Thursday, May 30, 2013

Configuration Space via Mathematical Impressionism. Part 3

Thermodynamics gives evolution/OOL direction!

See part 1 and part 2 for an explanation of this diagram.

In this post I’m going to assume that the academic establishment’s understanding of evolution/OOL holds up; that is, I’m assuming that by a series of trial and error incremental changes one organic structure changes into another with a slightly different configuration and that this incremental process explains the transformation of matter from its elementary state to highly complex self-perpetuating configurations. This, as we have seen in the previous part, requires the mathematical existence of a class of self-perpetuating configurations that are arranged in configuration space to form a fully connected set, stretching from the “low reaches” of elementary matter to complex multicellular organisms. This connectedness allows self-perpetuating structures to effectively “migrate” across configuration space by diffusion.

The caveat here, as I mentioned in the last part of this series, is that it is by no means clear that this connectedness is the case:  In particular, self-perpetuating structures are very likely to constitute such an extremely small fraction of the class of all possible configurations that it feels intuitively unlikely there is enough of them to populate configuration space with a connected set sufficiently dense to facilitate evolution/OOL (although I have no proof of this and I don’t think anyone else has; that’s why I continue worry the subject!). However, for the purpose of this post I am taking on board the establishment’s assumption that incremental evolution/OOL has happened in this way and seeing where it takes us.

Well, one place where it takes us is the conclusion that evolution/OOL, fairly obviously, does have an asymmetrical directionality, just as do other thermodynamic processes: That is, given certain initial conditions these processes have an asymmetrical curve of change over time. For example, if we take an elementary thermodynamic change like gas diffusion, then down at the low level each particle knows no direction – all degrees of freedom are equally preferred.  However at the higher macroscopic level, depending on initial conditions, the system asymmetrically moves toward thermodynamic equilibrium as its particles populate the available states. Lijkewise, evolution/OOL works as a kind of morphological disequilibrium: If we start from a state of elementary matter (solids, liquids, gases) the result is diffusion across configuration space toward organic structures.  This diffusion motion across configuration space is described in part 2 of this series*

It is ironic that evolution/OOL is an outcome of the second law of thermodynamics.  The apparent intuitive contradiction between the second law and evolution/OOL is not actually the case because the second law only quantifies the overall entropy changes in a (closed) system as it moves toward a higher statistical weight. Because the second law places a constraint only on the overall system then increases in order in subsystems do not violate the second law. (See for example:

Evolution/OOL, as the academic establishment conceives it, has, then, directionality in the thermodynamic sense. Actually this result is fairly intuitively obvious from computational considerations:  If evolution/OOL has happened then starting from matter in its elementary states (i.e, solids, liquids and gases) then it is obvious that to reach the so-called “higher organisms” matter must pass  through  stages of organised forms that can only occur in a particular sequence in time.  E.g. organic molecular precursors precede cells, cells precede multicellular organisms; that is, it is logically impossible for multicellular organisms to proceed the organic components of which they are made.  Of course it is quite possible, given the diffusional nature of evolution/OOL, that individual cases can go “backwards or forwards” on this sequence, but the sequence itself cannot be disrupted, thus imposing a direction on the diffusion driven morphological changes in matter. There is, therefore, a general drift (if not individual drift) from an initial condition of being in an elementary state (i.e, solids, liquids and gases) toward more morphologically differentiated structures.

The above point is also fairly obvious from more general computational considerations: Not all problems are equally computationally complex. All other computational resources being equal, such as speed, memory, processor count etc, then clearly some outcomes will take longer to compute than others. Computational complexity itself imposes complexity sequencing or at least complexity banding on sets of outcomes. In summary, morphological disequilibrium entails that given an initial elementary state of matter evolution/OOL has a “preferred” direction; for the Earth, a few billions of years ago, the only morphological way was “up”!

