Creationism

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Re: Creationism

Postby Immortal Reborn » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:11 pm UTC

Sorry, just read it.

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Re: Creationism

Postby TheStranger » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:59 am UTC

Oddly I am opposed to creationism on both religious and scientific grounds.

Scientifically, there is just to much evidence... it is written in trees, rocks, ice, and in the stars above us.

On the religious side... creationism denies the profound glory of God's creation, the intricate masterpiece that is creation.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Robin S » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:34 am UTC

What? I don't get that last sentence. Creationism is the belief that the Universe was created in some form. How does that deny anything (except that the Universe wasn't created)?
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Re: Creationism

Postby TheStranger » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:56 am UTC

Robin S wrote:What? I don't get that last sentence. Creationism is the belief that the Universe was created in some form. How does that deny anything (except that the Universe wasn't created)?


Because it replaces the true glory of the universe, the wonder of it's infinite workings, with deific fiat. All out of loyalty to an allegorical tale.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Robin S » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:10 pm UTC

I don't see how it does any such thing. Many creationists use the glory of the universe etc. as part of their argument.

Some creationists may "deny the profound glory of God's creation", but anyone who accepts the profound glory of God's creation is implicitly also a creationist.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Rook » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:27 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:I was not pleased, reading this today.

http://www.crossroad.to/Q&A/Science/sagan.htm

...

Damn, could these people get any more thick and closed minded?

As far as I'm concerned, Sagan's works (The Demon Haunted World is particularly good, but at least the DVDs of Cosmos would be more accessible to the kids) should be compulsory content in every high school classroom.

I'm afraid that while the below is true, I just can't agree with that last statement. It's horrendously unfair to present such young minds with a book that would seem to fly in the face of everything they 'know' (especially one written by such a reasonable-sounding person as Sagan). I can infer that you think closed mindedness is a bad thing (and it is, for reasons), but kids are just too malleable to the right kind of persuasive material. It doesn't matter if that material is true or not. People should be able to make their own decisions about what they believe and such, yes? I rather feel that by presenting kids with radical and persuasively/sensibly written alternative views at such an age (not 'at all') is wrong, because for the most part all you're doing is seeding personal and emotional instability.

At least let them get to a stage where they really can think totally rationally for themselves. Otherwise doing as you suggest would be at least as bad as strong evangelism (which I can guess you probably don't like). Or, to keep this ramble on topic, setting The Demon Haunted World as compulsory reading in science wold be as bad as compulsory teaching of ID as science.

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Re: Creationism

Postby opsomath » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:33 pm UTC

Okay, so I would like to state my first attempt at taking on Anpheus' "god of the gaps" idea. I knew I had heard the idea spoken of (and not in a complimentary fashion) by the pastor of the church I attended in high school, so I wiki'd it. Turns out it was originated by Henry Drummond and popularized by Dietrich Bonhoffer, whom I respect highly. Furthermore, it was invented as the name of a fallacy in Christian thought, and one that I have practically observed many times.

The description of natural phenomena and the relating of them one to the other is the proper role of science. When people try to use religion in this role, terrible intellectual misdeeds occur. When people try to use Christianity in this role, a perversion is created. (My mother knew a man who was crippled falling from a tree while trimming branches on a Sunday morning, and whose wife was told, "Well, if you had been in church, it wouldn't have happened" by certain of her fellow churchmembers. I would have been tempted to reply "It wouldn't have happened if I was getting drunk in an alley, either, asshole - are you making a point here?")

So, you ask, does your so-called "proper" Christianity entail a God who has no effect on the cosmos, if all phenomena you observe in the world can be described without recourse to God? Well, no. You see, the business of science is empirical laws regarding the behavior of matter. Every true result of science can, in the end, be
boiled down to a statement of the form "Stuff does such-and-such."

The statements that Christianity and the Bible make about God, humans' purpose in life, and so forth, are on a higher level altogether. God Himself, and to some extent humans, is on a higher and a different level. The nearest I can come to it now is to compare it to some sort of massively multiplayer videogame; you can have a perfectly complete understanding of the physics engine used to code the game, but that does not preclude there being a higher order story designed into the game-universe by the maker. Understanding the game's rules certainly does not logically imply that there was no programmer. In fact, you can probably tell a little bit about the programmer (not to overextend the analogy) by the way he chooses to make his game work.

There is no "god of the gaps" - that is the name of a Christian heresy, evidently. I believe that God made the universe with the rules that it has. Creationism seems to be mightily asserting that God is playing tricks on us instead, which I find to be a most repulsive idea.

If you are interested in a more articulate and less sleep-deprived explanation of this viewpoint, read an article by CS Lewis titled "Meditation in a Toolshed" from God In The Dock. It's less specific, but a lot better.

