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Posts Tagged ‘science’

Recently I was in a discussion about morality in which someone suggested that morality can indeed be scientific. I reminded the person of Hume’s Guillotine, which eviscerates the idea of secular ethics. Hume’s Guillotine basically states that a person cannot derive values from facts alone, only other facts. To derive values, one must first arbitrarily adopt an over-arching moral framework, and then evaluate the facts in light of the framework.

Still, the person persisted and linked to a commentary by someone claiming that systems of morality can be rationally evaluated using Game Theory, such as the famous test Prisoner’s Dilemma. In Prisoner’s Dilemma a situation is introduced where two prisoners are taken together in relation to the same crime. Both have to decide whether to testify against the other. If A testifies against B, and vice versa, both get two years. If neither A nor B testifies against each other, both only get one year. But if A testifies against B and B stays silent, A goes free and B gets three years. Interesting to think about.

Prisoner’s dilemma itself is an amoral, arbitrary test. It can be used to observe and quantify a set of results but does not clarify morality, nor make predictive results for a previously untested population, especially when a new version of the dilemma is rolled out with different trade-offs.

The article they linked to was posted at Scientific American, at the url:  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/game-theory-and-the-golden-punishment-rule/

Here is why the article’s conclusions are non sequitur logic fallacies:

Testing a given moral framework would necessitate adjusting the dilemma itself to be in line with that framework. What’s good and bad would be different so the system of justice and types of payoffs involved would be different.

Even if the system of justice & payoffs remained situationally the same across the different moral frameworks being evaluated, the moral interpretation of whatever result was produced – what would be considered a good outcome and what would be considered a bad outcome – would also need to be changed to be evaluated according to the given moral framework being considered.

For example, if a moral framework valued telling the truth and punishing criminal behavior, then two people covering up the wrongdoing and therefore serving minimal time would be considered a ~negative~ outcome.

But if someone had Humanist values – the ideas that truth is secondary to manipulating outcomes and that crimes should only be punished if the perpetrator gets caught – then covering up the wrongdoing and serving minimal time for it would be considered a ~positive~ outcome.

Because of these differences it’s impossible to dispassionately ~morally~ evaluate the outcomes of disparate moral frameworks. They will always be evaluated according to whatever happens to be the moral framework of the person doing the evaluating.

This exposes the main non sequitur logic fallacy with rationalism itself. Rationalism pretends to be scientific and objective, but it ~assumes~ it’s own subjective morality as much as any other arbitrary moral framework. And because the scientific method is limited to the realm of facts, the moral conclusions reached are ~not~ scientific at all but purely philosophical.

Yet rationalists try to sell their moral conclusions as somehow being scientific, just like the article we’re discussing is trying to do.

Rationalists pretend all morality is relative, yet what they value is whatever leads to their own empowerment over others and personal enrichment. So their morality is that it’s moral to subjugate others and live off the efforts of others. Their morality boils down to: themselves as gods.

This is why every attempt to “scientifically” create a utopia by rationally manipulating people – such as in game theory – has wound up empowering and enriching the endeavor’s leaders while subjugating and impoverishing everyone else involved.

It’s sad but not surprising that such a commentary would be posted by Scientific American.   Much of the scientific establishment in the West is guilty of confusing arbitrary secular ethics with science, and for the same reasons- They are trying to help usher in that utopia they think we’re always on the verge of but which, sadly, we will never realize because of mankind’s selfish nature.  Hopefully one day they will become scientific enough to actually see that morality and science are separate entities.

In the meantime, when it comes to applied Prisoner’s Dilemma, the test subject is always the prisoner.

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NASA predicts that we will find extra terrestrial life in the next 20 years.  Who knows, we may.  But there is a problem with their motivation.  In terms of NASA’s current position, this is not science, it’s philosophy based on blind faith in an ex nihilo self-generating universe or multiverse and in random abiogenesis, neither of which has ever been observed.

If you bring this up, they would probably respond with two philosophical propositions, both of which are logic fallacies.

“Well, we’ve never seen God directly so therefore there is no God.” This is a non-sequitur. As I point out above, we’ve never observed multiverse or abiogenesis.  We’ve also never observed phyletic gradualism or punctuated equilibrium; neither in nature, the fossil record or the lab.  Bacteria becoming bacteria, moths becoming moths and finches becoming finches are all simply examples of trait dominance shift within existing genetic pools.

