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Author Topic:   Absence of Evidence..............
randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3062 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 121 of 138 (468925)
06-02-2008 12:56 PM
Reply to: Message 120 by Straggler
06-02-2008 12:48 PM


Re: Evidence
However in the complete absence of any empirical evidence to even suggest that something might be possible and is worth investigating further the only rational and practical conclusion is that it does not exist.

The lack of evidence for the soul, or for God or for angels has got nothing to do with technology.

Actually, it has everything to do with technology. Billions of people have stated they have experience with such things. It is you that is denying the evidence. Furthermore, the NED study is indeed empirical evidence for the soul.

Can you empirically verify the right person to marry? Even if theoritically possible, does anyone really do that?

Can you answer the question please. Insults are not an answer. According to you, absent empirical evidence we should not rely as people on something, and yet it is quite clear most of life's decisions do not involve reliance on empirical evidence but rather a combination of subjective and objective experience.

Edited by randman, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 120 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 12:48 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 125 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 6:20 PM randman has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 641 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 122 of 138 (468936)
06-02-2008 2:07 PM
Reply to: Message 118 by randman
06-02-2008 12:19 PM


Then show us the evidence
randman writes:

Yawn.......as usual, you make the same boring error so many other materialists have. Think of it this way. God, angels, or any spiritual or supernatural thing is by definition, from a science perspective, a natural or material thing.

Fine. So what has Dembski got against materialism, if his God is material?

Positive evidence for the "natural or material" intelligent designer can now be presented. 6130 posts, and where is it?

You cannot define everything within the universe as automatically material or natural and then exclude spiritual things based on definitions. By definition then, spiritual things are "natural" relevant to the universe, but by your tone, it's obvious it may be best to conclude any discussions with you.

Never mind my tone. Think about yours. You act as though you have some grand theory which is supposed to be in competition with the modern evolutionary view, and the evidence presented is on the same level as the evidence for Santa Claus.

Absence of evidence is not proof of absence, but it is certainly evidence of absence. The modern Intelligent Design movement is about 20 years old, isn't it, and the designer(s) of life seem conspicuous by their absence.

Meanwhile, I.D. proponents spend all their time screaming at "mainstream" scientists for evidence of their views, which is blatant hypocrisy.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 118 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 12:19 PM randman has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 123 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 2:46 PM bluegenes has responded

  
randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3062 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 123 of 138 (468940)
06-02-2008 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 122 by bluegenes
06-02-2008 2:07 PM


Re: Then show us the evidence
ID threads should be on another thread, I suspect, and I don't want to get banned. If you want to discuss this further, I'd suggest a different thread. The point on "material" is that you cannot define "material" as everything in the universe (i.e. everything in existence) and exclude the concept of God from it.

Edited by randman, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 122 by bluegenes, posted 06-02-2008 2:07 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 124 by bluegenes, posted 06-02-2008 3:26 PM randman has not yet responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 641 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 124 of 138 (468950)
06-02-2008 3:26 PM
Reply to: Message 123 by randman
06-02-2008 2:46 PM


Re: Then show us the evidence
randman writes:

I'd suggest a different thread....

That's what I suggested in the post that started this dialogue.

The point on "material" is that you cannot define "material" as everything in the universe (i.e. everything in existence) and exclude the concept of God from it.

Up to you whether you define your God as material or not. I know nothing about the randman God, obviously. Some people put their Gods outside the material universe. It is I.D.ers and creationists who tend to use the word "materialist" to describe those who practice methodological naturalism. In fact, you called me a materialist in a post above, although I never call myself one. In the same post, you seem to imply that everything is material, including things normally described as supernatural. The thread I was suggesting was one in which you could present evidence for such things, something I think is long overdue from the I.D.ers.

I suppose we're wandering off topic. I'd certainly love to see a thread with evidence for I.D. on it, just for novelty's sake.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 123 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 2:46 PM randman has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 125 of 138 (468977)
06-02-2008 6:20 PM
Reply to: Message 121 by randman
06-02-2008 12:56 PM


Misapprehensions of Evidence
I have no idea why you have decided to spread your various points and responses over so many disparate posts. It just confuses things. If I were less charitable I might suggest that it is either a slightly odd debating tactic or evidence of a lack of coherent thought………

Anyway in this post I attempt to address your various points and misapprehensions regarding the nature of evidence.

Let’s start with the basics….

