Friday, March 24, 2006

What is Science?

Science is best viewed as an activity undertaken with a specific goal in mind. That goal is to understand the way nature works. We measure our understanding by the extent to which we can make nature's phenomena predictable and controllable. Any investigative technique that brings us closer to this goal can reasonably be considered part of science.

All of the standard pieces of the scientific method we learned about in high school - experimentation, hypothesis testing, inductive reasoning and so forth - have their role to play in bringing us closer to our goal of predictability and control. By contrast, hypothesizing the actions of ill-defined supernatural entities such as ghosts or poltergeists do not help us move closer to our goal. Consequently, the actions of supernatural entities play no role in modern scientific discourse. The day someone finds a way to use such an hypothesis to bring clarity to some confusing aspect of nature is the day scientists will embrace the supernatural.

Many of the terms that get thrown around in this discussion - such as testability, falsifiability, or methodological naturalism (MN)- are really just ways of saying that scientists care about predictability and control. Saying that scientists adhere to MN in their work is really just a shorthand way of saying that science is a very pragmatic enterprise, and that the naturalistic hypotheses are the ones that have historically proven useful to scientists. It is a phrase that accurately describes the way scientists approach their work, and it survives because the only alternative - methodological supernaturalism - has proven itself time and again to be utterly ineffective in bringing scientists closer to their goal.

I think my description will seem obvious to any practicing research scientist. Indeed, I think it is obvious to most people who have devoted any thought to the matter, with the possible exception of that small subset of philosophers who see their job as the complexification of fundamentally simple questions.

I was moved to state this plainly because of this bizarre post up at IDtheFuture, written by Paul Nelson. I say bizarre because the arguments he is making are so bad that it is simply impossible to accept that Nelson really believes what he is saying.

Nelson recoutns a visit he received from the historian Ronald Numbers. At that time Numbers was working on his book The Creationists and wished to have a look at some primary source material Nelson possessed reagrding early twentieth century creationists. Early in his post, Nelson writes:


The philosophy of science program at Pitt is one of the best in the world. I had struggled through difficult but deeply rewarding courses with Carl Hempel, Adolf Grünbaum, Jim Lennox, and others, where the question of the definition of science often came up. I observed to Ron that the philosophers (and scientists) I knew best did not agree about whether design by a non-human intelligence qualified as a scientific explanation.


I'm sure Nelson meant to refer to a supernatural intelligence rather than a non-human intelligence. After all, it's perfectly acceptable to refer to animal intelligences in explaining some particular phenomenon.

Could the hypothesis of a supernatural intelligence ever be scientific. I doubt it, but I won't completely rule it out. In principle you could hypothesize a designer with specific supernatural abilities who is also possessed of certain clearly defined motivations and goals. Given such a hypothesis you might be able to say that certain sorts of observations could plausibly be atrributed to the action of this designer while certain other sorts of observations could not be so attributed. You might even be able to make some prediction based on your understanding of the designer's attributes. On the other hand, a carefully circumscribed supernatural designer begins to look an awful lot like a natural law, but still, I won't dismiss this possibility out of hand.

In the context of evolution/ID disputes, however, this is moot. The ID folks are adamant that, to the extent that ID is science, it does not allow any inference to be drawn at all about the nature of the designer. One reason they are adamant on this point is that they know full well that the natural world as we find is not at all consistent with the idea of an all-powerful and all-loving designer. Reconciling the natural world with the Christian God requires so many ad hoc hypotheses that such a designer immeidately loses all value as a scientific hypothesis.

But this is a mere warm-up. The real silly parts are still to come...


On the one hand, Charles Darwin had refuted the theories of special creation of the early 19th century -- and thus such theories were testable, not least because they had been tested and falsified. On the other hand, however, the strong positivism that permeated the atmosphere of the 10th floor of the Cathedral of Learning, the home of the history and philosophy of science program at Pitt, often held that “supernatural” explanations were untestable in principle.

But if such theories were untestable in principle, why did so many of my professors, from both philosophy and biology, talk at length about data that did or did not support Duane Gish's creationism, or “scientific creationism” generally (au courant at the time because of the various “balanced treatment” cases in US federal courts). If Gish's arguments could be countered by evidence, then the dialectic of science was already fully engaged. Whatever evidence can challenge, evidence can support. Right?


