Scientific Quandary- or Logical Devil's Advocate

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Shiggily
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30 Dec 2008, 9:13 pm

Explain to me the argument that you can prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being using methods that rely on natural law and the uniformity of nature.

Based on the definition of supernatural: "not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws", "Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces", and "occurrence in violation of the known laws of nature"

in order for your experiment to be scientific it would have to be repeatable and thus the supernatural being would have to uniformly follow natural law... violating the definition of supernatural. Or the supernatural being would not uniformly follow natural law, thus violating the uniformity of nature. Any attempt to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being (including a god) would result in a contradiction.



While your at it, reconcile the third premise of cell theory "Cells arise from pre-existing cells", with the belief that cells can come from non-life, and the uniformity of nature.



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30 Dec 2008, 9:25 pm

As to your first challenge: I got nothing.

To the second, it is hypothesized that the conditions under which life first arose were considerably different than those that prevail today. And the axioms of biological models are not generally understood to be so iron-clad that they can't have a few exceptions. After all, Crick's "central dogma" of DNA->RNA->Protein is violated by RNA viruses, and there are exceptions to Mendelian genetics.


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starvingartist
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30 Dec 2008, 10:00 pm

Shiggily wrote:
Explain to me the argument that you can prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being using methods that rely on natural law and the uniformity of nature.

Based on the definition of supernatural: "not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws", "Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces", and "occurrence in violation of the known laws of nature"

in order for your experiment to be scientific it would have to be repeatable and thus the supernatural being would have to uniformly follow natural law... violating the definition of supernatural. Or the supernatural being would not uniformly follow natural law, thus violating the uniformity of nature. Any attempt to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being (including a god) would result in a contradiction.



While your at it, reconcile the third premise of cell theory "Cells arise from pre-existing cells", with the belief that cells can come from non-life, and the uniformity of nature.


i want to comment on the second question first if that's ok.....have no answer for the first one yet :lol: :oops:

if i remember this correctly from my intro biology course in university (one of the only 2 credits i received :lol: .....but i did get an A :wink: ) cells developed/evolved from amino acid groupings that sort of resemble organelles, and had "learned" that it was beneficial for them to cooperate, to organise. because of the environmental factors (the primal ooze, the amount of electrical storm activity in the atmosphere, chemical rains on the earths primitive crust) this was possible. i can say that it has been reproduced in a laboratory and proven possible. someone actually was able to create organic matter from inorganic molecules in laboratory conditions. just found the guy's name in my old textbook....it's stanley miller (1953). he created amino acids (organic molecules) from inorganic molecules that would have existed in the earth's primal atmosphere like methane and ammonia. the amino acids learned to cooperate because it was symbiotic, everybody wins....and bang, the first prokaryotes are born. then bacteria.

so i guess "cells arise from cells which originally evolved from amino acid groupings"?? the line between life and non-life blurs at that level, if you ask me, with those first primitive cells.



starvingartist
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30 Dec 2008, 10:00 pm

biology was always more my thing than math :wink:



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30 Dec 2008, 10:01 pm

Here's an old one:

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

The first premise is drawn from the uniformity of nature, the second premise is drawn from natural law, and the third is considered to do so as well. The fourth statement is one of God's existence. It can be argued that this proof, particularly the 3rd premise is questionable, but it is not entirely invalid seeming, thus if the argument is taken as valid, it proves that nature demands a supernatural, which is what you'd need, a proof that natural methods are not sufficient. If evolutionary theory were not so advanced, then the teleological argument might work better, however, I could still invoke it to some extent.

1. All things that are designed were preconceived, intended, purposed, or contrived.
2. Preconception, intention, purpose, and contrivance necessitate an intellect, mind, or will.
3. All things that are irreducibly complex display intention and preconception.
4. The universe contains non-man made things that are irreducibly complex.
5. Those things display intention and preconception.
6. Those things necessitate an intellect, mind, or will.

Just for premise 4, I would invoke universal laws as non-man made things that are irreducibly complex, which if different would dramatically alter the functioning of the universe such that it could not have life or meaningful order. Thus it could be brought forward with question, if one had a theory of infinite universes though, with different physical laws, it could bring question on such an argument though.