Now I have a question for you, Anpheus: Where did you run across this idea of "God of the gaps" and in what context? I am merely curious.

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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:29 pm UTC

Ah, nice to see you Opsomath. But, the moment you introduce a deity whose actions are unknowable (that is, we can ascribe to such a being 'free will,' 'self,' what have you) and whose ability is infinite, whose power is best described by the word omnipotent... Science falls apart. It's absolutely true that when people with religious beliefs trying to explain natural phenomena run into a brick wall of logical fallacies (well, most laymen will.) My belief, however, is an extension of the god of the gaps. I have relied extensively on this 'chains of trust' idea, which I believe is the key to understanding what we can and can not call scientific theory. There are two unique problems with a deity, which I have explored in depth in other topics, and I will quote those here:

Anpheus wrote:Whether or not 'god' actively involves himself in the universe is a critical test for whether a religion can be actively argued against as a source of logical fallacy (point a below) or argued against as being a moot and irrelevant belief (point b below.)

Point A: An omnipotent being existing in or above the universe whose motives cannot be determined can not be described as causing anything because every possible theorem can result from the axiom, "God is an omnipotent, unknowable being interacting in the universe." That is, I can say, "There exists an invisible, intangible and undetectable pink unicorn in this room. God causes it to be there, while simultaneously impossible to view." This is completely valid if you accept as an axiom that there is an omnipotent god in the universe. In fact, everything is a valid theory, so long as such a being remains impossible to describe. And if you can come up with a complete description of the working of the mind of god, you will succeed in making this theory falsifiable (simple: search for examples where your theory of the mind of god fails to describe what happens.) Regrettably, creating a theory to describe the mind of even a single, mere mortal human being is hard enough. Since it is taken as axiomatic that such a being is omnipotent and interacts with our universe in unknown, myriad ways, we can even say that all our theories of science are trivial: god does them. Why not? I mean, it simplifies the chain of trust. The problem is, we can't back up those arguments by creating redundant paths to the same conclusion (much as modern quantum physics and general relativity both have scores of tests to back up theoretical models) nor can we utilize the cause and effect results to form any conclusion. We have reduced all causes to, "God does it," therefore even with an unlimited number of effects, say, "God caused the cue ball to hit the eight ball, then god caused the eight ball to fly in that direction, all the while god caused me to witness these apparent events, and then god put the ball in the pocket." Note that god causes all of this because we have stricken from our list of valid theories those models of physics that would allow us to predict with astounding accuracy the events that occurred.

The "God of the gaps" of modern faith is what happens when you take the set of all events god could do, and remove those where they intersect with where science predicts things would happen. For example, instead of saying "God caused the balls to deflect off each other in such a manner to give the semblance of this particular theory," we say, "This theory describes the interaction involved and the root cause in terms of fundamental forces." I wager you could even have variable gods of the gaps, depending on how strong the theory had to be in order to supplant one's particular god of choice. For example, General Relativity has a great deal more experimental evidence than Evolution, that has more circumstantial evidence than Abiogenesis and other theories of the beginning of life, and those have more circumstantial evidence than any particular theoretical cause of the universe existing. People who deny evolution but accept general relativity are extremely unlikely to accept abiogenesis or the big bang theory, which leads anecdotal evidence to my own theory of the various "Gods of the Gaps."

Point B: This is actually much simpler to argue, because as I said, adding a deity that does not interact with the universe is a meaningless abstraction. If you choose to insist that "god caused the universe," then you still fall under Point A, and in particular, you would fall between "abiogenesis" and "big bang theory" in terms of which gaps you are willing to put god into. I suspect that at if at some point in the distant future we succeed in sending and receiving information using gravity waves out of our universe (brane theory) then you would shift your view to, "God caused the meta-universe in which branes reside." Nevertheless, for Point B I will consider the point of view that god interacts in the universe in no way at all, even the laws of physics are immutable to his "power." (If god is allowed to alter the laws of physics, he can for example, put in any loopholes he wants, including making the universe a bunch of piecewise functions. Which falls under Point A.) So, what are we describing here with our concept of "god?" This enfeebled god cannot interact with our universe, cannot define its rules, and cannot cause its existence. What sort of entity is this? Can that entity be described as real?

In my belief system, I accept as axiomatic only the minimum number of things to get scientific theory bootstrapped into being "real" at which point I subscribe to the currently accepted and tested theories that the scientific community has to describe nature. I am real, the universe is real, and I observe the universe.



