Comment on Dr. Paul Cameron and the God of the Gaps by Pauluc.
Paul Giem: Did Radiocarbon err when it published and article reporting a statistically significant offset between the carbon-14 dating of bones from the city of Nineveh and the standard calibration curve without giving a mechanism that the authors deemed probable? (See
(I have a certain interest in the subject: See the acknowledgements)
Thanks for pointing out this paper. I am astonished at the precision of the C14 dating but that probably reflects my lack of knowledge of the area.
I am not sure how this is relevant to the arguments since it does not at any point invoke magic but is as far as I can see completely methodologically naturalistic. Any good paper ends with a reiteration of the remaining questions so lack of complete mechanistic explanation is the norm rather than the exception. It is only in religion and human affairs where knowledge is complete.
Pauluc Also Commented
David Read: The syncretistic hodgepodge religion you’ve created for yourself, combining elements of a biblical world view (the incarnation) and elements of a pagan worldview (a self-created creation) is not Adventism. It is anti-Seventh-day Adventism.
I cannot see that believing in a mechanism of God creative work that is other than fiat creation but is based on the creative potential that comes from God is a pagan view. That acceptance of this view of a theory of creation based as it is on overwhelming scientific evidence would have drawn your ire rather than your commendation either says that you and Sean are not on the same page in terms of your epistemology or that you do not accept that the convention accepted since of the renaissance of determining the how has any value to a Christian.
As for syncretism, my synthesis is I suspect much closer to the Adventist tradition than your fundamentalism that imbibes of the modern American religious right with its Gun Guts and God and the highly reactionary political agenda. Adventism took elements of the anabaptist tradition; non-violence, anti-war and aversion to politics, a modernist view of the soul, the nature of mind, state of the dead, that was certainly nothing like conventional protestantism, a pietism that lead to a view of the body temple that revolved around the health reform, a dress code and a position on smoking alcohol and drug use and a Jewish perspective on the Sabbath, clean and unclean food and an ambivalence to circumcision and the other Jewish prohibitions. This was wrapped in an apocalyptic view of the future that went in perspective, specificity and scope well beyond anything accepted by other protestants then or now. Are you seriously rejecting this history of Adventism’s origins and its powerful premise of renewal, rejuvenation and engagement with the world encapsulated in its espousal of ‘present truth”. I would hope not.
Paul Giem: It seems like your definition of science could use some work. Just for what it is worth, multiple philosophers of science have worked on defining science, and the consensus is that there is no currently satisfactory answer to the “demarcation problem”, and may not be in the future. If you don’t believe me, read the philosophy of science literature.
Definition of science
You are of course right on several accounts
There is a field of philosphy of science just as there is in most areas of knowledge, none of which I can expect to completely master. I am certainly not Sean.
My definitions are not at all meant to be theoretical positions but are operational definitions describing what I do as a scientist publishing in the literature of science. The nature of science is of course evolving rapidly and has since the time of Galileo and Darwin. And as you will know policy and theory often follows and is derivative of practice. I am describing what science for a scientist is now in the 21st century, obviously skewed to biology which is where I practice. I have summarized the nature of science in 3 simple points which are designed to forestall problems we encounter in the current environment where large amounts of information is freely available.
1] I have defined the basis of science since it is bound to be skewed by the philosphical naturalists with a form of scientism on one side and magicians on the other who believe that any logical thought no matter its premise or presupposition must be science.
I define science as a form of knowledge acquisition that is restricted to specific content and based on assuming that there is natural process and natural law. There is obviously a vast historical background to this premise which is clearly and undeniably an assumption. I assume that the natural world is consistent and understandable. For this to work I assume that we must discount the possibility that it is all completely the whim of the Gods or the unknowable. This premise is not at all idiosyncratic as you will find if you do something as simple as looking at wiki.
It makes absolutely no assumption about whether or not there is a supernatural or miracles but says we can operate and understand the physical structure of the natural world without including these as causalities.
It specifically defines the supernatural as being separate from science and not part of science. Whether this is desirable or not is completely irrelevant to practice.
