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Stupid Smart People

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Stupid Smart People

Postby E-lad » Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:39 pm

Here we have Cornelius G. Hunter, a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology, an Adjunct Professor at Biola University. Should be a smart guy, and I am sure he is.
He writes a blog and posts his stuff on Uncommon Descent .
Here is his latest Post. I wanted to go through it line by line but I have played away most of the summer and I'm now trying to get some outside projects done so my time is seriously taxed.

But anyhoo, perhaps some of you have some evicerating you'd like to perform on this piece of shit.

"Science's Blind Spot
A friend of mine likes to invest in stocks. He understands computer companies so he trades only those stocks. This limitation makes for a simple and straightforward investing strategy. Evolutionists also limit themselves. They investigate only those phenomena that are the result of strictly natural causes. This limitation makes for a simple and straightforward research strategy, though it does create a blind spot.

An investor who buys only computer company stocks can easily identify those companies. He can find companies that build computers, computer components, computer software, and so forth. But how can evolutionists know whether the causes of a past event are strictly natural? How can evolutionists decide which phenomena fall into their research program?

The answer is they can't. Evolutionists have no test for naturalism. They have no way of knowing whether a phenomenon is the result of strictly natural causes.

Imagine an evolutionist using natural laws and processes to describe a phenomenon that does not follow such laws and processes. By searching and searching, he may find a partial fit. So he may have some success, but there are always unexplained observables—data anomalies for which the naturalistic explanation cannot account. Naturalistic explanations will always be problematic. More data will be collected, further analysis will be done, and theories will be modified or replaced altogether. All good scientific research and—in this hypothetical example of a non natural phenomenon—wrong.

When problems are encountered there is no way to tell whether the correct naturalistic solution has simply not yet been found, or whether the phenomenon itself is non natural. Non natural phenomenon can be confused with natural ones, and science has no tools for detecting this, for there is no mechanism within science to detect non natural phenomenon.

Consider the following example. What if it were found that a code existed in all living species and that, within each organism, complicated machinery was used to read vast amounts of stored information via the code? The machinery was so complicated that it automatically (i) read the information, (ii) used the code to interpret the information, and (iii) acted on the instructions.

And what if, after decades of research, no naturalistic explanation could be found for how the code and machinery arose? Even in this example, scientists could not know if naturalistic explanations have been exhausted. There are many problems with naturalistic explanations for the existence of the code and associated machinery. The problem seems to defy naturalistic explanation. But there could be a plausible explanation for how the code arose which has not yet been discovered. And how could anyone prove otherwise? To prove that a plausible explanation does not exist is far more difficult than simply continuing the search for such explanations. For to prove that no explanation exists requires knowledge about all possible explanations.

And what if there were hundreds of other such problems for which naturalistic explanations offered little more than speculation and were consistently falsified?

The answer is, of course, "so what?" Evolutionists cannot consider the possibility that there is no naturalistic explanation. This is science's blind spot. If a theory of natural history has problems—and many of them have their share—the problems are always viewed as research problems and never as paradigm problems.

Evolutionists continue to search for naturalistic explanations for hard problems because they must. Like Sisyphus forever pushing the stone up the hill, they must pursue naturalistic explanations no matter how unlikely. Imagine if they did not. What if, at some point, they were to give up? If they did, then they might miss an undiscovered solution. They might have been on the cusp of a stunning new discovery. One cannot stop trying because the problem seems too difficult—this would be stopping science in its tracks.

Consider the problem of the planet Uranus. After its discovery Uranus did not seem to orbit the sun correctly. Could there be an unknown force perturbing the planet? Uranus's orbit could be explained by the presence of yet another planet. This was one idea to explain the strange orbit of Uranus, and it led to the discovery of the next planet, Neptune.

Imagine if astronomers had considered that Uranus's anomalous path was due to non naturalistic causes. Perhaps an invisible giant was blowing on the planet. Then the prediction and subsequent discovery of Neptune would not have occurred. Deciding on non naturalistic causes can be a science stopper.