As you can see, I divide religious belief into two camps, those who believe that their deity can interact in our universe and change it in a way that is impossible to describe scientifically, and those who believe that their deity can not interact in our universe. Even the laws of physics provide a gap large enough to drive a tank through for any sufficiently powerful being, so Opsomath, I cannot agree with your belief that a god started the universe with all its laws. Otherwise, they could be like this:

Velocity(object) :=
{ c, object == photon
{ dx/dt, object != photon

(This is an extraordinarily crude example and even a little redundant, but should just be taken as an example: when you let god write the rules of the universe, your functions don't need to have any particular property that mathematicians will consider more elegant. Take, for example, General Relativity, often considered an elegant solution to a complex problem (the advancement of notation since Newton helps,) if we were to start tearing into General Relativity and define everything as a piecewise function, it wouldn't be as elegant, but it's just as possible for god as before.)

The moment god gets to write the rules, you can no longer consider him an agent that does not interact in the universe. Rules can be made arbitrarily complex, god could even, theoretically, embed his own self, his own being into the rules of the universe (this is similar to Spinozan belief, sans the meta-level god that existed before the universe.) If you're a programmer, you know how innocent looking code can contain trap doors, how a couple typos can lead to magnificent and extraordinary failures that significantly alter the meaning of the code... When we say god gets to write the source code for the universe, we give him free reign to do anything. We have given god no less power than the omnipotent, smiting being so often described in religious texts.


As for how I came upon the god of the gaps argument, I have no idea the circumstances.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:22 pm UTC

TheStranger wrote:
Robin S wrote:What? I don't get that last sentence. Creationism is the belief that the Universe was created in some form. How does that deny anything (except that the Universe wasn't created)?


Because it replaces the true glory of the universe, the wonder of it's infinite workings, with deific fiat. All out of loyalty to an allegorical tale.


Sir, it seems you're confusing the fundamentalist, most unscientific flavor of creationism, with the concept of creationism in general.

To say one is a creationist is to mean, "I believe a deity created the universe." That's it. Global flood, 10,000 year old planet, secret evil fossil-planting conspiracy... those are all extras, that make you a specific kind of creationist.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:27 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
TheStranger wrote:
Robin S wrote:What? I don't get that last sentence. Creationism is the belief that the Universe was created in some form. How does that deny anything (except that the Universe wasn't created)?


Because it replaces the true glory of the universe, the wonder of it's infinite workings, with deific fiat. All out of loyalty to an allegorical tale.


Sir, it seems you're confusing the fundamentalist, most unscientific flavor of creationism, with the concept of creationism in general.

To say one is a creationist is to mean, "I believe a deity created the universe." That's it. Global flood, 10,000 year old planet, secret evil fossil-planting conspiracy... those are all extras, that make you a specific kind of creationist.


Except as per my own arguments to the contrary, even saying a deity created the universe gives rise to logical fallacy or the result that nothing is provable scientifically. (Maybe there is no Grand Unified Theory, and the difference between when you apply General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics is just a less than/greater than symbol in a piecewise function!)
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Re: Creationism

Postby Robin S » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

No. One can be a creationist (believe that the Universe was created by a deity of some description) without throwing science out the window. One simply has to accept that science has nothing to say on the matter - or believe in a God of the gaps, which has similar consequences.
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Re: Creationism

Postby daydalus » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:57 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:No. One can be a creationist (believe that the Universe was created by a deity of some description) without throwing science out the window. One simply has to accept that science has nothing to say on the matter - or believe in a God of the gaps, which has similar consequences.


Isn't it just as possible to say instead of explicitly creating the world, God created the rules that in turn created the world? Or even...God is the rules? The book of John even calls God the "logos", which can be taken to mean "both the source and fundamental order of the cosmos".

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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:00 pm UTC

daydalus wrote:
Robin S wrote:No. One can be a creationist (believe that the Universe was created by a deity of some description) without throwing science out the window. One simply has to accept that science has nothing to say on the matter - or believe in a God of the gaps, which has similar consequences.


Isn't it just as possible to say instead of explicitly creating the world, God created the rules that in turn created the world? Or even...God is the rules? The book of John even calls God the "logos", which can be taken to mean "both the source and fundamental order of the cosmos".


In which case, as I've said in a different topic, when you let god make the rules, you introduce all the flaws of a god that can interact with the universe. It's even possible that god embedded himself into the rules of the universe (they can be made arbitrarily complex to avoid detection.)
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Re: Creationism

Postby Robin S » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:01 pm UTC

daydalus: yes, that's been done, but it's... I want to say either that it's opening up another can of worms, or it's another kettle of fish.

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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:06 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:Except as per my own arguments to the contrary, even saying a deity created the universe gives rise to logical fallacy or the result that nothing is provable scientifically. (Maybe there is no Grand Unified Theory, and the difference between when you apply General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics is just a less than/greater than symbol in a piecewise function!)


