Philosopher Ruse as an entertainer

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In a post (see here) the renowned philosopher of science Michael Ruse offered the notion that seems to equalize, in a certain respect, creationism with science.

Before discussing Ruse’s idea, let me evince my (admittedly controversial) view of philosophy of science. I dare to claim that the sole value of philosophy of science is its entertaining ability. I doubt that all the multiple opuses debating various aspects of the philosophy of science have ever produced even a minute amount of anything that could be helpful for a scientist, be he/she physicist, biologist, geologist, you name it. It can, though, be harmful, as the case of Ruse seems to illustrate.

Ruse claims to be strongly pro-evolution, as well as a non-believer (see, in particular, the above link). It does not prevent him from constantly rubbing elbows with the most notorious creationists including the “leading lights” of intelligent design pseudo-science. He edits various anthologies together with such figures as Dembski, he rather energetically argues for the alleged rational notions science might borrow from religion, etc. Such activity, to my mind, serves to legitimize pseudo-science and provides a veneer of respect to the absurdities and often dishonest shenanigans of the likes of William Dembski, Jonathan Wells, and their cohorts. (Many examples both of absurdities and of shenanigans of the leading intelligent design proponents have been pointed to and discussed on this blog and in other places, like, for example TalkReason website).

The title of Ruse’s post is “From a Ciriculum Standpoint, is Science Religion?” To my mind, the very question is ridiculous. Ruse, however, answer that question with “Yes.” I think the main gist of Ruse’s post is expressed by the following quotation:

If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?

Well, I wish, as fits my age, to be polite, so I leave all exclamations regarding the senselessness of the above quotation to others. Without such expressions of outrage, I must say, quite politely, that the above quotation could probably be found in writing of such giants of science and philosophy as Casey Luskin, Salvador Cordova and the like. But to see it in a post by a professor of a respected university is really funny. The point is that Ruse’s assertion (“science… implies that God does not exist”) is not true. Science does not assert or imply that “God does not exist.” Science simply is not interested in such a notion. One may assert that science does not support the notion that God exists. Right. Equally, science does not support the opposite notion. The question of whether, beyond the “natural” universe which can be studied by scientific means exists something “supernatural” is neither asked nor answered by science. Therefore, Ruse’s post in question, besides having a certain entertaining value, is, IMHO, meaningless and useless.

Obviously, while science is a necessary and important part of any Curriculum, creationism in any of its forms must be beyond Curriculum, except when it is critically studied as a cultural phenomenon along with other forms of obscurantism and crank science.

162 Comments

I expand Mark’s analysis a little. Ruse’s argument is captured in these two quotations from the Chronicle article:

Suppose we agree to the conflict thesis throughout, and that if you accept modern science then religion—pretty much all religion, certainly pretty much all religion that Americans want to accept—is false. Is it then constitutional to teach science?

and

If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?

Given his strong assumption that last is a superficially valid question. Ruse’s article, however, is not really about answering that question; it’s about the desirability (in his mind, at least) of maintaining an accommodationist stance with respect to the relationship between science and (American Protestant Christian) religion. But his argument requires the further unstated assumption that science cannot and could not be taught agnostically, independent of its (putative, assumptive) metaphysical implications, but of course it can be now and still could be under Ruse’s strong assumption. That is all that’s required to meet the Constitutional test, much as a comparative religion class must be taught agnostically in public schools would meet that test. Ruse’s argument is a weak reed.

Proofread, RBH! Revise this

“That is all that’s required to meet the Constitutional test, much as a comparative religion class must be taught agnostically in public schools would meet that test.”

Supernaturalism is by definition neither proveable nor disprovable, since it is by definition a violation of the rules, and on the basis of the rules it is impossible to say that violations can’t happen.

Which is not to say there aren’t, ahem, a few problems with the notion, my top three being:

1: “My supernatural is as good as yours.” I can maintain the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and defy anyone to prove me wrong.

2: Negative argument. Supernatural events being outside the rules, they don’t follow from the rules, and if observed they are not duplicable and cannot be subjected to practical inspection. So if any proof is offered it’s just “there’s no other way it could have happened.” An argument with a set of problems of its own …

3: Practical uselessness. Since supernatural events are by nature unpredictable, not duplicable, and beyond inspection, they cannot be used as the basis of a technology, nor can any plans be made predicated on supernatural intervention – or at least any more than they would be based on blind luck.

