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Re: [OriginsTalk] Catholicism & Science

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  • Clare Wilson Parr
    ... Aside from the fact that the history you refer to is largely revisionist propaganda, and aside from the fact that faith and science were most
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 31 2:05 PM
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      On 7/30/2007, Phil Schuster wrote:

      >Phil S:
      >I'll give catholicism credit for having learned a lesson from history.
      >I think Catholics have learned to let science work independently of
      >religious beliefs. That way they don't get into conflicts with
      >scientific facts & theories that will make them look bad. They keep God
      >beyond the pale of science so that they can still adhere to their
      >beliefs in the creation of the universe (while accepting the "Big
      >Bang") the infusion of the immortal soul at conception (without
      >contesting the known facts about embryology)New Testament miracles
      >(which cannot be tested by the methods of science or historical
      >analysis) and theistic evolution (without denying the obvious role that
      >natural mechanisms play in the process). I think they are smart enough
      >to refrain from misusing science to validate their beliefs. Mixing the
      >realms of science & faith is a recipe for disaster.

      Aside from the fact that the "history" you refer to is
      largely revisionist propaganda, and aside from the fact
      that "faith" and "science" were most certainly not
      "non-overlapping magisteria" until the late 1800s, and
      aside from the fact that Trends in Biochemical Sciences
      published another of Barbara Forrest's and Paul Gross's
      temper tantrums that warns

      "Unsettling signals are coming even from the Vatican, where
      Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn's July 2005 public statement
      of support for ID, released by the public relations firm of
      the Discovery Institute, was followed by ambiguous comments
      from Pope Benedict [81]. Statements from the pope released
      in April 2007 have not dispelled concerns about this
      ambiguity [82,83]."

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TCV-4NYSH6W-1&_user=10&_coverDate=07%2F31%2F2007&_rdoc=4&_fmt=summary&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%235180%232007%23999679992%23662354%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=5180&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_ct=8&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=1ba1cc8dccf38c7cb946f9caa19b87bf

      your observations are right on the money....
    • Alan-
      ... validate their beliefs. Mixing the realms of science & faith is a recipe for disaster. __The real disaster comes when scientists allow themselves this
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 1, 2007
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        >>I think they are smart enough to refrain from misusing science to
        validate their beliefs. Mixing the realms of science & faith is a recipe
        for disaster.

        __The real disaster comes when scientists allow themselves this
        completely arbitrary "dividing line" to deceive them.

        Materialists certainly do not mind mixing their religious and science
        beliefs. In fact, they presume to claim the mantle of science to tell
        people of Biblical faith that they're wrong, when in the real world, the
        one we all live in together, it.is.the.very.same.world.for.all.of.us.

        If you have "scientific evidence" that God, or a Biblical God, or facts
        of such a nature, had nothing to do with anything real, then let's see
        it! Let's have a scientific discussion about it! Or if someone claims
        that there is, then waving your hands and blaming the messenger and
        saying he's dangerous just shows the abysmal weakness of any scientific
        argument.

        --Alan
      • Phil Schuster
        Phil S: I think they are smart enough to refrain from misusing science to validate their beliefs. Mixing the realms of science & faith is a recipe for
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 2, 2007
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          Phil S:
          I think they are smart enough to refrain from misusing science to
          validate their beliefs. Mixing the realms of science & faith is a
          recipe
          for disaster.



          Alan:
          __The real disaster comes when scientists allow themselves this
          completely arbitrary "dividing line" to deceive them.


          Phil S:
          The dividing line is *not* arbitrary. If you can form a testable
          hypothesis that has predictive value, and if it lends itself to
          fslsification, then it is within the scope of science. If not, it is
          a matter faith ir belief.


          Alan:
          Materialists certainly do not mind mixing their religious and science
          beliefs. In fact, they presume to claim the mantle of science to tell
          people of Biblical faith that they're wrong, when in the real world,
          the
          one we all live in together, it.is.the.very.same.world.for.all.of.us.