In your scenario, your grand unified theory would simply be a specified piecewise function. Which is possible. But does not require a creator to suppose, and does not imply a creator if that is the case.

The direction of scientific research is simply a working assumption; since the objective of science is to simply collect data about our universe and devise theories to make that data useful to us, the possibility of deity is, barring massive and constant interference such as would damage our very concept of causality, irrelevant.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Immortal Reborn » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:20 pm UTC

http://www.trueauthority.com/cvse/micromacro.htm

Tell me what you guys think about this.

To sum it up. For macroE to happen, you would need extra information added to an organisms DNA. This can only happen with a mutation. However, most mutations are detrimental. What we see in reality is information decrease in speciation. As species become more and more specialized, they dont gain more information, they lose it. Read the article and discuss

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Re: Creationism

Postby Hench » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:26 pm UTC

I believe it's been well documented earlier in the thread that most mutations, while not helpful, are not necessarily detrimental and hang around as "junk" DNA in many genomes. I suggest reading back a few pages as this has already been contended.

If am I mistaken and we haven't talked about this before, disregard my post.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:30 pm UTC

Immortal Reborn wrote:http://www.trueauthority.com/cvse/micromacro.htm

Tell me what you guys think about this.

To sum it up. For macroE to happen, you would need extra information added to an organisms DNA. This can only happen with a mutation. However, most mutations are detrimental. What we see in reality is information decrease in speciation. As species become more and more specialized, they dont gain more information, they lose it. Read the article and discuss


They're wrong; most mutations do nothing, or only do anything conditional on other, unrelated mutations.

Most parts of our DNA is never even 'accessed' for information (called 'expression'). Changes to these areas are largely irrelevant.

I would recommend you look up the concept of "Evolutionary algorithms" or "Evolutionary computing". Computer scientists are applying the principles of evolution to solve real problems, and they produce working solutions (with many of the same upsides and downsides as we see in our DNA, implying that it is produced with the same mechanic). This is applied proof that the concepts of evolution work.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:54 am UTC

Indon wrote:
Anpheus wrote:Except as per my own arguments to the contrary, even saying a deity created the universe gives rise to logical fallacy or the result that nothing is provable scientifically. (Maybe there is no Grand Unified Theory, and the difference between when you apply General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics is just a less than/greater than symbol in a piecewise function!)


In your scenario, your grand unified theory would simply be a specified piecewise function. Which is possible. But does not require a creator to suppose, and does not imply a creator if that is the case.

The direction of scientific research is simply a working assumption; since the objective of science is to simply collect data about our universe and devise theories to make that data useful to us, the possibility of deity is, barring massive and constant interference such as would damage our very concept of causality, irrelevant.


I'm having trouble parsing your result. What I said in parenthesis was basically, "a god that defines our laws could fuck with us so severely as to make it impossible to come up with a theory that allows us to extend, continuously, laws from big things to small things." It would be an enormous fuck you to science, don't you think, for us to have to admit there's a gap for no logical reason where general relativity just stops working, stops meaning anything at all, and quantum effects take over?

Now, you replied saying that it does not require a creator or any such, and yes, I believe that's true. But I'm not arguing for a creator, I'm arguing for one of the myriad of ways in which a creator writing the rules (such as those for gravity) is no different from a creator who actually causes everything to fall: a theory of intelligent falling. Why does the apple fall from the tree? God makes it so. God as an unknowable and omnipotent entity, even if we can hypothetically suppose said god doesn't interact in the universe at all removes any need to explore the universe or describe its function, because regrettably, a god that can write the rules can put any degree of specificity into them that he wants. In fact, perhaps the 'rules' of the universe are just an enormous series of state descriptions with a particular delta t, and no laws of physics truly exist. Why not? It's a valid description if you allow the existence of an unknowable, omnipotent entity that can write the rules however he wants. It also absolves us of trying to understand the universe. (God could throw in just random white noise states every once in a while and only he would know, because we 'exist' only in those states that contain 'us.' But in such a theory of the universe, ideas such as 'us' and 'exist' become tenuous at best.)

We must believe, in order for science to function, that every law of the universe can be explained, that there is no unknowable, infinitely powerful entity causing everything to be, or causing the rules that cause everything to be, or any even remotely similar chain.
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Re: Creationism

Postby btilly » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:35 pm UTC

Immortal Reborn wrote:http://www.trueauthority.com/cvse/micromacro.htm

Tell me what you guys think about this.

To sum it up. For macroE to happen, you would need extra information added to an organisms DNA. This can only happen with a mutation. However, most mutations are detrimental. What we see in reality is information decrease in speciation. As species become more and more specialized, they dont gain more information, they lose it. Read the article and discuss

Just another attempt at moving the goal posts.

