Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Science is Unscientific and the Constitution is Against the Law

In chapter 2 of The Radiance of Being, called A Science of the Real, Caldecott makes the point that --

Well, first of all, consider those two words, "science" and "real." In our post-Kantian world, science cannot be "of the real," since there is an unbridgeable gulf between what is -- whatever that is -- and what we may know about it. The world is bifurcated into two domains, with science essentially reduced to what we can say about what our neurology says about a rumored "world" out there. To paraphrase Whitehead, the world is reduced to a dream at one end and conjecture at the other.

Yes, it sounds more than a little psychotic, but people will go to any length to avoid certain avenues of thought that lead to certain unwanted conclusions -- in this case, that no science of the real can exclude the Creator, or reality as such.

Anyway, Caldecott says that "In order for anything like modern science" -- I would just say "science" -- "to arise, it was necessary to believe in both the intelligibility of the cosmos and its contingency -- both the fact that it made sense, and the fact that it might not have existed."

So we see that science involves an element of absoluteness, which derives from the necessity of truth; but also of contingency, which derives from the infinite plenitude of the Creator. Thus, the world IS; but this IS cannot be self-sufficient, else it wouldn't be contingent (i.e., the world would be God).

Therefore, we see that the Isness of the world must be a kind of borrowed being, i.e., dependency on a higher principle.

Caldecott goes on to say that "Intelligibility alone would lead to the priority of deduction over induction, as in the ancient philosophies of nature where an observed reality... had to be conformed to a priori structures..."

This is why I do not call such an approach "science" per se, because it actually renders science impossible. Modern science is really something quite new, not traceable to ancient Greece.

In fact, I recall Rodney Stark making just this point in his For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery. You hafta sorta not know what science is in order to believe the Greeks had it.

Note also that merely learning from the world empirically -- as helpful as that is -- isn't science either. Rather, real science -- or a science of the real -- must involve both: empirical observation of the world (of particulars) dynamically interacting with a more general logico-deductive system. This did not exist until the scientific revolution, which in turn only occurred in one place and at one time: in the Christian west.

Retrograde postmodernism is actually a rebellion -- or reactionary counter-revolution -- against the scientific world. Caldecott writes that "By separating real from rational entities, science from faith and God from nature, the via moderna of the nominalist philosophers from the 14th century onwards undermined natural philosophy and metaphysics."

In other words, the world is reduced to the world, so to speak, which has the perverse effect of elevating appearances to reality. But in the words of Davila, "The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality." If the world is the reality, then it is nothing.

Here is the key point: "By arguing that nothing can exist but individual objects," the postmodern approach "effectively eliminated the 'vertical' or 'interior' dimension of reality -- the dimension of metaphysical form, final causality, and divine providence..." (Caldecott).

I would emphasize that the vertical IS the interior, and vice versa, so that to exclude one is to make nonsense of the other. Indeed, everything science can say about the world is rendered absurd by its own dim lights.

Truly, it is intellectual, or psychopneumatic, suicide -- except that it then leads to homicide and genocide. This is because the intellectual Zombies of Death convert their flatlandian superstitions into a religion, and persecute those who fail to recognize their strange gods.

Seriously, what is the IRS scandal but the leftist state-god systematically persecuting that half of the population which doesn't worship at that altar? This is why it is easily the worst scandal in the history of this country, because never before has this government -- which derives its just powers from the consent of the governed -- declared war on that half of the country which has the audacity to still believe such insolent nonsense.

Thus, for example, to teach the Constitution makes one an enemy of the state. But this is merely making fully explicit what has been implicit since Woodrow Wilson.

Aaaaaaaand, we're out of time.

33 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

I followed some links from Arctic Pilgrim (who politely ignores me because I'm a heretic). Somewhere in the chain was a link to an atheist who had become enlightened. That is, the atheist pointed out that as long as Christian apologists can get an unbeliever to acknowledge the existence of absolute truth -- or just truth, the atheists are going to lose the argument.

I used to say that one need only assume God and all the rest starts to make sense. At least it makes sense that it should make sense. But truth is less saturated and thus better. Otherwise, as the Shrew of State has said, "What does it make?"

6/05/2013 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... to teach the Constitution makes one an enemy of the state ...

Change that to State, and, the more I think about it, the more I think that is exactly what the Founders intended.

Government is a guard at the gate. In sensible times, all that is needed is his presence. The rule of law and the social contract are adequate to keep out thieves and violence. When things are a little less settled, you may have to arm the guard -- for a time.

You have to be careful, though, or you find yourself working for your own security guard.