But getting some people to see this relatively elementary lesson is difficult because it cuts across the intellectual interests of the polarised parties in the North American debate. If you look at this old post by Larry Moran you will see what I mean. He is very unwilling to admit that from a starting point of elementary matter evolution/OOL has anything that smacks of “progress”; in fact the whole idea that there may be some kind of computational complexity banding amongst configurations gives him the jitters. He has been so influenced by the implicit overriding nihilism of his atheism that a cosmos showing a progressive  development in complexity just looks too spooky to him; the notion that some organisms are more “complex” than others probably unnerves him because it could be the thin end of the theist wedge about life having purpose. Also, see the discussion I had with one of Larry Moran’s atheist commenters in the comments section of the same blog post. This atheist showed that he was very unwilling to accept an elementary thermodynamic lesson. I have actually recreated this discussion in the comments section of this post (coming soon).

There is nothing intellectually untoward with this concept of evolutionary/OOL direction; it is simply a thermodynamic outcome of the academic establishment’s requirements. But as I have already suggested, the above considerations actually cut across the expectations of both sides of the polarised North American debate between atheists and theists.  Nihilistically inclined atheists are confounded by the directionality of our universe and many in the creationist/IDist lobby still cling onto the idea that the second law of thermodynamics contradicts evolution. Moreover, both sides are inclined to parody evolution as a directionless, unguided, “chance” , something-for-nothing process; at least that is something they can both agree on!  But then that is something they are both wrong about!

An idyllic  initial creation according to the Jehovah's Witnesses!  This  picture trades on the thermodynamic naivety that as far as morphology  is concerned the only way is down. Interesting to note that  there are no dinosaurs in this picture; I have never seen dinosaurs appearing in JW depictions of the pre-fall world!

Clearly there aren't enough organisms to approximate a real gas-like diffusion. However, the diffusion we are thinking of here can be thought of as the  abstract  flow of mathematical probability. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Proto-Fundamentalist Epistemology

The Fundamentalist’s Bible: They know what it all means from day one – all that remains to be done is to support that meaning, come what may. What the fundamentalists deem as "revelation" isn't subject to any serious dialectical process

I have recently come across a prototypical fundamentalist view on epistemology. I found it in the comments section of a post on Uncommon Descent.  I hope, being only a comment, that it is not typical of UD itself, although I'm reminded of this post of mine where I remarked in a footnote that the North American “Intelligent Design” community is unhealthily close to fundamentalism. (Probably a consequence of the North American aptitude for polarization)

In this UD post a commenter called Barb starts with a toy-town statement of scientific epistemology and then proceeds to go well astray.  Below I've published Barb's comments in italics followed by my own remarks:

  1. Observe what happens.
My Remarks: We never directly "observe what happens". Our contact with the world is always processed through a mountain of mental a-priori theoretical constructions. Some of these constructions are likely to be innate, but a huge amount are cultural. The other major misrepresentation here is that the data we each receive via direct observation is not nearly as prevalent as the data we receive through the texts of society: Most of our personal data comes through public domain texts recording the observations (and theories) of others. As a consequence the childish and simplistic fundamentalist cliché “You weren't there” has the potential to subvert the validity of just about all scientific data!

  1. Based on those observations, form a theory as to what may be true.
  2. Test the theory by further observations and by experiments.
  3. Watch to see if the predictions based on the theory come true
My Remarks: “Testing” (in the classic Popperian sense of the word) of our theoretical structures may not always be possible. Retrospective “best fitting” of a theoretical narrative to given data may in practice be the best that can be achieved in some circumstances. “Abductive Science” is probably the right way to describe the actual epistemic practice of science - a concept that I know seasoned UD posters are aware of. But the above quote  makes me wonder if this particular customer is a fan of the fundamentalist’s false dichotomy of “historical science vs. observational science” 

Barb: Scientific truth is not revealed; it is discovered. This necessitates a system of trial and error, with the searcher for scientific truth often finding himself in a fruitless endeavor. But by systematically following four steps, he pursues a fruitful search. Nevertheless, scientific victories are celebrated on the ruins of scientific defeats as formerly accepted views are rejected to make way for new ones viewed as more nearly correct.