Beliefs in supernaturalism are common and, having no particular motive in arguing against them myself, I see no reason to bother, but I have to admit that I don’t understand their appeal.

I think there has been a misunderstanding. Ruse is not arguing that science is religion, rather he argues that Barash’s anti-NOMA position, if taken seriously, leads to the conclusion that Mark Perakh cites in his article. Ruse may be wrong on this, but he is not arguing against the demarcation. In fact, he has been strongly criticized for his testimony in McLean by some because of the supposed extremist pro-demarcation position.

If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?

I always viewed this question to mean that science invokes NO supernatural causes or forces, but that science never implied that God did, or did not, exist, and that it got along just fine with that approach. OTOH, there is no test for the existence of God to my knowledge, so equating science with creationism sounds pretty lame. Perhaps what Ruse is premising his argument on is the personal beliefs of people like Dawkins, et. al, which in that respect are irrelevant to science, but tend to taint the neutrality of the scientific case.

Ghrom said:

I think there has been a misunderstanding. Ruse is not arguing that science is religion, rather he argues that Barash’s anti-NOMA position, if taken seriously, leads to the conclusion that Mark Perakh cites in his article.

Um, that’s pretty much what I said (and refuted), no?

DavidK said:

If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?

I always viewed this question to mean that science invokes NO supernatural causes or forces, but that science never implied that God did, or did not, exist, and that it got along just fine with that approach. OTOH, there is no test for the existence of God to my knowledge, so equating science with creationism sounds pretty lame. Perhaps what Ruse is premising his argument on is the personal beliefs of people like Dawkins, et. al, which in that respect are irrelevant to science, but tend to taint the neutrality of the scientific case.

Science can’t claim that God does not exist but it can certainly claim that certain Gods do not exist. Ken Ham’s God is one of these that do not exist

DavidK said: If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim?

Yeah, that’s the problem with crossing that line, because either way it becomes a theological argument. Now if people want to cross that line, no complaints here, but it sure doesn’t sound like science any more.

And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?

I think as a legal opinion (which has a status dangerously different from other sorts of opinion) one is left with the unavoidable choice of either saying science is neutral on religion OR walking into a constitutional “kill zone”.

mrg said: I think as a legal opinion (which has a status dangerously different from other sorts of opinion) one is left with the unavoidable choice of either saying science is neutral on religion OR walking into a constitutional “kill zone”.

False dichotomy. A third alternative is to say nothing about the metaphysical implications (or lack thereof) of the science in public school classrooms, which is the venue of interest in Ruse’s article. See above: taught agnostically. Focus, people!

Though I have to say there’s an out for Ruse: The excessive entanglement prong of Lemon. Hm. Gotta think about that some.

RBH said:

False dichotomy. A third alternative is to say nothing about the metaphysical implications (or lack thereof) of the science in public school classrooms, which is the venue of interest in Ruse’s article. See above: taught agnostically. Focus, people!

That’s what I meant. The crux of the legal opinion is the public school classroom. However, if there were some way to conclusively demonstrate that science really IS antagonistic to religion – I don’t think so – there’s no way to keep it from going over that line.

Science is antagonistic to religion only in the sense that some religions believe that if you aren’t part of the solution, you must be part of the problem. And science isn’t part of the solution. Science commits two sins: (1) it omits any involvement of any gods in any of its explanations of anything; and (2) it WORKS, the explanations survive tests and make good predictions. Science renders the gods useless, irrelevant, superfluous. Of course that’s going to be regarded as antagonistic.

Mark writes

I doubt that all the multiple opuses debating various aspects of the philosophy of science have ever produced even a minute amount of anything that could be helpful for a scientist, be he/she physicist, biologist, geologist, you name it.

How is that different from claiming, “I doubt if all the multiple histories of the 17th and 18th Centuries have ever produced even a minute amount of anything that could be helpful to a king, be he Hanoverian, Hapsburg, Hollenzollerin, or Bourbon, you name it.”

The thing about parochial criticisms of the philosophy of science, as opposed to specific criticisms of specific philosophies of science, is that they are parochial, i.e., they assume that doing science is somehow privileged over other human activities. Now I understand that ornithology isn’t very interesting to the birds, but we’re not all birds.

Flint said:

Science is antagonistic to religion only in the sense that some religions believe that if you aren’t part of the solution, you must be part of the problem. And science isn’t part of the solution. Science commits two sins: (1) it omits any involvement of any gods in any of its explanations of anything; and (2) it WORKS, the explanations survive tests and make good predictions. Science renders the gods useless, irrelevant, superfluous. Of course that’s going to be regarded as antagonistic.