          Phil S:
          I'm not a materialist, and one does not have to be one in order to
          accept the theory of evolution by natural selection. The only time I
          will speak against a religious belief in the context of the
          creation/evolution debate is when it contradicts the evidence derived
          from the scientific method. The earth is 4 1/2 billion years old,
          fish in the sea preceded seed plants on land, the progenitors to
          human beings were Australopithecines (not mud or clay), Eve was not
          fashioned out of Adams rib, and any divine guidance or assistance
          which may have contributed to biological evolution is beyond the pale
          of science to determine or detect one way or another.


          Alan:
          If you have "scientific evidence" that God, or a Biblical God, or
          facts
          of such a nature, had nothing to do with anything real, then let's see
          it! Let's have a scientific discussion about it! Or if someone claims
          that there is, then waving your hands and blaming the messenger and
          saying he's dangerous just shows the abysmal weakness of any
          scientific
          argument


          Phil S:
          I will never claim to have scientific evidence of facts of such
          nature. They are beyond the scope of science, and that is why I
          believe the two realms of science & religion can never be
          successfully mixed.
        • Phil Schuster
          ... history. ... keep God ... that ... enough ... the ... Phil S: I think it s awesome that we actually agree on one small point. It is too bad that science
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 2, 2007
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            > >Phil S:
            > >I'll give catholicism credit for having learned a lesson from
            history.
            > >I think Catholics have learned to let science work independently of
            > >religious beliefs. That way they don't get into conflicts with
            > >scientific facts & theories that will make them look bad. They
            keep God
            > >beyond the pale of science so that they can still adhere to their
            > >beliefs in the creation of the universe (while accepting the "Big
            > >Bang") the infusion of the immortal soul at conception (without
            > >contesting the known facts about embryology)New Testament miracles
            > >(which cannot be tested by the methods of science or historical
            > >analysis) and theistic evolution (without denying the obvious role
            that
            > >natural mechanisms play in the process). I think they are smart
            enough
            > >to refrain from misusing science to validate their beliefs. Mixing
            the
            > >realms of science & faith is a recipe for disaster.



            Clare W Parr:
            > Aside from the fact that the "history" you refer to is
            > largely revisionist propaganda, and aside from the fact
            > that "faith" and "science" were most certainly not
            > "non-overlapping magisteria" until the late 1800s...
            >
            > your observations are right on the money....



            Phil S:
            I think it's awesome that we actually agree on one small point. It is
            too bad that science had finally gotten to a point of sophistication
            by the late 1800s that it could no longer reconcile itself with every
            religious dogma at large. Darwin sure messed up the cozy little
            understanding that scientists & the clergy had with eachother. It's
            about time for religion to mature to the point where it can adapt to
            new findings in science instead of deny them the way anti-
            evolutionists (and anti"Darwinists") are doing today.
          • Kamran
            Phil S: Mixing the realms of science & faith is a recipe for disaster. Kamran: I have to disagree with this. Science keeps expanding the sphere of knowledge
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 4, 2007
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              Phil S:
              Mixing the realms of science & faith is a recipe for disaster.





              Kamran: I have to disagree with this. Science keeps expanding the sphere of
              knowledge and facts about our existence and, want it or not, our existence
              is latched or linked with the creator in a systemic and seamless way. From
              one perspective, our existence is an expression of thought by the Creator,
              with human beings being given a certain degree of autonomy to think for
              themselves. So science is in fact expanding our knowledge about our Creator
              and a threshold is reached beyond which science removes any doubt about the
              existence of the Creator and would act as a dominant and indispensible guide
              for our continued discovery and interaction with our Creator.



