Terry Benton's survey questions
- I intimated there was a chance I'd drop in - for a moment (in looking through the posts I could take more time but I'm not going to) - but sometimes I like answering survey questions. (Then it's back to World of Warcraft, some coffee first.)
1. Is nature all there is?
Who knows? Of course, just as with Bigfoot, there isn't any good evidence of ghosts, angels, mystical forces, spirit worlds, and the like. So I'm placing my bets on what we have real evidence of, and not on ideas made up on the basis of things for which no good evidence exists. (Of course, from a different perspective one could certainly say that the real world forces, entities, and processes we've learned about, such as the force of gravity, nuclear forces, subatomic particles, neutron stars, radioactive decay, nuclear fusion, and chocolate ice cream, are pretty "mystical" in their own way. In which case, I'd have to say that I accept those "supernatural" entities, forces, and processes that we have good real world evidence of. Indeed, this is the proper perspective, especially in the case of the chocolate ice cream.)
In other words, what we know about what there is is based on what we have good evidence for. Outside of that we have proper speculation (hypotheses) premised on what we've already learned about, of course, is subject to future TESTING against the EVIDENCE. And if we don't yet know it, then we don't yet know it (it remains an area about which we remain ignorant; slapping another label on ignorance, such as the label "God" doesn't change the fact that we're ignorant about it).
The Nature of Science and the Scientific Method
by Christine V. McLelland
(Geological Society of America [GSA], 2006)
The Nature of Science and Scientific Investigation
Physics Nobel Laureate Russell Hulse discusses the nature of science, and his astrophysics work discovering a binary pulsar system and using the observational data to test Einstein's theory of general relativity (and corroborating it).
[note that the filmmaker did a poor job in regard to filming Hulse's presentation display - he showed a few but skipped most of them and instead just showed faces of people in the audience]
2. Did nature create matter naturally?
I'm going to translate that question into this: "Was the universe created as the result of natural processes?"
Who knows? Good question. Certainly needs a LOT more scientific research. I'm also sure it won't be answered in my lifetime.
3. Did nature create the universe or did God do it?
This one's actually the same as (2), so my answer is the same, but I'll add the point here that there are certainly more ideas about all kinds of different gods than Terry's (just as, incidentally, there are all kinds of different ideas concerning nature, worked on in theoretical physics, in regard to what might have produced our observable universe, either in the "Big Bang" concept sort of way or some other sort of way; note that when I wrote about Halton Arp I mentioned ideas based on the concept of a "steady state" universe). So, again, my answer is: Who knows? Good question. Certainly needs a LOT more scientific research. I'm also sure it won't be answered in my lifetime.
Richard P. Feynman on Doubt and Uncertainty
I will also add that I place my bets on hypotheses that are *based* on what we already know about the real world by what we have good evidence of, and not on ideas that people have made up on purposely irrational, subjective bases (religious faith) and for which no good evidence exists besides (I also mention evidential considerations because it's always possible to stumble into evidence for something even though you didn't come up with the idea for it rationally in the first place).
4. Did nature work so as to create life without God?
Who knows. Not sure yet (the evidence is far from conclusive), but the existing evidence is consistent with that idea - i.e., as we go farther back in time (in the geological/paleontological record) to early Cambrian and then Precambrian (Proterozoic and Archaean Eons) living organism were simpler. No multicellular land organisms, then simpler multicellular marine organisms, then no multicellular organisms (only unicellular organisms, including eukaryotes), then only prokaryotes. (But note that some genetic evidence is interpreted to indicate that eukaryotes were around substantially longer than what we currently have fossil evidence for.) Which is exactly the kind of scenario we expect for development by natural processes. This is without even getting into the details and complexities of abiogenesis research (chemistry and biochemistry). (I'll also mention, since young earth creationists love misrepresentation, that the abiogenesis hypotheses of modern scientific research have nothing to do with 19th century ideas about "spontaneous generation", which is why we criticize young earth creationists for using their straw man, by which they're only demonstrating their complete ignorance of the subject of abiogenesis in science today.)
