Brain… hurts   5 comments

The Interwebs (at least, a subsection of ’em) are all a-twitter about Ben Stein’s upcoming “Expelled”.

In reading some of the threads, I came across this note:

“There are people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can’t possibly touch God. ” – Ben Stein

If this is, indeed, the opening line of the movie, it pretty much illustrates precisely why this movie is (probably, I haven’t seen it yet obviously) going to be a complete pile of drivel.

Mr. Stein, science is based upon precisely two main root principles:

  • The Universe behaves according to some set of laws.
  • Those laws can be illuminated by observation of said Universe.

By any meaningful definition of God (that I’ve read, anyway) He (or She, or It) is not constrained by these laws, but instead exists outside of them. This means, quite simply, that science (as a discipline) is incapable of quantifying God. Studying God is not a scientific endeavor.

Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory, and has no place in a science classroom. There is no meaningful standard of evidence. I cannot produce evidence that counters the basic principle, that there is a “lawmaker”, because the lawmaker must, by definition, be outside those laws, and outside my observation. Science has no tools to examine this phenomena.

Science ought to stay in that box.

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Posted March 21, 2008 by padraic2112 in philosophy, science

5 responses to “Brain… hurts

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  1. “By any meaningful definition of God (that I’ve read, anyway) He (or She, or It) is not constrained by these laws, but instead exists outside of them. This means, quite simply, that science (as a discipline) is incapable of quantifying God. Studying God is not a scientific endeavor.”

    Why is God not constrained by the laws? There could still be another plane, and interaction between them which obeys laws that are yet undiscovered. Also, you have the complete watchmaker view of God, which is equally unproven.

    There is also plenty of room in the vastness of molecular interaction, across days, weeks, years and eternities for said influence to go undetected.

    And overall, it sounds like you have reached some conclusions based on the lack of current evidence. How’s that science holding up?

  2. > You have a complete watchmaker view of God which is
    > equally unproven

    I don’t (exactly); this post wasn’t originally about theology. “Unproven”, in any event, is the incorrect term in theology; theology is not a proof-related theory of study.

    > Why is God not constrained by the laws?

    This is a theological question, not a scientific one. Here’s why:

    If God is in fact the “law maker”, this implies precisely one of two conditions must be true:

    (a) God has the ability to change the laws using the same authority that enabled Him (or Her, or It) to author the laws in the first place.

    (b) God chose, upon writing the laws, to make Himself (or Herself, or Itself… or Themselves, forgot that case) subject to the laws, and by doing so rendered reversal of this process impossible.

    In the first case, God possesses the ability to exist outside the laws, and is thus paranormal, and cannot be studied using the tools that are based upon the laws being true. Therefore, you cannot study God using Science.

    In the second case, God is no longer a paranormal entity, and must exist inside the context of the laws. Therefore, God must be observable inside the context of the laws of the universe. Here, it is possible to study God using Science, but…

    > There could still be another plane, and interaction
    > between them which obeys laws that are yet
    > undiscovered.

    This would apply using the conditions of the second case, just above. If you posit this case to be true, this means that God is observable, but we currently do not possess the means to expose this influence to observation.

    There are precisely two more possibilities that exist, if this is the case:

    (a) We will never be able to expose this influence to observation because the laws of this extended dimension are ineffable to human understanding.

    (b) We will be able to expose this influence to observation at some point in the future.

    If (a) is true, this is functionally equivalent to God being a supernatural entity, in the context of science (which, remember, is based upon the assumption that the laws of nature are observable). There may be rules, but we cannot comprehend them – this is equivalent to “there are no laws” when it comes to the functions of science.

    If instead (b) is true, then science has the capability of extending its understanding to include God.

    However, now we have reached a conclusion that still puts God outside the *current* boundaries of science: since we do not possess the tools necessary to expose God’s activities to observation, we cannot empirically test any theory. We cannot establish a null hypothesis. In order for us to do so, we must first create the ability to observe.

    This is like asking someone who just discovered fire to take the tools that they currently have and develop nuclear fission. Pursuit of this is categorically insane – the “fire discoverer” scientist has to build much, much more in the way of a body of theory to even come close to understanding that how the fire works.

    > And overall, it sounds like you have reached some
    > conclusions based on the lack of current evidence.

    No, I’ve come to this conclusion based upon two things: studies of systems of thought, and the function of scientific evidence gathering.

    Let me make it very easy for those people who are proponents of Intelligent Design and claim it has status as a legitimate scientific theory:

    Design an experiment or study that provides evidence to support your theory. The best evidence I’ve seen to support Intelligent Design boils down to: “Well, look at it! It makes so much sense! It couldn’t make that much sense if someone didn’t design it that way!”

    While this is certainly an attractive position, it isn’t an argument – it’s begging the question. I can’t possibly challenge this position with evidence, nor can I find evidence to *enhance* this position. You either believe it to be true, or you don’t. That’s not theory, in the scientific sense. Moreover, it provides no useful methodology to challenge existing scientific theories that support alternate conclusions.

    Philosophy, Mathematics, Art, and Science are all worthy intellectual pursuits. The boundaries between them can be blurry, but there are certainly some subjects that do not express themselves well in one pursuit while being intellectually observable in another.

    Develop a five dimensional transpositor temporal etheral scanner that is capable of exposing some influence of a (as currently understood) paranormal being to observation, and then you can start talking about potentially adding these wee beasties to your scientific body of knowledge.

  3. Whoa.

  4. See, this is the post quality I expected. I thought you had skipped right over second group items a) and b) in a rush to your final statement. And certainly I didn’t think you could say never, ever, ever, could it exist in a scientific model. Then you are artificially and wrongly putting science into a box where things yet discovered do not belong. So what if you only just discovered fire, does it mean that no one will ever split the atom.

    I could go on… but Megan’s brain now hurts. So thanks for sharing!

  5. > See, this is the post quality I expected

    Heh. Keep on keepin’ me on my toes. I had more fun writing the response than I did the original post. Most ID proponents make my teeth ache; I posted the original when irritated.

    Hey, that violates one of my rules of blogging!

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