“There are multiple mutually exclusive explanations for God (such as “Spaghetti Monster”), therefore none is correct and there is no God.” This is argumentum ad logicam- assuming that just because one theory is spurious therefore every theory is spurious.

If they further said God cannot be proven, that is equally true of all the theories I mention above.

The fact is ~any~ position regarding God or unknown questions of origins is philosophical at this point, ~not~ scientific.

But Secularists in our government continue to promote and outright legislate the world view of Metaphysical Naturalism (the blind faith assertion that, “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be”) and Humanism, never seeing that to the degree they have unthinking devotion and blind faith in a mythical, self-creating universe and self-generating life, they are not pursuing science but philosophy.

Every observation or fact offered up as evidence for those two beliefs (speed of light, red-shift, similarity of features and re-use of DNA among life forms, etc.) could just as easily be interpreted as supporting a belief in design.

The Secularist push to promote Metaphysical Naturalism and Humanism within government is also directly responsible for the recent rise in paganism, the occult and animism among our youth, because what passes for modern science these days – at least in terms of cosmological and ontological theory – is nothing more than a step backwards to looking at nature and life as being mythical and self creating.

This Secularist view of the world informs an indoctrinee’s thoughts in origins, daily decision making and morality, which means it inherently ~is~ a form of religion. It effectively constitutes an officially sanctioned religious paganism in our schools and government funded scientific circles.

We’ve been searching the skies for 30 years for a binary radio signal from space which could be taken as a sign of intelligence.  And yet to this day most scientists refuse to consider the possibility that a quaternary programming language capable of coding everything from a blade of grass to Gisele Bundchen could have been the product of intelligence.

I say we don’t have to wait 20 years to see a sign of extra terrestrial intelligence.

The news story regarding NASA’s prediction of finding intelligent life is at:

http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2014/07/15/nasa-humans-will-prove-we-are-not-alone-in-the-universe-within-20-years/

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Just watching Episode 1 of the new “Cosmos” series. The first words of the series is a faith-based statement by Carl Sagan.  “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”  The statement is based in blind-faith regarding an unobserved singularity, the beginning of the universe.  It is purely philosophical, not scientific, because evidence is inconclusive and we cannot go back to the beginning of the universe and treat it with the scientific model:  Observe it several times, record data, and then use the data to test theories.  Carl’s voice trails off and says, “Come with me…”  The very next words in the new Cosmos series are from the narrator.  He says, “A generation ago the astronomer Carl Sagan stood here and launched hundreds of millions of us on a great adventure, the exploration of the universe revealed by science.”  Did you catch that?  The new series begins with a statement based on blind faith which sums up the message of the original Cosmos series.  But it calls this position “science.”  There are two logic fallacies that naturalists fall into when insisting that non-theism is a rational position for science.  The first is non-sequitur (something which does not logically follow).  “We’ve never observed God directly, therefore there is no God.”  Well, we’ve never observed abiogenesis or spontaneous, ex nihilo universe formation.  The second logic fallacy is argumentum ad logicam (argument to logic, assuming a theory is false just because one proof put up on it’s behalf can be proven false).  “There are multiple, mutually exclusive explanations for what God could be, like the ‘Spaghetti Monster’ theory, so therefore no theory is correct.”  The sad thing is that the philosophical position these logically flawed statements support is unquestionably accepted in many modern academic circles and then incorrectly labeled as being “science”.  This matters.  A blind-faith belief about one’s origins informs a person’s day to day decision making and their perception of morality.  It ultimately ~IS~ their religious world view of the universe.  In the case of Naturalism, it is the worship of nature as the self-creating whole.  Consider Carl Sagan’s words again.  “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”  That blind-faith belief has huge implications regarding the sanctity of life, belief in individual rights to life, liberty and property and personal moral conduct.  In a word, it is inherently religious.  And yet this position is being taught to our children in public schools as the unquestionable truth, after all the proponents say, “it’s science.”  If you watch the new Cosmos series enjoy it.  I’m sure there will be lots of cool mind-blowing facts, and a lot of truth.  But just as much as that – if the previous series was any indication – there will be a host of philosophical, faith based positions and beliefs incorrectly presented as also being facts.  If you want to be objective, you’ll want to keep that in mind.