The problem, of course, is that Gish made a great many arguments. Some of those arguments dealt with matters of science, and those arguments were both testable and shown to be wrong. Other of his claims dealt with bald assertions of supernatural action, and these were not scientific. For example, Gish was fond of arguing that the best evidence from the relevant branches of science implied that the Earth was on the order of thousands of years old. That's a perfectly scientific assertion, and was shown conclusively to be wrong. Likewise for many of the assertions Gish made about the fossil record. But Gish made other assertions that were plainly not testable. For example, that the universe was created instantaneously by God via mechanisms that are no longer in effect today. That is plainly unscientific.

This point is not complicated, and it has been made times before. I am baffled that Nelson could have overlooked it.

Nelson continues:


Intelligent causation, I said to Ron, seemed to me to have been unjustifiably excluded from the roster of candidate hypotheses for the origin of life. Life could have been designed. That might have happened, as an empirical possibility, and whatever is possible ought not to be excluded from science a priori. (Some possible states of affairs might turn out not to be the case, of course, but that is a matter for empirical inquiry, not definitions.)

Of course design is possible and could have happened, Ron said to me, tucking into his meal. That's not the problem.

This answer stunned me, and today, almost 23 years later, I can still experience the sense of amazement and shock. One grows accustomed to positivism after a while, and the familiar “science” and “religion” categories had been well-buttressed by multiple lines of argument from very bright people indeed on the 10th floor (albeit with the glaring inconsistencies mentioned above, e.g., 'Wait until Duane Gish sees this new transitional fossil!' -- and with a long historical record of shifting definitions and practices of science shoved to one side). I fumbled out a reply to Ron: But that's not fair, I protested. Where was the justification?

Ron shrugged. You're right, he continued, it isn't fair. (Emphasis in original)


Maybe I'm just a closed-minded skeptic, but I don't believe for a second that Nelson was stunned by that answer. After all, what other answer is possible? Has anyone in the history of the universe ever denied the bare possibility that the world is the product of intelligent design? I'm as hard-core an atheist as you're likely to meet, but I think it's such a live possibility that I spend an inordinate amount of time reading what religious people have to say on the subject. And the possibility of design has nothing to do with positivism, or definitions of science and religion or anything else.

So is it unfair that scientists do not accept supernatural design as an acceptable scientific hypothesis? Only in the same sense that it is unfair for a plumber to dismiss out of hand the gremlin theory of drain clogs. The plumber has unclogged a lot of drains, but has never once found it helpful to hypothesize a gremlin in the pipes as the cause of the clog. Likewise scientists have never once found it helpful to invoke a supernatural entity in pursuing their goals. So how is it unfair for them to leave that assumption out of their work?

Sadly, we now come to the part of Neslon's essay that I found especially vexing:


But think about it this way, he went on. Why is it that when a batter in baseball hits a foul ball, he has to stay at home plate (assuming no one catches the ball)? Why can't he run to first base?

If you're going to have a game, he continued, you've got to have some rules. For a long time now -- really from the middle of the 19th century -- one of the rules in science has been that the hypothesis of supernatural design is excluded from scientific discourse as a candidate explanation. Just as in baseball, where the first and third base lines define the field of play, in science one of the defining rules has been that the hypothesis of design, although quite possible, falls wholly outside the lines of admissible discourse.

Ron then referred me to Neil Gillespie's classic treatment, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, where this problem is much discussed. The exclusion of design is long-standing, Ron concluded, and unlikely to change. That's just the way the game is played nowadays.It's not fair, he said, but those are the rules.I couldn't think of any reply to this -- after all, a rule is a rule is a rule -- and so our conversation moved on.


I hope Numbers didn't really say this, but if he did I can only shake my head sadly and suggest to people that they not learn their science from historians. The analogy of science to a game, with MN as an arbitrary rule within that game, is a very bad way of putting things.

Completely left out of Numbers' description is the fact that science has specific goals in mind. As already discussed, the convention of MN is just a reflection of the sorts of hypotheses scientists have found useful in several centuries of work.

Unfortunatly, this failure to recognize that science is a goal-directed enterprise is very common, in my experience, even among otherwise very well-educated people. I have had many religious people present to me the argument that science tries to discover the truth about nature, God is part of that truth, therefore God should be part of science. This fundamentally misses the point. Science isn't really about ultimate truth. It's about a more practical sort of truth.

