Friday, January 06, 2012

Dissecting God's Undertaker, by Lennox via FB

Marco Parigi->  Winston Inabox

The view that Lennox takes on Galileo on several pages including this one, is quite biased and misrepresents religion's role in the affair. The Catholic church at the time was using religion as a way to keep power and control information and embedded Aristotleanism into its Theology. The challenge Galileo was making was clearly against the authority of the church. It is quite plausible that he wasn't at all religious himself, but he would have had no choice other than to claim he believed in God.

Winston Inabox
  I've got no idea why Lennox would even try to claim the nonsense that he claims in this Myths of Conflict section in Chapter 2. The Catholic Church's role in stifling Galileo's ideas is well documented, and it matters naught if the opposition was first from secular philosophers or not. It was the Church who put him on trial, it was the Church who put him under house arrest, and it was the Church who banned publication of his ideas. And then to say that Galileo believed in the Bible like it's some kind of proof of God's existence is just one of Lennox's many appeals to authority. Oh... OK... Galileo believed in the Bible, so it must be right! Case closed. What utter nonsense. Galileo's religious convictions - and I don't know if he was religious as Lennox claims, or just not at all - matter for nothing as evidence. What I do know is that Galileo got some things right and other things (the motion of the tides) wrong. For a man of Lennox's obvious intellectual powers this part of the book is embarrassing. 15 hours ago · Like.

Marco Parigi

 There are reasons to believe the primary cause of conflict between science and religion have nothing to do with the belief in God, but he did not address that directly. Galileo had taken away the specialness endowed on humans by being at the centre of the universe. 3 hours ago · Like.

Marco Parigi

Lennox relies a lot on "This famous scientist believed in God" as being evidence that should be accepted as "forensic". There are two problems with that 1. What a person wrote as what he believed is not necessarily what they believed. 2. Believing something that is even a little bit immune to repeatable experiment or visual evidence doesn't have any baring on the likeliness of it being true, no matter how rigorous the person is scientifically. I am kind of directing this towards Nathanael Small. The Myths of conflict section does not ring true with either the atheist or the agnostic. It may well be directed at the uncommitted or the loosely committed or doubting churchgoer. It is worth reading up about the Galileo affair oneself on a neutral media such as Wikipedia to get an impartial picture. 9 minutes ago · Like.
Marco ParigiWinston Inabox

From God's undertaker. In this page, he is attempting to define science. Things that are not repeatable cannot be proven to a level of general satisfaction. Making inferences on available evidence is all we can do. I think he is alluding to an intelligent design inference? He is saying that it is no less provable than any cosmological inference. He used the word hypothesis earlier, but in this case he is saying that they are t he same thing.

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Winston Inabox
P31 Thanks for the photo Marco. Lennox, because he's mostly running a negative campaign, always tries to show there is some discord. It doesn't help his point, he just tries to make it look like science should be doubted, that it doesn't ha...
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Yesterday at 10:00 · Like.

Marco Parigi Popular impression exists, and, for instance, I disagree with the logical positivism interpretation of science but am quite happy with the axiomatic principles approach of the greek philosophers, and many other scientists. He is using the fact that scientists don't agree on this point to discredit ways to look at science other than his own way.

Winston Inabox Lennox wants to focus on the repeatability of science because he sees it as weak link with which he can further cast doubts on science. So he dredges up this quote saying science is that "by definition deals only with the natural, the repeatable, that which is governed by law". Then he boldly states that "the most obvious weakness in this definition is that, if allowed to stand, it would rule out most of contemporary cosmology".

Now rather than going back and modifying his definition to one that would include cosmology, he instead runs off with the 'method of inference' which he says is "an essential part of the methodology of contemporary science". This allows him to claim that "with unrepeatable events it is still possible to ask: What is the best explanation of this event or phenomenon?"

In other words he's softening the reader up to later accept that although the creation of the universe is unrepeatable, science can possible say that a god did it.
Yesterday at 10:19 · Like.

