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 Post subject: Re: Why Islam's golden age ended?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:56 am 
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I'm a well-read evolutionary theorist, and reasonably well-red astronomer/cosmologist. I'm quite convinced that the universe--or rather, those portions of the universe which we are presently able to observe through direct or sound indirect observation and inference--"originated," as the prevailing scientific theories go: about 13 billion years ago in something like a "Big Bang." Moreover, I'm also convinced by the models which portray the rapid evolution of the universe during its infancy, the formation of hydrogen, then stars, then helium, etc., etc.

Not long after the formation of this universe we find ourselves in, our Milky Way galaxy had formed, and the evolution of early stars into supernovae created the myriad complex elements which were essential to the formation of our own solar system, and the "ignition" of our own star "Sol" some 4.6 billion years ago. Sometime shortly after that (possibly as early as 4 billion years ago), the first very simple life began to form on Earth . . . From there, evolution by natural selection created most of the diversity we find today . . . it deserves to be noted, there are other _scientific_ models for how biological diversity can arise (or rather, additional contributing factors which work in concert with natural selection as it as envisaged by Darwin and much as the model prevails to this day): such as the Founder Effect, phylogenetic constraint, sexual selection, and exaptation. You cannot get the origin of biological diversity without natural selection (or something very close to the process described by that model), but quite an important amount of diversity also cannot be explained strictly in terms of simple natural selection, a point of which Darwin was aware and he was the originator of the concept of sexual selection. As our understanding of epigenetics improves, there may be additional "caveats," special cases, or even partial exceptions to the theory of evolution by natural selection. However, the theory is quite likely the most robust and important in terms of explanatory power of all theories ever created by humans. I doubt that "evolutionary theory" will ever be "disproven."

In sum: I am a thorough-going evolutionist.

Nonetheless, I cannot argue "against" creationism in general; or at least, I cannot argue against creationist notions which are not somehow specifically in breach of either the theory of evolution, theories of cosmology, or empirical generalizations. Let us examine a couple examples of those at first.

1. Some still maintain the "universe is only a few thousand years old," based on a preachers interpretations of chronologies in the Christian scriptures in the 19th century. This is just about as close to impossible given the "facts" as it is possible to be.

2. "Intelligent design," this one is a bit more nuanced. We cannot in fact discount the notion that there is some "entity" which is responsible for the origin of everything (more on this below). However, when it comes to many specific interpretations of how this "creator" created, and many facts used to buttress them (probably 99% of such facts), again, extremely unlikely, bordering on as close to impossible as possible.

3. A strict, literal interpretation of scripture, as in "the universe, along with life, humans, etc." was created in literally "a week," or whatever the time frame is in Genesis. Nonsense. The observations of the behavior of astronomical objections, and deductions of their durations based on nearly unquestionable principles and empirical generalizations from chemistry and physics indicate that the universe is billions of years old. If this really is the case, then "God" must be a very mischievous thing, because he/she/it must have hidden the truth of zer handiwork by magically altering the rules of physical reality, which in fact, a scientist CANNOT discount, except to say "Well, I'm a scientist. Non-observable evidence, and non-falsifiable models are beyond the scope of my focus."

This brings us to the summation of this rant: Science cannot serve as an alternative to "religion," nor to any number of other non-scientific cultural processes (poetry, art, dance, humor, etc.). Science MIGHT be able to inform or persuade, perhaps even to reshape any of these sorts of worldviews to be more in line with science. A strictly scientific religion I think IS possible for example, and I "follow" it. It is called agnosticism I suppose, and in my case tinged with hints of Buddhism. I should note, these aspects of my own psyche are more like those which are engaged by reading a comic book or viewing a painting, and not like those engaged by peer-reviewing a manuscript.

We do not know what is beyond the event horizon of a black hole; assuming physics as it stands today is sound (and there is little reason to believe otherwise), we CAN NEVER KNOW what is beyond the event horizon of a black hole. Even our "models" of what is there beyond our ability to observe are merely inferences based on all of the processes surrounding these hidden places, and do not afford for the possible relevance of processes which are unaccounted for in cosmology (dark matter and dark energy but others as well).

Similarly we cannot know what is beyond the observable universe. These things are physically impossible based on our understanding of the universe today, and yet, the fact we cannot observe these places/times does not in anyway suggest that there is nothing there to be observed. This latter is perhaps the most telling as it raises the question: what is beyond the universe, and/or what existed before it?

There are other "limits" to science, which are perhaps less rigid of boundaries, but the point is: science is not as Dawkins and some others might maintain, boundless, infallible, and omniscient. This actually raises scientific inquiry to the false status of religion ironically enough!

As far as "what is beyond" scientific inquiry, one cannot say with scientific basis, and as a result of this one also cannot scientifically argue against all forms of creationism. While as I noted, most specific creationist models to date are hogwash, but the general idea that there was a creator(s) responsible for it all is just not something we are in a position to argue "against." We also cannot argue "for it" either. As such, I say, if someone (like me) derives some mild sense of satisfaction from harboring the vague notion that our entire universe is just one of billions of soap bubbles blown by a "God" we will never be able to comprehend, and may never come to know more than as phantom, then so be it. You cannot disprove it, and as long as it doesn't stand in the way of scientific knowledge or justice, who gives a fuck? Dawkins is a twat for picking on people with half his intellect and a tool for thinking he understands what he is talking about when he suggests that "creationism is impossible."

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 Post subject: Re: Why Islam's golden age ended?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:43 pm 
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Anthropoid wrote:
I'm a well-read evolutionary theorist, and reasonably well-red astronomer/cosmologist. I'm quite convinced that the universe--or rather, those portions of the universe which we are presently able to observe through direct or sound indirect observation and inference--"originated," as the prevailing scientific theories go: about 13 billion years ago in something like a "Big Bang." Moreover, I'm also convinced by the models which portray the rapid evolution of the universe during its infancy, the formation of hydrogen, then stars, then helium, etc., etc.

