Swine and Science

After hearing Steve try to invoke abiguity in interpretation, and a few miracles to explain the numerous scientific difficulties in taking Genesis as seriously as a historical account as Homer's Iliad, it finally struck me, like a bullet between the eyes: why waste our time casting pearls of science before the swine of superstition?

When I elaborated on this at the Triablogue, Steve got a bit miffed, taking things a bit personally, and calling me a "philosophical hick", even as I won his "Loser of the month award," among other things. Now, all that the phrase "pearls before swine" really means is wasting an effort. I guess poor Steve's feeling-laden sleeves were tear-stained at this point, but it remains that I think that presenting modern science to those who disagree with the fundamental assumptions of science is always a completely wasted effort.

Steve convinced me I was at least right in his own case, hell, he was honest enough to admit it up front, which I admire (Steve's words are bolded throughout):

Daniel: “It is quite apparent that modern science neither interests you or is of concern to you.”
Steve: "That’s’ true, and it’s true for philosophical reasons rather than theological reasons."

I never saw much reason for Danny to write about modern cosmology. After all, Danny is not a cosmologist or astrophysicist by training. So why would we want to get our information from him when we can read about modern cosmology and astrophysics from Witten, Weinberg, Hawking, Penrose, Smolin, Davies, Greene, &c.?
First, note that far down in the post, I said I was going to quote from authorities. I didn't pretend that I was going to write from my own.

Aside from this, Steve is obviously committing a fallacious appeal to authority, considering he hasn't yet even evaluated my writing in order to refute it on the grounds of "no formal credentials". Do Steve's posts find themselves constrained to his area of his own credentialled authority? Does he have an area of credentialled authority? His profile lists his occupation as a writer, and says he is a TA at RTS. This implies he has no graduate degree as yet. If he doesn't have credentials, does he marshal out his big thoughts on whatever strikes his fancy, especially concerning that last post, in which he attempts to address science? Does Steve have a science degree? Then why would we want to get our information on "creation science" from him, rather than a bona fide credentialled creationist? Enter AiG and ICR.

I’m an indirect realist. I don’t believe that the mind has direct access to the external world.
Lovely. I suppose I don't really care to hear Steve's refutation of Ryle's Regress any more than he cares to hear the materialist explanation of stellar evolution, then. After all, Steve, do you have a philosophy degree? Is it a Ph.D.? I wouldn't want to get the 411 from a mere M.A.

As such, observation can never penetrate the veil of perception. Thus, we can never compare appearance with reality. A partial way around this would be divine revelation. But Danny has cut himself off from that resource.
So, Steve dislikes Kant's work. Give him a hand, folks. The separate sphere of realism that Kant set aside for science, to give people like Steve whatever they liked in the arena of God and morals, isn't enough for ol' Steve. But, being a "philosophical hick", in Steve's words, I suppose I'd better shut my big stupid flapper. One question, though:
Steve, the "perception" of divine revelation is different than the perception of "non-divine observation"...how...again? The way it makes you feel? What you see? What you hear? Ah, nevermind, I'm sure I can find a better refutation of this nonsense from a real philosopher, perhaps...a naturalist, but I'd better make sure they have a Ph.D.

Danny is too much of a philosophical hick to think through elementary metascientific issues like what’s his theory of perception, and how does that square with his philosophy of science?
Indeed. Steve got me dead to rights here. I'm a philosophical hick. I've yet to take the first course in philosophy. I've read only sparsely in the field of philosophy, and yet even I know that intelligent philosophers are specific about what they mean by realism/idealism with respect to. For instance, I'm not a metaphysical nominalist nor do I subscribe to Ideaism ("l" left out on purpose) since I'm a materialist. You can say then that I'm a physical realist, or a naturalist. Furthermore, I am an anti-realist with respect to ethics, and many other concepts. But, since sense perception has a tangiable basis, unlike those things I place under "conceptualism", I take visual perception to be the combination of light entering your eye, your brain receiving and interpreting the signal, and another part of your brain using the combination of the signal and memory/experience to make sense of it. That is an awfully "backwoods" approach, compared to Steve's far more modern and sophisticated "an immaterial agent inside me, somehow, somewhere, does it...or something". I'm sorry you have to deal with such a "hick", Steve.

