royale UPDATE!!

I have great news! Since BR IX is going to have a slightly different format i.e.

Round #1 - opening statements
Round #2 - rebuttals
Round #3
Round #4
Round #5
Round #6
Round #7 - closing statements

I have asked that BOTH fighters (Stratnerd and Hilston) prepare their opening statements in advance. Their opening statements will BOTH be posted on Monday Dec 5th around noon (MDT). Then after both opening statement are posted the 48 hour clock will start running for the winner of the coin toss and they will need to post their 2nd round post within that timeframe.

Therefore, on Monday we will really have something to put our teeth into and the battle will have begun in a big way instead of having to wait 48 hours for the first post to be made and so on.

Cool eh? I thought of this myself (where is that "pat yourself on the back" smilie wihen you need it?)





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December 5th, 2005, 09:37 AM

Is Evolution Science?

First, let me take the opportunity to thank TOL for allowing me to express my views. Second, let me apologize; I have little spare time and my writing tends to be telegraphic to begin with so you may be left wanting. To add insult, I write poorly and I know I make as many or more mistakes in my writing as many of my friends whose primarily language is not English (but then I have exceptionally bright friends). This is my first formal debate. I’ll do my best, hang in there.

I am no expert on and have no formal training in evolution, my training is in ecology so what you, the reader, will get is an ecologists view of evolution. These are not disparate fields; a favorite quip of mine is “the ecological stage of the evolutionary play.” I haven’t been privy to any information that would not be found in a university or a very good public library – I generally do not read creationists’ material. Perhaps just as important as knowledge of evolution is a knowledge in philosophy. This is admittedly pathetic – worse that I am a Doctor philosophiae. I’ll do my best, hang in there.

Back to the point of this exercise. The question is: “Is evolution science?” If definitions do arbitrary put boundaries on what we call certain things then one need simply define evolution narrowly in one sense and science narrowly enough such that evolution does not fall within the bounds of science – anyone can do that. Conversely, anyone can define science broadly enough to encompass any pursuit.

What to do? One, I’ll attempt to be consistent. Two, I may explore other definitions to point out their utility. So I’ll start with defining evolution. In a broad sense organic evolution, the type of evolution we are interested in here (as opposed to cultural evolution and other “evolutions”), can be thought broadly of as change in populations through generations. This change takes place, not at the level of an individual (this is ontogeny) but at the level of populations – collections of individuals that share their genome through reproduction. A key concept is lineages – the phenomenon of creating more individuals through reproduction. So bacteria, even though they rarely (I think) exchange genetic material with other individuals do have lineages. This, to me, is a very broad definition of evolution. What constitutes change? Most scientists would look at genotypes and the gene pool. So if the gene pool is changing then the population is evolving. One may also suggest that the changes need be functional either physiologically or physically – that is, there’s a phenotypic consequence of that change, again, at the level of the population. So changes in mean height that are attributable to changes in genotype (and not changes in diet, etc) can be considered evolution.

Defining evolution more narrowly, one can define it by the mechanisms that supposedly generate change. So that gives us change in populations through time (generations) via sexual recombination, mutation, lateral transfer in cahoots with genetic drift and natural (including sexual selection). Another definition, and the one that interests most readers here, is evolution as an explanation for the diversity we see today. So this is the same definition as the broad scale but restricting it to longer time scales thus becoming a historical hypothesis or theory. You’ll get the definition I’m using from the context.

Science, has many more definitions and is much more contentious (evolution in the real world of working scientists is hardly contentious [pick your definition]). The debate of what science is and what we consider scientific continues to this day (obviously). Part of the problem is that there is no right answer. So I won’t attempt to give you a right definition. What I can do, on the other hand, is to give definitions that vary in their usefulness.

A definition of science that is hardly useful is “the pursuit of knowledge.” In this case everything is science because anyone can pursue knowledge via anything at their disposal. A tarot card reader is pursuing knowledge as much as someone flipping a coin to see if they should join a pointless debate. A more useful definition would be the pursuit of reliable knowledge. By reliable I mean that there is a supposed causal link (correlation) because the variation in two factors such that the variation in one can reliably predict change in the other factor. Just to be clear, more than one factor may be at work for either side of the equation – just like the likelihood of precipitation is a construct of humidity and temperature.

Operational definitions of science involve how to carry out getting reliable knowledge – what most scientists refer to as the science method. If a research program doesn’t adhere to the scientific method then that program is considered to be pseudoscience or not science at all. The most popular presentation of the scientific method is that of Popper where the hallmarks of science are falsification and skepticism. Skepticism is the incentive – and we usually articulated this as the scientist’s claim that all explanations are tentative and should be tested over and over. As Karl Popper (Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1959) put it: [an explanation (hypothesis) is speculation until it] "proved its mettle" by attempts to falsify it. What do we mean falsify? It means to build a test or make observations based on supposed mechanisms at work and if that mechanism is absent then the results or matching observation will not turn out as predicted . The way I build predictions is by means of “if-then” statements with justification. If you cannot justify it then you can’t make the “then” connection (see intelligent design for examples) This is, by far the most popular concept of the scientific method. In almost any text we see “observe, make a hypothesis, test it or make observations, then reject or support hypothesis [I would also add publish to this last step because what value is knowledge if not part of the scientific community?].

Usually presented as an alternative, which I prefer to think of as a complement, to Popperian science is the information-theoretic framework where multiple hypotheses compete to explain a particular observation. Some people have put this forward as a Bayesian framework but I don’t agree. Implicit is that one can test the hypothesis (thus would also be falsifiable in the Popperian framework). In my line of work, I develop a pool of hypotheses to explain a pattern. We can only include a particular hypothesis (model) if we can justify it – that is, we suppose a causal link between the two phenomena creating “if-then” statement. This is also true of Popperian science.
One can bring in the requirement of methodological naturalism into a definition of science. I tend to think it really doesn’t matter. Methodological naturalism assumes that only natural forces are at work. The reason why I say that it really doesn’t matter is that it is impossible to make predictions when supernatural forces are at work. For example, how does one finish this statement “If animals were supernaturally created then ______ should be seen as a pattern across taxa.” It’s not enough to fill in the blank –that’s merely up to your imagination but you need to be able to justify what you put in there. So, methodological naturalism may not be necessary to make something science (just depends on your definition) but lacking it does make you impotent to make predictions. So, in summary, my definition of science is: the pursuit of reliable knowledge (acknowledging that these are tentative explanations) via making justifiable hypotheses and testing such hypothesis is observation or experiment. I left out induction on purpose. Science would stall if it wasn’t for induction – but induction is speculation and we don’t know if this new idea is worth anything until it proves its mettle.

So can evolution be considered science? Broadly speaking, yes. We see that lineage change and this can be observed in the lab. Popper thought that evolution was so basic to biology that evolution could not be falsified. It would be like asking if trees carried on photosynthesis. This isn’t a hypothesis to be tested – it’s simply an observation. Again, assuming that we’re interested in evolution as a historical explanation then I should focus there. So to determine if evolution is science then we should see if we can make “if-then” statements that are justifiable and that we can make observations or experiments. Certainly we can. If evolution is true then we should a pattern of ancestral-descendent relationships in the fossil record. Justification: As time goes by animals are evolution and becoming part of the fossil record. Falsification: if the fossil record turns up modern species throughout the record OR a reliable explanation is put forward to explain why modern organism haven’t ended up there and there is an appearance of evolution. There are others and rather than reinvent the wheel- I will direct those interested to http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/.

If the other side of this argument is to argue that evolution is not science then I’ll let Hilston do that. I’d rather explore creationism and compare it to evolution.
To me, utility is more important than semantics. So let’s open the door to creationism for a moment and see if we can consider creationism to be science or scientific. Let me surprise some of you and say that certain aspects are – no doubt. But most aspects are not. The aspects that are unscientific and part of pseudoscience are those involving the mechanisms of supernatural creation. We can never do any experiments or any observations that will test our ideas of how a creator would create. The example, I gave above hold for this: we cannot use observations of organisms because we have no idea how a creator would create. So anytime you hear “ID predicts that DNA….” you should become suspect – that is, if you are honest.

The aspects of creationism that can be handled scientifically are those that make certain prediction that we can test: “all organism were created in one week”…. “the Earth is 6000 years old” … “a global flood covered the Earth”. These make definite predictions that we can test but they don’t hold up so they have been abandoned except for Biblical literalists – for them it’s true regardless of any evidence (FOR and against) so in that sense, their creationism is not scientific – none of it.

now off to Christmas shop, write two lectures, a lab exam, a final exam, finish a manuscript, review of manuscript, learn R and nonmetric nondimensional scaling, and bottle my first home brew!





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Battle Royale IX, Round 1 post - December 5th, 2005, 11:02 AM

Opening Statement
James Hilston

I. Introductory Remarks
A. Thank yous

I wish to thank Knight for the invitation and opportunity to debate this important topic. I'm thankful to the administrators and moderators for providing and maintaining Theology Online as an exciting and profitable venue where we can all be exposed to a wide range of opposing viewpoints and have our own views challenged and honed. As many Theology Online subscribers know, there are a vast number of doctrinal details and methodological assumptions espoused by the moderators and administrators of this forum about which I disagree. However, one thing about which we do heartily agree is the trustworthiness of God's Word and its non-negotiable relevance to the important areas of human experience: what is true, how we are to conduct our lives, and our place in the world. I am happy to be able to stand with them on the verity of God's Word.

Although I don't recall ever having debated Stratnerd in the past, I have read many of his posts and I look forward to a spirited debate. Those who frequent TOL are probably accustomed to the idea of publicly discussing personal views and sensitive subjects, and perhaps it is easy to overlook the fact that such views and subjects can be considered very personal to many people, even in private settings. The willingness not only to make one's opinions public, but to debate them in a public arena, is not something I take lightly or for granted. I wish to thank Stratnerd for taking the time from his busy life for this debate and for his willingness to share his views and to debate them in a public forum. I consider it a deep honor and privilege that Stratnerd would consider engaging in a public debate with me on this subject. And please call me Jim.

B. Preface and Caveat.
As many Theology Online subscribers know from either personal experience or from witnessing my debates, I can seem quite abrasive and off-putting in my "tone." Of course, there is really no "tone" when one is debating in a text-only environment, but nonetheless I have been called the full gamut of pejoratives for not only the things I say, but for my debating style, the kinds of questions I ask, and the annoying tendency I have of requesting definitions of seemingly obvious words. Those who know me personally are often surprised by the degree of heat my debates have generated in the past, since they know that I'm not the kind of person who customarily behaves in the ways of which I'm so often accused. Please be assured that I do not typically do or say things just to be annoying, or to be insulting, or to be disrespectful. When I want to be annoying, insulting and disrespectful, I try to make it absolutely clear.

C. What I Am (not)
1. I'm not a scientist by training or by profession, as the term is narrowly defined. However, in the broadest sense of the word, I would say that everyone is a scientist, that is, we all use science to varying degrees and with varying success as a means to understand our world. To be human is to be a scientist in the broadest sense, as we cannot escape the tools and methods of science that inform us of the world around us.

2. I'm Not an Intelligent Design (ID) proponent or advocate. I disagree with the vast majority of ID apologists. I view the standard ID methods of argument as irrational and fraught with unfounded assumptions. I view the standard ID arguments, such as irreducible complexity, as specious and based on an incoherent and indefensible "Intelligent Designer of the Gaps" (IDOG) thesis.

3. I'm not in support of the teaching of creationism in schools. The idea of the American government -- or any government -- mandating, and setting the standards for, the teaching of creationism to America's children is frightening at best.

II. The Goal(s), Title and Terms of the Debate
A. Two Purposes: The Debate versus my goal

The stated purpose of this debate is to address the question of whether evolution is science or science fiction. However, my goal in addressing this question is ultimately to present a clear and logically sound defense of the Biblical accounting of the diversity of life. It is not enough to discredit the fallacies of evolution, for to delegitimize one view does not sufficiently prove the legitimacy of the opposing view. I must also provide a positive defense and proof for the Biblical view of origins and of science. Thus, my aim is not only to demonstrate the errors and incoherence of the evolutionist paradigm, but also to prove the creationist claims of the Bible.

B. The Title of the Debate: What Is Meant By It?
Customarily, debates are framed as a proposition -- e.g. "Is the Bible True?" or "Is the negative influence of urban cover combined with relatively minor effects of non-urban habitats on distributions of neotropical migratory birds indicative that continued urbanization of landscapes is a serious concern for conservation efforts?" or "Does the Invisible Pink Unicorn have exhaustive foreknowledge?" -- with one side taking the affirmative and the other side taking the negative. This typically determines the order of the debate, with the debater holding the affirmative position going first. However, the title of this debate poses an either/or question, and it has not yet been stipulated who is taking which position. But given the espoused views of each debater, it is probably quite obvious who is taking which view. Or is it?

Let's consider the what the title implies. "Evolution: Science of Science Fiction?" Is the title intended to set "Science fact" against "Science fiction"? Or "Science Truth" against "Science, Falsely So-Called?" Or is its aim to contrast that which is scientific from that which is mere conjecture or fantasy? Since the title of the debate was proposed by a creationist, my guess is that the intent is to question whether or not the evolutionistic paradigm is based on scientific facts and the scientific method, and if it is not, to therefore suggest that it must be science fiction. This may come as a shock, but it is my view that evolution can indeed be called science, as long as the terms of the statement are carefully qualified. It is also my view that evolution can be called science "fiction," particularly where it violates the aforementioned terms. And this is a fitting segue to my next topic ...

C. Terms I will use in this debate.
For any debate, and especially those aimed at grappling with matters of such ultimate significance as the origins of life and the meaning and role of science, it is vital to a profitable debate to carefully define one's terms, even of seemingly mundane and commonplace words and ideas. I offer the following explanations and definitions -- some technical, some not -- of various terms I will be using in this debate.

1. Evolution. If you will excuse my use of secondary source material -- I have a good reason for doing so -- here is a definition of evolution provided by Laurence Moran at the TalkOrigins web site:
One of the most respected evolutionary biologists has defined biological evolution as follows:
"In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution ... is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions." -- Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986.
With the exception of the very last sentence of the paragraph, I do not disagree with the concept of evolution as stated by Futuyma. I agree that it happens and that we can observe examples of inter-generational adaptations. But I believe the biblical, and therefore correct, view of evolution is that the range of adaptation is limited and is thus insufficient to account for the wide diversity of life on this planet apart from the existence and active creative work of the God of the Bible.

2. Science. My attempt to secure a consensus on the definition of science was inconclusive. Based on what I saw in my "travels", I would characterize science in three ways. First, science can comprise the enterprise of researching, discovering, analyzing, testing and synthesizing data. Second, science can refer to a certain body knowledge that results from the aforementioned enterprise. Third, science can pertain to the application of the aforementioned body of knowledge to real-world circumstances and needs. I personally believe in the verity of the scientific method and in science as a tool for acquiring knowledge. I do not discount or discredit the scientific enterprise or treat of it as invalid, illegitimate or inadequate in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, or of understanding our world and our place in it. Finally, I do not deny the ability of an anti-theist or agnostic to do science, to formulate theories, or to apply science to the real world. However, I do not believe the anti-theist/agnostic can do so rationally and in accordance with their espoused worldview. The anti-theist or agnostic evolutionist has no justifiable grounds upon which to do, to formulate or to apply science, as science is based on premises that make no sense according to the anti-theist or agnostic evolutionary worldview. More on this below.

3. Religion. Admittedly, in this case I use the very last, and presumably most obscure, definition in the entry on "religion" in the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: "4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." This definition describes not only the overarching worldview of the Creationist, but of the Evolutionist as well.

4. Worldview. A way of looking at the world; a network of presuppositions; one's most basic and foundational beliefs about reality, knowledge and morality.

5. Bible. The word "bible" simply means "book." However, when I use the word and any of its variant parsings (biblical, biblically -- but not biblio-), I am referring to the Judeo-Christian Bible in both Old and New Testaments.

6. God. When I speak of God, I am referring to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe as described in the Judeo-Christian Bible.

7. Bias. While bias is often regarded as an undesirable thing, something to be avoided, my use of this term pertains to "an attitude of mind that predisposes one to choosing, or judging, or taking a stand without full consideration or knowledge [Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. predilection]" It is synonymous to varying degrees with predilection, prepossession and prejudice. All human beings have biases. They are inescapable and pervasive in all of our thinking. Given this premise, there is therefore no such thing as a brute fact, that is, an uninterpreted fact. While someone may claim that 2+2=4 is a brute fact, there is actually a built-in bias in positing or accepting the claim as true. Whether one invokes the uniformity of nature, the laws of logic or mathematics, etc., assumptions concerning any and all of these areas invoke a necessary a priori bias that is inherently unavoidable.

