Scientific Theory
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29-08-2010, 09:44 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
In a slightly more formal setting, a theory is an inclusive inferential abstraction of a body of data (aka, facts or observations).

inclusive - it must hold for the entire set of data that it has been formulated for. In some cases that will involve experimentation to force observations of the theory "in action".

inferential - as opposed to deductive (the logic of predicates, or derivation of truth from general to particular), inferential logic derives a general truth from particular data. Deductive logic is always true if the predicates are true; inferential logic may not be. It only seems to gain power towards truth depending on the size and applicability of the positive data supports it. Negative data, of course, negates the theory; such data must be dropped, or the theory extended to include the errant data, or the theory dropped altogether. New data which should fit in the theory but does not falls into this category of negative and must be handled.

abstraction - the process by which meaningful sense is made from a plethora of data. Einstein and many other scientists have commented on the beauty and simplicity of great theory; that is due to its abstraction.

A Law of science is often a pithy rephrasing of some aspect of a theory; it may often be couched in mathematics, the ultimate pith.
(26-08-2010 03:38 PM)BnW Wrote:  Theists do not deny micro evolution, i.e. changes within a species. What they deny is macro evolution, where a new species evolves from a previous species. So, a virus changing does not defeat their logic, but mammals evolving from the same organisms that spawned amphibians does defeat their argument, at least if you take the bible literally. I've seen theists who claim that God created all life over time and that evolution is his work. I suppose that could be true in the sense that that I can't prove it's not, but it really doesn't mesh up with the bible.

Btw, I believe that is somewhat the position of the Catholic Church. They don't come out and say that but they also don't take the position that the Earth is <10,000 years old.

The position of the Catholic church on evolution is only that the faithful must believe that at some point in human evolution god infused a soul into all mankind, thus setting him apart from the animals. They also require that at some point man was beset by original sin; since the story of Adam and Eve is considered metaphor, I'm not exactly sure on how that is handled philosophically, but it is necessary in order to require that Jesus die. Beyond that, your beliefs about evolution (including geology, cosmology and all other "sensitive" areas of science) are up to you. There are definitely Catholics that go the YEC path by choice; the Berean movement, for example. Ken Miller of the Dover trial fame is a Roman Catholic, and has written a book, Finding Darwin's God, about how he deals with it.
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29-08-2010, 10:03 PM (This post was last modified: 29-08-2010 10:10 PM by Ghost.)
RE: Scientific Theory
Hey, Omega21.

I wasn't offended. But thanks for the apology. That was really cool.

I don't believe in any gods. I just think the possibility exists but there's no way to tell. The texts are secondary to me. But many cultures claim that the divine exists. I have no reason to say, "no it doesn't."

I believe in socially constructed reality. A socially constructed reality only needs one thing to be viable. Internal consistency. So these texts make sense within their native reality. They don't need to make any sense in a different socially constructed reality and in fact, if they are in conflict with ideas in another reality, they'll simply be rejected. But for me what is of interest is that most of the cultures that have existed to this point have had some link to the divine included in their construct (any Atheistic cultures excluded). So it's not some fly by night claim but a deeply embedded, near universal part of how most humans view the world. Does that make it true? Not at all. That being said, the possibility that gods can exist is something, to me at least, that exists outside of any given text or religion. But I can neither verify nor disprove that idea. For me, the only answer possible is maybe, but we'll never know for sure.

To me it seems pretty straight forward, but the idea that one can not believe in any particular gods and not believe gods don't exist at the same time seems to be controversial. But I experience zero cognitive dissonance on the matter.

Good luck with your homework!

Hey, puncheex.

Damn, dude. That was awesome.

I assume the abstraction process is where many people apply Occam's Razor, n'est ce pas?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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29-08-2010, 10:43 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
Ghost Wrote:Hey, puncheex.

Damn, dude. That was awesome.