In any case, an argument for the supernatural obviously cannot be empirical, but rather must be logical, and aimed at disproving the self-sufficiency of naturalism.

As for the 3rd premise of cell-theory, well, it is a premise. It is not as if it is an absolute law, absolute laws cannot be proven by experimentation, only pointed to by repeated testing.



starvingartist
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30 Dec 2008, 10:08 pm

Shiggily wrote:
Explain to me the argument that you can prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being using methods that rely on natural law and the uniformity of nature.

Based on the definition of supernatural: "not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws", "Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces", and "occurrence in violation of the known laws of nature"

in order for your experiment to be scientific it would have to be repeatable and thus the supernatural being would have to uniformly follow natural law... violating the definition of supernatural. Or the supernatural being would not uniformly follow natural law, thus violating the uniformity of nature. Any attempt to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being (including a god) would result in a contradiction.



While your at it, reconcile the third premise of cell theory "Cells arise from pre-existing cells", with the belief that cells can come from non-life, and the uniformity of nature.



one thing i will say about the first question (not really an answer, just a random thought)....the human brain, and therefore the human mind, is subject to natural law. for most people, their imaginative ability is limited to their experience (natural law--each indivdual's experience of life is that of natural law). very few people can conceptualise what they have not directly observed themselves. einstein is an obvious exception. basically i guess i am trying to say that human's can't prove the existence of god because most of us cannot truly understand something that may exist outside of the natural laws that we can directly observe and understand. does that make any sense or am i rambling?



Shiggily
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30 Dec 2008, 10:22 pm

Orwell wrote:
As to your first challenge: I got nothing.

To the second, it is hypothesized that the conditions under which life first arose were considerably different than those that prevail today. And the axioms of biological models are not generally understood to be so iron-clad that they can't have a few exceptions. After all, Crick's "central dogma" of DNA->RNA->Protein is violated by RNA viruses, and there are exceptions to Mendelian genetics.


I will concede the second, however, scientists cannot agree on what conditions actually were in order to determine if it was possible for cells to come from non-life. And in several experiments, the atmosphere was chosen as being possibly ideal for life, only to be demonstrated as not likely to be what the actual early atmosphere was like. And then there is the ongoing argument of where viruses fall on the scale of "life", and how...theoretically, a life could come from nonlife (considering the wholly inadequate current definition of life).



Shiggily
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30 Dec 2008, 10:30 pm

starvingartist wrote:
it's stanley miller (1953). he created amino acids (organic molecules) from inorganic molecules that would have existed in the earth's primal atmosphere like methane and ammonia. the amino acids learned to cooperate because it was symbiotic, everybody wins....and bang, the first prokaryotes are born. then bacteria.


Miller proved it was possible, under ideal circumstances, for an amino acid to group with another amino acid. He did not demonstrate that his conditions where what the early atmosphere was like (current arguments stand against that kind of atmosphere.

Miller did not manage to get an actual protein, which would be necessarily for any type of cooperation. With that down, you would need to build many many proteins considering that a mis-transcribed amino acid can lead to death (sickle cell anemia, for example). From that... it is a very very very long journey to get a single cell. Much more complicated than first we have amino acids, then we have a cell. In fact, the process between the two is so improbable, that it is considered well beyond the cutoff for qualification as mathematically zero.

It is a little like scientists discovering the first cell and stating (without intimate knowledge of the complexity of a single cell), that all things had been discovered that needed to be discovered. Every new discovery opens an infinity hallway of new questions and increasing complexity.



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30 Dec 2008, 10:39 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Here's an old one:

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.


Big Bang Theory is an assumption of the fulfillment of #4. And I would prefer a premise for the term cause. I would accept the word beginning, or origin.

and evolutionary theory is not all that advanced.

Now, explain where matter comes from... based on the scientific assumption that matter cannot be created or destroyed.


