Monday, 6 June 2011

Intelligent Design is anti-intellectual? Let's try again.

Please consider: Michele Bachmann's Stance on Evolution Demolished by High School Student

"Which brings me back to Michele Bachmann. Not only is Bachmann a fan of creationism and its anti-intellectual offshoot, intelligent design, she's made some outlandish claims about the pseudoscientific subject."

Hmm...gases blow up and over billions of years create what we know of as earth.  I got it.  Somehow, someway matter is eternal...in that for all time it existed.  I'm with ya so far Mr. Evolutionist.  And this eternal matter caused a whole bunch of things to happen such that not only the world formed life as we know it...but these gases that blew up and created planets somehow also created morals.  Morals came from gases that blew up, eh?  And it is 'anti-intellectual' to derive from this that gases blowing up can't create morals?  How?  Please "demolisher", do tell.

In addition to this, there is no 'intent' behind evolution.  The gases did not have a 'debate' with each other and say, 'it is a good thing to come together and create life'.  From this, it follows that there was no 'intention' behind the 'design' as we know it.  As we know as obvious, the designer of anything typically offers their comments on how something ought to function within the design.  For example, the designer of the soap says, 'I designed this to function by cleaning the body: when it's cleaning the body, it's functioning properlly'.  The designer creates something to function a certain way.  That's usually how it goes.  So the 'grand design' of evolution not only can't explain morals, but it also cannot explain how something ought to function (rather, it explains how something happens to function).  The heart does not beat a certain way because it ought to...(i.e no designer said so)...it functions that way because it 'happens to'.   I ought not to have a passionate love for my family because a designer designed me this way...I happen to love my family because it ended up that way.

I happen to think it takes incredible leaps of the intellect to surmise gasses blowing up somehow crates viable morals and determines how something ought to function (all without a designer 'saying so').  It is not 'anti-intellectual' to say, "gasses blowing up and creating morals is a little silly".  It is not anti-intellectual to say, "Disagreeing with evolution is a logical position." Evolutionists saying things function because they happen to, not because a designer said they ought seems a little silly especially when it seems obvious that things do function a certain way because the designer said so.  I can believe a bar of soap 'ought to function' a certain way because the designer said so, without being an intellectual misfit.  Likewise, I can say "my heart beats properly when it is beating at a resting heart rate of 65 bpm".  I am no intellectual misfit when I cite the proper function of a heartbeat to a designer (God) who says so. If a bar of soap, a fridge or me loving my family, it is logical to say things function properly when they function according to the design plan.  This is simple, basic and logical. 

Evolutionists arguing from a 'survival standpoint' is cool...especially in politics.  Creationists arguing from a 'truth' standpoint is also cool, especially in politics. 
 There has yet to be a 'defeating argument' for intelligent design.

Very good author in developing sensible views on creation vs. evolution: here

46 comments:

  1. Hi Ryan, have you considered this premise:

    Intelligent design is anti-intellectual because it provides answers to important questions that cannot be defended proved or disproved.

    For example, I don't believe we can prove or disprove the statement "Man was created by God".

    Anyone who believes that statement likely stops pursuing the question of where did we come from, because they have *an* answer.

    I would put forward that the act of failing to pursue important questions to come up with answers that can be explained, understood, proven, submitted to logic and reason, is anti-intellectual.