Contrary to that article, many creationists do believe that speciation cannot happen. I should know. I've been in enough arguments with people whose definition of micro-evolution is evolution within a species but not between them.

But there is a lot of evidence that speciation happens. So that particular creationist has moved the goal posts and said, "OK, speciation happens. But real evolutionary change does not." Furthermore that particular creationist has incorporated some real scientific information into this version. Yes, it is true that most mutations are useless. Yes, it is true that processes that lead to speciation lead to information loss within the genome. When these facts are presented to someone who was unaware of them, it leads to an aura of scientific knowledge. Of course the presentation of the facts underplays, misrepresents and sometimes outright lies about what is truly known.

First of all we have a pretty good idea of the timescales on which evolution happens. And the picture that you get both from internal evidence (known mutation rates give us "genetic clocks") and external evidence (fossil records) is consistent. The evolution of different species within a kind (say, coyotes versus wolves) has happened over a far longer timescale than the 6000 years that poster wants us to believe in. The article misrepresents the facts in suggesting that it could have happened so fast.

Secondly the basic relationship between genetic variation and evolution has been understood for about a century now. (If you think it has been longer then you don't know as much as you think about the history of science.) A collection of mostly useless mutations provides genetic variability. This variability provides the raw material for a species to evolve in a new direction when environmental pressures change. After evolving thanks to selection pressure, variability slowly builds up again through mutation. The article underplays the known importance of ongoing mutations to evolutionary processes. (Even in ones that it considers "micro-evolution".)

Thirdly the article claims there is a difference in kind between evolution within a kind and between kinds. There is no difference in kind in the gap between closely related species, such as horses and ponies, or slightly less related species, such as us and chimpanzees, or distantly related species, say dogs and dolphins. There is only a difference in magnitude. Furthermore the processes that can lead to evolution are understood, geological evidence strongly affirms that we have the necessary timescales available, and the fossil record confirms that it actually happened. To claim otherwise, as that article did, is to lie about the facts.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:26 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:I'm having trouble parsing your result. What I said in parenthesis was basically, "a god that defines our laws could fuck with us so severely as to make it impossible to come up with a theory that allows us to extend, continuously, laws from big things to small things." It would be an enormous fuck you to science, don't you think, for us to have to admit there's a gap for no logical reason where general relativity just stops working, stops meaning anything at all, and quantum effects take over?


No, it wouldn't.

Science is about taking what we know of the universe and interpreting it. Ideally, it has no expectations. Practically, it works from precedent; most functions we know are continuous so we look for more continuous functions.

Since science already has no expectations, the prospect of a deity which could do whatever it wanted with the universe is immaterial to well-executed science.

You're trying to argue that the prospect of a God interferes with our preconcieved notions about the universe, and that's your problem: There should be nothing to interfere with.

And it's not as if science hasn't already shattered our preconceptions about the universe; God, after all, is known to roll dice. No doubt Einstein thought quantum mechanics to be a big "Screw you" to science.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Tchebu » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:13 pm UTC

That's not quite right...

We're not as much interested in having a smooth transition from GR to QM via some continuous thing, as much as a theory that works on EVERY scale. Think about it... if there is a point where GR just stops having any relation to reality, there must be a set of phenomena within the universe, which in our interpretation essencially says "this is where GR stops working, because XYZ" and that XYZ will be part of our new, more general theory.

Now unlike new theories or concepts or downright shattering of our preconceptions, the reason saying "Magic Man done it" is a FU to science is because there is no theory at all... it's just... "Suppose everything is possible... therefore we have our Universe as it is"... which is just plain stupid as an explanation... at least because there's the rest of that mysterious "everything" that just doesn't seem to be there.
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Re: Creationism

Postby daydalus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:21 pm UTC

I think what Anpheus is saying is that God should never become a variable in the rules. The rules should be internally consistent, rational, and independant of God.

However, this doesn't contradict the notion that God makes the rules.

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Re: Creationism

Postby redwards » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:14 pm UTC

daydalus wrote:I think what Anpheus is saying is that God should never become a variable in the rules. The rules should be internally consistent, rational, and independant of God.

However, this doesn't contradict the notion that God makes the rules.
It does directly contradict the notion that he meddles. If you want God to be exclusively outside the rules, you're necessarily purporting deism of some form.

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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:26 pm UTC

That only concerns deities that produce miracles; direct violations of the natural order. And even then, it just doesn't work out that way.

Science, because it's a tool, assumes that miracles don't happen because to do so would be unproductive; not because believing in the possibility of miracles is against the Laws of Science. Just as belief in a deity would not impair my ability to use hammers, it would not impair my ability to perform scientific inquiry.