8. Facts. Interpreted data. There are no "brute facts." See "bias," above.

9. Faith. It has been said that "Faith is belief in spite of a lack of evidence." However, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines faith as:
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY
b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
Notice that the "belief-in-spite-of-a-lack-of-evidence" definition is one of at least 3, and at most 8, definitions offered by Merriam-Webster. And that particular definition is more than half-way down the entry, indicating that it is not the most common or widely held definition according to modern usage.

I will be using the Biblical definition of the word, which is synonymous with belief. Faith is belief, regardless of whether that belief is provable or not. I believe 2+2=4. I have done some experiments and gathered some data to support this thesis (balancing my checkbook, watching hockey), and I'm confident that it is always true. I consider this to be not only something I know and for which I've seen evidentiary support, but also something I believe, by faith, to be true. I have faith that 2+2=4, and I have proof to back the claim.

From a biblical standpoint, true faith is much more than a wish, a blind trust or an inane hope. The Bible speaks of being fully persuaded (Ro 4:21 8:38ff ) of things "most surely believed" (i.e. believed with surety, Lu 1:1), having "full assurance of understanding" (i.e. critical apprehension, Greek text, Col 2:2), faith that is unshakable, unmoved, and unwavering (Heb 10:23 Jas 1:6), having "all confidence" (Ac 28:31 2Co 5:6-8), boldness and confidence based through Christ's faith (Eph 3:12), confidence in the sure work of God in the life of each believer (Php 1:6), being steadfast in the faith (1Pe 5:9) and in one's confidence regarding God's promises (Heb 3:14). The Bible describes faith as the substance or basis of the believer's hope, and that hope is not something merely wish for or dreamt about, but a surety, the "anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast" (Heb 6:19). Furthermore, the Bible tells us that faith is the evidence of things that cannot be seen. That is, when faith is manifested in the life of a believer, that is evidence of the existence of the invisible, namely, God, His promises, the eternal salvation He has secured, etc. (Heb 11:1).

Finally, regarding faith, while it is often said that faith is believing something despite a lack of evidence, and that faith picks up where reason lets off, in fact it is upon faith that evidence and reason are based. It is my view that faith in the God of the Bible is the necessary foundation of science, logic/reason and mathematics by which evidence can be evaluated.

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Heb 11:3).

This will be explored and explained further below and in subsequent rounds.

10. Theory (versus fact)
Some creationists and ID proponents are wont to make the claim that Evolution is not a fact, but a theory, as if a theory is not quite factual or not quite proven. The fact is (pun intended), they are different things. Facts are interpreted data, with biases intact (See "bias" above). A theory is a biased framework or system of thought that governs how the interpreted facts are understood and organized. I have no interest in beating a dead horse with a straw dummy's leg. My position is that Evolution is a theory, albeit an irrational one. I also believe that Creationism is a theory, but one that is grounded solidly upon the sure testimony and authority of God's Word.

D. Winning the debate
It should be duly noted that an argument does not need to be agreed to or accepted by everyone, or even the majority, for it to be nonetheless conclusive. There is a difference between personal persuasion, which is subjective, and conclusive proof, which is objective. For example, despite whatever reasoning or facts are presented to him, a man can be unpersuaded that the engine of his car is on the verge of complete failure. He may even refuse to add oil to its crankcase. But the conclusive and objective nature of the case is that the motor will indeed seize up in a matter of time.

III. The Issues of the Debate
A. The Nature of the Disagreement

Having read a significant number Dr. Stratford's (Stratnerd's) past posts, it is clear to me that he is a man of above-average intelligence and education. His resume and educational background are impressive and I would be foolish to attempt to go toe-to-toe with him in the areas in which Stratnerd has achieved multiple degrees and has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation. Although I, too, hold multiple degrees (OK, only two), I am nowhere near the level of Stratnerd's educational excellence. But those who know me, friend and foe, would affirm that I'm neither a slacker nor an obscurantist when it comes to certain disciplines of thought, theology and philosophy in particular. But how is it that two educated and intellectually competent men come to hold such vastly different and conflicting views about a subject as significant as the diversity and origins of life? And how is such a difference of opinion to be resolved? Is it just a matter of seeing and acknowledging the right evidence? Is it simply a case of ignorance of one of the parties concerning relevant scientific findings? Or is it sheer stubbornness and a refusal, for whatever reason, of one side to budge from his position?

Obviously, the question posed in this debate is important. Is Evolution science, or science fiction? But what really is the disagreement about? The evidence itself? The conclusions of that evidence? The approach or method with which the evidence is evaluated? Or something even more basic? It should be clear that this is not simply a matter of one side presenting data for his view and the other side producing opposing data for his view. There is more here than a disparity in accumulated data and evidence, but a foundational or fundamental reason for this difference of opinion.

On the one hand we are presented with a theory that claims that the diversity of life we see around us is the result of lifeless primordial matter somehow spawning living organisms, and eons of adaptation and change. On the other hand, we are presented with a theory that claims the diversity of life we see around us is the result of a special, purposeful creation by a supernatural, personal and all-powerful God. Clearly, these are not merely differences in opinion about the relevance of data or evidence, but rather a conflict between entire worldviews and systems of thought which govern everything from one's view of reality, to how one justifies knowledge, to how one regards morality and human dignity. These differing worldviews provide the overarching context in terms of which each of us reasons, evaluates evidence, assesses the relevance and applications of evidentiary findings, etc. To quote Donald Trump: "This is huge."

Stratnerd and I hold differing fundamental philosophies of reality, knowledge and morality that we each bring to the debate. Stratnerd and I inescapably look at life, consider the nature of reality, assess moral issues and behavior, answer questions about man and his place in the world, evaluate knowledge and methods of knowing, and formulate our opinions about reasoning and science, all in accordance with our respective worldviews. The bottom line is that these philosophical paradigms will always influence and guide how we each evaluate evidence and arguments that are presented to us.

For example, the evolutionist is unimpressed by the intelligent design proponent who argues that irreducible complexity is proof of an intelligent designer. This is because, given the evolutionist's worldview, he has seen such mysteries solved by scientific inquiry in the past, and he sees no reason why science will not someday explain this and many other thus-far unexplained natural phenomena. Conversely, the creationist is not discouraged by evolutionists who present evidence of feathered prehistoric creatures as an argument for birds having evolved from bipedal theropods. This is because, given the creationist's worldview, he knows that whatever similarities are found in the fossil record are the result of God using a consistent and purposeful design throughout creation, and are not the result of a chance evolutionary process.

In both cases, our respective overarching philosophy or worldview is that which guides our reasoning and our conclusions regarding such truth claims. Thus, it does little good, and we are bound to make little or no progress, by simply lobbing evidence back and forth, giving and reacting to each other's personal interpretation of the data presented. The debate does not boil down to "who has the better evidence" or "who has the better interpretation of the evidence." Rather a meaningful and profitable debate is more likely to result from an assessment of and direct confrontation between our differing worldviews.

Stephen Jay Gould writes:
"Evolution is one of the half dozen 'great ideas' developed by science. It speaks to the profound issues of genealogy that fascinate all of us?he 'roots' phenomenon writ large. Where did we come from? Where did life arise? How did it develop? How are organisms related? It forces us to think, ponder, and wonder." (Source.)
Is there any doubt how Dr. Gould would approach those questions or any evidence he deemed relevant toward answering them? By this description of Evolution, and by invoking questions of a metaphysical nature, Dr. Gould betrays the true foundation of Evolution, not as a science, but as a worldview and a philosophy.

B. Is Evolution "science"?
Let me preface this section by stating at the outset: It is only on the Biblical worldview that the scientific method, the tools of logic and mathematics, and the inductive principle make sense. When the evolutionist presumes to use logic and mathematics in his investigations, he has unwittingly hijacked the Biblical worldview in order to do his research. This is because, apart from the existence of God, and the orderly, logical, and uniform state of the universe as He maintains it, logic and science would be impossible. Is Evolution "science?" Yes and no. Evolution is science insofar as those who espouse this theory use Biblically grounded scientific methods to discover and gather data and to test claims that employ the data. However, Evolution is not science in regard to the irrational assumptions that underpin the theory and the fallacious conclusions that result from it. Consider the following critique by Stephen Jay Gould of the "ultra-Darwinian" evolutionary psychologists:
Much of evolutionary psychology therefore devolves into a search for the so-called EEA, or 'environment of evolutionary adaptation' that allegedly prevailed in prehistoric times. Evolutionary psychologists have gained some sophistication in recognizing that they need not postulate current utility to advance a Darwinian argument; but they have made their enterprise even more fatuous by placing their central postulate outside the primary definition of science?or claims about an EEA usually cannot be tested in principle but only subjected to speculation. At least an argument about modern utility can be tested by studying the current impact of a given feature upon reproductive success. Indeed, the disproof of many key sociobiological speculations about current utility pushed evolutionary psychology to the revised tactic of searching for an EEA instead.

But how can we possibly know in detail what small bands of hunter-gatherers did in Africa two million years ago? These ancestors left some tools and bones, and paleoanthropologists can make some ingenious inferences from such evidence. But how can we possibly obtain the key information that would be required to show the validity of adaptive tales about an EEA: relations of kinship, social structures and sizes of groups, different activities of males and females, the roles of religion, symbolizing, storytelling, and a hundred other central aspects of human life that cannot be traced in fossils? We do not even know the original environment of our ancestors?id ancestral humans stay in one region or move about? How did environments vary through years and centuries?

In short, evolutionary psychology is as ultra-Darwinian as any previous behavioral theory in insisting upon adaptive reasons for origin as the key desideratum of the enterprise. But the chief strategy proposed by evolutionary psychologists for identifying adaptation is untestable, and therefore unscientific. [Emphases added] Source.
Gould's criticism of evolutionary psychologists is fitting, exposing the fact that their claims cannot be tested and are therefore unscientific. But what does that say of Gould's own claims that cannot be tested? What about his own speculations about how things can become their opposites? That life arose from non-life? That order and laws arose out of chaos? That non-conscious matter became conscious organisms? That differentiation arose out of singularity? These and similar claims that underlie the evolutionary worldview are likewise untestable, and therefore unscientific. Thus, in this sense, Evolution is not scientific.

C. RockS of Ages: Science versus Religion
According to Stephen Jay Gould, religion and science can co-exist as long as each respects the other's "magisterium." In his book, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, Gould writes:
The canonical attitude of scientists then and now -- and the argument that finally secured our legal victory before the Supreme Court in 1987 -- holds that science and religion operate in equally legitimate but separate areas. This 'separationist' claim allots the mechanisms and phenomena of nature to scientists and the basis for ethical decisions to theologians and humanists in general -- the age of rocks versus the rock of ages, or 'how heaven goes' versus 'how to go to heaven' in the old one-liners. In exchange for freedom to follow nature down all her pathways, scientists relinquish the temptation to base moral inferences and pronouncements upon the physical state of the world -- an excellent and proper arrangement, since the facts of nature embody no moral claims in any case [pg. 261]
Note how a contradiction, inherent in Gould's statement, belies its premise, undermines its point and yields to the very temptation discouraged by its pronouncement. The question is, if the theologians and humanists are assigned the task of making ethical decisions, why does Gould allow himself, a scientist, the luxury of deciding whether the separationist effort is ethical or not? Isn't he giving in to the temptation to make moral inferences and pronouncements by stating what is an "excellent and proper arrangement"? Thus, the very effort of Gould to establish his NOMA principle (non-overlapping magisteria) violates the NOMA principle. This is a fitting case in point, the fact that no one can separate science from religion, or the physical world and knowledge from morality. There are no "brute facts," there are no unbiased observers, and there are no "neutral positions."

D. Everyone Operates By Faith
The believer is a Creationist by faith, in accordance with what God has authoritatively declared in the Bible, His own word. Believers trust God's word to be inerrant and infallible in all it affirms. The anti-theist/agnostic is an Evolutionist also by faith, but not according to any acknowledged authority of God as Creator, but rather according to a blind reliance upon the dubious authority of their own imagined autonomous reason. But in reality, there is no autonomous reason nor authority apart from God.

H. J. Muller admits of the faith-based implications of his view in this quote cited by Laurence Moran at TalkOrigins:
So enormous, ramifying, and consistent has the evidence for evolution become that if anyone could now disprove it, I should have my conception of the orderliness of the universe so shaken as to lead me to doubt even my own existence. If you like, then, I will grant you that in an absolute sense evolution is not a fact, or rather, that [evolution] it is no more a fact than that you are hearing or reading these words. [Emphases added] -- H. J. Muller, 'One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough' School Science and Mathematics 59, 304-305. (1959) reprinted in Evolution versus Creationism op cit. (Source.)
Muller unwittingly brings these ultimate questions to a sharp focus. He must believe these things to be true, however blindly, lest his entire world comes crashing down around him. How does his own evolutionary philosophy justify the things he takes for granted and views as axiomatic, such as the laws of logic or the uniformity of nature? How does his worldview get things to become their opposites? E.g. Orderliness out of chaos. How does Muller's paradigm generate such things as hearing and seeing, let alone reading and comprehending, logic and mathematics without the irrational, religious, faith-based precommitment to the notion that impersonal, equally ultimate entities or forces, such as time, chance and laws have the ability create? In order for Muller to ground his own experience and methods of knowing, Muller will have to question the nature of his own existence and the reality of whether or not he is hearing or reading or comprehending what is in front of him.

E. Uniformity of Nature and the Problem of Induction.
How do we know the future will be like the past or that nature is uniform? To say "it has always been that way" does not answer the question, nor does it adequately confront the difference in worldviews between the Evolutionist and the Creationist. Anti-theist apologist Bertrand Russell writes:
The inductive principle, however, is equally incapable of being proved by an appeal to experience. Experience might conceivably confirm the inductive principle as regards the cases that have been already examined; but as regards unexamined cases, it is the inductive principle alone that can justify any inference from what has been examined to what has not been examined. All arguments which, on the basis of experience, argue as to the future or the unexperienced parts of the past or present, assume the inductive principle; hence we can never use experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the question. Thus we must either accept the inductive principle on the ground of its intrinsic evidence, or forgo all justification of our expectations about the future. If the principle is unsound, we have no reason to expect the sun to rise to-morrow, to expect bread to be more nourishing than a stone, or to expect that if we throw ourselves off the roof we shall fall. [Emphasis added][Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy, On Induction. (Source)
Thus, the anti-theist/agnostic is without a rational grounding of a major tool in the scientific enterprise, the principle of induction. The Creationist has a rational foundation for believing in the uniformity of nature and that future events under certain conditions will be like past events under similar conditions. The foundation of this principle is the existence and attributes of God and His maintenance of the universe. On the Evolutionist's worldview, there is no basis for believing in the uniformity of nature or the inductive principle. Sure, Evolutionists will claim, "It's axiomatic; everyone knows nature is uniform and that the future will be like the past," but that doesn't begin to give adequate grounds for why it should be believed, as Russell admits. In fact, the Evolutionist borrows from the Creationist worldview in order to make use of the inductive principle and the uniformity of nature. The Creationist's faith in God grounds his reliance upon the principle of induction. Whereas, the Evolutionist must believe it blindly, with no rational grounding whatsoever. This is the religious nature of the Evolutionist worldview. In the case of the Creationist, faith in induction rests upon the nature and character of God. In the case of the Evolutionist, it is a mystery (i.e. axiomatic), it is magic, and a blind religious commitment to man's own imagined autonomy and the authority of his own reason. Evolution, although it employs scientific principles by borrowing them from the Creationist toolbox, is blindly religious, and therefore does not qualify as science.

Looking over this initial post, perhaps I could have put more time into some areas and less time into others, but I suppose the pertinent issues will effervesce to the surface eventually. To those who made it this far, thank you for reading. It's good to be back on TOL.

All the best,
Jim




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Exclamation December 5th, 2005, 11:21 AM

DING DING DING, that's it for round number 1.

OK the opening statements have been made!

Stratnerd will have 48 hours from 12:00 PM (MDT) to make his second round post.

Therefore Stratnerd's next post is due no later than 12:00 PM (MDT) on Wednesday December 7th.





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December 5th, 2005, 01:15 PM

NOTE: I fixed Hilston's round one post so that it is all in one post instead of two.





