Intelligent Design foes no match for Stein in 'Expelled'
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Actor, commentator and comedian Ben Stein promises he hasn't lost his mind. Well, he says with his famous dry monotone humor, at least not in this instance.
On the contrary, Stein -‚Äď whose documentary film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" opens in two weeks, April 18 -- believes he's involved in one of the leading cultural and political battles of his life: the fight for academic freedom against an establishment that teaches Darwinian evolution as fact. Intelligent Design (ID) -‚Äď the belief that certain aspects of the world are so complex that they must have been created by an intelligent being, instead of by a random process ‚Äď- deserves a place at the academic table, he says....
"The existence of stars, fossils, etc are facts that need no interpretation"
I say they do need it. A series of propositions & conclusions must be accepted before even things like stars or fossils can be believed to be facts. That we do not engage in conscious interpretation about these only means we have taken intellectual shortcuts, not that there is no interpretation *required*.
I grant that the definition including "objective & verifiable" is common, but to accept this would be to beg the question, since I challenge the idea that they could ever be objective & verifiable. Even observation is problematic.
Example - fossil: "A remnant or trace of an organism of a past geologic age ... embedded & preserved in the earth's crust" [www.freedictionary.com]. Objection: How do we know it is a remnant of an organism? The absence of a plausible alternative doesn't mean it is *necessarily* so; we simply reject others as unlikely. Therefore, their organic origin (which cannot be empirically verified) is an opinion, not a fact. Only omniscience could resolve this. So while I accept this definition as a working hypothesis, I don't accept it as a fact.
My initial statement is not self-refuting if I qualify "scientific facts" (what Stein is debating) as being "empirical."
My first statement that you reference was poorly worded and an ineffective argument. You said that you have done no investigation before stating that there are no scientific facts. What do you know of these "formally fallacious methods?" The existence of stars, fossils, etc are facts that need no interpretation. How these things came to be is subject to interpretation. You formed your definition of scientific facts (hypotheses about nature ostensibly confirmed by experimental methods)to fit your argument. I prefer the more impartial: "In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation; in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts" Would you care to comment on Webster's definition of logic? "(1): a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration: the science of the formal principles of reasoning" Is it logical to say that there are no scientific facts bearing in mind the definition of logic? How and (more importantly) why did you arrive at this conclusion? I have to go back to work tomorrow and may not get back with you for some time, but look forward to your response. Thanks for the discussion.
"Saying that there are no scientific facts is a scientific statement"
False; it is a logical statement, for I performed no empirical investigation to discover this, but pointed out that such "facts" are established by formally fallacious methods. It is always false to assert the consequent or do open induction. Just because some unproven assertion *may* be true does not mean it is a fact.
"It is true that the interpretation of scientific facts can often be incorrect."
Can you give an example of a scientific "fact" that has not been established by interpretation? If interpretations are fallible, what right does one have to say its conclusions are facts?
Having the ability to use your vocabulary effectively is great evidence for intelligence.
All pleasantries aside, we are clouding the issue with extraneous information. My contention is that you cannot logically make the statement that you did.
Saying that there are no scientific facts is a scientific statement and carries with it the presupposition that you KNOW someting of science. Because the statement is absolute, it implies that you know everything.
As the arguement goes: Even if you only knew half of everything scientific, wouldn't it be possible that there are facts in the other half? You can't be entirely serious about your arguement. I'll ask my question with a little more clarification.
Is it a scientific fact that there are no scientific facts?
It is true that the interpretation of scientific facts can often be incorrect.
Having a broad vocabulary logically implies nothing about my intelligence
"Is it a fact that there are no scientific facts?" - Yes, as I'll explain below. Science as commonly understood is knowledge about nature, not all knowledge (which is an archaic definition).
First, to define terms: "Fact:" a thing that is indisputably the case (Oxford Am. Dictionary)
Now, are "scientific facts" (hypotheses about nature ostensibly confirmed by experimental methods) indisputable? Logically they cannot be, for in making a broad claim about nature (as with laws of physics), one commits the fallacies of affirming the consequent & hasty generalization. This has been acknowledged by atheist philosophers.
Even measurement has no factual value, for is variable error explained by measurement error or unexplained causes, & how would we know the difference? And no experimental data ever matches the ideal equation without being arbitrarily fudged by statistical methods such as linear regression.
Ben Stein is a comedian and actor. Yet even he realizes there is a Creator. He may not have his "theology straight", but at least he is using his limited resources to stand up for a creation viewpoint. It seems that groups like AIG will welcome this, yet also clarify the Biblical points where Stein's production may fall short of good Bible reading.
Neil wrote: Critics of Darwinism need to drop the useless pejorative "elitist." That term of abuse probably got popularized by Jacobins, Marxists, or Progressives, but serves no useful purpose in this debate. Illogical reasoning, not the existence of academic elites, is the problem. The term is also popular among critics of Calvinism. And even Stein needs to understand that there are no scientific facts. True science is an oxymoron.
You speak of illogical reasoning. Exactly what would you need to know to say: "There are no scientific facts." Logically, you would have to know literally everything.
Science deals with knowledge and can be defined as knowledge.
It surprises me that someone with the intelect to use words like "pejorative" would make such an obtuse comment, so I'll ask the obvious question.
Is it a fact that there are no scientific facts? Think about it...
Critics of Darwinism need to drop the useless pejorative "elitist." That term of abuse probably got popularized by Jacobins, Marxists, or Progressives, but serves no useful purpose in this debate. Illogical reasoning, not the existence of academic elites, is the problem.
The term is also popular among critics of Calvinism.
And even Stein needs to understand that there are no scientific facts. True science is an oxymoron.