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  Topic: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed., Sternberg, Gonzalez, Crocker - A film< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Glen Davidson

Posts: 1100
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 02 2007,00:06   

Another half-wit with just enough learning to get everything wrong shows up at the "Expelled" blog:

It's nice of the philosophically ignorant "Post-secular PhD" to tell us all about science and philosophy.  Of course it really has almost nothing to do with actual philosophy, science, or the bases for our judicial system.  Indeed, with his disregard for the "intersubjective" soundness of science, we could hardly do anything in science, and we may as well forget about "proving" anyone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here's some of his "wisdom":

--[Science] almost always requires a deep commitment to a set of principles, laws, and practices in the absence of conclusive “proof” (i.e. faith);--

What a bizarre term for the well-honed understandings of mind worked out in philosophy and in science--faith.  Science, like the related forensics, exists in order to be able to decide matters on something other than faith, which was too much relied-upon in medieval times.

Anyone who's actually read what the more prolific pro-science posters have written, instead of just assuming something that isn't true based on his unwarranted faith like "PhD" did, would recognize that we do not claim that science is based upon "conclusive proof" (not completely true, since mathematical proofs are used, but these rely on "postulates" and "axioms" which cannot be proven).  We rely on the best evidence, and yes, we also rely on the best principles, laws, and practices which have been subjected to skepticism and scrutiny.  They are not "proved" as such, however they have been demonstrated, something that a scientist worth his salt would mention.

--and cannot operate without dogma.--

No, we cannot operate <b>with dogma.</b>  This is why I have no reason to believe the claims you make of being a scientist.  Everything is at least theoretically in doubt, although some principles and "laws" have been very well demonstrated in the areas where they can be tested.  If scientists often reveal their biases, it is completely wrong to say of science as a whole that it operates with dogma.  It uses whatever has proven to be sound after being subjected to tests and questioning, the only legitimate way in which to proceed.  Dogma would totally undermine science because it would destroy the necessary questions of our "intersubjective" agreements and evidentiary processes.

--Furthermore, how well a theory fits the data is often not the main reason for its acceptance or dismissal.--

How well the theory fits the data is indeed the main reason for its acceptance or dismissal, so long as "fit" is understood in scientific terms of causality (in classical science) and the principles that have been shown to work.

--Darwinian evolution took root despite a fundamental deficiency (the lack of any evidence for hereditary material).--

That wasn't a "fundamental deficiency," which you'd know if you were any kind of competent scientist.  First of all, there was indeed evidence for hereditary material, in that parents produced offspring much like themselves.  Darwin utilized the empirical processes of artificial selection as an analogy with natural selection.  The chemical, and what we now call the "genetic", bases for the known hereditary effects were not known, but that something was transmitted was indubitable.

--It took another century to discover the structure of DNA, but that didn’t stop scientists from holding to the theory.--

You totally shifted the issue at stake from what you first wrote to these non sequiturs.  You made the illegitimate claim that scientists accept theories not because of their fit with the data, but for other reasons.  Then you complain about the deficiencies of genetic knowledge (incompetently, I might add) in Darwin's day, as if that meant that "Darwinism" wasn't the best fit to the data.  That doesn't follow in the least.

The point of "Darwinism" (in that time the term was fairly appropriate, but I use scare quotes because we've moved so far beyond Darwin's original theory) was to fit the data as well as was possible at the time.  Which it did.  For your claim about "Darwinism" being accepted without it fitting the data best to have any kind of legitimacy, you'd have to show that there was another scientific theory which fit the data better.  And you seem even to be unaware of this necessity in science.

The fact is that "Darwinism" was a theory of change based upon obvious, yet poorly understood, processes of hereditary.  It fit the data because it explained life without resort to a teleology which cannot be shown in life the life we see, which has no apparent or demonstrable purpose.  "Darwinism" explains how organisms are adapted without any sort of rational planning in evidence (as we'd expect from "design"), and with "competing purposes" evident in organisms (hence no overall "purposes" beyond reproduction).  Evolutionary theory explains why Linnaeus and Aristotle felt compelled to treat organisms with homologies as if they were related--the reason being because they are!

In a way, "Darwinism" predicted that discrete hereditary information exists in organisms, for evolution by natural selection (plus other processes) couldn't occur (in life's context, that is) otherwise.  In that sense, and not in the sense of giving us any of the details, Mendel's findings were predicted by "Darwinism".  Instead of "PhD" being impressed that "Darwinism" would rely upon the kind of conservative yet "randomly" alterable molecule such as DNA turned out to be, he tries to claim that the theory's prescience was actually a liability.

Well, it wasn't, as anyone with a smattering of knowledge of the philosophy of science knows.  Many theories begin without having some of their core requirements fulfilled by observation, and later data fills these in.  Did Einstein's theory of relativity have the necessary evidence of light-bending by gravity when he proposed it?  Of course not, and the evidence that light is bent by gravity showed that his already explanatory theory was likely the proper one.  

Darwin actually did have a good deal more evidence in hand when he wrote <i>Origin of Species</i> than Einstein did.  Hence the acceptance of his theory did not need to wait on further observations (to tell the truth, Darwin's mechanism wasn't fully accepted until the 20th century, but it probably should have been, and was accepted in part by much of biology even earlier).  

DNA and its associated mechanisms (including repair) turned out to be exactly the kind of molecule needed for "Darwinian" evolution to work.  As such, it ought to be considered as vindication of the mechanisms of evolution elucidated by Darwin and others.  And thus, far from being a reason to fault those who were intelligent enough to recognize the importance of natural selection, it indicates that those who insisted on cause and effect processes in biology were correct, and that the people who relied on magic and "vitalism" were as wrong as all who prefer wish-fulfillment to the processes of science.  Or those who can't understand the proper relationship between evidence, science, and philosophy (philosophy must be based on evidence as well, ultimately, and not to dictate the equalities that some neo-scholastics assume).

Glen D


Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of coincidence---ID philosophy

  3612 replies since Aug. 12 2007,07:23 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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