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Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Posted: 18 October 2006 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Hello gnc and welcome. I can’t speak for Dr. Tyson, but I believe he was making a rhetorical point. That is, the ID theorist puts “god” into the parts of the world he doesn’t understand. This has been a certain pattern throughout history of theistic believers: when they don’t understand the motions of the planets, they’ll say that it’s due to divine intervention. When they don’t understand evolution, they’ll say that god created all living creatures. When they didn’t understand disease, they said it was due to god’s actions.

If we are in general willing to take this cop-out move and say that god is responsible whenever we don’t understand something, we’ll be in very bad shape regarding a cure for cancer or alzheimer’s ... such a person (to be consistent) ought to say that since we don’t understand the mechanisms of cancer and alzheimer’s, those are due to the actions of god and there’s nothing we can do about them.

Of course, we know they’d be wrong.

Or said another way, if the ID theorist is willing to say that cancer and alzheimer’s are natural, physical diseases that we can cure eventually even though we don’t know precisely how to do so right now, why can’t they equally say that evolution is the best explanation for life even though we don’t have absolutely every animal fossilized?

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Posted: 20 October 2006 02:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Thanks for the reply Doug.  But is it really fair to equate 21st century IDer’s with MD’s and PhD’s doing medical research with scientific novices from past centuries?

dougsmith wrote:

Or said another way, if the ID theorist is willing to say that cancer and Alzheimer’s are natural, physical diseases that we can cure eventually even though we don’t know precisely how to do so right now, why can’t they equally say that evolution is the best explanation for life even though we don’t have absolutely every animal fossilized?

There seems to be a jump in the logic here.  There are different sciences involved, empirical and origin.  We already have clear empirical evidence science can cure some cancers, my own mother had cancer and was cured.  But conducting origin science, trying to prove what happened millions or billions of years ago, is difficult stuff to prove.  For example, much of the fossil evidence has eroded way.  It’s just no longer there for scientist to work with like they can cancer tumors.  But with that said, I do think science will continue to make advances into the origin of life but the results will not be as clear as empirical medical science.

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Posted: 20 October 2006 02:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“gnc”]There seems to be a jump in the logic here.  There are different sciences involved, empirical and origin.  We already have clear empirical evidence science can cure some cancers, my own mother had cancer and was cured.  But conducting origin science, trying to prove what happened millions or billions of years ago, is difficult stuff to prove.  For example, much of the fossil evidence has eroded way.  It’s just no longer there for scientist to work with like they can cancer tumors.  But with that said, I do think science will continue to make advances into the origin of life but the results will not be as clear as empirical medical science.

I’m not sure I see the distinction you’re trying to make between what you term “empirical” and “origin” science. There is only one form of science, which is empirical in nature. When a scientist attempts to reconstruct history, he does so based on the empirical data: in this case, fossilized bones, trees, plant materials, rock strata, etc.; data from radiometric dating devices, etc.

The same general procedure is used when trying to reconstruct the activity of a cancer cell. Only the particulars are different.

Now, one may say that with some sorts of sciences predictions are possible, while paleontology deals with the past and so can’t make predictions. However, this is really not accurate. The data from paleontology are useful, for example, in gaining an understanding of evolutionary processes, and this understanding can help us to predict such things as future evolutionary strategies (in viruses and bacteria, for example), as well as understand issues related to earth’s climate history and potential future.

Another example: geological data, which is no different in kind from paleontological data, has led us to understand that the earth’s magnetic pole shifts wildly, sometimes flipping south-to-north. This can certainly lead us to predict that it will do so again, and that it is not stable over geological time.

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