              One of the important stepping stones in our better recognition of the
              existence and acts of our Creator is for humans to integrate scientific
              knowledge, instead of one knowing a lot about physics and little or nothing
              about biology and vise versa. If we could somehow integrate all human
              knowledge today into a single mind, you'd see better why science is indeed
              an important messenger of the divine. This single mind is indeed forming
              via the internet and we are witnessing the first stages of humankind's
              integration into a single, unimaginably powerful, mind. I am also not saying
              that all social strata are ready for science as a tool with which to peek
              into the divine, but this recognition should give us the vision that
              economic prosperity and advance education for all mankind is a must and
              should be on the political agenda of all advanced industrial countries who
              have so far organized the world, through their policies and actions, in a
              misguided fashion, giving rise to mass poverty , ignorance and terrorism.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Phil Schuster
              Phil: I ll give catholicism credit for having learned a lesson from history. I think Catholics have learned to let science work independently of religious
              Message 6 of 8 , Aug 5, 2007
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                Phil: "I'll give catholicism credit for having learned a lesson
                from history. I think Catholics have learned to let science work
                independently of religious beliefs."


                James Goff:
                No doubt true, but the point is quite irrelevant to the evo/ID
                debate. I've read numerous essays and some two dozen books by design
                theorists/proponents, and their writings make it plain that not one
                of them
                thinks that science should appeal to religious beliefs. ID theory,
                like any
                other scientific theory, appeals only to empirical evidence and
                logical
                inference.


                Phil S:
                That's the problem. ID is said to be a scientific theory and I've
                never heard of anyone doing experiemnts or observing evidence for it.
                All I hear is talk about complex specified information. When I read
                the fine print it is all predicated on the premise that unguided
                natural mechanisms couldn't have resulted in the designs we see
                today. Terms like "specified info" & "unguided mechanisms" are so
                vague that they mean next to nothing to me. How could you even
                calculate the odds against natural selection coming up with
                irreducibly complex specified information unless you knew how many
                other different ways organic systems could have been arranged. It's
                like calculating the odds against someone getting a "winning poker
                hand" after playing an indefinite number of games. I want to see more
                *empirical evidence*, not just logical inference (which is more about
                how natural selection *can't* account for design, rather than how ID
                *can*).


                James Goff
                As biochemist/design theorist Michael Behe wrote (in "The Edge
                of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism"): "...I am
                keenly
                aware that in the past few years many people in the country have come
                to
                regard the phrase 'intelligent design' as fighting words, because to
                them,
                the word 'design' is synonymous with 'creationism,' and thus opens
                the door
                to treating the Bible as some sort of scientific textbook (which
                would be
                silly). That is an unfortunate misimpression. The idea of intelligent
                design, although congenial to some religious views of the universe, is
                independent of them. For example, the possibility of intelligent
                design is
                quite compatible with common descent, which some religious people
                disdain.
                What's more, although some religious thinkers envision active,
                continuing
                interference in nature, intelligent design is quite compatible with
                the
                view that the universe operates by unbroken natural law, with the
                design of
                life perhaps packed into its initial set-up.


                Phil S:
                I am quite aware that ID can be embraced by agnostics and deists. I
                also realize that it is compatable with common descent. I only object
                to it being "wedged" into natural science under the pretense that it
                is supported by some kind of empirical evidence. I object to school
                boards either requiring it to be taught along side of accepted
                neodarwinian mechanisms mechanisms for evolution or even allowing it
                to be taught as an alternative explanation without a shred of
                evidence for this "inference". I am also quite aware that this notion
                of design is being used by creationists of all kinds as an umbrella
                under which they can all fit in their attempt to discredit darwinian
                mechanisms without having to defend creationism. Design, as it is
                being used here, is a form of microcreation at the molecular level so
                I consider it to be just another variant of creationism that happens
                to be more evo-friendly in its vagueness than the others. I think
                it's fair for me to bring up these political issues associated with
                design theory, especially in light of the straw man depictions ID
                advocates constantly make about modern evolutionary theory when they
                refer to it as a materialistic "Darwinist" dogma with alleged social
                & moral implications. Yet you want to deny that ID is being used to
                slip theistic implications into legitimate science?
              • James G. Goff
                CATHOLICISM & SCIENCE Phil: ID is said to be a scientific theory and I ve never heard of anyone doing experiemnts or observing evidence for it. All I hear is
                Message 7 of 8 , Aug 6, 2007
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                  CATHOLICISM & SCIENCE

                  Phil: "ID is said to be a scientific theory and I've never heard of
                  anyone doing experiemnts or observing evidence for it. All I hear is talk
                  about complex specified information."

