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Author Topic:   Can't ID be tested AT ALL?
mick
Member (Idle past 5103 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 38 of 304 (245031)
09-19-2005 9:30 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Chiroptera
09-19-2005 5:53 PM


Re: How to Measure Complexity
Chiroptera writes:
there is no need for an unparsimonius addition like an "intelligent designer" unless and until there is good evidencw that there was such a designer
Just to back up Chiroptera here, I am quoting a long section from "The argument from biogenesis: probabilities against a natural origin of life" by R.C. Carrier, and published in the journal Biology and Philosophy (2004) 19: 739-764. Please note "AFB" = Argument from Biogenesis, the argument that life could not have arisen by natural forces, which is the argument that Carrier is attacking here (but more broadly, he attacks creationist argument per se). "Proposition A" is the proposition that natural explanations for biogenesis are not credible.
quote:
Just because something isn’t proven
doesn’t mean it is false, and a hypothesis that can’t even be tested yet
cannot be said to have failed. However, one might argue that theism has
greater explanatory scope than scientific naturalism if we can point to genuine
explanatory failures in the latter (Snoke 2001; Ratzsch 2001: 143-146; Moreland
1989, 1994). If we can show that all hypotheses for a phenomenon
proposed so far are false (not merely unproven, but actually discredited by
contrary evidence) then theism could become the best available explanation
of biogenesis - though tentatively, for the AFB is a purely negative argument,
which succeeds only by the effective elimination of all available alternatives.
So the arrival of any new alternative will scrap the AFB, as will any alternative
supported by a positive argument.
Therefore, only if there are no alternatives in contention can the formal
validity of a gaps argument be established - and then only as an inference,
not a necessary truth. But even a valid inference can be defeated by a stronger
contrary inference, and this is one problem that Proposition A might never
overcome. For example, if I observe my wallet missing, and know that a
known pickpocket brushed against me recently, that my wallet was stolen
would be a valid inference. However, if I also had a known tendency to forget
my wallet, it would still be a valid inference that I simply forgot it, even given
knowledge of the pickpocket. This could be a sufficiently strong inference, in
fact, that I would be more justified in searching for where I usually leave my
wallet before accusing the pickpocket.
With regard to Proposition A there is a very strong contrary inference:
since natural explanations have so far been confirmed for every phenomenon
that could be fully explored, probably other phenomena will have them, too.
Since we cannot access much of the data or exactly recreate the conditions
surrounding any origin-of-life scenario, it is to be expected that we cannot
confirm any of our hypotheses. Our inability to do so is thus not the product
of the failure of our hypotheses, but of the inaccessibility of the evidence. In
such circumstances it is reasonable to draw inferences from past cases. And
this leads to naturalism: the view that everything (probably) has a natural
cause.
For example, ancient scientists said lightning was caused by friction
between colliding clouds, by analogy with colliding flint stones. They had
no proof, but it wasn’t unreasonable - and it turned out to be closer to the
truth than the theory that God caused lightning. They only lacked the missing
details of pressure and electricity. Since then, natural explanations have had
a flawless track record: every time we get to the bottom of things, it is
always a natural explanation that ends up being true. Natural explanations
also have wider explanatory power than supernatural alternatives, predicting
more things, more successfully. They succeed so routinely it is impractical
to expend any effort testing supernatural theories before natural ones can be
thoroughly tested first.
Hence “there is a natural explanation for everything” is a valid inference
from the fact that all reliable and unambiguous evidence available supports
the rule, and so far offers no support for breaking it. So uniform and massive
is this body of evidence, representing centuries of steady scientific progress
in hundreds of fields, it is hard to imagine any contrary inference, such as
Proposition A, ever achieving the same force.
This does not mean miracles
are impossible. It only means that very reliable and unambiguous evidence
is necessary to justify believing in them, given the weight of the inference to
naturalism.
Proposition A also suggests a theory with almost no explanatory utility.
The theory that a god started life makes hardly any testable predictions
regarding the nature of life. In contrast, every natural theory entails a vast
range of predictions that, once confirmed, would explain a large amount
of data - for example, why life is coded with a DNA molecule instead of
something else (e.g. see Mulkidjanian et al. 2003), why some life breathes
sulfur, some oxygen, some carbon dioxide (and what the first life breathed
and why), why life began as a microscopic cell, and so on. Creation theory
predicts none of these things, and thus cannot explain them except by appeal
to God’s enigmatic whim, which is unhelpful as a contribution to scientific
progress. As Frank Salisbury (1969) put it, “Special creation or a directed
evolution would solve the problem of the complexity of the gene, but such an
idea has little scientific value in the sense of suggesting experiments.”
Nevertheless, lack of utility is not an objection to a proposition’s truth,
and I will grant for the sake of argument here that Proposition A might yet
meet the high standard of inferential power posed by naturalism. As I will
show, even granting that, no one has successfully demonstrated the truth of
Proposition A.
I keep going back to Carrier's paper because it so clearly spells out the logical fallacies of creationism - it's worth a read by any member of this forum.
Mick
This message has been edited by mick, 09-19-2005 09:32 PM
This message has been edited by mick, 09-19-2005 09:33 PM
This message has been edited by mick, 09-19-2005 09:38 PM

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Chiroptera, posted 09-19-2005 5:53 PM Chiroptera has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by Annafan, posted 09-20-2005 8:29 AM mick has not replied
 Message 48 by 1.61803, posted 09-21-2005 5:07 PM mick has not replied
 Message 59 by Brad McFall, posted 09-24-2005 8:15 PM mick has not replied

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