And Ruse’s question is whether that renders it unconstitutional to teach science in public schools.

Seems a silly question. There aren’t any gods in the music department either, so is it unconstitutional to teach music? How about law? Sheesh.

Couple of points.

First, the link is wrong:

https://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/

Second, it’s “Curriculum”.

Third, there is an increasing number of scientists who seem to think it’s cute to attack philosophy of science when one of us says something they do not like. Despite the fact that this is the fallacy of composition (all scientists should at least learn the fallacies), in almost every case something more subtle is being said that the scientist doesn’t like for philosophical reasons.

The alternative to philosophy of science is not no philosophy of science. It’s bad philosophy of science. And scientists do bad philosophy all the time. I tire of these disciplinary competitions.

Now I don’t like NOMA; it’s simplistic. Science and religion elbow each other for space on the cultural dance floor. This means that yes, they do compete occasionally. When they do, either religion is making a scientific or factual claim, which can be dealt with scientifically, or science is making a religious claim.

When (not if) scientists do make quasi or actually religious claims, and for my money the claim “there is no God” is a religious claim, then they are rightly taken to task for it. You may very well think that science shows there is no need for a deity, and if so, fine. But science no more proves that, or even makes it more likely, than it does proves that Buddhism is true, or whatever pro-religious claims are made on the basis of science.

Alas I cannot read Ruse’s piece now, as the site is failing to connect. But in the past he has made the claim that some aspects of science are used religiously. This is not news. Everyone from Marx and Lenin to the pope tries to employ science to underpin their beliefs. When it happens, we rightly should reject it. And under no circumstances should philosophical or religious beliefs be taught as true in a science class. You don’t like belief in God, and think it is not warranted by science? Well that’s great. I agree. But I would never want to see that taught in a science class. It isn’t science.

And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught

First of all, that’s not why ID/creationism can’t be taught in taxpayer funded public schools (but can be taught ad nauseum in private schools, Sunday school, church, private seminars, etc).

Creationism can’t be taught because it implies that specific religious dogma is more correct than other religious dogmas or lack of religion, including many other positions that equally claim belief in God. Thus, teaching it as “science” in public schools would violate the rights of anyone who does not share that specific dogma, and indeed, of those who do but also respect the constitution.

Another problem with ID/creationism that science does not share is that ID/creationism is demonstrably wrong. It might not violate the constitution to teach something that is trivially, demonstrably wrong, but it is a stupid idea.

Also, science does not imply that God does not exist. I have never, ever once taken a science course, read a science book or journal, nor had a serious discussion about science (not about science denial) that made any conjecture about the existence of Jehovah or any other god, one way or the other. Science can show religious claims to be wrong if and only if said claims are made about something that can be scientifically studied.

Science renders the gods useless, irrelevant, superfluous. Of course that’s going to be regarded as antagonistic.

Although I have no problem with religion, it wasn’t science that caused me to not be religious. My lack of religion long predates any serious study of science. I’ve known people with advanced science degrees who are religious, and I’m not talking about wretched “compartmentalizing” creationists, I’m talking about people whose religion may indeed have seemed superfluous to me, but whose religion did not contradict science nor impede their ability to do it.

However, it is true that science is seen as antagonistic by those who look to religion as a means of telling other people what to do.

Otherwise, whether something is superfluous, useless, and irrelevant, which, although the terms are harsh, is pretty much what religion is to me, is a subjective call.

Well said.

I’d add that it’s not the omission of gods from scientific explanations per se. It is the reason for that omission which offends: in scientific explanation, gods are not necessary. Gods can be safely ignored.

As you note, science adds insult to injury by working. Gods can be profitably ignored.

And finally, science refutes the “My supernatural is as good as yours” argument with objective reality. Objective reality must not be ignored - and worse, it must be questioned.

Of course that’s going to be regarded as antagonistic.

Flint said:

Science is antagonistic to religion only in the sense that some religions believe that if you aren’t part of the solution, you must be part of the problem. And science isn’t part of the solution. Science commits two sins: (1) it omits any involvement of any gods in any of its explanations of anything; and (2) it WORKS, the explanations survive tests and make good predictions. Science renders the gods useless, irrelevant, superfluous. Of course that’s going to be regarded as antagonistic.

phhht said:

And finally, science refutes the “My supernatural is as good as yours” argument with objective reality.

