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Author Topic:   SCIENCE: -- "observational science" vs "historical science" vs ... science.
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Joined: 05-02-2006
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Message 512 of 614 (736135)
09-04-2014 4:25 AM
Reply to: Message 511 by Coyote
09-03-2014 11:15 PM

Re: Faith responds about "proof"
Actually, Faith's beliefs are not based on the Bible itself, but rather on her theology. She says it's based on the Bible, but that's because her theology tells her that it is based on the Bible. Her religious faith does not depend on the truth of the Bible itself, but rather on the truth of her theology which claims that it must be true in order for God to exist, etc, etc, etc. It is not the Bible itself that informs Faith, but rather her theology which dictates to her what the Bible is, what it says, and what it must mean. Not only does it dictate to her that the Bible must be perfect and inerrant and infallible, but also, albeit possibly indirectly, that her theology itself must also share those same properties of perfection and inerrancy and infallibility that it bestows on the Bible.

The problem is that her theology has far overextended its bounds, which is also true of other creationists' theologies. Since the supernatural is unobservable and untestable, statements about the supernatural are also untestable. Anybody can make any pronouncement he wants to about the supernatural and there is no way that anybody could possibly test that pronouncement and hence cannot determine whether it is true or not. The same holds true of the supernaturalistic claims of any and all theologies. Nobody can prove them nor disprove them. No militant atheist could ever disprove the possibility of the existence of "God" (whichever of the myriad definitions you may choose to apply), while at the same time even the most militant religionist could ever prove the existence of "God". Each and every theology making supernaturalistic claims is exempt from being disproved.

However, that all falls apart when the theology in question makes testable statements about the real world, statements that can indeed be tested.

After Judge Overton's decision in the 1981 Arkansas "Balanced Treatment" creationist lawsuit, a philosopher of science, Larry Laudan, published an article critical of that decision (Science at the Bar- Causes for Concern by Larry Laudan, from Science, Technology and Human Values 7, no. 41 (1982):16-19, reprinted on pages 351-355 of Michael Ruse's But Is It Science.) I heard the ICR's Dr. Duane Gish refer to it in a debate I attended, so I followed up with a letter asking about that reference, whereupon he mailed me a xerox of that article. On-line, I later learned that Phillip Johnson also misused that article. Larry Laudan's main concerns was that Judge Overton's definitions and tests for what is science and what is not were based on wrong ideas and assumptions and would eventually come back to bite us (and you all know where we will be bitten). Of course, all the creationists seized upon that article to support their position, whereas in reality it denounced that position most definitely. Here it is:

At various key points in the Opinion, Creationism is charged with being untestable, dogmatic (and thus non-tentative), and unfalsifiable. All three charges are of dubious merit. For instance, to make the interlinked claims that Creationism is neither falsifiable nor testable is to assert that Creationism makes no empirical assertions whatever. This is surely false. Creationists make a wide range of testable assertions about empirical matters of fact. Thus, as Judge Overton himself grants (apparently without seeing its implications), the creationists say that the earth is of very recent origin (say 6,000 to 20,000 years old); they argue that most of the geological features of the earth's surface are diluvial in character (i.e., products of the postulated worldwide Noachian deluge); they are committed to a large number of factual historical claims with which the Old Testament is replete; they assert the limited variability of species. They are committed to the view
that, since animals and man were created at the same time, the human fossil record must be paleontologically co-extensive with the record of lower animals. It is fair to say that no one has shown how to reconcile such claims with the available evidence- evidence which speaks persuasively to a long earth history, among other things.

In brief, these claims are testable, they have been tested, and they have failed those tests.

The problem for Faith is that her theology has over-extended itself severely and tragically. It has made several claims about the real world which are simply not true. By its very nature, it has proclaimed that if those several contrary-to-fact claims it has made about the real world are not true, then God does not exist (or something equally catastrophic for a Christian who clings desperately to this theology). Those claims her theology makes about the real world are testable, they have been tested, and they have failed those tests.

To be honest, I applaud Faith's theology for having accomplished the impossible. Even the most militaristically anti-God atheist or philosopher or scientist could never ever possibly succeed in disproving the existence of God. Nor could the most devout Christian be able to objectively prove the existence of God. Either way, it is unprovable. And yet the creationists have broken that nut, have cut through that Gordian knot, have achieved the impossible. Simply by accepting the creationists' premise that if their claims are false then there is no God, the very fact that their claims are indeed false does indeed prove that there is no God. QED.

Thank you, Faith, for your service to all of Mankind in ridding us of the gods!

Yes, of course, Faith's premises are false! But how many atheists today can trace their decision back to Faith's basic premise, that if her claims are false then atheism is the only option? And her claims are most clearly false.

Faith, I am not an anti-religion atheist. I do accept that religion can provide an individual a path to spiritual growth. I also do not believe that Christians should be driven away from their religion by "creation science." But your theology requires them to do just that.

Evidence and facts are not acceptable if they don't support their goal, and their goal is not learning, but supporting and maintaining their beliefs. In this, science is very often the enemy, to be denied and denigrated whenever it contradicts those beliefs.

We have seen this in action many times. A local "creation science" activist has provided an example: http://chiefwise.tripod.com/morgan/transcript/MORGN00A.TXT. So what does depletion of the ozone layer have to do with creationism? Nothing whatsoever. Rather, this local creationist, Bill Morgan, was trying to use this claim to cast doubt on science itself.

Bill Morgan was trying to argue that scientists were being misguided by laboratory experiments detached from real-world measurements, whereas in reality the data was from sounding rockets taking direct empirical measurements of refrigerant molecules actually present in in the upper atmosphere. Bill Morgan's main argument was an argument from ignorance, in that he personally could not think of how a heavy refrigerant molecule could have been transported into the upper atmosphere. Never mind that sounding rockets taking atmospheric samples at those altitudes directly and empirically found those refrigerant molecules to be present at those altitudes. After about 13 years of pounding on that idiot, he finally agreed to take down that article from his site, although he still maintained that if he personally could not imagine how something could happen, then it could not possibly happen. At present, his entire site is down for reorganization; we can only wait and wonder whether his ozone layer lie will reappear.

If Faith wants support or at least a lack of contradiction to the contrary-to-fact claims that her fragile faith depends, then she should distance herself as far from reality as possible.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 511 by Coyote, posted 09-03-2014 11:15 PM Coyote has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 514 by Coyote, posted 09-04-2014 8:46 AM dwise1 has not yet responded

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