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17 comments | Thursday, September 28, 2006

In response to a claim that creationism and ID are unfalsifiable and therefore “not science”, I left the below comment. I though I would post it here as well:

The Designer is not falsifiable per se (I’ll agree). However, creationism makes falsifiable claims. There is more to creationism than “God created the heavens and earth.” When you say that creationism is “not falsifiable”, it comes off (on my end) as a blanket statement. I see it all the time. “Creationism is not falsifiable” on the one hand, but on the other “creationism is demonstrably false” It sounds schizophrenic (CS is simultaneously unfalsifiable and falsified).

Creationism is filled with assumptions that can be tested. However, on both sides of the fence, there are theories that are abstract; they are general concepts that by no means be tested directly. Moreover, only predictions about the physical world which can be drawn from the theory can actually be subjected to test or experimentation. This puts God out of the field of testability and thus He is un-falsifiable in relation to direct scientific detection.

Another thing is that falsification seems to be inappropriately used as this transcendent line of demarcation. However, scientific theories are typically integrated into a much larger framework of presuppositions (via philosophical) and assumptions that not only entice conclusions, but ultimate characteristics of any given theory.

Evolution has its issues as well. When all else fails, evolutionist appeal to the unknown, and even unknowable naturalistic causes that science has not yet discovered, and in reality may never discover.

However, if I may note, saying that creationism is “not science” is used as more of a type of ad hom toward creationism and a semantic smokescreen that tends to demote it’s merits before even engaging the issue. It’s a sneaky way to poison the well. In addition, if creationism can't be falsified, then no possible fact or event could count as evidence against creationism. It would follow, then, that Darwinian evolution does not falsify creationism. However, they make contradictory claims.

Take for example Intelligent Design Theory. ID theorists propose that some features of biological organisms are irreducibly complex; Darwinists (in the complete naturalistic sense), however, deny that any are irreducibly complex. Ipso facto, this contradistinction alone denotes that ID theory can be falsifiable by showing X biological organism are not irreducibly complex. Darwinists contend that there are no irreducibly complex organisms and thus ID’s claim is false. However, if that claim is false, then it is falsifiable; therefore, if ID theorists propose what is possibly a false claim, it is open to falsification. Thus, evidence for Darwinism is evidence against creationism and ID theory and evidence for creation or ID theory is evidence against Darwinism.

We have falsifiable propositions either way, thus, we have theories that are open to falsification.

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17 Comments:

Blogger The Intolerant One said...

And that, my friend, is what makes Intelligent Design/Creationism valid scientific theory and not just the hocus pocus that Darwinians like too espouse at everyone who does not support their (ahem!) Belief!

9/29/2006 2:05 AM

 
Blogger KA said...

BF:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability
"In science and the philosophy of science, falsifiability, contingency, and defeasibility are roughly equivalent terms referring to the property of empirical statements that they must admit of logical counterexamples. This stands in contradistinction to formal and mathematical statements that may be tautologies, that is, universally true by dint of definitions, axioms, and proofs. Some philosophers and scientists, most notably Karl Popper, have asserted that no empirical hypothesis, proposition, or theory can be considered scientific if it does not admit the possibility of a contrary case.
"Falsifiable does not mean false. For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be possible, at least in principle, to make an observation that would show the proposition to fall short of being a tautology, even if that observation is not actually made. The logical precondition of being able to observe something of a given description is that something of that description exists."
(snip)
Falsifiability was one of the criteria used by Judge William Overton to determine that 'creation science' was not scientific and should not be taught in Arkansas public schools. It was also enshrined in United States law as part of the Daubert Standard set by the Supreme Court for whether scientific evidence is admissible in a jury trial."
Next I assume my reading comprehension will be attacked? Or my honesty? All the usual responses?

9/30/2006 8:53 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

KA,

“Next I assume my reading comprehension will be attacked? Or my honesty? All the usual responses?”

How about you just describe exactly how giving a definition of falsifiability addresses anything this post says? Also, don’t play the defensive card; it hasn’t worked for you yet.

9/30/2006 9:06 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

TIO,

Apparently the schizophrenia is not recognized.

9/30/2006 9:08 AM

 
Blogger Stan said...

I've never quite figured this out. Since "falsifiable" is essential in the argument to allow something into the arena of possibility, how would one go about falsifying the theory of Evolution? Except for the many times that science has had to change its theory because it has become untenable (such as "punctuated equilibrium" and the like), is it possible to test the statement that fish evolved into land animals? It seems extremely difficult, in fact, to actually provide a test for any remote, historic event. Does that make Evolution "not science"? Ah, the difficult questions we ponder.