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Bill Nye The Science Guy recently posted an impassioned plea on YouTube, entitled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children“, in which he says that belief in evolution is fundamental to human progress.  He goes on to say, ” [if grownups want to] deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them.” 

This statement is astounding to me because evolution is not consistent with everything we observe in the universe; evolution is a theory based on a philosophical position which trys to explain what we observe in the universe.  From that standpoint, evolution is no more or less plausible than belief in an intelligent designer is plausible.  In fact, I have a hard time processing how many intellectuals – people who are smart and well-meaning – don’t make the connection that faith in evolution is just like other type of religious faith.

OK, before you stop reading because you think I’m nuts, let me explain where I’m coming from. 

The scientific method is to formulate a hypothesis, test it several times in a controlled environment, record data and then draw a conclusion. With historical events this isn’t possible and so one must approach things evidentially. Some things we can know directly – there is a trilobite. It’s encased in sandstone. To go too much further though one must start making logical assumptions in order to extrapolate more data. The rub in in which assumptions are considered “scientific”. Remember, science only deals with the known, the observable, the factual. From that standpoint we really concretely have no idea how things happened with the origin of life. All we know is that DNA based life forms have an incredible similarity. What is the origin of the similarity? Frankly any speculation on that point is purely philosophical and not scientific. Again, I would argue that arbitrary faith in no God, or in no intelligent influence on the origin of life or of the universe, is at this point in our understanding just as philosophical of a proposition as the assertion that there is a God or an intelligent designer.  Science should not be concerned with either possibility, period. So as a person of faith it is maddening to hear people call the one assumption “scientific” and the other “not scientific.”

Why do many intellectuals arbitrarily assume no intelligence is at play in cosmology and ontology? I’ve heard two things consistently. One is that with so many theories regarding the nature of God, several of which are mutually exclusive, that therefore none can be true. The other is that we supposedly see no direct evidence of God or intelligence in the universe. On the first point, it is an instance of the logic fallacy “argumentum ad logicam” or “argument to logic” – the assumption that just because one argument put in place for a theory is incorrect, that therefore the theory itself is incorrect. On the second point, it is an instance of the logic fallacy “petition principia” or “begging the question” – assuming that one’s thesis is true as part of the evidence in support of the thesis itself. To know there is no God one would have to know everything in the universe and be in all places at once – omniscient and omnipresent – which would make one’s-self God. But more than this, the assumption is questionable because it is applied so arbitrarily. For example, SETI is searching the skies for a binary radio signal from space as a sign of intelligence. What if I told you I could point towards a quaternary programming language that can be used to program a living organism? If the first is indicative of intelligence, how much more should the second be?

Again, all of this to say that science does not enter into the equation of any proposition based on assumptions about universe that can’t be tested.

And yet the modern scientific community is predisposed towards several unproveable theories that only exist to try to explain away the order we observe in the cosmos. If the ratios of the mass of protons to electrons, or the ratios of strong and weak nuclear forces to themselves and to electro-magnetism, or the rate of expansion of the universe, or the seemingly finely-tuned unevenness of the distribution of matter from the big bang as indicated by cosmic background microwave radiation – if any one of these factors was off by 5% or even less we would not have galaxies and stars to bake heavier elements necessary for life. And so theories considered “scientific” to address these observations include anthropomorphic principle (man will one day be intelligent enough to go back in time and create himself), panspermia (the seeds of life are literally ‘wafted across the cosmos’ by an older and wiser race – never mind the time it would take for two generations of galaxies in order to bake heavier elements), multiverse theory (there are so many random unverses we simply won the lottery with ours), etc.  These theories don’t come across to me as examples of scientific objectivity.  Instead they appear to be philosophical attempts to explain away – not buttress – what we observe in the cosmos.

On a final note, if someone watches Carl Sagan or reads Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear, and feels a deep wonder and mystery at being a part of so great and long a process of the cosmos – a literal bit of stardust become self-aware in the universe – then I would argue that the experience they are having, given our limitations of knowledge at this time, is innately religious, not scientific or objective. And I think if they are a person dedicated to reason and knowledge, they need to consider this seriously.

As for Bill Nye’s assertion that creationism is not appropriate for children?  Considering  the fact that both creationism and evolution are faith-based propositions, if we ban creationism then we must equally say that evolution is not appropriate for children.

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