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I think part of the problem is: Science doesn't prove anything. Science, at its core, is simply a method of generating testable hypothesis that explain events, which are valued because of their use in predicting future results. Let me give an example. Based on observations, science came up with a theory for an orbital period, correlating orbital speed and ...


85

The slogan different scientists can reach very different conclusions, depending on their starting assumptions. is misleading in the context of the "debate" between evolution and creationism. Scientists aim to explain how the world works. If two scientists disagree about some issue, then at least one of them is wrong. That is, at least one of them has ...


68

The issue here, as it often is, is that colloquial English is horribly ambiguous, which makes any sort of precise and rigorous discussion difficult. But with sufficient effort, it is possible to make claims precisely, and once you do that, the problem disappears. Alice states that the sky is blue. Bob states that we live in a simulation. Let's assume for ...


64

I think the distinction is that people often conflate "negative obervations" with "absence of evidence". To take the Santa example - if you simply declared "I have no evidence that Santa exists, therefore he does not exist", then you would be arguing from an absence of evidence. However, if you said "Santa is said to travel in a flying sleigh, and no radar ...


57

Technically speaking a fallacy is an invalid argument. In practice, what we would expect to see is two people starting from shared premises, and reaching contradictory conclusions, because (at least one) has made a logical error, or fallacy. But in this case, there are no shared premises. This is actually Mr. Black's biggest strategic error. It happens ...


49

First, I would say that many supporters of science are too proselytizing, too reluctant to admit the ambiguities and necessary limits of science. This merely harms their own case by opening them up the same skeptical attacks so easily employed against religion. Second, I would observe that science and religion are by no means mutually exclusive. It is only ...


44

First, because they are "inconsequential". Nothing hangs on it for you, there is no need to act on them and accept the consequences also, it is a "cheap", easily swayable "acceptance". But this still leaves the question as to why accept rather than reject, as easily, perhaps at random. Which brings us to the second because: they are not accepted without ...


41

The big picture of current evolutionary theory draws from many different fields, like biology, paleontology, geology, physics (radiometric dating) and chemistry. There is a strong consensus between scientists that the results of their respective fields support the big picture, e.g. evolutionary synthesis is a consensus among biologists. So, while different ...


34

These are simple conclusions from inductive reasoning. I don't like it when I hit my thumb with a hammer. I don't like it when I bit my head on something. Even though I haven't been hit on the head with a hammer, I can assume it would hurt just as much if not more than the other things I've hit my head on. From personal experience and pop culture I know ...


29

Elliot Sober offers a useful argument on this : "Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. ... There has been some philosophical work on the motto that doesn't use a probability framework and it provides a good way of isolating the problem I want to address. Here are ...


23

I think the honest answer is best viewed through the teachings of Karl Popper, notably the Falsifiability Criterion, according to which anything scientific has to supply a self refuting empirical criteria. That is, in the absence of an empirical way to test the hypothesis -- upon failure of which the theory is refuted -- the theory in question is hereby not ...


23

Turn the is vs. ought problem on it head. Science, when it is being most scientific, only provides instrumental oughts; religion, when it is being most religious, provides only moral oughts. Science can tell you that if you want to avoid X degrees of global warming you should (instrumentally) reduce carbon emissions by Y amount; but not whether the harm ...


21

Do you only think in words? Personally, I find I often think in images too. And sometimes my thoughts take a shortcut and skip all words and images and just take me straight to the answer? Michael Phelps is famous for thinking in terms of "the perfect race," a thought stream without words describing exactly how he would race from start to finish. There ...


21

One has to keep apart different layers: a) abiogenesis (the emergence of life) vs. evolution (the development of existing life over generations) and b) the incompatibility of biblical accounts of the origin of species with evolution vs. the incompatibility of the belief in God being the creator of life with evolution. I will first answer the title question ...


20

No fallacy, two people have stated their opinions The whole issue resolves itself quickly with one small clarification (my addition in boldface) Mr. Black then confronts Mr. Pink one day at lunch, claiming that it is his opinion that all new age magic power b.s. is in-fact, nonsense Mr. Pink then asks in return: "Why does it matter? Why are you so [...


19

Welcome to the demarcation problem of science. What is this thing called science? In lower levels of education, one is often given the impression that 'science', whatever that may be, exists as a monolithic entity. There is no sufficiency and necessity definition of what science is. It's better to say 'sciences' or 'scientific' when speculating as to this ...


18

An important thing to keep in mind when reading Nietzsche is that most of the time he is trying to reveal things through insights. The point of this particular quotation is to reveal the assumption at the base of many philosophies (in this case, most specifically positivism): that objective facts exist. Positivism holds, roughly, that the phenomena we ...


18

“different scientists can reach very different conclusions, depending on their starting assumptions.” This is true so far as it goes, but it stops before the critical step that distinguishes natural science from creationism: scientists then check their conclusions against reality, and reject or change their assumptions if reality and conclusion don't match. ...


18

The Stack Exchange methodology is based on the original Stack Overflow, which is for CS and programming questions. For those types of questions, the answers are objective in the fact that they either solve the OP's problem or they don't. People are free to upvote for the wrong ones, and it does happen occasionally, but overall, there are enough people who ...


16

Attempts to show that God exists by looking at nature such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument can only assert "generic theism", as you rightly point out. If the argument holds, then how does anybody know anything about this god/God? The answer is revelation or prophecy. When theologians talk about revelation, they are talking about ways that God ...


12

Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? I think it is "dissolved" and not "unsolved". Radical skepticism with regard to the possibility of ultimate philosophical grounding is based on an abstractive fallacy. It is somewhat misleading coherence to present the radical skeptic position in terms of an argument, because in presenting an ...


12

What you're touching on, of course, is a couple of basic facts about epistemology — and how they impact the activity of proseletysation: the attempt to get someone to believe in an idea (whether religious or secular) which they not only did not know, but did not even concern themselves with, before. The short version is that because original discovery ...


12

"Distrust your senses" is a very long tradition. Recall Plato's "cave" analogy from the early dawn of philosophy, ~400 BC. Plato postulated that there is a reality outside of what humans experience. He compared the human "experience through the senses" to the experience of a caveman looking at a shadow play on the cave wall: The caveman can only see the ...


12

A theory is a model that has predictive power. When scientists talk about evolutionary theory they make statements to the effect of "If this is true we'd expect to see such and such". They then go and see if they can find "such and such". If they cannot then the model is revised. The model is always as consistent as possible with the entire body of ...


12

Your (1) and (2) are not enough. Here is an example: suppose I have excellent reasons to believe that the earth is round (I've seen photos, listened to lectures, etc.), and that it is in fact true that the earth is round, but nevertheless I do not believe it (because I'm irrational). Clearly this is not a case of knowledge. There is a recent view, however, ...


12

Circular argument We know it's a trilemma because the argument is founded on logic and proofs, and all proofs will end in either circular logic, infinite regression, or a foundational assumption. Infinite regress You can always break a proof into parts. Those parts get simpler and simpler. Keep breaking them up long enough, and all parts will eventually ...


12

Maybe not so much a philosophical / logic-based argument, but in science there is a very helpful principle that most reasonable people (not only scientists) seem to have internalized: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. (or, to flip it around, not much evidence is needed to support a very mundane claim) This snappy quote is attributed ...


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