Nah. Supernatural means by definition “outside of the rules” and is irrefutable. But you are hitting a fourth problem with supernaturalism here: if you’re using supernaturalism as an explanation for something that IS covered by the rules, it can’t compete.

John Wilkins said:

Now I don’t like NOMA; it’s simplistic.

Nice post. I don’t like NOMA either, but as a pragmatist I find it much preferable to the alternatives I have been handed.

mrg said:

phhht said:

And finally, science refutes the “My supernatural is as good as yours” argument with objective reality.

Nah. Supernatural means by definition “outside of the rules” and is irrefutable. But you are hitting a fourth problem with supernaturalism here: if you’re using supernaturalism as an explanation for something that IS covered by the rules, it can’t compete.

Urm, glad my clarity is still up to scratch. I meant I perceive in science a commitment to the notion of objective reality, while safely, profitably ignoring notions like the supernatural.

phhht said: … while safely, profitably ignoring notions like the supernatural.

We are in agreement here. For various reasons I am tolerant, to a degree, of belief in the supernatural, but I don’t really understand the appeal of it myself.

You may very well think that science shows there is no need for a deity, and if so, fine. But science no more proves that, or even makes it more likely, than it does proves that Buddhism is true, or whatever pro-religious claims are made on the basis of science.

This confusion, perhaps deliberate, needs to be disentangled.

Science shows no need for a deity by mere implication - that is, by not invoking any. But science in not invoking anything supernatural, is not saying anything about anything supernatural one way or another. Science makes no DIRECT statements, even by implication, about the existence of deities.

The question of whether science, by not involving anything supernatural yet working both consistently and spectacularly well, makes the irrelevance of gods more likely, seems worth considering. Consider the question of whether there’s an elephant in the room. No amount of evidence can prove beyond any possible doubt that there’s no elephant there - it might be invisible, or the observers might be deluded, etc. But the lack of any evidence does indeed make it less likely that there’s an elephant there.

It would seem to me that it’s true prima facie that by using no deities yet working so well, science cannot help but be demonstrating that the need for a deity is “less likely”. NOT “proving there is no deity”, simply showing that the need for one is less likely by dint of simply NOT NEEDING ONE.

Science is not saying there are no gods, but science is most certainly saying with every hypothesis proposed, every experiment performed, every prediction verified, that a great deal of highly useful understanding and knowledge can be gained without reference to any gods. Science doesn’t prove there’s no need for a god; science does not PROVE anything. But science’s track record without invoking any gods means SOMETHING.

I think the issue being raised here is: would it be a good thing to establish that science is antagonistic to religion as a LEGAL opinion?

And if it was established as factual, there would be no way to avoid it being established as a legal opinion.

As far as I can think out, if it’s not to be established as a legal opinion, that means it has to be established as a philosophical / personal opinion.

I don’t mean to sound too flippant, but it seems to me that the issue comes down to whether or not one can design and build a deity detector.

All you have to do is work through the epistemological issues of converting the presence of a deity into a signal that can be observed by anyone despite their religious or nonreligious views.

Of course, the non-presence of any particular deity, or the sorting of deities by some set of criteria, is also an issue.

Now this isn’t a trivial exercise by any means; but it is one that most people attempting to argue about deities have apparently not thought through. Physicists have had to deal with these kinds of epistemological issues in the detection and study of very subtle phenomena for a couple of hundred years now.

By not having gone through this exercise in any serious manner, it becomes easy for people to imagine they can assert the existence of something without ever thinking about how one would go about showing it (ontology with no epistemology).

And if one cannot specify even in principle how to go about detecting something, one should bite his/her tongue until he/she has a clue.

This has been a surprisingly mild thread so far. I was expecting it to become much more extreme.

Ruse’s comments indirectly hit a hot button. I maintain there is an argument over science education, and an argument over religion – and they tend to work against each other, they should be kept separate. NCSE gets slammed for “accomodationism”, but since they are by charter fully on the side of the argument over science education, I don’t see they have a choice.

Incidentally, it would almost certainly be illegal for public high school science teacher to say that “science proves there is no God”.

It would be illegal for the same reason that teaching creationism is illegal. The government of the United States is forbidden by the constitution to favor or attack particular religious opinions.

As for religious teachings being coincidentally at odds with mainstream science, that’s just tough. That brilliant piece of philosophy, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, demonstrates why. Anyone can and will create a religious belief that condemns or contradicts anything. The state has a compelling interest in having citizens educated in literacy, basic mathematics, science, geography, history, and so on. Yet any body of expertise, no matter how uncontroversial, will contradict some arbitrary belief system.

