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Author Topic:   Intelligent tree growth
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 1 of 9 (275518)
01-03-2006 9:41 PM


I have a tree in my back yard. I planted it maybe 15 years ago as a seedling at around 12 inches high. It is now 20 feet in height.

There is a biological theory of how trees grow. Let's refer to it as "The Biological Theory of Trees", or BToT for short.

BTOT happens to be quite useful. Much can be predicted about tree growth. Planters, orchardists, etc, can use BTOT to guide them in ways to control tree growth so as to manage fruit picking and other kinds of harvesting.

From what I have seen, BTOT explains my tree quite well. The tree grows pretty much as BTOT suggests. I use my knowledge of BTOT when pruning, and that works well too.

If I am completely honest, I have to admit that BTOT could be wrong. I have never actually seen the tree grow. If have at various times noticed that it was bigger than it had previously been. But any actual growth happens at too slow a speed for observation.

So maybe trees don't grow at all. Maybe every now and then, at a time when nobody is watching, the tree simply poofs out of existence, and a new slightly larger tree poofs into existence to replace it. Let's refer to that as the Theory of Intelligent Tree Growth, or TITG.

Let's suppose that TITG turns out to be true, and BTOT turns out to be false. Maybe I had a convincing experience, including a supernatural revelation, where I learned of the truth of TITG.

What should I then do?

My contention is that I should continue to use BTOT. I should perhaps become an anti-realist with respect to BTOT. That is, I should say that BTOT is not what really happens. Nevertheless it is a sound scientific theory for pragmatic reasons. It predicts tree growth. It allow control of tree growth by orchardists, horticulturalists and others. By contrast, although TITG is shown to be true, it is of no practical use. It gives me no ability at prediction or control.

Comments anybody?

[Note: This is a reaction to randman's skeptical view of evolution, such as he is expressing in various posts in A Whale of a Tale. It is my contention that such skepticism should lead to an anti-realist attitude toward ToE, rather than to an outright rejection. The intention is to discuss what makes for a good scientific theory.

Percy writes:

Creationism/ID isn't suddenly correct if evolution is wrong. If evolution is ever falsified you'll discover that Creationism/ID is still left out of science classrooms because it still doesn't qualify as science.
See Message 51.


ToE is not adopted because it is true. Rather, it is adopted because if its empirical usefulness. Even if found untrue, it would continue to be used until there is a replacement theory that is at least as useful.]

Antirealism

The following is taken from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/philosophy/LPSG/Science.htm:

Scientific Realism Versus Antirealism

Scientific theories seem, if taken literally, to describe an unobservable reality underlying the phenomena. Are there good reasons for interpreting theories in this way and for holding that they are true, or at any rate approximately true? Would the success of science be a miracle without this interpretation of theories? Or should we instead think of theories as merely instruments for codifying and predicting phenomena? Does the fact that any given set of data can be accommodated within an infinite number of possible scientific theories mean that there are never good reasons to accept any particular scientific theory on the basis of given data? Does the existence of scientific revolutions (and the possibility of further revolutions in the future) imply that there is no good reason to think our present theories even approximately true? Is there even an objective notion of what it takes for a claim to be false, but approximately true?

(Suggest: "Is it Science")

{This topic's source is message 1 of the Proposed New Topic version. - Adminnemooseus}

This message has been edited by Adminnemooseus, 01-03-2006 09:44 PM


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Ben!, posted 01-03-2006 10:12 PM nwr has responded

  
Ben!
Member (Idle past 1731 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 2 of 9 (275525)
01-03-2006 10:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
01-03-2006 9:41 PM


I agree...
Hi nwr,

I do agree with your assessment. I think we too often look to science as a method to discover truth, but really science is all about utility. That's one of the major reasons why we have Occam's Razor.

I think there's one thing that you didn't mention, but that is implied by your post. I hope it's not far off topic to mention it, but I'll give it a shot and see what you think.

I think the door swings both ways. Just like science, religious belief and faith need not be "true" or "false", "right" or "wrong". What really matters in faith is how it affects you, how it changes you, and how you live your life because of it. In other words, it is the utility of faith that really has meaning. Whether any article is actually true? It never really mattered.

It's like Dumbo and his feather.

In this way then, I see science and faith similar. They are both misconstrued as avenues to "truth". But all that ever really mattered was how we treat each other. The only thing that ever made "truth" matter was our own pointless, made-up ideal.

Fortunately, that ideal turned out to be useful... sometimes.

Ben

P.S. Why do I feel like this post could have been written by brennakimi?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by nwr, posted 01-03-2006 9:41 PM nwr has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 01-03-2006 10:26 PM Ben! has responded
 Message 7 by nwr, posted 01-03-2006 11:15 PM Ben! has responded

    
SuperNintendo Chalmers
Member (Idle past 3943 days)
Posts: 772
From: Bartlett, IL, USA
Joined: 12-27-2005


Message 3 of 9 (275528)
01-03-2006 10:26 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Ben!
01-03-2006 10:12 PM


Re: I agree...
I think the door swings both ways. Just like science, religious belief and faith need not be "true" or "false", "right" or "wrong". What really matters in faith is how it affects you, how it changes you, and how you live your life because of it. In other words, it is the utility of faith that really has meaning. Whether any article is actually true? It never really mattered.