Awesomelyglorious wrote:
1. All things that are designed were preconceived, intended, purposed, or contrived.
2. Preconception, intention, purpose, and contrivance necessitate an intellect, mind, or will.
3. All things that are irreducibly complex display intention and preconception.
4. The universe contains non-man made things that are irreducibly complex.
5. Those things display intention and preconception.
6. Those things necessitate an intellect, mind, or will.



you have an unproven assumption for 1. 2 does not define intellect, mind or will. nor does it properly demonstrate "necessitate". 3 has been stated but unproven, and not even demonstrated. 5 has also been assumed but not demonstrated. and 6 follows from premises that are not demonstrated to be valid assumptions.



Shiggily
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30 Dec 2008, 10:43 pm

starvingartist wrote:
basically i guess i am trying to say that human's can't prove the existence of god because most of us cannot truly understand something that may exist outside of the natural laws that we can directly observe and understand. does that make any sense or am i rambling?


yes, though in the same argument, you also cannot disprove the existence of a god based solely on the fact that you cannot understand something that may exist outside of the natural laws.



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30 Dec 2008, 11:10 pm

Shiggily wrote:
Big Bang Theory is an assumption of the fulfillment of #4. And I would prefer a premise for the term cause. I would accept the word beginning, or origin.

and evolutionary theory is not all that advanced.

Now, explain where matter comes from... based on the scientific assumption that matter cannot be created or destroyed.

No, Big Bang theory is not usually considered a fulfillment of #4, a fulfillment of #4 usually is considered a deity, or I think one philosopher has argued it to be a 0 dimensional point, but the big bang itself still is victim to this argument.

Evolutionary theory is somewhat advanced, it does not know all things, but it is advanced enough to present some level of viability, which is why I am not going to attempt to challenge it too much, particularly so I don't get construed as appealing to ignorance.

Your last statement is simply a simplified reiteration of my argument. Matter is finite, and exists contingently, therefore it must be caused by something that is infinite and not contingent.

Quote:
you have an unproven assumption for 1. 2 does not define intellect, mind or will. nor does it properly demonstrate "necessitate". 3 has been stated but unproven, and not even demonstrated. 5 has also been assumed but not demonstrated. and 6 follows from premises that are not demonstrated to be valid assumptions.

The first premise is a freaking definition! It states the following: "Designed things are preconceived, intended, purposed, or contrived.", and such a definition is not faulty, but rather basic, as designed things cannot lack those qualities, and undesigned things cannot have those qualities. 2 does not have to define intellect, mind, or will, only say that those traits must exist, nor must "necessitate" be demonstrated as the idea that these traits(1st group) require these qualities(2nd group) to exist is rather basic, proving necessity would be pointless as most people recognize that the traits are actually functions of the qualities, in any case, I would bet that the jargon stems back to Aquinas anyway. The assumption of 3 is rather minor, and basically is just a statement that if something cannot be created through natural means then it must be a creation of super-natural means. 5 is just an application of 3, which is an assumption. I really don't think your criticisms are even *close* to valid, in any case, the problem with that proof is really that most people find fault with premise 4, not any of the premises that you seem to bring forward as flawed.



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30 Dec 2008, 11:16 pm

Shiggily wrote:
starvingartist wrote:
it's stanley miller (1953). he created amino acids (organic molecules) from inorganic molecules that would have existed in the earth's primal atmosphere like methane and ammonia. the amino acids learned to cooperate because it was symbiotic, everybody wins....and bang, the first prokaryotes are born. then bacteria.


Miller proved it was possible, under ideal circumstances, for an amino acid to group with another amino acid. He did not demonstrate that his conditions where what the early atmosphere was like (current arguments stand against that kind of atmosphere.

Miller did not manage to get an actual protein, which would be necessarily for any type of cooperation. With that down, you would need to build many many proteins considering that a mis-transcribed amino acid can lead to death (sickle cell anemia, for example). From that... it is a very very very long journey to get a single cell. Much more complicated than first we have amino acids, then we have a cell. In fact, the process between the two is so improbable, that it is considered well beyond the cutoff for qualification as mathematically zero.