What Does Empirical Mean?
I hate threads full of arguments over dictionary definitions but your incessant misunderstanding over what is meant by the term empirical needs to be addressed. From a simple online dictionary lookup I obtained the following definition

  • Relying on or derived from observation or experiment.
  • Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment.
  • Guided by practical experience as opposed to theory.

    Now I really do not want to get into a battle of definitions. I can think of nothing more boring. However with the above in mind I see empirical evidence, in the broadest sense, as that which exists in an objective reality and which can therefore be experienced and independently corroborated by individual conscious beings existing in that same objective reality. Observable evidence in the widest sense of the word is that which can be independently verified because it is external to the ‘experiencer’.
    Empirical in this context does not necessarily mean formally studied or experimented upon. It does not necessarily mean scientific. It merely means observable. Whether directly or indirectly.

    Non-Empirical “Evidence”
    What is non-empirical evidence? Anything that it is inherently impossible to observe or detect by empirical means. Anything that is purely and only the subject of personal subjective experience. Things that fit into this category are - Feelings of having a soul, personal relationships with God, an innate knowledge that you are special and destined for great things, anything that is utterly personal to you and under no circumstances could be expected to be detected like for like by anyone else.
    If considered as evidence then frankly there would be “evidence” for just about every immaterial being or phenomenon imaginable. Such “evidence” is so obviously unreliable and subject to delusion that the very word “evidence” is unwarranted and is merely used by those with a philosophical agenda to give undeserved credence to their irrational conclusions in relation to the impossible and stupid.

    Personal Empirical Experience
    Much has been made of this category of evidence in this thread and a distinction needs to be drawn. An eye witness account experienced by nobody else. A claimed sighting of a resurrected demi-god. An alien encounter involving kidnapping and (optional?) anal probes. No corroborating physical evidence to show afterwards.
    In any such cases the nature of evidence is empirical in so far as the claim being made states that the events described actually physically happened. This is not non-empirical in the sense that nobody could witness the act taking place. This is not like personal feelings of having a soul. These are claims that physical events occurred in an objective reality where it just so happened to be the case that nobody else was available to witness the event in question.
    Whilst being inherently different in nature to claims of non-empirical evidence in this context such claims are equally unreliable.
    How can we know what is claimed actually happened? How can we know that the person making the claim is not lying, delusional or just plain barking mad?
    Did the event that is claimed to have taken place actually take place in an objective reality available to all or is it all in the mind of the experiencer?
    It is impossible to tell. Thus claims of personal empirical evidence should be treated no differently to claims of non-empirical evidence unless there is corroborating empirical evidence available.
    In practice we do not require these standards in most cases. In the event of mundane claims we readily accept such claims without need for further evidence. However if the claim being made is extraordinary or of deep importance we, quite rightly, require additional reliable evidence. In short empirical evidence.

    Example 1: If I said that I saw a cat in the street today you would probably believe me without any further evidence being required. This is claim is mundane, ordinary and perfectly believable based on your own lifetime of empirical experience that tells you cats are common place and I have nothing to gain by lying about said cat sighting.

    Example 2: If I said I had seen a herd of unicorn in my street this morning you would very probably, and quite justifiably, be very sceptical. On the basis that unicorn do not usually roam the streets of inner London and in fact have never been seen, or even left any traces of physical evidence for their existence, anywhere ever. Am I mad? Am I lying? Am I hallucinating? In the absence of additional and conclusive empirical evidence these are the perfectly valid conclusions that you would come to.

    Claims involving personal experiences of aliens, angels, resurrections or anything else outrageous and extraordinary should be treated similarly to example 2 above. Don’t let those advocating such things fob you off by making unjustified comparisons with the standards of evidence we require for the mundane and ordinary!!!!!

    Personal Preference
    The fact that I prefer beer to wine does not mean that there is “evidence” that beer is superior to wine. That would be a ridiculous conclusion. Personal preference is exactly what it says it is. Objective reality and reliable conclusions are not even a factor in such decisions and preferences.
    Randman has made much of marriage partners in this context. Do we empirically judge our potential partners? Well frankly in this context does it matter? Are we claiming to make reliable conclusions regarding reality with such choices?
    Our choice of partner relies on many things. Some of it arguably empirical experience and some of it very definitely personal preference. Psychology, gut feeling, physical attraction etc. etc. are just a few of the complex and interweaving factors. But who says such conclusions are reliable? The divorce rate apart from anything else suggests otherwise. Longevity of relationship relies as much on ongoing compromise and adaption to individual needs as it does initial “conclusion”. In terms of this thread and it’s exploration of the basis for reliable conclusions regarding reality the whole topic is completely irrelevant.