Agreed..... however, this is completely against what fundamentalists belive.

I think it's perfectly fine to say, "I think Jesus was the son of god, but even if he wasn't, his teachings are what is really important"

What is the utility in using religion to try and deny reality?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Ben!, posted 01-03-2006 10:12 PM Ben! has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Ben!, posted 01-03-2006 10:38 PM SuperNintendo Chalmers has responded

  
Ben!
Member (Idle past 1731 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 4 of 9 (275529)
01-03-2006 10:38 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
01-03-2006 10:26 PM


Re: I agree...
I think it's perfectly fine to say, "I think Jesus was the son of god, but even if he wasn't, his teachings are what is really important"

I would probably say something different:

"I believe Jesus was the son of god. If you must judge me, judge me on what I do, not what I believe. I am content in my belief."

So I guess what I'm getting at is, we use "truth" as a method for justification and for judgement. Why did we ever think that "truth" had something to do with utility?

I guess the easy answer is, that it's obvious. Only an idiot would even stop to ask such a silly question.

What a logical fallacy that would be.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 01-03-2006 10:26 PM SuperNintendo Chalmers has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 01-03-2006 10:42 PM Ben! has not yet responded

    
SuperNintendo Chalmers
Member (Idle past 3943 days)
Posts: 772
From: Bartlett, IL, USA
Joined: 12-27-2005


Message 5 of 9 (275530)
01-03-2006 10:42 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Ben!
01-03-2006 10:38 PM


Re: I agree...
"I believe Jesus was the son of god. If you must judge me, judge me on what I do, not what I believe. I am content in my belief."

Sounds reasonable... although it's bad news for a lot of x-tians

:D


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Ben!, posted 01-03-2006 10:38 PM Ben! has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by jar, posted 01-03-2006 10:54 PM SuperNintendo Chalmers has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30936
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 6 of 9 (275531)
01-03-2006 10:54 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
01-03-2006 10:42 PM


Re: I agree...
Not really. Many of us have said even if everything in the Bible is but tales told around an campfire, the message is still valid.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 01-03-2006 10:42 PM SuperNintendo Chalmers has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 01-03-2006 11:29 PM jar has not yet responded

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 7 of 9 (275540)
01-03-2006 11:15 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Ben!
01-03-2006 10:12 PM


Re: I agree...
I think the door swings both ways. Just like science, religious belief and faith need not be "true" or "false", "right" or "wrong". What really matters in faith is how it affects you, how it changes you, and how you live your life because of it. In other words, it is the utility of faith that really has meaning. Whether any article is actually true? It never really mattered.

Post 2, and we are already drifting off-topic :D

Yes, I agree Ben. Unfortunately, quite a few theologians don't agree, but there are probably quite a few who do agree, too.

The only thing that ever made "truth" matter was our own pointless, made-up ideal.

I see "truth" as having originated as a qualifier for sentences, and needed in communication and logic. It became a made-up ideal when we tried to make "truth" an entity in its own right (when we reified it).
This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Ben!, posted 01-03-2006 10:12 PM Ben! has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Ben!, posted 01-03-2006 11:19 PM nwr has not yet responded

  
Ben!
Member (Idle past 1731 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 8 of 9 (275543)
01-03-2006 11:19 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by nwr
01-03-2006 11:15 PM


Re: I agree...
Post 2, and we are already drifting off-topic :D

It couldn't be helped :rolleyes:

It became a made-up ideal when we tried to make "truth" an entity in its own right (when we reified it).

Not sure I agree with this, but I don't want to go off-topic on the off-topic discussion. Let's keep to one level of off-topic'dness at a time.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by nwr, posted 01-03-2006 11:15 PM nwr has not yet responded

    
SuperNintendo Chalmers
Member (Idle past 3943 days)
Posts: 772
From: Bartlett, IL, USA
Joined: 12-27-2005


Message 9 of 9 (275548)
01-03-2006 11:29 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by jar
01-03-2006 10:54 PM


Re: I agree...
Not really. Many of us have said even if everything in the Bible is but tales told around an campfire, the message is still valid.

Just to reply (even though it's off-topic)... those definitely aren't the type of x-tians I was talking about. (and I know you aren't either Jar from reading many of your posts)...

but back on topic: I believe that utility is very important for science....

It goes back to a key point: Science is not about belief. New anti-biotics will work on you whether you believe in evolution or not. We can still grow genetically engineered crops whether you believe in evolution or not. etc.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by jar, posted 01-03-2006 10:54 PM jar has not yet responded

  
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