Re: Science and Absolute Knowledge
- From: "Woland" <jerrydeon@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 24 Apr 2006 07:07:05 -0700
Richard Forrest wrote:
Richard Forrest wrote:
< snip >
You have to know
that no other possible cause is likely to have given rise to the given
phenomenon as well.
No you don't, because you can't know all other possible causes.
You don't have to know about all possible causes to have a usable
hypothesis. Science isn't about absolute knowledge of all
possibilities. It is about predictive value while not knowing anything
with 100% confidence - don't you know?
You claim that it is possible to exclude any cause other than the
intervention of an intelligent designer.
Not quite. What I am saying is that one can hypothesize that there is
no mindless process that can produce a given phenomenon with a very
high degree of predictive value. Once this is done, there is only one
other viable alternative hypothesis - Intelligent Design.
For example, it is possible for someone to win the California Lottery 5
times in a row - but it is very very unlikely. If it ever happened, you
can bet most people would begin to wonder if the whole thing was
deliberately rigged. How do you think those who run the casinos in Las
Vegas got so good at catching cheaters? They look for patterns that go
significantly against the odds of how a particular game usually works.
Anything that goes significantly beyond the "norm" of how the numbers
usually work for a particular game sends up a red flag. It is a sign of
bias and likely design. They don't need to know how the person is
actually cheating in order to detect deliberate manipulation of the
The very same thing is true of a polished granite cube. Such a shape
and structure is never seen in granite objects that are thought to have
arisen via purely non-deliberate processes. You argue that some as yet
unknown mindless process could possibly produce such a granite cube.
But, I'm sure you really don't believe in the likelihood of such a
process. Like me, I'm sure that if you found such a cube, even on an
alien planet, that you would certainly start thinking about intelligent
design - even without any knowledge about the identify or mechanisms of
You are the one claiming to know all possible causes.
The scientific method would not be needed if all possibilities were
already known. Science is useful as a predictive tool because we don't
know everything. Science helps us function and successfully predict
things based on what little we do know. That is why science need not be
based on 100% knowledge or accuracy. Science only tells us about what
is most likely given our current knowledge base.
Given our current knowledge base about granite and how mindless
processes affect granite, we can know, with a very high degree of
predictive value, that such non-deliberate processes never produce
perfectly symmetrical polished granite cubes. This leaves only ID as a
viable hypothesis and this ID hypothesis does in fact carry with it a
very high degree of predictive value. Though never 100% (not achievable
in science) the high degree of predictive value that this hypothesis
carries is in fact very useful. That is what science is all about.
So you are denying your own assertions.
You don't seem to understand how science works, that science does not
require 100% certainty to be useful. Science is about being able to
predict the future to at least some degree of usefulness despite one's
limited knowledge base.
In other words, the phenomenon in question must go
beyond what any other possible cause has ever even come close to
achieving before you can reasonably hypothesize human design.
The *only* way we can infer that it was designed is by looking for
signs of how it was manufactured.
One need not know anything about how a given phenomenon was produced or
manufactured to be able to detect design. The polished granite cube on
my desk could have been manifactured in many different ways.
Quite so. But unless it shows evidence of manufacture in some way, you
have no way of knowing that it was designed.
Everything was "manufactured" in some way - either by deliberate or
non-deliberate processes. You don't need to know how it was done in
order to know that the forces behind whatever manufactured a particular
object where most likely intelligent and deliberate. You don't need to
know how the granite cube was formed into a perfectly symmetrical
polished cube (there are many ways to do this) to know that however it
was done, it was done deliberately.
< snip much repetition of the above statement >
It just isn't likely is all.
How do you know how likely it is unless you can form an hyothesis about
how it was made?
Because of the value of the hypothesis dealing with how it wasn't made.
When you rule out, to a high degree of statistical significance, that
mindless processes most likely did not produce a given phenomenon,
then, by default, you are left with the hypothesis of mindful
deliberate design. There simply is no viable third option. At this
point, the design hypothesis does indeed carry with it a very high
degree of predictive value.
It is like flipping a coin. If you accept that the coin in question has
only two sides, heads and tails, and you are able to determine that the
side facing up is not heads to a high degree of predictive value, what
side is most likely facing up? If I hypothesize that the side facing
up is tails, given that it probably isn't heads, how much predictive
value does my hypothesis carry? - How about the same degree of
predictive value that I obtained to hypothesize that the side facing up
< snip >
Even if you saw such a granite cube on an alien planet, you would
know it was designed by some sort of deliberate process. You would not
automatically assume a mindless cause.