As for deism, well, if you ask me, a perfect deity would have no need to produce miracles anyway, as a miracle implies a creation which does not match the creator's intent. But that's even more off-topic.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

Indon wrote:That only concerns deities that produce miracles; direct violations of the natural order. And even then, it just doesn't work out that way.

Science, because it's a tool, assumes that miracles don't happen because to do so would be unproductive; not because believing in the possibility of miracles is against the Laws of Science. Just as belief in a deity would not impair my ability to use hammers, it would not impair my ability to perform scientific inquiry.

As for deism, well, if you ask me, a perfect deity would have no need to produce miracles anyway, as a miracle implies a creation which does not match the creator's intent. But that's even more off-topic.


My computer performs a series of operations, one after another. Your computer, hypothetically a PowerPC processor computer, also performs operations one after another. Mine can emulate yours, yours can emulate mine. Technologically, while one of our processors may be 'faster' at computing one thing than the other, they are equivalent given equal amounts of storage. This is part of basic computer science: once you get to a device that can do certain neat, whiz-bang things, you are done. Then it just becomes a matter of 'making it as fast as possible.'

Regrettably, there's no reason at all god couldn't embed his will into the rules. Entirely. Why not? There's no reason it's not possible that there isn't a piecewise function written which causes miracles to happen every once in a while, because he was able to evolve the system in the absence of those exceptions to the general rules, determine when and where an effect would cause a certain miracle, write it into his function, and rerun the 'universe' until he got it right. Even more complex, god could write his will into the laws of physics with arbitrary detail, or into the structure of spacetime or the universe.

My point is, letting god make the rules is no assurance that god has 'left the building.' And once you say 'god made the rules' you have to start hoping (praying?) that he made those rules consistent, because it is a scientific belief that everything observed can be explained, and certainly Occam's Razor suggests that a god who embeds himself into the minutiae of the laws of physics is needlessly complex. Even saying that "god wrote the rules" instead of "these are the rules" is needlessly complex. We're invoking some huge, omnipotent being without a good reason.



As I've said: If god fucks with us, see Point A. A god that messes with the universe destroys the foundations of science because no valid theorem can be made from the axiom, "god is an omnipotent and unknowable entity exerting its will over the universe." If god does not fuck with us, see Point B. If god truly has no interaction with us at all, he neither created the laws of physics, the universe, us, or anything else that will ever affect us, then what's the point in having that god? Occam's Razor is pretty clear on that second point: you invoke the existence of a Big Guy in the Sky and then fail to make any reason as to why he exists, why he doesn't do anything, and on top of that, he's invisible to any observational means we may ever possess. How is that god any different from me saying there's an invisible, intangible, massless pink unicorn that follows me wherever I go?
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:09 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:As I've said: If god fucks with us, see Point A. A god that messes with the universe destroys the foundations of science because no valid theorem can be made from the axiom, "god is an omnipotent and unknowable entity exerting its will over the universe."

Except that for all practical purposes (which is what the foundations of science are for), it doesn't matter. Even if God regularly does actively mess with the universe, we just analyze that as we would any other phenomena. Even if the ultimate conclusion of science is, "There are no real laws of nature," that's still 100% science working like science should.

What you're complaining about is that the prospect of a universe with complex laws would really screw with your expectations of the universe personally, which is obvious. It'd screw with my expectations of the universe, too. But that's our personal problems, the next generation of scientists would wait to let us die and just carry on with what they know, just like when determinism was blown apart some decades ago by science.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:17 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Except that for all practical purposes (which is what the foundations of science are for), it doesn't matter. Even if God regularly does actively mess with the universe, we just analyze that as we would any other phenomena. Even if the ultimate conclusion of science is, "There are no real laws of nature," that's still 100% science working like science should.

What you're complaining about is that the prospect of a universe with complex laws would really screw with your expectations of the universe personally, which is obvious. It'd screw with my expectations of the universe, too. But that's our personal problems, the next generation of scientists would wait to let us die and just carry on with what they know, just like when determinism was blown apart some decades ago by science.


The problem is, the ultimate conclusion of science can be wrong if you accept the existence of a rule-making god. We have to believe that the operations performed by the universe are possible to determine for science to work, that we can observe, make hypotheses, test individual hypotheses, and declare working ones that make further predictions to be valid theories. The problem with invoking a god is that you can get a universe that has all the appearance of working by some series of laws, but if god can make the rules, can cause different things to happen whenever he wants, we lose the ability to believe that the rules must be possible to describe. Remember, he could just modify the rules at his choosing by running 'the universe' simulation up until the point he wants to change, determine when and where he needs to modify the rules to cause a particular miraculous effect, then just 'rebooting' or even recompiling in place and continuing. And even one miracle is a fuck you to science, because it's saying, "Look at this, this is an event that occurred that defies all known laws of physics!" One miracle is all it takes to say fuck you to science, because we can no longer rely on our observation to be "the universe," but instead we must include the possibility that what we observe only happens because god made it happen.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:32 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:The problem is, the ultimate conclusion of science can be wrong if you accept the existence of a rule-making god.

