Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is science like a religion?

     Now, of course, in its ideal state, science should nothing like a religion. Science is supposed to be about recognizing large scale patterns, about reproducible results, and about useful predictions. Religion is about dogma, about facts determined by decree, and about coercing minds. I know; I will have readers thinking, "Sure other religions are like that; but my faith is different."
     Science, as implemented by scientists has become bulky and resistant to challenge. Entering into science now requires years of study that induce the student to think in the same old patterns. Part of this is unavoidable. Without years of study, people would be continually "reinventing the wheel." But it has a drawback. Truly innovative ideas and grand discoveries need a fresh mind. After years of training in one way of looking at the world, most people will find it difficult or impossible to look at it any other way.
     So modern science now comes with its own untestable dogmas. Large-scale evolution is one of those dogmas. It is an extrapolation of small-scale evolution (which can be tested) but there is really no way to know how far out the model remains effective. We cannot conduct a billion-year experiment. There is also "string theory" which is touted highly but does not not deserve the name theory. From what I have read they still cannot concieve of an experiment to test it in any way. It, therefore, belongs to the class of ideas that are "not even wrong."

13 comments:

MAN with The Cross said...

Take your "thoughts" to another blog! Your lies are stinking up the place on Ray's blog.

Jesus never failed any test, except in your perverted mind!

Get on your knees, and beg Him for forgiveness!

Reynold said...

I'm given to understand that the 29 Evidences for Macroevolution page on the Talk Origins archive has both predictions and resuts, some experimental, most just observational. How else can we test something over such a long span of time?

Pvblivs said...

Reynold:

     Well, the first "potential falsification" fails to constitute a test at all. First off, if the "trivial variations" were not observed, they would claim that any variation would serve as a "potential falsification." Secondly, if species had significantly different genetic code mappings, it would likely be used in support of macroevolution. Those mappings would become something that "evolved."
     Right now, they are testing whether the genetic code variation they have observed in a sample of species is consistent with the varion observable in the population of all species. Barring some unexpected correlation in their initial sampling, the concepts that make polls useful suggest they should get no surprises.
     Obviously, I am not going to address every claim individually. On the whole, they look like interpreting the data to fit one's beliefs -- something religions do.
     As to the question of how we can test something over such a long span of time, I don't think we really can. Our powers of observation have that limitation.

Reynold said...

Well, the first "potential falsification" fails to constitute a test at all. First off, if the "trivial variations" were not observed, they would claim that any variation would serve as a "potential falsification." Secondly, if species had significantly different genetic code mappings, it would likely be used in support of macroevolution. Those mappings would become something that "evolved."

I figured that if species had significantly different genetic code mappings, they wouldn't be able to use it, simply because they wouldn't be able to use any similarities to find any relationships between the different species. That would be a piece of evidence against evolution.

We have nothing else to go on but our observations and testing/predicting.

Accordint to Ronald Number's book The Creationists, the first people to come up with stuff like a long age of the earth, and against the globabl flood, etc were originally YECs who couldn't reconcile their observations with what they were told about the age of the earth. They "defected" to the old earth view.

You could see also the christian Glen Morton's site, linked to from TO.

Basically, the point is that religious views aren't supposed to be changed, while these guys did change.


In other words, look at the difference in attitude between the TO people who make predictions and state what it'd be like if their theory was wrong, to the first commentator here.

Something like that, I'm tired now, and have to go!

Good luck on Ray's blog...I don't think I'm going to post there much more.


What would constitute a non-"religious" like hypothosis of origins in your version?

Pvblivs said...

Reynold:

     Anything can be a hypothesis. Anything presented as a hypothesis without claiming that (for all practical purposes) we "know" would qualify as non-religious. For that matter, theories which are tested directly are non-religious.
     Now, I have nothing against large-scale evolution. It is an interesting story-line and it may even be accurate. We just don't have a way to test it. The things they say (after the fact) "would have falsified it" can be fitted to the hypothesis.

Reynold said...

Are you sure that all those predictions are made after the fact?

If I recall correctly, some of the genetic, fossil, evidence was made before the fact. We may both have to do more reading on this.


At least you're a hell of a lot more intelligent than a certain other blog.

Pvblivs said...