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  2. Alex, thanks for the great question. Yes I have. Alex, Evolution cannot 'prove' matter is eternal: therefore the same logical peril would exist with evolution in your scenario of 'proof'. Under your scenario, I can replace "intelligent design" with "Evolution" and the same statement would be 'true'. "Evolution is anti-intellectual because it provides answers to important questions that cannot be defended proved or disproved." Defend or prove that matter is Eternal. Prove God is not Eternal. To me, it's flawed premise because both 'camps' would be hit by the same 'proof theory' problem. Something is not untrue because it cannot be 100% logically proven. I do not accept the premise that a belief lacks warrant or justification if it is not 100% provable. Case in point: Alex, I am sure you would not approach a blind lady and say, "because you cannot see the room, you cannot prove to me logically it is at least 10' x 10'." Aside from that sounding insensitive, it is also unfair to the blind lady. Perhaps her view is sufficient without your type of 'logic and proof', agreed? If she says, "I am an expert with my ears and based on sounds bouncing, I determine the room is at least 20' x20' and I have been right 1000's of times previous", would you not agree her belief is both true and justified despite lacking '100% logic and proof'? I dare say yes. I can believe my daughter loves me without 100% logical proof. Furthermore, without this logical proof…if someone says I am an 'anti-intellectual' because I cannot prove my daughter loves me (and I am convinced she does), I reply that perhaps they are the one short a few screws. It is perfectly legitimate for us to believe our daughter loves us without your type of proof. There is no 'anti-intellectualism' for believing my daughter loves me. I am intellectually sane Alex: despite lacking "logical proof". Furthermore, it may be as equally true God is Eternal as it is my daughter loves me. Lack of 'proof' negates neither, and neither position makes me 'anti-intellectual'. And if somehow I remain 'anti-intellectual with my theist views, how am I not equally an anti-intellectual for my convictions regarding my daughters love for me?

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  3. Hey Ryan, let me try again:

    My premise is:

    1. When someone accepts an answer which can neither be proved or disproved then they are not acting intellectually.

    2. Creationists accept statements which can neither be proved or disproved.

    3. Creationists behave anti-intellectually.

    You made the point that evolutionists do not have proof that matter is eternal.

    There's a difference between accepting an answer with no proof, and not having an answer.

    If you accept an answer with no proof, you turn off your brain and stop looking for an answer. If you do not have an answer, you continue to seek the truth.

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  4. I disagree with premise 1.
    If you are 'chatting away' on the railroad and I see and hear a train coming and shout at you "Alex, move NOW or die!" it not 'anti-intellectual' for you to accept my answer despite lack of proof. You are acting on trust, and your answer does not lack 'intellect'. In fact, the 'anti-intellectual' would debate and demand proof...by that time, he's dead. We are assuming here that we are friends and I have not been known to deceive people in the past. Now, to be clear, this is not an argument for 'lack of thought'. It is an argument simply against premise 1. I found 1 reasonable example where premise 1 is 'not true' therefore your argument is not sound. (Endless examples do exist to disprove premise 1)

    On a separate note, I DO agree that anti-intellectualism is rampant in our society and do not argue 'theists' do not do not act anti-intellectually...I am only arguing that you are not an anti-intellectual by default of being a theist...

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  5. If you accept an answer with no proof, you turn off your brain and stop looking for an answer. If you do not have an answer, you continue to seek the truth.

    I disagree with this as well. After you got off the train tracks, you could have verified if my position was true or not. Was I joking, or serious? Was I being truthful? It does not follow that you accepting my 'scream' demands you shut your brain off. You still can accept something rationally and further pursue to verify the statement. No 'anti-intellectual' position Alex re: the train and jumping off. Infact, given my intentions were good and we are friends, i would encourage you to verify your reaction to my plea to get off the tracks!

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  6. I like your example. I think I get what you're saying with this example, and with the example about your daughter. E.g. belief, trust etc are still tools used by an intellectual.

    Surely there is some way to reconcile these points with my point?

    My broader point is that if you accept a statement that cannot be proven or disproven when a scenario where you should require proof, then you are turning off your brain.

    I have a hard time believing anyone would disagree with this line of thinking.

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  7. I agree you've found a flaw in my logic. Does this mean there is no value to what I wrote, or do you think what I wrote is generally correct, and perhaps you can help me to find the right way to phrase it?

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  8. Alex, the same thing that made your comments so wise, is the same thing that i try to posture towards on a daily basis...If the blogging world had 1/1000 of your humility, wow oh wow.

    I think what you are trying to establish is that there is a particular problem inherently with being a theist (to your existing knowledge).

    I agree that several Christians are anti-intellectual..in that, (sadly) I agree with your general 'complaint' or concern. So, I would advise arguing either: it is inherently anti-intellectual to be a theist...or argue 'several Christians are anti-intellectuals'. If the later, focus on the basis on which a belief is formed and go after it. Perhaps consider, "what constitutes a legitimate belief? Call the answer "x". Very few theists operate under "x". Although a broad argument, i think it is overall true and something we theists need to work on. I hope this helps??

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  9. How about this:

    It is anti-intellectual to claim a statement is the truth without submitting that statement to the scientific method.

    Lets test this:

    When you told me move or die, I don't have to accept your statement as the truth, I can just move on basis that you are likely speaking the truth. Worst case: I moved for no reason.

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  10. "if you accept a statement that cannot be proven or disproven when a scenario where you should require proof, then you are turning off your brain."

    My suggestion here is to expound on the 'should'. Your statement is true indeed Alex. If someone SHOULD "A", then they SHOULD "A". It's almost a necessarily true statement. Now, we need to create a scenario in which the theist 'SHOULD' need proof to be intellectually sane...and lacks it. I have yet to find one and remain open to seeing one...but have yet to view one yet.

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  11. Good point, the arguments "theists are anti-intellectual" and "some theists are anti-intellectual" are different.

    I'd prefer we sidestep that completely, and just focus on what is necessary to claim something is the truth, and then describe someone who fails to live up to that standard.

    When we make statements like god created man, or man evolved from apes, we're making important statements upon which someone can build a basis for their entire world view.

    An intellectual would therefore examine statements like these closely to see whether they are the truth or not before accepting them.

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  12. Hey Ryan, how about this:

    1. If someone wants to be healthy, they should not eat ice cream.

    Similarily

    2. If someone calls themself an intellectual, they must have proof for statements they accept as truth.

    #2 might be a bit fuzzy, you and I might argue about the definition of an intellectual. So, we could substitue any other word.

    If someone wants to call themselves XYZ, then they must have proof for statements they accept as truth.

    Someone who accepts statements without proof can not say they are XYZ.

    XYZ might be logical, rational, intellectual, scientific, interested in the truth, etc.

    Hopefully we don't need to argue about the word "truth".

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  13. An intellectual would therefore examine statements like these closely to see whether they are the truth or not before accepting them.

    100% agreed!

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  14. Ok, so where do we disagree?

    1. An intellectual would therefore examine statements like these closely to see whether they are the truth or not before accepting them

    2. The method to determine if something is the truth or not is to subject it to the scientific method.

    Perhaps you disagree with #2?

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  15. i like your comment Alex and would agree entirely.
    Now, what is considered 'proof' that is legitimate?

    This is where things likely get lengthy and complex. (not to cut the discussion short...just to say it's a lengthy argument)

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  16. 2. The method to determine if something is the truth or not is to subject it to the scientific method.

    Perhaps you disagree with #2?

    I agree with 1. And i agree that science and religion agree, not clash....(i'm out for the night my friend)

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  17. I'm happy to end here if you want, but I think we've come full circle.

    Scientists who put forward statements like "man evolved from apes" use the scientific method. They find evidence, they publish it. Their statements can be proven incorrect very easily by anyone in the world finding a problem with their evidence, or finding new evidence.

    Because of this, scientists constantly improve our knowledge, e.g. we thought the world was flat, know we know its not.

    Theists do not do this with religious beliefs (e.g. god created man). They do not put their hypothesis and supporting evidence out there for the world to help prove or disprove, they do not revise their beliefs as new evidence arises.

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  18. delay in leaving; hence reply...
    I revise my belifes all the time while remaining open to new evidence Alex...i love that process! I have revised my views loads of times as new evidence comes to light. It simply does not challenge certain 'theistic' belifs. I do not have 100% accuracy with bible interpretation...so i always remain humble and open to continually learn and be aimed at truth!

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  19. Great!

    Do you see a way to reconcile the issue I've presented though?

    E.g. I don't think statements like "god created man" would be accepted as the truth if submitted to the scientific method.

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  20. Revising my initial argument:

    1. Intellectuals do not claim statements are the truth without submitting them to the scientific method.

    Especially when these statements are answers to important questions with huge impact.

    2. Statements often put forward as the truth by creationists like "god created man" do not stand up to the scientific method.

    3. People who put forward statements like "god created man" as the truth are therefor not intellectuals.

    I know you had some objections to #1 that it wasn't always true, but if you still feel that way we just need to constrain the statement a bit.

    Perhaps you have objections to #2, I'm not sure.

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  21. jeez, such a silly discussion. no one can prove or disprove creation. those who believe the bible are not necessarily anti anything. it also does not matter how the cosmos was created we are in it and of it we have no choice. we all will also die. those who believe the bible will die with the belief that they will see the creator and they are comforted by this. our lives are puny and short it is best to enjoy what we have and where we are. i have tried but i still cannot make something out of nothing.

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  22. This was a very good post,Ryan, although much of the ensuing colloquy has failed to capture my imagination, insofar as I am not an "intellectual" and do not aspire to be viewed as such.

    The eternity of matter has always struck me as an improbability, whether it was being propounded by Aristotle or one of his heirs. To me, it ranks on the same level as the Zen belief that "all is illusion; nothing that we see is real." But then, I have always found the Buddhist viewpoint to be vastly superior to that of the Western philosophers, because at least Buddha realized that there is something inadequate in our perception. Western philosophers are not that honest.

    I'm a Christian myself, and I don't know a single Christian who denies development and variation within species. It's the Darwinian fairy tale of "puddle to paradise" that we reject. In that, we are not alone: doctrinaire Darwinianism, like doctrinaire Marxism, has been largely discredited, and is something of an embarassment to its former enthusiasts.

    Cosmology is not my field. I agree with Anonymous that we're not likely to come to agreement on these things. But the most closed-minded and truly anti-intellectual people I've known have been the most intransigent evolutionists. They are utterly tyrannical in their insistence that theirs is the only respectable position.

    Thanks for a great blog!

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  23. Hello Alex Black.

    I too believe in the scientific method, but only because I am a Christian. The scientific method presupposed the uniformity of nature, i.e., it assumes the future will be like the past (with respect to the laws of nature, etc.).

    On what basis does an atheist justify the uniformity of nature? Or how do you account for the scientific method? If you seek to prove the soundness of the scientific method by using the scientific method, are you not reasoning in a circle? And if you seek to justify the scientific method by something else, then isn't that something else the thing to which you should actually appeal?

    In the Christian worldview, the uniformity of nature makes sense, since there is an omnipotent, omniscient God who upholds all the laws of the universe. But in an atheist worldview, all you have is the knowledge of some human beings acquired over a relatively short period of time. On what basis is the atheist justified in assuming the uniformity of nature?

    If the atheist has no justification for assuming the uniformity of nature, then applying the scientific method is irrational. But in the Christian worldview, applying the scientific method is rational, since there is a God who upholds the immutability and universality of the laws of the universe.

    So I do not fault you for wanting to apply the scientific method. What I'm saying is that your rejection of God does not comport with your acceptance of the scientific method, since the atheist cannot account for the uniformity of nature.

    -Paul

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  24. Ryan, I've thought a bit more about this:

    If someone who is searching for the truth about important questions accepts an answer which cannot be disproved, then they cannot reject that idea through disproof.

    This is the opposite of truth, this is opinion. Given a number of possible answers none of which can be proved or disproved there is no rational way to pick one, nor to abandon one.

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  25. Hollie: on what basis do you reject the puddle to paradise tale?

    I'm less interested in discussing whether or not its true, but more interested in discussion on what basis you consider something true or false.

    If you reject it because there is no evidence to support it, or because it contradicts evidence or the laws of physics, then bravo.

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  26. Alex, thanks for your comment.
    I agree with: If someone who is searching for the truth about important questions accepts an answer which cannot be disproved, then they cannot reject that idea through disproof.

    Regarding your next comment, I disagree. It is "true" when my 3 year old says, "daddy I love you". It is not her opinion, it is truth. The inability for her to "prove" her comment does not prevent her from saying something "true". I believe the question you are asking (partly) is, what is 'truth' and also per your comment to Hollie, "how can we know what constitutes a rational true belief?"

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  27. Hi Paul, I'll try to respond to some of what you said:

    "The scientific method presupposed the uniformity of nature, i.e., it assumes the future will be like the past (with respect to the laws of nature, etc.)."

    Can you back this up? I'm not sure it does.

    There is no requirement that the future will be like the past. Any knowledge gained through the scientific method would just be rejected as no longer true if the laws of nature changed.

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  28. Hi Ryan,

    Lets try this: A statement is true if it agrees with and/or can make predications about reality.

    Your daughter's statement "daddy I love you" is true if it agrees with reality. I agree there is no way to prove or disprove this, just like if I told you last night I dreamt of a sparrow, there is no way to prove or disprove that.

    I don't think this affects our discussion - we're not talking about whether or not people can say things that cannot be proved or disproved (like daddy I love you), we're talking about the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding of the world.

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  29. I hear you Alex. I really liked: A statement is true if it agrees with and/or can make predications about reality.

    regarding the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding of the world, that is what I invest much of my life into. Business is no cake walk, humility and open to learning and being wrong are a 'daily' happenings.

    Your touching on some very important points regarding what is knowledge and how do we form a belief. Also, what is true and how can we know this.

    It would be an incredibly lengthy response if i made a 'defense' for basic Christian wold-views and i would do a sloppy job; please consider: alvin plantinga's "warrant and proper function". I am able to debate his points, so if you did read it, it's the "top of the heap" for Christian world-views.

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  30. Alex, I reject it for many reasons, but since you asked for scientific ones, I'll be brief. Darwinian evolution contradicts the Law of Entropy: things tend to "wind down," not "evolve" upward; that is a law of thermodynamics, unless I'm very much mistaken. I also reject it on the basis of a lack of fossil evidence, an absence of transitional forms, the absolute absurdity of abiogenesis, and many other factors. That's the brief answer!

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  31. Hollie, I didn't ask for scientific ones, I asked:

    "on what basis do you reject ..."

    Are you implying there are other reasons for rejecting something as the true?

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  32. Ryan, I'd love to have that conversation sometime :)

    I'm still pretty confident this is a simple discussion.

    I'm putting forward the premise that if someone in their search for knowledge, understanding and truth about the world accepts something for which they have no proof, or accepts something which cannot be proofed, then they are not behaving logically or rationally, and they prevent themselves from discovering the truth.

    E.g. If I see something fly across the sky at night, you tell me its a UFO, and I say I believe you without any evidence I now have a problem.

    1. I have now accepted as truth something I have no proof about
    2. I am not likely to persue the truth since I already have the answer.

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  33. Alex, I apologize for getting your question completely backwards! This is not the first time I've done this!

    The scientific evidences are important, but they are not the ultimate deciding factor in my assessment of Darwin or anything else. I am a Christian who actually believes the Bible, and I consider the first three chapters of Genesis to be literally true. I believe that God created the universe, the earth, and life at specific moments in space-time history. I do not believe that our universe is a closed system; I believe it to be an open system. Even before I became a Christian, however, I rejected the idea of man being the random result of chance plus time. That was just a bit too much to swallow.

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  34. Hi Hollie,

    Let me ask the question more broadly: when you decide to believe something is true (e.g. the first three chapters of genesis), HOW do you decide this?

    My proposal is that the only way to establish something as "the truth" is to submit it to the scientific method (a fancy way of saying you need evidence, no counter-evidence, etc).

    Do you agree? Or do you use or propose an alternate method for determining whether or not something is true?

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  35. Alex, How did you fall in love? What role did the scientific method play in your analysis to fall in love?

    Again, nothing wrong with the scientific method, just looking at the aspect of your comment that said, "the only" way...

    We can use the sm to verify truth...but does not have to be the only legit means by which we embrace "the truth".

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  36. Heh, you're great at poking holes in my logic Ryan. :)

    Let me fire a shot back: are you saying that deciding whether or not the first three chapters of Genesis are true or not is similar to falling in love?

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  37. no. my comment was simply directed to your point. It is another matter to discus you latest comment.

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  38. Hello again, Alex Black.

    I wrote: “The scientific method presupposes the uniformity of nature, i.e., it assumes the future will be like the past (with respect to the laws of nature, etc.).”

    You wrote: “Can you back this up? I'm not sure it does.”

    I’m not sure you totally understand the philosophical implications of what you’re saying.

    If the laws of nature change, i.e., nature is not uniform, then no knowledge whatsoever is attainable through the scientific method. Any “knowledge” can’t be true one day and then false the next day. Theories can change. Human consensus can change. But knowledge isn’t knowledge if it’s true at one point in time and then false at another point in time.