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December 5th, 2005, 01:17 PM

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December 7th, 2005, 11:42 AM

Jim,
That was a well thought out opening post. I envy your ability to get your point across. After reading a few of the post in the peanut gallery, I am obviously not having the same effect.
Throughout your opening post you equate evolution with atheism but these two things are wholly separate. Is it not possible to believe in evolution and in God? I can think of three resolute Christians who did; Simon Conway Morris, Theodious Dobzhansky, and Sir Ronald Fisher. Dr. Morris was a graduate student of Steven J. Gould and a professor of geology. He specializes in the fossil remains of the earliest forms of life and is an ardent defender of evolution – he also believes in the divinity of Jesus (see his book Life's Solution : Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe). The other two, Fisher and Dobzhansky, are evolutionary biologists that helped to define much of evolution as we know it today (I consider Fisher to be one of the great intellects of all history and I don’t think he gets nearly the credit he deserves) – Neodarwinism – yet they repeatedly profess their faith. S.C. Morris had a fiery public debate with Dawkins on this very point (and this is how I learned about SCM’s faith). I also have several friends that are professors of evolution or defend it and yet they are found in church every Sunday – I even had a professor that refused to go see a rare bird on a Sunday because it “conflicted with [her] worship.”

Making evolution equivalent to atheism is similar to and probably comes from the conflation of ontological naturalism (ON) with methodological naturalism (MN). If we seek a scientific answer to the question of origins and evolution then we must use methodological naturalism. For the sake of clarity I’ll define MN as the assumption that we can only test natural explanations – it does not make any claim, either way as to the existence of supernatural beings or effects. MN is limited to the question at hand and is an assumption that must be made to carry out science – much like the assumption of random sampling for an ANOVA or t-test. ON is a statement that supernatural beings do not exist – period. ON does not logically flow from MN. That is why a scientist (say M. Behe) can wear two hats – one for doing science and one for answering more ultimate questions. Simon Morris and Richard Dawkins had a fiery public debate about this point. Dawkins extends the success of MN to push it to ON – but I fail to see his logic (probably because I have never heard him explain it). Those that profess ON, such as, also profess evolution but evolution does not logically flow from ON. Ontological naturalism and evolution are only linked because evolution is the best natural explanation (I have seen ON and God linked but it only if God works within rules and I don’t think that this is a typical creationist view or atheist view – albeit an interesting one).
Evolution, by no means, extends itself to ON. Therefore, questions about ethics, morality, etc are irrelevant to a preference for natural explanations because the door is left open for a law-giving, moral-directing deity. MN permits supernatural events – it just excludes them from being investigated scientifically.

More on this point: throughout your post you suggest that a Biblical view is one, in fact the only one, where laws are allowed (assumed?) and that scientists hijacked this Biblical view. I didn’t see an explanation of this and I find it completely confusing. Isn’t the Bible a book about supernatural (read natural-law breaking) events? Isn’t one just as likely to say that one should be wary of making laws lest God jump in and make the earth stop spinning momentarily, animals talk, boils break out, plagues, water into wine, etc? I will simply ask for clarification on this point. I just find it odd that creationism – the belief in supernatural creation also lays claim natural laws – the same laws that, when coupled with observation, lead to dismissing creationism.

If you believe that God is law giving and nature obeys these laws then at what point do you step in and say “enough, time for a miracle?” For example, you say that you believe in adaptation – but up to a point. What point? Why? What happens then? Isn’t it the same supposed (not said in a snide way - just saying “hypothetically”) God-given laws that lead us to the Big Bang, evolution, natural explanation for man’s origins etc.? Where do God-given laws end and God-created miracles begin?
Note: science has largely done away with laws. Not for religious reasons, but for the fact that laws probably do not exist. At least not interesting laws (Mendel’s laws are a perfect example and Newton’s too). Also, by dropping “laws”, it allows or even promotes skepticism – a handy tool for any scientist. Instead, what scientists look for are regularities whose explanations are tentative.
You kind of hint at this with the problem of induction but why do scientists believe in laws/regularities? True, much of it had to with a Judeo-Christian worldview (so says Ruse). The Enlightenment was very much about finding these laws. Why does it persist? Because it works. But the problem I see is the disconnect between regularities and creationism. Because there are regularities in the world does this mean that creationism is true? What are the logical connections? This goes back to my point above – how does belief in laws necessitate the veracity of supernatural (opposite of law-abiding) creation?

Quote:
3. Religion. Admittedly, in this case I use the very last, and presumably most obscure, definition in the entry on "religion" in the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: "4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." This definition describes not only the overarching worldview of the Creationist, but of the Evolutionist as well.
Difference lies in truth claims. A scientist makes no truth claim when making inferences – explanations are tentative. However, creationists’ truth claims are absolute as can be seen in the definition of faith.

Science does not have faith in evolutionary theory. Indeed, before Darwin, evolution was largely rejected but it was weight of evidence that changed people’s minds.
Quote:
I am nowhere near the level of Stratnerd's educational excellence.
Please do not underestimate my ability to be stupid.

Quote:
This is because, given the creationist's worldview, he knows that whatever similarities are found in the fossil record are the result of God using a consistent and purposeful design throughout creation, and are not the result of a chance evolutionary process.
If similarities are the result of God being consistent and purposeful then what do dissimilarities suggest? What, specifically, similarities are you referring to? Are you referring to homologies? Is a bird wing (arm bones) similar to a bat wing (largely the fingers)? I’ve struggled with this myself and the easy way out is to remove the word “similarity” and replace it with homology (that, at least, takes away the arbitrary nature of classifying similarities). So are homologous characters (fingers of a bat and the fingers of a bird, human, zebra, amphibian) a reason for inferring a consistent and purposeful design or is that a prediction? How do things like snakes (no fingers) or the tentacles of a jellyfish (which act like fingers but are not homologous) have to say about this? Do we infer, then, inconsistencies or that we’ve falsified the notion of a consistencies. My take on the subject is this: we have no idea how God works so it’s dangerous territory to wade in those waters to either make inferences about God from nature or to make prediction about “creation” from a Biblical viewpoint (so induction or deduction is a bad idea). I say “relax, have a home brew and let the professional philosophers knock themselves out banging their heads about it.” That’s what I’m doing. Like the guy you like to quote, Feynman, I too dislike philosophy. I haven't seen any philosophical discussion that hasn't ended like a dog chasing it's tail.

The other point is about the nature of evolution. Chance is mutations and historical contingencies like comets, plate tectonics happening a certain way, some disease encountering a new species. Evolution works by populations splitting – iteratively creating a nested pattern. The genome gets copied and gets passed through each generation – mutations and sexual recombination change some of the content. Homologies exist because that content is shared through ancestry – nothing random about that.

Quote:
Thus, it does little good, and we are bound to make little or no progress, by simply lobbing evidence back and forth
This hits on the biggest problem I have with creationism, specifically Biblical literalism, as an episteme. If you believe that revelation, not personal or even witnessed, but to another person is the source of knowledge and that knowledge is absolutely true then evidence has no importance - no relevance – no meaning. In that case, the creationist is immune to all contrary evidence. You would be correct in saying that we would make no progress by showing evidence, at least I wouldn’t. But the same isn’t true for an evolutionist. I can’t think of any reason why anyone would be committed to evolution as an explanation to life’s diversity. If enough evidence were present that each species or genus arose spontaneously then that would be the paradigm. Or if all organisms were on this planet sans a fossil record then the history would lack a satisfactory explanation.

But the history of science, my own views on science (including evolution, ecology, etc) have all been affected by evidence. I’d gladly hear any new evidence or some logical explanation why evidence isn’t evidence at all.

Darwin succeeded because of his presentation of evidence. As far as I know all paradigm shifts occurred because of evidence.

But what is the nature of evidence for a creationist? Is it a one-way street where there’s only positive evidence?
Quote:
But how can we possibly know in detail what small bands of hunter-gatherers did in Africa two million years ago? These ancestors left some tools and bones, and paleoanthropologists can make some ingenious inferences from such evidence. But how can we possibly obtain the key information that would be required to show the validity of adaptive tales about an EEA: relations of kinship, social structures and sizes of groups, different activities of males and females, the roles of religion, symbolizing, storytelling, and a hundred other central aspects of human life that cannot be traced in fossils? We do not even know the original environment of our ancestors? did ancestral humans stay in one region or move about? How did environments vary through years and centuries?
This seems to be a point about the limits of science and methodological naturalism not on evolution per se. What Gould is pointing out is that these folks are throwing out speculation on a subject where testing would be impossible.
Quote:
But what does that say of Gould's own claims that cannot be tested? What about his own speculations about how things can become their opposites? That life arose from non-life? That order and laws arose out of chaos? That non-conscious matter became conscious organisms? That differentiation arose out of singularity? These and similar claims that underlie the evolutionary worldview are likewise untestable, and therefore unscientific.
You’re right, these are speculations (and some have nothing to do with evolution). But what underlies evolutionism – the conviction that evolution is the best tentative explanation is not like your list – it comes from the observation that (1) the fossil record starts out most dissimilar to modern life and progressively becomes more similar, (2) living organisms share many common features and that the closer the relationships (as measured in generations) the more features they share. Ontological naturalism is unscientific but that isn’t the issue here – evolution is. Although we can find aspects of evolution (as a historical hypothesis) that are untestable, especially those dealing with historical contingencies, many aspects are (because they are based on laws/regularities) and I listed then in my opening post. Thus, evolution is science like any other field of investigation such as cosmology, ecology, geology, etc.

I overlooked this part in my opening post. I had said that some aspects of creationism could be treated scientifically. These include the sudden appearance of organisms 6000 years ago and a 6000 year old Earth. They are not scientific, however, if one does not allow for falsification. In the case of a Biblical literalist, one who claims the inerrancy of Genesis, nothing is scientific because nothing can be falsified. Moreover, the other hallmark of science, skepticism, is absent. Not only is creationism unscientific, in the context of origins, it is antiscientific because there is no reason, no point, to being skeptical so no reason to any research or any sort.





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December 7th, 2005, 11:44 AM

Hilston has until 11:42AM (MDT) on Friday to make his second round post.





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Hilston's Round II Post ~ Part A - December 9th, 2005, 10:34 AM

Battle Royale IX
Evolution: Science or Science Fiction?
Round II Post
By James Hilston
9 Dec 2005

I. Preface to Round II

A. Content and Conventions.

My second round post includes the following: my second round of arguments, my response to Stratnerd's Opening Statement and my response to his Round-II Post. My formal questions to Stratnerd will be labeled according to the convention: HQ1, HQ2, etc. Also, I try to be consistent in referring to Stratnerd in the third person at all times. This is not to be impersonal, snobbish or rude, but for clarity. In subsequent posts and responses, it is easier to follow Q&A when it is clear who is asking and who is answering. Any questions that are not so labeled may be regarded as rhetorical. However, if Stratnerd wishes to answer them, that is his prerogative.

B. Thanks and Appreciation
I would like to express my appreciation for Stratnerd's candid remarks concerning his own background and expertise. I feel honored that someone with his education and training is willing to engage me publicly on this matter. I would also like to say how pleased I am that Stratnerd and I seem to share similar concerns regarding the importance of carefully defining our terms. I was even more delighted to see that we agreed on several of them.

My thanks also to the participants in the Grandstands. There are some sharp thinkers over there who have been most helpful in deciding where to focus my discussion in the Battle itself. Also, it appears everyone has thus far been especially gracious and polite in the Grandstands, and that is encouraging me. It's a wonderful thing to see people whose views and opinions are at extreme odds with one another, yet they treat each other kindly and respectfully, and respect the debate itself as well.

II. Round II Presentation and Arguments
A. Additional Definitions.
I think it will be helpful as this discussion progresses to define new terms they spring up, and perhaps to revisit previously offered definitions for perspicuity (which I've done with the definition of Evolution, below). I will continue to do this in future rounds as the need arises.

1. The Uniformity of Nature
By "uniformity of nature" I am referring to the similarity between past experience and future experience, that is, the resemblance between past events we have experienced and future events we have not yet experienced. In the absence of this principle, one would ever be wary of trusting chairs. Every time someone desired to sit in a chair, he would need to test the chair to see if it will hold his weight -- this time. It would not matter that the chair held his weight just 5 minutes ago. One may attempt to justify or provide a foundation for their belief in the uniformity of nature by pointing to probability. That is to say that one infers from a sufficient number of past chair-sitting experiences that future chair-sitting experiences will be similar, i.e. the chair will hold one's weight and not collapse. However, the idea of probability itself presupposes the uniformity of nature, and therefore probability cannot be the foundation for belief in it.

In his first post, Stratnerd wrote: " In my line of work, I develop a pool of hypotheses to explain a pattern." The fact that Stratnerd even looks for a pattern demonstrates his assumption that nature is uniform. Surrealist artist Salvador Dali seemed to pay tongue-in-cheek homage to this assumption with his lobster-telephone sculpture. The quote that accompanies the sculpture at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla. says: "I never understand why, when I ask for a grilled lobster, I am never served a cooked telephone."

2. Evolution Redux
Stratnerd and I agree that there are (at least) two ways of looking at evolution. One way is evolution in the broad sense (which I will hereafter indicate by a lower-case "e"), and the other way is Evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life we see in the world (which I will henceforth denote by a capital "E").

a. Evolution in the Broad Sense:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
... In a broad sense organic evolution, ... can be thought broadly of as change in populations through generations. ... So changes in mean height that are attributable to changes in genotype (and not changes in diet, etc) can be considered evolution.
I agree fully with Stratnerd's definition of evolution as stated (please refer to Stratnerd's post, above, for his full definition). Of course, what we each take away from, or infer on the basis of, that definition will vary widely. Note further that the variance in our views will not be the result of different sets of evidence, or a differing quantity of data. Rather, our disagreement will be the result of our differing overall views of the world and of reality which govern our assessment of the evidence.

b. Evolution as the Explanation for the Diversity of Life:
Stratnerd goes on to provide another definition of Evolution, one that describes the kind of change about which Creationists and Evolutionists are likely to differ. He writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Another definition, and the one that interests most readers here, is evolution as an explanation for the diversity we see today. So this is the same definition as the broad scale but restricting it to longer time scales thus becoming a historical hypothesis or theory.
I agree with that definition.

3. Kinds of Evolutionist: Narrowing My Focus
As Stratnerd noted in his second-round post, there are atheistic/agnostic Evolutionists and there are theistic Evolutionists. As noted above, I use the convention of the capital "E" to indicate their belief in Evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life we see in the world today. At the risk of confusing matters, I would add a third kind of evolutionist, but not as a term that I wish to use regularly in this discussion: Creationist-evolutionist. That is to say, Creationists believe in evolution as biological change and adaptation, such as Stratnerd defines "in the broad sense." They do not believe in Evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life we see in the world today. So whenever I use the term Creationist, it should be assumed that belief in evolution, small "e", is included.

a. Theistic Evolutionists. As Stratnerd noted, not all Evolutionists are atheistic or agnostic. So I need to deal with the theistic Evolutionists and I will do so briefly here. If Stratnerd desires a more in-depth treatment of this kind of Evolutionist, I will be happy to provide it on his request. Suffice it say, for now, that theistic Evolution is not a rationally defensible position.
i. Non-Judeo-Christian theistic Evolutionists (Evolutionists who believe in a God other than the Judeo-Christian God). This position collapses under the internal incoherence of a counterfeit God. The Biblical position, which I hold of course, is that only the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible can be rationally defended and is impervious to attacks against logical inconsistency or internal incoherence.

ii. Judeo-Christian theistic Evolutionists (Evolutionists who believe in the Judeo-Christian God). This position is defeated in its failure to properly and consistently interpret the Bible. It can be regarded as an "in-house" hermeneutical problem. One quick example: Some JCTE proponents believe that the days of Genesis 1 are long ages of geologic history. However, if a JCTE believes the Bible is God's Word, and that it is to be understood according to the normative hermeneutic (i.e. the grammatico-historical method of interpretation), then he is guilty of violating that hermeneutic, which requires that all occurrences of the Hebrew word for "day" in the context of "evening and morning" refer to 24-hour periods (yes, even before the creation of the solar system). That is what the biblical language requires if one is going to interpret the Bible logically, consistently and not arbitrarily.
b. Non-Theistic Evolutionists.
In one of his posts on Theology Online, Stratnerd wrote: "That's why I consider myself to be a non-theist rather than an atheist." (Source, Aug 29, 2004). Assuming Stratnerd has not changed his position from a little over a year ago, I will hereafter use the term Evolutionist as shorthand for Non-theistic, Atheistic, Anti-Theistic and Agnostic Evolutionists. I realize there are differences between them, but I don't think the differences are substantive to our discussion. If Stratnerd disagrees, we can explore this further and I would be happy to unpack my reasoning on this.

4. Natural vs. Supernatural.
Some object to the idea of miracles or the supernatural because, if miracles were possible or if the supernatural were at work in the natural, then we could not trust in the uniformity of nature. From the Biblical/Creationist perspective, what is natural is that which man experiences through his five senses. That which is outside of or transcends the sensory faculties are spiritual or supernatural. However, that is not to say that the spiritual and the supernatural do not affect the natural. In fact, the Creationist view is that God holds every atom together and supernaturally sustains them from obliterating.
Colossians 1:16 For by him [Christ Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist [consist = sunesteken (Greek text) = jointly stand, hold together].