The irony is that I’m more sceptical than he is. Danny is welcome to his animal faith in na├»ve realism, but thinking people turned the corner on that many centuries ago.
Well, Steve, if I was either an Aristolean or naive realist, I suppose that would be great. But, maybe, like you, I consider Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, Adler, Maritain...all just backwoods hicks, and their versions of realism too inept, as they were just too hickish to think through perception. [or maybe I don't think that at all] Maybe I'm more into scientism than Idealism or Aristolean realism...maybe. Perhaps you should ask me what I think rather than telling me what a wild animal I am for thinking it. [Apparently both Steve and my wife think I'm a wild animal, perhaps for different reasons, but I digress ;) ] I guess I ought to pray that Steve's God will help me "turn the corner" and turn into a thinking person, like Steve. Oh Berkeley, if you were only around to tell me the answer: if a Steve is thinking in the woods, and no one is around for him to enlighten...is Steve still a thinking person? I'll get back to this in a second. We're all animals, Steve, like it or lump it.

i) To begin with, I pointed out, on both semantic and syntactical grounds, that the interpretation of Gen 1:14 is in dispute.
That bounced right off Danny’s noggin.
Steve, it appears you have changed your mind. You said originally,
ME: Which also record lots of other goodies, like that the earth was created before the stars, that the plants were created before the sun, that the "days" were present before the sun,”

Steve: And the problem with all this is what, exactly?

Okay. So you admit now that there was a problem, if the sun was not in place before the earth. Fine. So I suppose we should focus on the new problem that this brings up, now that you've changed your mind from saying that there was no problem with plants existing before the sun. Now, your new problem is, you admit that the Hebrew Creation Myth is in dispute--the traditional interpretation is not one that you hold. So...is the myth somehow less susceptible to scrutiny that you can now hide behind "my interpretation is bigger than yours"? Is it more valid? Is the feature [the indelible characteristic] of ambiguity and nebulous "doctrines" a hallmark of its Source? Why should I take it seriously as history if the message is so garbled that multiple interpretations of its sequence exist? Besides, creationists have worked pretty hard on elucidating the differences in the sequences between modern science and the myth. You ought to read it.

ii) I also pointed out that, on my own interpretation of Gen 1:14, the sun was already in existence as of day 1. That also bounced right off Danny’s noggin.
But, are you a hermeneutics expert, Steve? Just kidding. Okay, so you admitted that yours is not the traditional reading, but you argued previously that even in the traditional reading it didn't matter:
"But if the world was made within the span of six consecutive calendar days, then the flora could certainly survive for a day (day 3) without sunshine (day 4), even if you accept the traditional reading of v14. Remember, too, that even on the traditional reading, there is a light source already in place."

I was arguing against the traditional and straightforward reading. This is where I pointed out to Steve that more than light is needed -- or else the planet's temperature would be lower than that of Pluto (which is warmed slightly by the distant sun). There would be no "waters" on the earth -- only ice. Steve's position evolved...just like stars, and life on earth.

iii) I further pointed out that even on a traditional reading of the text, there is still a light-source on day 1 which is the functional equivalent of the sun. That also bounced right off Danny’s noggin.
Nooooo...I believe I pointed out that more than light is needed -- heat it. Furthermore, the Bible says "let there be light" and that after the earth and "waters" are made, the Bible says:
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.
Steve seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. If the lights [plural] in the expanse of the sky here, which mark seasons, days, and years, and govern the day and the night...are not the sun and moon...what in the hell are they?

At this rate, Danny will never need to wear a helmet when he goes motorbiking.
At this rate, Steve's faith is so impervious to reason that I will need a helmet when I bang my head against the wall in frustration.

Danny is also too jejune to know what an ad hoc argument is. An ad hoc argument would be to invoke a deus ex machina in order to extricate one from a tight spot when the text itself offers no hint of miraculous action or intervention.
An ad hoc is when the interpretation of Genesis is "tweaked" a bit, and miracles are invoked (plants without a sun) to explain difficulties in the traditional interpretation of the myth. You tailor-made a solution to retain (in your own mind) the characteristic of inerrancy, but, to your credit, you are acquiescing to common sense and scientific reason on some levels: at first, you saw "no problem" with plants before the sun.

i) Ascertain the meaning of Gen 1 according to grammatico-historical exegesis, and:
Okay, so do the creationists who have already done this qualify? Do I need to go to a seminary to figure out if Genesis is an unscientific creation myth? Hiding behind authority won't get you far here, since I can quote ample authorities who would agree that the ancient cosmology was unscientific. Won't you just admit it? You seem to enjoy flirting around the edges of the 9th of the Decalogue.

ii) Consider, for the sake of argument, the implications of this depiction if true.
Okay. The implication of an earth before a sun, aside from "which orbits which?" include problems with plant life or water being above -180C, or so. It's pretty simple. Even the creationists admit the issues, you just seem to hide behind your "grammatico-historical exegesis"...which just so happens to be non-traditional.

