Jean Staune reacted to my comments concerning the pre-print of Bradley Monton IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN SCIENCE? DISSECTING THE DOVER DECISION« . I wouldn’t publish the original here, because the reactions is partly in french and I don’t know if Dr Monton read it. I set a pdf for any of you wishing to read the original; Jean Staune issued permission for publication. There are six points discussed (those colored parts are references to Monton’s paper or my comments).
- About « 2.1 The Scientific Community« : He thinks that there is a scientific debate about Intelligent Design and brings as example the discussion between Michael Behe – Ken Miller and William Dembski about the bacterial flagellum.
- About 2.2. Irreducible Complexity: He say that there is a lot of scientific argumentation on this point and that one may disagree but not pretend that they don’t exist. And about the non scientific character of irreducible complexity he point at comment #5.
- Two paragraphs away: The case of fine-tuning is quite different. Nobody can deny that the anthropic principle generated great scientific advancements. Scientists working on the anthropic principle can’t be compared (quantity or quality) to those working on ID. Consider them alike is a great error.
I created the « super strong anthropic principle » [super strong for « super fort », I was tempted to translate by « ultra »], which is testable: « the universe is tuned not only for us to appear but fro the appearance of higher civilizations then our. And it includes « securities » to avoid the destruction of it’s coherence by such civilizations » And he include the following citation:
« In conclusion, I’d like to pursue a more speculative thought. The fact that a certain coherence exists in our universe is not surprising in itself. As noted by proponents of the weak anthropic principle, life could not have developed in an incoherent universe, where the fundamental laws were constantly changing. Even if the universe was born from pure chance, it is still necessary for it to be relatively coherent; otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to observe it. But nothing obliges such a universe to prevent a civilization from sending information faster than the speed of light in order to travel through time, and creating « inconsistencies » like the ones we see in science fiction films, where a character can go back in time and murder his own parents, for example.
We now have proof that « something » can go faster than light from various areas of research: nonlocality, the tunnel effect, quantum teleportation and others. Yet as we noted before, it is as if we can only acknowledge the existence of faster-than-light phenomena , a fundamental law of nature prevents us from using them in any way. It is therefore logical to assume that an intelligent designer concerned with preventing total chaos and establishing the necessary conditions for life would create a universe where time travel or other such inconsistencies are impossible. For there is no reason that a universe born out of pure chance would forbid such activities. So it could be a way to test a « super strong anthropic principle »
« From « Beyond the Horizon », Jean Staune in « Science and Spirit » Volume 10, Issue 1, May 1999 »
- About my comment « But the way IDers handle the calculation of probabilities seems to me quite unscientific.« : Exists a paper by Pierre Perrier which seems to be solid even if it isn’t containing calculations. I’ll address you an electronic version as soon as I dispose of one. (L’Evoluzione, directed by Rafael Pascual, Edizioni Studium Roma, 2005, « que nous apprend l’analyse mathématique sur la micro et la macro-évolution ? P149-199 )
- About « 2.3. Methodological Naturalism« : The question concerning methodological materialism is THE principal question of the debate. Yes, the majority of scientists think that methodological materialism is indiscernible from science. But I think this is a mistake. A BIG MISTAKE. Two reasons
First, as said by the Medicine Nobel Prize recipient Christian de Duve methodological materialism isn’t a STRUCTURAL foundation of Science. INCIDENTALLY we need it to progress but we should be ready to throw it away:
« Contrary to the view expressed by some scientists, this logical necessity does not imply that naturalism is to be accepted as an a priori philosophical stand, a doctrine or belief. As used in science, it is a postulate, a working hypothesis, often qualified as methodological naturalism by philosophers for this reason, which we should be ready to abandon if faced with facts or events that defy every attempt at a naturalistic explanation. But only then should we accept the intervention of “something else,” as a last resort after all possibilities of explaining a given phenomenon in naturalistic terms have been exhausted. Should we reach such a point, assuming it can be recognized, we may still have to distinguish between two alternatives: Is the “something else” an unknown law of nature now disclosed by our investigations, as has happened several times in the past? Or is it a truly supernatural agency? » (Science et quete de sens , sous la direction de Jean Staune, Presses de la Renaissance, 2005)
Then he refer to Hsu and Zee paper « Message in the Sky » but indirectly, via the presentation Eva Sylwester, Senior News Reporter, made of it. Stating that they present a test that would destroy completely my critic of Monton on this point (I suppose it’s about the impossibility to get evidence of supernatural by scientific means). And adding « If such a test was positive we would be EXACTLY in the position described by de Duve where methodological materialism should be abandoned BY SCIENCE [AU PLAN SCIENTIFIQUE].
Second, the methodological materialism isn’t at the foundation of the discipline studying the Matter. A great number of quanta physics scientists reject ACTUALLY methodological Materialism based on available data, not on hypothetical future ones. I think we can conclude that if methodological materialism is essential in 95% of disciplines it’s already proven that it doesn’t apply to 100 % of sciences. Thus, asserting it’s universality is an error.