Therefore, the state cannot show favoritism to one sect or cult, but can teach math, science, ability to read and write, and other basic subjects, even though these subjects may and almost certainly will unintentionally contradict some arbitrary belief system.

RBH said:

False dichotomy. A third alternative is to say nothing about the metaphysical implications (or lack thereof) of the science in public school classrooms, which is the venue of interest in Ruse’s article. See above: taught agnostically. Focus, people!

Not necessarily true. After all, ID is an attempt to teach a metaphysical position “agnostically” by saying nothing (overt) about the metaphysical implications. If there was some sort of “objective” evidence that science was, despite what its prectitioners and advocates publically state, an anti-theistic position, that might be enough to make it unconstitutional … just as Judge Jones found in the case of ID.

It is not only science which can come in conflict with some aspects of some religions.

I dare say, there is no sphere of activity which does not conflict with some aspect of some religions.

Religions are so varied in what they cover, that this is not only on matters of propositions of belief being in conflict with the findings of fields as varied as history and linguistics.

There are religions which act in conflict with the law. There are religions which are pacifist. There are religions which do not allow oaths, or which consume intoxicants, or which would not allow certain practices even by those not of their religion.

Somehow or other a society with a commitment to freedom of religion must deal with the inevitable conflicts. And adherents to religions who choose to live in a pluralistic society must make their own accommodations.

How is science in any different position?

John Pieret said: Not necessarily true.

Very good point, JP, hits part of what I was fumbling about above. If ID is judged “stealth creationism (religion)” then by same coin the fundys can try to show that science is “stealth antireligion” by citations of its practitioners. Not that I imagine they can get all that far doing it as long as there are plenty of TEs around.

However, somewhere about the middle of the 20th century, those studying philosophy began loosing touch with science and were beginning to make pronouncements that no scientist could recognize or identify with.

QFT

Benny Hinn is a fraud. Prayer to divine beings doesn’t produce supernatural activity, it produces nothing more than the natural psychological results common to any placebo effect.

Claims about supernatural events are not necessarily untestable (i.e., outside of empirical implications which can be objectively examined and evaluated in terms of empirical evidence). A lot of the argumentation made in previous comments is incorrect for lack of dealing with the direct empirical implications of beliefs and claims about the supernatural.

IBelieveInGod said:

I believe the sole purpose of the scientific claim of Abiogenesis is to imply that there is no God. If one were not to believe in God, and wanted to promote such a view, then creating an unprovable, and unfalsifiable hypothesis that life came to be by natural causes without a Creator would be the way to go about it. Abiogenesis would be a great tool for evangelizing young minds away from believing in God, and turning them into Atheists. Implying God doesn’t exist with an unprovable, and unfalsifiable hypothesis should be prohibited from being taught in public school.

Abiogenesis, which you deny, has been patented. US Patent, no less. Look it up for yourself, search for “creation of primordial life”. SWT found it, so can you.

The very same government which guarantees your freedom to worship as you believe, and say anything you want (including falsehoods and untruths), has granted a patent for abiogenesis.

Corporate empires keep their most valuable research as trade secrets. When competition threatens, patents reveal just enough to get protection, but not enough to give away the farm.

You can pretend abiogenesis hasn’t happened but the world around you disagrees.

Forgive me mrg. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I couldn’t help myself.

DNFTT.

John Vanko said:

Forgive me mrg. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I couldn’t help myself.

DNFTT.

That’s OK. The game of the troll is to get the Pandas to fight among themselves. But we don’t want to play that game, right?

Well, except for God wars and otherwise when we feel like doing it on our own initiative.

I think that Perakh is wrong about the philosophy of science as well, and I don’t see why he thinks he needs to pick on it. Here is Einstein’s view.….……

“I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today — and even professional scientists — seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is — in my opinion — the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.”

—Letter to Robert A. Thorton, Physics Professor at University of Puerto Rico (7 December 1944) [EA-674, Einstein Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem].

If more information is wanted see the entry on Einstein’s Philosophy of Science at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It is silly for people like Perakh to make these negative comments when they are not very well informed.

That’s a lot of comments.