                  Perhaps if you were to actually read some of the works of ID
                  theorists you'd understand why complex specified information (a kind of
                  specified complexity) constitutes evidence of actual (or intelligent)
                  design (which is not to say that you'd find such evidence persuasive, but
                  at least you could stop falsely describing it as "no evidence"). Perhaps
                  you'd also learn about some of the experiments conducted under the rubric
                  of intelligent design - such as microbiologist/design theorist Scott
                  Minnich's knockout experiments demonstrating the irreducible complexity of
                  the bacterial flagellum (irreducible complexity being a core concept of ID
                  theory).

                  By the way, what experiments have Darwinists done, or what
                  observations have they made, that confirm their macroevolutionary claims,
                  such as the claim that random mutations and natural selection caused fish
                  to evolve into men?

                  Phil: "When I read the fine print it is all predicated on the
                  premise that unguided natural mechanisms couldn't have resulted in the
                  designs we see today. Terms like 'specified info' & 'unguided mechanisms'
                  are so vague that they mean next to nothing to me."

                  Perhaps if you were to actually read some of the works of ID
                  theorists such terms wouldn't be so vague to you. Perhaps you'd also
                  understand that the case for ID does not rest on simply showing that
                  unintelligent material causes (or "unguided natural mechanisms," such as
                  random mutations and natural selection) cannot produce specified
                  complexity. It also rests on the demonstrable ability of intelligence to
                  produce specified complexity.

                  Phil: "How could you even calculate the odds against natural
                  selection coming up with
                  irreducibly complex specified information unless you knew how many other
                  different ways organic systems could have been arranged. It's like
                  calculating the odds against someone getting a 'winning poker hand' after
                  playing an indefinite number of games."

                  Perhaps if you were to actually read some of the works of ID
                  theorists you'd learn how ID theorists calculate probabilities and why
                  probability militates against the sufficiency of unguided natural
                  mechanisms to form biological systems that exhibit specified complexity.

                  [Note: Just as one doesn't need to know how many games have been
                  played to calculate the probability that a particular "winning poker hand"
                  might have been randomly dealt, one doesn't need to know "how many other
                  different ways organic systems could have been arranged" to calculate the
                  probability that unguided natural mechanisms could "deal" a "winning"
                  biological system. The number of games played, or the number of possible
                  biological events, will determine the probabilistic resources that chance
                  could bring to bear to deal a particular winning hand, or to "deal" a
                  winning biological system, but probabilities are calculated independently
                  of the available probabilistic resources. Nonetheless, before chance can be
                  eliminated as a credible explanation for a particular event - such as the
                  chance emergence of a complex biological system - both probability and
                  probabilistic resources must be taken into account. That's where design
                  theorist William Dembski's universal probability bound comes into play. By
                  treating the entire universe as a giant "calculator," and by treating each
                  event occurring in the universe as a "calculation," Dembski's UPB offers
                  chance 10^150 opportunities to succeed in randomly "calculating" (or
                  producing) a specified event (such as the chance origin of a biologically
                  useful DNA molecule). It is the most generous UPB yet calculated (French
                  mathematician Emile Borel, for example, set the UPB at one in 10^50).
                  Dembski arrived at his UPB by multiplying the estimated number of
                  elementary particles in the universe (10^80) by their maxiumum rate of
                  interaction (10^45 interactions per second, a frequency corresponding to
                  Planck time, which is the smallest meaningful unit of time) by the age of
                  the universe (estimated at some 10^18 seconds, which Dembski increased to
                  10^25 to generously allow for any underestimates). This calculation (10^80
                  x 10^45 x 10^25) yields 10^150, which represents the limit on the total
                  number of events that could have occurred throughout cosmic history (most
                  events, it should be noted, occur well above the level of elementary
                  particles, meaning that the actual number of events has been much less than
                  10^150). Dembski quite reasonably concludes that "any specified event with
                  a probability of less than 1 in 10^150 will remain improbable even after
                  all conceivable probabilistic resources from the observable universe have
                  been factored in." Consider, for example, a relatively short genetic "text"
                  (or DNA molecule) comprised of a specified sequence of 500 nucleotides (to
                  simplify the illustration, we'll consider the 4 types of nucleotides
                  individually rather than in pairs). Since the number of possible
                  permutations in such a sequence equals 4^500 (or roughly 10^301), the
                  probability that the specified sequence could have been "written" by chance
                  (either in one fell swoop or in an incremental way) is many trillions of
                  orders of magnitude LESS than 1 in 10^150. Thus, probability and the
                  probablistic resources available in the known universe militate against
                  unguided natural mechanisms (or chance) being the explanation for the
                  origin of that short genetic "text." Why, then, should we think that
                  unguided natural mechanisms likely produced the much longer genetic
                  programs of higher organisms, such programs consisting of millions of bits
                  of encoded information that controls, specifies and orders the growth and
                  development of trillions of cells into complex organisms?]