Two quick examples should help make the point. First, is it true that the planets orbit the Sun and trace out a ellipse as they do so? Well, all we really know is that they hypothesis that they do has allowed us to make so many successful predictions that it seems reasonable to conclude that it is true. That's what I mean by a practical sort of truth.

Second, consider Newton's law of gravitation - the one that says that the gravitational force between two masses is proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance separating them. Question: How do we know that 2 is the correct exponent to have on the bottom of that fraction? If used the exponent 2.00000000001 or 1.99999999999 we would get the same predictive consequences, at least as far as our ability to measure things is concerned. So why do we assume that 2 is the correct exponent? Answer: We don't. What we know is that 2 is the simplest exponent we can use that allows us to make accurate predictions. No room for ultimate truth here.

Why do scientists believe that simple theories are better than complicated theories? Not because simple theories are more likely to be true in some uoltimate sense. Rather, it is because simple theories are more likely to be useful than complicated theories.

Now, does this mean that science has no role to play in making a case for atheism? Well, yes and no. But we'll save that for a future blog entry.

Nelson concludes with his standard complaints about scientists rigging the game and about how naturalists try to rule out ID by definitional fiat and about how people should let the evidence decide. Blah blah blah.

The situation is actually very simple. If Nelson or any other ID advocate believes that science ought to introduce supernatural thinking into its standard repertoire than the test they have to pass is very simple: Go discover something. Stop with the abstract philosophizing, stop levelling bogus charges about the bigotry and closed-mindedness of mainstream scientists, and stop whining about just wanting to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Scientists have given all due consideration to such evidence as ID folks provide, and they have rightly found it worthless. If Nelson believes they have made an error, let him go into the lab and prove them wrong in the only currency scientists care about: progress towards taming the chaos of nature.

41 Comments:

At 9:20 PM, Blogger Grengor said...

Why can't he actually believe what he wrote? I've seen worse from other people.

But don't hold your breath on wether or not they're actually going to "tame the chaos of nature".

Nice blog.

 
At 9:29 PM, Blogger Mark Nutter said...

I couldn't resist--I posted a commentary on Nelson's argument over at my blog, http://www.alethian.org/wp/archives/82 ("Heaven Is Not The Sky" blog). It was too long to put in a comment. ;)

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Mark said...

It's entirely useless to make the hypothesis that "life is designed" and leave it at that--what does the hypothesis explain? If Darwin had simply said "life has evolved" we wouldn't be any better informed. Rather, we have a theory of evolution that is a set of specific explanatory mechanisms. Where are the explanatory mechanisms of Intelligent Design? "Goddidit" and "poof" just don't suffice.

 
At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science excludes the possibility of the supernatural, yes -- but that's because it leaves the natural open to whatever may actually exist. No real phenomenon is denied a place in the natural order -- and if we come across something that doesn't fit into our understanding of that order, we change our conceptions.

Science can acknowledge the existence of Q. It cannot acknowledge the existence of a thing that is outside the bounds of reality.

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Jim Lippard said...

"For example, Gish was fond of arguing that the best evidence from the relevant branches of science implied that the Earth was on the order of thousands of years old."

Actually, Gish rarely had anything to say about the age of the earth or flood geology (the two weakest points of young-earth creationism, because they involve falsifiable--and falsified--claims). He tended to leave those topics to his fellow creationists at the Institute for Creation Research.

Gish's usual strategy in debate was to dodge the issue of the age of the earth. His books avoid the subject as well.

There was apparently a debate between Gish and Hugh Ross on the age of the earth and universe that used to be available at www.talkorigins.org, but it's been removed for copyright reasons.

 
At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Jim Ramsey said...

What if the IDers were right.

Assuming that you could come up with a coherrent explication of ID theory that didn't include a lie or two, what would you do with it?

How would ID actually guide scientific research in biology? I've never been imagine what would happen.

Actually, the closest I've come is that we would stop wasting our time in scientific research and invest it all in Bible studies. Or maybe Rick Warren could right "The Purpose Driven Universe".

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Jim Ramsey said...

Bleep!

right s.b. write

Next time I'll employ a copy editor.

or preview
or actually read what I write before submitting it.

 
At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: right s.b. write

another typical evilutionist ad homonym argument.

 
At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Jim Ramsey said...

Dear anonymous,

Point taken, I took some cheap shots.

The main question remains, though.

What if ID wins and replaces evolution as the dominant theory that binds together all the disparate branches of biology?

