4/24/2008

Intelligent Design

The Intelligent Design (ID) movement makes much of the argument from irreducible complexity. Dr. Michael Behe has become famous for a simple example, the mousetrap. He points out that the mousetrap will not perform its function without all of its parts. The wooden base, the metal hammer, a spring, a catch and a metal bar to hold back the hammer are all necessary parts. One component by itself will not catch a mouse.

Mainstream evolutionary science has a counter-argument. To paraphrase Dr. Kenneth Miller, if you disassemble the mousetrap, each component can serve as something useful on its own. If we take away the catch and metal bar, we have something left that can serve as a paper clip. The spring could make a simple two-section key chain. The wooden base makes a paperweight. Evolutionary processes like random mutation and natural selection can combine and retain the useful parts as the complicated evolves to perform the complex function. The useful parts are combined into the mousetrap.

(Both arguments above are paraphrased from Richard Milner and Vittorio Maestro, “Intelligent Design?,” Natural History Magazine, The American Museum of Natural History, 2002. This article was reprinted here.)

For argument’s sake, I’ll grant Miller’s position. But why do any of the individual parts of the mousetrap serve a purpose? Splitting the mousetrap into different parts for different purposes just compounds the problem for the evolutionist.

A person must still make each of the individual parts of the mousetrap in such a way as to allow them to serve as a paper clip, a keychain or a paperweight. An intelligent person looks at problems he must solve, and he makes solutions from the parts of the trap. In other words, there is a purpose for each individual part.

As an industrial engineer, I know that the industrial processes used to make each part of a mousetrap are not easy to maintain. It would not be easy for an inexperienced person to keep the manufacturing equipment running. It takes some expertise to make the catch, metal bar, spring and even the wooden base, especially in a high-volume manufacturing environment.

Whether we take the entire mousetrap or each individual part, it takes intelligence to make the components and direct them to serve their purpose. What is true of the mousetrap components is equally true of the parts of the cell, only more so.

This is the teleological argument. It is the argument from purpose, not necessarily the argument from design. It is formidable. To quote Aquinas:

…whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end… (1.2.3 of The Summa Theologica. Volume 1. Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province)

The evolutionist seems to have two choices: give intelligence in some form to the smallest parts of the cell or admit there is no such thing as intelligence at all for anyone or anything in his worldview. One option gets him off the hook for the purposes he finds. We have no evidence for option one, and we can dismiss it.

The other option gets him off the hook by eliminating any purpose at all whatsoever from the universe. Friedrich Nietzsche would be proud of this one. Nihilism would reign to the despair of all men everywhere. We could ignore the evolutionists’ and atheists’ arguments because, after all, they would not have a purpose anyway. What could something with no purpose be but meaningless?

It seems evolutionary theory falls under the weight of its proponents’ analogies.


[Joe Carter over at The Evangelical Outpost is posting some wonderful things on these topics. Find them here, here, and here.]

36 comments:

that atheist guy said...

The problem with ID is that there is no testable claim to be made. All of the arguments I've seen promoting ID are of the form "structure X could not have evolved because I can't imagine how". So where do we go from there? Behe thinks some structures can evolve, but others can't. How do we know which ones are which?

Scientists can't do anything but work with the natural world and the scientific method. There may be realms beyond but there is no place for that discussion in a down to earth science class or lab. Physicists are now debating if string theories are science, since it seems like they can't be tested. ID is much further outside the bounds of science than even string theory.

I can't speak for Miller, but I would suspect he sees design in the basic structure of matter and the laws of physics. Miller's God created reality to be self organizing, and doesn't need to tweak DNA here and there tinkering at it. Can't the laws of physics and chemistry be seen as part of God's will and power? In that sense there is no contradiction with evolution at all.

By the way, in his latest book, Behe claims that the designer engineered malaria to be more deadly. I've heard Behe say he does believe the universe is billions of years old. Just out of curiosity, are you coming from and "old Earth" position like Behe and Miller, or a "young Earth"?

Steve Newell said...

The one question I have is this:

How can one provide by any type of scientific process how was life first "created". There must be a beginning point. What is the cause of this event?

Also, if the "Big Bang" is correct, then how did all of the matter in the universe get to one place at a single point in time?

that atheist guy said...

Steve,

There is no scientific answer to the question of the origin of life, but there are many ideas being researched. If you google "abiogenesis" you can find a Wikipedia article which is a good starting point. Evolution can't explain the origin of life, only the diversity of life. Just like we can't expect theories in chemistry to explain the origins of atoms.

As for the causes of the Big Bang, I don't think anyone knows. There is a lot of evidence for the Big Bang from red shifted galaxies to the background radiation, but current research only goes so far. It's a work in progress, and who knows what new research will discover?

J. K. Jones said...

TAG,

You all can argue about what constitutes science and what does not until you are ‘blue in the face.’ The argument I am making is that the presence of purpose in the universe requires a ‘Purposer’ to explain it. It is an argument from what is to what must cause it.

I simply do not argue in the same way as the ID Movement. Please re-red the post above.

TAG:” …the basic structure of matter and the laws of physics…Can’t the laws of physics and chemistry be seen as part of God’s will and power?”

Now you have it! God’s will and power are the reason we find order in the structure of matter and the laws of physics, and the laws of math, and the laws of morality, and any other immaterial law. Universal, immaterial laws require an intelligent, unchanging Being to bring them about. We have discussed this at length under many of the posts under the search label “Transcendental Argument” on the sidebar.

As to your last question, I am a ‘young earther’ on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday’s. I am an ‘old earther’ on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Sundays, I’m just plain confused. Please note that none of the arguments I use rely on a young earth or an old earth. I argue from what is to what must be to account for it.

Steve,

Good to hear from you.


JK

L P Cruz said...

TAG

Can't the laws of physics and chemistry be seen as part of God's will and power? In that sense there is no contradiction with evolution at all.


That is quite true that the Laws of Physics and Chemistry are a part of God's will and power. However, though there may be no contradiction with evolution, what we are trying to find out is this; is that the way God created the world. To me what is possible is not always actual. To discuss possibilities may not as useful as discussing actualities.

