Monday, December 05, 2005

Two Sides?

In the dog days of summer just past, our fearless leader famously has chimed in on the Intelligent Design debate, declaring that both sides should be taught in our schools. He was grateful for the opportunity to avoid questions about his reluctance follow through on his promise to can the leaker of Valerie Plame's identity after it became abundantly clear that the leaker was none other than the man often cited as Bush's brain, C.R.E.E.P. veteran ratfucker Karl Rove. Baby Bush did not elaborate at length, and so it must be concluded from his silence that he buys the claims of ID's proponents, the wedgie fomenters at the Discovery Institute, that ID is science and should be taught as such.

Let's examine that contention.

Francis Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton had argued for the primacy of observation in articulating laws of nature. At some point, the repeated observation of specific events triggered by specific proximate causes justified generalities being applied.

Enter David Hume, fork in hand.

There are two discreet columns that human inquiry may be divided into: relations of ideas and matters of fact.

To Hume, anything that dealt with what he called "the relation of ideas" was largely a question of definition, subject to one of Aristotle First Principles -- the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) -- and thus generally assumed. Triangles, by definition, are two dimensional objects with three sides. Euclid already did the work. It is axiomatic --universally agreed -- what a triangle is, and what it is not, so no formal proof is necessary. Indeed, any attempt would produce only circular statements.

Matters of fact, on the other hand, are observed individual phenomena. Before a determination is made about a given property, behavior or aspect of one of these matters of fact, they retain the potentiality to both confirm and falsify any statement made about them.

And thus a problem arises, named (but not by Hume) the Problem of Induction.

The Problem of Induction raises its ugly head because the two tines of Hume's Fork are separate. Observed phenomena cannot be made to imply a law, since relations of ideas transcend matters of fact. No matter how many times you repeat an experiment, or record an observation of a phenomenon, it cannot be said with certainty that the result will be the same next time.

This looked for the longest time like an insurmountable problem, leading to assertions that there is a Metaphysical Principle lurking behind science.

Popper's answer to the Problem of Induction was to demonstrate that the separation of the tines of the fork was illusory. The laws arising from the data sets of science are themselves falsifiable. They are contingent upon the contradictory fact never arising. Because laws -- and theories, and hypotheses -- are contingent, the validity of a law, a theory or an hypothesis cannot be inferred by the empirical evidence, only its falsity, and that inference is deductive. The moment a fact arises contradicting an assertion in science, the assertion is toast.

Another problem is solved by Popper here, the problem of what is and what is not science -- what is known as the Problem of Demarcation. Popper thought this was the most important epistemological question in the philosophy of science. If one looks at any aspect of a hypothesis, a theory, or an assertion; and no way to falsify that hypothesis, theory or assertion can be found; then one is not dealing with science.

Intelligent Design, is based solidly on an unfalsifiable proposition: since phenomenon X looks to any undefined observer to be too complex to explain by natural means, then it was designed.

From this proposition follows a conclusion: somebody designed phenomenon X. And from this conclusion arises a question: who/what designed it?

Now another problem arises, that of infinite regression. Something so complex as to be able to design a natural system must itself be designed. Etc., etc., etc. And the only way out of this infinite regression is to declare at some point that "Gawd done it!"

So, now we've established that a designer is either a logical fallacy or a violation of the establishment clause.

2 Comments:

Anonymous erik said...

Apples and oranges I say.
One side seeks to find the root of earthly existence through deconstruction or reverse engineering and has created the hypothesis we know as 'Evolution'.
The amount inference and supposition inherent in 'Evolution' places the hypothesis or Theory, if you must use the term, well outside what I know as 'the scientific method'.
Please bear in mind that I am in no way schooled in the matters at hand. I am just a casual observer.
The other side looks at the entire scene as a whole and embraces the concept of a root that fits the entire picture no matter what, with the mind that the circumstance suggests no other possible explanation.
The one side presents bargeloads of 'supporting evidence' none of which is actually supportive but is great 'pissing contest' material. Because DNA has been observed to mutate and because other bipeds that fit the hypothesis (Theory) are known to have existed then it simply must be that homo sapiens developed gradually through the process of genetic mutation. Throw in breeding observations and voila! Sound reasoning? Not to this casual observer.
The other side with their whole picture approach reflects on the matter with THEIR whole picture. Which of course includes their emotional life. I make little distinction between emotional and spiritual personally. They are looking at an entirety that includes their life experience. they too have some source material and it is The Holy Bible. The Bible is somewhat more than a gerden variety storybook, the King James Version is the foundation of modern English. This is due to its dominance of early literature and learning in general. I am sure the smae goes for the rest of the European side of the Indo-European language group. Language is known to be instrumental in the formation and learned use of the human brain ( those peoples with pictographic alphabets use the right and left side of the brain very differently than do Europeans.
Further The Holy Bible, in Genesis Chaperter 1, relates a descrition, accurate in chronological order and in physical reality of 'Creation from before the 'Big Bang' unto the appearance of man on earth. The description is of course not complete but what is there is accurate. That is something that is noteworthy in the least to this casual observer.
The 'supposition' of this side is that our nature and experience unequivocly infer a greater power or source of what we know and feel. It is in essence a humble approach. Would that the same humility be always present in the expression of the believers ( that being said, I have on occasion detected hubris on the other side).
Now it seems the problem is abattle for influence over public school curriculae. The article this letter is a response to handily removes both sides from the realm of 'science' so lets address the politics. The 'Fundies' pay taxes, number in eight figures and their ID hypothesis is a valid as the next one. The 'Law' here in Canada anyway IS 'The Will of The People'. Would it not be prudent (thanks George Sr.) to expend this great energy in research and presentation of ideas that our students could benefit from? Trust me the young believe everyone on the two sides of the argument are idiotic.
Well thats about it from this casual observer. One more thing, should you react with challenge to my assertions regarding Genesis Chapter 1 please read and carefully consider the content before posting. I made the observation having read from the King James Version.
Apples and Oranges.
ty, erik

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With respect to 'Laws' scientific or other I philosophically and from my vantage point as a proffesional tree-climber recognize only one REAL Law and that is the Law of Gravity and I say gravity is our friend.
erik

5:41 PM  

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