Now what?

I have never seen a single word written that says (about some scientific research), "evolution says look here, but ID says we should look there".

So either
1. I am at point A, evolutionary theory suggests that I should look at B.
or
2. I am at point A, Intelligent Design theory suggests that I should look at C.

Well?

 
At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Hal said...

I quite frankly do not know all the
reasons why, but for some deeper reason than the obvious, the fact that soft tissue has been found to be in existence in a T-rex fossil, and after further exploration, it having been found that there are other examples of soft tissue present in other dinosaur fossils, apparently there are reasons relating to basic physics that preclude dinos being millions of years old.There is some reason dealing with molecular physics and the laws regarding that,and entropy.(See the latest issue of Discover,and its reference to the issue of Science monthly.)This is supposed to drop the age of dinos down to a maximum of 10's of thousands of years, in order for the soft tissue and blood platelets to be present. I had already heard that there was non-fossilized bone present,in some cases,but that it had been ignored, for some reason.

 
At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Doormat said...

Is there a rule of internet discussions about evolution, akin to Godwin's law, that over a certain number of posts, some YEC wacko has to pop up and post something so completely off topic, and so inanely false, it's almost impossible to come up with a good counter argument?

But I'll try: if Dinos are only 10000 years old, then how did their bones become fossilised at all? How do you convieniently ignore the wealth of geological evidence that fossils are, in fact, ancient?

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger shargash said...

"How would ID actually guide scientific research in biology?"
Reuben Bolling's "Tom the Dancing Bug" cartoon had a hysterical send up of this idea a while ago. Unfortunately, it is behind a for-pay firewall now, so I can't link to it.

Basically, it had biologists doing things like training bacteria to form little Towers of Babel, so that they would be struck down by god. It was very funny.

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Clint said...

I noticed that part of Paul Nelson's argument takes the form of an analogy:

"Methodological Naturalism" is to "Science" as X is to "Baseball"

Nelson says that X could be any arbitrary rule, such as "Foul balls don't count."

Now, baseball has a lot of rules, but some rules a more equal than others. I think the analogy is much more accurate if X is "The team with the most points wins."

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Palace said...

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At 2:03 PM, Anonymous truth machine said...

Dear anonymous,

Point taken, I took some cheap shots.


Jim Jim Jim. Apparently you don't read other people's posts any better than you read your own. Anon wrote (emph added):

RE: right s.b. write

another typical evilutionist ad homonym argument.


Way to go, ruining his/her clever joke.

 
At 2:43 PM, Anonymous truth machine said...

Why do scientists believe that simple theories are better than complicated theories? Not because simple theories are more likely to be true in some uoltimate sense.

Forget about "ultimate sense" -- simpler theories are more likely to be true in the scientific sense -- their predictions are more likely to be accurate. Given two theories that both explain the available evidence, the more complex theory is more likely to have complex consequences that simply aren't "true" -- i.e., that don't correspond with the facts of the world. Ockham's Razor can be formalized in information theory, and it can be shown that this formalization is deduceable from mathematical statistics. See http://www.cs.utep.edu/vladik/1997/tr97-21.ps.gz

As for Paul Nelson, since he is both stupid and dishonest, it is sometimes difficult to determine which is responsible for any particular bit of nonsense he authors.

Over and over I hear from people who say that they learned in a philosophy course that ID is legitimate science, or is a legitimate alternative to evolution, or is no less legitimate because science is just a social construct. Unfortunately, philosophy has no standards of any sort, and the dualists and anti-scientists have discovered this and found a home in university philosophy departments. Paul Nelson is just one of many, sadly.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous truth machine said...

Hal, you're either an idiot, a liar, or both. The Discover article,

http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=3155

says right up front

The discovery of soft tissue in the bones of a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex from Montana has been ranked the year's sixth most important scientific story by Discover magazine.

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger dorkafork said...

I heard from some guy that the Earth was flat, due to something in basic physics and entropy and lack of pirates or something. And satellites took pictures of a flat Earth but they were ignored or something.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger mds said...

So why do we assume that 2 is the correct exponent? Answer: We don't. What we know is that 2 is the simplest exponent we can use that allows us to make accurate predictions.

Er, I do think the current treatment of gravitation as a central potential rests on a slightly firmer theoretical foundation than "2 is close enough for government work." This merely pushes the underlying pragmatic reductionism back a few steps, of course.

