Comment on LSU memorandum confirms Educate Truth’s allegations by Professor Kent.
I have explained previously why I do not wish to reveal personal details about myself. You can think of me as a zoologist; that’s what my PhD is in, and that’s the discipline I’ve taught and published within for decades. I’ve made this clear as well, though perhaps not in recent months. And there is additional reason for maintaining anonymity: I have nothing personal to gain in this debate. I have no desire whatsoever to build a reputation, gain accolades, or sell a book (though I have authored several). I am a humble professor of Christ. I like to walk with and speak of Christ. I think we need to do more of this, and rely less on our own reason. You apologists seem determined to distract us from our personal communion with God.
You remarked, “You seem to be saying that because you are a statistician or mathematician you have a keen ability to separate fact from interpretation in areas like geology and paleontology. I donâ€™t see the connection.”
Sorry, but I have made no such statement. When dealing with areas outside my expertise, I’ve consistently and humbly disclosed that I am not a trained geologist or molecular biologist, for example, and rather than state my objections to certain creationist claims as fact, I’ve stated them based on my opinion–and I often back up my opinion by citing original publications rather than news stories and books and the like.
I’m objecting, David, to your bold and bald (silly terms I see a lot at this website) assertion that you understand science fact versus interpretation better than trained scientists, in spite of the fact (not interpretation) that we are taught from day one in graduate school to understand the process by which we move from data to interpretation. We are also taught that science cannot deliver us truth–although I agree with you that there are scientists who seem to think otherwise. I’m simply pointing out that your opinion of your discernment skills is a bit inflated, and that there is no need to put down others to put yourself in a position of authority.
That’s a problem I see with many of you apologetics advocates–you want us to place our faith in science and reason, rather than a simple “Thus saith the Lord.”
Professor Kent Also Commented
BobRyan: I am all for what â€œcan be observedâ€.
No, you’re all for that which “cannot be observed:” a literal creation that took place 6,000+ years ago. I’m all for that as well.
You and Sean need to stop pretending you believe because you can observe incontrovertible “evidence” for it. You accept on faith that a human can be manufactured from dust and that a herd of sheep can appear instantaneously on a verdent mountain pasture. You accept on faith that God can do in six days what evolution cannot do in 600 million years.
LSU memorandum confirms Educate Truth’s allegations
Nearly two weeks have transpired, Sean, since I asked whether the molecular methods used by epidemiologists to study disease are any more reliable than the exact same methods used by systematists to examine evolutionary relationships–whether within a single species (as is the case for many studies) or across multiple species or taxonomic groups. Are you having trouble getting a grip on this issue? Surely you have considerable expertise (perhaps even training) in phylogenetics and phylodynamics.
Since science is your ultimate source of authority, as opposed to scripture, I’d like to better understand your basis for disputing the methods and conclusions of molecular systematists. I believe you reject them for one simple reason: their conclusions go against your a priori beliefs, and therefore their methods must be flawed.
Sean Pitman: Such evidence calls into serious question the validity of these just-so stories of mainstream scientists when it comes to their explanation of the nested hierarchical patterns that they find in various genomes.
Sean, you’ve made it clear in the past, and again here, that you despise phylogeographic and taxonomic methodology based on sequence data. Perhaps you could take a look at the following paper on the spread of HIV using the same approach many systematists use. Do you think the story told by sequence data in this case is a “just-so” story as well?
Gray, R. R., et al. 2009. Spatial phylodynamics of HIV-1 epidemic emergence in east Africa. AIDS 23(14):F9â€“F17. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32832faf61.
And here, Sean, is another study based on sequence data that examines whether a viral component to lymphomagenesis exists. Again, the same general methodology is used by other scientists whose conclusions you are quick to dismiss. Is this another â€œjust soâ€ story?
Salemi M, et al. 2009. Distinct Patterns of HIV-1 Evolution within Metastatic Tissues in Patients with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008153
Recent Comments by Professor Kent
Sean Pitman: Science isn’t about “cold hard facts.” Science is about interpreting the “facts” as best as one can given limited background experiences and information. Such interpretations can be wrong and when shown to be wrong, the honest will in fact change to follow where the “weight of evidence” seems to be leading.
Much of science is based on highly technical data that few other than those who generate it can understand. For most questions, science yields data insufficient to support a single interpretation. And much of science leads to contradictory interpretations. Honest individuals will admit that they have a limited understanding of the science, and base their opinions on an extremely limited subset of information which they happen to find compelling whether or not the overall body of science backs it up.
