A longish discussion on Facebook about God, Science, and Philosophy

So here is a discussion I had on facebook on the Unbelievable page, primarily with Matthew Bell, but also with the OP Alan Darley.  Have fun!
 
Alan Darley
5:51am Nov 24
Five reasons why Hawking’s theory is nonsense.
1. In order for the universe to ‘create itself’ it would have to exist before it existed which is impossible.
2. If there IS a law such as gravity then that is not a nothing. But Hawking says that the universe ‘creates itself out of nothing’ which is therefore contradictory. A law is not a nothing.
3. It is a misleading use of language to say that a ‘law’ causes anything. A law is not a causal agent. Laws of physics describe reality; they do not cause it.
4. Since laws of physics describe reality and do not cause it, it follows that if there is no reality to describe there cannot be a ‘law of physics’ in the usual sense of the word. How can there be a law of physics with no physics to describe?
5. If there were a law existing by itself as some sort of independent rational principle, how could such a law be intelligible except to consciousness? Unless God exists there is no consciousness until human beings evolved billions of years later.
In the same book, ‘The Grand Design,’ Hawking declares that ‘philosophy is dead.’ But this is not a scientific statement; no scientific test could ever bne done on it to test its truth. It is a philosophical statement and therefore self-refuting! If Hawking had studied some philosophy he would have realised this and also how incoherent his theory actually is.
 
Daniel Batt
10:16am Nov 24
Hawking’s view will have some merit as long as we cannot find evidence of gravity waves or a graviton type boson with a spin of 2.0. 
Hawking seems to assume that gravity is more basic than any other fermion or boson, which could be true (though he certainly doesn’t show how this might be the case).
Lastly, remember all those old arguments for measuring the speed of gravity? Were we just measuring the speed of light by another means? And if gravity did travel at the speed of light, then surely orbits would break down a lot sooner than they do as we watch them via the speed of photons (radio, optical and x-ray telescopes).
Lastly, Hawking is dead wrong about philosophy, as it grew as a subset of mathematics, or the other way around. And he would be nowhere without maths.
Most physicists saw his last book as a final cash in on the pop-science blockbuster market, and also saw the “God stuff” in the book as part of the demands the publishers gave in order to guarantee the healthy advance payment and guarantee blanket coverage in all the major media after its release.
And it worked, though like a Brief History of Time, maybe most people would rather have it on their coffee table than read it.
All of this being said, I have been a huge fan of Hawking since well before he was a major scientific figure, and reading his stuff in the mid-’70s prompted me to be the first school kid who did work experience at our local observatory (Mount Stromlo).
 
Michele Marshall
10:20am Nov 24
“Philosophy is dead” is a philosophy…
 
Matthew Bell
10:23am Nov 24
Ken Parker: So you believe that something that doesn’t exist can create something into existence?
 
Ken Parker
11:29am Nov 24
No, not me personally.
 
Brian Blais
11:44am Nov 24
I simply love it when people with no background in physics make grand statements about what is possible and impossible. For example, “In order for the universe to ‘create itself’ it would have to exist before it existed which is impossible.” – how do you know it is impossible? Quantum physics certainly has uncaused elements (and yes, I have a background in physics, so I know at least a little bit about what I’m talking about). “If there IS a law such as gravity then that is not a nothing.” – depends on your definition of nothing, of course. Perhaps the philosophical “nothing” cannot actually exist. Perhaps laws of nature could exist, and be fundamental. I’m not sure, but I’m certainly not going to make dogmatic claims that it *can’t*. “how could such a law be intelligible except to consciousness? Unless God exists there is no consciousness until human beings evolved billions of years later.” – does it matter if it is intelligible? laws can exist without anything knowing about them. The description of the law might require consciousness, but the existence almost certainly doesn’t. Overall, a silly and superficial criticism of Hawking.
 
Matthew Bell
11:45am Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Are you claiming it is possible for non-existence propositions to have the ability to do an action or actions?
 
Matthew Bell
11:46am Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Are you claiming it is physically possible for non-existents to perform actions?
 
Brian Blais
12:09pm Nov 24
Although I do feel well, my last name is Blais not Bliss. πŸ™‚ I’m claiming that I am not sure if the concepts are sufficiently defined to have meaning. Thus, if “perform actions” is not defined, then any answer to your question would be meaningless.
 
Matthew Bell
12:10pm Nov 24
Brian Bias: ‘Perform actions’ simple means to do something e.g type on a keyboard, make a paper aeroplane, work,
 
Brian Blais
12:14pm Nov 24
many concepts may make perfect sense in our middle-world, but make no sense when you get cosmic or atomic. sorry, if I am not automatically going to accept your “definition” as applying to the universe or to subatomic events. In this specific case, you’re just defining “action” in terms of “do”, which is just the same label. Content free.
 
Matthew Bell
12:20pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: So what does Hawking mean by ‘create’?
 
Alan Darley
12:20pm Nov 24
‘I simply love it when people with no background in physics make grand statements about what is possible and impossible.’ Is it any more respectable for someone with no expertise in philosophy to declare ‘philosophy is dead’ (and make a philosophically self-refuting statement?).
 
Alan Darley
12:22pm Nov 24
If you are saying that science cannot be predicated in meaningful speech then it is clearly non-falsifiable. According to Popper non-falsifiable statements are unscientific by definition.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:24pm Nov 24
The scientific and technological explosion only began AFTER philosophy was abandoned as the ultimate source of truth. Compared with objective approaches to knowledge, philosophy has been incredibly un-productive. The evidence is there; it only remains to be acknowleged.
 
Brian Blais
12:26pm Nov 24
“Brian Bias” haha! Matthew Bell, are you trying to imply something here? πŸ˜‰
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:27pm Nov 24
The proper use of philosophy is as an adjunct to objective knowledge. It should be a servant, not a master. Modern philosophers are generally in agreement about this. Theological philosophy still clings to the unrealistic past.
 
Michele Marshall
12:28pm Nov 24
It is true that science has given us great technological advances. The irony is that science as a provider of meaning, however, has failed, and philosophy is still the ultimate source of truth.
 
Brian Blais
12:29pm Nov 24
“Is it any more respectable for someone with no expertise in philosophy to declare ‘philosophy is dead'” – actually, yes. you don’t have to be a biologist to, for example, claim that spontaneous generation is false. I think it is an exaggeration to say that “philosophy is dead”, but I’d have to look at the context of Hawking’s statement to see what he really means. I think for the most part, philosophy is simply science without data. Once you have data, then it becomes mainstream science. I believe (from a wider reading of Hawking) that that is what he may mean – that now we have data on many questions that used to only be the purview of philosophy.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:32pm Nov 24
Matthew, as has already been said several times on this forum, the Newtonian concepts of physical laws do NOT apply to the sub-atomic realm. In the common or garden variety of reality all things have begin to exist must have a prior (physical) cause. In the quantum realm this is not true. Nor is there such a thing as “nothing”. Even vacuum (= no particles) there are forces (like gravity) that operate. At this level, a necessarily basic force such as gravity is all that is required to create matter. No supernatural force or disembodied mind is necessary.
 