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous arensb said...

Now, baseball has a lot of rules, but some rules a more equal than others. I think the analogy is much more accurate if X is "The team with the most points wins."

Actually, that rule is just as arbitrary as any of the other rules of baseball (after all, in golf, the player with the fewest points wins).

A better analogy for "no supernatural in science" is "when batting, keep your eye on the ball".

 
At 8:45 PM, Anonymous wheatdogg said...

Actually, the idea of scientists as baseball players has a certain kind of appeal. "And Einstein slams a homerun over the left field fence. It's 3-all!"

Question is, who would the umpires be?

 
At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent essay. Unfortunately, I think it is mostly an exercise in preaching to the choir.

In my experience, fundamentalist Christian believers (FCB) have a skeptical attitude towards the enterprise of science and scientists in general.

It's a product of FCB theology - human beings are "fallen" and being "deceived by Satan." Those who have not "found Christ" are still in the dark. Etc.

This tends to keep the mind of the FCB shut, where they suspect every non-believer utterance is necessarily a falsehood.

The arguments you make may be completely sound and logical. But, to those who think you are already being mislead by the "Great Deceiver" are not likely to appreciate your analysis.

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked this short essay (and love this blog), but these pseudo-philosophic arguments on both sides miss the mark. The scientific facts are as follows:
1) Fossils exist.
2) That fossils exist in the first place requires some very specific sets of geologic processes to occur. These processes are grouped under the general term biolithification (life stone making).
3) Different types of biolithification produce different types of fossils (e.g. insects in amber, bones in sandstone, people in peat bogs, crinoids in limestone, and forests in coal seams)
4) The above processes are not universal (i.e., they don't happen everywhere, all the time)
5) With the dynamic processes of the earth happening all the time (not even the ID people can deny this) of subduction, mountain building, sea-floor spreading, volcanism and the like; it is a small miracle we find any fossils at all.
6) Every occurence of fossils can be dated empirically to within a few million years or less.

Seems to me that the main argument that ID "scientists" against evolution is the lack of specific "missing links". Since we are relying on a process that is really somewhat uncommon geologically to produce physical evidence of specific missing links is statistically improbable. Evolutionary theory is simply a way of explaining the fossil timeline. As someone who majored in Geology and took 3 years of Invertebrate Paleontology, back in the 1970's, I have seen evolutionary theory evolve in just the past 30 years. And that's good; that's what makes it interesting.

The problem with ID is that it takes all of the breath out of that excitement and smothers it with a priori religious dogma while at the same time tries to reconcile it with pseudo-Christianity. Even if it were "true", shouldn't we be exploring the why and how of this Intelligent Design? That's what evolutionary theory is all about.

The ID premise might be fine, if they took the time to read through the fossil record and realize the most enduring intelligence throughout the history of this planet is a tiny double-helix molecule called DNA. That is the true creator.

 
At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tom The Dancing Bug cartoon is at http://pharyngula.org/images/creationistpatrol.jpg

 
At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Another Mark! said...

Anonymous (whoever you are). I believe that many ID proponents accept evolution and the fossil record. Indeed some of them accept common descent from a single ancestor. So while the paleontology is great (I wish I had studied it at uni - I was doing philosophy at about the same time) it is not sufficient to refute ID. Their dispute (at least on the surface) is not with evolution, but with random mutation and natural selection as the mechanism. Some of them are also opposed to evolution but that is not necessary for the ID case. The "front-loaded" version of ID would argue that "the designer" set it all up at the beginning and then watched evolution implement his/her design.

This of course is just what stops ID being science. If you avoid the details of implementation then design can be the explanation of anything. In fact you could even say that ID is compatible with neo-Darwinism. The designer created the complexity and then let random mutation and natural selection do the rest.

Cheers

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this ballet entertaining in a yin-yang sense. A baseball game between the IDists and the MNists may also be pretty interesting if they could ever agree on the rules...

R

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Mark wrote:

..
Anonymous (whoever you are). I believe that many ID proponents accept evolution and the fossil record. Indeed some of them accept common descent from a single ancestor. So while the paleontology is great (I wish I had studied it at uni - I was doing philosophy at about the same time) it is not sufficient to refute ID. Their dispute (at least on the surface) is not with evolution, but with random mutation and natural selection as the mechanism...
..

