Science and the nonphysical

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Wall face...paranormal origin or just an odd physical artifact?

This page is a continuation of discussions that began on the Science teaching materials for creationism page.

Note: if you came to this page after searching for specific content and now you cannot find that content on the page, expand the four collapsed sections of old discussion and then search the page again.

The paranormal and creationism

Introduction. Earlier discussion at Science and belief introduced the idea that science has problems dealing with attempts to "explain" phenomena in terms of the nonphysical. Further discussion (below, click "expand") continued with the idea that a "spiritual creation of life" is unfairly rejected as an hypothesis by scientists who exclude creationism from the domain of science. Are scientists irrational in their bias against the nonphysical or is the burden of proof on creationists to produce evidence for nonphysical processes before scientists should have to be open to their possible role in scientific explanations? Template:/The paranormal and creationism

New discussion

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  • ....i've seen this 10 inch circular mass of electron particles observing me saying helloJeannied30 03:46, 22 February 2009 (UTC)m03:46, 22 February 2009 (UTC)Jeannied30m

What are the practical applications of the nonphysical?

Template:/What are the practical applications of the nonphysical molecules in time.

Does science arise from evidence or belief?

Template:/Does science arise from evidence or belief

New discussion group?

Template:/New discussion group

I think this will be a good idea under a "What is Science" project. In it we would teach what Science and the Scientific Method are, and let people present specific cases to be evaluated. By specific I mean no "creationism" but "paper X accesible in this link". The better examples, of course, would be "scientifical" papers discussing areas normally treated as "non scientific", and papers from well stablished areas of science that fail to be scientific (e.g., by not stating the exact way to repeat whatever experiments they have done). --Jorge 02:50, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Science beliefs under NPOV

What I hope to have evidenced in order to help this discussion's topic, is that materialist science is not able to prove the existence of anything, including its own object - matter itself - what makes it basically a matter of faith, or belief.

In fact, the worldly bivalent reasoning that came to be reduced into the foundations of logic, named "the axioms", are ultimately as self-evident, self-sustainable and self-reliable, as gods. Their devotees usualy don't bother questioning about being its essentiality perhaps nothing but mere intellectual limitation, despite being this exactly what they argument against the essentiality of some "ontological first cause" concept. Their consequent redutionist appraising lead them to also nothing but likewise ontological limitation, when they inescapably end explaining the essence of matter/energy with plain almighty abstract concepts.

Although many science advocates admit it has to be based in beliefs (like any human activity), they immediately remark them as "more probable" to be true then other's beliefs. Well, this just makes them one more group among all those others who plead the same - for what they present as the "reasons" of their probabilistic excelence, is exactly what they believe in.

So materialist scientists have full right to be in the same engagement, BUT, in a place like Wikiversity, which main distinction is a bright civilizing NPOV policy, there should exist NO winners, and NO predilections. All faithful here should have the same rights. So, as creationism is a faithful movement that WANTS to participate in the scientific work, thus ALSO making use of scientific supporting beliefs and raised methods, they have the right to do so AND to be so accepted, at least here. --Skytel 01:44, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Creationist teaching materials

This seems a contentious issue, which to me centres around the following points:

  • Scientists rejected the Creationist Theory for two reasons:
    • It originated in religions that offer no proof other than personal observation (all cats produce cats, all dogs: dogs, etc.).
    • Darwin proposed an Evolutionary Theory that excluded any religious sentiment by postulating mutation and natural selection.
  • Both the Evolutionary and Creationist theories confine themselves to biological life, not science in general.
  • Both theories examine the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions:
    • Where the Evolutionist sees a common ancestor, the Creationist sees a common design.
    • Where the Evolutionist sees appendages evolving through species, the Creationist sees variation in design.
    • Where the Evolutionist sees mutation and natural selection, the Creationist sees invariant reproduction.
  • The Evolution theory explains morality, faith, and truth as a consequence of evolving intelligence, while Creation theory concludes they are inherent to the design. However, Evolutionists provide no reason for these to exist in intelligence and allow they can be engineered to suit humanist goals, while Creationists conclude it is to acknowledge the Creator and should not be tampered with.
  • Both the Evolution and Creation Theory regards Life as a product of biological construction. Neither theories explain what Life is, whether it exists independently of the body, or why it is so rare in the universe.
  • Only humans question their social order, other creatures do not question their own behaviour or try to change it. This separates intelligence into three areas:
    • the natural ability to make descisions based on our five senses,
    • deciding whether an action is acceptable or not, and
    • discovering the meaning to Life.

In the discussions here, I get the sense of an unspoken objection, veiled in technical jargon. The crux is simply that the Evolution Theory was postulated to separate belief systems from scientific enquiry and that's its prime function. It must resist all other theories that suggest otherwise. So it stands or falls based on whether Life was created, not on scientific evidence, however overwhelming it is.

Assuming that Evolution actually describes our existence, then clearly we have no Creator, so our belief in one must come from Evolution itself, and since it is scientifically verifiable, it legitimises all ideas, all thoughts, all theories which ever have and ever could be entertained. There is no other possible way we can get ideas except through the evolutionary process. Therefore, there must be a scientific explanation to moral, ethical, and religious beliefs as evolutionary products, and hence, they are all scientific and worthy of study. But accepting that the Creation Theory is a product of Evolution creates a paradox for Evolution because it rejects the notion that religions have any scientific basis, while Evolution itself actually produced them.