My Comment: This is where “Barb” probably betrays a proto-fundamentalist’s mind set:  (S)He is beguiled by a false dichotomy between revelation and discovery. The connotation here is that there is as a category of  “Revealed knowledge” which has an epistemologically superior status and figuratively speaking "carved in stone" when compared to "inferior" science whose epistemic method is mere trial and error. Well yes, I agree, science is trial and error, but then so is all thinking, and thinking is the cognitive filter through which we interpret all data, Biblical and otherwise; the right interpretation and meaning of any data is discovered through the trial and error inherent in the cognitive process (which involves search, reject and select).  In fact support for the universality of this principle can be found in fundamentalist circles themselves: There are so many sharp disagreements between fundamentalists who claim to have the very “Words of God” that it is clear there is a large measure of trial and error going on amongst fundamentalists as they attempt to make sense of the "Words of God". So it seems that fundamentalists don’t have an epistemic short cut to “revealed” certainty after all. There is no dichotomy that allows us to arrogantly hold onto to some knowledge as if it is beyond the trial and error dialectic.

The general principle I'm invoking here comes out of the understanding that all data signals we receive, whether from deep space, deep history or deep within the Bible, classify as signals requiring interpretation; the act of interpretation entails the use of imaginative explanatory theoretical narratives which endeavour to integrate received data samples into a themed whole. These pro tem explanatory narratives then go on to contend* with a wider context of experience and texts as we seek to discover whether our narrative works on a more general level or whether we should hunt and discover a better fit solution. Trial and error rules OK in the world of man right across the board. This means that discovery and revelation are identical categories: In fact we read in Acts 17:27 that seeking, which in essence is a trial and error process, is the very means by which we find God: "God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us".  In contrast to Barb’s view let me annunciate the principle that all revelation entails discovery and all discovery entails revelation.

The Bible doesn't provide us with a body of knowledge insulated against the seek and find dialectic. This follows because the Bible is not fundamental or axiomatic; it is book of signals that we interpret against the background of our nature and nurture, thus entailing the trial and error epistemic. Bible interpretation draws on the resources of innate cognition and cultural knowledge. God’s  Revelatory Word emerges through His sovereign management of both our thought processes and our cultural context as they interact with Biblical writ. I suspect that the underlying motive of Barb and those with a like leaning toward fundamentalism is a desire for an epistemology that short cuts the trial and error dialectic and generates knowledge above contradiction.

Barb: Despite this hit-and-miss method, scientists have over the centuries built up an amazing amount of scientific knowledge. Although often mistaken, they have been able to correct many inaccurate conclusions before serious damage was done. In fact, as long as faulty knowledge stays within the realm of pure science, the danger of inflicting serious harm is minimal. But when attempts are made to transform seriously flawed pure science into applied science, the results can be disastrous.
Ironically, scientist Vincent Wigglesworth of Cambridge University observed that the scientific method itself is “a religious approach.” How so? “It rests upon an unquestioning faith that natural phenomena conform to ‘laws of nature.’”

My Remarks: I wouldn't say I especially disagree with the foregoing except to say that I certainly wouldn't express it in such extreme terms as “unquestioning”; the underlying sentiment connoted by that term is endemic amongst fundamentalists. The spirit of scrutiny should be admitted into the whole field of our theoretical endeavours. Self-examination and criticism are in the spirit of the Christian way: I don’t see much of that in fundamentalist epistemology; but I do see a lot of epistemic arrogance, an arrogance from which basis the fundamentalists will attempt to impugn the integrity of many a Christian.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5
….continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40

* "Contend": A purposely vaguer word than "test". 

Addendum: Six feet above contradiction

A blog post by fundamentalist apologist Jason Lisle dated March 27  has at first sight what looked to me the very promising title of “It’s not ‘Human Reason vs. God’s Word’!” . So, I thought, Jason is getting into exposing false dichotomies as well! In fact I wouldn't say I especially disagreed with the tenor his post; he is clearly not a fideist which can’t be bad; actually I think I've seen him arguing against fideism.  However, in spite of generally finding the post innocuous I think there is just one part that betrays his fundamentalist epistemology: Viz:

What then is the difference? [i.e. Between creationists and evolutionists] The difference is our starting point – the standard upon which we build our reasoning. The Christian should take the Word of God has his or her ultimate standard. We are supposed to reason from the truths given to us in the Scriptures. God’s Word is like a solid rock; and reasoning that rests upon that rock will stand. What is the alternative structure on which non-Christians attempt to build their thinking? There is none. God’s Word is the only ultimate standard by which can truly know anything about anything.

