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Is the idea of a "god" inherent in our minds? posted 09 September 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionIs the idea of a "god" inherent in our minds? by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I do not reject science, just society's inclination to rely on it toatally


It's this 'totally' you have to sell me on, AJ. The polls I've seen show the majority of people being deeply skeptical of science.

The problem is that no where, not once in our public school past, are we ever taught the difference between good beliefs and bad beleifs. Since we don't know what we don't know (ignorance is invisible), we simply assume that we can tell the difference between good beliefs and bad, when psychological study after psychological study has shown we're actually quite miserable at it.

Take your statement that evolution and creation are two instances of 'faith' - this is in fact what the majority of people do: they simply assume that both are 'theories' in the sense of 'speculation,' the way we use the word in everyday contexts, when in fact evolution is a theory in a scientific sense. Once you probe beneath the surface, the differences become dazzling.

All theories can be evaluated according to very basic 'epistemic virtues.' Take explanatory power: evolution can explain, in mundane biomechanical terms, much of what we call 'life,' so much you could spend the rest of your life studying it. On the other hand, ask yourself, can creationism explain the rise of new 'superbugs' in the age of antibiotics?

Or take predictive success: did you know that Darwin actually postulated there must be something with the characteristics belonging to DNA for evolution to be possible? Was it an accident that it just so happens that life turns on DNA (the mechanism that evolution predicts)? Is it just a coincidence that genetics and evolution display a remarkable compatibility? Or how about evolution and geology?

Another virtue is fecundity, or a theory's ability to generate new theories, techniques, technologies, and so on: Did you know that the cornerstone of evolution, natural selection, has become the cornerstone of an entirely new way of computer programming. By creating artifical environments, then using competition and reproduction, designers are now 'evolving' new programs (in some cases, more efficient than anything humans have been able to design), and even inventing new circuits.

Or how about theoretical parsimony: evolution is able to do all of this simply by proposing a new mechanism for stuff we already know exists - it doesn't need to assume anything mysterious or spooky to do the work it does. As revolutionary as it sounds, it's in fact very mundane: it needs only the biology that we already know, that makes the doctor rather than the priest the person we most want to see when we're afraid of dying.

The list of virtues goes on and on, AJ, and in not one instance does creation even come close to evolution when it comes to them. In scientific terms, it's a horrible theory. This is a simple fact, not a philosophical argument. And if the opposite were the case, then creation and not evolution would be a foundation of biology: once again, science is largely self-correcting.

This is not to say evolution is the 'absolute truth' (whatever that is), only that it's one of the more powerful scientific theories (which is why it's a foundation of the biological sciences), and far, far and away, the best explanatory framework we've found.

Lots of social institutions making lots of claims all the time, so the question is, Who do you believe? When it comes to generating truth-claims that are reliable, efficacious, parsimonious, comprehensive, fecund, etc., no institution in the history of the human race has even come close to matching the track record of science. And that is a mundane fact. All truth-claims are not equal - the computer you're reading this on, the fabrics in your clothes, your health, your material comfort, all shout this very same thing. view post


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