Alan Darley
12:32pm Nov 24
Rosemary. The birth of modern science took place in the context of fundamental metaphysical assumptions about the reasonableness of the universe which came out of theism. Furthermore, how can you conduct science without philosophical assumptions such as a belief in an experiencing subject, the laws of logic and reasoning, the reality of the external world, or the validity of induction? None of these assumptions can be proven by the scientific method but are assumed by it in order for science to operate. If philosophy is dead then science too is dead.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:32pm Nov 24
Matthew, as has already been said several times on this forum, the Newtonian concepts of physical laws do NOT apply to the sub-atomic realm. 
In the common or garden variety of reality (subject to Newtonian physics) all things that begin to exist must have a prior (physical) cause. In the quantum realm this is not true. 
In the quantum realm there is no such a thing as “nothing”. Even in a vacuum (= no particles) there are forces (like gravity) that operate. At this level, a necessarily basic force such as gravity is all that is required to create matter. No supernatural force or disembodied mind is necessary.
 
Thomas J Newton
12:34pm Nov 24
Context is everything, and Alan hasn’t included the qualification that Hawking uses, that Philosophy hasn’t kept up to date with modern physics.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:32pm Nov 24
Matthew, as has already been said several times on this forum, the Newtonian concepts of physical laws do NOT apply to the sub-atomic realm. 
In the common or garden variety of reality (subject to Newtonian physics) all things that begin to exist must have a prior (physical) cause. In the quantum realm this is not true. 
In the quantum realm there is no such a thing as “nothing”. Even in a vacuum (= no particles) there are forces (like gravity) that operate. At this level, a necessarily basic force such as gravity is all that is required to create matter. No supernatural force or disembodied mind is necessary. In this realm, the “creator” is gravity. Is that what you mean by “god”?
 
Alan Darley
12:35pm Nov 24
Rosemary. Has anyone ever observed gravity creating matter? How is that a scientific statement?
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:32pm Nov 24
Matthew, as has already been said several times on this forum, the Newtonian concepts of physical laws do NOT apply to the sub-atomic realm. 
In the common or garden variety of reality (subject to Newtonian physics) all things that begin to exist must have a prior (physical) cause. In the quantum realm this is not true. 
In the quantum realm there is no such a thing as “nothing”. Even in a vacuum (= no particles) there are forces (like gravity) that operate. At this level, a necessarily basic force such as gravity (or simply “potential” gravity) is all that is required to create matter. No supernatural force or disembodied mind is necessary. In this realm, the “creator” is gravity. Is that what you mean by “god”?
 
Matthew Bell
12:37pm Nov 24
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm: Is gravity a descriptive law of the universe in which we live and a law of physics?
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
12:32pm Nov 24
Matthew, as has already been said several times on this forum, the Newtonian concepts of physical laws do NOT apply to the sub-atomic realm. 
In the common or garden variety of reality (subject to Newtonian physics) all things that begin to exist must have a prior (physical) cause. In the quantum realm this is not true. 
In the quantum realm there is no such a thing as “nothing”. Even in a vacuum (= no particles) there are forces (like gravity) that operate. At this level, a necessarily basic force such as gravity (and/or “potential” particles) is all that is required to create matter. No supernatural force or disembodied mind is necessary. In this realm, the “creators” are gravity and potential particles. Is that what you mean by “god”?
 
Matthew Bell
12:37pm Nov 24
Alan Darley: Wouldn’t need to be ‘the law of gravity’ creating matter?
 
Brian Blais
12:37pm Nov 24
“If you are saying that science cannot be predicated in meaningful speech then it is clearly non-falsifiable.” Are being deliberately obtuse? clearly we need language, but science has shown that many words need to be defined in a different way to be meaningful. so the everyday usage can’t be applied across the board. ask any physics instructor what challenges that have in teaching concepts like “force” and “energy” and you’ll see some of the issues.
 
Matthew Bell
12:38pm Nov 24
Alan Darley: Wouldn’t it need to be ‘the law of gravity’ creating matter?
 
Matthew Bell
12:38pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: What did Hawking mean by the word ‘create’ in the OP citation?
 
Brian Blais
12:39pm Nov 24
gravity is both a descriptive law (actually laws- there are many descriptions), but also a property of the universe. do we know if it is a necessary property? no. do we know if it is not a necessary property? no, also.
 
Michele Marshall
12:39pm Nov 24
//Philosophy hasn’t kept up to date with modern physics.// Thomas, I disagree with that. Philosophy does not evolve like scientific discovery does. The truth is that modern physics is just beginning to catch up with classic philosophy.
 
Brian Blais
12:41pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “What did Hawking mean by the word ‘create’ in the OP citation” not sure, I’d have to look at the context. further, this was probably in a popular book, where the use of language less formal (and thus more sloppy). if your argument depends on the specifics, then I am certain that his popular books will not satisfy you. however, one can then go to the peer-reviewed literature to which he is ultimately referring, and figure out what he means by that.
 
Michele Marshall
12:41pm Nov 24
I may be missing something, but does not matter create gravity, and not the other way around?
 
Alan Darley
12:41pm Nov 24
That’s right Michele. In fact Keith Ward says that he and other professional philosophers regularly get invited to conferences on physics because philosophy is on the cutting edge of physics!
 
Matthew Bell
12:41pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: So what would it mean to the layperson reading the book intended for laypersons?
 
Thomas J Newton
12:42pm Nov 24
You may disagree Michele. However, the qualification that Hawking gives for philosophy being ‘dead’ is as a result of not keeping up with current science. What Hawking is not doing is saying philosophy as a ‘tool’ is dead though, just that philosophy on the subject to which he is referring. Hopefully his polemic will spur philosophers to engage more with the issues rather than creating much ado about ‘nothing’
 
Alan Darley
12:43pm Nov 24
‘I may be missing something, but does not matter create gravity, and not the other way around?’ Indeed Michele, matter is a necessary condition for gravity. These views are not only bad philosophy; they are bad science.
 
Matthew Bell
12:43pm Nov 24
Thomas J Newton: is meta-ontology and anti-realism both subjects of philosophy?
 
Thomas J Newton
12:44pm Nov 24
So is this your new methodology Matthew? Asking loads of questions?
 
Michele Marshall
12:45pm Nov 24
Thomas, given some context, I can tentatively agree. The media always tend to pull things out of context.
 
Matthew Bell
12:45pm Nov 24
Thomas J Newton: Do you have an answer to the question?
 
Alan Darley
12:45pm Nov 24
It worked for Socrates.
 
Thomas J Newton
12:45pm Nov 24
So does Alan, Michele
 
Thomas J Newton
12:45pm Nov 24
Do you Matt?
 
Alan Darley
12:45pm Nov 24
Follow the argument where it leads.
 
Michele Marshall
12:45pm Nov 24
It hink asking questions is the best methodology. It promotes discovery on both sides.
 
Matthew Bell
12:46pm Nov 24
Thomas: I don’t see any questions relevant to the OP or the discussion on philosophy and science as proposed by Hawking.
 
Thomas J Newton
12:46pm Nov 24
If we all just asked questions then it wouldn’t be discussion forum…
 
Michele Marshall
12:47pm Nov 24
Matthew, this mus be a typical thread, then. πŸ™‚
 
Matthew Bell
12:47pm Nov 24
Thomas J Newton; I can assure you my new methodology is not about just asking questions as you will discover quickly enough if you answer my question above.
 
Matthew Bell
12:47pm Nov 24
Michele Marshall: Very much, getting a straight answer from some of the atheists on here is like getting blood from a rock.
 
Michele Marshall
12:49pm Nov 24
Contrary to common opinion, science is not about answers; it is about questions.
 
Ken Parker
12:50pm Nov 24
And theology?
 
Thomas J Newton
12:50pm Nov 24
And discussion is two way Michele. Matt why are you asking me?
 
Matthew Bell
12:51pm Nov 24
I think the role of science is to provide answers to questions about the physical world.
 
