Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Email from a Fundamentalist

Same tired old party line parroted again and again

Below I publish part of an email from a Biblical literalist that I was ccd into. (A literalist called “John Heininger”). This email was unsolicited  and I wouldn't respond to it: Unless I see a clear benefit I  have a policy of minimising my contacts with fundamentalist and strict religious sects, either their leaders or their rank and file. (This policy is based on my past work amongst fundamentalist sect members. This work has lead me to believe that their doctrines - which have a relationship with "conspiracy theories" - do not promote healthy trusting relationships with non sect members, especially those like myself who critique the message of obedience to the touted "divine authority" of fundamentalist opinion)

The subject header of the email was in caps: 


Straight away, then, we can tell that this client has a poor grasp of the scientific epistemic and has simply swallowed whole and subsequently parroted the erroneous philosophy that does the rounds in the Biblical literalist community; this is the belief that there is a fundamental distinction between observational science and historical science.  But all science is observational in as much as all science juxtaposes observations/experience with theoretical structures and thereby attempts to evaluate (i.e not “verify”) both theory and experience  against one another in a two way transaction. These theoretical structures can be either historical objects or present tense continuous objects such as physical law. And yet at the same time all science is historical in that what we call evidences are always at the head of signals from source events which to a greater or lesser extent are past events. The other mistake this literalist makes is his failure to distinguish between evidence and proof as his email I have published below shows; here I have highlighted his repeated errors in bold and with underlines:

So, let me give you a helping hand by telling you how to change evolution from a subjective "historical theory" about what "supposedly" happened in the unobserved distant past into real "verifiable" science. First produce real verifiable empirical science based on experimentation and observation for the following criteria essential to the evolutionary continuum:
1. Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of life.
2. Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of the DNA double helix from scratch.
3. Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of complex genetic code from scratch.
4. Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of the mind and consciousness.
5.  Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin complementary sexual reproduction attributes.
6.  Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of reason from no reason.
7. Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of intelligence from no intelligence.
8. Provide a VERIFIABLE empirical scientific answer for the origin of human attributes such as altruism, morality, love, sense of right and wrong, good and evil, and justice and injustice.
Of course, these are only a few items needed for the evolutionary continuum to work, but these few will get you started.
So, there you have it!  AWLO and Levin are still struggling with this, and have wisely decided to back away every time I ask for verifiable science rather than history lessons.  No surprise, as Levin still mistakes history for science, though ever hopeful. He starts out with yeast, and always finishes up with yeast - and is still wondering why.

Science doesn’t deal in absolute verifiability; since the days of Popper this is usually understood; well, it probably is amongst most scientists, but not amongst rank and file Biblical literalists who seem unable to critically assess the misunderstandings handed down to them by their literalist gurus. Science deals with the interpretation of evidences and those evidences are always empirical/experiential in nature whether they be fossils, light signals from a galaxy or the texts of the scientific papers that have come down to us from the past.

However, the “observational” data samples natural history has delivered to us are sparse compared to the size of the object they are reporting on and so I myself am reserved about the currently accepted mechanisms of evolution. But I certainly don’t base my reservations on the kind of naive arguments we see above. These arguments have conflated evidence/observations with the theoretical structures that attempt to make sense of observation/experience.  Present tense continuous theoretical objects like, say, the Schroedinger equation and Einstein’s gravitational equations deal with huge superset objects and therefore can hardly be claimed as observational objects. Signals arriving from these objects at our experiential doorstep need considerable interpretation, interpretation that only works on the assumption of a providentially rational and readable world. It is the particular error of Biblical literalists to attempt to drive an “observational” wedge between classes of theoretical object in order to support their anti-science agenda. All such objects in the final analysis are abductions from evidences and observations.

The Biblical literalist community is working to a presuppositional metaphysic that has a very weak view of the rational readability of the cosmos (See for example Jason Lisle’s cosmology). Ironically this in turn is liable to subvert our very ability to read and make sense of the Bible; after all, the Bible contains signals from the past. Moreover, Genesis 1 is not an eyewitness account: No human saw those times and God does not have literal eyes. To talk of Genesis 1 as a divine “eyewitness” account is to engage in a crude anthropomorphism.

Relevant links: 

Note 05/02/14: One way of summarising the overall situation here is this: There is an ontological distinction between present tense continuous objects and historical objects but the epistemological problem they both present us with is the same; that is, that of gathering observational samples which constitute signals/evidence from these objects.  In fact it is possible for a convoluted present tense continuous object (one that is everywhere and everywhen), like say Einstein's equation, to be far more logically distant from us than are some historical objects  (like say the fact that it rained yesterday).

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