Notice that for Lisle the Bible is a starting point, a foundation, the ultimate standard, and above all a solid rock on which reason rests.  This all sounds very dangerously a-priori to me – that is, that Biblical meanings, once imputed by fundamentalist culture, become axiomatic, set in stone and not subject to any dialectic or debate; they are six feet above contradiction. These meanings consequently get stuck into fundamentalist culture as foregone conclusions and people like Lisle bend over backwards to defend these conclusions with quite bizarre theories.

To the fundamentalists the Bible looks as though it is a given/axiomatic "lens" through which they interpret the world. But in fact the Bible and its cultural context form a symbiotic relation as they mutually assist (under Divine Sovereignty) in the interpretation of one another. Fundamentalists of all brands seem unaware of the role that their fundamentalist context plays in the interpretation of the Bible; they understand the Bible the way they do because they see it through the "lens" of their strict and particular fundamentalist cultures. But actually neither culture nor Bible can claim to be the fundamental "lens"; culture and Bible have a two way symbiotic relationship.

The Bible doesn't “contain” meaning; rather it is a set of triggers that generate meaning and that triggering, under Divine Sovereign Management, uses the resources of context. That’s probably where I fundamentally differ from the erroneous fundamentalist folk concept of language as something that stands aloof from its cosmic context. It looks to me as if Lisle has no conception that Biblical meaning is not intrinsic to the text but extrinsic to it; that is, Biblical meaning arises out of the relation of text and context. Biblical meaning is less a rock like starting point than it is an end point.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Catalogue of Woo

Here's the latest email shot I have just received from the right-wing magazine. This time "The Health Sciences Institute" is offering us a sacred book of ancient wisdom giving details of "underground" elixirs and panaceas which can cure everything you can think of. Of course, the nasty controlling US government is trying to hush it up; after all, how is "Obamacare" going to work if nobody needs a hospital any more? So, in order to confound the government ban on this book of cure-alls The Health Science Institute is actually giving it away; that is, it free of charge! But how can that work as a business plan? However, once one understands that in another parallel universe they describe this sort of sacred book as a  "Health products mail order catalogue", the business plan starts to make a little more sense. Other mail order firms have clearly got a lot to learn from this sales pitch!

Dear Reader,
Can you believe this video? It's a phenomenon. In fact, it was sent to more than 289,000 people in just the first 24 hours!
But you might not see it at all.
Why? Because, for the first time, mainstream medicine's deadliest conspiracy has been EXPOSED. Finally, this video is the 'shot heard around the world' the establishment prayed would never come.
To be honest, I'm not sure how long this video will be available. There are powerful interests hell-bent on minimizing the damage it is doing to corporate medicine's profit machine.
Before it's banned. Watch it here.
To your best days,
Paul Amos
Associate Director, HSI
P.S. Wow. 366,062 people and counting. It's taking on a life of its own. Get the facts now.

Could our U.S. Government want to BAN the contents of a SACRED BOOK?

It holds ancient answers to curing cancer and diabetes, reversing Alzheimer's, arthritis, and more... but these life-saving miracles could be made illegal!