6/05/2013 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mushroom -- re your first comment, I'm reading this extremely provocative and illuminating book called Jesus Purusha ( see sidebar), in which the author notes that the "I' of human subjectivity cannot be the product of evolutionary processes, since it is clearly their basis. Without it, nothing intelligible at all can be said about evolution. In short, it is perverse to suggest that the highest organizing principle can be explained by that which it organizes.

6/05/2013 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It reminds me of an exchange with our former scientistic jester. The "Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism" (EAAN) might have been popularized by Lewis in Miracles, but it didn't start there. And the point is that it is not an argument against evolution. It's says evolution in some form is true. That truth was discovered and substantiated by human minds, and that makes naturalism extremely unlikely at best.

Or, as John commented: We were at a party the other night standing around a fire with some atheist tweens discussing our origins. They insisted that we simply evolved from matter and were no more special albeit more complex than other animals. I asked what other animals stand around campfires and discuss their origins?

6/05/2013 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

It's one of those cases where Occam's razor is handy. While it's not a complete answer, i.e. saying 'Evolution doesn't explain humanity, humanity explains evolution' is technically a dodge (since explain is being used differently) it gets to the heart of the problem: the implicit person-ness to existence, that is immaterial.

Some would say, well that's just your brain seeing faces (it has a face recognition part, you know!)

But the further question is, how or why should we have a separate part 'evolved' for face recognition? For if it is to distinguish humans from non-humans and simply to read expressions better for survival, how come it is constantly 'misfiring' and reading human-ness into everything?

The other possibility (not often discussed) is, like other organs and capabilities, our face recognition comes about as a response to a real phenomena - the implicit person-ness patterned throughout the cosmos - and like the eye, it merely detects the light, it does not create it.

Then the presence also of the face is explained as well, well, sort of; it still remains mysterious, but the parts are now in accord at least.

6/05/2013 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Rather, real science -- or a science of the real -- must involve both: empirical observation of the world (of particulars) dynamically interacting with a more general logico-deductive system.

Along those lines, I find it fascinating that, now that it is possible to take a picture of a molecule, they look just like the simplified scientific shorthand used to show how the atoms fit together.

The reality could never have been discovered without an immense amount of deductive reasoning.

6/05/2013 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Lots of good stuff along exactly those lines in the book referenced above, e.g., "No continuity of biological forms between man and animal can lead 'back' to that original act of discontinuity that differentiates man and animal." Precisely what I have said on many occasions.

He also points out that since God is both alpha and omega, the very possibility of evolution is bound up with its end. Emily Dickinson: "Eternity obtains in time reversed divinity."

6/05/2013 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

(That was in reference to Mushroom's comment)

6/05/2013 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the products of evolution vs. the bases, I've been pondering again, the last few days, how really bizarre it is for anyone to believe that life is something that just sort of happened by accident. Thinking of the simplest of life forms, and how incredibly complex they are, and trying to imagine under what conditions a chain of molecules should suddenly "feel" a "desire" to reproduce itself and to "grow" even though those simplest of life forms, one might reasonably assume, cannot possibly have any idea that they are acting in such capacities...

I just don't see how anyone can believe it to be anything other than a mirrorcle.

6/05/2013 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Thanks Mush.

Well, I was attempting to share a little bit of wisdom I picked up hanging around with y'all.

6/05/2013 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I gots the coon-vibe early today or maybe yesterday that the thread would garsh darn it evolve toward evolution.

By pure chance I stumbled on this book barely mentioned in a David Berlinkski paper: Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

There is a PDF of it here if you'd like a preview of the whole thing.

The author, a biochemist PhD, has a wonderful way with analogy to explain things that then seem almost embarrassingly obvious.
Much of his arguments revolve (with good reason) around "irreducible complexity" examples in nature -- in particular, those in single-celled creatures. If you've ever seen the way an electric motor works or better still an internal combustion engine, you'll think you're looking at one in this here Bacterial Flagellum.
...which incidentally also happens to be able to build itself.

The key though is to think about how this chemical engine needs each part of its motor to work perfectly (which is to say, needs every part to have evolved at the same time) and any of the God knows how many intermediate-evolved versions of this motor does nothing for the purpose of the evolved motor or host creature while in the process of evolving toward something?.

6/05/2013 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's an amazing video, Rick. Reminds me of another one I saw over at Vanderleun's a couple years back, demonstrating how dna strands replicate themselves during cell division. They actually unzip the helix, then recreate the whole strand using the two halves of the original. Watching it in action is actually kind of mind blowing.