2] Experiment. This is hardly controversial. Generation of hypothesis and testing the implications of this hypothesis by experiment is central to science and obviously is Popper’s lasting contribution to the way science is practised and evaluated. From the grant application to the published product it is core. A grant is highly unlikely to be successful unless it includes a background to the problem, a statement of the hypothesis and the specific aims designed to test that hypothesis. As Popper has articulated the experiment must be doable and designed to test the hypothesis or its implications. This again excludes the miraculous and untestable.
3] Publication in the peer reviewed literature of science. This is not at all a capricious criteria I have invented but describes the way science has been done for more than 200 years.
I know you haven’t read much on this site if you have not seen that Sean has previously canvassed the exception of Da Vinci with his encrypted recording of his data as the exception that provides the paradigm for good science. To him communication is irrelevant to science. Perhaps you should check out this previous dialog.
I would simply say that, with some exceptions, scientists or their predecessors naturalists or natural philosphers have always written and presented their data to their peers. Science as a body of knowledge cannot grow without at some point communication of that knowledge.
This was initially to learned societies (The Royal Society, The National Academy of Science are obviously British and American examples) Journals originally derived from such societies to publish these communications. Think the BMJ Lancet, NEJM etc as journals in your field. Before these however there was publication of scholarly works of which obviously the origin of species was one, the Principia, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium others. There remain now monographs containing peer-reviewed data and books about science but as you will know if you have ever employed someone or been on a selection committee for an academic post or a grant review of track record these are of limited value and the impact of scientific work is now judged by citations, impact factors of journals and impact on practice.
Peer review has always been at the core of science and publication in peer reviewed journals is now the core of science. Why is that important? It sets a standard which says this work has passed review for novelty, scientific standard or statistical validity, plausibility of mechanism and consistently logical thought. I would add although this is never articulated explicitly methodological naturalism. It is then canonical in the sense that it is authorized to be considered scientific and part of the body of scientific literaure.
The consequence is that I do not have to trawl through the garbage that is the chatter about science I can find by a google search. I can do a pubmed or ISI search or perhaps a google scholar search and know that I am looking at something that can stand muster by at least minimal criteria. Of course as I have said before this does not prevent rubbish and fraud but it does introduce some level of accountability.
I have not dealt with the league ranking of journals and their inclusion in indexing systems but that is another question for which I am quite confident if you are like any other literal creationist I have met you will have significant concerns.
Nor have I dealt with the land grab that is occurring at the edges of science with the opportunity offered by open access publication and the next to negligible cost of online publication. I would just reiterate that a robust peer review process and established criteria for assessment of the science will be critical going forward.
I have said enough. If you don’t like mine perhaps you can give me 3 succinct sentences that describe your proposal for a theoretical or operational definition of science?
1] You seem to have excluded methodological natural as extrinsic criteria. Do you include magic or perhaps only reproducible magic.
2] you do agree on experiment but that is pretty bland if you want to include experiments on magic. You do not seem to want to privilege mechanism as most desirable characteristic of science.
3] you seem to want to exclude peer review in publication. Do you include equally information from any written source. Do you want to include you tube videos or personal communication. On that criteria UFO are of course absolutely verified by multiple witnesses and scientific.
Paul Giem: I will agree that the miracles themselves are usually beyond science. However, if they become reproducible, various physical and theological hypotheses can be tested. And their aftereffects certainly can be tested.
Reproducible miracles as part of science. Your 3 examples of miracles in science actually have nothing to do with miracles at all and confirm my acceptance of methodological naturalism as the basis of science.
1] The Turin shroud. It is a physical object within the natural world and can be and has as you indicate been analysed according to the premise of methodological naturalism. The 3 criteria I have articulated above including publication in the scientific literature apply. Whether or not they agreed to the historical record of Christians is totally irrelevant to any miracles attributed to the artefact.
2] Dating of religious artefacts such as the Dead sea scrolls and manuscripts of Daniel. Are they not physical objects amenable to examination by naturalistic methods including dating and standard techniques of archeology.