Winston Inabox In this case it would have been better if Lennox had taken his own advice and not let the poor definition stand. Here's a better definition from Wikipedia "The chief thing which separates a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, and contradict their theories about it when those theories are incorrect.[4]"​wiki/Scientific_method

Scientific method - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
PhysicsApplied physics · Atomic physicsComputational physicsCondensed matter physicsExperimental physics · MechanicsNuclear physicsParticle physics · Plasma physicsQuantum mechanics (introduction)Solid mechanics · Theoretical physicsThermodynamics · EntropyGeneral relativity · M-theorySpecial relati.....
Yesterday at 10:21 · Like · .

Winston Inabox Now that we've a definition that can satisfy, we can proceed with looking at the creation of the universe, and we don't necessarily have to invoke a god.

Marco, the above shows that Lennox is quite adept at rhetoric. Everything he says seems logical because he is very careful about about making only small claims that on the surface seem reasonable, that are then built up to make his point.
Yesterday at 10:29 · Like.

Winston Inabox Marco, I don't really want to get hung up on this point about popular impressions, so if you disagree then that's fine with me. But Lennox is just saying there are popular impressions. He says that there is a popular impression that there is one agreed scientific method. That is a very definitive statement, and if it were in any kind of academic writing or encyclopedia worth reading, he'd have to show some source for that. Otherwise it is just his opinion.

Now I wouldn't normally care less if he were just stating his opinion, but he then uses this opinion as fact to imply that there is difficulty in defining scientific method, so let's use Ruse's definition, Ruse's definition uses repeatability, but repeatability excludes cosmology which is obviously science, so let's go to method of inference, so that allows the inference of a god in the creation of the universe.
Yesterday at 10:45 · Like.

Winston Inabox And the above long-winded paragraph (sorry, Enter without Shift again) is why I think he's very adept at rhetoric!
Yesterday at 10:46 · Like.

Marco Parigi ‎"Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. These steps must be repeatable, to guard against mistake or confusion in any particular experimenter." from the same wikipedia article. The link between the repeatable experiment and the unrepeatable event is still a tough one to get around without an apriori assumption about what the universe is like (for instance, assumption that rules that appear constant now were constant at the particular event we are concerned with) Logical positivists do not accept that any assumption is required. I do, otherwise we open ourselves to circular arguments.
Yesterday at 11:17 · Like.

Winston Inabox I'll reprint the sentence preceding your quote from the article:

Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge.

Your sentence that follows this is an example of an identifiable feature that distinguishes scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. As is the rest of the paragraph.

Lennox however doesn't want to inform his readers that "procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another". He'd rather focus on the non-repeatability of aspects of cosmology because he wants to introduce method of inference.
23 hours ago · Like.

Marco Parigi I think Lennox is also asking "Who is the authority that decides which procedures are appropriate for any particular field of inquiry?" I don't trust scientists themselves to know the right answer. Half of them believe in God :-)
23 hours ago · Like.

Winston Inabox Ha ha.
23 hours ago · Like.

Marco Parigi I think his point is valid, but it makes his hypothesis invalid as hypothesis. He demonstrates that it is untestable, and scientific procedures as they stand don't allow for it at all.
23 hours ago · Like.

Winston Inabox I think his point is valid only because he selects the definition of science that suits his objective. His objective being to say that as method of inference trumps repeatability for cosmology, god did it.
23 hours ago · Like.

Marco Parigi I am not a big fan of cosmology as a science. Inference appears to be all that scientists have for string theory also, for instance. I prefer naturalistic cosmos theory only because I find them to be more elegant, not because of evidence.
22 hours ago · Like.

Marco Parigi
 I got the Lennox book for the Kindle for ipad. We might be more inclined to be on the same side comparatively to Dawkins, but I have a habit of finding things we disagree about. It doesn't appear that the ipad app has the same ability to take notes? I might have to hook notes onto your FB notes ;-)
Like · · See friendship · Tuesday at 16:58 ·

Winston Inabox Marco, it is frustrating to post because you can't copy and paste from the Kindle. Linking Amazon to FB allows you to share directly to FB from the Kindle, but that is one share for one post. Copy and Paste is really needed on the Kindle.
Tuesday at 17:02 · Like · 1.

Marco Parigi The closest I can get with kindle for ipad is a screenshot copied to a computer to be imported to google docs ocr. Then the bits of text can be copied and pasted from there. Not particularly good, but doable.
Wednesday at 09:18 · Like.