Hmmm. I guess my idea of random is different then. Even a cursory glance at the geologic record confirms that there is very little that is "random" about natural selection-mostly it is adaptive to specific environmental stresses. Take the mass extinction at the end of the Permian: destructive geologic processes went off the scale and as a result, over 90% of ALL LIFE became extinct (major environmental stress).

DNA rebounded with evolutionary adaptations to a 20% drop in atmospheric oxygen, etc. DNA constantly adapts to its environment (e.g., to continental drift).

The term random mutation is a meaningless phrase to describe a process we don't know anything about. With all that we're discovering about "junk" DNA and the complexity of genome, it seems quite possible that evolution (or adaptation) could be built in to DNA itself.

Side note-I have not come across any meaning acknowledgement or refutation of the geologic time scale in any ID writings. Seems they conveniently ignore that fact most of time.

 
At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Timothy Scriven said...

"Question is, who would the umpires be?"

The tribunal of experience of course!

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ID is the evolutionary adaptation of creationism to the stress of the political environment.

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Why do scientists believe that simple theories are better than complicated theories? Not because simple theories are more likely to be true in some uoltimate sense. Rather, it is because simple theories are more likely to be useful than complicated theories.

Well...kinda...sort of. You are not addressing the Bayesian point that a simpler hypothesis/theory is more likely to be true given the data (kinda/sorta).

 
At 11:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to wonder whether anyone has mentioned to Nelson that a brain is a terrible thing to waste.

 
At 3:28 AM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

For Nelson's purposes, wouldn't it be accurate to point out that methodological naturalism doesn't reject supernatural explanations at all -- just those that are not proximate causes?

Science doesn't deny that gods exist, nor that gods have influence over the rise of life and direction of evolution. But so far no one has shown where the hand of a god intervenes directly in the development of an embryo, to pick one example. That's not to deny that life is miraculous, nor that a god has a particular interest in a certain baby -- it's simply to note that such a cause is not manifested in any so-far-measurable way.

The conclusion is the same, of course: If Nelson wishes to make his case that spirits are there, he needs to present a case with evidence of the proximate actions of spirits. He still has to get off his tail and do the work!

Creationism: The ultimate procrastination.

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger John Hawks said...

There is a strong theoretical reason for 2 as the correct exponent, because the theory explains the dispersion of a one-dimensional force across a two-dimensional area (the surface of a sphere). For the same reason, the brightness of a light decreases with the square of distance, a fact that Newton probably appreciated.

And of course, Einstein showed why 2 really isn't the correct exponent much of the time, because the curvature of space violates the Euclidean surface area/radius relation.

 
At 11:15 AM, Anonymous s42 said...

While it's true that many opponents to evolution are unschooled in science, the scientific community needs to present real answers to real questions, rather than namecalling. The questions I would like answered are:
1. Where are the fossils for the transitional forms? Not one or two but the thousands that should be in the record.
2. What is the explanation for biological mechanisms present in creatures today, whose miniscule steps on the way would be disadvantageous rather than advantageous?
3. What is the explanation for the ireducible complexity of the cell?
4. If scientists are only concerned with discovering facts and understanding the natural world, why do they find it necessary to have a theory of origins at all? The theory of evolution presents so many problems that it would be abandoned if there were any scientific alternative.

 
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At 12:17 AM, Blogger google said...

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At 11:58 PM, Blogger blogcar said...

e Dover, NRO has been slavishly publishing pro-ID pieces (vs critical ones) at about the ratio of 4 to 1. Which is an embarrassment, frankly. And most of those pieces were by people, like Klinghoffer, who are on the Discovery Institute's payroll. Sheesh.
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At 5:53 AM, Blogger Xấu zai said...

Well...kinda...sort of. You are not addressing the Bayesian point that a simpler hypothesis/theory is more likely to be true given the data (kinda/sorta).

 
At 1:02 AM, Blogger Xấu zai said...

Fat Burnerscoches de segunda mano en valenciaIt's entirely useless to make the hypothesis that "life is designed" and leave it at that--what does the hypothesis explain? If Darwin had simply said "life has evolved" we wouldn't be any better informed. Rather, we have a theory of evolution that is a set of specific explanatory mechanisms. Where are the explanatory mechanisms of Intelligent Design? "Goddidit" and "poof" just don't suffice.

 
At 5:45 AM, Blogger Dream said...

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