    You wrote: “Any knowledge gained through the scientific method would just be rejected as no longer true if the laws of nature changed.”

    Two points in response to this.

    First, evolution assumes that the laws of nature are uniform. I believe that the laws of nature are uniform and yet I reject evolution. You accept the possibility in your comment just above that it’s possible for the laws of nature to change. If the laws of nature can change, then there’s no possible way to prove evolution. At what speed did the formation of the earth occur if the laws of nature can change?

    Second, your comment itself assumes the uniformity of nature. If the laws of nature as they pertain to perception, brain function, logic (and so on) can change, then you have to leave open the possibility that the scientific method isn’t reliable – that this method itself can change.

    But I must put back to you, Alex, the question I asked you before which is important and you skipped it: How do prove the scientific method? If you seek to prove the scientific method by using the scientific method, are you not reasoning in a circle? And if you seek to prove the scientific method by something else, then isn't that something else the thing to which you should actually appeal?

    - Paul

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  39. Hi Paul,

    I'm happy to respond to your points, if after this message you still think it would be valuable I'll respond directly (e.g. to your circular reasoning question)

    For a statement about reality to be "true" it has to agree with reality.

    By definition, if you want to know if something is true you have to test it against reality. This process is called the scientific method.

    You asked "how does one prove the scientific method". Maybe you mean "how does one prove the scientific method *works*"?

    It works by definition.

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  40. Hi again Paul,

    We were also discussing laws of nature changing.

    You missed my point I think. I agree that if at some point (say 2020) the laws of nature changed, then our existing knowledge would be invalidated. New knowledge could then be attained.

    You also asked how does an aetheist justify the uniformity of nature (or constancy of the laws of nature). I'd respond: by using the evidence of our senses. I see lots of evidence that the laws of nature are constant, I see no evidence they are in flux.

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  41. I have a question for you Paul, and other theists:

    Given that aetheists justify their knowledge of reality by testing statements against reality, and by searching for evidence for and against, how then do theists justify their knowledge of reality?

    Some possibilities I can imagine:

    1. The same way. I think this is Ryan's response.

    2. Faith. I take this to mean something like a guess, or an opinion, or a feeling, or trust in someone else (who also uses faith).

    If its #1, then given we share the same approach, you'd hope we'd arrive at the same conclusions, so we should check our premises and compare notes.

    If its #2, then great, but I don't see how you can call that searching for the truth, or being rational/logical.

    The biggest issue I have with #2 is if you are faced with multiple possibilities being true, how do you choose which one you accept? E.g. should I accept the Christian deity, or the Hindu deity?

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  42. Back to Ryan's original question:

    If you are in the camp #2, then you have abandoned logic/reason. "Anti-intellectual" would be a reasonable way of describing this.

    If you are in the camp #1, then you have some big questions to answer :)

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  43. You can prove your daughter loves you by using science to examine brain activity and chemistry.

    Biological attraction is observable, logical, and understandable unlike faith. It's not an accurate comparison.

    Taking genesis and the timelines of the bible verbatim is also flawed as we can observe billions of years into the past in space to understand the formation (not creation) of the universe thanks to scientific advancement.

    I'm happy to accept that the universe always was. Beginning and ends are creations of human perception based on our own experiences as we experience life and death. Some things are infinite, and the absence of observing the creation or destruction of matter supports this.

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  44. Did u read my point? I agree smart dudes have access to know....your point fails in that I am saying my 3yr old is justified in knowing.

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  45. She is justified because her beliefs about love are rooted in scientific fact, whether she's aware of it or can explain it or not.

    I don't need to stick my hand in boiling water to know that's it hot, there's enough proof out there to support that observation without me burning my own hand to recreate a proven fact.

    Again, we're left with theism being unprovable and going against a logical method for believing in the existence of scientific proof.

    Would you make a major business decision based on prayer alone without analytical support or proof of concept? I'm assuming that you don't operate your business with faith but rather with logic and reason.

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  46. Respectfully disagree...if no scientist pointed "reality" out to her, she would still be justified due to her ability to know.

    Re: your other comments, i agree reason is key, but also disagree its irrational to be a theist.

    Good comments.

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