Ac 17:28a For in him we live, and move, and have our being; [have our being = esmen (Greek text) = have our existence]
Our understanding of the natural depends upon and is sustained by the supernatural. Natural science should not pretend that the supernatural doesn't exist, or that God is not holding nature together. Rather, natural science should recognize that the only way the scientific enterprise could proceed and advance, and indeed make any sense, is due to the fact that the Supernatural that is back of it.

B. The Uniformity of Nature: The Challenge to the Evolutionist Position
We recognize regularities and patterns in nature, in the behavior or people, in speech (which is what makes parts of speech such so significant and powerful). It is by the uniformity of nature that we can feel relatively safe about what we eat, where to put out feet, where to sit, and where to sleep. It is by behavioral regularities and recognitions that we can know that we are indeed kissing our wives and not some stranger that looks like her, that a friend is or isn't mad at us, and that snow on the roads is bad for traction. This is how we know, when Bruce Springsteen sings the word "Baby" or "Mama," that he is not referring to an infant and a mother, respectively, but to his car (kidding).

The concept of the uniformity of nature needs a rational foundation. It should not be blindly assumed. However, Evolution as a worldview relies heavily, albeit blindly, upon a presumed regularity and patterns in our experience. Every intelligible thing said in this discussion thus far has assumed the uniformity of nature. For example, the fact that we are not having to define each word in our sentences over and over again every time they occur demonstrates the expectation that future occurrences of words are the same or similar to past occurrences of those same words. There is uniformity, normative regularity in every aspect of our lives that we usually take for granted. The Evolutionist not only cannot give a rational explanation for the regularities and patterns in nature, but it actually operates on the opposite premise: That the future will NOT be like the past. The Evolutionary paradigm will affirm uniformity on the one hand, but then deny uniformity in order for evolutionary change to actually take place. My claim is that the reason nature is uniform, regular and orderly, and the reason human beings are able to comprehend them, is because the creation reflects and is analogous to the nature of its Creator.

Some will say they know that nature is uniform because they have seen and experienced its uniformity. That is to say, they want to understand the uniformity of nature according to the principle of induction (i.e. taking particular cases and inferring a general pattern, regularity or principle). But the inductive principle can only be understood if nature is uniform. They are inextricably intertwined. So to try to explain one in terms of the other is to beg the question, which is a logical fallacy.

On the Creationist paradigm, all these patterns and regularities and uniformities make sense and are comprehensible. On the Evolutionist view, these can only be recognized by hijacking Creationist tools in order to make sense or use of them.

III. Response to Stratnerd's Round I Post.
Stratnerd wrote something that I found remarkably astute and forthright:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Perhaps just as important as knowledge of evolution is a knowledge in philosophy.
That statement seems to me to indicate that Stratnerd acknowledges the larger picture and see the importance of considering the underpinnings of the competing views of Creation and Evolution as systems of thought.

A. Stratnerd's Definitions

1. Science
Stratnerd and I agree that there is a lack of consensus on the definition of Science. It is refreshing to find that we seem to be on the same page in our observations. This has the makings of an immensely profitable debate. I like his approach to defining Science in various senses. His first definition, "... the pursuit of reliable knowledge ..." is particularly interesting. He anticipates my question by explaining what he means by "reliable knowledge," saying: "By reliable I mean that there is a supposed causal link (correlation) because the variation in two factors such that the variation in one can reliably predict change in the other factor."

The term "reliable" implies being trustworthy. In other words, one can trust that the variation in one factor will result in a change in another factor. This scenario assumes the uniformity of nature (see definition above). It also assumes causation. As a Creationist, I believe in the principle of causation and the uniformity of nature. What I would like to explore is how and why the Evolutionist believes in these (See questions below).

2. Scientific Method and Pseudoscience
For the most part, I agree with Stratnerd's characterization of the method of science and its contrast to pseudoscience. Although I enjoy what little I've read of and about Popper, I don't agree with his falsifiability thesis. But for the sake of the discussion, I'm happy to use Popperian concepts to explore to what extent Evolution can be regarded as science. Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
If a research program doesn’t adhere to the scientific method then that program is considered to be pseudoscience or not science at all.
Stratnerd goes on to list the well-traveled steps of the Scientific Method: "observe, make a hypothesis, test it or make observations, then reject or support hypothesis."

HQ1: Can Stratnerd give an example of the application of the Scientific Method that would establish Evolution (as the explanation for the diversity of life we see in the world) as Science and not pseudoscience?

3. Skepticism and Falsifiability
Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Skepticism is the incentive – and we usually articulated this as the scientist’s claim that all explanations are tentative and should be tested over and over. As Karl Popper (Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1959) put it: [an explanation (hypothesis) is speculation until it] "proved its mettle" by attempts to falsify it.
HQ2a: Does Stratnerd, in terms of his Evolutionary worldview, hold any explanations as certain? Or are they all tentative?

HQ2b: Does Stratnerd, in terms of his Evolutionary worldview, hold any methods (scientific,etc.) or principles (logic, inference) as certain?

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The way I build predictions is by means of “if-then” statements with justification. If you cannot justify it then you can’t make the “then” connection (see intelligent design for examples).
As I mentioned earlier, I am not a proponent of Intelligent Design (-er of the Gaps), but I think it would be useful to see a specific example of what Stratnerd is referring to.

HQ3:Please give an example of an Intelligent Design argument that makes an unjustified "if-then" connection.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
One can bring in the requirement of methodological naturalism into a definition of science. I tend to think it really doesn’t matter. Methodological naturalism assumes that only natural forces are at work.
HQ4: Although he states that it does not matter, it would be helpful to know: Does Stratnerd affirm methodological naturalism? Or does he believe there are supernatural forces at work?

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The reason why I say that it really doesn’t matter is that it is impossible to make predictions when supernatural forces are at work.
HQ5: Why does Stratnerd believe that the working of supernatural forces in nature would preclude making predictions.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
For example, how does one finish this statement “If animals were supernaturally created then ______ should be seen as a pattern across taxa.” It’s not enough to fill in the blank –that’s merely up to your imagination but you need to be able to justify what you put in there.
“If animals were supernaturally created then SENTIENCE should be seen should be seen as a pattern across taxa.” How do I justify what I put in there? In a strictly naturalist universe, where everything begins as non-conscious non-living matter in motion, controlled by the laws of physics, there can be no rational justification for the emergence of sentient life from non-conscious matter. Whereas, on the Creationist view, the existence of sentient animals is exactly what one would expect, not arising from non-living non-conscious matter in motion, but rather as the special creation of a sentient Mind and creative Personality.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
So, methodological naturalism may not be necessary to make something science (just depends on your definition) but lacking it does make you impotent to make predictions.
As I indicate in my definition above, the Creationist perspective of nature is that of uniformity. Nature is predictable and conforms to natural laws. However, the Creationist recognizes that nothing would or can exist without the supernatural, namely God, holding all things together and sustaining the natural order and the uniformity, which God, by His creative and sustaining power, imposes upon creation. The Creationist view is that supernatural forces are indeed at work, that God Himself ensures that nature behaves in a uniform way. Moreover, if there were no God at work holding the universe together, then the scientific method would not work.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I left out induction on purpose. Science would stall if it wasn’t for induction – but induction is speculation and we don’t know if this new idea is worth anything until it proves its mettle.
It is certainly true that Science would stall were it not for induction. This sentence would stall were it not for induction. But for something that is so universally recognized as utterly vital to science, communication, and basic life, how is it that "induction is speculation"?

HQ6: Stratnerd wrote: "... induction is speculation and we don't know if this new idea is worth anything until it proves its mettle." What is the new idea, and how would one go about proving its mettle?

[I snipped a small section on falsifiability that I would like to ponder further. I will revisit this in a subsequent round.]

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Let me surprise some of you and say that certain aspects [of Creationism] are [scientific] – no doubt. But most aspects are not. The aspects that are unscientific and part of pseudoscience are those involving the mechanisms of supernatural creation. We can never do any experiments or any observations that will test our ideas of how a creator would create.
I agree with Stratnerd. However, as far as mechanisms go, it seems to me that the Evolutionist is in a much worse state of affairs. Not only can the Evolutionist not observe or explain, let alone test, how nature could give life and sentience to non-living non-conscious matter, the very methods which Evolutionists presume to make observations and test hypotheses have no rational foundation apart from the existence and nature of God. The Creationist, on the other hand, is not only able to do science, but he can do so with general confidence in the tools and methods he employs, as well as his sensory faculties, and not relegate induction to "speculation."

Stratnerd writes: [quote=Stratnerd]The example, I gave above hold for this: we cannot use observations of organisms because we have no idea how a creator would create. So anytime you hear “ID predicts that DNA….” you should become suspect – that is, if you are honest.

HQ7:Please elaborate on this. Why can't someone say "ID predicts that DNA ..."?

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The aspects of creationism that can be handled scientifically are those that make certain prediction that we can test: “all organism were created in one week”…. “the Earth is 6000 years old” … “a global flood covered the Earth”. These make definite predictions that we can test but they don’t hold up ... so they have been abandoned except for Biblical literalists – for them it’s true regardless of any evidence (FOR and against) so in that sense, their creationism is not scientific – none of it.
There are not only evidence for the aforementioned Biblical claims, but I can produce piles of scholarly peer-reviewed publications that negate Stratnerd's assertion. Here's just a small sample from the 2003 Iinternational Conference on Creationism alone:
Accelerated Decay: Theoretical Models, E. Chaffin
Hypercanes Following the Genesis Flood, L. Vardiman*
Temperature Profiles for an Optimized Water Vapor Canopy, L. Vardiman
The Ubiquity of the Divine (Golden) Ratio and Fibonacci Numbers Throughout the Heavens and Earth, F. Willson
Nautiloid Mass Kill and Burial Event, Redwall Limestone (Lower Mississippian), Grand Canyon Region, Arizona and Nevada, S. Austin
Origin of Chemical Elements from Water, E. Boudreaux*
Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: The Physics Behind the Genesis Flood, J. Baumgardner*
Measurable 14C in Fossilized Organic Materials: Confirming the Young Earth Creation-Flood Model, J. Baumgardner, A. Snelling, D. Humphreys, S. Austin
Fossil Equidae: A Monobaraminic-Stratomorphic Series, D. Cavanaugh
What Initiated the Flood Cataclysm? M. Horstemeyer, J. Baumgardner*
Will Mechanics Allow a Rapid Ice Age Following the Flood?, M. Horstemeyer, P. Gullett
Helium Diffusion Rates Support Accelerated Nuclear Decay, D. Humphreys, S. Austin, J. Baumgardner, A. Snelling*
Paleohydrology of Jurassic Conglomerate of the Crimean Peninsula, A. Lalomov
The Oklo "Natural Nuclear Reactors": Evidence of Variable Constants?, M. Matthews
Evidence for Only One Gigantic Lake Missoula Flood, M. Oard
A Hydrothermal Model of Rapid Post- Flood Karsting, E. Silvestru*
Radiohalos: A Tale of Three Granitic Plutons, A. Snelling, M. Armitage
Radioisotopes in the Diabase Sill (Upper PreCambrian) at Bass Rapids, Grand Canyon, Arizona: An Application and Test of the Isochron Dating Method, A. Snelling, S. Austin, W. Hoesch*
The Relevance of Rb- Sr, Sm- Nd and Pb-Pb Isotope Systematics to Elucidation of the Genesis and History of Recent Andesite Flows at Mt. Ngauruhoe, New Zealand, and the Implication for Radioisotopic Dating, A. Snelling
Whole-rock K-Ar Model and Isochron, and Rd-Sr and Pb-Pb Isochron, "Dating" of the Somerset Dam Layered Mafic Intrusion, Australia, A. Snelling*
Flow Dynamics of an Enormous Subaqueous Dune within the Anchor Limestone, Las Vegas Range, Clark County, Southern Nevada, D. Stansbury
Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, L. Vardiman, S. Austin, J. Baumgardner, E. Chaffin, D. DeYoung, D. Humphreys, A. Snelling
Tidal Dissipation and the Age of Io, W. Spencer
Initial Flood Deposits of the Western North American Cordillera: California, Utah and Idaho, C. Van Wingerden
Hydrothermal Biome: A Pre-Flood Environment, K. Wise*
The Pre-Flood Floating Forest: A Study in Paleontological Pattern Recognition, K. Wise
Hebrew and Geologic Analysis of the Chronology and Parallelism of the Flood: Implications for Interpretation of the Geologic Record, W. Barrick, R. Sigler*
Rafting: A Post-Flood Biogeographic Dispersal Mechanism, K. Wise, M. Croxton*
Collapsing the Long* Bristlecone Pine Tree Ring Chronologies, J. Woodmorappe
Unconventional Gene Behavior and its Relationship to Pseudogenes, J. Woodmorappe
Do Creation and Flood Myths Found World Wide Have a Common Origin?, J. Bergman
Earlier in his first post, Stratnerd wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I haven’t been privy to any information that would not be found in a university or a very good public library – I generally do not read creationists’ material.
I'm not here to re-invent the wheel. Besides the papers I've mentioned, there are readily available myriad books on myriad areas of science that scientifically support the "Biblical literalist" Creationist claims. I do not point these out as proof for my own position, nor do I presume to defend any of the authors of those works. I am merely demonstrating that Stratnerd's assertion is false and misleading.

IV. Response to Stratnerd's Round II Post.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Throughout your opening post you equate evolution with atheism but these two things are wholly separate.
As I noted above, I fully acknowledge that there are theistic Evolutionists out there. In my defense, my use of the terms anti-theist/agnostic evolutionist was primarily to distinguish between those who base their worldview on the Bible and those who do not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Is it not possible to believe in evolution and in God?
It is possible, indeed pervasive, that human beings hold tenaciously to contradictory beliefs. Those who claim to believe in Evolution and God do so in opposition to the testimony of the Bible. They, too, along with the non-theistic Evolutionists, adhere to a view of the world that is incoherent.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
[Simon Conway Morris] ... is an ardent defender of evolution - he also believes in the divinity of Jesus. ... [Sir Ronald] Fisher and [Theodious] Dobzhansky, are evolutionary biologists ... yet they repeatedly profess their faith. ... I also have several friends that are professors of evolution or defend it and yet they are found in church every Sunday ... a professor that refused to go see a rare bird on a Sunday because it "conflicted with [her] worship."
I do not wish to be disrespectful to these people, and my remarks are aimed only at their ideas and not them as people, but I submit that by trying to have their Christian cake and to eat it, too (believing also in Evolution), they have violated and undermined the teachings of the Bible they profess to uphold.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
MN [Methodological naturalism] is limited to the question at hand and is an assumption that must be made to carry out science - ... MN permits supernatural events - it just excludes them from being investigated scientifically.
It is noteworthy that methodological naturalism (MN) must blindly rely upon the supernatural (the non-material laws such as the uniformity of nature and the inductive principle) in order to work. MN boasts its success concerning the strictly material and natural realm, all the while assuming the verity of the laws that govern the methods utilized by methodological naturalism.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Evolution, by no means, extends itself to ON. Therefore, questions about ethics, morality, etc are irrelevant to a preference for natural explanations because the door is left open for a law-giving, moral-directing deity.
HQ8a

HQ8bDoes Stratnerd, as a non-theist, leave the door open for a law-giving, moral-directing deity?

Stratnerd on the Bible.
Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
More on this point: throughout your post you suggest that a Biblical view is one, in fact the only one, where laws are allowed (assumed?)
Some laws are given by God and some are discovered by man.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
... and that scientists hijacked this Biblical view. I didn't see an explanation of this and I find it completely confusing. Isn't the Bible a book about supernatural (read natural-law breaking) events?
Miracles are not the breaking of natural laws. They are an interruption of the natural order, but no laws are broken. When Jesus and Peter walked upon the water, the text indicates that they actually walked upon the surface of the water. They did not hover; they did not become weightless. Now whether the molecular structure of the water was changed or angels were under the water supporting them, I do not know and the text does not say. But natural laws did not need to be broken for that miracle to occur. Also, the creation of matter, or the duplication of matter from existing matter is not a violation of natural laws. The fact is, in order for something to qualify as a miracle, a natural order must first be recognized. So, to answer Stratnerd's question: The Bible is a book about cosmological order that is occasionally (not frequently, and not any longer in this current Biblical economy) interrupted or suspended, but never broken.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Isn't one just as likely to say that one should be wary of making laws lest God jump in and make the earth stop spinning momentarily, animals talk, boils break out, plagues, water into wine, etc?
Note that each of these things you've mentioned do not violate natural laws. They interrupt the normal, natural course to which we've grown accustomed, but they do not violate laws. And again, to recognize these things as miraculous, there must have first been a natural order observed.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I will simply ask for clarification on this point. I just find it odd that creationism - the belief in supernatural creation also lays claim natural laws - the same laws that, when coupled with observation, lead to dismissing creationism.
Natural laws and observation would be impossible apart from the Creator who established and sustains them.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
If you believe that God is law giving and nature obeys these laws then at what point do you step in and say "enough, time for a miracle?"
God always had specific purposes for performing miracles, the most common of which was to certify prophets and to verify His revelation to Israel. There is no point at which nature reaches its limit and God must then step in. God is always "in."