How can we decide when a scientific problem is not a research problem, but a paradigm problem? Naturalism has no criteria, no set of rules by which to make such a judgment. And no one wants to turn science's attention away from the future discoveries. In fact, phenomena that are more daunting for naturalism are also more tantalizing, for their explanations will be more surprising and dramatic. Not only does science have a blind spot, not knowing if it has stumbled upon an unsolvable problem, but there is a certain allure of such problems. No one knows what will be science's next "Neptune."

This helps to explain the hesitancy of scientists to admit that non natural phenomena might exist. In science we follow Descartes' prescription and approach everything using naturalistic explanations. It also helps to explain the tolerance for improbable theories. Historical theories, no matter how erroneous they may seem, could be just a "Neptune" away from falling into place.

All of this helps to explain how such an implausible theory as evolution persists. It is underwritten not only by theological conviction that natural causes must suffice, but by a philosophy of science that cannot abide any other possibility, no matter how implausible evolution becomes. "

http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/08 ... -spot.html
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby zilch » Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:59 pm

It's more that a bit ironic that Hunter mentions the case of Neptune being predicted because of the anomalies of Uranus' orbit, and admits that searching for a supernatural cause would have been a "science stopper", but still goes right ahead and calls evolution "implausible", and suggests that scientists should "give up" looking for a naturalistic explanation. The problem with supernaturalistic explanations, of course, is at least threefold: there's no evidence whatsoever for their existence, they are completely arbitrary and unpredictable, and they are unfalsifiable. Given the record of science in closing gaps in knowledge, what Hunter characterizes as "science's blind spot" is simply a measure of what we do not yet know. Of course, there will be things that we will never know; but it's a poor sort of God who must be fashioned to fit these ever-smaller gaps.
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby IntellectualNinja » Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:08 pm

The author is right. Science does have a blind spot for the supernatural. If a supernatural event occurred, scientists would try to find a naturalistic explanation or deem it unsolvable. However, the conjecture that evolution is improbable is pure bunk. There's an episode of Nova this guy needs to watch called, "What Darwin Never Knew." There's a mountain of evidence supporting evolution, and the mechanism by which large changes can take place by changing a small amount of DNA is understood. There are 3 types of "codes" for DNA: genes (AKA protein producers), on-off switches, and timing mechanisms for those on-off switches. By mutating a timing mechanism for a beak, a bird fetus can develop a longer beak or shorter sturdier beak as seen with Darwin's finches. By switching off an on-off gene, whales can lose their hind legs. Simple changes in DNA can result in drastic changes in morphology.

This is just another example of the blinders of religion.
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby Benjamin Franklin » Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:23 pm

Would Corny Hunter say that his investor friend has a "Blind spot" because he only trades and invests in companies that are listed in one or another stock exchange, as opposed to buying or selling stock in a supernatural company?
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby Whateverman » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:25 pm

E-lad wrote:Evolutionists also limit themselves. They investigate only those phenomena that are the result of strictly natural causes.


Provide us with an investigatable phenomenon that is the result of strictly supernatural causes. Until he does this, his article is crap.
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby Quasar » Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:51 pm

The answer is they can't. Evolutionists have no test for naturalism. They have no way of knowing whether a phenomenon
is the result of strictly natural causes.

Semantic correction: scientists have no test for super-naturalism. As a result, supernaturalism is not science, and has no place in science.

When problems are encountered there is no way to tell whether the correct naturalistic solution has simply not yet been found, or whether the phenomenon itself is non natural.

Define "non-natural." If "non-natural" means "not conforming to natural laws," then those laws are not accurate enough to represent this object and need to be updated to acknowledge the exception, thus re-defining
the phenomena as conforming to natural laws, and thus "natural" and open to scientific study. If "non-natural" means simply "inexplicable" then either we're too ignorant to explain it, or the universe is fundamentally illogical.

I'm not saying the universe isn't fundamentally illogical, but that it is is an axiomatic assumption of science and man, and one that has served us well in the past.

What if it were found that a code existed in all living species and that, within each organism, complicated machinery was used to read vast amounts of stored information via the code? The machinery was so complicated that it automatically (i) read the information, (ii) used the code to interpret the information, and (iii) acted on the instructions.