10/07/2006 11:11 AM

 
Anonymous karen said...

For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be possible, at least in principle, to make an observation that would show the proposition to fall short of being a tautology, even if that observation is not actually made.

How does creation science fulfill this?

Not arguing. Just asking, if you will indulge me, as this is a little over my head.

karen

10/08/2006 10:46 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Stan,

Thanks for dropping in. I agree with your point about falsifiability; this principal seems to cut both ways. But like creation science, the GTE evolution has certain aspects that appear unfalsifiable. Nevertheless, I think the dogmatic demarcation of falsifiability is overstated by those committed to philosophical naturalism. I’m not into creation science per se, only in the sense (by default) that I know God created the universe and I think there are ample clues that point toward that.

10/09/2006 11:58 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

Long time no talk. I think if you read material on the ‘other’ side of the fence it would be a tad bit clearer. But I know how it’s difficult to read things on our own side, let alone those who you don’t agree with. There are numerous propositions that creationists make. For example, there are claims about time (decay of earths magnetic field/geologic column w/artifacts, helium content in earth's atmosphere); global/local floods, co existents of humans/dinosaurs? Design, complexity (or fine tuning), diversity, probabilities, some have offered brief outlines to describe their theory, and many offer scientific counters to GTE theory (which is not positive evidence). The example I gave of irreducible complexity is falsifiable for the ID crowd. ID tends to use more biological components in their material.

I wonder though, Karen. Just how can someone see the the inter life of a cell and not have your knee drop to the floor (next to your jaw)? I guess we look at the world through different lenses; I just wish you would try mine on.

Take care

10/09/2006 12:04 PM

 
Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Neither evolution nor ID are scientific theories. They are categories of theories. Evolution would contain theories that show complexity of life evolving simply from probability and the laws of physics. ID would contain theories that involve intelligent intervention in the formation or evolution of life. There could even be theories that would fall into both categories.

Today, the difference between the two categories is that evolutionary biology contains explanatory scientific theories, and ID contains not a one.

Evolutionary biology hasn't explained everything, but it does contain verified scientific theories like common descent and natural selection. ID has nothing to show.

Why has ID made no progress? It fails to make progress because it fails to come up with a scientific claim.

For example, it is a fact that there are irreducibly complex systems (systems that, sans one component, cease to function). The thing that has been soundly refuted is that irreducibly complex things cannot evolve. Even if this idea had not been refuted, IC still would not be a test of ID. Why? Because ID doesn't predict our observations either. At best it can show that evolution is improbable, but it fails to show that design is more probable.

Given a God, what is the probability that he would create a universe with life? Unknown. Let's fine-tune our theory of God so he creates a universe with life. Now what's the probability that the universe has Carbon and life is based on that element? One in a googleplex. Okay, let's fine-tune again. God creates a world just like ours with life just like ours. Now, what pattern of random mutations do we expect to see spanning human, chimp and gorilla genomes? ID cannot say. It's almost infinitely fine-tuned and yet it still can't make a bloody prediction. Yes, folks, zero explanatory power. That's BS, not science.

People only fall for ID because it "feels" explanatory that God made us and the Universe. But every explanation must predict the observations being explained, and theism fails to do this.

10/14/2006 11:47 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

DL,

First, welcome and thanks for the comments.

A few of points:

“Today, the difference between the two categories is that evolutionary biology contains explanatory scientific theories, and ID contains not a one.”

This depends of what exactly you mean by ‘explanatory scientific theories.’ I am sure there are a lot of presuppositions packaged within that statement. Nevertheless, ID’s objective is to demonstrate intelligent design via induction based on pre-existing data; if inductive conclusions are prohibited in “science” then we will have to give up GTE as well. Moreover, what you are basically saying (in effect) is that there are no scientific methods of detecting design; it’s scientifically impossible and we cannot (at least scientifically) detect patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. That is a profound declaration IMHO.

“Evolutionary biology hasn't explained everything, but it does contain verified scientific theories like common descent and natural selection. ID has nothing to show.”

I don’t know that common decent has been “verified.” I believe your overstating the cogency of GTE. Also, ID has been categorically suppressed due to naturalistic biases.

“Why has ID made no progress? It fails to make progress because it fails to come up with a scientific claim.”

It seems that you’re conflating extra-scientific implications of a scientific theory with the theory itself. Moreover, such a sweeping claim ignores the methodical approaches by scientists such as Behe and Dembski without the benefit of argument.

“For example, it is a fact that there are irreducibly complex systems (systems that, sans one component, cease to function). The thing that has been soundly refuted is that irreducibly complex things cannot evolve. Even if this idea had not been refuted, IC still would not be a test of ID. Why? Because ID doesn't predict our observations either. At best it can show that evolution is improbable, but it fails to show that design is more probable.