[Get full details below]

Jenny Thompson
Director, Health Sciences Institute


To receive a FREE transcript of the Health Sciences Institute's “Miracles from the Vault” video, just fill in your email address below.
You’ll learn about:
  • The astonishing cancer breakthrough that's 10,000 TIMES STRONGER than a top chemotherapy drug
  • The secret germ ANTIDOTE that knocked out one woman’s flu in 8 hours
  • The magic bullet that beats “incurable” pain from degenerated knees, aging hips, stiff necks, muscle sprains, bad backs
  • This “ultimate cure” improved congestive heart failure patients in just 2 weeks, yet it’s cheap as aspirin! Find out where to get it...
  • The blood sugar buster proven three times more effective than top-selling diabetes drugs
  • The “silkworm’s secret”: Ease inflammation and respiratory illness
  • The “Goldilock’s Effect” that gives 52% more energy
  • The memory-boosting breakthrough that regrows dead brain cells
  • And so much more!
Just put your email address in the box and you’ll get a full transcript with details on how to get all of the Health Sciences Institute’s (HSI) most amazing health discoveries. Feel free to keep it and read it at your convenience.
And that’s not all. As a bonus, we’ll begin sending you my HSI eAlert daily e-letter... FREE. It includes our very best life-saving health advice each and every day. You’ll learn the most effective natural solutions to the worst diseases of today... and how to protect yourself and your family from Big Pharma’s dirtiest tricks.
And, of course, should you wish to no longer receive the HSI eAlert, you can unsubscribe at any time. I promise you that your privacy is extremely important to us and I'll guard your email address as if it were my own.
Just put your email address in the box below and we’ll email you your full free transcript immediately. This is life-changing information you truly will not find anywhere else, so I encourage you to act now.
To Your Good Health,
Jenny Thompson
Director, Health Sciences Institute

Friday, May 10, 2013

North American Origins of Life Science: Deadlocked!

In a deadlock nobody can budge because a resource lock means that no party is able to give any ground. The resource we are talking about in this post is kudos, reputation, status, pride....

The content of this post by vjtorley on Uncommon Descent typifies why I have ambivalent feelings toward the North American Intelligent Design community. It is a post summarizing some interesting research on the evolution of proteins: Using the work of ID researchers Torley challenges a recent “skeptic” web post which advances some sketchy scenarios on how complex protein molecules might have emerged from simpler precursor proteins - the motive here is, of course, that simpler objects would have a much greater chance of appearing spontaneously and that these elementary antecedents would then gradually elaborate into something more complex. The gradualist evolutionary/OOL academic establishment has rather burnt its boats in that it has all but irreversibly committed itself to finding continuous lines of incremental development (or “emergence”) of life from homogenous matter. But conversely the North American ID community has burnt its boats as well: They are thoroughly committed to finding road blocks to any proposed evolutionary/OOL scenarios. The academic establishment believe those paths of development exist but the North American ID community are convinced they don’t!

At the bottom of this standoff is the God did it vs. Nature did it” dichotomy.  The incremental evolutionary/OOL philosophy appeals to a broad-church of establishment scientists from Christians to out-and-out atheists; to the latter in particular evolution/OOL is absolutely indispensable as in their minds it appears to dispense with those awkward and inexplicable discontinuities in development which smack of “supernatural” interference. If they can get rid of these then the intuition is that they can attribute life to Mother Nature rather than Father God. For these evangelical atheists anything other than evolution/OOL is therefore an utterly intolerable, unthinkable anathema. Conversely, the North American IDists are anxious to show that evolution/OOL is impossible; they need those configurational discontinuities in order to give place to God Intelligent interference in Mother Nature’s gestations. In doing so they have taken on-board the atheist concept that Nature and God are two very opposite scenarios of creation. As Torley says in the very first sentence of his post:

Could proteins have developed naturally on Earth, without any intelligent guidance?

The connotation here is that “Nature” goes together with “unguided” and “unintelligent”, the subtext being that an Homunculus Designer is necessary to “guide” an otherwise random or overly regimented “Mother Nature” in the act of creation! I've recently come across a far more extreme IDist put down of “Darwinism” (sic):

Darwin persuasively taught that life is the product of blind, meaningless, purposeless churning, making all life, not just human, hardly anything more special or dignified than cosmic refuse. Indeed in a Darwinian worldview, life is cosmic refuse. While accused abortion butcher Kermit Gosnell may be an outlier, he is an emblematic personality in our Darwin-tutored culture.1*