As the following discussions reveal, people put their trust in whatever does what they promise. Physics is evidently trustworthy, and the scientific method has produced amazing techologies, so it too is trustworthy. Not much else seems to match science in delivering the goods, so it is understandable people don't want to invest their time and effort in something they perceive as less worthwhile. (PeterMG 03:01, 6 May 2007 (UTC))

So I'm back into the discussion... Perhaps I'll never be able to stop... Of course scientists view all the cultural products of humankind as ultimately caused by the evolution of life on Earth. Yes, Art can be studied as a science if you mean studying the brain processes that produce it. That doesn't make Art "scientific", if you use the meaning of "scientific" I use (this one). Of course you're using another meaning, so the discussion is pointless: We both agree.
Historians of Art do not study Physics, and nobody goes telling them to do it because Physics is worthy of study, too. And nobody says they perceive Physics as less worthy. Science is not synonim with "studying everything" nor with "worthy", and nobody's said so. It's just an area with a good reputation, that's all. Some people disregard areas out of science? Well yes, but that's not a reason to go asking scientists to focus on topics they don't grasp nor probably like.
You're confused, there's no paradox. I can claim without any scientific basis that I have magical powers. There's no scientific basis in the claim because I've completely made it up. But the fact that I claimed it, is indeed undeniable, and scientific if you like. If in the future we can understand the chaotic dynamics of human interaction, behavior, and creativity, maybe we could explain scientifically why and how did Tolkien produce his fictional universe. The possibility of doing it doesn't make its universe to have scientific basis. There are no elves. And there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster. Leaving the analogies, it is absurd to say science rejects the possibility of people having religions.
"The crux is simply that the Evolution Theory was postulated to separate belief systems from scientific enquiry and that's its prime function." <- This is false or at least arguable in some ways. The first is from Historical perspective: Galileo was there far before Darwin. Galileo (Copernico, if you prefer) did separate belief systems from scientific enquiry. The mess is with Darwin because it's more difficult to defend Geocentrism than to convince people who haven't studied the Theory that Evolution is flawed. The second is that the guy died 125 years ago, along with his contemporaries, so your statement implies there must be some secret cabal running for more than 125 years preventing people to discover Evolution has no strong scientific basis. Nonsense.
"Assuming that Evolution actually describes our existence, then clearly we have no Creator," <- This is false, too. What is clear is that if we have a Creator, it didn't create everything the way your (or my) particular religion's scriptures state. The problem of Science with Creationism is their statement that the Theory of Evolution is wrong, not their statement that there is a Creator. The existence or not of an ultimate Creator is outside the scope of science, as is already explained in this page. No scientific theory can prove nor disprove it.--Jorge 14:07, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Maybe I'm falling into technicalities, but you should know that natural selection was not postulated, but derived. Mutation was indeed postulated, by Darwin, but it's been explained by genetics and observed so many times it is no more a postulate. The biological similarities among species may have been what made Darwin think of a common ancestor, but it is by no way one of the facts in which the theory is scientifically based. As you well point, they could be explained by having a common design. Mutation and natural selection aren't conclusions of anything; they are plain facts.
About the reason of the existence of morality etc. in intelligent beings, the creationist explanation is reasonable, but not scientific. It could as well be false. There's no scientific explanation for its existence (as yet), but no scientist cares, because science doesn't base its claims on them explaining the whole universe, nor in them being intuitive. It bases them on the scientific method. Quantum Mechanics is the more confusing and unbelievable shit science has produced, but that doesn't change the results of the experimental data that confirm it.
I, as scientist, reject the Creationist Theory, and couldn't care less about whether it originated in religious circles for rejecting it. Scientists have scientific arguments to reject it. It is Creationists who reject science because its theories go against their belief, not the other way around. --Jorge 14:42, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
"About the reason of the existence of morality etc. in intelligent beings, the creationist explanation is reasonable, but not scientific. It could as well be false. There's no scientific explanation for its existence (as yet), but no scientist cares" <-- The book "Consilience" by Edward Wilson discusses the biological origins of morality. Wilson is a scientist who "cares" about such things and he makes the argument that there can easily be a scientific study of morality as a biologically-based cultural phenomenon. --JWSchmidt 16:28, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
(Only to point that I didn't mean a scientific explanation doesn't interest any scientific, but that not having one doesn't worry anybody because that's no reason to reject the other theories). Btw, good link, I hadn't heard anything about it. --Jorge 10:03, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the link, I had a gut feel about it, but never heard of it either. --PeterMG 16:25, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
"Yes, Art can be studied as a science if you mean studying the brain processes that produce it. That doesn't make Art "scientific"" <-- By your argument, studying the biological processes that produce Evolution does not make Evolution scientific. You seem to be arguing semantics here.
"You're confused, there's no paradox. I can claim without any scientific basis that I have magical powers. There's no scientific basis in the claim because I've completely made it up." <-- Perhaps my point was unclear. Evolution itself produced the idea God made humanity, while simultaneously denying it, that's the paradox.
"your statement implies there must be some secret cabal running for more than 125 years preventing people to discover Evolution has no strong scientific basis. Nonsense." <-- That's not what I wrote nor implied. The fact is Darwin's Evolution Theory excludes any religious sentiment and similar theories do the same today. The Scientific Method has undergone several revisions to include Evolution Theory as scientific, while simultaneously rejecting other theories that use the same body of evidence.
"Assuming that Evolution actually describes our existence, then clearly we have no Creator," <- This is false, too. What is clear is that if we have a Creator, it didn't create everything the way your (or my) particular religion's scriptures state. <-- Evolution asserts we humans are the consequence of mutation and natural selection, not the direct or indirect product of a Creator. To do so would admit a religious sentiment which it denies.
"The existence or not of an ultimate Creator is outside the scope of science, as is already explained in this page. No scientific theory can prove nor disprove it." <-- That depends on God, not on scientists. The question is, "Who is God?" You're assuming that created things do not identify the creator.
"It is Creationists who reject science because its theories go against their belief, not the other way around." "The problem of Science with Creationism is their statement that the Theory of Evolution is wrong" <-- This is my point that both look at the same evidence and draw different conclusions. In any case, the question is whether it passes the Scientific Method test, not what theories it contradicts.