It is a little like scientists discovering the first cell and stating (without intimate knowledge of the complexity of a single cell), that all things had been discovered that needed to be discovered. Every new discovery opens an infinity hallway of new questions and increasing complexity.


as of 2005, this was presented as most likely the makeup of earth's early atmosphere. it's what my textbook and professor said, anyway. was not aware that scientific opinion had changed so much in that regard in the last 4 years. or perhaps my textbook was wrong?

i was obviously simplifying. i am aware that it takes many aminos to make a protein and many proteins to make a rudimentary cell (prokaryote) with no organelles.....you're starting to sound a little condescending again, sorry.



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30 Dec 2008, 11:22 pm

Shiggily wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Here's an old one:

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.


Big Bang Theory is an assumption of the fulfillment of #4. And I would prefer a premise for the term cause. I would accept the word beginning, or origin.

and evolutionary theory is not all that advanced.

[b]Now, explain where matter comes from... based on the scientific assumption that matter cannot be created or destroyed


who says it "came from" somewhere? what if it has always been, just constantly changing form throughout time, infinitely?

in a way, nothing is technically finite. any bit of matter or energy may only exist in a particular form for a finite amount of time, but when that time is up it does not cease to be, it simply changes form. and this process supposedly goes on infinitely. with no beginning and no end, one great cycle of metamorphosis, perpetual and perfect. that is god, right there.



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30 Dec 2008, 11:31 pm

starvingartist wrote:
who says it "came from" somewhere? what if it has always been, just constantly changing form throughout time, infinitely?

That would require rejecting premise 3
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length

It also would say that there are causal chains extending infinitely before the big bang.
Quote:
in a way, nothing is technically finite. any bit of matter or energy may only exist in a particular form for a finite amount of time, but when that time is up it does not cease to be, it simply changes form. and this process supposedly goes on infinitely. with no beginning and no end, one great cycle of metamorphosis, perpetual and perfect. that is god, right there.

Well, the term finite I used actually likely stems from a definition used by Aquinas that I could not quote off-hand. The idea is simply that matter is not something with certain attributes we assign to the divine.

In any case, that notion of god usually is not accepted as god. An atheist with spiritual inclinations could accept it, but they'd still consider themselves an atheist at the end of the day because very few attributes people assign to a god could be held by that. For example: is matter morally good? If it isn't then how can goodness exist without god being perhaps exemplifying good? If it is good, then how can moral qualities be assigned to that without the capability of independent action?



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30 Dec 2008, 11:33 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Here's an old one:

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

The first premise is drawn from the uniformity of nature, the second premise is drawn from natural law, and the third is considered to do so as well. The fourth statement is one of God's existence. It can be argued that this proof, particularly the 3rd premise is questionable, but it is not entirely invalid seeming, thus if the argument is taken as valid, it proves that nature demands a supernatural, which is what you'd need, a proof that natural methods are not sufficient. If evolutionary theory were not so advanced, then the teleological argument might work better, however, I could still invoke it to some extent.

1. All things that are designed were preconceived, intended, purposed, or contrived.
2. Preconception, intention, purpose, and contrivance necessitate an intellect, mind, or will.
3. All things that are irreducibly complex display intention and preconception.
4. The universe contains non-man made things that are irreducibly complex.
5. Those things display intention and preconception.
6. Those things necessitate an intellect, mind, or will.

Just for premise 4, I would invoke universal laws as non-man made things that are irreducibly complex, which if different would dramatically alter the functioning of the universe such that it could not have life or meaningful order. Thus it could be brought forward with question, if one had a theory of infinite universes though, with different physical laws, it could bring question on such an argument though.

In any case, an argument for the supernatural obviously cannot be empirical, but rather must be logical, and aimed at disproving the self-sufficiency of naturalism.

As for the 3rd premise of cell-theory, well, it is a premise. It is not as if it is an absolute law, absolute laws cannot be proven by experimentation, only pointed to by repeated testing.


just a little thought here.....this is just my personal theological opinion, but i have always seen the perfect, seamless self-sufficiency of nature as in and of itself the very proof of the existence of god. the idea that such a system as the universe could randomly and spontaneously "pop" into existence in any way is sort of ludicrous, in my mind. i just can't see that as logical. there has to be some sort of intended, sentient reasoning behind that level and scope of organisation. there just has to be. otherwise, that is QUITE the coincidence. random is pessimistic and depressing lol