You went from first gear to third. This post was about falsifiability. ID may or may not demonstrate probabilities of design over non-design, but neither has been argued here. Moreover, irreducible complicity is not the way you have characterized it (an affirmation that X cannot evolve), rather, Bhe claims “a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”

“Given a God, what is the probability that he would create a universe with life? Unknown. Let's fine-tune our theory of God so he creates a universe with life. Now what's the probability that the universe has Carbon and life is based on that element? One in a googleplex. Okay, let's fine-tune again. God creates a world just like ours with life just like ours. Now, what pattern of random mutations do we expect to see spanning human, chimp and gorilla genomes? ID cannot say. It's almost infinitely fine-tuned and yet it still can't make a bloody prediction. Yes, folks, zero explanatory power. That's BS, not science.

This is completely disanalogous to ID. What you have done, is to flip ID in reverse and work the other way, then refute it because we cannot attain probabilities and predictions from God (or the ‘Designer’). But is this what ID claims? No. Is this the working theory of ID? No. Is this the way ID is formulated? No. That’s a straw man, not a rebuttal. All you have done is to complain that ID is not what you want it to be, and then call it “BS” for it.

“People only fall for ID because it "feels" explanatory that God made us and the Universe. But every explanation must predict the observations being explained, and theism fails to do this.”

So doc, where did you get your armchair psychology degree? You end by stating ‘every explanation must predict the observations being explained’, but your just stacking the deck because ID has never intended to describe the mechanics of design and how ‘design’ works, only the detection thereof.

Take Care

10/15/2006 5:11 PM

 
Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Beowulf,

I don’t know that common decent has been “verified.”

Either common descent has been verified, or you're proposing there's a giant conspiracy theory in which 99+% of all the trained experts are working to conceal the truth. Never mind that biologists work in a transparent environment, and are fierce mutual competitors. To attack common descent, ID proponents bypass the scientific establishment, appeal directly to the "common sense" of non-experts, and convince the public that the answer is a "he said, she said" affair. Is this how objective questions are to be settled in the new order?

As for ID, I understand its claims quite well.

Your Behe quote says basically what I said. The relevance of Behe's IC to ID is that he claims IC systems could not have evolved. Or are you saying Behe doesn't claim this? This is why he got so badly mangled in the Dover PA case. His assertions about IC had been soundly refuted, yet he refused to acknowledge the refutations.

As for Dembski, he has devised a formula for "CSI" that he hypothesizes predicts whether or not a system has been designed. However, finding biological systems that his formula says are designed is not evidence of design. He can't use his hypothesis as evidence for his hypothesis.

Behe and Dembski are charlatans.

One day there might actually be scientific theories of ID. The tell-tale sign of design isn't complexity, but utility. Yet, utility is the question contemporary IDists won't touch. They won't touch it because it (a) would make their position look scientifically farcical, and (b) the evidence would overwhelmingly favor GTE. Of all the billions of reasons why a God could decide to create life, why create life with the one and only utility predicted by GTE? Survival. Such an analysis overwhelmingly refutes the generic ID hypothesis.

...but your just stacking the deck because ID has never intended to describe the mechanics of design and how ‘design’ works, only the detection thereof.

If your theory won't specify the designer, the purpose, the design/manufacturing process of the system in question, how can you possibly tell whether the system was designed?

For a test to be an effective determinant, there must be a prediction about what the test results will indicate. I don't get to decide the meanings of the pregnancy test symbols after my girlfriend takes the test. The meaning of the test is decided before the test is taken. Thus far, ID has yet to make predictions that follow from its premises. That's why all scientists reject ID as unfalsifiable. Not that no ID theory could ever be falsifiable, but contemporary ID theories are so generic as to be unfalsifiable.

10/15/2006 6:28 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

DL,

“Either common descent has been verified, or you're proposing there's a giant conspiracy theory in which 99+% of all the trained experts are working to conceal the truth. Never mind that biologists work in a transparent environment, and are fierce mutual competitors. To attack common descent, ID proponents bypass the scientific establishment, appeal directly to the "common sense" of non-experts, and convince the public that the answer is a "he said, she said" affair. Is this how objective questions are to be settled in the new order?

(i) Your first sentence is a false dilemma. I am not proposing a ‘conspiracy theory’ and neither do I carry a torch and pitchfork when I question GTE. (ii) I guess I missed the bandwagon on GTE, but consensus is not validation of truth. (iii) How exactly does ID ‘bypass the scientific establishment’? Is their a club that you have to be in? Or is it like a religious order? Do we need a scientific bishop? Is Dawkins the scientific pope and all classifications must pass through his desk for an ‘approval’? Is this how science works in the new order?