    Perfect Evidence
    Does empirical evidence give us infallible conclusions?
    No it does not. What form of evidence based conclusion could result in certainty and the impossibility of being wrong? The short answer is none. Such is the nature of empirical evidence. Like science in general, certainty is not an option.
    The example of the coelacanth has been mentioned elsewhere (not by randman) and is a case in point. Deemed to be long extinct by means of the empirical evidence available at the time. Yet in the event of additional and unexpected empirical evidence this conclusion was dramatically overturned. What does this demonstrate? Was the initial conclusion unjustified?
    Based on the evidence available at the time the conclusion as to the extinction of coelacanth was perfectly justified. Despite the fact it was ultimately wrong. However this is hardly justification for concluding that any empirical conclusion is wrong.
    1) The existence of the coelacanth was eventually demonstrated empirically. Without this empirical evidence any such claim is irrelevant and no other empirically base conclusion can be overturned.
    2) The initial conclusion was itself based on empirical evidence.
    3) There can be no claim of equality with phenomenon for which there is no empirical evidence of existence at all. Coelacanth were known to exist and were thought (based on empirical evidence) to no longer exist. On the basis of empirical evidence they were then found to exist again.

    Empirical evidence is not perfect but the alternatives leave open the very real possibility of “knowing” santa, the tooth fairy and every other imaginable being available to the human imagination should be considered as evidentially supported.

    Conclusion
    You have continually confused and conflated the various forms of evidence to meet the ends of your own flawed and disparate argument.
    If you do indeed have a coherent argument please let us know what it is and I will address it as such.
    Ultimately you have no basis for the validity of non-empirical "evidence" and you completely misunderstand the strengths and weaknesses of the various forms of empirical evidence that you seem to be denying or advocating on various philosophical grounds.

    Let me know if you think I have missed any of your points and I will be happy to address. But lets try and keep things in a single response, rather than multiple responses eh?

    Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 121 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 12:56 PM randman has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 126 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 6:28 PM Straggler has responded

      
  • randman 
    Suspended Member (Idle past 3062 days)
    Posts: 6367
    Joined: 05-26-2005


    Message 126 of 138 (468981)
    06-02-2008 6:28 PM
    Reply to: Message 125 by Straggler
    06-02-2008 6:20 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    However with the above in mind I see empirical evidence, in the broadest sense, as that which exists in an objective reality and which can therefore be experienced and independently corroborated by individual conscious beings existing in that same objective reality. Observable evidence in the widest sense of the word is that which can be independently verified because it is external to the ‘experiencer’.

    Ok, then the resurrection of Jesus Christ is empirical, right? Many witnessed the risen Christ, and so that's empirical evidence Jesus rose from the dead.

    Right?


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 125 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 6:20 PM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 127 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 6:40 PM randman has responded

      
    Straggler
    Member
    Posts: 10285
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    (1)
    Message 127 of 138 (468986)
    06-02-2008 6:40 PM
    Reply to: Message 126 by randman
    06-02-2008 6:28 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However with the above in mind I see empirical evidence, in the broadest sense, as that which exists in an objective reality and which can therefore be experienced and independently corroborated by individual conscious beings existing in that same objective reality. Observable evidence in the widest sense of the word is that which can be independently verified because it is external to the ‘experiencer’.

    Ok, then the resurrection of Jesus Christ is empirical, right? Many witnessed the risen Christ, and so that's empirical evidence Jesus rose from the dead.

    Right?

    Potentially. But read the rest of the post you are arguing against.
    Did they really see such a thing? How do we know? How likely is this? Is the corroborating evidence reliable? Is there any corroborating empirical evidence? Did a single person write about this persoanl experience (that they themselves never had) decades later?

    Who wrote these accounts? What did they have to gain by writing them? How reliable are they? Would they stand up in court, never mind scientific investigation?

    You seem to want to include anecdotal evidence as reliable empirical evidence.

    As Phat (Ex EvC member) once said - "Evidence is NOT the plural of anecdote"

    Try reading the posts you are writing against in future.......

    Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

    Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 126 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 6:28 PM randman has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 128 by PaulK, posted 06-02-2008 6:49 PM Straggler has responded
     Message 129 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 6:50 PM Straggler has responded

      
    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 15035
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 3.2


    Message 128 of 138 (468987)
    06-02-2008 6:49 PM
    Reply to: Message 127 by Straggler
    06-02-2008 6:40 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    I recently posted on the issue.

    To sum up, 1 Corinthians chapter 15 gives a list of "appearances" with no real detail.