Matthew Bell
12:51pm Nov 24
Thomas J Newton: because the answer is relevant to the discussion.
 
Matthew Bell
12:52pm Nov 24
Philosophy goes beyond the physical world to the meta-physical and that is where scientists run into trouble.
 
Michele Marshall
12:53pm Nov 24
I won’t carry my premise further because that would take us afield.
 
Ken Parker
12:53pm Nov 24
met·a·phys·ics/ˌmetΙ™Λˆfiziks/
Noun:
1.The branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, cause,…
2.Abstract theory or talk with no basis in reality.
 
Brian Blais
12:54pm Nov 24
Alan Darley – “These views are not only bad philosophy; they are bad science.” – spoken by the non-scientist. Michele Marshall – “does not matter create gravity, and not the other way around?” there are several different descriptions, many of which share certain elements. In most modern descriptions of matter, matter itself is a product of a field, all interactions are both field-related and particle-exchange related (there is a definite blurriness there). String theory unites all of these into one description. The idea of causation breaks down in all of these descriptions, as does the notion of distinct objects. Again, I’d have to see exactly what Hawking is saying (I haven’t gotten around to reading his book), but I believe he is implying that the basic fields (united under one theory) are enough to account for the existence/production of matter.
 
Matthew Bell
12:54pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: Do you have an answer to the question I asked you above about what the word create would mean to the layersons reading Hawkings book directed to them?
 
Matthew Bell
12:55pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: There is no such a thing as string theory, only string hypothesis.
 
Ken Parker
12:56pm Nov 24
There is no such thing as Yahweh, only Yahweh hypothesis.
 
Thomas J Newton
12:56pm Nov 24
Matt of course they are areas of philosophy, but I think you knew that already.
 
Michele Marshall
12:57pm Nov 24
Ken, we are referring to the first definition when we use the term here. However the definition is incomplete. It is not only about first principles but also about effectual principles and final principles.
 
Matthew Bell
12:57pm Nov 24
Thomas J Newton: So if philosophy is dead as Hawking claims and those things are areas of philosophy then why in the same book does Hawking propose those things?
 
Matthew Bell
12:58pm Nov 24
Ken: Science make a key differentiation between a scientific hypothesis and a scientific theory. String is a hypothesis in science and not a theory.
 
Brian Blais
12:58pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “Do you have an answer to the question I asked you above about what the word create would mean to the layersons reading Hawkings book directed to them?” What Hawking is most likely implying is that the natural description is enough to account for the existence/production of matter. He uses the word “create” there, clearly, to send the message that the typical notion of God creating the universe is not necessary in the modern description. It does not mean “create” in a way that I create a cake (using existing materials). It may not be well defined, but Hawking often writes to a non-technical audience.
 
Ken Parker
12:58pm Nov 24
//String is a hypothesis in science and not a theory.//
And God is….?
 
Matthew Bell
12:59pm Nov 24
Brian Blais; So you do know what it means to ‘perform an action’ after all since you describe such an action (creating) above?
 
Matthew Bell
12:59pm Nov 24
Ken Parker: God is not a scientific hypothesis or theory but rather a philosophical or theological claim.
 
Thomas J Newton
1:00pm Nov 24
The context of the ‘philosophy is dead’ quote is that philosophy hasn’t kept up with the science. That’s all I can say. He knows the science and perhaps is in a better position to philosophise about it (in his opinion)
 
Michele Marshall
1:00pm Nov 24
God is not a hypothesis. In scientific terms, He is a theory. The hypotheses revolve around what He is like.
 
Ken Parker
1:00pm Nov 24
So, how can we know of the actual existence of a god if it is untestable?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:01pm Nov 24
String theory is a theory. The theory is ‘look at all these different pieces of evidence, here’s how we’re trying to explain how they’re connected’. Note that there can be many theories to explain the same set of facts, and that not all may necessarily be right.
 
Matthew Bell
1:01pm Nov 24
Thomas J Newton: So although philosophy is dead according to Hawking he feels free to make philosophical statements and declaration in his book, even although he is not a philosopher?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:01pm Nov 24
Science describes nature, and ‘god’ is supernatural. Science has nothing to say about god. He is not a theory or hypothesis or anything. Science just says ‘meh’.
 
Matthew Bell
1:01pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Can you point me to where string hypothesis attained the level of scientific theory as that word is used in science?
 
Ken Parker
1:01pm Nov 24
If Science is a philosophy, then Hawking is a ‘philosopher’.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:02pm Nov 24
Alan, I never said that knowlege is results from an either/or (science versus philosophy) situation. The scientific method grew out of an understanding that philosophy was an insufficient means of determining truth. I use both, but my use of logic and philosophy is subject to evidential constraints. The problem with the reasoning that you have demonstrated here is that you do not allow evidence to constrain philosophical speculation. You treat philosophy (at least the ancient theological forms) as sufficient.
 
Matthew Bell
1:02pm Nov 24
Ken Parker: Science is not a philosophy and Hawking is of that view for after dismissing philosophy he puts forward science as the torchbearer of knowledge.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:02pm Nov 24
Alan, I never said that knowledge results from an either/or (science versus philosophy) situation. The scientific method grew out of an understanding that philosophy was an insufficient means of determining truth. I use both, but my use of logic and philosophy is subject to evidential constraints. The problem with the reasoning that you have demonstrated here is that you do not allow evidence to constrain philosophical speculation. You treat philosophy (at least the ancient theological forms) as sufficient.
 
Michele Marshall
1:04pm Nov 24
Ken, we can know of the existence of God by His effects. There must be a first cause, a fisrt mover, a necessary being, something that is greatest of all, and an intelligent director. Therefore, God exists. But that is all we can know scientifically. The rest is dependent upon revelation.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:02pm Nov 24
Alan, I never said that knowledge results from an either/or (science versus philosophy) situation. The scientific method grew out of an understanding that philosophy was an insufficient means of determining truth. 
I use both, but my use of logic and philosophy is subject to evidential constraints. The problem with the reasoning that you have demonstrated here is that you do not allow evidence to constrain philosophical speculation. You treat philosophy (at least the ancient theological forms) as sufficient.
BTW, the example that you give are poor ones because they can be concluded by an objective look at the evidence, including the commonalities of other people’s subjective experience.
 
Brian Blais
1:04pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “String is a hypothesis in science and not a theory.” no argument from me here.
 
Ken Parker
1:05pm Nov 24
Perhaps I should have said ‘methodological naturalism’…
 
Brian Blais
1:05pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “God is not a scientific hypothesis or theory but rather a philosophical or theological claim.” -sorry, you lose on that one. it definitely is a scientific hypothesis. it makes claims about observable things (unless you’re a deist) and those claims have failed to be observed.
 
Matthew Bell
1:06pm Nov 24
Ken: methodological naturalism isn’t philosophy..
 
Michele Marshall
1:06pm Nov 24
Yes, i don’t often disagree with Matthew, but I would have to take issue there.
 
Ken Parker
1:07pm Nov 24
//Ken, we can know of the existence of God by His effects. There must be a first cause, a fisrt mover, a necessary being, something that is greatest of all, and an intelligent director. Therefore, God exists. But that is all we can know scientifically. The rest is dependent upon revelation.//
So, your ‘god’ could be a higher intelligence that set the dials on the simulator to create a universe such as ours?
 
Matthew Bell
1:08pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: If that is the case then why has the National Academy of Science declared that on the question of the existence of God science is neutral. Also since science operates on methodological naturalism and God is not a natural entity or explanation then how would God fit into science?
 