Sean Pitman: The process of detecting artefacts as true artefacts is a real science based on prior experience, experimentation, and testing with the potential of future falsification. Oh, and I do happen to own a bona fide polished granite cube.
Not from Mars. Finding the cube on Mars is the basis of your cubical caricature of science, not some artefact under your roof.
Professor Kent: If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.
The question is not if one will catch a fish, but if one will recognize a fish as a fish if one ever did catch a fish. That’s the scientific question here. And, yet again, the clear answer to this question is – Yes.
I think I’m going to spend the afternoon with my favorite scientist–my 8-year-old nephew. We’re going to go fishing at Lake Elsinore. He wants to know if we might catch a shark there. Brilliant scientist, that lad. He already grasps the importance of potentially falsifiable empirical evidence. I’m doubtful we’ll catch a fish, but I think he’ll recognize a fish if we do catch one.
While fishing, we’ll be scanning the skies to catch a glimpse of archaeopteryx flying by. He believes they might exist, and why not? Like the SETI scientist, he’s doing science to find the elusive evidence.
He scratched himself with a fish hook the other day and asked whether he was going to bleed. A few moments later, some blood emerged from the scratched. Talk about potentilly falsifiable data derived from a brilliant experiment. I’m telling you, the kid’s a brilliant scientist.
What’s really cool about science is that he doesn’t have to publish his observations (or lack thereof) to be doing very meaningful science. He doesn’t even need formal training or a brilliant mind. Did I mention he’s the only autistic scientist I’ve ever met?
As most everyone here knows, I have a poor understanding of science. But I’m pretty sure this nephew of mine will never lecture me or Pauluc on what constitutes science. He’s the most humble, polite, and soft-spoken scientist I’ve ever met.
Sean Pitman: I don’t think you understand the science or rational arguments behind the detection of an artefact as a true artefact. In fact, I don’t think you understand the basis of science in general.
I’m amused by this response. I don’t think you understand the limits of a philosophical argument based on a hypothetical situation, which is all that your convoluted cube story comprises, and nothing more. Whether the artefact is an artefact is immaterial to an argument that is philosophical and does not even consider an actual, bona fide artefact.
Sean Pitman: You argue that such conclusions aren’t “scientific”. If true, you’ve just removed forensic science, anthropology, history in general, and even SETI science from the realm of true fields of scientific study and investigation.
Forensic science, anthropology, and history in general all assume that humans exist and are responsible for the phenomenon examined. Authorities in these disciplines can devise hypotheses to explain the phenomenon they observe and can test them.
SETI assumes there might be non-human life elsewhere in the universe and is nothing more than an expensive fishing expedition. If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.
The search for a granite cube on Mars is nothing more than an exercise in hypotheticals. Call it science if you insist; I don’t see how it is different than a child waiting breathlessly all night beside the fireplace hoping to find Santa coming down the chimney.
I guess the number of science colleagues I acknowledge needs to grow exponentially. I apologize to those I have failed to recognize before as scientists.
Sean Pitman: The observation alone, of the granite cube on an alien planet, informs us that the creator of the cube was intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence – that’s it. You are correct that this observation, alone, would not inform us as to the identity or anything else about the creator beyond the fact that the creator of this particular granite cube was intelligent and deliberate in the creation of the cube.
Your frank admission concedes that the creator of the cube could itself be an evolved being, and therefore you’re back to square one. Thus, your hypothetical argument offers no support for either evolutionism or creationism, and cannot distinguish between them.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
I have taken much abuse by pointing out the simple fact that SDAs have specific interpretations of origins that originate from scripture and cannot be supported by science (if science is “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence”). The beliefs include:
o fiat creation by voice command from a supernatural being
o all major life forms created in a 6-day period
o original creation of major life forms approximately 6,000 years ago
None of these can be falsified by experimental evidence, and therefore are accepted on faith.
Sean Pitman’s responses to this are predictably all over the place. They include:
“[This] is a request for absolute demonstration. That’s not what science does.” [totally agreed; science can’t examine these beliefs]
“The Biblical account of origins can in fact be supported by strong empirical evidence.” [not any of these three major interpretations of Genesis 1]
“Does real science require leaps of faith? Absolutely!”
I think it’s fair to say from Pitman’s perspective that faith derived from science is laudable, whereas faith derived from scripture–God’s word–is useless.
Don’t fret, Dr. Pitman. I won’t lure you into further pointless discussion. While I am greatly amused by all of this nonsense and deliberation (hardly angry, as you often suggest) for a small handful of largely disinterested readers, I am finished. I won’t be responding to any further remarks or questions.