But Danny is too much of an intellectual charlatan to do any of the preliminary spadework.
Riiiiight. Lots of barbs in this post, kind of like the thorny plants that appear after the Fall, but according to modern science would've been here long before people. Hmmm...

To ask what the text is asserting, consistent with original intent, is not ad hoc.
I don't believe I said it was. I said your ad hoc way of reading "light source" from Gen 1 still doesn't solve the real problem of heat energy, which you at first appear to not even realize, and it is an ad hoc solution because the plain reading of 1.14-16 is clearly referring to the creation of the sun, moon, and other stars, as hundreds of scholars who aren't "intellectual charlatans" like me and have done the "spade work" agree.

If Danny is going to claim that Gen 1 goes contrary to the empirical evidence, then, at a bare minimum, he needs to be clear on what the text is asserting and what this would predict for the natural record if true.
Can you repeat this just one more time for clarity? I mean, you've only said it like 4 times thus far. Quite clearly, the text is asserting that the sun and moon were made on day four. Quite clearly, the text is asserting that days even existed before the sun and moon were made. Quite clearly, this reflects an unscientific and ignorant appraisal of the cosmos, by a people who I don't hold at fault for their ignorance. I do hold you at fault for yours--you live in a time enlightened by the visage of Science and Reason. Now, you don't have to repeat yourself anymore!

If Danny can get in over his head this early in the debate, then I agree with him that, for his own safety, in would be best if he drop out. He’d be well-advised to stay inside when it rains lest he step into a muddle puddle and drown in 3 inches of water.
Well, I'll just do my best, Steve. You just keep having enough patience to deal with little weiners like me by posting three long articles on what I said. Maybe I'm such a "softie" that you get encouraged by the easy victory? So, what was your victory, again? That there is some way to get around the plain and obvious issue that the creation myth is quite unscientific in its sequence of events and general setup (days before sun/moon)? I've read through, but yet to see a place where you ought to raise your fists to the sky.

i) As I’ve explained several times now, the law of conservation is irrelevant to creation ex nihilo since the law of conservation assumes that natural forces are already in place.
And, you're right, Steve. That's why I said, "why should I cast pearls before swine," and attempt to argue and present arguments from modern science, when you already admitted you don't care?? When this very philosophical position (ex nihilo) renders my attempts futile?

Natural laws would be a consequence of creation. Where there is no nature, there are no natural laws or forces. But that continues to bounce off his noggin. No matter how often you spell out the obvious for him in 10 foot tall neon letters, he never gets it. He doesn’t even know what he’s opposing.
And, no matter how many times I bounce "matter and energy are not created nor destroyed, they transform" off your head, you don't seem to get it either. Matter and energy require no a priori explanation of origin. The universe itself doesn't either. Science has given us a way to see that time is a feature of this universe and that this universe originated from a singularity which itself was not created. Yet again, we see a transformation from one form of energy into another, but no need to say "God poofed" at any step of the process. That very step is what I "oppose", old chap.

ii) Christian theism is not the same as Deism. To invoke the law of conservation as a defeater to miraculous “intervention” merely assume what it needs to prove.
Assumes what it needs to prove? The law is based on every bit of the knowledge we have of physics, and the concept of "something cannot come from nothing" in philosophy. Sounds simple enough to me. You would agree with that latter...excepting "something cannot come from nothing, but God always is/was/will be".

This is no longer a question of creationism. Rather, this is a question of rigging the outcome in his favor by insisting on the uniformity of nature.
The uniformity of nature is indeed why I throw up my hands and throw in the towel. I can't argue with someone who invokes a miracle whenever they are confronted with a difficulty in their text.

The Christian is only allowed to play the game if he concedes at the outset that miracles are impossible given the law of conservation. Not “ad hoc” miracles, but any miracles whatsoever.
Ockham would dictate that we look for the most reasonable explanations, and we can argue about what constitutes "reasonable". By your philosophical bent, it is more reasonable to think "poof" while by my own, "poof" doesn't exist.

All Danny has done is to make up his own rules, rules which, not so coincidentally, ensure that he will win every time. Is this the best that atheism can do?
First, I'm no shining light of atheism. I'm just a chemistry graduate student arguing that your creation myth is flawed. If you have the cajones to read the books I referred you to, and take on the "real best" that atheism can do, bravo! Perhaps it makes it easier for you to maintain faith in "poof" by believing that my arguments are the "best" that you can find to defeat your faith.