But it can be wrong anyway! We assume that what we know is right because we have no other option. This is true regardless of belief in a deity.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:38 pm UTC

Actually, we assume and hope we can prove we're wrong! That's how science progresses.

Even if individuals become dogmatic about their beliefs and refuse to budge, the scientific community continues to question, allowing progress.

We don't assume we're right, we actually have very vividly real examples (general relativity, quantum mechanics) where we know for a fact that we're wrong on something, and we're trying very hard to get it right. And if we ever come up with a Grand Unified Theory of Everything 42 and that theory explains everything flawlessly, we'll actually be quite disappointed. My how disturbing that future would be. The rest of it would be pure mathematics the whole way, which while interesting to me, would very much turn off the experimentalists in the world. I think it's great that we assume we're wrong and try to come up with better theories, but once you invoke god, you have to accept as a possibility that we're wrong, and we'll never be able to be right.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:51 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:I think it's great that we assume we're wrong and try to come up with better theories, but once you invoke god, you have to accept as a possibility that we're wrong, and we'll never be able to be right.


We have to accept that already, due to the nature of our perceptions, yadda yadda. We ignore it axiomatically. Introducing deity into the equasion just means that you still ignore it axiomatically. No change.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:03 pm UTC

Indon wrote:[Quote excised]
We have to accept that already, due to the nature of our perceptions, yadda yadda. We ignore it axiomatically. Introducing deity into the equasion just means that you still ignore it axiomatically. No change.


No, adding a deity means we must accept as possibility that the rules are just as unknowable as the deity is. The deity truly cannot interact in our universe at all in order for scientific means to be a valid explanation of reality. The moment god makes a law for any reason whatsoever to cause a certain thing, our reality ceases to be as meaningful as it did when the universe was just the universe. That loss of meaning is the fact that we can't attribute any explanation to that law. An unknowable deity caused it.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:11 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:No, adding a deity means we must accept as possibility that the rules are just as unknowable as the deity is. The deity truly cannot interact in our universe at all in order for scientific means to be a valid explanation of reality. The moment god makes a law for any reason whatsoever to cause a certain thing, our reality ceases to be as meaningful as it did when the universe was just the universe. That loss of meaning is the fact that we can't attribute any explanation to that law. An unknowable deity caused it.


You already can't accept reality as absolute; what if you're just a brain in a jar or something?

What do you do with that possibility, huh?

If you're like me, you ignore it because it has absolutely no bearing on anything, unless some alien shows up and shows you that hey, you really were just a brain in a jar all along. Then it becomes relevant.

The prospect of God destabilizing reality? For all practical purposes, it's the same thing. We ignore it unless it actually happens, because until and unless it does happen, the possibility just doesn't matter. At all.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Tchebu » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:21 pm UTC

Saying "God did it" is a fancy (or lame, depending on your point of view) way of saying "I don't know how this works, and no one will ever figure it out either"... which is the exact opposite of a scientific theory which says "This is how I think it could work because of XYZ, but of course I may be wrong". Or better yet actually "If it worked like this, it would produce the same results as we see in reality"...

So the "we accept that we don't know everything" is different in the case of scientific inquiry from the "accept that we don't know everything" in the creationist sense.
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Re: Creationism

Postby JayDee » Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:10 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:And even one miracle is a fuck you to science, because it's saying, "Look at this, this is an event that occurred that defies all known laws of physics!"
The known laws of physics take that all the time. Well, often enough. And they change. If God wrote the rules, there are rules, and science is still the attempts to understand those rules.

Even with the kind of vindicative God writing easter eggs into the rules to mess with us that you are talking about, there are still rules for science to try to understand (or us to try to understand, through science.)

The rules being written by God is not the same as having a God that is intervening.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:05 am UTC

JayDee wrote:
Anpheus wrote:And even one miracle is a fuck you to science, because it's saying, "Look at this, this is an event that occurred that defies all known laws of physics!"
The known laws of physics take that all the time. Well, often enough. And they change. If God wrote the rules, there are rules, and science is still the attempts to understand those rules.


Hey, thanks for repeating what I said. The "laws" of physics have changed a few times, yes. But that's because we keep getting a better understanding of our universe. The moment you invoke god however, it's impossible to have a complete understanding of our universe. You've suddenly got this, by definition, unknowable entity out there randomly making universes.