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
For example, you say that you believe in adaptation - but up to a point. What point? Why? What happens then?
I affirm adaptation to the extent it is taught in the Bible. I don't use this as a proof for anything. I'm just answering your question. Put another way, I've not yet seen or read anything regarding adaptation or the limits (or non-limits) of it that contradict the teachings of the Bible.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Isn't it the same supposed (not said in a snide way - just saying "hypothetically") God-given laws that lead us to the Big Bang, evolution, natural explanation for man's origins etc.? Where do God-given laws end and God-created miracles begin?
Used rationally, consistently and in full acknowledgement of their Source, God-given laws exclusively affirm the Creationist view, to the exclusion of all others. Laws do not "lead." Men are not convinced by laws to believe in things that transcend them. Laws do not lead to a belief in God. Nor do they lead to a belief in materialism. A priori beliefs and assumptions are the impetuses (?) -- the driving force -- behind one's view of the world. But the tools themselves do not form ones worldview. The Evolutionist and all non-Creationists are in fact hijacking tools for which they cannot account, and the use of which they cannot rationally justify. This is why God holds men accountable. They are without excuse because the very tools and methods they employ on a regular basis testify continually of God's existence, attributes and of their obligation to Him. Indeed, they deny Him as the very Foundation of the tools and methods they use, and then turn around and use those tools and methods in a futile effort to disprove His existence and His Sovereign claim upon their very existence.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Note: science has largely done away with laws. Not for religious reasons, but for the fact that laws probably do not exist. At least not interesting laws (Mendel's laws are a perfect example and Newton's too). Also, by dropping "laws", it allows or even promotes skepticism - a handy tool for any scientist. Instead, what scientists look for are regularities whose explanations are tentative.
HQ9: What is a "regularity" in the absence of logical laws?

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
You kind of hint at this with the problem of induction but why do scientists believe in laws/regularities? True, much of it had to with a Judeo-Christian worldview (so says Ruse). The Enlightenment was very much about finding these laws. Why does it persist? Because it works.
It's the wrong question. The right question (rhetorically stated) is "Why do these laws work?" Or "How do we justify our reliance upon these laws?" To say "it works" is an attempt to use the Uniformity of Nature to justify reliance upon the inductive principle. But the inductive principle only makes sense if nature is uniform. The only way to make sense of these things is by acknowledging the existence and attributes of the God Who is back of them.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
But the problem I see is the disconnect between regularities and creationism. Because there are regularities in the world does this mean that creationism is true?
Absolutely.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
What are the logical connections?
Without God, logic and connections could not exist.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
A scientist makes no truth claim when making inferences - explanations are tentative. However, creationists' truth claims are absolute as can be seen in the definition of faith.
The scientist makes a tacit truth claim by relying on inference as a valid tool of science. The scientist is making an implicit truth claim by applying his reasoning faculties upon which he bases his tentative explanations. The scientist views the verity of inference and of his reasoning faculties as non-negotiables, even though he cannot prove their verity without crucial question-begging.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Science does not have faith in evolutionary theory.
Of course. True science is based upon faith in God. Counterfeit science is based upon faith in unjustified, unproven laws of logic and blind reliance upon man's reasoning. I'm not saying it is wrong to use the laws of logic, or to rely upon one's reasoning faculties. It is, however, wrong to use these tools while ignoring the Creator Who is back of them.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Indeed, before Darwin, evolution was largely rejected but it was weight of evidence that changed people's minds.
That's the story that evolutionists tell. There's another story, that evolution was largely accepted by those who wanted seemingly scientific reasons to reject the authority of the Bible. The "success" of the Enlightenment was to bring into vogue the questioning of Biblical authority and of God's sovereign claims upon men's lives.

Hilston wrote: This is because, given the creationist's worldview, he knows that whatever similarities are found in the fossil record are the result of God using a consistent and purposeful design throughout creation, and are not the result of a chance evolutionary process.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
If similarities are the result of God being consistent and purposeful then what do dissimilarities suggest?
Different purposes.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
What, specifically, similarities are you referring to? Are you referring to homologies? Is a bird wing (arm bones) similar to a bat wing (largely the fingers)? I've struggled with this myself and the easy way out is to remove the word "similarity" and replace it with homology (that, at least, takes away the arbitrary nature of classifying similarities).
I have no problem with that. May I use that? (As long as the word itself is restricted to morphology and not ontogeny -- is that the right word?).

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
So are homologous characters (fingers of a bat and the fingers of a bird, human, zebra, amphibian) a reason for inferring a consistent and purposeful design or is that a prediction?
Excellent question. I wouldn't call it a prediction, but an observation. I would go further to say that it is a justified observation based on the uniformity of nature whose verity is grounded in God's existence and attributes.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
How do things like snakes (no fingers) or the tentacles of a jellyfish (which act like fingers but are not homologous) have to say about this? Do we infer, then, inconsistencies or that we've falsified the notion of a consistencies.
The problem lies in attempting a bottom-up assessment versus a Top-down one. The Top-down assessment involves thinking God's thoughts after Him, viewing the world through His eyes and word. This might not answer as many specific questions about morphological purpose, but at least our methods of observation and assessment make sense and we can begin from a solid methodology. To take a bottom-up approach is to float in a void, without any justifiable course of action to use methods and tools that work in spite of the lack of a cogent grounding of those tools and methods.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
My take on the subject is this: we have no idea how God works so it's dangerous territory to wade in those waters to either make inferences about God from nature or to make prediction about "creation" from a Biblical viewpoint (so induction or deduction is a bad idea).
Thinking about how God works is not dangerous as long as one does not become dogmatic about speculations beyond the affirmations of God's Word. For those types who venture down that road, the rest of us can rest assured that adherence to God's Word will guard us against the speculations of those types. Induction and deduction can't be a bad idea; they are inescapable functions of our mind that reflect the mind of God. We all see particular cases and make generalities. We all use generalities come to conclusions about particulars.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I say "relax, have a home brew and let the professional philosophers knock themselves out banging their heads about it." That's what I'm doing.
You're going to have to convince me about the home brew. I've heard horror stories. I thought the problem with the pro' philosophers is that they end up so far "out there" that they eventually cease to be able to communicate with us mere mortals.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Like the guy you like to quote, Feynman, I too dislike philosophy. I haven't seen any philosophical discussion that hasn't ended like a dog chasing it's tail.
Well let's make this one a first!

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The other point is about the nature of evolution. Chance is ... [snip] ...Homologies exist because that content is shared through ancestry - nothing random about that.
HQ10:Do you believe in chance, but not randomness? Are you saying that ancestry is predetermined? I think I need to know more about what you're saying here.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
If you believe that revelation, not personal or even witnessed, but to another person is the source of knowledge and that knowledge is absolutely true then evidence has no importance - no relevance - no meaning.
On the contrary, evidence can only have real importance, relevance, meaning and significance to a Creationist who knows the Creator Who is not only behind the evidence, but provides the tools by which to assess the evidence. According to Biblical epistemology, no other human being can be regarded as the source of absolute knowledge. That must come from God's testimony alone. One might acquire information from others, but the determination of its reliability must be based on a Biblical foundation and understood according to Biblical principles.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
In that case, the creationist is immune to all contrary evidence. ... But the same isn't true for an evolutionist. I can't think of any reason why anyone would be committed to evolution as an explanation to life's diversity. If enough evidence were present that each species or genus arose spontaneously then that would be the paradigm. Or if all organisms were on this planet sans a fossil record then the history would lack a satisfactory explanation.
The belief in evolution did not arise because of the fossil record. Nor did it arise because of any evidence to suggest it. It arose out of a desire to excise God out of the equation, and to paint it as scientific.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
But the history of science, my own views on science (including evolution, ecology, etc) have all been affected by evidence.
But you're talking about evidence within a particular worldview, discussed and considered by those who share that worldview. If one were to listen to two creationist scientists discuss the same evidence, one would hear completely different, but nonetheless scientific observations and considerations of that evidence.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I'd gladly hear any new evidence or some logical explanation why evidence isn't evidence at all. Darwin succeeded because of his presentation of evidence. As far as I know all paradigm shifts occurred because of evidence.
There are no "brute facts." There is no "brute evidence." Nobody considers evidence apart from their already established and tenaciously held worldviews. All facts, all data, all evidence do not exist without interpretation.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
But what is the nature of evidence for a creationist? Is it a one-way street where there's only positive evidence?
I'm running out of time. This is an excellent question; one I would like to give more time, if possible. So I'm going to save it until next time.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
But what underlies evolutionism - the conviction that evolution is the best tentative explanation is not like your list - it comes from the observation that (1) the fossil record starts out most dissimilar to modern life and progressively becomes more similar, ...
I would dispute that. The conviction comes from preferring a non-Theistic view of the world and seizing upon the best non-Theistic paradigm with which to frame that view.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
(2) living organisms share many common features and that the closer the relationships (as measured in generations) the more features they share. Ontological naturalism is unscientific but that isn't the issue here - evolution is. Although we can find aspects of evolution (as a historical hypothesis) that are untestable, especially those dealing with historical contingencies, many aspects are (because they are based on laws/regularities) and I listed then in my opening post. Thus, evolution is science like any other field of investigation such as cosmology, ecology, geology, etc.
Among the things you mention, I would agree that evolution (small case "e") is science or scientific. But I don't think the intent of the title of this debate is referring to evolution in those terms. Evolution (upper case "E") does indeed require that we explore more ultimate questions such as "how did conscious, sentient life arise out of non-conscious lifeless matter?" because it is the overall worldview, the governing paradigm of Evolution according to which all evidence, reasoning, opinions and observations will be regimented.

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
In the case of a Biblical literalist, one who claims the inerrancy of Genesis, nothing is scientific because nothing can be falsified.
I need to ask: HQ11:Does Stratnerd view the falsification principle as scientific?

Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Moreover, the other hallmark of science, skepticism, is absent. Not only is creationism unscientific, in the context of origins, it is antiscientific because there is no reason, no point, to being skeptical so no reason to any research or any sort.
Y'all probably saw this coming. Another question: HQ12: Clearly, Stratnerd would have to be skeptical about it this scientific principle, otherwise, there would be no reason, no point, to being skeptical so no reason to do any research of any sort. Was skepticism present when Stratnerd took on the non-anti-scientific enterprise of applying his skepticism to this principle?

Additional questions
HQ13: Stratnerd describes himself (in his TOL profile) as an agnostic and elsewhere as a non-theist. Does Stratnerd define "agnostic" in the Huxleyan sense ("the supernatural, even if it exists, lies beyond the scope of human knowledge" [Smith, George H., Atheism: The Case Against God, 1989. p. 9], or in some other sense?

HQ14: What is Stratnerd's view of the origin of the universe?

HQ15: Does Stratnerd believe natural laws and the laws of logic are objective?

HQ16: In Evolutionary terms, what is Stratnerd's view of human value?

HQ17: In Evolutionary terms, what does Stratnerd believe morality? Is it objective? Or relative? Or some other view?

Out of time. See you in the Grandstands.
Jim




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Exclamation December 9th, 2005, 01:10 PM

DING DING DING....

That's it for round #2 and I want to thanks both Stratnerd and Hilston for their effort in what is turning out to be a most entertaining battle.

Stratnerd is back on the clock and will have until 10:34AM Sunday Dec 11th to make his round 3 post.

NOTE: Hilston is having a technical difficulty that is forcing him to segment his posts to get them to successfully post. Therefore I will be editing his posts to combine back into one post until we can figure out what is causing the problem.





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December 11th, 2005, 11:34 AM

First, let me get to the most important thing: homebrew. It’s easy, not too expensive and, if you take a few precautions, completely safe. My first batch tastes exactly like Newcastle Nut Brown Ale! Exactly like it. Irish Stout is next – just in time for Christmas. I say “most important” because it is likely to be the only thing I say that has any consequence to anyone. In fact, I'd like to see a poll on TOL for creationists and see how many people could be swayed by any argument that I could make.

Secondly, I agree that we should use evolution and Evolution - that will make my job that much easier. I don’t concede the use of Evolutionists vs. evolutionist. Agnostics, theists, and atheists all come to the same conclusion via methodological naturalism. The difference between the two boils down to ontological arguments about the existence of the supernatural independently of evolution. Therefore, the commonly used and understood terms atheists, agnostics, theists and deists should be used.

Thirdly, I have to write two exams for Wednesday and the term papers are due on the same day. I’m giving them the opportunity to work with me iteratively on drafts so they hand in better papers. This must get priority. I can’t apologize because this is my job but it is the reason I’m trying to cut to the chase.

Summary so far:

Goals
My primary goal
1. Show that evolution is consistent with the scientific method – thus answering the question of this debate.

My ancillary goals
2. Show that creationism, particularly biblical literalism, is inconsistent with the scientific method thus “science fiction.”

3. Show that creationism is a tenuous position to have, given evidence that we can all agree on.

Summary of my arguments

I can accomplish my primary goal by demonstrating that there are circumstances that would be completely inexplicable if Evolution were true. I think the fact that Evolution is an explanation that is consistent with methodological naturalism is a given.

I can accomplish my ancillary goal #2 by showing that biblical literalism/creationism is an episteme that cannot be falsified because the followers do not allow it to be.

I can accomplish my ancillary goal #3 by showing that circumstances occur that are inconsistent with biblical literalism/Creationism IF these observation can be taken at face value (more on “face value” below).

My take on Jim’s arguments

I take it that Jim will correct me where I am wrong so I won’t ask him to. But this is the gist I’ve what I’m getting

1. Regularities exist, only God can create regularities, therefore Genesis is true

2. Because Evolution/science assumes regularities, we should all be Biblical literalists (given argument1)

3. There’s evidence for Biblical literalism – scientists chose to ignore it (but we really don’t need to go that far, given argument 1)

4. Theistic Evolutionists and all Christain non-literalists are all atheists (but unwittingly creationists because they believe in the uniformity of nature)

************************************************** ************************************************** ******************************
Evolution as Science
Unfortunately, I never found an attempt at a definition for “science” or what is considered scientific. I gave two definitions, the common threads being methodological naturalism and falsifiability. So, [SA_HQ11] I consider falsifiability to be an element of a scientific approach. And there are numerous ways to falsify Evolution, for example [SA_HQ1]: fossils in the oldest strata can be discovered which demonstrate a uniform biota through time.

I did find this:
Quote:
I'm happy to use Popperian concepts to explore to what extent Evolution can be regarded as science.
but then there are no conclusions provided. Also, there’s a hint that falsification as a key element in the first post concerning S.J. Gould’s comments but then falsification isn’t a good thing in the second post (an explicit statement is a must just to keep this conversation as clear as possible).

Jim doesn’t agree with falsifiability as an element of science and no comment on methodological naturalism. An odd position to join a debate about science and never to define it. As I said in my opening post – having a variety of definitions is OK as long as we are consistent.
.

It would be fruitful (to the point) for the reader and myself if you just say “yes” or “no” then justify it or a “yes, but” would even get to the point. I just feel the topic is going more toward “Does God exist?” and that’s been done here.

The topic of this post is “Evolution: Science or Science Fiction” – let’s not change the topic since we both agreed to discuss this.

Creationism as Unscientific
The common elements of the two definitions of science (not “my” definitions but the definitions used and understood by scientist around the world) involve falsifiability and methodological naturalism (MN). Creationism fails on both counts. It is not falsifiable because falsification is not allowed (there’s at least one creationist organization that requires an oath to this account). Literalist Truth claims are absolute. Another aspect of science is methodological naturalism but the very nature of supernatural creation is antithetical to a naturalistic explanation.

Therefore creationism is “science fiction”.