6/05/2013 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Yes. I think we might have evolution completely backwards, as in, things (creatures on the great timeline) do not get more complex the more you pull back, but the more you zoom in. Something tells me it has to be this way.
Behe says not that long ago, scientists thought cells were essentially just blobs of gel. How could that possible be?

6/05/2013 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Thus, for example, to teach the Constitution makes one an enemy of the state. But this is merely making fully explicit what has been implicit since Woodrow Wilson.

Aaaaaaaand, we're out of time."

In more ways than one.

The one overarching goal of the left since it's nominal appearance in modernity, has been to flatten the Vertical & de-hierarchicalize all thought. And with instances like this, there can't be much time left before we're fully flattened.

6/05/2013 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Hale Adams said...

Julie writes about "... how really bizarre it is for anyone to believe that life is something that just sort of happened by accident...", and Rick brings up the notion of irreducible complexity.

Life didn't happen by accident, and I suspect that there is no such thing as "irreducible complexity".

Without using up more of Bob's bandwidth than I have to, and to keep the thermodynamic jargon to a minimum:

A tendency to disorder and chaos is true only of isolated systems. The Universe, taken as a whole, displays this tendency, which is not surprising, since it's the only isolated system that we know of. (Or, at least, we think we know of-- as far as we know, there's nothing outside of the Universe.) For closed and open systems (such as the Earth), a tendency to disorder and chaos is not "global"-- that is, there are parts of the system (and sometimes the whole system) that can show a spontaneous tendency towards order and growth. So, simple molecules forming more complex molecules is not only possible, but likely. The vast majority of those molecules immediately fell apart again, but God has many monkeys pounding on a lot of typewriters, and certainly some molecule somehow, some way, gained the necessary complexity and stability to be considered "living". And it had to happen only once.

As for "irreducible complexity", what we see as irreducibly complex may be a simplified (and probably more reliable) version of a still more complex (and probably less reliable) "kludge" that was reducible to some other "cruder" (and less-than-optimal) arrangement. Often, we can't really know for sure what the "irreducibly complex" system was in its earlier form, so to say that it had no earlier form (and therefore is "irreducibly complex") just shows a lack of imagination-- only God knows how many monkeys pounding away on all those typewriters were needed to generate the original "Mark I" version of the "irreducibly complex" system, and how it changed over the eons to the "Mark MCMLXVII" version that we see now.

I'm an engineer by training, and what experience I have trying to make things work (either contraptions of my own design, or fixing the contraptions of others) has impressed on me the difficulty of making things work properly and keeping them working properly. It seems that God created a Universe full of dead matter, composed a set of humanly-comprehensible laws to govern it, and then set the whole thing in motion. That we have the world we have-- A Sun, planets, moons, stars, green grass, flowing streams, plants, birds, trees, people, etc., etc.-- as a result of God setting the Universe in motion and just "letting 'er rip" is truly frightening.

Yeah, spoken like an engineer, I know.

My two cents' worth.

Hale Adams
Pikesville, People's Democratic Republic of Maryland

6/05/2013 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

It's not merely setting it in motion - the energy itself to keep it moving is the work of God. We cannot pretend otherwise, except as a poor attempt at theodicy.

Did anyone hear the latest news in the slow motion implosion? So, who ordered the NSA to overstep the bounds of the Patriot Act egregiously?

6/06/2013 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Hale, thank you for that. I'm not sure what your point is. You seem to make several conflicting ones. I'm new, certainly, to the concept of "irreducible complexity" as Behe uses it but I see already that many opponents of it use it differently than he does. They also tend to have, so far as my early studies indicate (more funding is needed), their difficulty in understanding the proper application of analogy. His mousetrap example is perfect. A sticky surface is not a proper analogy of a potential intermediate or early form of a mousetrap.
The ID crowd, at least Behe, does not claim there were no intermediate forms of the design but that there was a design. He likewise believes in evolution and common descent. As do I.

I find it interesting that an engineer (though I've worked with many of them in my engineering firm well over the past 2 decades -- so I think I have sufficiently proved that I love engineers), who spends his day in the act of purposeful "design" and "making things work", has any use for things such as monkeys on keyboards and not frankly find such concepts not even a little offensive.

But then as I said, I find engineers interesting and amazing all the time. That's what I love about them. I'm not being sarcastic.

As for this: "certainly some molecule somehow, some way, gained the necessary complexity and stability to be considered "living". And it had to happen only once."

Why certainly? Where?
I offer a theory called "system space". If the system space does not pre-exist for a created thing ahead of its creation, then the thing cannot come into being, ever. I give the example of the number 5. A 3 and a 4 cannot be joined and exist at the same time in the system space 5. Ever. There was a system space for the mousetrap and one for the iPhone since "the beginning".

