Whence Scientific Hypotheses?

Scientific hypotheses can come from anywhere at all (well actually just from an intelligent mind).  One important thing I learned about science in graduate school was, it did not matter where your hypothesis originated, it only mattered that it could be tested and falsified in a rigorous, repeatable, and measurable way.  Scientific notions can arise from any metaphysical framework or lack of a framework.  At the basis of creationism and naturalistic evolution are presumed metaphysical truths.  Quite possibly, neither of which can be falsified, leaving the resolution to be a matter of faith.  However, that does not prevent scientists from developing testable hypotheses that spring from those underlying beliefs.  One could argue that intelligent design has fewer metaphysical entanglements than either creationism or naturalistic evolution.  The point is that testable hypotheses may come from almost any underlying belief or idea, whereas the actual underlying belief or idea itself may not be a scientific hypothesis.

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Recent Work in Creation Science

Jerry Bergman has written an article on CMI entitled, Did immune system antibody diversity evolve?

From the article:

The voluminous research on the evolution of the adaptive immune system describes in enormous detail both the similarities and differences between the immune systems of a wide variety of animals, but does not provide evidence for the evolution of these irreducibility complex systems. The complex, designed processes used to produce antibody diversity and then to fine tune the adaptive immune response are not evidence of Darwinian evolution, but rather of intelligent design.

Recent work has also shown that innate immune systems formerly thought to be very primitive are far more complex than once believed, blurring ‘traditional distinctions between adaptive and innate immunity.’38 Various phyla use ‘a remarkably extensive variety of solutions to meet fundamentally similar requirements for host protection.’37 The large discontinuity between the various means of generating immune system diversity in the animal kingdom makes it highly unlikely that one system could have evolved into another.

Creation scientists have also been hard at work in generating theoretical frameworks and hypotheses on a number of fronts.

1). A framework has been developed for explaining bacterial pathogenicity.

2). Fungi have been examined from a creationist perspective, and natural selection is considered as a process for the development of pathogenicity.  Similar to the first paper, evolutionary processes are considered corrupting influences of the original designs.

3). Initial work has been done on developing a field of creation microbiology.  Promising areas for future research and practical applications are also considered.

While those who pontificate about the absence of any real scientific progress being made from a creationist perspective, creation scientists are laying the groundwork for biological studies, and are generating testable scientific hypotheses.  Whereas materialist scientist do not often recognize their metaphysical assumptions, creationist scientists and IDers are generally much more aware of the metaphysical assumptions of science on both sides of the issue.

Some Applause for Richard Dawkins

You never thought you would hear me say something like this, but I’m saying it now. Richard Dawkins deserves some credit for his most recent book, A Devil’s Chaplain. Now, I haven’t even read the book, and probably won’t unless I can find a used copy somewhere. But, I just wanted to give Dawkins his due credit for the title of his book, because this is truth in advertising. I’m guessing that he wants Christians to hate him, and feels he is poking them with this type of book and title. But really, I do have some compassion for Dawkins. A person does not have the intensity of emotions he has on a topic without a great internal struggle of some sort.

Creation on the Web has a review of his most recent tome, and there are some interesting quotes from the review:

Dawkins’ sermons fall apart under close scrutiny, and further, he never even considers deeper philosophical problems underlying his method of argumentation. When Dawkins talks of religions fomenting wars, how does he know on a naturalistic basis that there is anything at all undesirable about war?16 How does he know that there is anything inherently good in ‘truth’? In fact, as Alvin Plantinga has shown,17 there are reasons to doubt whether human thought is even capable of corresponding to reality within a naturalistic framework—the ultimate reductio ad absurdum of naturalism.18

As the late Greg Bahnsen noted,

‘One does not decide whether to form some epistemological viewpoint and theoretical basis for certainty or not; he simply chooses whether he shall do it self-consciously and well.’19

Dawkins has an epistemology. He believes that he is capable of knowing true information by means of the scientific method, but he is entirely without a foundation in naturalism for such a belief. Christians who presuppose Scripture, on the other hand, have epistemological warrant for belief in efficacious reason and science, on the grounds that God is logical and made an orderly universe.20 Small wonder, then, that Dawkins avoids the subject and prefers a surface-level polemical approach. The biblical apologetic not only can withstand his individual ad hoc ‘empirical’ arguments, but even undercuts his entire basis of argument by showing that in order to have a reason to trust reason itself, we must presuppose the God of Scripture.21

Some of the reasoning here is similar to things we’ve discussed previously on this blog.  One can sincerely hope that his intense disdain for all authority, other than materialist science, can soften with time.  All things are possible with God.