“Your Behe quote says basically what I said. The relevance of Behe's IC to ID is that he claims IC systems could not have evolved. Or are you saying Behe doesn't claim this? This is why he got so badly mangled in the Dover PA case. His assertions about IC had been soundly refuted, yet he refused to acknowledge the refutations.”

Behe has repeatedly said that he accepts evolution. I can’t speak to Dover personally, because I didn’t follow it that closely. But here is what Behe has to say regarding it:

“I never said or wrote that Darwinian evolution “cannot” be correct, in the sense of somehow being logically impossible, as the court implies (referencing exclusively to Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses). In its use of the word “cannot” the Court echoes the unfair strategy of Darwinists to force skeptics to try to prove a negative, to prove that Darwinism is impossible. However, unlike in mathematics or philosophy, in science one cannot conclusively prove a negative. One can’t conclusively prove that Darwinism is false any more than one can conclusively prove that the “ether” doesn’t exist. With this unfair strategy, rather than demonstrating empirical plausibility, Darwinists claim that the mere logical possibility that random mutation and natural selection may in some unknown manner account for a system counts in their favor. In the history of science no successful theory has ever demonstrated that all rival theories are impossible, and neither should intelligent design be held to such an unreasonable, inappropriate standard. Rather, a theory succeeds by explaining the data better than competing ideas.”

“As for Dembski, he has devised a formula for "CSI" that he hypothesizes predicts whether or not a system has been designed. However, finding biological systems that his formula says are designed is not evidence of design. He can't use his hypothesis as evidence for his hypothesis.”

Huh? So we have to a priori exclude intelligent causes before we can hypothesis intelligent causes? What can someone use to detect design? What do archeologists use? Is it scientific?

“Behe and Dembski are charlatans.”

Good one doc, a little character assassination always makes your claims stronger.

“If your theory won't specify the designer, the purpose, the design/manufacturing process of the system in question, how can you possibly tell whether the system was designed?”

What difference does it make? You don’t discard the inference just because the identity of the designer is not attainable by the detection means. Just because you don’t know “who” the designer was/is, doesn’t mean there is no designer. At a crime scene, just because you can’t identify the suspect, does mean somebody doesn’t commit a crime. You go where the evidence leads.

“For a test to be an effective determinant, there must be a prediction about what the test results will indicate. I don't get to decide the meanings of the pregnancy test symbols after my girlfriend takes the test. The meaning of the test is decided before the test is taken. Thus far, ID has yet to make predictions that follow from its premises. That's why all scientists reject ID as unfalsifiable. Not that no ID theory could ever be falsifiable, but contemporary ID theories are so generic as to be unfalsifiable.”

Sure, so when scientists claim there is *no* design in nature it is scientific, but to claim that there is design in nature is not. Sounds like special pleading.

10/16/2006 10:43 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

DL,

I am going to be busy with some other obligations, so I will probably have to give you the last word on this. I don’t post frequently, but you are welcome to stop by and dialogue anytime.

~wulf

10/16/2006 10:57 AM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

DL,

"People only fall for ID because it "feels" explanatory that God made us and the Universe. "

This sounds so redundant. I can easily suggest that people also fall for evolution because they do not want to "feel" accountable to a deity.

"But every explanation must predict the observations being explained, and theism fails to do this."

And atheism has explained evolution? You seem forget there is a reason it is still called a theory and not a factual reality. It is established on hypothesis and suggestive specualtion based on bit's and pieces of evidence that do not always seem to come together for the evolutionist.

And alot of the "science" behind evolution is now being challenged from within it's own community. It appears atheism is failing to do much about it's own "belief" in an unproven theory.

10/17/2006 1:34 AM

 
Blogger Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

ID is not a science because any testable claim that is made within the "ID" theory has been falsified. Including IC.

If you are interested, watch the Ken Miller Dover video. He does a very good job showing that IC doesn't exist. Interesting is that Ken Miller is a Catholic.

Now, what other scientific claims do the proponents of ID make?

And Intolerant One, lets see one scientific study that puts evolution in doubt?

10/28/2006 10:40 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Bacon,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’ll check out the video, but I hear it’s long. The Christian CADRE has started a reviewof that video, but has not finished it. When they do, I’ll probably link to it.

10/28/2006 11:42 AM

 
Blogger Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

If I remember correctly it is around the 20 minute mark that Miller squashes Behe's IC theory like a bug.

The actual lecture is little over an hour followed by around 50 minutes of Q and A.

10/28/2006 4:28 PM

 

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