Michele Marshall
1:09pm Nov 24
I think I shall return this thread to the scientific theorists and leave the philosophy for another discussion.
 
Brian Blais
1:10pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell “National Academy of Science declared that on the question of the existence of God science is neutral. ” because of the political reality that they don’t want to annoy liberal christians who agree with (almost) all of science, yet cling to this vague notion of a god. I think they are wrong in fact, but it might be an ok political move.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:11pm Nov 24
Matthew, the “god” concept is only metaphysical if you confine it to the metaphysical realm. The minute you claim that this metaphysical conjecture acts on the physical world or the humans in it, then you have proposed a scientific hypothesis that is subject to all the evidential rules of good scientific investigation. At every point where this has been framed in a way that is testable, the god hypothesis has failed to be confirmed and, in may instances, has proved to be quite false. Since the common use of good objective investigation methods Christianity has been frantically reinventing and reinterpreting its doctrines and holy texts to make them appear to fit the inescapable contradicitons.
 
Matthew Bell
1:11pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Can you cite me any scientific paper on the God-hypothesis that has been through the peer review process?
 
Matthew Bell
1:11pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Is that your opinion about the motives of NAS?
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:11pm Nov 24
Matthew, the “god” concept is only metaphysical if you confine it to the metaphysical realm. The minute you claim that this metaphysical conjecture acts on the physical world or the humans in it, then you have proposed a scientific hypothesis that is subject to all the evidential rules of good scientific investigation. At every point where this has been framed in a way that is testable, the god hypothesis has failed to be confirmed and, in may instances, has proved to be quite false. Since the common use of good objective investigation methods Christianity has been frantically reinventing and reinterpreting its doctrines and holy texts to make them appear to fit the inescapable contradicitons. The history of science runs parallel to religious apologetics.
 
Matthew Bell
1:13pm Nov 24
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm: I don’t dispute that any act on the physical world or in the physical realm is a valid area of investigation by science but that doesn’t make God a physical entity or natural being, but rather only a specific act of a supernatural being into the physical world.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:11pm Nov 24
Matthew, the “god” concept is only metaphysical if you confine it to the metaphysical realm. The minute you claim that this metaphysical conjecture acts on the physical world or the humans in it, then you have proposed a scientific hypothesis that is subject to all the evidential rules of good scientific investigation. At every point where this has been framed in a way that is testable, the god hypothesis has failed to be confirmed and, in may instances, has proved to be quite false. Since the common use of good objective investigation methods Christianity has been frantically reinventing and reinterpreting its doctrines and holy texts to make them appear to fit the inescapable contradicitons. The history of science runs parallel with religious apologetics. If you read some objective history of ideas you (or at least un-indoctinates) will see that the orthodox doctrines of Christianity have changed quite radically since the end of the Dark Ages of enforced religious supremacy.
 
Brian Blais
1:13pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “God is not a natural entity or explanation then how would God fit into science?” you’re simply defining it as a supernatural entity, btw, which I believe is content free. We can infer something from its effects and predictions. for example, the wavefunction in quantum mechanics is not directly measurable, yet we can verify its existence by its superb predictions. If God didn’t act in the world, it would not be addressable by science. However, it is claimed that God is acting in the universe, yet where he is predicted to act and the effect is observed, the results are indistinguishable from no-god. In all other cases, the effect is not observed. It doesn’t matter whether God is natural, supernatural, subnatural, lateralnatural, etc…
 
Matthew Bell
1:14pm Nov 24
Brian Blias: In what way doe the God of deism act in the world?
 
Alan Darley
1:15pm Nov 24
The central claims of Christianity are historical rather than scientific since they are to do with the person of Jesus of Nazareth. History is a different methodology to science.
 
Matthew Bell
1:15pm Nov 24
Brian Blias: In what way does the God of deism act in the world?
 
Brian Blais
1:15pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell- did you not read my exception for deism? are you a deist? if you are, then I’ll simply state that I don’t find your idea of God to be useful in any way, but there can be no way to disprove it. I get the feeling that you don’t want to go down that road…
 
Matthew Bell
1:16pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: No, I’m not a deist. Does that prohibit the asking of questions about the God of deism?
 
Matthew Bell
1:17pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Give me an example of where an effect of God has been validly tested and failed that test?
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:21pm Nov 24
Modern history is subject to scientific method and realities. You must have missed that change, Matthew. Modern historians dispute the reliability of “eye-witness” reports now that it has been informed of the extent of their unreliability. The evidential heirarchy used by historians is heavily dependent on scientific findings and methodology. “Histortical” events described in biblical texts has been eroded and exploded by scientific discoveries and investigations that are subject to good evidentiary rules (aka the scientific method).
 
Brian Blais
1:21pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – please spell my name right. as for deism, no you can ask questions about it, it’s just a very short conversation.
 
Matthew Bell
1:22pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: So where are the links to peer-reviewed scientific journals on the God-hypothesis?
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:21pm Nov 24
Modern history is subject to scientific method and realities. You must have missed that change, Matthew. Modern historians dispute the reliability of “eye-witness” reports now that it has been informed of the extent of their unreliability. The evidential heirarchy used by historians is heavily dependent on scientific findings and methodology. “Historical” events described in biblical texts has been eroded and exploded by scientific discoveries and investigations that are subject to good evidential rules (aka the scientific method). Historians with sound academic credentials do not accept the kind of “historical” evidence that you think is solid. You have a lot of academic catching up to do in this field.
 
Alan Darley
1:23pm Nov 24
Can you give me any scientific evidence that Henry VIII existed?
 
Brian Blais
1:23pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – how about, God created the world 6000 years ago? you may not believe that, but there are many who do – and it fails with tests in biology, astronomy, physics, archeology, anthropology, etc…
 
Ken Parker
1:25pm Nov 24
//a specific act of a supernatural being into the physical world.//
Kinda having your cake and eating it, somewhat, Mr Bell.
 
Matthew Bell
1:25pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: Since I fully accept all scientific theories (not hypothesis) and do so without qualification you can understand that is not a view I hold to. Can you provide an example given the context of an individual like myself?
 
Alan Darley
1:26pm Nov 24
<Modern historians dispute the reliability of “eye-witness” reports now that it has been informed of the extent of their unreliability> This is not because of scientific tests but a question of reliability of sources. They do not dispute the reliability of ALL eye witness reports otherwise they could not continue to be ‘historians’.
 
Brian Blais
1:26pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – sorry, I don’t know you personally, and I don’t know what sorts of things you are claiming. I can address specific claims, perhaps, but I can’t read your mind.
 
Matthew Bell
1:27pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I provided the context.. any person who fully accepts all scientific theories (not hypothesis) without qualification?
 
Alan Darley
1:28pm Nov 24
<“Histortical” events described in biblical texts has been eroded and exploded by scientific discoveries and investigations that are subject to good evidentiary rules (aka the scientific method).> I think you are confusing the scientific method with the so called ‘assured results of higher criticism’ many of which are no longer so assured because they have been disproven historically (eg the dating of New Testament documents).
 
Brian Blais
1:29pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – not sure what you’re asking. I don’t feel like arguing with a hypothetical person. let’s be specific. if you believe in the existence of God, what evidence do you have (in the process, please define the term God). Do you believe that this God acts in the natural way that is distinguishable from our current understanding? I’m not implying that our current understanding is complete, but it is somewhere to start.
 
Alan Darley
1:30pm Nov 24
One reason the Logical Positivists gave up their ‘strong verification principle’ was because it rendered historical knowledge impossible.
 