Source: Secular Sermons.  Creation on the Web.

The Naturalistic Myth of Creation

Over at Atheism is Dead, there are two very well written recent posts on the creation myths of atheists by means of cosmology. They are fairly long posts, but worth the time to read.

In the Beginning… Cosmology, Part I – The Pre Big Bang Scenario
In the Beginning… Cosmology, Part II – Book, Chapter and Multi-Verse

Supervenience Physicalism and the Darwinian Mind

The notion of supervenience is that, “A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference”. (1) So, this notion when combined with physicalism is the assertion that all mental activity is reducible to physical causes. In other words, there is nothing that happens on a mental level without a supervening physical change in the brain. This does not allow for mental changes to affect the physical only the other way around.

Superveniences establish such a relationship between the mental and the physical, so that any change in the mental is caused by a change in the physical. Just as a shadow is dependent upon the position of the object causing it, so is the mental dependent upon the physical. (2)

Logically, the notion of supervenience physicalism is the default explanation of the mind from a Darwinian perspective. There is research; however, that goes against this notion (3,4). In other words, there is evidence that changes in the “mental state” affect the physical state of the brain.

Darwinists may purport determinism and physicalism in general arguments, but when applied to their own experiences and thoughts, they often balk. The essential problem for them from this framework is that their beliefs in Darwinism are nothing but illusory experiences supervened by physical processes in their brains. Their belief that they are rational scientists, or thinkers, is nothing but the result of complex biochemical processes, which results in the illusion that they have rationally selected among alternative worldviews or interpretations of data.

Many Darwinists, when faced with this type of argument, will retreat from a position of physicalism. Even Darwinists are distressed by, and most often don’t believe in, the notion that their mental processes are fully determined by physical substrates. In fact, they must retreat from this position, because it refutes their notion that they are rational in their abilities to evaluate evidence, or that they have freely chosen their worldviews.

(1). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/
(2). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism
(3). The Mind and The Brain
(4). The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul

Humanism, Existentialism, and Descartes

RC Sproul talks humanism (1), existentialism (2), and Descartes (3). Even if you’re not a Christian, he gives some interesting history lessons.

(1). Humanism

(2). Existentialism

(3). Descartes pt 1

Intelligent Design does not entail a belief in God

Denyse O’Leary recently wrote about an ongoing debate (December 7-8, 2008) about Intelligent Design vs. evolution. (1)

Atheist philosopher Bradley Morton said in an ID the Future Podcast:

“I actually find some of the intelligent design arguments at least somewhat plausible, and at least taking seriously within academia, and I’m unhappy with the unfair and false criticisms that a lot of my fellow philosophers and academics have given of Intelligent Design. I’m also, for the record, unhappy with some of the Intelligent Design arguments. I think that, even though some of them are wrong, they could be given better than current Intelligent Design proponents are giving them….” (2)

What I take from this debate is that, one might support the perspective of ID, scientifically, without being logically required to believe in God. Creationists on the other hand, may point to the scientific perspective of ID and note that this supports the existence of the God of the Bible.

Some atheistic evolutionists are quick to point out that a belief in the supposedly scientific perspective of evolution does not have anything to do with belief in God. Others (e.g., Dick Dawkins and his ilk purport that atheism is entailed by the ‘truth’ of evolutionary science).

As Dr. Morton writes on his website:

The doctrine of intelligent design has been maligned by atheists, but even thought I’m an atheist, I’m of the opinion that the arguments for intelligent design are stronger than most realize. The goal of this book is to try to get people to take intelligent design seriously. I maintain that it is legitimate to view intelligent design as science, that there are somewhat plausible arguments for the existence of a cosmic designer, and that intelligent design should be taught in public school classes. (3)

(1). Straws in the wind: Atheists and agnostics support constructive debate on design
(2). http://intelligentdesign.podOmatic.com/entry/2008-11-06T09_16_15-08_00
(3). ID – Bradley Monton