Many people do not realize that in the foundations of science which is mathematics, faith also operates there. There are statements you can make that are true but you can not find evidence or proof for it. So even physics is founded on faith.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

TAG is quite correct that science cannot explain the "origins of life". That would require a scientific feat, i.e. making history of the origins of life and the developments "contemporary". That being the case, macro-evolution is just a theory. One cannot move from micro-evolution to account for the diversity of life to macro-evolution to account for the origins of life. Darwin was wrong. There is no missing link precisely because there never was.

Science is useful. Chemistry is useful. Physics is useful. Biology is useful. But science cannot yield truth. It can only describe things as they are, within the limitations of empiricism and the environment. But concrete facts cannot be confused or translated into abstract universal truths. One does not move from the "inductive" to the "universal" because it would be self-contradictory in the first place.

In short, science is a servant (utility), not master (truth).

J. K. Jones said...

Successor and LP,

Great to hear from you two.

LP,

"Many people do not realize that in the foundations of science ... fatih operates there. There are statements you can make that are true but you can not find evidence or proof for it. So even physics uis founded on faith."

Well said. I think I will try to expand on that in a future post.

Would you care to give some examples of the facts science assumes?

Successor,

"One does not move from the "inductive" to the "universal" because it would be self-contradictory in the first place."

Please expand on that. I am not sure I understand.

JK

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear JK,

Say for example, a scientist wishes to determine the colour of crows. He examines 100 crows, and conclude that crows *are* black. That is a universal statement. A truth. But there is no guarantee that the 101 crow will also be black, maybe albino. So, for science to be consistent with *its* principles that all knowledge comes form sense experience, it has to exhaust all observation in order to arrive a universal conclusions. But of course this is impossible. Science is not omniscient. So, science as Bro. Lito say ultimately has to fall back on faith, like it or not. Induction can never, therefore, provide truth. Only divine revelation can.

So, the issue for the sceptic is whether they wish to choose the faith claim of fallible science or the faith claim of the infallible Word of God.

that atheist guy said...

Hi folks,

L P Cruz said...
" That is quite true that the Laws of Physics and Chemistry are a part of God's will and power. However, though there may be no contradiction with evolution, what we are trying to find out is this; is that the way God created the world. To me what is possible is not always actual. To discuss possibilities may not as useful as discussing actualities."

How do we discuss actualities? Do you mean discussing things that are actually true? But how do we determine what is true?

LPC: "Many people do not realize that in the foundations of science which is mathematics, faith also operates there. There are statements you can make that are true but you can not find evidence or proof for it. So even physics is founded on faith."

I'm not sure that is faith. From what I have read, mathematics is based on axioms which are assumed to be true. I don't think they are making the claim that those axioms are actually true. For example if we take the axiom that no parallel lines ever meet we can develop Euclidean geometry. If we assume it is false we can develop non-Euclidean geometry. Is it true in reality? Maybe yes, maybe no.

So in math we can prove certain theorems given certain axioms, but I don't think those theorems are proved absolutely in any way beyond the given axioms. In science, as far as I know, nothing is ever proved at all. Theories are disproved, or confidence in theories increases but nothing is ever proven.

Augustinian Successor said...

" That being the case, macro-evolution is just a theory. One cannot move from micro-evolution to account for the diversity of life to macro-evolution to account for the origins of life. Darwin was wrong. There is no missing link precisely because there never was."

Given the phrase "just a theory" I suspect you think there is something above a theory which is more reliable. Some people think "laws" are above theories, but they aren't. It is actually pretty arbitrary what is called a law, and they usually are relatively simple equations or formulae that are mostly reliable. Boyle's Law is a formula that is mostly true, but not perfectly true. Einstein showed that Newton's laws also are inaccurate in certain situations. Usually theories are made up of many laws or concepts. Like evolutionary theory, gravitational theory is incomplete. Making gravitational theory and Einstein's equations consistent with Quantum Theory is a major area of research for example.

As for macro-evolution, the only difference between it and micro-evolution is quantity, not quality. If you add up enough changes due to micro-evolution you get macro-evolution. In other words, there is never a single big macro-evolutionary change happening in a single generation. The line between them is not distinct, because the line between species is not distinct, and there is still a lot of debate about what defines a species. The usual definition says that two different species can't reproduce to form a fertile offspring. Now even that definition is foggy since what do we mean by "can't". Can't might mean it is genetically impossible, or it might mean it is physically impossible. Artificial selection gave us chihuahuas and great danes from wolves over thousands of years. Are they different species? Maybe not, but I claim if they were released in the wild they would not interbreed naturally because of the basic physical limitations. From that point on, assuming both populations are able to survive, further micro-evolution would diverge the two populations over thousands of more years until we would say that macro-evolution has occurred.

AS: " Science is useful. Chemistry is useful. Physics is useful. Biology is useful. But science cannot yield truth. It can only describe things as they are, within the limitations of empiricism and the environment. But concrete facts cannot be confused or translated into abstract universal truths. One does not move from the "inductive" to the "universal" because it would be self-contradictory in the first place."

I agree with you. I don't think any good scientist would disagree. Science isn't about finding absolute truths. It's a tool to answer questions to the best of our ability. Those answer might satisfy a basic curiosity, or they might lead to some useful application.

AS: " Say for example, a scientist wishes to determine the colour of crows. He examines 100 crows, and conclude that crows *are* black. That is a universal statement. A truth. But there is no guarantee that the 101 crow will also be black, maybe albino. So, for science to be consistent with *its* principles that all knowledge comes form sense experience, it has to exhaust all observation in order to arrive a universal conclusions. But of course this is impossible. Science is not omniscient. So, science as Bro. Lito say ultimately has to fall back on faith, like it or not. Induction can never, therefore, provide truth. Only divine revelation can."

As I said above, I don't think good scientists make such absolute claims. All of the claims made by science are provisional with varying degrees of confidence based on evidence. Now, due to the limitations of the language it isn't feasible for every claim to be prefaced with "as far as we know" crows are black, for example. If a science book says crows are black, the assumption is always there that it could be proved wrong. Ideally science should always be testing its claims and trying to improve existing theories.

The idea that science is a collection of universal truths is misunderstanding of the scientific method, and probably the fault of our public school system where science is taught not as a method, but a list of facts to memorize.

AS: " So, the issue for the sceptic is whether they wish to choose the faith claim of fallible science or the faith claim of the infallible Word of God."

Those aren't the only two options. I choose to doubt all claims, scientific or not.

I'm probably the only atheist commenting here, but I hope you can see that not all atheists think science is TRUTH. There is just as much variety of personal beliefs and biases in the atheistic community as there is in the theistic one. I have met some crazy fanatic atheists who really do have faith in absolutely no God and think science PROVES such and such. Other atheists are post modernists and believe there is no such thing as truth. I like to hope that most atheist are just plain old skeptics like me.

J. K. Jones said...

TAG:

If you “choose to doubt all claims, scientific or not,” then how do you avoid doubting the claim that you “choose to doubt all claims, scientific or not.”

JK

Andy Crawford said...

OH BOY!! I want to read his answer to that one.

J. K. Jones said...

Andy,

Good to hear from you.

Do you post to a blog of your own?

JK

that atheist guy said...

JK (and Andy),

JK wrote: "If you “choose to doubt all claims, scientific or not,” then how do you avoid doubting the claim that you “choose to doubt all claims, scientific or not.”"

Well, I guess you could doubt my claim that I choose to doubt all claims. But I am not making a claim. I am making a choice to doubt all claims.

Now we could ask is that a proper choice to make? Maybe I could claim that it's a proper choice, but I don't think I will! :-)

J. K. Jones said...

TAG,

Sooner or later a skeptic is left with an impossible situation. He at once says, "I cannot know anything." The problem is, he must know something in order to say he "cannot know anything," namely, that he "cannot know anything."

There are knowable truths because it is illogical to deny that there are knowable truths.

Have you ever read Descartes? He started a systematic process of doubting everything. He found something he could not deny or doubt: his existence. He had to exist in order to doubt. He had to be conscious in order to doubt that he was conscious. It wasn’t so much “I think therefore I am;” it was more like “I doubt, therefore I am.” He uses this somewhat unremarkable starting point to construct a remarkably detailed set of principles to explain his world. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes)

I do not agree with everything he says, but you might find some of your skepticism begin to melt away.

JK

Augustinian Successor said...

TAG,

The truth is not what you THINK. You may think that Einstein's Special Relativity theory is the truth, but it is not. It is only useful in so far to de-bunk Newtonian physics. You may think that micro- and macro-evolution is essentially the same. But they are not. In micro-evolution, the object remain the same. In macro-evolution, the object changes into something else. So, I am surprise that you think that they are both different.

You know what? Thinking is not a chemical process, "a collocation of atoms", etc. Thinking is an activity of soul. So, when you think, you are not brute animal engaging in a thought process as you think you are, but human being created in the image of God. God is a thinking Person. You were created in His image. Therefore, you are a thinking person.

Which is why evolution can never explain how humans are thinking persons and the rest of creation aren't.

And you said, "Well, I guess you could doubt my claim that I choose to doubt all claims. But I am not making a claim. I am making a choice to doubt all claims."

But, but you see, that in itself is a claim. You just cannot simply avoid making a claim ... a faith statement. You just can't, no matter how you try to un-tangle THIS one.

So, as an unbeliever, an "atheist", you will want to "choose" science with all its flaws, imperfectionsm, limitations, etc. over the truth of the Word of God. It's called "bondage of the will". You THINK you have a choice. BUT you don't. You can't help it, you are bound to choose the way you do. So, within the boundaries you have placed yourself in, i.e. science, you oscillate between science as ultimate truth and science as provisional truth. But that is all there is to it.

Let's face it: Science simply cannot give us the truth, inerrant universal truths. You will maths give us the truth. Sure, but you have to understand maths is NOT discovered. Maths is not inductive. It is deductive. It is a GIVEN. But it has its limitations too. It cannot tell you about the origins of life. It cannot account of a lot of things. It cannot tell you whether there is a God or not.So, we are back to square one.

The Word of God or science?

J. K. Jones said...

Successor,

Good comment, as usual.

“So, as an unbeliever, an "atheist", you will want to "choose" science with all its flaws, imperfectionsm, limitations, etc. over the truth of the Word of God. It's called "bondage of the will". You THINK you have a choice. BUT you don't. You can't help it, you are bound to choose the way you do.”

Even someone subjected to the bondage of the will still chooses according to his own desires. A person always chooses according to his / her most powerful desire. In that sense, they are bound. But there is nothing outside a person that forces him / her to make decisions. Not God, not environment, not per-pressure, not ‘raising.’ He has a choice. It is a real choice. He is responsible for it. God will hold unbelievers accountable for their rejection of His gift of salvation in Christ.

TAG,

I hope you are not ultimately one of the people Successor is describing. I pray each day, really several times a day, that God will give you a new heart to repent and believe the gospel.

JK

L P Cruz BS, GDipHum, MComp, MACS said...

TAG

How do we discuss actualities? Do you mean discussing things that are actually true? But how do we determine what is true?

So what is the answer to that? Faith, isn't it?

I'm not sure that is faith. From what I have read, mathematics is based on axioms which are assumed to be true.

It is. The axioms are assumed to be true, not that it has been proven to be true. You went back to geometry already which says given a point and a straight line, there is always one line that contains the point parallel to the first. That is an axiom of Euclidian geometry. That is intuitive and easy to see visually, but that is an axiom which Euclidian geometry assumes to be true, without proof.


Think about it.
That is faith, so mathematics itself runs on faith too.

In fact, mathematics says -- believe (the axioms) and you will see. What maths do is to show for you if your system of statements are consistent, ie you can never derive a contradiction, because if you can, it is useless.

So the point is, if in maths which is the foundation of most science runs on faith, then science is founded on faith too. But Scripture says this already -- by faith we understand...

LPC

L P Cruz BS, GDipHum, MComp, MACS said...

TAG,

Oops I missed this...
I'm probably the only atheist commenting here, but I hope you can see that not all atheists think science is TRUTH

You would be one of them? Fine, so what is TRUTH or are you interested in finding it then?

Unless you are saying you are skeptical if there is anything TRUE then anything is possible for you. At least we can start here if you should not want to define truth or what you may have ideas about what is real.

Let us walk in the area of language then. Would you allow the statement A and NOT A to be true in the same sense then? Would you allow it to be may be true in the same sense? Or would you behemently deny that it can be true in the same sense?

My point is if you have an idea of consistency, then we can move in the discussion. If not, we are stuck on a thread mill it will not be a useful discussion.

In logic, they have an axiom: from a contradiction, you can prove anything.

LPC

Andy Crawford said...

This is an email I sent to my family to see what they thought. I got some interesting responses. I'd like to see what happens here:

Is "bitter envy" (James 3:13-18 NIV) what you feel when standing in line at Starbucks?

Here be (other wise known as "is" if your definition of "is" is skewed) crazy thoughts from a over caffeinated christian with a day "off" but "on" spiritually (lower case c in "christian" is to represent humility from wisdom...however boasting of wisdom might not be wisdom...I ask you, am I boasting?)

The derivative of a constant is 0 (basic calculus, developed by Sir Isaac Newton (god of atheists (triple parentheses should be processed first as in mathematics...remember F.O.I.L., first, outer, inner, last....well it has philosophical meaning also)), who once was a devout study of Old and New Testament).

pi (3.14 etc.) has use as a constant.

pi defines the shape of a circle. A circle is a symbol representing an idea and also something you might paint on a cave if you lived in Iraq (or where ever "Eden" was and is. Lately, archeology has "said" Northeast Africa would be Eden) 31 half lives of the radio active element carbon 14 ago (as determined by use of e, Eulers Constant).

pi is the number three followed by an eternal function.

pi is defined as an "irrational number" meaning that it's function over time cannot be defined.

The formula f(y)=1/(1-x) as x approaches 1 starts to be "division by zero". Be a scientist and plug in 1, 2, 3...etc. divided by zero into as many different computers, calculators as you can get your hands on. See what it's response is. I get "Undefined", "Cannot dived by zero", "Out of range", "Infinity".

as a christian I find special meaning in the numbers 3, 1, 0, and infinity.

3 being the aspects of God represented in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

1 and 0 are certainly applicable to computers, determinism, calculus.

1 being whole, complete, holy, or "turned on" as in computers. Look at your switch that turns on your computer. It's a 1 and a 0 or a 1 inside of a 0 as on my laptop.

Infinity representing "is" or being everywhere at one single instance in time. Infinity being different than eternal. Eternal representing pi that has a function played out over "time" undefined.

I equate our life as x in f(y)=1/(1-x). As we approach 1, or wholeness, holiness, righteousness, we approach division by zero and begin living infinitely, however, not eternally. We live eternally through the 3.14 etc. God whose function is three in one with a function played out over "time". Time to me is simply a result of our ignorance from this God.

Debate and PLEASE correct me where wrong, but please don't get offended. Offense is not the best defense (defense is otherwise known as "apogia" or apology. What I'm saying is forgive me don't get offended(I wonder why we say "off-ended"? Are we turned off and ended?).

Andy Crawford said...

JK wrote, "Do you post to a blog of your own?"

Nope, I don't. I just heard your name and decided to use Google's computers to make data into information (which requires intelligence...HA!).

that atheist guy said...

Hi folks,

OK there's a lot to respond to here. Here we go.

J. K. Jones said...
" Sooner or later a skeptic is left with an impossible situation. He at once says, "I cannot know anything." The problem is, he must know something in order to say he "cannot know anything," namely, that he "cannot know anything.""

Why must it be an absolute statement? Why can't I say "It is possible I cannot know anything (but I could be wrong)"?

JK: "There are knowable truths because it is illogical to deny that there are knowable truths."

I haven't denied that. I said I'm not 100% sure I can know if something is a truth or not.

JK: "Have you ever read Descartes?"

Yes, back in university. A philosophy professor I had said Descartes assumed too much. Actually we can't even be sure the self exists, only sensory impressions. Whether the outside world is real or not, or the self is real or not, the color red being perceived at the moment exists. From that point you can start making small leaps to "I exist" and "The world exists" etc...

--

Augustinian Successor said...
" The truth is not what you THINK. You may think that Einstein's Special Relativity theory is the truth, but it is not. "

I stated quite clearly in my comment above that I don't think scientific theories are Truth. Where did I give that impression? I have stated many times that everything in science is provisional, open to refinement, or falsifying. I agree with you 100% that the Truth is not what I think.

(Of course I assume we are talking about ultimate Truths with a capital "T", not everyday conversational truths like "Albany is the capital of NY state".)

AS: "It is only useful in so far to de-bunk Newtonian physics. You may think that micro- and macro-evolution is essentially the same. But they are not. In micro-evolution, the object remain the same. In macro-evolution, the object changes into something else. So, I am surprise that you think that they are both different."

And likewise, you may think they are not the same, but that doesn't make it true. I say if one gene changes, then it is no longer the same. I think you want to draw a line between "same" and "different" animals but such lines are fuzzy and hard to define. What kinds of animals you are saying are the "same" is completely arbitrary. There is a complete spectrum from the difference between siblings, to the difference between phyla. There is no obvious border between them. How would you demonstrate that two animals are no longer the same type of animal?

Siblings share some but not all genes. Cousins less. Different races a little less, different species less. There is no hard line besides some fuzzy groupings called species. We see an analogous situation with human races. When is someone "black" or "white"?

AS: " You know what? Thinking is not a chemical process, "a collocation of atoms", etc. Thinking is an activity of soul. So, when you think, you are not brute animal engaging in a thought process as you think you are, but human being created in the image of God. God is a thinking Person. You were created in His image. Therefore, you are a thinking person."