                  Phil: "I am quite aware that ID can be embraced by agnostics and
                  deists. I also realize that it is compatable with common descent. I only
                  object to it being 'wedged' into natural science under the pretense that it
                  is supported by some kind of empirical evidence."

                  Given that design inferences ARE "supported by some kind of
                  empirical evidence" (what are analyses of the structure and functioning of
                  biological systems if not empirical?), your objection is baseless.

                  Phil: "I object to school boards either requiring it to be taught
                  along side of accepted
                  neodarwinian mechanisms mechanisms for evolution or even allowing it to be
                  taught as an alternative explanation without a shred of evidence for this
                  'inference'."

                  It's pertinent to note that the Discovery Institute (the
                  institutional home of the ID "movement") also objects to school boards
                  requiring that ID be taught. The institute supports academic freedom,
                  meaning that it wants biology teachers to be free to teach ID concepts if
                  they so choose, but the institute does NOT advocate the mandatory inclusion
                  of ID in science curricula.

                  It should also be noted that when you refer to "accepted
                  neodarwinian mechanisms for evolution," the only evolution such mechanisms
                  have ever been shown to be capable of producing is microevolution, or minor
                  adaptive changes (such as adaptive changes in the beaks of finches). Those
                  mechanisms have never been shown to be capable of producing macroevolution,
                  or major creative changes (such as the emergence of finches in life's
                  history). The ability of Darwinian mechanisms to produce the latter is what
                  the evo/ID debate is all about.

                  Additionally, the claim that there is not "a shred of evidence" for
                  design inferences in biology is quite false, as you could learn if you were
                  to ever actually read any of the works of design theorists.

                  Phil: "...you want to deny that ID is being used to slip theistic
                  implications into legitimate science?"

                  Of course I do. Any sensible person knows that the theistic
                  implications of a scientific theory are not a part of the actual science.
                  In their writings, design theorists repeatedly emphasize that ID theory and
                  its theistic implications are two different things. ID doesn't become
                  unscientific simply because it's congenial to theistic beliefs. Neither is
                  Darwinism unscientific simply because it's congenial to atheism.
                  Nonetheless, there's no denying that theists try to obtain theistic mileage
                  from ID theory, just as there's no denying that atheists try to obtain
                  atheistic mileage from Darwinism (witness Darwinist Richard Dawkins' recent
                  book, "The God Delusion"). If your concern is to keep science free from
                  religious or philosophical influences, you should be outraged that
                  Darwinists have smuggled atheistic materialism into evolutionary science,
                  thereby making Darwinism the handmaiden of atheism. Your silence in that
                  regard makes it abundantly clear that you don't object to science being
                  wedded to religious or philosophical beliefs so long as those beliefs are
                  yours.

                  Jim in Vermont
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