Because North American IDists are so against the idea that “Nature” might generate anything worthwhile some really stupid ideas sometimes do the rounds in ID circles; one of them is the belief we've just seen; namely, that “mother nature” goes together with “blind meaningless, purposeless chance”; either that or an idiot level of so-called “necessity” which manifests itself in the generation of elementary crystalline-like structures. Another stupid idea is the belief that the Second Law of Thermodynamics contradicts evolution. Both of these ideas I have critiqued in this blog. However, in spite of these lapses I otherwise welcome the ID community that Torley represents and I don’t want to be counted among their enemies.  They are, in my opinion, doing valuable research and Torley’s article is an example of this. Moreover, I think we should at least be prepared to entertain the idea (even if not accept it) that replicators may be one of creations givens. But whether or not this can be demonstrated either way with a satisfactory level of experimental rigor, I have my doubts: Establishment evolutionists have on their side the epistemic advantage of proposing a concept that is actually a non-falsifiable existential proposition. (i.e. that evolutionary/OOL routes exist)  On the other hand the North American IDists have the epistemic advantage of falsifiability on their side (One case will falsify their assertion that no evolutionary/OOL routes exist).  The consequence is an epistemic deadlock:  Evolutionists can keep coming up with imaginative gradualist scenarios and as a last resort can always claim that somewhere out there gradualist evolutionary/OOL routes may exist. The North American IDists, however, can continue to do their best to knock down these suggested scenarios as they are proposed. So, one party has the advantage of appearing to engage in imaginative and positive science, whereas the other party can appear to play the role of the rigorous skeptic engaged in a negative debunking of many cheerfully proffered evolutionary/OOL scenarios. There is a tremendous irony in this epistemic deadlock!

I would love to see the North America IDists talking to Christian organizations like Biologos and the Faraday Institute, but it’s not going happen: The IDists have a too high a stake in non-gradualism whereas Biologos and Faraday have a too high a stake in the gradualism of the scientific establishment and above all they have an eye on their scientific reputations! Moreover, the sharp and acrimonious American political divide that makes an anti-christ out of one’s opponents is an important polarizing factor, particularly as the academic establishment veers toward the left*2. In this connection we also note that gradualism serves the purpose of evangelical atheism in eliminating logical gaps, at least on the surface.

It is at this point that the North American IDists exploit folk science: If self-perpetuating/replicating organisms are one of nature’s givens then this is far more intuitively compelling to the folk mind than is the knowledge that nature, of necessity, harbors, deep down, a Grand Logical Hiatus (GLH).  But this abstruse GLH doesn’t cut much ice in folk science, however; after all one can always wave one’s hand, shrug one’s shoulders and claim that one day the GLH will somehow be “explained away”. The GLH is too obscure in its import to be compelling at the folk level.  The North American IDists are exploiting this folk position and therefore are able to get away with an unarticulated theology of creation that stresses the eminence of God over his immanence.

*1 This was Larry Moran quoting IDist David Klinghoffer.  See “An Example of IDiot “Civility”, May 10th.  I actually agree with Moran’s point here; The IDiots are taking a leaf out of the fundamentalist’s book and insulting their opponents by morally impugning them. IDists are unhealthily close to fundamentalists.

*2 On Politics: I'm not a particularly politically conscious animal myself, but I suspect that politics is more deeply involved in this divide than I'm really aware of. In this connection I note that the North American ID community don't support the anthropogenic global warming theories. Is this something to do with the big government vs. big business dichotomy?  It's so easy to see this whole thing reflecting a divide between techno-business interests and government control. The former want a free market and recruit (in the sense of  subsidising) a class of intellectuals such as we see in the North American ID movement who place a very "engineering" slant on biology and who are also anti-anthropogenic global warming. Set against them are the left-tending government sponsored academic establishment who support a more socialist form of government and want to fight anthropogenic global warming.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

An Example of Scientific Illiteracy

But what do you expect from someone who sanctions this? I only have to look at this picture to know that there is something seriously wrong with the fundamentalist's world view! It's like a jig-saw where the wrong pieces have been pushed together with a blend of brute force and ignorance.