Creation/Biblical literalism as a tenuous explanation
If one suspends the fact that Biblical literalism cannot be falsified or ignores MN and isn’t science, then we can take an information-theoretic approach (this is the other way to do science that I outlined in my first post but still relies on falsification and MN). The information-theoretic approach has a pool of hypothesis, including one of no effect or no pattern, and these hypotheses compete to explain the data. In a Popperian framework, the hypotheses are fixed and the data are variable. In an information-theoretic approach, the data are fixed and the hypotheses are variable (multiple rational explanations including a null). Since adding unwarranted complexity to an explanation is considered a hindrance to understanding (an extension of Occam’s razor) we usually penalize explanations with added complexity. Thus the principal of parsimony is exploited where we seek the most explanation with the least explanatory complexity. [in statistics we would rank models by their likelihood and penalize them for adding variables – interested readers should refer to Akaike Information Criterion – it’s where science is going].

This is also a good time to talk about facts and evidence. To most working scientists, there are “brute facts”. What is not given is inference. It is our inferences about facts that make a difference we can compare our inferences and see which explanations end up being more parsimonious.

Most phenomena are mum when it comes to creationist explanations. Take for example, how would God create a horse? As I pointed out in my first post, we need to be able to justify our inclusion of hypotheses. I assume that human do not know the intended purpose of making a horse a particular way as opposed to an infinite number of alternatives. We humans can see a function but was that the purpose on God’s mind when He did it? This is not answerable so we cannot compare an evolutionary explanation vs. a supernatural explanation (including ID) because creationism provides no explanation.

If we look at the ability to explain the fossil record, I think the differences between the paradigms are not only obvious, we can see the ability of Evolution to provide a better explanation. We know that the older (regardless of absolute age) strata are the least similar to living organisms and the dissimilarity diminishes as strata come closer to our time. We know that the geological record is imperfect. Aquatic, particularly marine, biotas dominate the fossil record. We also know that animals with hard parts dominate. We also know that fossilization is relatively rare. The evolutionary explanation is that organisms have been evolving in that time line, and since the tendency is for the genome to diverge through time in independently evolving populations (which you can test in the field) the fossil record is expected to become increasingly divergent through time becoming increasingly similar to modern forms. This is what we see. We should also expect that molecular phylogenetics should be convergent with the pattern in the fossil record. There are other such cases and I will provide them if need be.

In the creationist paradigm, there is the same pattern in the fossil record but it is usually explained that there was a sorting process. A process that would create the pattern we observe in unheard of. I have seen the escape hypothesis put forward but then there should a non-motile fossil layer – but there isn’t so you need an ad hoc to explain this (added complexity). The Evolutionary explanation only requires mutation and inheritance – phenomena we can observe.

There is the observation that species are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years old. These estimates come from the assumptions that we can observe (e.g., mutation rates, unequal reproductive success). The evolutionary explanation is consistent with these results but the creationist must assume that the dates are wrong – somehow, someway but nothing is put forward.

There is the observation that geological layers can be billions of years old with successive layers being younger than the layers they overlay. If you don’t believe in radiometric dating – that nuclear decay is not uniform – then you need to justify it. Moreover, you need to explain how this ad hoc explanation was able to either sort material or this phenomena worked its way to create the appearance of successive ages. Take the Grand Canyon, for example, how does the creationist explain the successive aging consistent with the layers. But doing so you create ad hoc on top of ad hoc.

Evolution as a worldview

It isn’t. Evolution is an explanation based on methodological naturalism. Atheism (ontological naturalism), Agnosticism, Theism and Deism are world views. ALL of these world views can incorporate Evolution – evolutionary doesn’t care which worldview you have. You only need to accept that organisms change through time.

Biblical literalism as a worldview

The only ones that cannot accept Evolution are Biblical literalists, a particular sect of Judeo-Christian believers. This rejection of Evolution has nothing to do with evidence, logic, rationality, are any other [God-given] tools available to the human mind. The JC Bible is inerrant because literalists believe it to be. Doing so, they need to invent ad hoc explanations about the world in order to make nature fit their theology.

Jim provides excellent examples of ad hoc explanations (inventions) in his list of posters/talks (not peer reviewed papers) at a recent creationist conference.

Examples of twisted nature include:

1. Accelerated Decay
2. Water Vapor Canopy
3. Catastrophic Plate Tectonics
4. Rapid Ice Age Following the Flood

These don’t come from observing nature. There was no water vapor canopy, no evidence for accelerated decay, no evidence of catastrophic plate tectonics or rapid ice ages – these were invented. If there are any creationists out there that are honestly seeking answers, I want to stress this fact. Creationists twist nature to fit their theology instead a more rational and fruitful tact of accommodating reality into their theology – doing so you’ll be in good company (e.g., Einstein, Ron Fisher) you will also avoid the need to make up stuff as you go along investigating the natural world (and saying things like miracles do not violate natural law).

On rationality as an explanation per se
The reason why the world works has nothing to do with our ability to rationalize it. In my line of work I come with as many rational explanation as I can but none of these may be right! A rational expanation may not be right at all! Imagination, creativity, and a bit of logic are all you need to come up with rational explanations but they may have nothing to do with reality. To make the absolute claim that Biblical literalism is the only rational worldview only expresses the limitations of that person’s mind – it is not a statement about reality.


************************************************** ************************************************** ******************************

HQ2a: Does Stratnerd, in terms of his Evolutionary worldview, hold any explanations as certain? Or are they all tentative?

SA_HQ2a: In science, there is a range of confidence that we have with explanations. Those that are tested and hold up to testing we have greater confidence in, particularly if testing eliminates alternative explanations. Speculations deserve less confidence. There are no explanations that are not tentative, at least those attempting to explaining natural phenomena.

HQ2b: Does Stratnerd, in terms of his Evolutionary worldview, hold any methods (scientific,etc.) or principles (logic, inference) as certain?

SA_HQ2b: Explanations are what we consider tentative. Are any methods certain? Probably not, at least I would consider it useful to be skeptical.

HQ3:Please give an example of an Intelligent Design argument that makes an unjustified "if-then" connection.

SA_HQ3: The point is they can’t many any if-then connections. If you are interested in ID then provide an example then we can discuss if they can justify it or not.

HQ4: Although he states that it does not matter, it would be helpful to know: Does Stratnerd affirm methodological naturalism? Or does he believe there are supernatural forces at work?

SA_HQ4: Methodological naturalism is assumed when answering questions scientifically. I cannot think of any way to affirm it because I do not know how I would compare it to something else being at work. If predictions match observed maybe it was the supernatural at work – if predictions don’t match maybe it was supernatural forces at work. How would supernatural forces manifest themselves in birds and landscapes? I just assume that problems unexplained are that – unexplained and I seek natural explanations because they are the only ones I can work with. This is how all of science works from Evolution to genetics to epidemiology to ecology.

Do I believe supernatural forces are at work – period? Heck, I don’t know. If, as you define supernatural as being beyond the five senses then sure, I do – mathematics. Do I really think that adding two plus two is supernatural – not really. In typical sense of the supernatural, I have no idea.

HQ5: Why does Stratnerd believe that the working of supernatural forces in nature would preclude making predictions.

SA_HQ5: Because I do not know how the supernatural works.

HQ6: Stratnerd wrote: "... induction is speculation and we don't know if this new idea is worth anything until it proves its mettle." What is the new idea, and how would one go about proving its mettle?

SA_HQ6. It is not clear to me what you mean by “what is the new idea” other than calling it a novel idea about how the work works based on observation. Proving it’s mettle means trying to show it was false. Watson and Crick examined the literature and constructed a model (speculated on the configuration of DNA) and then tested it by experimentation – trying to falsify it. Using x-ray crystallography was used to confirm that DNA was a double helix, this made them confident of their findings (although it was still a tentative model). If the crystallography didn’t match a double helix, they would need to scrap their speculative model and think up something else.

HQ7:Please elaborate on this. Why can't someone say "ID predicts that DNA ..."?

SA_HQ7: I been giving reasons for this throughout my two posts. Best answered by asking you to provide an example. Simply fill in the blank and justify your answer.

HQ8b Does Stratnerd, as a non-theist, leave the door open for a law-giving, moral-directing deity?

SA_HQ8b: My science is non-theistic – as scientists do but I have an uncertain ontology – I make no claims and I haven’t given the source of morals much thought –if any. Too busy trying to be moral 

HQ9: What is a "regularity" in the absence of logical laws?

SA_HQ9: I don’t know. I define regularities statistically. I don’t presume the absence of logical laws but natural laws.

HQ10o you believe in chance, but not randomness? Are you saying that ancestry is predetermined? I think I need to know more about what you're saying here.

Randomness is a hypothesis that needs to be tested so sure I “believe” in it. Ancestry can’t be predetermined since ancestry runs backwards in time. What I’m saying is that the genetic architecture is inherited with modifications through time (something we can observe), changes to the genome are infrequent enough such that most of the genome is preserved in reproduction so polygenic traits that share the same genetic architecture, albeit modified are shared in a hierarchical fashion.

HQ12: Clearly, Stratnerd would have to be skeptical about it this scientific principle, otherwise, there would be no reason, no point, to being skeptical so no reason to do any research of any sort. Was skepticism present when Stratnerd took on the non-anti-scientific enterprise of applying his skepticism to this principle?

Thus, I start to see myself starting to circle, seeing that tail I know if I can get if I just turn that much faster… I have no idea what you’re getting at here.

HQ13-14, HQ15-17: “How does Stratnerd…”

Interesting questions but I fail to see how my personal views, ontological views are relevant to these larger issues.

HQ15: Does Stratnerd believe natural laws and the laws of logic are objective?

Since I think natural laws don’t really exist I would say no – certainly since they’ve shown many to be inconsistent. Regularities, then? Nope but we can try.

************************************************** ************************************************** *******************

SQ1: I asked about the logic behind regularities and how this proves Genesis. But I didn’t see the chain of thoughts that back up this assertion.

SQ1a: How does the presence of regularities prove that God exists?

SQ1b: How does one account for non-regularities such as chance events? Or do you suggest that there’s nothing random in nature?

SQ1c: What is the connection between regularities and Genesis being true. I asked before and got “Without God, logic and connections could not exist.” This doesn’t answer the question. Please do.

SQ2: Do you have any working definition of science? Do you intend on comparing your definition with the nature of Evolution?

SQ3: Do you know of any way to know about the mechanics of creation so we might be able to make specific and testable predictions about organism – thus turning creationism into creation science (you’d be a hero to the creationist community)

SQ4: If you come up with a testable hypothesis, can you provide relevant data.

SQ5a: On your take on regularities and life, does sexual recombination occur and mutation occurs in some predictable way as an extension of your uniformities. I don’t get the connection and your criticism of evolution when you said:

Quote:
The Evolutionary paradigm will affirm uniformity on the one hand, but then deny uniformity in order for evolutionary change to actually take place. My claim is that the reason nature is uniform, regular and orderly, and the reason human beings are able to comprehend them, is because the creation reflects and is analogous to the nature of its Creator.
SQ5b (or just asking a another way) are you saying that changes don’t happen?

Natural regularities are hypotheses not assumptions in science – the onus is on the investigator to show there’s something going on.

SQ6aDo you really think that sentience is a general property of animals? Across taxa means that it’s found in disparate groups –say, snails and deer.

SQ6b. How do you justify it? Come up with some biological principals that would lead you to predict that snails and deer would be sentient.

Quote:
However, the Creationist recognizes that nothing would or can exist without the supernatural, namely God, holding all things together and sustaining the natural order and the uniformity, which God, by His creative and sustaining power, imposes upon creation.
SQ7 [but related to the questions above] Can you back up this assertion? Do just have to believe it?

Quote:
Not only can the Evolutionist not observe or explain, let alone test, how nature could give life and sentience to non-living non-conscious matter,
SQ8 Why?

Quote:
The Creationist, on the other hand, is not only able to do science, but he can do so with general confidence in the tools and methods he employs, as well as his sensory faculties, and not relegate induction to "speculation."
SQ9really? So Walt Brown’s hydroplate idea is True just because he’s a creationist? The water vapor canopy idea is True just because the poser is a creationist? Are you saying you understand the purpose seen in creation just by looking at it and there’s no need to back up anything?

Comments, no questions

Peer-reviewed means that it was sent out to the scientific community at large – not other creationists THAT MUST SUPPORT THEIR WORK. This ain’t peer-review.

But science works best when we go out and try to prove something false not hold a symposium (so you’re list were posters and presentation not peer-reviewed articles) with a bunch of people that agree with you.

Papers go out to your “competitors” that try and poke holes in your material. If you provide a tight argument and do your methods correctly then your competitor has no choice but to accept it.

Quote:
I am merely demonstrating that Stratnerd's assertion is false and misleading.
you put this with my assertion that I generally stay away from creationist material – why would I lie about this try to mislead?

Quote:
It is possible, indeed pervasive, that human beings hold tenaciously to contradictory beliefs.
But this is exactly how I see your claims that regularities prove miracles (ie., instantaneous creation).

Quote:
I do not wish to be disrespectful to these people, and my remarks are aimed only at their ideas and not them as people, but I submit that by trying to have their Christian cake and to eat it, too (believing also in Evolution), they have violated and undermined the teachings of the Bible they profess to uphold.
This is an assertion that needs to be backed up. I wonder why Einstein and Fisher never figured this out?

Back to questions…

Quote:
Miracles are not the breaking of natural laws. They are an interruption of the natural order.. When Jesus and Peter walked upon the water… Now whether the molecular structure of the water was changed or angels were under the water supporting them, I do not know and the text does not say
If miracles aren’t the breaking of a natural law/regularity then I have no idea what a miracle is then.

SQ10 What is the difference between a natural law and natural order? How do know which is which? Can you give an example of each?

SQ11 What then is a miracle?

Quote:
It's the wrong question. The right question (rhetorically stated) is "Why do these laws work?" Or "How do we justify our reliance upon these laws?" To say "it works" is an attempt to use the Uniformity of Nature to justify reliance upon the inductive principle. But the inductive principle only makes sense if nature is uniform. The only way to make sense of these things is by acknowledging the existence and attributes of the God Who is back of them.
more examples of the same assertion. Please make sure to answer the question of the logic behind the presence of regularities and the veracity of Genesis.

Quote:
That's the story that evolutionists tell. There's another story, that evolution was largely accepted by those who wanted seemingly scientific reasons to reject the authority of the Bible. The "success" of the Enlightenment was to bring into vogue the questioning of Biblical authority and of God's sovereign claims upon men's lives.
So people weren’t convinced by evidence and you read Darwin’s mind to understand his incentive?

Quote:
Different purposes.
SQ12 How do you know? Other than using circular reasoning?

Quote:
I have no problem with that. May I use that? (As long as the word itself is restricted to morphology and not ontogeny -- is that the right word?).
SQ13 why make the distinction? Where does it go from being homology = common descent to homology = common designer?

P.S. I haven’t had time to check out battle talk so accept my apologies for not responding to any posts there.





Battling TOL creationist jerks-for-Jesus since 1998

I'd rather be (e^-lamba*lambda^x)/x! -ing!

Everything might be wrong! -Richard Feynman

My God I love Star Trek TNG

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December 12th, 2005, 10:06 AM

Hilston's next post is due Dec 13th by 11:34AM (MDT)





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Round III, ~ James Hilston - December 13th, 2005, 11:35 AM

Evolution: Science or Science Fiction?
13 December 2005

My Round Three post entails the following:
I. Homebrew
II. Purpose and Persuasion
III. Remarks, Rebuttals and Questions Concerning Stratnerd's Claims.
IV. Selected Responses/Counter-Questions: Stratnerd's Answers to Hilston's Questions.
V. Stratnerd's Questions.
VI. Stratnerd's Comments, No Questions
VII. Back to [Stratnerd's] questions …

I. Homebrew.
I'm impressed with the success of your first batch. I'm now actually tempted to give it a try. I'm big fan of Stout ales; be they Irish, German, whatever. And of bock lagers. I like the fact that you can "nurse" them. But I'm not much of a connoisseur, but I think I do qualify as an aficionado. I'll drink just about anything you put in front of me. I was on a wheat beer kick for a while. Sadly, economy usually wins over quality. But I am delighted when I can find a reasonable compromise. Hence, I usually have a case of Pennsylvania-brewed Yuengling lager in my basement, and few cold ones in the 'fridge.

Best of luck on the Irish Stout. If you're ever in the Pittsburgh area, we should arrange to meet at the Penn Brewery, home of the Penn Pilsner (see page 15 of Beer For Dummies). I'll buy.