Matthew Bell
1:31pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I am asking you to provide me with an example of a God claim that has been scientifically tested and where the result of that test has been ‘false’ I am also asking you to provide the links to the peer-reviewed scientific journals on the God-hypothesis (since you have claimed God is a scientific hypothesis).
 
Brian Blais
1:31pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – (I’ll be offline for the next few hours, so take your time answering me)
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:32pm Nov 24
ROTFLMOA. What a littany of scientific ignorance! Get yourself a decent education, Alan.
 
Brian Blais
1:33pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “provide me with an example of a God claim ” I did that, with the 6000 yo earth. you may not believe that particular claim, but many do. if you don’t then now it is your turn to tell me what you believe (see my previous post). as for God hypothesis in the peer-review, I think the reason there is none is because no one has been able to provide any convincing evidence for it. you need to provide evidence for it, first, and some predictions before it can be falsified.
 
Matthew Bell
1:34pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: God claim – God created the Universe and sustains it in existence.
 
Matthew Bell
1:35pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: So just to be sure I understand you properly.. you are claiming that God is a scientific hypothesis but not a single scientist has put forward God as a hypothesis in any scientific peer-reviewed journal?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:41pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell,
“Can you point me to where string hypothesis attained the level of scientific theory as that word is used in science?”
At no point. It doesn’t have to. ‘Hypothesis’ vs. ‘Theory’ does not imply any level of certainty. Hypothesis is the bit before the experiment. Examples might be ‘x-rays can be used to ionise aerosols’ or ‘rocks float’. We then test to see if those are true. The hypothesis doesn’t offer any sort of explanatory power, that comes later.
A theory is generally something that we use to explain observations and facts. For example, my lamp is broken, there’s a pillow on the floor, and a large pile of rubbish is festering in the corner. We could put forward the theory that purple alien broke into my room and thrashed around a bit and caused the mess. We could launch the competing theory that I’m just a scruffy bastard. There are two theories at work here, and they are being used to explain the same thing. One more likely than the other, perhaps. The name ‘theory’ doesn’t mean ‘right’, necessarily.
As far as string theory goes, we already have our observations, evidence, and have already done our experiments. So we have mass-energy equivalence, gravitation, subatomic observations and the idea of the four fundamental forces that we’re trying to tie up and explain, and that explanation is string theory. By the two definitions (/rambling stories) that I gave above, can you understand why string theory is not a hypothesis? It’s not just a ‘weak theory’.
It’s also worth pointing out that I don’t actually think that string theory is quite right – that there are other explanations that better explain our observations such as superstring or M-theory. However, they are all still theories.
The above describes a ‘scientific’ theory, by the way, which is not quite the same as the common meaning of theory, which is something that more often starts with “I dun reckon…”
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:43pm Nov 24
Sorry for the knee-jerk derision, Matthew, but what you wrote is just so wrong on so many fronts that I don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I even have the time to address it all. Nor give it priority over other things I MUST do today. I’ll wait to see how others respond and then address anything they left out later in the day.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:43pm Nov 24
Sorry for the knee-jerk derision, Alan Darley, but what you wrote is just so wrong on so many fronts that I don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I even have the time to address it all. Nor give it priority over other things I MUST do today. I’ll wait to see how others respond and then address anything they left out later in the day.
Matthew : You need to do a little research on what qualifies as a scientific hypothesis. They are not all considered worthy of investigation, especially if they are unlikely to further our needs on this planet.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:47pm Nov 24
The above ramble mainly relates to theories as found in theoretical physics. Chemists, biologists, geologists etc generally have less trouble demonstrating to a reasonable level the truth of their theories.
 
Matthew Bell
1:48pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: if the above were true then why has theoretical physicist Roger Penrose said the following, ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory, it’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations, it’s not even a theory’ and ‘particularly things to do with string theory which have absolutely no support from observation, they are just nice ideas.. they are hardly science’? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg_95wZZFr4
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:43pm Nov 24
Sorry for the knee-jerk derision, Alan Darley, but what you wrote is just so wrong on so many fronts that I don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I even have the time to address it all. Nor give it priority over other things I MUST do today. I’ll wait to see how others respond and then address anything they left out later in the day.
Matthew : You need to do a little research on what qualifies as a scientific hypothesis. They are not all considered worthy of investigation, especially if they are unlikely to further our needs on this planet. In any case, predictions based on the god hypothesis have, indeed, been scientifically investigated. I guess you just don’t know what words to type in to find the research. For starters, try the efficacy of prayer. It failed the most rigorous and methodologically sound investigations, although there were, predictably, some spurious postives from poorly conducted studies that failed to control for investigator and subject bias.
 
Matthew Bell
1:49pm Nov 24
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm: I think you’re writing to Alan but referring to me?
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:43pm Nov 24
Sorry for the knee-jerk derision, Alan Darley, but what you wrote is just so wrong on so many fronts that I don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I even have the time to address it all. Nor give it priority over other things I MUST do today. I’ll wait to see how others respond and then address anything they left out later in the day.
Matthew : You need to do a little research on what qualifies as a scientific hypothesis. They are not all considered worthy of investigation, especially if they are unlikely to further our needs on this planet. In any case, predictions based on the god hypothesis have, indeed, been scientifically investigated. I guess you just don’t know what words to type in to find the research. 
For starters, try the efficacy of prayer. It failed the most rigorous and methodologically sound investigations, although there were, predictably, some spurious postives from poorly conducted studies that failed to control for investigator and subject bias.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:49pm Nov 24
See my corrected edit above. You got a legitimate mention anyway. πŸ™‚
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:51pm Nov 24
I think he’s dismissing M-theory as weak, rather than actually defining it as not-a-theory. I don’t know who Roger Penrose is, but it sounds like he’s being a rather stuffy blowhard when he says things like “they are hardly science” – not discussing the nature of science or definitions of theories as we are here.
 
Matthew Bell
1:52pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: What don’t you understand about the words, ‘It’s not even a theory’?
 
Matthew Bell
1:53pm Nov 24
Harold S Bloxham: Roger Penrose is a theoretical physicists who worked with Stephen Hawking and shared a scientific award with him for their contribution to science.
 
Brian Blais
1:53pm Nov 24
yes – because no single scientist has been able to come up with any convincing evidence for this hypothesis.
 
Brian Blais
1:54pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “God created the Universe and sustains it in existence.” you haven’t defined God, or any possible way to test this – thus content free.
 
Alan Darley
1:54pm Nov 24
The biggest threat to a history comes not from the hard sciences but from postmodern theories of linguistics, Rosemary.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:55pm Nov 24
I’m using my god-given gift of interpretation, Matt. I’m interpreting what I think he means, not the actual words he is saying. If you’re not happy with me doing that, then we need to have a big chat about Genesis.
 
Matthew Bell
1:55pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I am using the word God in response to your question where you also used that word. What did you mean by the word ‘God’ when you used it?
 
Ken Parker
1:56pm Nov 24
Always with the questions…not so much the answers. :/
 
Matthew Bell
1:56pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: So on what he actually says as opposed on what you want him to be saying, is M-hypothesis a theory?
 
Matthew Bell
1:56pm Nov 24
Ken Parker: if you have a question ask it.
 
