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  Topic: Official Uncommonly Dense Discussion Thread< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 31 2007,22:53   

Quote (Zachriel @ Mar. 31 2007,20:44)
My point was that the default position should be design, until proven otherwise, because design seems to scream at us.

No, GilDodgen, the default scientific position is "We don't know." If you want to propose a scientific hypothesis based on voices you hear screaming in your head, that's fine. However, to constitute a valid hypothesis, it must make specific empirical predictions that can be used to distinguish that assertion from the infinitude of other such assertions. Intelligent Design fails to meet this criteria. Intelligent Design doesn't even form a reasonable scientific speculation as it repudiates what is already known and refuses to be bound by empiricism.

Dave Scot quotes a speech by Priestley Medalist George Whitesides on the origin of life:  
Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth.  How? I have no idea.

In the comments, C. Bass says,
Isn’t this the sort of thing Richard Dawkins is talking about when he defines “faith” as “belief without evidence”? I mean, why do “most chemists believe…that life emerged spontaneously” if there is no evidence as to how that can happen?

I've got to agree with Bass, for much the same reason that Zachriel disagrees with GilDodgen.  

Whitesides is clearly talking very loosely and is exaggerating for rhetorical effect, but nonetheless scientists shouldn't be dealing in beliefs and shouldn't be using that sort of language.  In parallel with what Zachriel said, the default here is, we know very little about the origin of life, but we're working on it, and we have some suspicions and some hypotheses.  Whitesides is welcome to his personal hunches, and is certainly welcome to state the reasons behind his hunches, but this is otherwise regrettable language.

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Also, chocolate for Kristine:
or for the story,

  29999 replies since Jan. 16 2006,11:43 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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