Winston Inabox The other problem is when you're flipping between the two programs on the iPad it is easy touch the screen in the wrong place and you can lose a half composed post or comment. That's why I have shorter comments now because of the frustration of losing all the work.
Wednesday at 09:33 · Like.

Winston Inabox If you bought Lennox's book from Amazon then linking FB to Amazon will let you post quotes as I did.
Wednesday at 09:35 · Like.

Nathanael Small Hey Marco Parigi, glad you've joined the fun! I'm going to make a start on this later in the week - suggest we focus on the comments my bro has already made and seek to grow our understanding of each other's (and the author's) position on those. If Marco and I both do what Rob's done with Chapter 1 it should be a really good exchange. Thanks again for both stepping up to this.
Wednesday at 09:43 · Like.

Winston Inabox Nathanael, I'm not interested "to grow our understanding of each other's position". We know each other's position.

I want to talk about whether Lennox makes claims that are backed up. I've posted those claims and I want to find out if you agree with what he says, and why or why not.
Wednesday at 10:22 · Like.

Marco Parigi How invested are we in our own positions? I know that after a decade of philosophical discussion with Dr Clam, my perception is that his position has subtly changed!
Wednesday at 10:33 · Like.

Marco Parigi And so has mine, possibly. Lennox talked a few pages about Galileo. I had mentioned Galileo in my conversation with the minister which baptised a couple of our children when he wanted to know whether I would give myself to God. I graciously declined, and felt that the freedom to think about the Universe with no preconceived ideas as I felt Galileo also wanted to, is way too important to me.
Wednesday at 10:38 · Like.

Winston Inabox Marco, I can tell you that if my position were to change, reading Lennox's book wouldn't be the cause. 8-)
Wednesday at 10:41 · Like.

Nathanael Small Bro, you think you know my position. I don't presume to know your perspective on atheism, as there's a myriad of layers of variants. I'd encourage to not take your understanding of the "meta narrative" and label me (or any other J follower) with it, despite the temptation to pick out what on the surface appear to be easy targets (e.g. "interventionist God").
Wednesday at 12:24 · Like.

Winston Inabox Nathanael, I'll reword that then.

I don't care what your position is.
 I'm only interested in what you claim.
Wednesday at 12:44 · Like.

Nathanael Small Which for all of us comes from a position. To judge the claim without understanding positional context risks wading in the shallows of presumption & assumption. End result? Gnats strained & babies thrown.
Wednesday at 12:47 · Like.

Winston Inabox Nathanael, no. The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. There is my claim. You need to know nothing more about me, who I am or what I believe in to judge whether that is a justifiable claim or not.

You want to make the discussion an about an all encompassing ~ism then go ahead. I won't be joining in those parts. I'm interested in looking at the parts, and not the sum thereof.
Wednesday at 12:52 · Like.

Winston Inabox Lennox makes claims. I want to look at those. If his claims turn out to be bollocks or God's own truth you can mull on the consequences of that in your own time. Or you can post it here if you want to. As I said I won't be responding to them. You gave me a book to read and assess. I've read 1/2 the book and posted on the first chapter. I'm not going to get embroiled in a discussion that is two steps above Lennox's book without first looking at that.
Wednesday at 12:55 · Like.

Nathanael Small But the sun doesn't rise - that's only what we perceive from an earth-bound perspective. Or is that subtly part of your point? The parts create a whole. The pieces create a jigsaw puzzle with a picture. Some scientific disciplines seek to integrate to provide a grand unified theory of everything. Big breakthroughs come from the sum of truths being greater than the parts (take advances in neuroscience, or materials engineering, where I've lived for the last 3 years) To judge the Sistine Chapel by decaying materials alone is to reduce the experience (even the parts that can be measured empirically) to something far less than what it is. Happy to discuss the parts, but behind those you have an all encompassing ~ism. I'll contend Understanding that how that ~ism is constructed means we see more clearly exactly what we disagree with and why.
Wednesday at 13:08 · Like.

Winston Inabox ‎Nathanael, after that "but the sun doesn't rise" semantics bullshit you've got one more chance. Make some observations about the posts or I'm walking. Months ago I answered your email point by point. Now I've bought and half read your book and posted what must be close to 10 posts on it. Either I see something concrete coming the other way that is more than waffle or I'm out of here.
Wednesday at 13:14 · Like.