Alan Darley
1:56pm Nov 24
Is naturalism a hypothesis?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
1:58pm Nov 24
I don’t really give a crap about what he says, Matt. He’s not some Authority On Everything. M-theory is a theory, and no amount of Christian Radio is going to change that.
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:58pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell: Learn about the differences between established well supported scientific theories (like the theory of natural selection by evolution) and cutting edge yet-to-be well supported theories (like M theory). Just because cutting edge theories are not yet well confirmed does not mean that they will not be in the future (although I am dubious about the fate of M theory). It most certainly does NOT imply that established scientific theories are false or, paradoxically, that well established theories will not be fine-tuned to fit new evidence later on, without rejecting the major thrust of the original well-supported theory. The famous theories by Darwin, Newton and Einstein have been tweaked to make them fit new information. That does not mean that any of those theories have been entirely rejected or that their basic finding is wrong. This is the world of non-authoritarian, non-absolute, modify-according-to-the-evidence research investigation. Rigid authoritarian absolutist find-facts-to-fit-the-doctrine “research” will come to any conclusion it started with.
 
Matthew Bell
1:59pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: So you don’t want to hear counter-evidence from one of the most respected theoretical physicists of the current day to your layperson opinion on scence? By the way, here is some educational material for you on Penrose. – http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Penrose.html
 
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
1:59pm Nov 24
Sorry, folks but I have already spent too much time here. I have to go. Cya later.
 
Matthew Bell
1:59pm Nov 24
Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm: I already know the difference.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:00pm Nov 24
I think you’re trying to take his words too literally. Your people have been doing that for two millenia and it’s beginning to grate a little.
 
Matthew Bell
2:00pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: I think what is grating is the exposure that what you said above has no basis in science or fact
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:01pm Nov 24
Read my big post and Rosemary’s biggish post again. You will hopefully stop calling it “M-Hypothesis” afterward. I’m off for a bath.
 
Alan Darley
2:02pm Nov 24
1-0 to Matthew Bell.
 
Matthew Bell
2:02pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: I have read them both and reject them as uninformed opinions
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:07pm Nov 24
So you’ll take penrose’s offhand remark at face value, representing The Truth, but reject his partner Hawking’s remark? What is this? Get yourself some intellectual honesty, Mr. Bell, and stop appealing to these authority figures as they suit your own purposes. Uninformed opinion?
There’s a reason it’s called M-fucking-theory.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:07pm Nov 24
So you’ll take penrose’s offhand remark at face value, representing The Truth, but reject his partner Hawking’s remark? What is this? Get yourself some intellectual honesty, Mr. Bell, and stop appealing to these authority figures as they suit your own purposes.
There’s a reason it’s called M-fucking-theory.
 
Matthew Bell
2:08pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Yes.. I go with the view that doesn’t lead to absurdity such as Alan Derby has made clear on Hawkings hypothesis.
 
Matthew Bell
2:09pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: It’s called ‘theory’ for the same reason abiogenesis is called theory.. scientists trying to make a hypothesis sound better than the reality.
 
Matthew Bell
2:11pm Nov 24
“Roger has been producing original and important scientific ideas for half a century. His work is characterised by exceptional geometrical and physical insight. He applied new mathematical techniques to Einstein’s theory, and led the renaissance in gravitation theory in the 1960s. His novel ideas on space and time and his concept of ‘twistors’ are increasingly influential. Even his recreations have had intellectual impact: for instance the ‘impossible figures’ popularised in Escher’s artwork, and the never-repeating patterns of ‘Penrose tiling’. He has influenced and stimulated a wide public through his lectures, and his best-selling and wide-ranging books.”
 
Matthew Bell
2:12pm Nov 24
“Sir Roger Penrose, OM, FRS has been awarded the Royal Society’s Copley medal the world’s oldest prize for scientific achievement for his exceptional contributions to geometry and mathematical physics. Sir Roger, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, has made outstanding contributions to general relativity theory and cosmology, most notably for his work on black holes and the Big Bang.”
 
Matthew Bell
2:13pm Nov 24
Against the above individual we are asked to take the word of Harold S. Bloxham and Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm
 
Helen Marple-Horvat
2:35pm Nov 24
 
Helen Marple-Horvat
2:36pm Nov 24
harold. I think penrose was completely clear. I understood him to say that we will never actually be in a position to evidence M theory. listen to the whole broadcast perhaps.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:37pm Nov 24
Matthew Hell, two days ago you asked what the difference between a hypothesis and a theory was. I have been published in scientific journals. If you’re talking about being unqualified to comment, let’s start there.
I’m not saying M-theory is right, Helen. I’m saying it’s a theory.
 
Helen Marple-Horvat
2:38pm Nov 24
but penrose is saying that it isnt.
 
Matthew Bell
2:50pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Are you a theoretical physicist?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:50pm Nov 24
Are you?
 
Matthew Bell
2:51pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: No, I’m not, but Penrose is.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:52pm Nov 24
I gathered that, yeah.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:52pm Nov 24
It doesn’t matter. that’s not how science works.
 
Matthew Bell
2:52pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: So are you a theoretical physicist?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:52pm Nov 24
It doesn’t matter. That’s not how science works.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:53pm Nov 24
You know I’m not, we’ve been through this. But, again, it doesn’t matter.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:53pm Nov 24
Why, in your own words, does string theory not qualify as a theory?
 
Matthew Bell
2:53pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Yes it does matter. On matters of theoretical physics you are not an expert, Penrose is.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:54pm Nov 24
How tedious.
 
Matthew Bell
2:54pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: How true.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:54pm Nov 24
So, “Why, in your own words, does string theory not qualify as a theory?”
 
Matthew Bell
2:55pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Because it has not been scientifcally verified to move it from hypothesis to theory – as those terms are properly used and differentiated between in science.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:57pm Nov 24
A hypothesis is not just an unproven theory, and a theory is not just a proven hypothesis. They are not the same thing.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
2:57pm Nov 24
I have tv to watch. Later, people.
 
Matthew Bell
2:58pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: I disagree and I don’t consider you an authority to speak on the matter given your dismissal of an actual expert on the subjection over your layperson opinion.
 
Matthew Bell
2:58pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: I disagree and I don’t consider you an authority to speak on the matter given your dismissal of an actual expert on the subject over your layperson opinion.
 
Matthew Bell
3:04pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Can you provide scientific sources supporting your claims about hypothesis and theory above?
 
Don Mower
3:10pm Nov 24
Rosemary usually follows the Internet atheist tract to the tee so I wouldn’t worry about getting any kind of reasonable dialogue from here. She is a demagogue that hides behind here credentials as a “retired behavioral psychologist.” You won’t get much of meaningful content from her.
 
Brian Blais
4:33pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “What did you mean by the word ‘God’ when you used it?” talk about dodgy! Since theists like using the word God for something, I’ll use it vaguely and without definition because they used it. when it comes to any serious claims, however, I will demand that the person making the claim define it. we do this all the time in other contexts.
 
Brian Blais
4:36pm Nov 24
Alan Darley – “Is naturalism a hypothesis?” depends. I think philosophical naturalism might be, although I am not sure. I don’t think that methodological naturalism is – it’s just a very useful convention. It might be derivable from basic rules of logic, essentially stating that the only things that we can meaningfully discuss are things that are reasonably well defined. methodological naturalism follows from that.
 
Brian Blais
4:38pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – you still haven’t responded to either my challenge that your “definition” of God was content free, or with my statement that the world being less than 6000 years old is a testable claim, and thus a scientific claim motivated by a belief in God – and thus is a prediction made from the God hypothesis.
 
Don Mower
4:38pm Nov 24
God has been defined. You refuse to accept the definition.
 
Brian Blais
4:39pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – so to make things specific: 1) do you believe the Earth is greater than or less than 10,000 years old and 2) do you believe that we share a common ancestor with chimpanzees. Both of these have definite scientific answers which contradict the dominant predictions from Christianity as it is read, somewhat literally, from the Bible.
 