In a post entitled The World – out to get your kids*1 and dated May 1st Ken Ham quotes from an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and then goes on to demonstrate his poor grasp of the logic of science:

“Science is firm on its truth. The National Academy of Sciences puts evolution in the category of such scientific facts as the Earth orbiting the sun, living things being made of cells and matter being composed of atoms.”
This is the typical false teaching that is confusing historical science and observational (operational) science. It’s an attempt to intimidate people so that they will believe evolution and millions of years as fact. We can look up into space and observe the earth—and the sun. We can look down microscopes and see cells and study them.  But, we can’t observe molecules turning into life, reptiles evolving into birds, etc.

There is no sign here that Ham understands that cells, the Earth’s orbit, and the Sun are complex logical constructions that we can only sample with data points; we do not directly observe them:
1.      The modern Solar System is a model which successfully embeds observational samples of the heavens made over large of tracts of time.
2.    Colloquially one might say that one can “see cells” when one looks down a microscope but the intricate cell mechanisms are not “seen” as such but are abductive conclusions based on observational samples drawn from many clever experiments.
3.   Our modern “star” concept of the Sun as a gravitationally contained nuclear furnace is certainly not “observable”. In fact some fundamentalists are now challenging this “unobserved” concept just as they are challenging the heliocentric solar system (See footnote *2).

Now, one may or may not accept evolution as a valid theoretical construction but the epistemic method of juxtaposing observational protocols (e.g. fossils, taxa etc.) with a theoretical model is qualitatively the same  here as that used in the study of the cell’s intricate workings. There is no fundamental epistemic demarcation here as Ham falsely teaches.

Many stars are, of course, effectively distant history - unless one uses Jason Lisle’s Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (which has been published on AiG’s web site) which projects  “now” (or t = 0) along the entire trajectory of a signal from space once it has alighted on the Earth’s surface. The conventional nature of this manoeuvre introduces an ambiguity into what can be claimed as the observable “present” and the “unobservable” past!

For the main posts so far on this topic see:  

*1 Given this title I can't help but think of conspiracy theory. See:
*2 For fundamentalist challenges on the nature of the Sun and the Solar System see the following links:
This is where serious fundamentalism is leading!


The educational outcome of Ken Ham's concept of science is evidenced in the worksheet below. This worksheet is used in a fundamentalist school to test its pupils:

When this first surfaced on the web recently there were doubts as to whether or not it was a hoax. (Another vindication of "Poe's law" I suppose).  What made it look fake, perhaps, was that it was difficult to believe that all the simplistic stock responses which so epitomise the fundamentalist take on creation could appear in such a conveniently concentrated form complete with the "right" responses from some hoop jumping pupil. However, proof that it was genuine came in a blog post from Ken Ham full of serious faced righteous indication and accompanied by an AiG lead article. Ham and his staff writer vigorously defended the worksheet and slammed into the atheist community, who, it seems were seized by fits of uncontrollable laughter (although tempered by the fact that a child's education was at stake). Admittedly it is difficult to keep a straight face because these Young Earther's have so successfully sent themselves up.  But, needless to say, they're not going to see the joke: One must remember that the fundamentalist mind has so closely identified his or her opinions with the Divine mind that criticism of those opinions becomes criticism of God, which, of course then equates to an evil blaspheming attack. Therefore, in their view strong criticism automatically registers as a product of a deeply depraved mind suffused with malign ulterior motives. In the fundamentalist's black and white world they see you as either for them or against them; either they trust your motives or they don't. As a firm critic of fundamentalism, this is one reason why I try to keep personal contact with fundamentalists down to a minimum consistent with the tasks I need to undertake. In my case the polarisation is too far gone to even attempt to reverse it.

But there is pathos in seeing a child's hand innocently and eagerly following the ludicrous lead (to the letter!) of his/her teacher, in part motived by a strong desire to please, to be right with God and above all to have the approval of his/her religious community. It's intellectual burlesque without, of course, the fundamentalists being able to see the (black) humour in what they are doing. This pathos reminds me of the Egyptiana I mention here:

For the record some links relevant to the above story are: