Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another IDer takes on the NAS, demonstrates ignorance of science.

Just when you thought the Discovery Institute had hit it's lowest point, here comes Cornelius Hunter to spell out explicitly, just how ignorant of science they are. In his criticism of the new NAS science booklet he shows once again that they have no understanding of the scientific process, and instead desperately try to drown it in pseudointellectual philosophical prattle because of science's limits in dealing with predictable naturalistic explanations, as the guidelines spell out:

"In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. (p. 10)"

Now this should not require much explanation. Spectral forces, as they were called several hunred years ago, were forbidden from courts for very practical reasons. They could not be examined, or cross examined, or disproven. There is no way to confirm or deny that God said "X", or a demon made me do it. That is not to say that there aren't gods or demons. It just means that until they are understood suffciently to be able to make predictions based on them that can be confirmed or falsified, they cannot be used as evidence. That goes for science, as for law. But for some reason creationists can't seem to grasp this very simple basic point, and instead ramble on like this:

"Evolutionists have always been dogmatic about naturalism. They believe that science must, in principle, be absolutely constrained to naturalistic explanations. This is a philosophical position — there is no scientific evidence that could make evolutionists think twice.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Scientists (not "evolutionists", a dishonest term made up by creos) are pragmatic about methodological naturalism, not dogmatic. It works, plain and simple. It has proven itself in the remarkable progress humanity has made since its inception as the standard method of inquiry. Notice that while the creationists whine about MN, they have nothing of substance to offer in its place, no guidelines for how to deal with and test for unpredictable entities, no way to discover error, and most tellingly, no accomplishments of their own using alternative methods. Science not constrained to falsifiable naturalistic explanations would become as impotent as the conjectural prattlings of the creationists.

Claiming this as philosophical position not amenable to scientific evidence is just more equivocating from the creationists. When they, or anyone, produces workable theories with reproducable falsifiable data using some other epistemological method, then their criticisms will have some weight. Until then they sound like the football fan who never played the game screaming that his team would win if only they'd use his strategy he devised while playing Madden 2008.

But creationists do not understand the concept of falsifiabile testing, as Hunter's criticisms reveal:

Like the creationist who mandates a particular interpretation of the scientific evidence (according to scripture), the evolutionist also mandates a particular interpretation of the scientific evidence (according to naturalism). All explanations must be thoroughly and completely naturalistic, no matter how contorted those explanations become.

Nonsense. Religion is about interpretation. Science is about hypothesizing and TESTING. This is the part the creos always conveniently leave out of these little diatribes. Scientists make predictions and then TEST those predictions. They say "my theory predicts if we dig over there we will find a fossil of an animal that is between an amphibian and a land walking animal", and then they go dig and see if they find it, as they did with Tiktaalik. They either find it or they don't, there is no interpretation, no "forcefitting to preconceived notions, none of that nonsense. This is projection, plain and simple.

Hunter then goes on to wallow in another creationist quagmire, their inability to understand tentative and incomplete views.

"For instance, how did life evolve? The booklet explains that there are no consensus hypotheses for this remarkable event, and that evolutionists are searching a variety of ideas. "Researchers have shown how this process might have worked," write the authors. For "if a molecule … could reproduce … perhaps with the assistance … it could form … if such self-replicators … they might have formed … could lead to variants" and so forth. (p. 22) The evidence for the origin of life is packed with question marks."

Of course it is you jackass. Would you prefer scientists speak with religious certainty despite not having the evidence to do so? Reality is quite a bit more messy and complicated than your simple tales of everything in the world appearing in a puff of smoke via the whim of a mysterious supreme being. Sometimes "if"s and "could"s are the best we have.

While this certainly is true, scientists also need to evaluate theories according to what is known. We can always hope our favorite theories will be saved by future findings, but this is no substitute for accurate theory evaluation according to the known data. It is simply misleading and irresponsible to state that it is a scientific fact that life evolved from non-living chemicals.

I don't see anyone saying it is a fact that such occurred. But given the evidence to date, it is the best explanation we have, and the contrary evidence offerred by creationists amounts to a giant goose egg of wishful thinking based on 2,000 year old parchments. Hunter cannot accept this however, and continues to lie about the process of scientific investigation:

While some legitimate evidences are presented, the booklet repeatedly presents speculations and interpretations according to the theory as strong evidences for the theory. And it consistently ignores the many negative evidences.

Wrong, and wrong. The booklet presents verified experiments according to the theory as strong evidences. They are NOT speculations and interpretations. The claim Hunter would have you believe, that there must have been a supreme intelligence that made the first life, THAT is a speculation. And there are no negative evidences. There are unanswered questions, but that is not negative evidence. A question answered wrong would be, but no one in Hunter's little pseudoscientific cabal can produce any.

But that obviously won't stop them from repeating these lies and distortions of what scientists do ad nauseum.

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