“When I ask what epistemic value an explanation has, that's a *scientific* question. In other words, how does this explanation add to the reliability and epistemic confidence of our knowledge?”
Obviously wrong, since every explanation is not a scientific explanation.
“If you have an answer -- and you do, so do I -- that explains everything and anything, than it doesn't help you one bit in terms of science.”
i) I never said that common design explains everything. You resort to a straw man argument because you are incompetent to address the real argument.
ii) I never said that common design explained everything. Rather, I posed a question: how does the evidence differentiate evidence for common descent from evidence for common design?
iii) A creationist doesn’t deny localized forms of common descent. He doesn’t deny that various dog-breeds descend from a common ancestor (the wolf). He doesn’t deny that various subspecies of orchid descend from a common ancestor (the wild orchid). He doesn’t’ deny that the various races of man descend from a common ancestor (Adam).
iv) I don’t care about what is helpful to science. Science is not an end in itself. Science is not an intrinsic value. Science is only a means to an end. The issue is whether science is helpful, and to what degree, and under what conditions.
“Why, because all questions have the same answer! If all questions have the same answer, there's no meaning to the idea of question.”
If true, this objection would be equally explicable to the explain-all of common descent. So the reasoning is reversible. Try to follow your own argument for a change.
“But science builds knowledge by ruling things out. The leading theory is properly described as the theory that is hardest to rule out.”
Other issues aside, I notice that you don’t apply this yardstick to evolution. You treat evolution as something to be disproved rather than proved.
“Because the God hypothesis in science has no way to be falsified.”
Even if this were true, so what? You are arguing that if the “God hypothesis” imposes a limitation on science, then this consequence is unacceptable.
That’s an irrational contention. The fact that something may generate a particular consequence is not, of itself, a reason to deny it.
“As I've said here before, science disavows any claims or knowledge of metaphysical truth.”
Yes, you’ve said that before. But *saying* and *showing* are two different things. You never demonstrate your claim. You simply assert it ad nauseum. And you disregard arguments to the contrary.
Science intersects with metaphysics. Here’s a general definition of metaphysics in a standard reference work:
Metaphysics is a broad area of philosophy marked out by two types of inquiry. The first aims to be the most general investigation possible into the nature of reality: are there principles applying to everything that is real, to all that is? – if we abstract from the particular nature of existing things that which distinguishes them from each other, what can we know about them merely in virtue of the fact that they exist? The second type of inquiry seeks to uncover what is ultimately real, frequently offering answers in sharp contrast to our everyday experience of the world. Understood in terms of these two questions, metaphysics is very closely related to ontology, which is usually taken to involve both ‘what is existence (being)?’ and ‘what (fundamentally distinct) types of thing exist?’ (see Ontology).
Be all this as it may, even if not literally everything, then virtually everything of which we have experience is in time. Temporality is therefore one of the phenomena that should be the subject of any investigation which aspires to maximum generality. Hence, so is change (see Change). And when we consider change, and ask the other typically metaphysical question about it (‘what is really going on when something changes?’) we find ourselves faced with two types of answer. One type would have it that a change is an alteration in the properties of some enduring thing (see Continuants). The other would deny any such entity, holding instead that what we really have is merely a sequence of states, a sequence which shows enough internal coherence to make upon us the impression of one continuing thing (see Momentariness, Buddhist doctrine of). The former will tend to promote ‘thing’ and ‘substance’ to the ranks of the most basic metaphysical categories; the latter will incline towards events and processes (see Events; Processes). It is here that questions about identity over time become acute, particularly in the special case of those continuants (or, perhaps, processes), which are persons (see Identity; Persons; Personal identity).
CRAIG, EDWARD (1998). Metaphysics. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge. Retrieved December 23, 2006, from http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/N095
You arbitrarily equate “science” with positivism and methodological naturalism. Truth by definition is your modus operandi.
“It's strictly limited to natural contexts.”
And you define “natural” as “naturalistic.” Circular.
“It will be harder than ever for such science to get any credibility after the damage done by Dembski and fellow travelers.”
This is one of your recurrent problems. Your position is driven by anxieties over the PR aspect of ID theory or YEC or OEC.
“And once again, that construal of truth is completely agnostic with respect to metaphysics.”
And once again, that’s a completely ignorant statement of the relation between science and metaphysics.
“Which is the reason it's a mistake to say that I'm a "functional atheist" with respect to science. Science is *agnostic* with respect to metaphysics, and thus cannot take a theistic or atheistic stance.”
If, in doing science, you automatically and systematically rule out the possibility of divine agency in advance of your investigations, then that is hardly agnostic. Rather, that’s an atheistic stance from start to finish.
“If that's what God did, just like mature creation, science will have no way to tell. It will be completely unable to identify that case.”
Which would mean that science is a limited source of information. So what?
“Consider this hypothetical: the earth was 'poofed' into existence 6,000 years ago by God.”
Now your using Babinski’s derogatory lingo.