That is your claim, and as we agreed thinking your claim is true doesn't make it true. All of the evidence in neuroscience shows that thinking is a chemical process. We can alter our thinking and feelings with chemicals (heroin, prozac, etc...) People whose brains get damaged through accident or disease have personality changes, lose memories, or experience hallucinations. Brain surgery is often preformed on conscious patients and when the doctor stimulates areas of the brain the patient says they can hear music, or taste ice cream, etc. Brain scans show different areas of the brain becoming active when people think or perceive different things. If you don't think that thought is a chemical process, what do you think the brain is for? What are all those chemicals and neurons doing?

AS:" Which is why evolution can never explain how humans are thinking persons and the rest of creation aren't."

Again, that is your claim that no other animals think. I agree humans are capable of more advanced thought, but I don't see any reason to believe other animals don't have any form of thought whatsoever. Crack open a chimps skull and you can find a brain that looks a lot like a humans brain. In fact all of the structures are the same, they just vary in size.

AS: " And you said, "Well, I guess you could doubt my claim that I choose to doubt all claims. But I am not making a claim. I am making a choice to doubt all claims."

But, but you see, that in itself is a claim. You just cannot simply avoid making a claim ... a faith statement. You just can't, no matter how you try to un-tangle THIS one."

Right, that is why I said YOU could doubt my claim that I am making such a choice. I try to back up any claim I make with evidence. If you have good evidence it is not a faith statement. If you think I am making a faith claim somewhere, tell me exactly what is is.

Now in another comment thread with JK I realized I am making at least one faith claim. I do have faith that there is an absolute Truth out there. I have no good evidence for that, but that is what I believe. I have not said I know what that Truth is. Beyond that one belief, I don't think I have made any other faith claims. Let me know if you think I'm wrong.

AS: " So, as an unbeliever, an "atheist", you will want to "choose" science with all its flaws, imperfectionsm, limitations, etc. over the truth of the Word of God. It's called "bondage of the will". You THINK you have a choice. BUT you don't. You can't help it, you are bound to choose the way you do. So, within the boundaries you have placed yourself in, i.e. science, you oscillate between science as ultimate truth and science as provisional truth. But that is all there is to it."

I'm really not following you here. But I might actually agree with you that I have no choice but to doubt! However you are mistaken that I have ever thought information gained through the scientific method is ultimate truth.

AS:" Let's face it: Science simply cannot give us the truth, inerrant universal truths. You will maths give us the truth. Sure, but you have to understand maths is NOT discovered. Maths is not inductive. It is deductive. It is a GIVEN. But it has its limitations too. It cannot tell you about the origins of life. It cannot account of a lot of things. It cannot tell you whether there is a God or not.So, we are back to square one."

Yes, I think we agree here mostly. I'm not ready to say math isn't discovered, maybe yes maybe no. There is a lot of debate on that point among mathematicians. Actually there was an article discussed on Slashdot about this recently:
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/31392/title/Still_debating_with_Plato

AS: "The Word of God or science?"

As far as I know science is the best method we have to answer questions. I don't know if God exists, or if various texts attributed to him are reliable. Why are you giving only two options? Why not "Scientology or Zen Buddhism"? why not "Astrology or Voodoo"?

L P Cruz BS, GDipHum, MComp, MACS said...
"[TAG said:] "How do we discuss actualities? Do you mean discussing things that are actually true? But how do we determine what is true?"

So what is the answer to that? Faith, isn't it?"

I don't think so. How do we judge which faith statements are true? Christians say Jesus was God, Muslims say Jesus was a prophet. They both can't be right. How do we determine which is true? At some point we have to rely on some kind of scientific method and evidence.

LPC: " It is. The axioms are assumed to be true, not that it has been proven to be true. You went back to geometry already which says given a point and a straight line, there is always one line that contains the point parallel to the first. That is an axiom of Euclidian geometry. That is intuitive and easy to see visually, but that is an axiom which Euclidian geometry assumes to be true, without proof."

Yes, I agree. But mathematicians are only assuming the axiom is true for the system they are working in. I don't think they every say such-and-such axiom is an ultimate truth, or is absolutely True universally. For example we don't know if that parallel line axiom is true in our universe.

LPC:" So the point is, if in maths which is the foundation of most science runs on faith, then science is founded on faith too. But Scripture says this already -- by faith we understand..."

I don't think the assumed truths of axioms for a given mathematical system are the same as universal absolute Truth claims made by religion. They are assumptions, not faith claims. Science uses math as a tool, not some kind of philosophical foundation of thought. Scientists use mathematical models to make predictions and discover useful information.

LPC:" You would be one of them? Fine, so what is TRUTH or are you interested in finding it then?"

Truth is how things really are. As far as I know science is the best method we have to trying to get close to it. Ultimate truths might be unattainable. But efforts to get closer to the Truth are not in vain, even if getting to some kind of end point is impossible.

LPC: " Let us walk in the area of language then. Would you allow the statement A and NOT A to be true in the same sense then? Would you allow it to be may be true in the same sense? Or would you behemently deny that it can be true in the same sense?"

I think we agree that contradictions are impossible.

--

To Andy,

I'm not really sure what you are talking about in your comment. But you might like this archived discussion of pi here:

http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/pickover/pimatrix.html

Andy Crawford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy Crawford said...

"I'm not really sure what you are talking about in your comment. But you might like this archived discussion of pi here:"

No I didn't really like that discussion. It fell into the idea that "God is the universe" (pantheism,Buddhism).

Andy Crawford said...

to That Atheist Guy

My comment is an expression of my current young Christian faith. I just made it complex and appealing to who I was before a relationship with God through Jesus (I was an pantheistic, Buddhist, atheist).

My faith as expressed in the wildly complex post above can also be summed up by this:

I am now aware of my sin through Holy Spirit (1-x). I become the body of Christ when I am aware (1/(1-x)). As this happens I use my knowledge of history (First in FOIL), and compare it to today (Outter in FOIL), and ask what my concience says (Inner), then compare different outputs that could happen. ((1/10)-x)(1-x))

When all this happens I no longer am living my function and I am living God's function. Pi is simply a symbol that represents our ability to live God's function. Human technology allows immense ability, however, the ability is not ours. Acceptance of who Jesus is, then following Him allows God's power through us. History shows many abuses of that power so that is why "F" in FOIL must be processed first. Studying the Bible is biggest step towards processing history.

J. K. Jones said...

TAG, (your words in quotes)

“…Why must it be an absolute statement? Why can't I say "It is possible I cannot know anything (but I could be wrong)"?”

Well, because that statement is so wishy-washy that I don’t think anyone will buy it.

“…I haven't denied that. I said I'm not 100% sure I can know if something is a truth or not… I do have faith that there is an absolute Truth out there. I have no good evidence for that, but that is what I believe. I have not said I know what that Truth is.”

You don’t have to take the idea of absolute truth on faith. There must be truth because its existence is undeniable. If you say “there are no absolute truths,” you are making an absolute truth claim. In the very act of saying it, you are proving it wrong. Otherwise you end up saying: “There are no absolute truths, except the absolute truth that there are no absolute truths.” This is one example of a self-defeating truth claim. There are others: “I do not exist.” “I cannot prove anything with 100% certainty.”

“… Actually we can't even be sure the self exists, only sensory impressions. Whether the outside world is real or not, or the self is real or not, the color red being perceived at the moment exists. From that point you can start making small leaps to "I exist" and "The world exists" etc...”

Doubt is not a physical process that involves sense perception. You can doubt without seeing, hearing, touching, or tasting anything. You can be sure you are the one doubting.

“…All of the evidence in neuroscience shows that thinking is a chemical process. We can alter our thinking and feelings with chemicals (heroin, prozac, etc...)…”

Again, if thinking is just a chemical process, why are you arguing with me? Shouldn’t you just force me to take medication to change the chemical processes in my brain?


“… I'm not ready to say math isn't discovered, maybe yes maybe no…”

In theory, how do you discover math?

JK

J. K. Jones said...

TAG, (your words in quotes)

“…Why must it be an absolute statement? Why can't I say "It is possible I cannot know anything (but I could be wrong)"?”

Well, because that statement is so wishy-washy that I don’t think anyone will buy it.

“…I haven't denied that. I said I'm not 100% sure I can know if something is a truth or not… I do have faith that there is an absolute Truth out there. I have no good evidence for that, but that is what I believe. I have not said I know what that Truth is.”

You don’t have to take the idea of absolute truth on faith. There must be truth because its existence is undeniable. If you say “there are no absolute truths,” you are making an absolute truth claim. In the very act of saying it, you are proving it wrong. Otherwise you end up saying: “There are no absolute truths, except the absolute truth that there are no absolute truths.” This is one example of a self-defeating truth claim. There are others: “I do not exist.” “I cannot prove anything with 100% certainty.”

“… Actually we can't even be sure the self exists, only sensory impressions. Whether the outside world is real or not, or the self is real or not, the color red being perceived at the moment exists. From that point you can start making small leaps to "I exist" and "The world exists" etc...”

Doubt is not a physical process that involves sense perception. You can doubt without seeing, hearing, touching, or tasting anything. You can be sure you are the one doubting.

“…All of the evidence in neuroscience shows that thinking is a chemical process. We can alter our thinking and feelings with chemicals (heroin, prozac, etc...)…”

Again, if thinking is just a chemical process, why are you arguing with me? Shouldn’t you just force me to take medication to change the chemical processes in my brain?


“… I'm not ready to say math isn't discovered, maybe yes maybe no…”

In theory, how do you discover math?

JK

J. K. Jones said...

TAG,

I hereby challenge you to a formal debate! I mean a debate with opening arguments, rebuttals, questions from the debaters to each other, responses to those questions, rebuttals to each others’ questions responses, closing statements, and questions from the audience in the form of blog comments. Each of the stages would have agreed upon word limits.

I will send an e-mail proposal for a formal debate that could be posted on both of our blogs. I will lay out some draft ground rules for the debate. These are of course open for discussion and revision, but we have to start somewhere.

JK

that atheist guy said...

J. K. Jones said...
" Well, because that statement is so wishy-washy that I don't think anyone will buy it."

Well, maybe it is wishy washy but I can't think of anyway out of that position.

JK: " You don't have to take the idea of absolute truth on faith. There must be truth because its existence is undeniable. If you say "there are no absolute truths," you are making an absolute truth claim. In the very act of saying it, you are proving it wrong. Otherwise you end up saying: "There are no absolute truths, except the absolute truth that there are no absolute truths." This is one example of a self-defeating truth claim. There are others: "I do not exist." "I cannot prove anything with 100% certainty.""

I think we mostly agree on all that. I am saying there ARE absolute truths. I just don't know a way of stating a certain claim is such a truth or not. I see science and evidence allows us to increase or decrease our confidence in certain claims but we can never get to 100% absolute confidence through science. And I don't know of a better method.

JK:" Doubt is not a physical process that involves sense perception. You can doubt without seeing, hearing, touching, or tasting anything. You can be sure you are the one doubting."

I think doubt is a kind of emotion. Like our senses, emotions and other thoughts are all played out in the physical brain.

JK:" Again, if thinking is just a chemical process, why are you arguing with me? Shouldn't you just force me to take medication to change the chemical processes in my brain?"

I'm doing it because that's what I do. I can say I am enjoying the discussion. Aha! but then you say my enjoyment is just another chemical process. And yes, it is. I would not force you to take drugs, since that is not my nature. Although people in our society who are a danger to themselves or others are forced to take drugs. Again, if our thoughts were not a chemical process, why would those drugs work?

The question "if thinking is just a chemical process, why are you arguing with me" made me think of an analogy to a much simpler chemical reaction. Everyone in high school chemistry class has put lithium metal in water. There it reacts to form lithium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Now this is "just" a chemical process. Can we ask "if this is just a chemical process, why doesn't it turn into gold"? or "why doesn't it give off oxygen gas?" etc. It doesn't because it does what it does. And likewise I, although a much more complicated process, I am doing what I am doing.