Don Mower
4:40pm Nov 24
How do you define Brian Blais?
 
Matthew Bell
4:42pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I will use it in the discussion for the God of deism so as to avoid using it incoherently (without meaning) as you did.
 
Don Mower
4:42pm Nov 24
Red herrings Brian. Matthew already stated his position on those points.
 
Matthew Bell
4:42pm Nov 24
Brian Blais; I responded to both things you say I have not.
 
Matthew Bell
4:44pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I already stated that I accept all scientific theories (not hypothesis) without qualification. That ought to inform you as to the answers to the 1 and 2 questions yo uhave above.
 
Don Mower
4:45pm Nov 24
If you can’t dazzle with brilliance you baffle with BS.
 
Brian Blais
4:55pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – You’ll forgive me that I don’t have any patience for the theory-hypothesis pedantic distinctions. As long as those terms are used differently by different people, it will be a point of confusion – a needless one. I only care about claims, and potential explanations and their usefulness. A statement like “I accept all scientific theories” is ridiculous because there are mutually exclusive theories. It’s a statement given when one doesn’t want to have a serious discussion. I’d prefer a direct answer to, what I feel, are direct questions. 1) is the Earth older than 10,000 years? 2) do we share a common ancestor? These questions should be easy, and a jumping off point for better questions.
 
Matthew Bell
4:56pm Nov 24
Brian Blais; Sure…. 1. Yes. 2. Yes.
 
Matthew Bell
4:57pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: Note: I do not accept your claim that there exists mutually exclusive scientific theories
 
Brian Blais
5:01pm Nov 24
example – multiple and single origin of humans theories. both have evidence for them. hebb theory and bcm theory (look them up) in neuroscience. wave theory of light and particle theory of light (before quantum mechanics). collision theory for origin of the moon vs capture theory, etc….
 
Don Mower
5:12pm Nov 24
Can we dispense with the “God is not defined” pedantic nonsense as well?
 
Matthew Bell
5:13pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: You are conflating theories with hypothesis.
 
Brian Blais
5:16pm Nov 24
no, I’m not, but let’s say that I am – that means that those terms are not useful in this discussion. you and I seem to have different uses, and I doubt that we’d come to agree. therefore, let’s just simply refer to claims – some with more evidence some with less.
 
Matthew Bell
5:24pm Nov 24
Brian Blias: It means that if you use terms properly your communication will be clearer and correct
 
Matthew Bell
5:25pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I have answered your two questions, now present example of a God claim which science has tested and it has failed?
 
Brian Blais
5:40pm Nov 24
I’d rather not get into this theory vs hypothesis thing, but are you saying that a theory is just a well established explanation in science, and a hypothesis is an untested claim in science?
 
Brian Blais
5:44pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “a God claim which science has tested and it has failed” there are many God claims that have failed testing, but you seem to say that if science tests a claim, and it is in contradiction to a previous God-claim, then the science explanation wins. if that is the case, then at any given moment there will be no God claims that are refuted, because by definition all claims that were refuted no longer are God claims. this is (in a roundabout way) an argument from ignorance. If you accept all of science, as you say, and your God only exists in the unknown then your God will occupy a smaller and smaller portion of the universe. if this is not what you’re claiming, then please tell me where I’ve erred.
 
Brian Blais
5:45pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – do you believe in the efficacy of prayer? what parts of one’s personhood (intellect, personality, consciousness, decision-making, etc…) are determined by brain activity? do you believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible (or any other book)?
 
Matthew Bell
5:48pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I am saying there is a key difference in science between a scientific hypothesis and a scientific theory and when people are talking about science they should clearly differentiate between the two for the purpose of clarity in their communication and not loosely and carelessly conflate the two as if the same./
 
Matthew Bell
5:51pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: If you are going to allege any logical fallacy then you have to substantiate where and how that is being doing. Making a vague reference to a fallacy without explanation is bad practice.
 
Matthew Bell
5:52pm Nov 24
Brian Blias: Yes I believe in the efficacy of prayer and the soul and and the divine inspiration of the Bible.
 
Brian Blais
5:56pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell- “key difference in science between a scientific hypothesis and a scientific theory” ok, please educate me on this difference as you see it. was my distinction correct? I believe we may be using the terms differently, which may be the source of the problem.
 
Matthew Bell
5:58pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: a hypothesis is an idea, a concept, something to be tested, checked . A theory is a hypothesis which has been through that process and came through it successfully.
 
Brian Blais
6:11pm Nov 24
ok, so that is the distinction I was making. however, it is much more murky. you can have conflicting ideas for which there is some evidence – it’s supported, but possibly weakly. Newton’s theory was very well established at the time it was overturned by Einstein’s theory, so did it “come through successfully”? this is true for many of the theories I posted, which you consider hypotheses. at what point does it get promoted? how much evidence? I don’t think this is a fruitful distinction, especially at the edges. there are some explanations/models which are very well established. some less so, others with very little or no evidence. I don’t think there are clear distinctions.
 
Matthew Bell
6:12pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: it’s not murky at all. Either a hypothesis has been through that testing process and came out of it successfully or it has not.
 
Matthew Bell
6:13pm Nov 24
Evolution is a scientific theory. Abiogenesis is a scientific hypothesis.
 
Matthew Bell
6:13pm Nov 24
The Big Bang is a scientific theory. String hypothesis is not.
 
Brian Blais
6:13pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – as I read the prayer studies, attempting to verify the claim that prayer works, the results are inconclusive at best. even the best cases are with “healing” that is not extraordinary. I particularly like the site whywontgodhealamputees. pretty much sums it up in the title!
 
Brian Blais
6:14pm Nov 24
the soul is a content-free statement, and thus not measureable or testable – but the brain theory (hypothesis?) of personhood is, and has held up in every test.
 
Matthew Bell
6:14pm Nov 24
Brian Blais; it’s impossible to scientifically test the efficacy of prayer because a key element in any such test cannot be known to be active in the experiment – e.g. God
 
Matthew Bell
6:14pm Nov 24
In other words the prayer tests are invalid.
 
Brian Blais
6:15pm Nov 24
the Bible contains errors, and marks of the history of its development – hardly what one would expect from an omniscient author, or teacher.
 
Brian Blais
6:16pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “In other words the prayer tests are invalid.” no, it means there is very little evidence for the efficacy of prayer.
 
Matthew Bell
6:16pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Inspiration is not = to inerrancy, nor are your expectations relevant to the discussion of the Bible.
 
Matthew Bell
6:17pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: No it doesn’t mean that all. What it means is this: IF we assume that the main player involved in intercessory prayer participated in our experiment then there is very little evidence of its efficacy.
 
Brian Blais
6:26pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – “IF we assume that the main player involved in intercessory prayer participated in our experiment then there is very little evidence of its efficacy.” there are several issues with this statement. basically, because God is posited as an omnipotent free agent, we can alway say that he simply chose not to be part of a test, or chose to “design” things in such a way that is indistinguishable from non-design, or chose to convince the people who are already convinced. in short, he’s indistinguishable from “nothing” and adds no content. if one can always dodge it this way, then you are making unfalsifiable claims. however, if you still believe in prayer, despite no evidence for its efficacy, then you are not being rational. tell me why not a single amputee has ever been healed, or even claimed by the faith-healers to have been healed?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:26pm Nov 24
Sure you can test it. The question “does prayer work” doesn’t need to involve god at all. You can ask 1000 people to pray for 1000 sick people, and have another 1000 sick people who aren’t prayed for. That will quite confidently give the answer to the question. It wouldn’t explain anything, necessarily, but it would be a scientific study with a scientific answer.
 
