Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Comments on " ID Verdict: The Ire of Judge Jones"

The author of the post in the link asked me to comment on it. My comment exceeded 3000 words and was subsequently rejected be the server. Therefore, I will post my comment here. There are some points I make in it that I was hoping to address here anyway. Here is the substance of my post:

It's true that ID is yet a minority view, but it's catching on slowly among serious scientists. One reason it's slow is because the scientific establishment currently has a predisposition toward naturalism and many papers either don't get written or published for fear of losing or not being able to get research grants. As it is, much of the biological research is in medicine because that's where the money is. I know this because I work in an industry that furnishes laboratories and I know who my customers are. (As an aside, Tee Bee, my education is in physics, not biology. I appreciate your consideration and will add that I have some interdisciplinary studies as a result of my research into the Evolution, Creation and now ID debate. I didn't want a response from me to go without correcting this.)

What bothers me is this notion that evolution is "proven". First, naturalism distorts the scientific method. A hypothesis is a simple deductive syllogism that defines a testable relationship between two things. A scientific experiment inductively measures the likelihood that this relationship is true. If a reasonable likelihood is not observed, the relationship is disproven. However, an experiment can only give a likelihood, it cannot give an absolute certainty - or proof. Naturalism distorts the scientific method by dismissing some relationships a priori. Ideologues outside the scientific community also distort the scientific method by making arguments that ignore the classical scientific method. The result has crept into science classrooms and the scientific method has not been properly taught. Today we have labs of scientists who do not strictly follow the method. While the vocabulary has beefed up, the process has dumbed down. Scientific papers are being reviewed by peers whose lack of understanding of the scientific method is on par with the authors of the papers.

Second, neither macro-evolution nor creation is testable. ID is the only theory on the table directly testable. You may read arguments about making predictions and observing those predictions. What this amounts to is first observing the evidence and afterward making up a story about how it got there. If I observe that plants and animals all have DNA, then it is reasonable to suppose that the different DNA had a single origin. The naturalist holds atheism as a presupposition and concludes that the first basic life happened by accident and all the rest evolved from it. The creationist holds theism as a presupposition and concludes that God did it. The theistic evolutionist believes the fallacy of appeal to authority and thinks that evolution has been proven because naturalistic scientists have asserted it, but claims that God must have started it. The ID-ist tests the likelihood of each and arrives at the conclusion that the most likely source of DNA is intelligent. It makes no claims as to what this intelligence is. For example, the intelligence could be extra-terrestrial life which evolved some other way.

Third, there is much contention against evolution from the evolutionists themselves. This is commendable, but it raises an interesting observation. If evolution is "proven", on what basis is it "proven"? The theory of evolution is not the same theory as Darwin devised. This is because the hypotheses developed from observations of the evidence that have supported the theory of evolution have been disproven and others have arisen to take their place. Evolution, therefore, is not proven. It is in a state of flux. The fact that scientists keep changing it's foundation and keep holding onto it as a fact is a demonstration that evolution is a product of naturalistic presupposition (in other words, a philosophy) and not the conclusion of any scientific research.

Taking this observation in stride, I will note that no scientific discovery has ever shaken the foundation of the creationist's presupposition. Logically speaking, this is not proof that creation is true. (There is another set of testable propositions for this which are more philosophical in nature.) It is, nevertheless, intriguing.

One other note: ID has a presupposition of its own. It holds that the most reasonable conclusion is the most likely one. It is alarming that serious scientists, educators, and now judges, dispute this. Ask any good physician what the first rule (or maybe the second rule) of diagnosis is and he will probably say something like, “the most likely diagnosis should be tested first”. The reason is because it's the most reasonable. You can sue for malpractice otherwise.

As for the nature of the original post here, the trial was wrong. The federal government has no business telling local schools what they can and cannot teach. It's up to the local community to either delude or properly instruct their public school students. I would hope that educators earnestly teach students to think critically. I know that this is often not the case. Education is the tool of the ideological propagandist and there is no education that is free from ideology. It behooves us to discuss what ideology is at stake here.


Blogger tee bee said...

Jim, thanks for the comments. I've linked/posted them in 'The Scientific Method'.

Sat Dec 31, 12:06:00 PM GMT-5  

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