A scientist would not automatically assume *any* cause. He would study
the object, and look for clues about how it was made, form testable
hypotheses based on these clues and test those hypotheses against the
It is possible that the conclusion of such a study would be "I don't
know how this object was made". Unless there is some indication of
manufacture, there would be no reason to assume it was designed.
Even though you or I might conclude that we don't really know for sure
how the polished granite cube was made, would could reasonably
hypothesize many ways to make it - just that non of our hypothesized
ways would include any non-deliberate ways. All of the reasonable ways
we would come up with would include intelligent design. Therefore,
regardless of how the granite cube was actually made, we can reasonably
conclude that it was most likely designed in a very deliberate way.
So, you see, identity and methods need not be known to determine an
It may have been
designed by little green men from Mars.
Exactly my point.
The point I was making is that without evidence of how this object was
created, either manufacured by the little green men from Mars or the
outcome of some natural process such as weathering, no scientist could
form the conclusion that it was designed.
Not true. If you or I or any other scientist (via land rover or
whatever) found a polished granite cube on Mars, as I've described it
(with the geometric forms on each face) it would be clear evidence to
*almost* everyone that clear evidence of alien intelligence had been
discovered. There would be no need to determine how the granite cube
was actually formed in order for this conclusion to be reasonably
reached by all.
In science one cannot reach conclusions without evidence and argument.
That's right. The evidence is that the polished cube is indeed granite
and the argument is that no known mindless process can reasonably be
presented to explain its origin. Therefore, such a granite cube might
reasonably have been designed. There simply are no other viable
options. Therefore this design hypothesis for the granite cube would
indeed carry with it a high degree of predictive value - just as high a
degree of value as one's ability to show that no mindless process is
capable of achieving such a granite form (which is pretty high).
< snip more assertions that scientists need to know all possible
causes before hypotheses can achieve high statistical value >
No true. I only assume that high levels of function complexity require
a designer because no non-deliberate process even comes close to
producing such levels of functional complexity.
That is a circular argument.
You are asserting that "deliberate processes" must be responsible for
the enormous complexity of living organisms because only
"non-deliberate processes" can produce such complexity.
Read what I said again. I said that *no* non-deliberate process comes
even close to producing such levels of *functional* complexity.
How can you know that?
Whether you like it or not, it is a circular argument. Your assertion
is that only non-deliberate processes can produce such complexity, but
have failed to demonstrate that this is the case.
Again, read what I actually wrote and highlighted for you. Didn't you
see the word "no"? Again, it is my assertion that *no* non-deliberate
processes can produce polished granite cubes or the high levels of
functional complexity that we see in living things. You are trying to
say that I claim just the opposite? - that *only* non-deliberate
processes can produce such complexity? Clearly, that's not my position
Even if you could exclude evolution by small incremental steps, it
would not support your assertion that the only possible alternative is
If I could exclude evolution by small incremental steps at higher
levels of functional complexity, it most certainly would exclude all
known non-deliberate possibilities for the existence of higher-level
functions. Darwinian-style evolution would certainly be out the window,
leaving no other viable non-deliberate alternative. The only hypothesis
with any reasonable statistical value left would be the hypothesis of
(Again, note that the only reasonable possible alternative is
*deliberate*, not non-deliberate, processes)
We cannot know all possible causes.
Science never does.
It is the logical falacy of presuming the consequent.
The crux of your argument is the assertion that only "deliberate
processes" can produce high levels of complexity. You can't use the
fact of such complexity to support your assertion.
Sure you can - as long as you can adequately show that no
non-deliberate cause even comes close to being able to produce a
particular phenomenon. this is what the scientific method does.
The scientific method does *NOT* say that if an hypothesis is
falsified, the only possible alternative explanation is a completely
It does if there is no viable third alternative. If you effectively
rule out the possibility of non-deliberate causes, this coin has only
one other side - i.e., deliberate causes. Do you know of any other
option besides deliberate and non-deliberate causes? Pretty much
covers all the options doesn't it? ; )
< snip >
Does the fact that you have snipped the rest mean that you conceede the
points I make?
Nice try ; )
Usually though, it means that either I ran out of time or I got bored
with responding to repetitive statements. I think both came into play .
< snip >
The probability of getting any one bridge hand is 52C13, which works
out to be 3.350135596 X 10^11. This probability is far too low to be
random therefor I propose that wood sprites are responsible for all
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