Matthew Bell
6:40pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: Nothing in the above speaks against the necessary assumption of any experiment on prayer that if not true would invalidate the experiment. If cessationism is true why would I expect to see amputees being healed and in the Bible there is such an example provided with Jesus and Malchus. Do you have any more pop objections to throw around to try to make your views look rational?
 
Matthew Bell
6:40pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: What do you think prayer is?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:42pm Nov 24
Depends on who you ask. Can vary from somewhere between a very deep thought or meditation, to bargaining with god for favours. What’s your take, Matthew?
 
Brian Blais
6:43pm Nov 24
are you a cessationist? I haven’t met many (perhaps not any). you’re right, that if cessationism is true, then all the tests will be false – every last miracle claim in modern time is false. it also means that the only evidence for miracles are written accounts, decades after the events, not by eyewitnesses, and nearly identical in flavor to modern claims of miracles and ancient claims from non-christian sources. if you ware going to bring up this claim, then do it. otherwise, why bring up a belief system you don’t actually believe, except as a red-herring? are you a cessationist?
 
Matthew Bell
6:44pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: Ok, since I’m tiring of your avoidance I’ll be more direct with you. I define prayer as communication between God and a human and intercessory prayer as that of a human making request to God. On that definition if God is not participating in an experiment and for the reason that it is a test of him that he has forbidden to be done then the results would come back a fail for the efficacy on prayer but in reality it wouldn’t have said anything about prayer or God but only about the poor controls the scientists had over the experiment,.
 
Matthew Bell
6:44pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: I am sympathetic to a cessationist point of view.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:47pm Nov 24
I’m not being avoidy. The definition Helen gives (who I’ve spoken to more than most) is more like the meditation-type. It was the honest answer to that question.
I don’t understand why God would want us to believe that prayer does nothing by providing a false result, but then again, she moves in mysterious ways…
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:47pm Nov 24
I’m not being avoidy. The definition Helen gives (whom I’ve spoken to more than most) is more like the meditation-type. It was the honest answer to that question.
I don’t understand why God would want us to believe that prayer does nothing by providing a false result, but then again, she moves in mysterious ways…
 
Brian Blais
6:47pm Nov 24
we have a common theme here, Matthew Bell. the only reason to be a cessationist is because, in the light of science, miracles are never observed or confirmed. in the light of science, the world is seen to be way older than the Bible indicates. in the light of science, there is no evidence for Noah’s story, so we’ll take that to be metaphor. in the light of science, prayer is not effective, or God retreats to the background whenever anyone is skeptical – exactly the sort of effect that you’d expect when there is no God. do you not recognize this pattern?
 
Matthew Bell
6:52pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: I provided the reason in my response. God is not to be put to the test. No Christian would agree to particpate in such a test and the results could never be any reliable guide to the efficacy of prayer because of the reasons I provided.
 
Matthew Bell
6:53pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: No, we don’t have any common theme going except you again making wrong assumptions. I hold my sympathy on cessationism on an exegesis of the Scriptures and my theology and not on the caricature you present which doesn’t even accurately represent what cessationism is.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:55pm Nov 24
I suppose. God gets a free pass yet again. Slippery little bugger.
 
Brian Blais
6:56pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – are you saying that there could not, even in principle, be a test for the efficacy of prayer?
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:57pm Nov 24
And that there could not ever be evidence of gods, seemingly.
 
Matthew Bell
6:57pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: Correct, because science operates on methodological naturalism and has no control over God
 
Matthew Bell
6:58pm Nov 24
Hence why God is not a scientific hypothesis
 
Harold S. Bloxham
6:58pm Nov 24
“Hence why God is not a scientific hypothesis”
Finally, something I can agree on.
 
Brian Blais
7:01pm Nov 24
so what you’re also saying is that, for some reason, God makes it appear as if there is no God – prayer tests give negative results, miracles stop 2000 years ago, the appearance of design easily explained through non-directed processes of evolution, etc…..
 
Matthew Bell
7:02pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: No, not all. The evidence for the existence of God has been made so clear that any who do not believe in it are without excuse before him and are in denial of the evidence.
 
Brian Blais
7:02pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham – “Finally, something I can agree on.” nope. I’m with Dawkins on this one – if there is any interaction with the physical world, it is testable.
 
Matthew Bell
7:03pm Nov 24
Brian Blais; Dawkins is an idiot.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
7:03pm Nov 24
Ad hom?
 
Matthew Bell
7:04pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bolxham: No ad hom present.. no argument being presented that I have not already commented upon above.
 
Brian Blais
7:05pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell- Dawkins is definitely not an idiot. he may exaggerate, and I definitely don’t believe everything he says (nor should I!), and I dislike his tone in many things, but he is definitely not stupid. and yes, it is ad hom.
 
Matthew Bell
7:05pm Nov 24
Brian Blais; Ad hominem is when you attack the man and not their argument. I have addressed all of your arguments such as they were above.
 
Harold S. Bloxham
7:06pm Nov 24
No, you’re insulting instead of argument. As good as.
 
Matthew Bell
7:06pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: On the subject of atheism he is stupid.
 
Matthew Bell
7:06pm Nov 24
Harold S. Bloxham: yes, insulting it is but the truth can often be so
 
Helen Marple-Horvat
7:06pm Nov 24
On the subjects of philosophy and theology and history he is stupid
 
Matthew Bell
7:07pm Nov 24
yes but he is one of the many gods of atheism so saying so doesn’t go down too well πŸ™‚
 
Charles Parker
7:17pm Nov 24
Come back Hadrian, all is forgiven.
 
Brian Blais
7:26pm Nov 24
let’s get back to claims, and not go down the rabbit-hole of so-called authorities. you say, Matthew Bell, “The evidence for the existence of God has been made so clear”. I guessed I missed the memo – what do you consider evidence? I for one have never seen anything even remotely convincing.
 
Jeff Beresford
7:27pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: His own, revised version of the KCA.
 
Jeff Beresford
7:27pm Nov 24
Brian Blais: His own, revised version of the KCA.
“If the argument is sound, then the conclusion is proven.” kind of thing.
 
Matthew Bell
7:28pm Nov 24
Brian Bliss: Evidence is that which indicates the truth of a matter.
 
Brian Blais
7:30pm Nov 24
since you seem unable to get my name right, I might not have much confidence that you’d get this thing about God right. πŸ™‚ “Evidence is that which indicates the truth of a matter.” you sound like a vorlon. πŸ˜‰
 
Brian Blais
7:30pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – I still haven’t heard any evidence for God that you claim is clear.
 
Matthew Bell
7:31pm Nov 24
I’ll point you to it in summary form and as delivered by William Lane Craig.. – http://apologeticsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/william-lane-craig-evidence-for-god.html
 
Brian Blais
7:35pm Nov 24
Matthew Bell – I’ll check out the WLC video, and get back.
 
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About brianblais

I am a professor of Science and Technology at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, and a research professor in the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University. My research is in computational neuroscience and statistics. I teach physics, meteorology, astonomy, theoretical neuroscience, systems dynamics, artificial intelligence and robotics. My book, "Theory of Cortical Plasticity" (World Scientific, 2004), details a theory of learning and memory in the cortex, and presents the consequences and predictions of the theory. I am an avid python enthusiast, and a Bayesian (a la E. T. Jaynes), and love music.
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One Response to A longish discussion on Facebook about God, Science, and Philosophy

  1. Pingback: God does Not Exist, Clearly | Professor Brian Blais' Blog

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