Here’s how I see it. Factually, yes, the question of God is one science can’t address, and one which science has no interest in addressing. But that’s what science is, not how science is perceived. To most people, science is a magic 8-ball: ask it a question about how the world works, shake it, and see what answer floats up; it doesn’t matter how the answer came about. And when this magic 8-ball comes into conflict with the magic 8-ball of religion, which actually provides emotional comfort, people get a bit defensive of their religion 8-ball.

Mark Perakh:

Science does not assert or imply that “God does not exist.” Science simply is not interested in such a notion. One may assert that science does not support the notion that God exists. Right. Equally, science does not support the opposite notion. The question of whether, beyond the “natural” universe which can be studied by scientific means exists something “supernatural” is neither asked nor answered by science.

However, from Talk Reason website (recommended by Perakh):

http://www.talkreason.org/AboutUs.cfm

“Papers whose goal is to promote creationism, Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity, the compatibility of the Bible with science, and religious apologetics, exegesis or papers arguing against established scientific theories such as the evolution theory will not be accepted.”

The alleged neutrality seen in the Perakh quote, contrasted against the definitive exclusion seen in the Talk Reason quote, contradict.

If the Talk Reason quote corresponds to neutrality, then what type of verbiage does not?

The alleged neutrality seen in the Perakh quote, contrasted against the definitive exclusion seen in the Talk Reason quote, contradict.

Perakh is saying that, while the supernatural cannot be addressed by science one way or the other, BULLSHIT in fact CAN be examined by science, and has been, and has been determined to be without merit, and he doesn’t wish to provide a forum for bullshit.

Nothing contradictory at all.

Factually, yes, the question of God is one science can’t address,

I see this said so often here, but it is not quite accurate.

If a consistent definition of a god can be made, and that definition includes such a god interacting with the universe in an observable manner, then science most certainly can weigh in on the issue.

this is, of course, why you really can NEVER pin the religious down on exactly what their definition of any specific deity IS. Once you note any part of their definition as being testable, they immediately move the goalposts to an untestable definition.

“God is that which makes lightning flash and thunder boom!”

well, might have worked a few hundred years ago as a definition, now? not so much.

Hell, Ken Miller has had to push the definition of his own god so far it now lies in the realm of interacting in quantum fields.

so, technically, it really depends on what the definition of “God” is as to whether or not science has something to weigh in on.

The null hypothesis, and the default position of course, to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, is that any particular definition DOES NOT EXIST.

One can then construct a positive definition, and either include testable items that one can then construct a positive hypothesis around, or one can work the definition such that constructing a testable hypothesis is simply not possible.

example:

Leprechauns.

H0: Leprechauns do not exist.

my first definition of Leprechaun:

-Is a humanoid figure, typically appearing as a very small (no bigger than a toddler), old man, usually wearing a hat -Leprechauns mostly spend their time making shoes -They store all their money as gold in a hidden (or invisible) pot -These pots are always at the end of rainbows -If captured, they can grant 3 wishes to the captor in exchange for their release.

Well, I can envision any number of testable hypotheses surrounding many parts of this definition, since a lot of it contains reference to observable phenomena, and the last implies Leprechauns themselves are physical, observable, beings that can be captured and observed.

so, in that case, I think science would indeed have much to say on the existence of Leprechauns.

If, OTOH, I defined Leprechauns this way:

-Shapeshifters; sometimes taking the form of a small old man, but can take any form, or be invisible, at will -They can make shoes, but they don’t have to; some do, some don’t, and at any given time or place, you could find all of them making shoes, or none. -Because of their transitory nature, they cannot be captured, though at certain times and places, one can leave notes to ask for wishes to be granted, which sometimes are.

OK, now the definition has been changed significantly.

It has effectively removed it from the realm of relative testability.

So, as you can see, it really depends on how one defines God as to whether or not science can weigh in on it.

Flint said:

The alleged neutrality seen in the Perakh quote, contrasted against the definitive exclusion seen in the Talk Reason quote, contradict.

Perakh is saying that, while the supernatural cannot be addressed by science one way or the other, BULLSHIT in fact CAN be examined by science, and has been, and has been determined to be without merit, and he doesn’t wish to provide a forum for bullshit.

Nothing contradictory at all.

My point was rhetorical. Perakh’s neutrality claim is contradicted by his belief that science is correct to exclude Creationism-ID.

Exclusion does not correspond to neutrality—just the opposite. It corresponds to pro-Atheism.

So called “Christian” Evolutionists are fools and buffoons.

Oh dear, Ray’s off his meds and trolling the internet again.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on December 22, 2010 3:33 PM.

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