JK:" In theory, how do you discover math?"

I have a difficult time understanding those debates on platonism. (By the way, the link to the article above looks cut off because of the blogger template, but if you copy and past up to "31392/" that is good enough. Another method is to "view source" do a text search for the link, and there you can find it in its entirety.)

I guess the question is if humans didn't exist would numbers and pi for example "exist" somehow? Now for a theist, don't you believe numbers like pi exist in the mind of God? So if you believe that, aren't we discovering mathematical entities that exist already in another mind?

Hmm, I wonder if God can contemplate all the infinite digits of pi?

Anyway, I'm not enough of a mathematician to discuss such questions to any depth, and I can't take either side confidently.

JK: "I hereby challenge you to a formal debate!"

Thanks I got the format by e-mail. (I'm not even sure I have any blog readers. You might be the only one! Haha.)

It's an interesting idea, but I'm reluctant to participate for a few reasons. One is that I think both in our recent discussions, and the one (ones?) we had in the past we both have a pretty good idea where our disagreements lie, and at this point I'm not sure if there is any resolution. Second, I am not really arguing for the other side, just against your claims. In other words, I am not proposing that no god exists. I am just expressing my dissatisfaction (and lack of understanding) for the arguments and reasons you have for believing your conception of God is correct. Finally I'm not a big fan of formal debates in general, even when the "experts" are doing it. I prefer a more free ranging discussion. Your right, that this can lead to an escalation in the volume of text and won't interest many others besides the two participants but for me personally I am not really interested in entertaining some blog audience. I'm just personally enjoying the discussion.

I think one key area of disagreement is whether our thoughts are physical processes connected with brain activity or not. This seems like a key point that would need to be resolved before we could go on to question the nature of God and his existence.

I thought of an analogy that illustrates our general disagreement. I imagine we met a child. We can ask, does this child have a father? Now I might imagine there is a tiny chance in my nerdy sci fi fan way that this child was grown from a cloned cell or some other crazy idea, but realistically I would say yes, he has a father. This is analogous to our potential point of agreement, that is, the existence of a first cause. Now you have many claims about this father. His name is Bob, he's 43, he's a bus driver, etc etc. I am not convinced by your arguments that those facts are true. Note I am not saying, "therefore the father doesn't exist"! I am just disagreeing with your stated facts. Also note I am not making counter claims like "Actually his name is Joe, and he's 35... etc."

After some thought, I think we would have to work out our disagreements on 1. the nature of the first cause, and 2. the connection between mind and brain, before we could tackle the much broader issues.

J. K. Jones said...

TAG

“…but I can't think of anyway out of that position…I just don't know a way of stating a certain claim is such a truth or not. I see science and evidence allows us to increase or decrease our confidence in certain claims but we can never get to 100% absolute confidence through science. And I don't know of a better method.”

Please see my new post on the limits of science coming out next week. You might also try some of the work I have done under the “Truth” or “Logic” search labels. This is called epistemology, and that may be the first place we need to start before going on to the issues below.

“…Like our senses, emotions and other thoughts are all played out in the physical brain…I'm doing it because that's what I do. I can say I am enjoying the discussion. Aha! but then you say my enjoyment is just another chemical process. And yes, it is…Again, if our thoughts were not a chemical process, why would those drugs work?”

I have never said that human souls are not contained in a physical body. I have never said that human consciousness is not at all intertwined with a body. Christianity is big on taking care of people’s bodies precisely because we believe a person’s soul is bond to their body.

I am arguing that a person is more than what is contained in their body. They have a soul. Don’t you see what you have done. You have reduced yourself to a bundle of chemicals without a soul. You have done that in order to avoid certain conclusions about God.

“…the nature of the first cause…”

The first cause must have been able to act without any outside influence because there was nothing else. Nothing existed before the first cause created it. This ability to act all by itself is the very essence of personal choice. This choice was caused by something inside the First Cause Himself. Since the cause is within the First Cause, your counter-argument doesn’t work. The desire is not outside Him, so it can change


“…the connection between mind and brain…”

In your view, they are not connected at all. There is no mind. There is only a brain. I don’t think you would actually drug me, but that would be the only logical thing for you to do. All of this argument is just superfluous in your view. You have to borrow one of the basic truths of Christianity, that we have minds, in order to argue with me in a logically consistent manner.

JK

L P Cruz said...

TAG
I don't think the assumed truths of axioms for a given mathematical system are the same as universal absolute Truth claims made by religion. They are assumptions, not faith claims. Science uses math as a tool, not some kind of philosophical foundation of thought. Scientists use mathematical models to make predictions and discover useful information.


Yes it is the same as universal truth! In the world where the axioms are true, whatever mathematicians say about that world where the axioms are true, are true universally.

The moment you rely on arithmetic, you have entered the world of faith.

Ok, re:parallel lines. In Euclidean geometry all theorems that are mentioned are true in that world.

Mathematicians speak of semantics, i.e. how a syntax relate to reality, it is done by correspondence. But guess how they define this? They define it using a function, a so called valuation function.

Science therefore is not adequate, you seem to agree with that, but you still cling to it in the area of spiritual realities. That to me is inconsistent. It should be abandoned where it does not work.

LPC

that atheist guy said...

J. K. Jones said...
" I am arguing that a person is more than what is contained in their body. They have a soul. Don't you see what you have done. You have reduced yourself to a bundle of chemicals without a soul. You have done that in order to avoid certain conclusions about God."

I have not done that to avoid anything. It's just how things appear to me. I see lots of evidence that our minds (thoughts, feelings, memories) are correlated with the physical processes in the brain. I am not trying to view this information in a biased way to come to a preferred conclusion. The idea of a soul that is independent of brain damage or dementia from old age is very attractive. Of course I would prefer that to be true. I just haven't seen the evidence for it.