I assume the abstraction process is where many people apply Occam's Razor, n'est ce pas?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Well, certainly some razor gets applied. Smile

Occam's Razor is a friendly warning against making things overly complicated, so yes, it certainly has applicability in that process. It is usually applied when two possible theories explain the same phenomenon, but always remember that it is a guideline; applying it to, say, quantum anything might result in slicing a jugular.
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30-08-2010, 01:56 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
(29-08-2010 10:03 PM)Ghost Wrote:  But for me what is of interest is that most of the cultures that have existed to this point have had some link to the divine included in their construct (any Atheistic cultures excluded). So it's not some fly by night claim but a deeply embedded, near universal part of how most humans view the world.

I think I may have an answer for you regarding this.

Humans have evolved to deal with the things that they can see/feel. This includes evolving a brain that is equipped to deal with things that are human-sized. Why? Because our brains can only have so many connections; if we had more, our heads would need to be bigger, which would result in complications giving birth (but I'm digressing). Throughout our evolution, humans have only needed to deal with things that immediately affect them in order to survive. Thus, numbers like 4.6 billion are extremely hard for us to imagine, because that number is not likely to occur within a human lifetime. That is why there are many creationist who easily deny that the Earth is that old. However, we can imagine the size of bacteria, because we can now look into a microscope and actually see them. How many religious people deny the existence of bacteria? (I will also add that bacteria were, and still are, a vital part of human survival, and thus, I believe, that is the reason we so readily accept the truth of their existence, even as young children.)

Sorry for the long prelude, but before technology, math, and science were developed enough to let humans learn that natural disasters are actually natural, or that we didn't need a creator in order to be here, humans had no other explanations. So, they chose something that is very real and immediate (a human in some cases, animals in other cases), and created a god, or gods, in that image. From the perspective of a human without technology, someone (or something) very big and powerful must have shook the [flat] earth that they stood on whenever there was an earthquake, or made the tides move in and out. However, thanks to the discovery of gravity, we now know that the moon moves the tides. It is only now that we are no longer ignorant of these things that so many humans can put aside deism.

That being said, I still find it hard to imagine just how old the Earth is, or just how large the universe may be, but that is simply due to my meagre human brain Tongue

I am an atheist, but I do agree with you that humans, as of yet, cannot positively prove or dis-prove a creator. (In fact, according to Dawkins, only math can actually prove anything, but that's a whole other topic.) However, logic can be applied to the possibility of a creator. Questions such as, how would a creator come into existence in the first place? If there was no creator to create the creator, then the argument that life doesn't need a creator wins. I am not trying to argue with your position, however. I understand where you are coming from, because I was just there a couple of years ago. By the time that humans discover whether or not there is a creator, we'll both be long dead and the argument won't matter to us anymore Tongue

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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30-08-2010, 03:37 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
Just because something cannot be disproved doesn't mean we should consider it as a potential possibility. Take christian god for example. There is no actual evidence that would support his existence; and there are a few logical problems with it as well. Without evidence, this idea has no basis in reality and is just as likely to be true as Flying Spaghetti Monster or Invisible Pink Unicorn, and those are of course absurd.

As long as something exists only in human imagination and with no evidence based on observation, it should be entirely ignored for any deliberations, until such evidence is provided.

Peace and Love and Empathy, but above them: Common Sense and Reason.

Thor.
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30-08-2010, 06:03 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
Thoradin

Thank you. You answered his comments better, and more succinctly, then I could have.

Ghost
First: seriously, dude, you need to work on some brevity. An occasional long post is one thing but it seems like you're constantly writing a treatise.

Second: Thoradin makes my basic point. Just because I can't disprove something beyond all doubt doesn't mean it is worthy of attention.

Third, I never meant to say relativism would lead to atrocity. What it leads to is apologies and apathy and when the atrocities come you've got too many people looking the other way or making excuses. Making excuses for terrorists, pedophiles, etc. These people are not condoning 9/11 or the child abuse scandal but they are giving a whole lot of "yes, but" remarks and give these vermin the appearance of credibility.