“It looks old, acts old, yet it's young, per God's powers. “
No, the universe doesn’t *look* any particular age. That’s simply an inference we draw by hypothetically running present processes backwards in time—assuming certain constants and initial conditions.
That’s an operation that *we* perform *on* nature. And up-to-a-point, there’s nothing wrong with that extrapolation—just as there’s nothing wrong with using a rooster as an alarm clock.
Farmers have been using roosters as alarm clocks from time immemorial.
The problem is when Farmer Touchstone begins to equate a rooster with an alarm clock. When he is no longer able to distinguish the natural function of the bird from the artificial function he assigns it.
At that point, poor Farmer Touchstone is captive to his anthropomorphic projections. He now inhabits a cockwork universe. He has “cock=clock” etched on his spectacles. Richard Squawkins book, The Blind Cockmaker, is his Bible.
And he accuses me of being “mystical” and “unscientific” when I deny that his rooster really is a walking, squawking alarm clock.
“Now, as a scientist, how do you propose that we might learn more than that about the process of creation? If this kind of creation, this design for the world is what actually happened, how is that impetus for additional discovery.”
It all depends on the example. What is the point of science? To find answers to certain questions? Well, if we already have an answer to a particular question, then we can stop asking that particular question.
Eve was the product of fiat creation rather than procreation. So we can stop asking how she was made.
This doesn’t mean we should stop asking how you and I were made, since we are the product of procreation rather than fiat creation.
Some illnesses are cured by medical science while other illnesses are cured by prayer. Prayer is the correct answer in some cases, while medicine is the correct answer in other cases.
“Do we start researching how God acts supernaturally to perform miracles? How do we scientifically proceed in this case?”
The problem with you is that you begin with a preconceived framework, then you try to squeeze all of the evidence into you’re a priori framework, and if it doesn’t fit you saw off the offending evidence.
But what is the evidence for your framework? Clearly in your case the evidence isn’t driving the framework, but vice versa. Oh, and that makes it a metaphysical construct.
You feel the need to classify a phenomenon before you investigate it.
I don’t begin with a particular kind of question. I don’t begin with a scientific question, or a historical question, &c. I begin with a factual question: what is true?
Whether the correct answer is historical or scientific or miraculous, &c., is a subdivision of its factuality.
“If that's what happened, there's no point in proceeding scientifically as to the mechanisms of creation. It's a supernatural phenomenon. And the role of science has vanished from the picture. That's not a problem. But it is a fact. Suggesting that's a spur for science is silly. That's where science bows out.”
No, what is silly is the way you substitute something else for what I actually said. I made the *general* observation that “If you think something was designed, then that encourages you to look for an explanation rather than treat it as a brute fact or surd event. Belief in design is an impetus to scientific discovery. You only seek a rational explanation if you believe that a rational explanation is available, which assumes the rationality of nature.”
Creation ex nihilo would be a rational explanation. It might or might not be a *scientific* explanation, but it would be a *rational* explanation.
That doesn’t rule out “scientific” explanations in other cases, or even in this case. Scientific explanations are, at best, a subset of rational explanations generally.
“If you are simply inclined to say ‘Goddidit’ as the explanation for any given phenomena, then there's no *distinctive* evidence for *anything*, *anywhere*.”
Another straw man argument. Because he can’t deal with the real argument, Touchstone always resorts to straw man arguments—universalizing a specific claim.
Revelation specifically attributes certain effects to God. The creation of the world. The creation of natural kinds.
Since I know this to be true, revealed truths figure in my explanation of events.
Revelation also attributes many other events to ordinary providence. Since I know this to be true, that also figures in my explanation of events.
Touchstone, by contrast, is like one of those split-personality accidents from a transporter mishap. There’s the “Christian” Touchstone. Then there’s his agnostic alter-ego. Which is the real Touchstone? Or are they equally real? Now that’s a scary thought! Lock your doors and keep a taser nearby!
“So yes, if miraculous intervention by an omnipotent God is the preferred answer for any scientific question, then there is no distinctive evidence for any scientific theory.”
The rote, straw man argument.
“Science operates on the assumption that nature obeys physical laws and constraints.”
i) To begin with, science operates with no such assumption. Touchstone’s assertion is based on a rather provincial interpretation of natural law. But there is no received interpretation of natural law in the philosophy of science.
And notice that Touchstone can’t avoid appealing to metascientific assumptions.
ii) Also watch for the hidden asterisk. Remember that Touchstone is an alethic antirealist. He doesn’t believe that human beings enjoy access to objective truth.
So his assertions about science are reducible to a purely autobiographical and introspective witness to his own mental states.
“Never before the 20th century has Christianity (or significant parts of it at least) denied the evidence of nature as it has in the last 100 years.”
Many of the church fathers subscribed to instantaneous creation. What evidence, recent or otherwise, would count against instantaneous creation?
“Is my affirmation of 170,000 years too little, too much, or just right? If it's not right, what science are you basing this on?”
Try metrical conventionalism.