I admit pushing the envelope by including intelligence in the Evolution Theory because AFAIK only the physical (mutation and natural selection) are taught in schools and the rest is ignored. My focus, however, was to provide a framework for contributors to work on, or flesh out, rather than engage in fruitless debate.

What I propose is that this topic provide material for both atheists and theists to study regarding Creationism in its religious context. This approach differs from Creationist propaganda because it covers the subject in more detail as a belief, rather than a science. Discussion centres around the causes of Creationist thinking as opposed to its repsonse to Evolution. The purpose is to identify the basis of Creationism, beyond, "The Bible says so here, here, and here" response. --PeterMG 16:25, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

The causes of Creationist thinking

I have some doubts that this approach can "provide material for both atheists and theists to study" since in my experience, creationists seldom want to subject their beliefs to an objective analysis. --JWSchmidt 04:54, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree, which is partly why I think it should be done, although the science section may not be the best place to do it. Perhaps a project on 'Creation using the scientific method', to explore the issues might be more suitable. For example, constructing a hypothesis and testing it against known data. PeterMG 21:18, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
I made a similar suggestion above in #New discussion group?, but it is not clear that this is what creationists are interested in. There is a broader phenomenon of Junk science and it might be constructive to deal with that as a whole. I think most "creation science" is junk science, but I think there can be a valid form of "creation science" that is worth sketching on a Wikiversity page in Category:Science.....I just do not see that leading where the biblical creationists want to go. --JWSchmidt 22:25, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
"it is not clear that this is what creationists are interested in" <-- You are correct, wherever evolution is taught, there is where creationists want creationism taught. Since, they argue, both cover the same evidence, they should both be regarded the same. The issue is that Evolution is accepted as scientific while Creationism isn't. So, creationists want Creationism listed under science because Evolution is, and the 'scientific method' objection is just a legal loop-hole to refuse. Given the above analysis is partly true, exactly what policies could Wikiversity adopt without escalating the politics? I think it is important to establish context and then content. PeterMG 07:34, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
I have had some significant experiences trying to teach science to creationists, not to convince them of the truth, just so that they have the knowledge, and it has never worked out well. I'd be happy to discuss it if anyone wants, but just my 2 cents. If someone holds a "belief", it isn't likely to change.PalMD 00:59, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
In many cases, creationists can benefit from education about the nature of science. Maybe at What is science? we should make some learning projects that explore the historical origins of some sciences such as chemistry and astronomy. For both chemistry and astronomy there were protoscientific phases of development during which reliable scientific methods were found and pre-scientific myths were sorted from the science. --JWSchmidt 14:50, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
Back at high school I had a Natural Sciences' teacher who once assigned us to collect the information of the colours of the eyes of our families' members, so we could check wether it was a hereditary trait or not. When we brought our data to class, he asked us to cross out all the information we hadn't seen with our proper eyes (e.g., I had phoned my uncle to ask him about his and my cousins' eyes). We were very dissatisfied with the measure, because it meant trashing half our work or more, and it meant we probably wouldn't be able to extract any conclusion. He simply told us: "This is Science, and in Science you don't trust anyone." It was a very simple lesson, and it opened many of our minds about the nature of Science and the Scientific Method. What I want to say with this is that it is not so hard to explain... to non-fanatic children at least <:) --Jorge 20:21, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Another good science lesson can come from popcorn. This is best done as part of teaching conservation of mass. Have people weigh some popcorn and then have them pop it. Have them weight the popped corn, and watch the fun begin. Many people are tempted to fudge their results because they believe that mass should have been conserved during cooking. They forget that corn pops because steam is made and water vapor escapes into the air. Its a good way to get people to think about paying attention to the data rather than what they believe the answer should be. --JWSchmidt 21:32, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

See also


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