Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Faith, Science, Etc.

This is a pretty neat site I found on Slate. I was particularly amused by the scientists who want to be spiritual (cool) but not monotheists (uncool).

Also, this is a piece from David Wolpert, the mathematical physicist (I think?) at NASA who co-authored the "No Free Lunch" theorems. These theorems basically say that averaged over all possible search spaces, no algorithm does any better than another. William Dembski has cited these theorems to argue that we have no reason to suppose the evolutionary mechanism should be more successful than blind search, unless some intelligence explicitly designed the background environment for this purpose. Anyway, Wolpert in the above piece responds to Dembski's claims; neo-Darwinist fans will like it. But Wolpert's take on the defenders of orthodoxy is also amusing:

[B]iologists in particular and scientists in general are horribly confused defenders of their field. When responding to attacks from non-scientists, rather than attempt the rigor that the geometry of induction and similar bodies of statistics provide, they fall back on Popperian incantations, trying to browbeat their opponents into acceding to the homily that if one follows certain magic rituals---the vaunted "scientific method"---then one is rewarded with The Truth. No mathematically precise derivation of these rituals from first principles is provided. The "scientific method" is treated as a first-category topic, opening it up to all kinds of attack. In particular, in defending neo-Darwinism, no admission is allowed that different scientific disciplines simply cannot reach the same level of certainty in their conclusions due to intrinsic differences in the accessibility of the domains they study.


  1. Hi Bob,

    Are you familiar with a book by Kenneth Miller, a biology professor, named "Finding Darwin's God"? I'm told by my old pastor, who has just completed his doctorate in psychology, that Miller obliterates new world (and I think some old world) creationists and makes an interesting apologetical argument.


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