Flawed analogy. There is no interpretation mechanism for DNA: the molecular "readers" simply react to the molecules fed into them and produce different types of proteins.

And what if, after decades of research, no naturalistic explanation could be found for how the code and machinery
arose?

Alternatively, what if a mostly accurate naturalistic explanation was proposed 150 years ago, and further corroberated by loads of evidence in the intervening years, to the point where only the religously motivated deny that it is an extremely likely explanation for the observed phenomena?

To prove that a plausible explanation does not exist is far more difficult than simply continuing the search for such explanations. For to prove that no explanation exists requires knowledge about all possible explanations.

Science doesn't deal in proofs.

If a theory of natural history has problems—and many of them have their share—the problems are always viewed as research problems and never as paradigm problems.

I can't help but notice that he hasn't provided any examples of these supposed problems. Maybe the IDists have learned from previous experience: when they do provide them, research often quickly proves that they weren't paradigm problems, and were research problems. *cough*flagellum*cough*

What if, at some point, they were to give up?

Like the IDists have, you mean? "Abiogenesis? Too hard: DesignerDidIt."

If they did, then they might miss an undiscovered solution. They might have been on the cusp of a stunning new discovery. One cannot stop trying because the problem seems too difficult—this would be stopping science in its tracks.

Damn right it would.

[paragraphs on Uranus] Deciding on non naturalistic causes can be a science stopper.

Glad to see you understand this.

This helps to explain the hesitancy of scientists to admit that non natural phenomena might exist.

Hey, if you could demonstrate a non-natural phenomena (which would, in turn, turn it into a natural phenomena), then you'd win a nobel prize, get millions of dollars in research grants, become famous and probably get laid (which, let's face it, is the entire reason most scientists go into science: for all the hot science groupies).

All of this helps to explain how such an implausible theory as evolution persists. It is underwritten not only by theological conviction that natural causes must suffice, but by a philosophy of science that cannot abide any other possibility, no matter how implausible evolution becomes.

Hah. Nevermind actually showing anyone why evolution is "implausible." I guess the target audience is just supposed to accept this at face value. You know: the opposite of science.

Good to see they're not pretending to be scientific anymore, though. The assumption of science is "everything is fair game." If your hypothesis isn't natural then it can't be studied, which is about as anti-science as it's possible to get.
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby Quasar » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:12 am

Following on from what i said earlier...

The problem with supernatual explanations and phenomena is the definition of "supernatural". If the phenomena is a part of our reality, then it isn't supernatural: it's natural. If it's external to all of reality, then it doesn't have an existance inside our reality: which can be summarised as: "it doesn't exist".

Assuming a fundamentally logical reality, if something real conflicts with the physical laws, that doesn't make it supernatural, it's just that our descriptions of the laws aren't accurate enough to account for that exception.

If god/zeus/FSM exists, then either he's a natural phenomena or the universe is fundamentally illogical. Like I said before, there's no proving that the universe isn't fundamentally illogical: maybe we're all characters in a story and god's the author. Or cosmic playthings for the great Cthulhu. But given the track record of both science and logic, I'm inclined to accept a logical universe as the current best hypothesis.
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby E-lad » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:20 am

Great commentary, all. It never fails to amaze me how people as well educated as Hunter can hold these irrational thought processes; how they are able to use logic and reason to excel in their secular studies, but yet partition off their brain where supernatural processes are concerned.
Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel.- Horace Walpole
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby Vagon » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:00 am

Quasar wrote:The problem with supernatual explanations and phenomena is the definition of "supernatural". If the phenomena is a part of our reality, then it isn't supernatural: it's natural. If it's external to all of reality, then it doesn't have an existance inside our reality: which can be summarised as: "it doesn't exist".


Well said.

This guy has missed the entire point. He is trying to prove the supernatural scientifically, not us. But why stop at science?
Even philosophically he fails: he is trying to reason the unreasonable, rationalise the irrational and he steals from the material to make a case for the immaterial.

His line of argument relies on a foundation of logic, yet he erodes the same foundation when he claims the illogical exists.
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Re: Stupid Smart People

Postby Kenyon » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:04 pm

what its mean i cannot understand it . stupid smart people anyone explain it with detail.
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