Marco Parigi It's just that "sun rising" thing was in the early part of the book. I detected a facetiousness that probably wasn't there about that comment also.
Wednesday at 13:18 · Like.

Marco Parigi Lennox's book has several "history of philosophy" side notes that are actually very interesting to me. They are not interspersed with rhetoric. It is an easier read for me than for winston. It doesn't come close to proving anything.
Wednesday at 13:24 · Like.

Nathanael Small Ah bro, you posted twice before I replied - I didn't see your second post because of a PC freeze requireing a re-boot. Once again the limitations of this medium are exposed and I'm sorry if I came across as flippant.
I'm happy we've defined the rules of engagement enough so that at least we know when not to get angry, frustrated and chew up unnecessary time posting when it's something one of us actually doesn't think is relevant. It will help keep us on point.
 You've put a good amount of effort in spite of tech frustrations and being on an overseas holiday, and that will be respected.
As promised, I'll start on replying to your Lennox posts over the coming week.
And I will get back to your reply to my email - with job hunting, family Christmas, mystery Lydia back & shoulder pains etc etc it's fallen on the back burner. Personally, with 6 kids and business, I don't know how you find the time, Marco Parigi, but I'm grateful there's a third voice. See you on Winston Inabox's Lennox post stream.
Wednesday at 14:08 · Like.

Winston Inabox In the services it's called mission creep. We've a simple plan (discuss Lennox) and the means to to it (3 people all with his book on iPads, all as friends on FB). Talking about people's positions is neither here nor there as far as that mission goes.

I've no desire to convince anyone to think anything or change their opinion. I've a desire to examine Lennox's claims. Period. But I don't own the Internet and I can't tell others what to do. All I can say is that I won't be joining discussions that go beyond those boundaries, or at least not until some significant progress has been made on Lennox.


Dr Clam said...

So, you're suggesting I read this book, I think? :)

Since this post is vast, I just want to say that the quoted wikipedia definition of science 'letting reality speak for itself' is bogus.

We *assume* that the important features of reality can be explained in terms of reproducible events.

We *assume* uniformity of physical laws in time and space.

We *assume* that the important features of the universe to us are ultimately comprehensible to things as smart as we are.

These are fantastic working assumptions: I would go to the wall for them any day. They are the hopeful assumptions we need to make in order to make any progress. But they aren't 'letting reality speak for itself': they are conceptual filters we put on raw experienced reality.

BTW, tell Nathanael not to wait until he is 44 to read the Qur'an. What if he dies tonight and finds out Islam is true? Methinks it would be a bit too late. Carpe diem!

Marco said...

Yeah sure, join in the fun! I suggest you smuggle in an EVILDRCLAM or whatever into FB space with only just the number of friends that you need to maintain discussion though. Nathanael told me to pass on a rock solid promise that he would read the Quran by a June 30 2012 deadline.

I will pass on this comment also.

Dr Clam said...

Have the Brothers Small given up? :(

Marco said...

No. Not really. Winston was still adamant that Lennox is playing semantics with the word faith, implying that the faith religious people have in God is not the same thing as scientists faith in the uniformity of the universe etc. Nathanael and I think that it is Winston playing semantics.

Dr Clam said...

I think there is a difference, but probably not the way winstoninabox is thinking. Religious faith is not more 'blind', but it is more 'personal', in that changing your mind has the implication of 'breaking faith' with a person: to disbelieve your religious authorities is not just an intellectual act, but a betrayal of people who you respect. Whereas no scientist worthy of the name would consider it a betrayal if their students rejected their pet theory.

Of course that's just what it looks like from the 'inside', to me...

Marco said...

I beg to differ in the sense that scientists are, in general not worth their salt, especially if power or money bears on the situation at all. Exhibit one, climate scientists who appear to exhibit that sense of betrayal when their pet theory or model gets challenged fairly. Exhibit two, if a biology student suggests something akin to group theory or Neo-Lamarkism as explanations for certain kinds of evolution. I think Physical Chemistry might be in that happy state where theories tend not to have either political or religious consequences.