Joined: Sep. 2007
|Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Nov. 19 2008,18:42)|
|Quote (Daniel Smith @ Nov. 19 2008,20:37)|
|...So to sum up:|
A) The God theory can be the basis of empirical science and can provide a framework for research (it has done so in the past).
B) The currently held theory cannot be empirically falsified because its test for falsification is flawed and can be circumvented by endless appeals to future discovery.
C) Modern science has not demonstrated that God is not required.
That's an interesting fable, Daniel.
Would you point out to me the empirical prediction and resulting research that arose uniquely (or potentially could arise) from your position, motivating empirical research that would otherwise not be pursued?
I'm just not seeing it. But since the God theory can be the basis of empirical science and can provide a framework for research, you shouldn't have difficulty describing one. Why are you holding out?
Like many, you seem incapable of grasping the notion of methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism, which excludes the supernatural, isn't a theory; it is a method, and a prerequisite for doing empirical research. Advocacy of methodological naturalism is not motivated by a perverse desire to exclude supernatural causation. It is motivated by the fact that an acceptance of supernatural causation renders prediction and empirical test meaningless, and provides no traction from which to do real science. This is because any observation can be reconciled with the action of an "all powerful" being capable of moving matter and energy by acts of will.
Questions about the supernatural, on one hand, are simply beyond the reach of science, and, on the other, simply cannot contribute constructively to the actual conduct of science. There may be a God, but that notion both lies beyond the reach of the empirical and is no help in conducting empirical research into topics that are within reach.
I don't know why this notion is so hard for you and yours to grasp. But there it is.
Is evolutionary theory falsifiable? Well formed hypotheses derived from that framework are. Here are some examples, from the Kenneth Miller chapter on the clotting cascade to which I linked earlier:
|Can we know for sure that this is how blood clotting (or any other biochemical system) evolved? The strict answer, of course, is we cannot. The best we can hope from our vertebrate ancestors are fossils that preserve bits and pieces of their form and structure, and it might seem that their biochemistry would be lost forever. But that's not quite true. Today's organisms are the descendents of that biological (and biochemical) past, and they provide a perfect opportunity to test these ideas.|
Even a general scheme, like the one I've just presented, leads to a number of very specific predictions, each of which can be tested. First, the scheme itself is based on the use of well-known biochemical clues. For example, most of the enzymes involved in clotting are serine proteases, protein-cutting enzymes so-named because of the presence of a highly reactive serine in their active sites, the business ends of the protein. Now, what organ produces lots of serine proteases? The pancreas, of course, which releases serine proteases to help digest food. The pancreas, as it turns out, shares a common embryonic origin with another organ: the liver. And, not surprisingly, all of the clotting proteases are made in the liver. So, to "get" a masked protease into the serum all we'd need is a gene duplication that is turned on in the pancreas' "sister" organ. Simple, reasonable, and supported by the evidence.
Next, if the clotting cascade really evolved the way I have suggested, the the clotting enzymes would have to be near-duplicates of a pancreatic enzyme and of each other. As it turns out, they are. Not only is thrombin homologous to trypsin, a pancreatic serine protease, but the 5 clotting proteases (prothrombin and Factors X, IX, XI, and VII) share extensive homology as well. This is consistent, of course, with the notion that they were formed by gene duplication, just as suggested. But there is more to it than that. We could take one organism, humans for example, and construct a branching "tree" based on the relative degrees of similarity and difference between each of the five clotting proteases. Now, if the gene duplications that produced the clotting cascade occurred long ago in an ancestral vertebrate, we should be able to take any other vertebrate and construct a similar tree in which the relationships between the five clotting proteases match the relationships between the human proteases. This is a powerful test for our little scheme because it requires that sequences still undiscovered should match a particular pattern. And, as anyone knows who has followed the work in Doolittle's lab over the years, it is also a test that evolution passes in one organism after another.
There are many other tests and predictions that can be imposed on the scheme as well, but one of the boldest was made by Doolittle himself more than a decade ago. If the modern fibrinogen gene really was recruited from a duplicated ancestral gene, one that had nothing to do with blood clotting, then we ought to be able to find a fibrinogen-like gene in an animal that does not possess the vertebrate clotting pathway. In other words, we ought to be able to find a non-clotting fibrinogen protein in an invertebrate. That's a mighty bold prediction, because if it could not be found, it would cast Doolittle's whole evolutionary scheme into doubt.
Not to worry. In 1990, Xun Yu and Doolittle won their own bet, finding a fibrinogen-like sequence in the sea cucumber, an echinoderm. The vertebrate fibrinogen gene, just like genes for the other proteins of the clotting sequence, was formed by the duplication and modification of pre-existing genes.
Countless similar examples could be cited.
Now you describe an empirical prediction and resulting test of said prediction that arose uniquely (or potentially could arise) from your assertion that that life is so intricately organized it requires God as its source - a test of sufficient power to falsify your hypothesis, in a manner similar to the tests Miller describes above.
Predictions can be made from such a perspective and were made from such a position in the past. Scientists in the past expected to find order and organization at the heart of creation. They expected this, and predicted it, because that's what one expects if the universe and life was created by a rational being. Such a prediction is not made from the perspective of naturalism - except from the fact that life is already observed to be orderly and organized. It is not rational to expect it to be such if it was the product of accidents and chaos. There is no logical reason to predict that molecules would be used to carry information from a purely naturalist perspective. The only reason such a prediction would be made by a naturalist is because life is already observed to work as if it were based on information. I don't know if you can see the subtle difference Bill, but "nature" doesn't tend towards "organization for the purpose of conveying information" - life does. Rock formations don't tend towards information repositories. Stars don't organize themselves to convey a coded "meaning". There is no natural force that you can point to and say "If I knew nothing of life, I'd predict it based on this." What natural force would bring about such a prediction? Natural selection? Selection of what? However, within the God-centered empirical framework, we'd predict that a rational, creative God would create spectacular, incredibly marvelous things. That's based on our framework Bill - not yours. Methodological naturalism studies life under the assumption that it was the product of natural forces, and then points to that life and says "see what natural forces can do!". This is circular reasoning Bill.
Another thing that can be discovered uniquely through the framework of ID is insight into the personality, nature and mechanisms of the intelligent rational being who created the universe and everything in it. This does not require a different method so much as a different mindset.
Let me give you an analogy that may help you see it a little clearer:
Let's say that an ancient alien race created life on earth via advanced technology and then left no other trace of their existence. How would we learn about that alien race except by the study of life? We could learn about their thinking, their level of technology, and even gain insights into how their civilization may have operated. If, on the other hand, we decided to limit our scope of study strictly to how natural mechanisms formed life, we could learn none of those things. We would miss it and would instead be spinning our wheels. If life was indeed created by a rational being - even a natural one - methodological naturalism could never discover such a thing with the limitations it is presently saddled with, whereas a methodology that is open to the possibility of a designer not only could, but it could also discover many things about this rational being.
It's the same with God. You're too hung up on the supernatural side of it though. I'm not talking about trying to discover the supernatural, or simply labeling all mechanisms as "supernatural". No, I'm talking about looking at the natural and gaining insights into the kind of mind that would create such wonderful things. Now, I'm sure that these insights would probably be useless to an atheist, but to those of us who believe, such exploration is fascinating.
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." Orville Wright
"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question." Richard Dawkins