As an aside, I don't know what people mean anymore when the say "chance", "random" and "chaos". Van tells me you cannot create a program to make random decisions. In fact, I find chaos theory, frankly, boring. The opposite of these is not a "determined" system. Chance, random, these to me just mean the observer cannot see all the forces (laws) at play at the time of the observation. I think the forces may be infinite.

~ Engineer by Osmosis, Employer of Engineers

6/06/2013 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Hale Adams said "...That we have the world we have-- A Sun, planets, moons, stars, green grass, flowing streams, plants, birds, trees, people, etc., etc.-- as a result of God setting the Universe in motion and just "letting 'er rip" is truly frightening..."

Complexity is easy, simplicity is hard. Nothing is so common, or is so doomed to catastrophic failure, as complex code, in fact, complexity is the mark of the amateur. I have to rescue, rewrite or replace it every day.

I'm a programmer by trade, practicing Object Oriented Programming and Relational Database Deisign, having graduated from 10yrs travelling musicianship, majoring in the actual authors of Western Civilization. I did my graduate work in sales and marriage, and I wrote (writing) my theses in our kids.

Simplicity, is difficult to achieve. Simplicity that can attain to any depth of reuse is admirable. A design that is so simple that it can be reused to serve different purposes, is awesome. A design that so simple it is able to be reused to a depth of even three layers of unforeseen applications, is pure genius. A Deisign without any apparent limits of reusability is sublime.

A design that can evolve to the level of even the earth alone, let alone the solar system and the entire cosmos... is beyond even sublime - it is the source of sublimity.

Sublime and inspiring to behold.

I don't have a problem with life on earth having evolved from the level of molecules, in fact it's my bet that life as 'complex' as human beings was implicit in the big bang. What I have a problem with is mistaking those molecules for the life they serve. I think it shows one of the more common errors I find in programming, and, pardon me, engineering, forgetting about what the code and structures are designed to serve - the End Users.

The users aren't part of the design, they are the purpose of the deisign, and in much the same way, life occupies the molecules when they attain a suitable depth to house it, but to mistake the material for what inspires them... is a result of complex thinking.

6/06/2013 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Anyway, Caldecott says that "In order for anything like modern science" -- I would just say "science" -- "to arise, it was necessary to believe in both the intelligibility of the cosmos and its contingency -- both the fact that it made sense, and the fact that it might not have existed.""

Yep. Much as I admire Aristotle and the gang, they didn't foresee Science as we know it (knew it) today, the proof is in the fact that they never developed it.

They prepared the way and did the necessary ground work, and though they came up with the name Science, how to do it required a perspective that took in more than can be seen.

6/06/2013 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'm not sure I'm on-board with "irreducible complexity". There seems to be complexity built into the system. The universe is not a machine. It's not a computer either, but, it does have a lot of potential which can be brought out by "programming".

It's like a self-programming system that unfolds, layer upon layer, level upon level, earlier life-forms modifying the environment to make a world that is conducive to the development of later life-forms. Every species impacts the environment -- locally or globally or both. See for examples, Steven Bodio's posts on passenger pigeons here and the follow-up here.

It sure seems like consciousness was creating a place where it could take a look at itself.

6/06/2013 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hale, thanks for your comment.

I think I get where you're coming from, or maybe I don't, but it seems to me we don't disagree. Obviously (as I sit here watching the weather and hoping the next round of tornadoes does minimal damage in my neck of the woods), complexity is only a part of the story. Weather systems are so complex that the predictions here, even from hour to hour, are frequently not just wrong, but extremely wrong. Complex, and masses of material clump together, etc., etc.

As I see it, mere complexity is not enough. This is because randomness cannot create meaning. If we think of atoms, the building blocks of all that is, as being a little like an infinite container of legos being shaken up in different ways for all eternity, we can imagine that there might come together an infinite array of lego combinations. And yet, I would hazard that none of those combinations would ever take the form of, for instance, a two storey house. Which is a fairly simple form, in fact, all things considered.

The thing is, to build a house requires meaning and intent. The legos are perfectly suited to making such a structure, but someone must still plan it and put it together.

This is why, for instance, SETI spends all that time looking for certain patterns of waves which would indicate the existence of other forms of advanced intelligent life in the universe. Radiation is everywhere, and it represents many complex processes happening out in the cosmos. It also, always, comes across as static. It takes intention to create the sort of patterns that represent language.