As for "brain in the jar" beliefs, how many damn times do I have to go over this? I accept three things axiomatically, the minimum set of things that I feel are necessary to get away from nihilism, solipsism, and Spinozism (in that order, even) and it's easy sailing from then on. The neat thing about religion is that it's extremely easy to argue against them because you can't believe in god without invoking a fourth axiom (there exists some deity... etc.) And once you invoke that fourth axiom, it conflicts with the previous ones in interesting ways. If you believe in a god that can alter reality, when I accept as axiomatic that I am real, and from that, I observe reality... what does that mean when you have an unknowable, infinitely powerful entity capable of altering the meaning of reality on a whim? Can you make any absolute laws of physics when at a whim this entity can end everything, just for the hell of it? What does reality mean once you invoke a fourth axiom about the existence of this non-observable, unknowable entity that can alter the very fabric of reality, and maybe already has. Once you invoke god, you start bringing back really wonky arguments: "God created the universe at a time we would call 'yesterday,' with all of what we presume to believe are our memories, with every particle carefully arranged so as to give the semblance of continuous existence since around fourteen billion years ago." My axiomatic set says that's hogwash: reality is reality is reality, and it's defined by the best observations we can make of it. So if we can't accept as true that observations and thought can lead to universal truth, then well hell, my science teachers lied to me. Because they seemed to think the point of science was about finding some sort of truth.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Tchebu » Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:46 pm UTC

The known laws of physics take that all the time. Well, often enough. And they change. If God wrote the rules, there are rules, and science is still the attempts to understand those rules.


Yeah, except that phenomenon that defies the "known laws" is theoretically placeable into another reviewed system of laws. With miracles that is not the case... with miracles it's "Hey guys, if I don't interfere, then the Universe actually acts in a way that can be described by a set of laws... but just to mess you up, here's something which will NEVER EVER be fully integrateable into those patterns because I did in violation of them. Have a nice day..."
- God

UNLESS

There can theoretically be a science (call it "God psychology") which studies the laws that govern God's judgement about how and when to create what miracles... either such laws exist or they don't right? If they do, then who wrote THEM?... if they don't, then God is just a chaotic... thing... without a mind or judgement to speak of... in which case the creation of anything through "God's power" is equivalent to it just happening spontaneously... definitely no "benevolent creation" or even less "intelligent design".
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Re: Creationism

Postby Indon » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:44 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:As for "brain in the jar" beliefs, how many damn times do I have to go over this?


You don't need to explain those axioms. I know them. My point is, the same practical axioms which govern science explain why religious beliefs should not impact its' execution. There is furthermore no conflict between the idealistic religious belief, and the practical scientific axiom.

"What if God created the universe last thursday?" and all such questions are, with the scientific method, easy to deal with: "So what?" questions like that are amusing, but ultimately not practical, and for scientific purposes, they're ignored! At least, so long as we're in the lab. During lunch hour or the weekly D&D campaign, we can talk about that along with other unrelated topics like politics and gossip and stuff.

You don't need to reiterate what we all already know. You just need to accept that science works even if you believe in a deity, for the same reason that science works if you don't.
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Re: Creationism

Postby JayDee » Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:54 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:Hey, thanks for repeating what I said. The "laws" of physics have changed a few times, yes. But that's because we keep getting a better understanding of our universe. The moment you invoke god however, it's impossible to have a complete understanding of our universe. You've suddenly got this, by definition, unknowable entity out there randomly making universes.
I'm not so sure that a complete understanding of the universe is possible, irregardless of whether there is a god or not. Nor do I accept that science is not reliant on there not being a god, even if you can come up with a scenario with a specifically anti-science god.
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Re: Creationism

Postby Anpheus » Sun Dec 16, 2007 1:14 am UTC

To Tchebu, at which point, you don't need a fourth axiom, because you have a "knowable, observable" god whose actions can be determined scientifically. It seems to me god is running out of gaps if you have to start creating scientific descriptions of him as a form of resuscitation.

To Indon, well played sir! A good dodge of the ol' Last Thursdayism dogma. I appreciate the subtlety... oh wait, I've heard that one before: my beliefs say Last Thursdayism isn't valid, it's yet another axiom I'd have to add, because there's no way to produce a scientific theory of Last Thursdayism otherwise. My beliefs preclude the existence of gods and universes that spring out of the whims of deities without any problem t'all!

To JayDee, first, please don't use irregardless, it's a peeve of mine and you can treat it as such—care as little or as much as you want, it's merely a peeve. That said, my axioms are essentially, I believe the universe can be fully explained scientifically. If that is not true, then yes, it is... disappointing would be an understatement. Do you have an argument for why the universe may or may not be describable scientifically?
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