    If the author of Mark wrote about these appearances, it did not survive.

    The accounts in Mathew, Luke and John contradict each other enough that none of them can be trusted.

    It appears that by the time the Gospels were written the story was already confused.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 127 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 6:40 PM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 130 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 6:55 PM PaulK has responded
     Message 133 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 7:21 PM PaulK has not yet responded

        
    randman 
    Suspended Member (Idle past 3062 days)
    Posts: 6367
    Joined: 05-26-2005


    Message 129 of 138 (468988)
    06-02-2008 6:50 PM
    Reply to: Message 127 by Straggler
    06-02-2008 6:40 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    I just think you are trying to have it both ways. You are trying to include any objective experience as "empirical data" but then really are trying to qualify that with whether experimental verification can be done.

    In reality, your claims about "personal empirical evidence" are really just saying whatever someone thinks they experienced that is objective. Regardless, people don't run peer-reviewed studies to verify those things. It's not really empirical data. It could be sometimes and sometimes not.

    heck, the whole idea of witness testimony of past events as empirical data is far-fetched since most of the time there isn't enough other data to corroborate the testimony, which is one reason so many innocent people were convicted until DNA analysis came along to set them free.

    The reality is the vast majority of life's decisions are not based on empirical data and research. They are based on a combination of objective and subjective experience, sure, but to call that "empirical" is just silly. The so-called personal empirical experience you claim is, in fact, mostly anecdotal.

    Yet you claim I am the one trying to say anecdotal evidence is empirical! I am not the one doing that. You are. You are the one saying people's life experiences are empirical if they are objective. In reality, they are by definition anecdotal.

    Edited by randman, : No reason given.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 127 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 6:40 PM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 132 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 7:10 PM randman has responded

      
    randman 
    Suspended Member (Idle past 3062 days)
    Posts: 6367
    Joined: 05-26-2005


    Message 130 of 138 (468990)
    06-02-2008 6:55 PM
    Reply to: Message 128 by PaulK
    06-02-2008 6:49 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    For purposes of this discussion, I was just making a point that so-called "personal empirical evidence" is really not empirical but anecdotal. In fact, it's pretty much the definition of anecdotal, and most of life's decisions are based on non-empirical data. It's just the way it is.

    Now, the claim of the resurrection to some extent could be considered empirical since there were so many that claimed it, but trying to label eyewitness accounts of something in the past as empirical is sort of misleading. It's not repeatable. The best one can do is apply logic and other data when considering something that happened in the past. However, in the case of Jesus, there is something more that can be done to verify it but it's a personal journey.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 128 by PaulK, posted 06-02-2008 6:49 PM PaulK has responded

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    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 15035
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 3.2


    Message 131 of 138 (468995)
    06-02-2008 7:07 PM
    Reply to: Message 130 by randman
    06-02-2008 6:55 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    And my point is that to say that there were empirical observations of the risen Jesus is to beg the question. We don't know what the basis for the accounts that we have really was. Maybe it was something that would qualify as empirical evidence - but maybe it wasn't.
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 130 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 6:55 PM randman has not yet responded

        
    Straggler
    Member
    Posts: 10285
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    (1)
    Message 132 of 138 (468996)
    06-02-2008 7:10 PM
    Reply to: Message 129 by randman
    06-02-2008 6:50 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    I just think you are trying to have it both ways. You are trying to include any objective experience as "empirical data" but then really are trying to qualify that with whether experimental verification can be done.

    No. I am differentiating between empirical evidence and personal delusion. Why is that such a problem?

    I would speculate that any problem you have with this is because much of that which you believe to be true meets the criteria of the second category. And you do not like that.

    In reality, your claims about "personal empirical evidence" are really just saying whatever someone thinks they experienced that is objective. Regardless, people don't run peer-reviewed studies to verify those things. It's not really empirical data. It could be sometimes and sometimes not.

    In most mundane cases peer review has nothing to do with anything. The reason you want to confuse and conflate the two is because you want the same standards of evidence that are applied to the mundane and ordinary to be applied to your extraordinary, outrageous and utterly unjustified beliefs in the supernatural

    I am not falling for that flawed argument.

    heck, the whole idea of witness testimony of past events as empirical data is far-fetched since most of the time there isn't enough other data to corroborate the testimony, which is one reason so many innocent people were convicted until DNA analysis came along to set them free.

    Witness testimony without even the bare bones of empirical evidence is non-existant. A murder witness without a body or missing person? Are you serious?