The problem with the Catholic Church wasn't just that Catholics were not outraged enough. The problem was that the rest of society was afraid of offending them and taking strong enough action. Too many people gave this criminal enterprise deference because it was a religious organization. I can't think of any other type of group in the world that would have gotten away with what the Church did. I can't think of people standing for it. But, we have too many people making apologies and excuses.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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30-08-2010, 06:07 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
(30-08-2010 06:03 PM)BnW Wrote:  Third, I never meant to say relativism would lead to atrocity. What it leads to is apologies and apathy and when the atrocities come you've got too many people looking the other way or making excuses. Making excuses for terrorists, pedophiles, etc. These people are not condoning 9/11 or the child abuse scandal but they are giving a whole lot of "yes, but" remarks and give these vermin the appearance of credibility.

The problem with the Catholic Church wasn't just that Catholics were not outraged enough. The problem was that the rest of society was afraid of offending them and taking strong enough action. Too many people gave this criminal enterprise deference because it was a religious organization. I can't think of any other type of group in the world that would have gotten away with what the Church did. I can't think of people standing for it. But, we have too many people making apologies and excuses.

Amen.

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30-08-2010, 06:54 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
(26-08-2010 03:38 PM)BnW Wrote:  Theists do not deny micro evolution, i.e. changes within a species. What they deny is macro evolution, where a new species evolves from a previous species. So, a virus changing does not defeat their logic, but mammals evolving from the same organisms that spawned amphibians does defeat their argument, at least if you take the bible literally. I've seen theists who claim that God created all life over time and that evolution is his work. I suppose that could be true in the sense that that I can't prove it's not, but it really doesn't mesh up with the bible.

Theists, especially those from the major monotheistic religions, are completely immune to logic when it comes to such a discussion. There is NO LOGIC in a debate between creationists and believers ... religion proceeds from the premise that you must have faith to be a believer. Evidence is irrelevant to those who have faith, which is considered to be most powerful when it requires absolutely no evidence and when people obey without question whatever they're told by authority figures. Science categorically rejects faith and argument by authority (e.g., quotations from "holy" scripture). All science is based on evidence, not faith. This is the most fundamental distinction between science and religion. Science does NOT claim to know absolute truth, and no scientist can claim to be an authority figure whose words cannot be questioned.
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30-08-2010, 07:06 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
I have had countless conversations with theists (mostly of monotheistic backgrounds as 2buckchuck pointed out) and what I have found is that no matter how logical or applied they are in the real world be it at their job, at home, in public etc. They will totally detach their beliefs from all logic and truth. I have even had people tell me that even though they think something might be true, they won't admittedly believe it, even to themselves, because it contradicts scripture. This is something I may not ever get my head around. Science is simply the most thorough and powerful tool we humans have to learn about everything around us, and even though some people understand that, they won't admit it simply because it doesn't agree with their book. I continually look for an argument or premise that will act with any force upon these people, but it seems impossibly difficult to talk to someone who willingly detaches from the conversation so as not to possibly be swayed against divine word.
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30-08-2010, 07:07 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
(30-08-2010 01:56 PM)SecularStudent Wrote:  I do agree with you that humans, as of yet, cannot positively prove or dis-prove a creator. (In fact, according to Dawkins, only math can actually prove anything, but that's a whole other topic.) However, logic can be applied to the possibility of a creator. Questions such as, how would a creator come into existence in the first place? If there was no creator to create the creator, then the argument that life doesn't need a creator wins.
The burden of proof for the EXISTENCE of a putative creator is on the believers. It is impossible to "prove" by scientific logic the non-existence of a creator - if such a creator doesn't exist, then there can be no evidence of its existence. The non-existence of such evidence is not necessarily absolute proof of non-existence, however, which believers constantly exploit to challenge atheists to disprove that their deity exists. The logical fallacy they exploit is that it is impossible to prove the negation.

Believers accept the existence of a creator on faith, which is inadmissable to scientific logic. Dawkins is right ... "proof" in the sense that mathematics offers proof of theorems is not possible in science. The best science can offer is that the available evidence is consistent with some hypothesis - new evidence can surface later to refute the hypothesis and a new hypothesis can supplant an older one because it is better at explaining all the evidence. Science never offers absolute truth ... only provisional understanding. Scientific ideas are subject to challenge, which is how science makes real progress. But the fact is that scientific ideas can be used to solve problems and create new technologies ... unlike the "god did it" explanation, which is no explanation at all. In that, they are considerably more credible than theism.
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