JK: " The first cause must have been able to act without any outside influence because there was nothing else. Nothing existed before the first cause created it. This ability to act all by itself is the very essence of personal choice. This choice was caused by something inside the First Cause Himself. Since the cause is within the First Cause, your counter-argument doesn't work. The desire is not outside Him, so it can change"

I don't see how it matters whether the cause be "outside" or "inside". You proposed a first cause that is uncaused, yet you say a desire caused it. All of the emotions called "desire" I have encountered are caused by something. A human desire to eat ice cream is caused by the memory of eating ice cream before. Desires come from previous experience. You are right when you said in the other thread that desires come from internal causes (like memory) but ultimately those previous causes were caused by something external. So in the end we are caught in an endless regress of causes. If we propose a truly first cause it must not be caused by anything either internal or external.

JK: " In your view, they are not connected at all. There is no mind. There is only a brain. I don't think you would actually drug me, but that would be the only logical thing for you to do. All of this argument is just superfluous in your view. You have to borrow one of the basic truths of Christianity, that we have minds, in order to argue with me in a logically consistent manner."

I view "mind" as the "software" running on the "hardware" of the brain. Your comment is like saying "There is no Firefox. There is only the CPU." I don't see a contradiction. I'm really curious how you reconcile the various facts we have in medical science with the idea of a immaterial mind beyond the brain.

What do you think the prozac is actually doing, and how does that affect the soul?

L P Cruz said...
" Yes it is the same as universal truth! In the world where the axioms are true, whatever mathematicians say about that world where the axioms are true, are true universally.
The moment you rely on arithmetic, you have entered the world of faith."

I still disagree. A mathematician can say "assuming a Euclidean space, we can derive such and such theorems...", or "assuming a non-euclidean space... etc." For religious faith you can't do that. You can't say "Assuming Vishnu does such-and-such, then..." For religious faith there is one absolute Truth, and they claim to believe it for sure. I think you are making the words "faith" and "assumption" equivalent.

LPC: " Mathematicians speak of semantics, i.e. how a syntax relate to reality, it is done by correspondence. But guess how they define this? They define it using a function, a so called valuation function."

I am not familiar with such functions. Can you provide a link with more info?

LPC: " Science therefore is not adequate, you seem to agree with that, but you still cling to it in the area of spiritual realities. That to me is inconsistent. It should be abandoned where it does not work."

Where am I clinging to it in the area of spiritual realities? I've only said science is the best tool we have to getting reliable answers to questions. I never said it could answer all questions.

J. K. Jones said...

TAG,

“The idea of a soul that is independent of brain damage or dementia from old age is very attractive. Of course I would prefer that to be true. I just haven't seen the evidence for it.”

I keep telling you over and over that the Christian idea of a soul is not a soul that is independent of a body. The only soul in Christianity that is independent of a body is God’s. I have given ample evidence of a non-material First Cause. That is the evidence for an immaterial soul. That and the evidence we see from His revelation to us in the Bible.

“You proposed a first cause that is uncaused, yet you say a desire caused it. All of the emotions called "desire" I have encountered are caused by something... ultimately those previous causes were caused by something external.”

The First Cause is uncaused by anything outside Itself. The desires of which you speak are within His being.

He is not subject to the same chemistry and physical body we are because he is outside of the physical universe. Please see my comments on the first post under the “Nine Reasons Why …” label.

“I view "mind" as the "software" running on the "hardware" of the brain. Your comment is like saying "There is no Firefox. There is only the CPU." I don't see a contradiction. I'm really curious how you reconcile the various facts we have in medical science with the idea of a immaterial mind beyond the brain… What do you think the prozac is actually doing, and how does that affect the soul?”

I’ll say it once again, for about the sixth time or so: the Christian view of the human soul is a soul that is united with a human body. Your objections don’t have any logical bearing on this situation.

Of course brain chemistry affects the will. I am arguing that there is some part of the soul independent that does make free choices (choices in accordance with its own desires). This is evidenced by the fact that two people can be subjected to the same injury, and have different responses. Two people can live in the same circumstance and have the same form of birth circumstance and raising and have differing reactions.

You are still offering an argument to convince me. You are still looking for truth to convince yourself. We are discussing abstract concepts that do not exist in the physical world. These actions mean that, at some level, you think your beliefs can change because of things outside the physical world.

JK

that atheist guy said...

JK wrote: "the Christian view of the human soul is a soul that is united with a human body."

OK, I'm trying to understand this part better. Are things like memories contained in the soul? If someone had a stroke and the blood clot destroyed part of the brain holding those memories, how does that affect the soul?

After someone dies will the soul have preserved the abilities of the pre-damaged brain? If someone lives a long life they often naturally forget certain old memories. Will the soul after death have perfect recall of all life events?

L P Cruz said...

TAG,

I think you are making the words "faith" and "assumption" equivalent.

Analyze faith and religious belief, that is exactly the case, namely, faith assumes that what Jesus says is true. Faith is belief in a promise, it assumes that the promise is true and only after then does it see what it did not see before the promise came.

That is exactly what math is trying to do to you. It says, assume that Eucleadean geometry's axioms are true and then you can calculate the length of the hypotheneus or a right triangle. So you draw the triangle and amazingly it does predict the length for you.

re:Semantics, try
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=ZteuCEwkcx0C&pg=PA61&lpg=PA61&dq=interpretation+function&source=web&ots=C2CC1IJe_K&sig=VMLDDpXO_Mhrng5PLVx9vTSi6AM&hl=en

LPC

that atheist guy said...

LPC,

But we can change our assumptions to evaluate different ideas. (Such as euclidean and non-euclidean spaces). I don't think faith allows such fluidity.

Do you really think "assuming Jesus was right..." in your religious life? As far as I know faith goes beyond assumptions to believing the claim is the Truth beyond all doubt.

J. K. Jones said...

TAG,

1 Corinthians 15 (http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=1+corinthains+15&src=esv.org) gives the fundamental Christian doctrines on this. The soul exists within the body during this life, there is a brief time when the soul lives after it departs the body on its own, and the soul is reunited with the body to spend eternity. The new body for Christians is “glorified,” and without corruption. I take this to mean a body unaffected by any of the ailments, diseases, etc. from this life. I assume memories of this life are held by those who are alive after death because Christ’s memories were still with Him after His resurrection.

JK

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