II. Purpose and Persuasion.
As an interesting segue back to the debate, Stratnerd writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I say “most important” because it is likely to be the only thing I say that has any consequence to anyone.
Based on what I've read in the Grandstands, this isn't true. I've noticed that there are apparently some creationists who who have enjoyed your posts and claim to have benefited from them. More importantly, however, it should be noted that our direct goal should not be to convert people of the opposing camp. If it were, then success or failure in this debate would depend upon our ability to persuade, and not on the cogency and defense of our respective arguments. While I think it is reasonable to wish that our arguments will persuade others, I don't think it should be our primary concern.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
In fact, I'd like to see a poll on TOL for creationists and see how many people could be swayed by any argument that I could make.
I think this misses the point of what we're doing. I'm not interested in seeing a poll on TOL or Internet Infidels or any freethinkers' fora to see how many non-Creationists could be swayed by any argument I could make. My goal is for my arguments to be coherent and clear -- regardless of what anyone else thinks of them -- which I hope will cause people to think and to critically re-examine their views, whether or not they agree with me. If I should convince you or anyone else of anything, that would be a bonus, but it's not my primary purpose.

[Back to the impersonal third-person reference]

III. Remarks, Rebuttals and Questions Concerning Stratnerd's Claims.

A. Stratnerd on evolutionist vs. Evolutionist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I don’t concede the use of Evolutionists vs. evolutionist. Agnostics, theists, and atheists all come to the same conclusion via methodological naturalism
HQ18:Please elaborate on that statement. What do you mean that "all come to the same conclusion via methodological naturalism"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The difference between the two boils down to ontological arguments about the existence of the supernatural independently of evolution. Therefore, the commonly used and understood terms atheists, agnostics, theists and deists should be used.
HQ19: Which label do you claim for yourself? And how would you define it?

Stratnerd stated as one of his goals:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
3. Show that creationism is a tenuous position to have, given evidence that we can all agree on.
To what "evidence that we can all agree on" do you refer?

B. Stratnerd On Jim’s Arguments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd, ostensibly summarizing Jim's arguments
1. Regularities exist, only God can create regularities, therefore Genesis is true.
I would not agree with that syllogism. Regularities exist, not because God created them (as if to reify "regularities" as "things"), but because He determined to create a universe that reflected His own nature and character. That is to say, God, in His nature and character, is logical and orderly. He created the universe for His pleasure, and it pleased Him to create it in a way that is analogous to His own qualities and attributes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd, ostensibly summarizing Jim's arguments
2. Because Evolution/science assumes regularities, we should all be Biblical literalists (given argument 1)
First, I disagree with the conflation of Evolution and science. As Stratnerd admitted above, "Evolution is an explanation ..." It is a way of looking at the world on the basis of blind a priori faith commitments. Evolutionists must mythically assume the uniformity of nature, but have no warrant for that assumption. Whereas Creationists view the uniformity of nature as neither an assumption nor as axiomatic. Rather, given the existence and nature of God, creationists rightly expect nature to behave in a uniform fashion, and for induction to be a reliable method of systematizing knowledge and of generating principles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd, ostensibly summarizing Jim's arguments
3. There’s evidence for Biblical literalism – scientists chose to ignore it (but we really don’t need to go that far, given argument 1)
I disagree with the statement. There is evidence for the verity of the Bible and the existence of God, but Evolutionists reject the only conception of the universe within which that evidence, indeed all evidence, makes sense, comports with reality, and affirms the intelligibility of human experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd, ostensibly summarizing Jim's arguments
4. Theistic Evolutionists and all Christian non-literalists are all atheists (but unwittingly creationists because they believe in the uniformity of nature).
I'm not sure how Stratnerd arrived at this conclusion based on what I've written, because actually the opposite is true. I believe all human beings, deep down (some more deeply than others), know that God exists and that they are accountable to Him. My view of Theistic Evolutionists is that their concession to Evolution undermines that which they affirm to be God's Word. They're not atheists. They're rebels.

It should go without saying that everyone believes he or she has a correct view of the world. No one in his or her right mind would deliberately affirm a view that he or she thought was incorrect. So any complaint in this or any discussion about the certainty with which an opponent holds to his or her convictions is irrelevant. We all think we're right. That's a given. Let's move on.

C. Stratnerd on Evolution as Science.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Unfortunately, I never found an attempt at a definition for “science” or what is considered scientific.
From my first post:
[Definition of] Science. My attempt to secure a consensus on the definition of science was inconclusive. Based on what I saw in my "travels", I would characterize science in three ways. First, science can comprise the enterprise of researching, discovering, analyzing, testing and synthesizing data. Second, science can refer to a certain body knowledge that results from the aforementioned enterprise. Third, science can pertain to the application of the aforementioned body of knowledge to real-world circumstances and needs. I personally believe in the verity of the scientific method and in science as a tool for acquiring knowledge. I do not discount or discredit the scientific enterprise or treat of it as invalid, illegitimate or inadequate in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, or of understanding our world and our place in it. Finally, I do not deny the ability of an anti-theist or agnostic to do science, to formulate theories, or to apply science to the real world. However, I do not believe the anti-theist/agnostic can do so rationally and in accordance with their espoused worldview. The anti-theist or agnostic [E]volutionist has no justifiable grounds upon which to do, to formulate or to apply science, as science is based on premises that make no sense according to the anti-theist or agnostic evolutionary worldview.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I gave two definitions, the common threads being methodological naturalism and falsifiability. So, [SA_HQ11] I consider falsifiability to be an element of a scientific approach.
HQ11b :Why? On what rational basis does Stratnerd consider falsifiability to be an element of a scientific approach?

Hilston had asked: HQ1: Can Stratnerd give an example of the application of the Scientific Method that would establish Evolution (as the explanation for the diversity of life we see in the world) as Science and not pseudoscience? [Emphasis added]

Stratnerd outlined the Scientific Method as: "observe, make a hypothesis, test it or make observations, then reject or support hypothesis."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
And there are numerous ways to falsify Evolution, for example [SA_HQ1]: fossils in the oldest strata can be discovered which demonstrate a uniform biota through time.
HQ1b:Obviously, Stratnerd could not have observed the stratification process in order to know that the strata are different ages. He was not there to watch it. Thus, Stratnerd invokes a fundamental a priori assumption of his view of the universe in order to interpret certain phenomena and to support his Evolutionary conceptualization of the geologic column and of geologic time.

Hilston previously wrote: I'm happy to use Popperian concepts to explore to what extent Evolution can be regarded as science.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
but then there are no conclusions provided.
I'm not the one positing Evolution. Applying the Popperian thesis to Evolutionary claims, e.g., that life came from non-life, that acausal mindless chance spawned causal laws, that non-living, non-conscious matter became conscious and living, etc., it seems to me that none of these things can be falsified.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Also, there’s a hint that falsification as a key element in the first post concerning S.J. Gould’s comments but then falsification isn’t a good thing in the second post (an explicit statement is a must just to keep this conversation as clear as possible).
I quoted Gould in order to show that he made a distinction between science and pseudoscience, and gave his criteria to ascertain that. My claim is that Evolution doesn't pass Gould's own criteria. I wrote: Gould's criticism of evolutionary psychologists is fitting, exposing the fact that their claims cannot be tested and are therefore unscientific. But what does that say of Gould's own claims that cannot be tested? What does it say of Stratnerd's unwarranted assumptions, which cannot be tested?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Jim doesn’t agree with falsifiability as an element of science and no comment on methodological naturalism [MN].
I did indeed comment on it. Recall Stratnerd's description of MN, followed by the excerpt in which I addressed the claim of MN:
Stratnerd wrote: "Methodological naturalism assumes that only natural forces are at work. The reason why I say that it really doesn’t matter is that it is impossible to make predictions when supernatural forces are at work." [Emph. added -- JH]
Hilston previously wrote: As I indicate in my definition above, the Creationist perspective of nature is that of uniformity. Nature is predictable and conforms to natural laws. However, the Creationist recognizes that nothing would or can exist without the supernatural, namely God, holding all things together and sustaining the natural order and the uniformity, which God, by His creative and sustaining power, imposes upon creation. The Creationist view is that supernatural forces are indeed at work, that God Himself ensures that nature behaves in a uniform way. Moreover, if there were no God at work holding the universe together, then the scientific method would not work.
MN blindly assumes that nature is self-sustaining and that the supernatural is not behind it, sustaining and preserving it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
It would be fruitful (to the point) for the reader and myself if you just say “yes” or “no” then justify it or a “yes, but” would even get to the point.
I agree. So let me be unequivocally clear: Falsifiability? No. Methodogical Naturalism? No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
I just feel the topic is going more toward “Does God exist?” and that’s been done here. The topic of this post is “Evolution: Science or Science Fiction” – let’s not change the topic since we both agreed to discuss this.
This is a valid concern, and I can see why one might think the topic is changing. However, consider the claims that are being made by each side of this debate. On the one hand, you have a claim that living organisms mindlessly arose from non-living matter. Now, I could simply focus my efforts on proving that Evolution is not science, and never bring up the subject of God at all. I could take the position of extreme Humean skepticism and reduce all scientific inquiry to utter absurdity. However, on the other side of this debate is the Creationist claim that living organisms were specially created by a Divine Hand. So of course the debate is going to deal with the existence or non-existence of the aforementioned Deity. Note that the root word of "Creationist" is Creator. Of course the non-Theist Evolutionary view is going to be challenged by the Creationist to give sufficient warrant for their God-less assumptions about the universe. As I stated in my initial post, it isn't enough to simply discredit Evolution as science. I should attempt to prove that Creationism is true, and therefore I must argue for the existence of the Creator. And thus, for me to press my claim that the Creationist view is superior to the Methodological-Naturalist/Falsifiability-Framework view, the necessity of the existence, nature, character and attributes of the Creator will be brought to bear upon the former. In summary, while the topic question as stated is not explicitly about God's existence, the implication of the topic question is precisely about God's existence, especially if I'm to do more than disprove Evolution as science. To make a positive case for my position, arguments concerning God's existence are unavoidable.

D. Stratnerd On Creationism as Unscientific:
Or How To Be Hoist On One's Own Petard

(apologies to Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene iv)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The common elements of the two definitions of science (not “my” definitions but the definitions used and understood by scientist around the world) involve falsifiability and methodological naturalism (MN).
I will take this opportunity to explain a two-phase refutation of Stratnerd's offensive. On the one hand, I am presented a standard that cannot be warranted apart from tacit appeals to magic (a.k.a. axioms). On the other hand, I am presented a standard by someone whose own view does not live up to that standard.

1. Phase One goes like this: Before MN and Falsifiability can be warranted as criteria for what constitutes science, they cannot be arbitrarily stipulated, but should be "justified," to borrow a term from Stratnerd. I submit that the Evolutionist cannot rationally justify these criteria, and that they are accepted blindly and axiomatically by the Evolutionist.

2. Phase Two goes like this: Even if we assume the verity of MN and Falsifiability as valid standards of what constitutes science, Evolution collapses under the weight of these criteria.
a. Weight (or petard) #1: Methodological Naturalism (MN): Stratnerd defines MN as "the assumption that we can only test natural explanations." One of the explanations of Evolution is the unwarranted assumption of the uniformity of nature, which cannot be tested without begging the question or appealing to some "extra-natural" principle. Since this assumption does not come under the purview of MN, Evolution fails as science on this point.

b. Weight (or petard) #2: Falsifiability: Similarly, Stratnerd says he considers "falsifiability to be an element of a scientific approach." However, one of the explanations of Evolution is the unwarranted assumption of the inductive principle (that individual cases infer general principles). As a foundational tenet of the Evolutionist conception of the universe, induction cannot be falsified without begging the question or appealing to some "extra-natural" principle. Since this assumption is not falsifiable, Evolution fails as science on this point as well.
"O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Another aspect of science is methodological naturalism but the very nature of supernatural creation is antithetical to a naturalistic explanation.
Exactly. On the one hand, we have a view (Creationism) that is antithetical to naturalistic explanation. On the other hand, we have a view whose very foundation makes unwarranted appeals to "extra-natural" assumptions, magic axioms, and mythical inventions.

This seems a fitting place to offer a definition:
science fiction n. A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background. [American Heritage Dictionary (online)]
E. Stratnerd On Creation/Biblical Literalism as a Tenuous Explanation:
Or How To Be Hung On One's Own Gallows

(apologies to Haman, Esther 7:10)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
If one suspends the fact that Biblical literalism cannot be falsified or ignores MN and isn’t science, then we can take an information-theoretic approach (this is the other way to do science that I outlined in my first post but still relies on falsification and MN).

In a Popperian framework, the hypotheses are fixed and the data are variable. In an information-theoretic approach, the data are fixed and the hypotheses are variable ...
In my previous post, I asked Stratnerd about his agnosticism, his view of cosmogony (the origin of the universe), of the laws of logic, of human value and of morality. He dismissed the questions with this statement:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
"Interesting questions but I fail to see how my personal views, ontological views are relevant to these larger issues."
What Stratnerd does not seem to realize is that our positions are not merely two sets of truth claims competing for rational superiority, but rather, entire systems of thought [i.e. "larger issues"], held by real human beings who are trying to make sense of the their world, to understand its workings, and to cope with our place in this world and our roles in it. That is to say, we cannot separate such views of ultimate significance from who we are, what we think, the judgments we make, and how we live.

In the absence of responses from Stratnerd, I will attempt to surmise how he might answer in order to apply the Information-Theoretic framework to Stratnerd's claims. Note that I am not agreeing with the verity of this method. I am only applying it to demonstrate that Stratnerd's view cannot stand up to the scrutiny of his own espoused method of science.

In his first post, Stratnerd wrote, "Usually presented as an alternative, which I prefer to think of as a complement, to Popperian science is the information-theoretic framework where multiple hypotheses compete to explain a particular observation." Stratnerd says in an Information-Theoretic approach, the data are fixed and the hypotheses are variable. So,
Given the fixed data of morals, human value and law of logic,
Let x = Hypothesis (Explanatory view of reality)
The question then is: Which hypothesis better explains the data without adding "unwarranted complexity"?

Hypothesis #1: The Evolutionary hypothesis. This view says that things can become their opposites; that moral principles popped out of amoral matter; that molecules in motion spawned human dignity; that acausal chance and chaos produced universal laws of logic.

Hypothesis #2: The Creationist hypothesis. This views says that the Creator made the universe and all that is in it, that moral principles come from His righteous character, that human dignity comes from being created in God's image, and that the laws of logic reflect the nature and attributes of God.

Applying the concept of parsimony/Occam's Razor (which I do not affirm, but merely apply here for the sake of argument), can there be any doubt which view fares worst according to the Information-Theoretic approach? Never mind the fact that the Information-Theoretic approach itself cannot be validated or verified without appealing to "extra-natural" explanations.

HQ20: On what rational grounds does Stratnerd assert the principle of Occam's Razor?

F. Stratnerd on Facts and Evidence.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
To most working scientists, there are “brute facts”.
Please give an example. I've never seen one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Most phenomena are mum when it comes to creationist explanations. Take for example, how would God create a horse?
Note the double standard. The Evolutionist feels he has a right to ask "how would God create a horse?" and expects the Creationist to be able to give a play-by-play. If God had chosen to reveal the procedure, we could have that discussion. But He didn't. But note, when the Evolutionist is pressed to explain how life arose from non-living matter, etc., it's somehow OK for them to appeal to magic. The view that the existence and attributes of the Creator can account for, make sense of, and explain the existence of horses and laws and mathematics and morality and human dignity is a rational and coherent view. However, the explanation that all things, concrete and abstract, diversified and unified, emerged from some primordial singularity is neither rational, nor coherent. If the avoidance of unwarranted complexity were a valid criterion for truth claims, certainly the Evolutionist view fails miserably.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
As I pointed out in my first post, we need to be able to justify our inclusion of hypotheses.
Here is the justification. On the Evolutionary view, no rational sense can be made of the very things we experience and encounter on a daily basis. On the Creationist view, all of human experience becomes intelligible. That is a strong justification to include it as a hypothesis.

G. When Worldviews Collide.
Recall my definition of worldview from my first post:
Worldview: A way of looking at the world; a network of presuppositions; one's most basic and foundational beliefs about reality, knowledge and morality.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Evolution as a worldview

It isn’t. Evolution is an explanation based on methodological naturalism. Atheism (ontological naturalism), Agnosticism, Theism and Deism are world views. ALL of these world views can incorporate Evolution – evolutionary doesn’t care which worldview you have. You only need to accept that organisms change through time.
Evolution provides to human beings a way of looking at the world. It includes a vast array of presuppositions that are unprovable, unfalsifiable, extra-natural and do not come under the purview of Methodological Naturalism. If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and evolves like a duck, then it's a worldview. Or something. Like. That.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Biblical literalism as a worldview.