- About: « If ID proponents, or anybody else, provide enough evidence to confirm the existence of supernatural being(s), science wouldn’t be affected. Science is about the world; if something exists outside the world then science can’t deal with it. » he say: « I think your position is criticizable: if science is about the world and this world is created by a creator then science can’t bypass him at least in THEORY. It would be as stupid as studying informatics’ history and forbidden to study the motivations of programmers. AS THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE SHOW, THE HYPOTHESIS OF THE EXISTENCE OF A CREATIVE PRINCIPLE IS AN HYPOTHESIS WITHIN THE FIELD OF SCIENCE IN ASTROPHYSICS; A LOT OF GREAT ASTRONOMERS AGREE WHILE THEY DON’T HAVE ANY CONNECTION WITH ID.
Well, thanks for the comments. I would appreciate them in english next time if the discussion is started in english and the protagonist is english speaking as Dr Monton. I hate translating and I wouldn’t spend time on that exercise next time. This is general and doesn’t concern Jean Staune’s comments in particular.
Let me make another general statement. I’m a biologist. And willing to discuss matters about scientific methodology and biology from a scientists perspective. For anything else, quanta physics, astroprhysics, mathematics etc I’m just public. I don’t have any particular competences and I’m not going to defend one or another position. Most I could do, is refer to some specialist. One thing I dislike is specialists in one field talking about another field then their speciality, say Dembski talking about biology 😉 I’m not going to do the same error.
So, for anything else then biology and general scientific matters I express personal but not expert positions.
Let me answer briefly point by point.
- The discussion between Ken Miller and IDers isn’t a scientific debate; I would say a biology course dispensed by Ken Miller.
If Behe (because Dembski is incompetent in the domain as far as I know) would like to contest darwinism he should prove it’s inability to explain a particular point, not just state that it is so.
- Well, I can’t discern the scientific part of Irreducible Complexity’s argumentation. At least not in IDers arguments. Simple hypothesis can’t account as scientific arguments.
- As far as I know, neither Monton or I mentioned the « Anthopic principle », weak or strong.
Nor compared those scientist using it to IDers. But I do see the anthropic principle as a speculative thought, nothing more, and I wonder how it could be testable.
A single comment about the remark « But nothing obliges such a universe to prevent a civilization from sending information faster than the speed of light in order to travel through time, and creating « inconsistencies » like the ones we see in science fiction films, where a character can go back in time and murder his own parents, for example. » made concerning the universe « born by pure chance ». I do agree, nothing oblige it to do anything, this or whatever else. It just happens to be so. And this is no proof of anything.
- I wait for Pierre Perrier’s paper before discussing it.
- Methodological naturalism seems to me as a foundation of Science. Just go and read definitions. As I said, if something exists outside nature, some supernatural entity, science couldn’t deal with it and some other discipline should take care about. And really, I don’t care if a Medecine Nobel Prize recipient disagrees with me. This isn’t about philosophical considerations, but dictionary definitions. If Christian de Duve, or anyone else, thinks that some « supernatural agency » should be considered, this doesn’t change science’s definition.
I understand that the buzz is a public relation tentative to benefit by the label ‘scientific’ to add credibility to speculations that aren’t able to fit the actual definition of science. Very much like the one by IDers (because Jean Staune don’t like to be confused as being one).
I expect that a Nobel Prize recipient is enough creative to coin a neologism. If not let me propose some : natural/supernatural, science/superscience; that could do it: Superscience! If religion isn’t good enough for historical reasons.
- No need to ‘shout’ using capitals. I’m still able to read every single word written normally.
I regret the fact that Jean Staune apparently didn’t read Hsu and Zee paper. Yet.
The test proposed isn’t able to prove the existence of supernatural entities. According to the authors: Coming to the end of our short paper, we allow ourselves to indulge in a wild speculation. Even if a hidden message turns up in the CMB, nothing in this paper requires that the superior Being (or the Ultimate Designer as one of us prefers) is theistic rather than deistic in character. On the other hand, perhaps the Ultimate Designer — the pimply-faced teenager mentioned in the introduction — could himself, herself, or itself live in a theistic universe. There may be levels of universes, with Ultimate Designers all the way up. Even if our own universe, which we now understand to occupy the lowest level, may be merely deistic, some of these universes could well be theistic.
And I would add that there isn’t even necessary to consider an « Ultimate Designers all the way up ».
I pointed Jean Staune to my first post about Message in the Sky. I forgotten that there was a second one, annotations during the reading of the paper. Might be interesting to complete it in english and contact Hsu and Zee. I hope Dr Monton was aware of this paper.
I wasn’t aware that supernatural causations are accepted by science. I didn’t said scientists, but science. Is there an Academy of Science accepting supernaturalistic methodology as scientific? If so, which one and what are the disciplines to which it applies?
Now, my position would be criticizable only if one badly needs the label ‘scientific’ for his activities. You really should consider using superscience, superscientific etc.
The parallel made with informatics and programmers is a very bad one. Programmers and computers are both components of the same world and that’s known. So one could decide to study both. Or just computers, or just programmers. Whatever. He wouldn’t need to speculate about the existence of one or the other.
But if the world is known, it’s creator is just an hypothesis!
Jean Staune make the same mistake as with plutonians, comparing a set of two naturalistic elements with a pair composed by one naturalistic and one supernaturalistic.