Not long after the formation of this universe we find ourselves in, our Milky Way galaxy had formed, and the evolution of early stars into supernovae created the myriad complex elements which were essential to the formation of our own solar system, and the "ignition" of our own star "Sol" some 4.6 billion years ago. Sometime shortly after that (possibly as early as 4 billion years ago), the first very simple life began to form on Earth . . . From there, evolution by natural selection created most of the diversity we find today . . . it deserves to be noted, there are other _scientific_ models for how biological diversity can arise (or rather, additional contributing factors which work in concert with natural selection as it as envisaged by Darwin and much as the model prevails to this day): such as the Founder Effect, phylogenetic constraint, sexual selection, and exaptation. You cannot get the origin of biological diversity without natural selection (or something very close to the process described by that model), but quite an important amount of diversity also cannot be explained strictly in terms of simple natural selection, a point of which Darwin was aware and he was the originator of the concept of sexual selection. As our understanding of epigenetics improves, there may be additional "caveats," special cases, or even partial exceptions to the theory of evolution by natural selection. However, the theory is quite likely the most robust and important in terms of explanatory power of all theories ever created by humans. I doubt that "evolutionary theory" will ever be "disproven."

In sum: I am a thorough-going evolutionist.

Nonetheless, I cannot argue "against" creationism in general; or at least, I cannot argue against creationist notions which are not somehow specifically in breach of either the theory of evolution, theories of cosmology, or empirical generalizations. Let us examine a couple examples of those at first.

1. Some still maintain the "universe is only a few thousand years old," based on a preachers interpretations of chronologies in the Christian scriptures in the 19th century. This is just about as close to impossible given the "facts" as it is possible to be.

2. "Intelligent design," this one is a bit more nuanced. We cannot in fact discount the notion that there is some "entity" which is responsible for the origin of everything (more on this below). However, when it comes to many specific interpretations of how this "creator" created, and many facts used to buttress them (probably 99% of such facts), again, extremely unlikely, bordering on as close to impossible as possible.

3. A strict, literal interpretation of scripture, as in "the universe, along with life, humans, etc." was created in literally "a week," or whatever the time frame is in Genesis. Nonsense. The observations of the behavior of astronomical objections, and deductions of their durations based on nearly unquestionable principles and empirical generalizations from chemistry and physics indicate that the universe is billions of years old. If this really is the case, then "God" must be a very mischievous thing, because he/she/it must have hidden the truth of zer handiwork by magically altering the rules of physical reality, which in fact, a scientist CANNOT discount, except to say "Well, I'm a scientist. Non-observable evidence, and non-falsifiable models are beyond the scope of my focus."

This brings us to the summation of this rant: Science cannot serve as an alternative to "religion," nor to any number of other non-scientific cultural processes (poetry, art, dance, humor, etc.). Science MIGHT be able to inform or persuade, perhaps even to reshape any of these sorts of worldviews to be more in line with science. A strictly scientific religion I think IS possible for example, and I "follow" it. It is called agnosticism I suppose, and in my case tinged with hints of Buddhism. I should note, these aspects of my own psyche are more like those which are engaged by reading a comic book or viewing a painting, and not like those engaged by peer-reviewing a manuscript.

We do not know what is beyond the event horizon of a black hole; assuming physics as it stands today is sound (and there is little reason to believe otherwise), we CAN NEVER KNOW what is beyond the event horizon of a black hole. Even our "models" of what is there beyond our ability to observe are merely inferences based on all of the processes surrounding these hidden places, and do not afford for the possible relevance of processes which are unaccounted for in cosmology (dark matter and dark energy but others as well).

Similarly we cannot know what is beyond the observable universe. These things are physically impossible based on our understanding of the universe today, and yet, the fact we cannot observe these places/times does not in anyway suggest that there is nothing there to be observed. This latter is perhaps the most telling as it raises the question: what is beyond the universe, and/or what existed before it?

There are other "limits" to science, which are perhaps less rigid of boundaries, but the point is: science is not as Dawkins and some others might maintain, boundless, infallible, and omniscient. This actually raises scientific inquiry to the false status of religion ironically enough!

As far as "what is beyond" scientific inquiry, one cannot say with scientific basis, and as a result of this one also cannot scientifically argue against all forms of creationism. While as I noted, most specific creationist models to date are hogwash, but the general idea that there was a creator(s) responsible for it all is just not something we are in a position to argue "against." We also cannot argue "for it" either. As such, I say, if someone (like me) derives some mild sense of satisfaction from harboring the vague notion that our entire universe is just one of billions of soap bubbles blown by a "God" we will never be able to comprehend, and may never come to know more than as phantom, then so be it. You cannot disprove it, and as long as it doesn't stand in the way of scientific knowledge or justice, who gives a fuck? Dawkins is a twat for picking on people with half his intellect and a tool for thinking he understands what he is talking about when he suggests that "creationism is impossible."


Wasn't it called 'positivism' in science circles - the thought that science can indeed conquer all?

In addition to what you listed, weakly interacting particles, particles that don't interact with our known ones etc., things like hypothetic tachyons,..

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


And as far as Dawkins goes, I much preferred Sagan's approach. He'd listen to the whole long story of how everything began, how God has a sister and how God tricked his sister to create the universe and now His sister tried to destroy it but now they're getting along just fine... He'd listen through it all, then he'd simply state:

"That seems highly unlikely"

He was a great guy, from what I have read and observed from recordings.

_________________
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