Daniel said: “Modern science doesn't incorporate "matter can be 'poofed' from nothing" into its assumptions. Therefore, I cannot argue with you from a scientific perspective, and I'm clearly wasting my time.”
Steve replied: In other words, the old tactic of truth by definition. Instead of discussing what is real, we will discuss what is scientific. And we can manipulate our definition of science to define theism out of existence.
Hmmm. So something from nothing is scientific? Do you have a dictionary or a lexicon or anything I can go look that up in? Or was my original statement not true? Science is based on the assumption of naturalism. This assumption has been well-tested over the generations, and so far as I know, ideas like "spontaneous generation" and every other "poof-esque" idea have been weighed, weighed, and found wanting. Is there anything in science you can point me to which claims matter can be "poofed" from nothing? And, thus, is there any point in my taking a scientific position to argue against ex nihilo?
This is ad hocery.

Does Danny have the mathematical equipment to pull this off? Does Danny operate at the level of Ed Witten or Roger Penrose? If not, then this is a disguised appeal to the argument from authority.
Did I say I would have to use myself as a sole source and authority?

Or...did I say: “Why should I quote authorities in string theory and astrophysics on the cyclic model of the universe when you will just quote back silly myths and "poof"?”

As usual, Danny seems to be missing more than a few synapses. I mounted a two-pronged argument:
i) I made a case for Gen 1 on its own terms
ii) I also interacted with modern cosmology on its own terms, in §§ IV-IX.
By contrast, Danny failed to engage either prong of the argument.
Um, if you say so, Steve.

He’s too mentally challenged to even interact with the “authorities” (telling choice of words) in string theory whom I already quoted.
I'll address this post next, but I didn't see many quotes from Steinhardt? Turok? Greene? Arfaei? Hmm...I think you quoted Oldershaw from 1988. Then, in a hilarious gesture, you attempt to discredit theoretical physicists as imbeciles by quoting Weinberg admitting he doesn't do his own differential equations:
And it’s striking to consider the level of mathematical incompetence among theoretical physicists. In the course of reviewing a book, Steven Weinberg made this admission

This is hardly surprising, and it means very little. If you have ever solved a differential equation (which I already know the answer to, as your display of hubris over this quote is revealing) you'd know the solutions are often pages long. In my differential equations classes at VT, I regularly had homework assignments whose solutions were 4 pages. Perhaps you could relate, but competence in mathematics isn't proven by being able to crunch through DiffEq. Building a model and solving an equation are entirely different skill set levels. You wouldn't know this, and your accusation of "incompetence" is about as funny as me saying that Bart Ehrman sending a TA to the library to summarize an article for him is a display of his "incompetence" as a Biblical scholar. You're a laff riot, Steve. Keep 'em coming, man, please!

Steve goes on to try to pit the empiricists (Hawking) against the [implied useless] theorists (Witten). I'm not sure that a coherent thought comes out of all this, except that Steve may be setting himself up for the same kind of fallacy that skeptics like me use when we say, "Well, since people disagree over interpretations, all of it is false!"

This is standard operating procedure for DC. To be “brutally honest,” the Debunkers are pseudointellectuals.
I don't really claim to be an intellectual. I don't care much for what people claim. What's more telling is what they display.

They sally for with a lot of rationalistic rhetoric, but as soon as you answer them, they pick on their marbles and run home to mommy.
Well, my mommy is about 600 miles away, and I haven't seen her since Xmas, and don't plan to until then, again.

Loftus always falls back on his surfer-dude line about “Hey, boyz, I’m just doin’ da best a guy can do.”
You mean Daniel (or Morgan)? Or are you saying that in the above it wasn't I who ran home to mommy?

Steve then goes on to further "pummel" me with his post on conceptualism. I'll address it, and the finer points of cosmology, in a post here within a week or two. I am a little busy at the moment. Check out Steve's posts to me, this pseudointellectual, intellectual charlatan, philosophical hick, synapse-deficient, run-to-mommy, mentally-challenged, thick-headed, jejune, wait, did I leave one out? Man, he wastes a lot of breath on such scum as I:
  1. Loser of the month award (5-9)
  2. Theory & Reality (5-5)
  3. Conceptualism (5-5)
  4. Robotics & Design (5-4)
  5. Superstition (5-4)
  6. I Initiated all this with a comment on Debunking Reading Comprehension (5-3)
It appears that Steve has a bit more time on his hands (and vitriol) than I do. I have a wife, I'm getting a Ph.D. in chemistry at UF, I'm in the process of writing my first fiction novel, and I generally am enjoying life. Steve either has a pretty paltry work load from RTS to get a degree, or he pulls some late nights with all his free time in response to "pseudointellectual, intellectual charlatan, philosophical hick, synapse-deficient, run-to-mommy, mentally-challenged, thick-headed, jejune," idiots like myself. I'll do my best to return the favor on cosmology and maybe conceptualism, but again, haven't I wasted enough pearls already? And enough time?