Monday, August 6, 2012

Reflections upon Methodology and Science

Reblogged from Metacrock at AtheistWatch. An excellent summary of the present debates.

I don't think atheists care about evidence. Evidence just means that one has something to reason from. What atheists demand is absolute proof, and at a level that can't be given for anything. I would bet that if for some reason atheists didn't like science, no amount of scientific "proof" would suffice to prove to them that science works; because they would demand absolute proof, which can't be gotten.

In thinking about the two other threads I initiated over the last few days, and the atheist take on my arguments and their 'dicing' of my thought processes, and their refusal to acknowledge standard responses that I give all the time, I find the following state of affairs to be a good description of the current state of dialectic between atheists and theists on the boards:

(1) Theists have a vast array of knowledge and argumentation built up over 2000 years, which basically amounts to a ton evidence for the existence of God. It's not absolute proof, because true, sure enough, actual absolute proof is just damn hard to come by on anything--even most scientific things; which is why they invented inductive reasoning. Science accepts correlations as signs of causal relationships, since it doesn't ever actually observe causality at work. But that kind of indicative relationship is not good for atheists when a God argument is involved. Then it must be absolute demonstration and direct observation.

(2) This double standard always works in favor of the atheist and never in favor of the theist. I suspect that's because Theists are trying to persuade atheists that a certain state of affairs is the case, and at the same time we are apt to be less critical of our own reasons for believing that. Atheists make a habit of denial and pride themselves on it.

Why is it a double standard? Because when it works to establish a unified system of naturalistic observation, the atheist is only too happy to appeal to "we never see" "we always see" and "there is a strong correlation." We never see a man raised from the dead. We never see a severed limb restored. The correlations between naturalistic cause and effect are rock solid and always work, so science gives us truth, and religion doesn't. But when those same kinds of correlations are used to support a God argument, they are just no darn good. To wit: we never see anything pop out of absolute nothing, we never even see absolute nothing, even QM particles seem to emerge from prior conditions such as vacuum flux, so they are not really proof of something form nothing. But O tish tosh, that doesn't prove anything and certainly QM proves that the universe could just pop up out of nothing!

(3) "Laws of physics" are not real laws, they are only descriptions, aggregates of our observations. So they can't be used to argue for God in any way. But, when it comes to miraculous claims, the observations of such must always be discounted because they violate our standard norm for observation, and we must always assume they are wrong no matter how well documented or how inexplicable. We must always assume that only naturalistic events can happen, even though the whole concept of a naturalism can only be nothing more than an aggregate of our observations about the world; and surely they are anything but exhaustive. Thus one wood think that since our observations are not enough to establish immutable laws of the universe, they would not be enough to establish a metaphysics which says that only material realms exist and only materially caused events can happen! But guess again...!

(4) The Theistic panoply of argumentation is a going concern. Quentin Smith, the top atheist philosopher says that 80% of philosophers today are theists. But when one uses philosophy in a God argument, it's just some left over junk from the middle ages; even though my God arguments are based upon S5 modal logic which didn't exist even before the 1960s and most of the major God arguers are still living.

(5) They pooh pooh philosophy because it doesn't produce objective concrete results. But they can't produce any scientific evidence to answer the most basic philosophical questions, and the more adept atheists will admit that it isn't the job of science to answer those questions anyway. Scientific evidence cannot give us answers on the most basic philosophical questions, rather than seeing this as a failing in science (or better yet, evidence of a differing magisterum) they rather just chalk it up to the failing of the question! The question is no good because our methods don't answer it!

(6) What it appears to me is the case is this: some methods are better tailored for philosophy. Those methods are more likely to yield a God argument and even a rational warrant for belief, because God is a philosophical question and not a scientific one. God is a matter of faith, after all, and in matters of faith a rational warrant is the best one should even hope for. But that's not good enough for atheists, they disparage the whole idea of a philosophical question (at least the scientistic ones do--that's not all of them, but some) yet they want an open ended universe with no hard and fast truth and no hard and fast morality!

(7) So it seems that if one accepts certain methods one can prove God within the nature of that language game. Now of course one can reject those language games and choose others that are not quite as cozy with the divine and that's OK too. Neither approach is indicative of one's intelligence or one's morality. But it does mean that since it may be just as rational given the choice of axioms and methodologies, then what that comes out to is belief in God is rationally warranted--it may not be only rational conclusion but it is one rational conclusion. Now I know some of the more intelligent atheists will say "Hey I'm fine with that." But then when push comes to shove they will be back again insisting that the lack of absolute proof leaves the method that yields God arguments in doubt, rather than the other way around. I don't see why either should be privileged. Why can't we just say that one method is better suited for one kind of question, the other for the other? And if one of them says 'why should I ask those questions?' I say 'why shouldn't we leave the choice of questions to the questioner?'

(spelling corrected)