The only ones that cannot accept Evolution are Biblical literalists, a particular sect of Judeo-Christian believers. This rejection of Evolution has nothing to do with evidence, logic, rationality, are any other [God-given] tools available to the human mind.
This is incorrect. Judeo-Christian Theists, who seek to understand and to apply the Bible according to a grammatico-historical hermeneutic, reject Evolution because it undermines the very foundation of evidence, logic, rationality, etc. Evidence and facts do not make sense in a Godless, mindless universe. In order to make any sense whatsoever of evidence, logic, rationality, etc., the Evolutionist must presume upon the Biblical/Creationist position in order to do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
The JC Bible is inerrant because literalists believe it to be.
Actually, it really is inerrant and infallible, whether anyone believes it or not. Its inerrancy/infallibility is attested in the Bible itself, and that inerrancy/infallibility is demonstrated in every area of human experience, including the pursuits of Evolutionary biologists. Every act or thought of the rational mind screams of God's existence and attributes and of man's obligation to Him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Doing so, they need to invent ad hoc explanations about the world in order to make nature fit their theology.
There is nothing invented on the Creationist view. It is all in accordance with what God has revealed about what He did when He created, and subsequent events in history. What could be more of an ad hoc invention than the idea that the current diversity of life somehow magically sprang from the unity some singular pre-primordial matter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Jim provides excellent examples of ad hoc explanations (inventions) ... 1. Accelerated Decay; 2. Water Vapor Canopy; 3. Catastrophic Plate Tectonics; 4. Rapid Ice Age Following the Flood. These don’t come from observing nature.
No, they come from scientific modeling based on the testimony of the Bible. They are not invented ad hoc. The ideas and models have a Source, namely, the Bible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
There was no water vapor canopy, no evidence for accelerated decay, no evidence of catastrophic plate tectonics or rapid ice ages – these were invented.
Again, not invented, but proclaimed or inferred by the Biblical text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Creationists twist nature to fit their theology instead a more rational and fruitful tact of accommodating reality into their theology ...
Reality cannot be rightly understood apart from theology. Nothing is twisted, but rather declared and taught in the Bible. On the Evolutionist view, in which the very tools needed to understand reality are presumed without warrant, there can be nothing but twisting in the absence of a cogent justification for the assumptions that are blindly embraced and "axiomized."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
– doing so you’ll be in good company (e.g., Einstein, Ron Fisher) you will also avoid the need to make up stuff as you go along investigating the natural world (and saying things like miracles do not violate natural law).
Again, the claims posited by Creationist scientists are not "made up" or ad hoc inventions. They originate in the text of the Bible. If the Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, as it claims to be, then one should rightly expect that whatever the Bible says about nature, about cosmogony, about anthropology, about biology, etc. would be accurate and true because the testimony came from the One who created it all and sustains it all.

HQ21: Of the Biblical miracles Stratnerd is familiar with, which one would he claim was a violation of natural law?

(Round III post, cont'd)

H. The Stuff of Myth and Legend
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
To make the absolute claim that Biblical literalism is the only rational worldview only expresses the limitations of that person’s mind – it is not a statement about reality.
If the God of the Bible exists, and if the Bible is God's inerrant/infallible Word, then it follows that the Creator has exclusive prerogative to determine and declare through His Book what is and is not reality. Not only so, but if the Bible is God's Word -- which says "the fear (i.e. due reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" -- then it follows that those who presume to use the God-given tools of logic and mathematics, while ignoring Him completely, become empty and futile in their thinking. This is what the Bible says. Ignore this God, Who is behind the logical abilities of the mind, and all of your reasoning reduces to absurdity. And this, not surprisingly, is exactly what we see in the Evolutionary view of reality or of cosmogony. When pressed to explain and justify the basic tools of life that we all take for granted, or to give a basic account of where life originated or how things have become the way they are, the Evolutionist must resort to an invented ad-hoc story that reaches back into an imagined, unobserved past, passed on to subsequent generations by way of blind tradition, the basic premises of which are not to be questioned, but ignorantly assumed and embraced, lest the very fabric of so-called science be torn asunder. This is the stuff of myth and legend, not science.

myth ('mith) n. 1 a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. [Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary; Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary]

IV. Selected Responses/Counter-Questions: Stratnerd's Answers to Hilston's Questions.
HQ4: Although he states that it does not matter, it would be helpful to know: Does Stratnerd affirm methodological naturalism? Or does he believe there are supernatural forces at work?

SA_HQ4: Methodological naturalism is assumed when answering questions scientifically.
HQ4b: Why?
SA_HQ4 (continued): ... I just assume that problems unexplained are that – unexplained and I seek natural explanations because they are the only ones I can work with. This is how all of science works from Evolution to genetics to epidemiology to ecology.
HQ4c: Does Stratnerd believe someone who does not affirm Evolution is hindered in his or her ability to conduct scientific inquiry in such fields as genetics, epidemiology and ecology? If so, why?
HQ5: Why does Stratnerd believe that the working of supernatural forces in nature would preclude making predictions.

SA_HQ5: Because I do not know how the supernatural works.
HQ5b:If you don't know how it works, then how can you know that the working of supernatural forces in nature would preclude making predictions?
HQ6: Stratnerd wrote: "... induction is speculation and we don't know if this new idea is worth anything until it proves its mettle." What is the new idea, and how would one go about proving its mettle?

SA_HQ6. It is not clear to me what you mean by “what is the new idea” ...
HQ6b: Stratnerd was the one who used this phrase (see above). I just want to know what is meant by "this new idea".
SA_HQ6. (Continued) ... Proving it’s mettle means trying to show it was false.
HQ6c:How does one go about showing that induction is false (or true, for that matter)?
HQ7: Please elaborate on this. Why can't someone say "ID predicts that DNA ..."?

SA_HQ7: I been giving reasons for this throughout my two posts. Best answered by asking you to provide an example. Simply fill in the blank and justify your answer.
HQ7a: I don't know anything about DNA (well, very little anyway). Nor do I espouse Intelligent Design. All I want to know is, why can't someone say "I.D. predicts that DNA ..."? On my view, I would say, "Creationism predicts that DNA would be orderly and comprehensible."

SA_HQ8b: My science is non-theistic – as scientists do but I have an uncertain ontology – I make no claims and I haven’t given the source of morals much thought –if any.

HQ8c: I assume you consider yourself a moral person, and that you live by particular guidelines of right and wrong behavior. What is/are the source(s) of your morals? And how do you justify them?

V. Stratnerd's Questions.
SQ1: I asked about the logic behind regularities and how this proves Genesis. But I didn’t see the chain of thoughts that back up this assertion.

HA_SQ1: We must justify our use of logic, our trust in the inductive principle and our reliance upon the uniformity of nature. The only way to do that rationally is to recognize the verity of Genesis. If the God of the Bible exists, as I claim He does, and if the Bible is His inerrant, infallible Word, as I claim it is, then it follows that the account in Genesis of God's creative work is trustworthy. The only other way to warrant one's use of these tool is to place blind faith in a mythical story about magical axioms.

SQ1a: How does the presence of regularities prove that God exists?

HA_SQ1a: See HA_SQ1:, above. If you require further detail, I will be happy to oblige.

SQ1b: How does one account for non-regularities such as chance events? Or do you suggest that there’s nothing random in nature?

HA_SQ1b:The latter. Randomness does not exist in nature. It is merely a theoretical construct.

SQ1c: What is the connection between regularities and Genesis being true. I asked before and got “Without God, logic and connections could not exist.” This doesn’t answer the question. Please do.

HA_SQ1c: I hope I answered this in HA_SQ1:, above. Again, if you desire further explication, I can accommodate.

SQ2: Do you have any working definition of science? Do you intend on comparing your definition with the nature of Evolution?

HA_SQ2: See section III.C., "Stratnerd on Evolution as Science", above. For part 2 of your question, I have intended all along to compare your definition with the nature of Evolution.

SQ3: Do you know of any way to know about the mechanics of creation so we might be able to make specific and testable predictions about organism – thus turning creationism into creation science (you’d be a hero to the creationist community).

HA_SQ3: To answer your question directly, no, but I don't see how it is relevant, or how the inability to know the mechanics of creation precludes creationism from being creation science. I find it interesting that you want to know the mechanics of creation before you will allow Creationist-scientists to make predictions about organisms. But you don't know the mechanics of life from non-life, yet you presume to make predictions about organisms. It sounds like a double standard to me.

SQ4: If you come up with a testable hypothesis, can you provide relevant data.

HA_SQ4: I'm no biologist, but I have a friend or two who might be able to assist me. I will return to this question when I've had time to consult with them.

SQ5a: On your take on regularities and life, does sexual recombination occur and mutation occurs in some predictable way as an extension of your uniformities. I don’t get the connection and your criticism of evolution when you said:
Quote:
The Evolutionary paradigm will affirm uniformity on the one hand, but then deny uniformity in order for evolutionary change to actually take place. My claim is that the reason nature is uniform, regular and orderly, and the reason human beings are able to comprehend them, is because the creation reflects and is analogous to the nature of its Creator.
HA_SQ5a:Yes. The denial of uniformity is required of the Evolutionary view if diversity is going to arise out of singularity, if non-living matter is going to give rise to living organisms, etc.

SQ5b: (or just asking a another way) are you saying that changes don’t happen?

HA_SQ5b:I believe changes do happen, but not to a sufficient degree to account for life (period) or the current diversity of life we see in the world today.

SQ6a: Do you really think that sentience is a general property of animals? Across taxa means that it’s found in disparate groups –say, snails and deer.

HA_SQ6a:Yes, I followed the nomenclature. Loosely defined, perhaps. I was trying to play along, despite not being a biologist. Even single-celled animals are sentient, according to the broad definition of sentience, right? On further thought, I might say a general property of animals that Creationism predicts is extension and movement in space.

SQ6b. How do you justify it? Come up with some biological principals that would lead you to predict that snails and deer would be sentient.

HA_SQ6b:God created the animals and distinguished them from plants and other non-living matter. As animals, they would have defining characteristics, such as being sentient, defined as "1. Having sense perception; conscious. 2. Experiencing sensation or feeling." Being able to move would be another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
However, the Creationist recognizes that nothing would or can exist without the supernatural, namely God, holding all things together and sustaining the natural order and the uniformity, which God, by His creative and sustaining power, imposes upon creation.
SQ7: [but related to the questions above] Can you back up this assertion? Do just have to believe it?

HA_SQ7.I don't see a rational alternative, unless one wants to believe in magic. Either a Personal and Powerful Creator made and sustains all that exists, or it's magic. Even if one buys the Occamic tenet of parsimony, unwarranted complexity should incline you toward the Creator hypothesis instead of the magic hypothesis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
Not only can the Evolutionist not observe or explain, let alone test, how nature could give life and sentience to non-living non-conscious matter, ...
SQ8: Why?

HA_SQ8. Because the Evolutionist has no proven reliable tools with which to observe or explain anything. On the Evolution thesis, the very methods of data collection, let alone evaluation, are suspect, which you admitted, above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
The Creationist, on the other hand, is not only able to do science, but he can do so with a general confidence in the tools and methods he employs, as well as his sensory faculties, and not relegate induction to "speculation."
SQ9: really? So Walt Brown’s hydroplate idea is True just because he’s a creationist? The water vapor canopy idea is True just because the poser is a creationist? Are you saying you understand the purpose seen in creation just by looking at it and there’s no need to back up anything?

HA_SQ9. No, I did not claim that Creationists are always right. All people use the tools of logic and the methods of science to varying degrees. Some are more successful than others, for reasons unrelated to whether or not they are Creationists. The point is, all else equal, the Creationist alone can do science with a justified general confidence, whereas the Evolutionist, as you admitted above, must ever be tentative even about the tools and methods he uses to do his science.

VI. Stratnerd's Comments, no questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Peer-reviewed means that it was sent out to the scientific community at large – not other creationists THAT MUST SUPPORT THEIR WORK. This ain’t peer-review.
My experience with the ICC included "hostile witnesses." As often as was possible, Evolutionist reviewers were sought out to critically assess the research and science presented in Creationist papers. Should I bother wondering if Evolutionist scientists include the Creationist scientific community in their peer review process?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
But science works best when we go out and try to prove something false not hold a symposium ...
I agree. So do the scientists I met and observed at the symposium. But it's not either/or (prove something false vs. hold a symposium). I've witnessed heated debate in the public presentations as wells as in discussions and special sessions. It's not a big "love fest" as some might imagine. I can only speak from my experience with the ICCs. I have no experience with other such conferences, and I know of no other comparable peer-reviewed symposium on the planet that holds to the academic rigor that the ICC does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
Papers go out to your “competitors” that try and poke holes in your material. If you provide a tight argument and do your methods correctly then your competitor has no choice but to accept it.
Correct. That was our goal. That's what we did. Hundreds of papers were rejected because they didn't pass muster. Or pass the mustard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
I am merely demonstrating that Stratnerd's assertion is false and misleading.
you put this with my assertion that I generally stay away from creationist material – why would I lie about this try to mislead?
I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to imply deliberate deception on your part. I merely meant that your assertion was misleading, not that you personally are intentionally trying to mislead. I make misleading assertions all the time, without intending to actually mislead. Please forgive my indelicate choice of words. I'll try to be more careful hereafter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
It is possible, indeed pervasive, that human beings hold tenaciously to contradictory beliefs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
But this is exactly how I see your claims that regularities prove miracles (ie., instantaneous creation).
What is contradictory about regularities proving miracles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
I do not wish to be disrespectful to these people, and my remarks are aimed only at their ideas and not them as people, but I submit that by trying to have their Christian cake and to eat it, too (believing also in Evolution), they have violated and undermined the teachings of the Bible they profess to uphold.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
This is an assertion that needs to be backed up. I wonder why Einstein and Fisher never figured this out?
Intellect alone does not grant a correct understanding of scripture. It's a heart issue, a moral issue. The fear of the Lord, not intellectual horsepower, is the beginning of knowledge.

VII. Back to [Stratnerd's] questions …

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
Miracles are not the breaking of natural laws. They are an interruption of the natural order ... When Jesus and Peter walked upon the water … Now whether the molecular structure of the water was changed or angels were under the water supporting them, I do not know and the text does not say ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
If miracles aren’t the breaking of a natural law/regularity then I have no idea what a miracle is then.
Irregularity, yes. Breaking a natural law, no. Biblically defined, a miracle is anything that causes awe or wonder due to an interruption in the regularity of the natural order. An axehead floating, the appearance of an angel, a blind man having his eyes (and by implication, the occipital lobe of his brain) repaired, etc.

SQ10: What is the difference between a natural law and natural order? How do know which is which? Can you give an example of each?

HA_SQ10: Natural law describes forces and fields that operate in nature. Natural order merely describes the regularity we observe in nature.

SQ11: What then is a miracle?

HA_SQ11: An interruption in the regularity of the natural order.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
That's the story that evolutionists tell. There's another story, that evolution was largely accepted by those who wanted seemingly scientific reasons to reject the authority of the Bible. The "success" of the Enlightenment was to bring into vogue the questioning of Biblical authority and of God's sovereign claims upon men's lives.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd
So people weren’t convinced by evidence and you read Darwin’s mind to understand his incentive?
No one is convinced to change their perception of the universe by evidence, because one's perception of the universe that which governs how evidence is viewed, evaluated, or even if it is accepted evidence. Also, there are plenty of writings, by friends, close relatives, loved ones, of Charles Darwin and other movers and shakers of that period to betray the true impetus behind what they published and how they published it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratnerd, in a previous post
If similarities are the result of God being consistent and purposeful then what do dissimilarities suggest?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilston, previously
Different purposes.
SQ12: How do you know? Other than using circular reasoning?

HA_SQ12: It's logical, and it's revelatory. Two sure inferences. For example, the Bible gives excellent descriptions of locust anatomy and how their physiology functions. That's not circular. It's logical. How is it, in a worldview such a Evolutionism where the very tools and methods of science are tentative and suspect, that one would ever come to the conclusion (as if conclusions are even available to someone who cannot justify the use of their tools & methods) that < dissimilarities = dissimilar purposes> is circular reasoning?

SQ13: why make the distinction?

HA_SQ13: Two reasons: (1) Common descent of dissimilar organisms violates logic and reality and cannot account for the diversity of life we see around us, and (2) God's Word indicates special, recent (young earth) creation, which precludes the kinds of changes asserted by the Evolutionary view.

SQ13b: Where does it go from being homology = common descent to homology = common designer?

HA_SQ13b: I don't know. But I think, armed with the tools and methods of science, coupled with a cogent biblical worldview, a Creationist biologist could provide an answer.

Excellent questions, Stratnerd! That was a blast! Unfortunately, despite my efforts to be less prolix and more pithy, I find myself, yet again, at around 7,700+ words (at least I'm consistent). For those of you who actually read these things, I admire your tenacity. I hope your eyes aren't glazing over. Depending on how much time I have, I will see you all in the Grandstands. Now it's back to changing the starter in my van.

In your grocer's freezer,
Jim




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