    The reality is the vast majority of life's decisions are not based on empirical data and research. They are based on a combination of objective and subjective experience, sure, but to call that "empirical" is just silly. The so-called personal empirical experience you claim is, in fact, mostly anecdotal.

    What exprience are they based on? Do we necessarily call these decisions reliable conclusions? Nobody is claiming every human decision is based on rational thinking and empirical evidence!! Nobody is claiming that they should!!!!

    Least of all me

    However human day to day decisions have nothing to do with what is real, what is not and reliable conclusions regarding these matters.

    Yet you claim I am the one trying to say anecdotal evidence is empirical! I am not the one doing that. You are. You are the one saying people's life experiences are empirical if they are objective. In reality, they are by definition anecdotal.

    The fact that every person I have ever empirically experienced has been able to communicate and empirically interract with every other person I have physically experienced kind of suggests that I am not imagining said person (asuming I am of course not imagining the whole of reality - which is possible but unlikely and somewhat pointless).
    There comes a point in practical terms where continual empirical experience of an external objective reality becomes more than subjective anecdote.

    You may believe that God exists but you will never experience God in the objectively verifiable way that you have experienced your family. No matter how strong your belief. Deal with it.

    Edited by Straggler, : Drunken spelling


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 129 by randman, posted 06-02-2008 6:50 PM randman has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 134 by randman, posted 06-03-2008 12:40 AM Straggler has responded

      
    Straggler
    Member
    Posts: 10285
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    (1)
    Message 133 of 138 (468997)
    06-02-2008 7:21 PM
    Reply to: Message 128 by PaulK
    06-02-2008 6:49 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    Thanks for the info.

    I claim neither proof nor disproof of these events but given everything we do know the claim seems extraordinary and thus in need of additional reliable evidence if to be verified. I.e empirical evidence.

    In the absence of such evidence I would suggest that disbelief is the only rational conclusion.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 128 by PaulK, posted 06-02-2008 6:49 PM PaulK has not yet responded

      
    randman 
    Suspended Member (Idle past 3062 days)
    Posts: 6367
    Joined: 05-26-2005


    Message 134 of 138 (469019)
    06-03-2008 12:40 AM
    Reply to: Message 132 by Straggler
    06-02-2008 7:10 PM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    The fact that every person I have ever empirically experienced

    You know, I don't have time to entertain your insults and delusions, but in the hopes of perhaps leaving you with something learned, please consider that your personal experiences of objective reality are anecdotal, not the empirical data you seem to imagine.

    You may think you empirically experience something but when you relate that experience as an individual as some sort of indication of a truth or fact, that is an anecdotal story. It's not the sort of empirical data you think it is.

    Perhaps providing a definition of anecdotal would be helpful to you?

    Based on casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anecdotal

    When you are speaking of your life's experiences, you are not speaking from rigirous scientific analysis. That doesn't make your deductions any less true, but it's anecdotal. What you have seen and experience may or may be true over a wider statistical sample, and in fact, may not be true at all. Your perception, for example, could be wrong.

    At the same time, deductions from such anecdotal evidence can well be true and more accurate than current scientific opinion because reaching scientific consensus requires time, money, etc,....and it may well be that the issue has not been properly regarded and scientists hold a dogmatic view based on limited evidence.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 132 by Straggler, posted 06-02-2008 7:10 PM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 135 by Percy, posted 06-03-2008 8:11 AM randman has not yet responded
     Message 136 by Straggler, posted 06-03-2008 8:33 AM randman has not yet responded

      
    Percy
    Member
    Posts: 18481
    From: New Hampshire
    Joined: 12-23-2000
    Member Rating: 2.8


    Message 135 of 138 (469042)
    06-03-2008 8:11 AM
    Reply to: Message 134 by randman
    06-03-2008 12:40 AM


    Re: Misapprehensions of Evidence
    It sounds like you are saying a couple things which sound very reasonable to me:

    1. Rather than calling all observations empirical, it might be more helpful to reserve the empirical label for observations conducted within the context of scientific investigation, and to use the term anecdotal for other more casual observations. But whether empirical or casual, all such observations are made of the real world.

    2. When casual observations is all you have, that's what you go with.

    But if part of your argument is that when both casual and scientifically empirical and replicated observations are available that in some cases casual observations are superior, I couldn't agree with that.

    Objective observations are ones that anyone (given the proper training and equipment) can replicate. It is many people repeating an observation and getting the same result that gives us confidence that we have obtained an accurate perception of reality.

    --Percy


    This message is a reply to:
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