     I cannot prove the predictions were made after the fact. But, since in many instances, I can construct how evolution "predicts" the other possible outcomes of the experiments, it seems rather likely. Also, with things like the genetic code and its variation in mappings to proteins, it is hard to see how they would know enough about it to make a prediction without having enough observations to serve as a statistical sample as well.
     I will try to use an analogy here. Genetic codes are like a "new object." So let's say that blue cubes were like a new object in reference to gravity. Now, if blue cubes are treated differntly by gravity than more familiar objects are and we say that that's what the theory predicted, we are making the prediction after the fact. The only predictions applicable to blue cubes that could have been made before discovering them are those that are generic to objects.
     The generic prediction in evolution is that there will be high variation in things influenced by evolution unless such variation is adverse to survival. The assertion with genetic code is that high variation would be beneficial to survival. Therefore since genetic codes are not treated like other objects. The predictions cannot have been made before learning about the new objects. It is possible (though unlikely) that they made the prediction after learning about the new object but before completing statistical analysis.
     Then there is the intriguing possibility that some predictions were made after the fact and others were not. But, then, they shouldn't include the after-the-fact predictions in the list of things that "could be falsified"

Reynold said...

I cannot prove the predictions were made after the fact. But, since in many instances, I can construct how evolution "predicts" the other possible outcomes of the experiments, it seems rather likely. Also, with things like the genetic code and its variation in mappings to proteins, it is hard to see how they would know enough about it to make a prediction without having enough observations to serve as a statistical sample as well.
If I remember correctly, they had, among other things, the fossil record which helped them

(http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section5.html#strange_past)

There's a tie-in to some other evidences.

One thing; scientists are people too; they're as much motivated by fame and money as anyone. If one could disprove the evolution theory and back it up, he/she'd be rich and famous.

Yet, out of the thousands upon thousands of scientists, and the century and a half of scrutiny, evolution still stands.

When people first came up with the theory, as well as the old age of the earth, they were originally YECs. Even Darwin was religious at one point, I believe.

What would have caused them to "convert" from one religion to another when they didn't plan to?

The point I'm trying to make is that it looks like you're saying that all those scientists had enough data to make predictions that they would know could only be verified.

I'm saying that there's been too many people over too much a span of time, and with too much motive against it at the start, to let that happen.


One major difference between science and religion is this: the scientist tries to persuade by data and experiments. I think you know how religious people (ex. Ray Comfort) try to persuade people.

I just got back from work, so I've no idea if I'm getting this across; I can barely form it in my head at the moment, so excuse me if this is hard to read!

Pvblivs said...

Reynold:

     I quite agree that if any scientist could falsify large-scale evolution he would be highly motivated to do so. But if no conceivable outcome would falsify it and it is (as I suspect) untestable, they would be motivated not to make waves.
     I want to be clear. I do not think that "evidence against evolution is being suppressed." I think it is an untestable hypothesis. The fossil record that you cited certainly displays a pattern similar to large-scale evolution. But, if there were no fossils it would not falsify evolution. It would only make it less likely that people would have thought of it. Indeed, large-scale evolution was developed to try to explain a known fossil record. Naturally, it will predict what was already found.
     Oh, and I have little doubt that, should there ever be the means to conduct a proper test (perhaps the ability to create a parralel universe with a different time scale) the tests will be done.

Reynold said...

I want to be clear. I do not think that "evidence against evolution is being suppressed." I think it is an untestable hypothesis. The fossil record that you cited certainly displays a pattern similar to large-scale evolution. But, if there were no fossils it would not falsify evolution. It would only make it less likely that people would have thought of it.

Wouldn't that kind of be the same thing, in a way? It's the evidence lying around that leads to the formation of theories.

Sure, evolution can't be proven to a hundred percent certainty like mathematical or logical theorems, but as more evidence comes in, it does become more and more likely.

At least until someone finds fosslized vertebrates in the precambrian!

Ah well. Off to read your post about the "Expelled" people.

Pvblivs said...

     "Wouldn't that kind of be the same thing, in a way? It's the evidence lying around that leads to the formation of theories."
     Not quite. It is easy to "predict" something after the fact. So, nothing that is already known at the time a hypothesis is presented can be used as a "test of the theory." The fact that such things are included as "potential falsifiers" makes the whole thing suspect.
     Really, I suppose I'm getting at the fact that scientists are supposed to be able to say "I don't know." This really looks like one of those "I don't know" moments.

Reynold said...

You'd have to show that their predictions are made after the fact (by looking at publication dates, perhaps?), something that you admitted you can't prove; you'd also have to show that, somehow the scientists are jigging their predictions in favour of the theory that they want to prove.

That's why I brought up the stories about the first people who proposed an old earth and the idea of their being no global flood. Those people brought in standard geology as we know it, with no possibility of that kind of "corruption".

With religion, they keep making up excuses after the fact, or twisting the words of their own holy book, something that's exposed when one looks at sites that shoot down such things as "messianic prophecies" or "accurate biblical predictions in science".

Examples of such sites are:
http://www.bibleandscience.com/

and
http://www.virtualyeshiva.com/counter-index.html

Reynold said...

Have you ever check out the Transitional Fossils FAQ on the TO archives, or the predictions made in this section of the site?