Anon: In the philosophy of science, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to experience formed through deliberate experimental investigation. I realized a home schooled fundy like yourself has never actually studied, or ever performed any scientific experiment, so I don’t expect you to understand any of that.
SH: How many of Anon’s scientific beliefs has he personally subjected to scientific experimentation?
He talks about experience and experimentation, but, of course, this is really a camouflaged appeal to the argument from authority.
Anon: It is generally taken as a fundamental requirement of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world, rather than relying on intuition or the revelations of anonymous ancient near east tribal shamans, or some 16th century religious pyscho named Calvin.
SH: Testing theories against observations of the natural world makes certain crucial assumptions about the observer’s perception of the natural world.
If Anon were truly conversant with the history of empiricism, he would realize that the relation between appearance and reality is a very vexed question in empiricism.
Anon: So, the common descent and gradual evolution of species by biological, reproductive processes on a geological timescale,(3.5 billion years) has been established as a scientific FACT based on the overwhelming empirical evidence that supports it , and based on the fact that there has not been found any evidence that falsifies it.
SH: Several problems with this assertion:
i) It ignores scientific dissent. It ignores the many arguments to the contrary.
ii) His scientific “facts” are predicated on unverifiable and metascientific assumptions involving the uniformity of nature and methodological naturalism.
iii) It is also quite possible to formulate a theory which is so flexible that it’s unfalsifiable.
iv) Assuming that naturalistic evolution is true, evolutionary psychology logically leads to scepticism. If it’s true, it’s false: therefore, it’s false.
Anon: Under certain circumstances, these ignorant, gullible people can be convinced by their cult leaders to kill themselves, so that a spaceship hiding behind a comet will take their "souls" to heaven.
SH: For someone who claims to be so concerned with the facts, note how he instantly transitions from Christian “fundamentalism” to secular ufology, as if these were interchangeable.
Anon: The worldwide scientific research community from over the past hundred years has discovered that no known hypothesis other than biological evolution and universal common descent can account scientifically for the unity, diversity, and patterns of terrestrial life.
This hypothesis has been verified and corroborated so extensively that it is currently accepted as FACT by the overwhelming majority of professional researchers in the biological and geological sciences, which includes many Christians. No alternate explanations compete scientifically with common descent, primarily for four main reasons:
1. The predictions of common descent have been confirmed from many independent areas of science.
2. No significant contradictory evidence has yet been found.
3. Competing possibilities (such as biblical creationism) have been contradicted by enormous amounts of scientific data.
4. Many other explanations (ie “theistic” evolution) are untestable, though they may be trivially consistent with biological data.
But then, you're not really interested in what the data and facts show, you're only interested in what some ancient myth says.
SH: There’s only one little problem with this assertion: he hasn’t marshaled any facts or predictions or biological data or scientific evidence.
All he’s offered us is a string of vouchers issued by the bank of City Groupthink. We’re given consensus in lieu of argument.
And those of us who, unlike Anon, follow both sides of the debate also know that his appeal to consensus is strategically overstated.
Anon: I have a graduate degree, but more importantly, what I don't have, is a Christian mind virus, that infects my thoughts and forces me to swear my allegiance to the ancient creation stories and allegories of my ignorant ancestors.
Several more problems:
i) The creation/evolution debate is quite interdisciplinary. No one man is expert in all of the salient fields.
For some reason, there are unbelievers who imagine that just because they have a degree in science, that somehow qualifies them to make dogmatic pronouncements far outside their area of study.
You’d think that a degree in science would have the opposite effect. That the more I learn about my own field of research, the more I realized how extremely specialized the sciences have become, so that I ought to cultivate a spirit of intellectual humility—especially when speaking outside my field of study.
ii) Then, for all his stated devotion to the “facts,” he resorts to the junk science of memetics.
iii) And even if memetics were hard science rather than pseudoscience, appealing to memes is a double-edged sword.
Are Christians infected with a Christian “mind virus”?
Or is it, rather an acute case of infidels infected with an infidelic mind virus?
iv) Notice, as well, the discrepancy between his stated emphasis on the facts and the moralistic tone he adopts.
Men whose only concern is with the dry, stubborn “facts” don’t assume the unctuous tone of the pulpiteer.
It’s clear that Anonymous has a deep, emotional investment in the outcome of this debate.
Anonymous is a poor man’s Richard Dawkins, while Dawkins is a frustrated priest.