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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dr Stephen C. Meyer responds to Prof. Darrel Falk

I've been working alot lately and I didnt even know that he was questioned about it. But apparently Prof. Darrel Falk had some criticisms concerning Dr Stephen C. Meyer's recent book, Signature in the Cell. Dr Meyer has responded. Link to full response and a teaser below.....

"in his recent review on the Biologos website, Prof. Darrel Falk characterizes me as merely a well-meaning, but ultimately unqualified, philosopher and religious believer who lacks the scientific expertise to evaluate origin-of-life research and who, in any case, has overlooked the promise of recent pre-biotic simulation experiments. On the basis of two such experiments, Falk suggests I have jumped prematurely to the conclusion that pre-biotic chemistry cannot account for the origin of life. Yet neither of the scientific experiments he cites provides evidence that refutes the argument of my book or solves the central mystery that it addresses. Indeed, both experiments actually reinforce—if inadvertently—the main argument of Signature in the Cell."

That's just for starters. Read the entire rebuttal via the link I provided above. Meyer is certainly well-versed in logical argumentation and as a further tease, here's a brief clip of the summation.

"That Professor Falk rejects this knowledge as knowledge, and the case for design based on it, reflects his own commitment to finding a solution to the origin of life problem within a strictly materialistic framework. Indeed, he and his colleagues at BioLogos have made clear that they accept the principle of methodological naturalism, the idea that scientists, to be scientists, must limit themselves to positing only materialistic explanations for all phenomena. Of course, it is their right to accept this intellectual limitation on theorizing if they wish. But it needs to be noted that the principle of methodological naturalism is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself. Others of us, having long ago seen the pattern in pre-biotic simulation experiments, to say nothing of the clear testimony of thousands of years of human experience, have decided to move on."


If you are so inclined, read the entire argument put forward by Meyer and leave your comments here. I had the opportunity to see Meyers speak tonight along with David Berlinsky but apathy among other things prevented me from doing so. Maybe next time...

5 comments:

GCT said...

From what you quoted, I think you've proven that Falk's appraisal of Meyer's abilities as a philosopher and scientist are spot on.

"That Professor Falk rejects this knowledge as knowledge, and the case for design based on it, reflects his own commitment to finding a solution to the origin of life problem within a strictly materialistic framework."

Perhaps Meyer can show us a methodology that isn't materialistic?

"Indeed, he and his colleagues at BioLogos have made clear that they accept the principle of methodological naturalism, the idea that scientists, to be scientists, must limit themselves to positing only materialistic explanations for all phenomena."

You'd think that such a pre-eminent philosopher and scientist such as Meyer would know better. Methodological Naturalism (MN) is the practical use of natural means and methods to study the universe. Nothing in the scientific method, however, precludes non-material means or explanations. The problem is that such intellectual giants as Meyer who harp on the idea of using non-material methods to gain non-material insights can never deliver the goods. Once people like Meyer show us how to actually figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, then we'll be able "to move on," as he puts it.

"Of course, it is their right to accept this intellectual limitation on theorizing if they wish. But it needs to be noted that the principle of methodological naturalism is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself."

Rubbish. Science does indeed limit itself to what is practical and can actually be done. This is a strength of science and why science has led to untold advances of technology and knowledge about the world. What has a method like hopeful prayer gotten us? Religion has contributed nada to our knowledge about the world.

And, to make matters worse, it's not an "arbitrary philosophical assumption," but an acceptance that we have no other methods. Like I said, if Meyer and his cohorts at the eminently respected conservative think-tank, The Discovery Institute, can come up with some means of discovery that doesn't rely on natural means, then they should present those means!

JD Curtis said...

GCT, perhaps you could define for us both "science" and "methodological naturalism". Are they exactly the same thing?

GCT said...

Science is the process and outcome of using the scientific method. There's nothing in the scientific method that rules out supernaturalism a priori. Methodological naturalism is the realization that we do not have a method for using supernatural means to investigate the world, so it's a practical method of investigation. If you or one of your creationist buddies could come up with any possible way of using the supernatural or testing the supernatural, then we'd test it and see. The ball is in your court, and simply whining about how unfair the universe is for not working the way you wish it did doesn't get you or anyone else anywhere.

None of this helps your (or Meyer's) argument, because your argument is predicated on conflating methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism. Unfortunately for you guys, you creationists are the only ones that can't tell the difference.

JD Curtis said...

Close, but we're a bit apart re: definitions.

Insofar as "science" is defined, I rather like Vox Day's definition of breaking such a generalized word up into 3 distinct areas. "science is a dynamic body of knowledge (scientage), a process (scientody), and a profession (scientistry)".

I rather like the Conservapedia entry re: Methodological Naturalism: Methodological naturalism is a strategy for studying the world, by which scientists choose not to consider supernatural causes - even as a remote possibility. There are two main reasons for pursuing this strategy. First, some scientists believe that there is no supernatural: they begin with the assumption that God does not exist (see atheism) and that there is no life after death (see also spiritual world). Second, some scientists believe it is possible that supernatural causes (such as God and angels) may exist, but they assume that any supernatural action would be arbitrary or haphazard and therefore impossible to study systematically.

GCT said...

"Close, but we're a bit apart re: definitions."

Then I suggest you adopt my definition considering that it is the definition used by practicing scientists.

"I rather like the Conservapedia entry..."

I'm sure you do. Regardless, it is also flawed.

Atheism does not start with the assumption that god does not exist, for starters. Atheism is simply not accepting your assumption that god does exist. I feel like I've explained this to you before, and you are either incapable of understanding it or are intentionally ignoring and continuing to misrepresent the atheist position and basically lying. Rejection of your assumptions is not the same as the assumption of the opposite. Same goes for life after death. Atheists simply withhold belief until there is evidence for those positions. Surely an intellectual giant such as yourself can grasp such a simple concept?

Their second point is also incorrect. In fact, science has done prayer studies, which are studies on supernatural causes, and it was not assumed that they were arbitrary or haphazard. In fact, that was the outcome, that prayer was statistically no different than random chance. Once again you've taken the "Open mouth, insert foot" approach, which seems to be par for the course. I suggest that you actually pick up a book about science that isn't written by Bible-totin' creationists attempting to show that it's wrong, wrong, wrong, and you may actually learn something. It would certainly help you to stop shooting yourself in the foot. You could also pick up a philosophy of science text and learn about MN while you are at it.