3] Reporting of C14 in nominally old carbon based objects is of course an observation that can be made and reported in the literature of science whatever the particular interpretion you make. The discussion in any paper allows you to explain your data’s significance and implications. But try to explain that results that are within the noise of an assay provides any evidence for the young age of your object and you will as you should be heavily criticised by your peers in the review process. Using the exceptional (there is still some signal, just barely detectable if you do enough replicates and discard the ones that are within the background range) as your basis for understanding is rotten science. Particularly when you at the same time completely disregard any dating by this method applied within the range it was designed to be used as does Sean and I presume you in trying to sustain the argument that life as always less than 6000 years old.
I did not say specifically that everything published in the scientific literature should have a mechanism because it is neither theoretically nor operationally correct. Clearly phenomenology, empiricism and observation without theory has been part of science and particularly medicine for a very long time but advances in scientific knowledge come because of improved understanding of mechanism and theory. To take your example of metoclopramide and migraine it is clearly an observation worth making and verifying in clinical trials. Objective verification of efficacy is clearly science and is the basis of the concep tof evidence based medicine.
You know that much of the initial therapies in medicine arose as empirical observations which only later gave way to mechanisms and manipulation of the process. In my area of research HIV immunology. The first effective drug for HIV was AZT which arose as a hit in broad screen of existing compounds and extracts from various plants that might have anti-viral activity. Protease inhibitors however were constructed and have been modified because of an understanding of the crystallographic structure of the viral protease. Understanding of the active site on the molecule led to the development of compounds that specifically bound and inhibited that site. These observation have been what has revolutionized HIV therapy.
Which is the better science? Pure empiricism or knowledge of mechanism and practical application of theory? What are the therapies for cancer now? Gone is the reliance on the toxicity of plant alkaloids, now we have a next generation of therapies with tyrosine kinase inhibitors, growth receptor blockers, histone deacetylase inhibitors and modifiers of methylation. We got these through understanding mechanism.
Recent Comments by Pauluc
Bob Helm: With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.
You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away. It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views. It very hard to get to the science when we cannot even agree on what is science. What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous. I think Roger’s paper may well be relevant to Adventist that believe that Christianity has and must respond to a careful study of physical reality by reconsidering its interpretations of the word of the Lord, but as Sean has indicated you are exception to that characterization. I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science. It seems a bit messy to worry about facts. It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.
Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.
Sean Pitman: So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath
On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”
You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.
Lets for a moment step back from lala land. Where are we and where did we come from on this thread?
1] You posted a rehash of all your usual arguments in response to an article about the more mainstream Adventist positions that may impact the way Adventism reacts to conventional science. All very straight forward.
2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets. This is where it gets really strange.
3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.
4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.
5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.
6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.
I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.
Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman: sorry but your curious amalgam of magic and biology is not really comprehensible to me as a biologist or as a Christian . it. is neither logical or biologically feasible
Sean Pitman: However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death.
And this interpretation is precisely why you need a theodicy. Where is the justice in killing all for the sake of the sins of one woman+man? It makes no sense logically. If they were conditionally immortal because of eating of the tree of life then did all the animals in all the world congregate around this tree like beasts around a water hole on the serengeti. how exactly do you as you are wont to do translate the account into a literal reality. And which beast had to come and eat. Or was it symbolic? Oh now that’s a thought.
Sean Pitman: Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…
Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead.
Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others. Just as in the biological world so in the spiritual. By his death we have life. Just as God sanctified the practice of sacrifice of appeasement practiced by most cultures for thousands of years before and showed that in the Judeo-Christian tradition these same acts of sacrifice were emblematic of a monotheistic God that would become incarnate and bring life from death. So also he took the preceding accounts of creation derived as they were of the mesopotamian valley and recast it as an account of the monotheistic God who is above all but comes and dwells among us to become one of us. Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.
That is the message I get from the images and visions of the Canon and EG White. But of course I read it for the message that it conveys not as a scientific text. That is where we fundamentally differ.