5. Is an all-natural approach the correct way to learn about the origin of the universe and man?
It is if it passes the process of TESTING the ideas against the EVIDENCE. And since all the made up ideas about ghosts, and angels, and demons, and spirit worlds, and mystical forces (with my caveat to the term "mystical forces" stated above) have FAILED the tests so far, we have to go with natural processes since right now that's all we have good evidence for since that's all that has passed the evidential testing so far. We move from the known to the unknown, not the other way around. We evaluate our ideas about the unknown (hypothesis) on the basis of the known (TESTING against the EVIDENCE). In other words, we measure our ideas about what we don't yet know by what we already do know (and if we need to know more - i.e., don't yet have the evidence by which to evaluate the ideas - then we dig up the evidence; this is the process of science; do the necessary research work, in the lab or in the field, to acquire relevant real world evidence by which to test the hypotheses). We change our ideas to fit the evidence. We don't just throw away and ignore the evidence when it doesn't fit our ideas - i.e., we don't just make things up about the unknown (assumptions) and then ignore and deny evidence that doesn't fit the assumption (that would be circular reasoning). This is a fundamental epistemological principle.
Thus, the scientific approach of TESTING ideas against the EVIDENCE is the correct way to learn about the origin of the universe (if it can be learned). There is the possible exception that technologically advanced aliens who've figured it out or a god who knows could just come and tell us, but the whole point is that we don't have technologically advanced aliens or a god telling us anything at all - what we have instead are a bunch of humans all over the planet with religious holy books written by other humans pretending to speak for god, because apparently all these gods are too incompetent to actually speak to us themselves. (Rather, apparently an awful lot of humans enjoy pretending that their very human and false made-up nonsense is from a god, which they use as a tactic to grant themselves false credibility in the eyes of the gullible - you know, like all those people who show up at Benny Hinn faith healing sessions and the people who give the man tens of millions of dollars every year; and the people who seriously think the pope speaks for God; and the people who think Joseph Smith dug up some golden plates with strange writing on them and talked with an angel occasionally; and the people who think the universe didn't exist more than about 6,000 years ago just because the Bible says so - GAWD said it, so it has to be true, crazy circular argument ridiculousness, incredible how grown men and women fall for such obvious irrationality. Indeed, what makes the situation even more ludicrous is how these people all disagree with each other about whose god is right, they're all pointing fingers at each other saying that the other guy is the one making up stuff - but they're all FOLLOWING THE SAME PATH OF GULLIBILITY [i.e., "sheepthink"] and epistemological fallacy).
In regard to humans we already have clear fossil evidence and genetic evidence of the evolutionary ancestry of humans. The genetic evidence of the close evolutionary relationship with chimpanzees is today especially detailed, such as with the matching endogenous retrovirus segments and the human chromosome number 2 which still possess the remnants of a chromosomal fusion event after the evolutionary split of the hominins from the rest of the primates.
Creationist Claims about ERVs as discussed by S. A. Smith:
Genomic proof of human's common ancestry with chimpanzees
by Dr. Kenneth Miller (video)
Origin of human chromosome 2: an ancestral telomere-telomere fusion
by J. W. IJdo, A. Baldini, D. C. Ward, S. T. Reeders, and R. A. Wells
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS], 10/15/1991)
Generation and annotation of the DNA sequences of human chromosomes 2 and 4
by LaDeanna W. Hillier, et al
(Nature, 4/7/2005 issue)
Evidence for Evolution, Part III [Endogenous Retroviruses]
by cdk007 (5/4/2008)
A layman's guide to Endogenous Retroviruses
ERVs Do Not Exist
by S. A. Smith (8/18/2007)
ERVs = Bible Code
by S. A. Smith (12/16/2007)
Retroviral Insertion is not Random. Common Descent is an Illusion.
by S. A. Smith (7/1/2007)
You cant use ERVs to support common descent. Not every organism has them.
by S. A. Smith (7/17/2007)
Creationists Predicted ERV Functionality
by S. A. Smith (7/2/2007)
Incidentally, just from Smith's treatments of various creationist claims in regard to that that one particular topic, we observe the point I made several weeks ago regarding the nature of creationist rhetoric: It's incoherent - creationists attack scientific results using arguments that *contradict* each other. Again, the point is that creationists don't really care so much about *what* they're saying, in regarding to getting the facts straight or even being logically consistent - what matters to them is ONLY that they say what they feel like they need to say, "sciency" things to pretend their religious belief is scientific, to promote their religious belief. It's that "lying for Jesus" principle that pervades creationist culture, which cuts across the spectrum from young earth creationists, to intelligent design creationists who are not young earth creationists.