Also, what Van said™

6/06/2013 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Rick said "As an aside, I don't know what people mean anymore when the say "chance", "random" and "chaos". Van tells me you cannot create a program to make random decisions. In fact, I find chaos theory, frankly, boring. The opposite of these is not a "determined" system. Chance, random, these to me just mean the observer cannot see all the forces (laws) at play at the time of the observation. I think the forces may be infinite."

Yep!

6/06/2013 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Or to put it in another way, it is not necessary to use the analogy of a watch, a complex machine, found in the middle of a lifeless place, indicating the existence of a watchmaker.

A simple pile of stones will suffice.

6/06/2013 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Van.
See, I remember stuff!

"I'm not sure I'm on-board with "irreducible complexity". There seems to be complexity built into the system. The universe is not a machine."

I'm not completely on board either. What I do like about it (as in many things and ways in which Berlinski says his things) are their thought-provoking ability.

I think you might enjoy Behe's book I linked to, for this reason. In particular, he explores as an example of IC of a bicycle possible being an early form of the motorcycle. At first I thought, oh man this is going to be a terrible analogy for his cause. Nope. A great one. They are practically not at all alike. (Not where it counts.) I find myself turning repeatedly toward the mental image that an irreducible complex object is an archetypal object. The "isness" perfected. The "isness" existed first.

6/06/2013 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

And in Hale's defense, Mozart was just a really really fast monkey. In fact, a poor monkey at that. The monkeys will EXCEED the works of Mozart.

Give 'em time..

6/06/2013 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Rick said "I'm not completely on board either. What I do like about it (as in many things and ways in which Berlinski says his things) are their thought-provoking ability."

Yep. I've enjoyed Berlinski too... but... the but is a big butt.

As much as I've enjoyed what Berlinski's had to say when I've seen him in interviews, or the few articles I've read, I thought I was prepared for the but's... but I wasn't.

I don't know if I mentioned it before, but in my current odd quest of investigating the different and changing ways that math has been taught throughout the ages, I happened across Berlinski's book on Euclid a little while ago, "The King of Infinite Space: Euclid", it's got some horrifyingly big but's.

And as you might expect, they are all centered around, which I didn't realize until just now, the author's urge for complexity worship.

Or more simply put, anything that smacks of the metaphysical, he simply cannot tolerate, he's got to get in there and doubt it - not question it, but doubt it, and propose a heaping dose of complexity to do away with the sensible... which might be a better tagline for modernity: "I doubt, therefore I am (and it isn't)".

I haven't let so much red ink flow in a book, and a small one at that, in many moons.

6/06/2013 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Legos need Logos

6/06/2013 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

It strikes me, in a funny-but-not-really sort of way, that all those who argue against any sort of creation or intelligent design - in essence, against the idea that the universe exists as an act and not an accident - are arguing against meaning as such.

It seems to me as absurd as if one were to go to Stonehenge and marvel at how amazing it is that those rocks just happened, somehow or other, to end up in that field all stacked up on each other like that.

6/06/2013 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

John - :D

6/06/2013 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Julie,

The only refuge for such becomes a final unprovable - to make the creation act necessary, as though it were an involuntary pouring out of the divinity (an 'overflowing of love'), rather than a truly contingent decision; an actual divine fiat.

This de-persons the creator (in some mediated sense) and in another sense, also the creation. It is an odd refuge, but strands of it exist in some Eastern religions and watch for those who grasp willingly onto accidental divine emanation.

That's to say, even if the creation must be imprinted with the creator's pattern, it is an involuntary pattern, a spasm; and thus in a sense neither conscious nor rational.

6/06/2013 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Van, I can't speak much either way for Berlinski's math stuff -- that's what I gots engineers for. But I like how he applies it to looking at evolution. His application of it to examine the problem of getting from "cow" to "whale" is very useful.

That may have been an early book of his. The Euclid one. I know he has a more recent book out on math: "1,2,3 Elementary" or something. I've almost bought it a dozen times. But then I remember, it's math.
In recent interviews he seems (to me) to understand or have an appreciation for what properly falls under the category of things metaphysical, and what properly does not.

(I love math. Like Kirk loves Spock.)

6/06/2013 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Rick said "(I love math. Like Kirk loves Spock.)"

;-)

I don't have any real interest in math, only in what mathematicians think math relates to & why.

I believe this book on Euclid came out last year...(checking)... yep, 2012. If I get a chance I'll pull out a couple points when I get hom... er... to the hotel... this evening, some of them on 'Points'.

It's not math, it's philosophy.

Which, BTW, was how and why math used to be taught. In fact it still is, it's just pretended that philosophy isn't what is being taught, and the point, in math today.

6/06/2013 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Van. I look forward to those points.
My mistake about the Euclid book.

6/06/2013 10:10:00 AM  

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