Also, again, I'm not posting these references for Terry Benton - who has kindly assisted me by backing up my point about the dishonesty of creationists by personal example in following the time-honored blatantly dishonest young earth creationist tradition of deliberately deleting, ignoring, and denying the existence of scientific information that contradicts him - but for everyone else who may find the information useful.
- Todd Greene
--- In Maury_and_Baty, Terry Benton wrote (post #21971):
> Thanks! Do you want to challenge that Robert? Do you actually think that naturalistically interpreted evidence should prevail over the supernatural testimony? Bet you won't answer that either. I also noticed how you did not post your answers to my five questions. Here they are again for easy reference. Try to answer this time:
>> 1) Is nature all there is?
>> 2) Did nature create matter naturally?
>> 3) Did nature create the universe or did God do it?
>> 4) Did nature work so as to create life without God?
>> 5) Is an all-natural approach the correct way to learn
>> about the origin of the universe and man?
>> Simple yes or no answers would do just fine.
> Terry W. Benton
> --- In Maury_and_Baty, Robert Baty wrote:
>> For ready reference:
>> From: Terry W. Benton
>> Website: http://www.pinelanechurchofchrist.com
>> To: Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com
>> Date: Saturday, January 1, 2011
>> Subject: Re: evidence...
>> "Any naturalistically and fallibly interpreted
>> evidence in conflict with my understanding of
>> God's word must automatically be invalid by
>> the very naturalistic premise of it since God
>> said what actually happened by supernatural
>> power and the naturalistic interpretation just
>> cannot be true too".
>> Terry W. Benton
- Well, obviously I neglected to mention people such as schizophrenics who hear voices in their head (i.e., their own disassociated thoughts) and attribute their own (human) thoughts to God. (Of course, we "pardon" the mentally incompetent for spouting nonsense because, well, they're mentally incompetent, due to physical problems with the biological processes in their brains.)
As Robert Baty just posted, quoting some other religious believer pushing nonsense,
| (T)here have been several situations
| in my own life where God has spoken
| to me directly, not audibly so others
| could hear but so I could hear.
As I said, some people love to make crap up, and some people love to pretend the crap they've made up is from a god. This has only been going on for many thousands of years already.
- Todd Greene
--- In Maury_and_Baty, Todd Greene wrote (post #21989):
> There is the possible exception that technologically|[snip]
> advanced aliens who've figured it out or a god who knows
> could just come and tell us, but the whole point is that
> we don't have technologically advanced aliens or a god
> telling us anything at all - what we have instead are a
> bunch of humans all over the planet with religious holy
> books written by other humans pretending to speak for
> god, because apparently all these gods are too incompetent
> to actually speak to us themselves. (Rather, apparently an
> awful lot of humans enjoy pretending that their very human
> and false made-up nonsense is from a god, which they use
> as a tactic to grant themselves false credibility in the
> eyes of the gullible - you know, like all those people who
> show up at Benny Hinn faith healing sessions and the
> people who give the man tens of millions of dollars every
> year; and the people who seriously think the pope speaks
> for God; and the people who think Joseph Smith dug up some
> golden plates with strange writing on them and talked with
> an angel occasionally; and the people who think the
> universe didn't exist more than about 6,000 years ago just
> because the Bible says so - GAWD said it, so it has to be
> true, crazy circular argument ridiculousness, incredible
> how grown men and women fall for such obvious
> irrationality. Indeed, what makes the situation even more
> ludicrous is how these people all disagree with each other
> about whose god is right, they're all pointing fingers at
> each other saying that the other guy is the one making up
> stuff - but they're all FOLLOWING THE SAME PATH OF
> GULLIBILITY [i.e., "sheepthink"] and epistemological