googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Attention Evolutionists: I'm Still Waiting on Evidence for Your Theory

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Attention Evolutionists: I'm Still Waiting on Evidence for Your Theory

A while back, there was an evo posting under the name of the_elf who challenged me on my claim about empiricism. I had said a lot of things in that conversation but he focused on one quote in particular. I had said, “You seem to believe that truth is obtained by observation and evidence.” He made a lot of hay about it and came up with some ridiculous experiments to “test” if we can learn something by observations. Obviously, he didn't get the point. OK, I admit he quoted me correctly. I wrote that. But I wrote a lot of other things so highlighting this single quote is more like a quote mine. For example, he completely glossed over the part where I said, “Observation and evidence are fine ways to learn about the creation.” Since some people are still having trouble understanding this concept, I thought I'd take a moment and expound on it a little more.

According to Wikipedia, empiricism is the “theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience.” It seems that a lot of evos suffer from this worldview. Not only do they demand evidence for my belief, they often ridicule all religion as irrational. In the same discussion, another evo (named “edge”) said, “RK, there is nothing rational about religion. Religion is belief without evidence. That is practically the definition of irrational.”

What strikes me as most peculiar about this attitude is the sheer contradiction of it. Where is the evidence that knowledge is only gained by evidence? It's laughable when you think about it. There are people who believe – without any evidence – that they won't believe anything without evidence. And they say “religion” is irrational? Also, according to this belief, we can never really know anything because we have not been everywhere and observed everything.

Yet an even more fundamental flaw than these is how seemingly obvious it is that there is another way to gain knowledge. I'm going to tell something very personal about my self: I have brown eyes. Now, most of the people who read my blog have never met me nor have they seen a picture of me. There is no way they could know that I have brown eyes except that I have told them. So we can see, knowledge can also be gained by revelation.

Of course, the usual rebuttal to my example is to point out that I could be lying. Maybe I really have blue eyes. So even though I claim to have brown eyes, skeptics wouldn't really know I had brown eyes until they see for themselves. This is rather arbitrary of them because they don't use this same skepticism concerning other evidence. For example, how much evidence for evolution have these skeptics seen first hand? Have they seen the fossils with their own eyes? Very few people have actually laid eyes on any fossils of supposed ancestors. The originals are all sequestered away. Also, have these skeptics done research in a lab? Of all the people who believe in evolution, only a fraction are scientists with training and experience in a related field.

You see, most people who insist on having evidence, rely only on revelation from people who have actually seen the evidence. That is, they believe in evolution because of what others have told them about it, not because they've seen the evidence for themselves. Yet so many evolutionists (even the non-scientist kind) demand evidence from me and then ridicule me for relying on revelation and for seeming to believe something they claim I have no evidence for.

In summary, I'm not interested in the evidence for evolution (at least not in this post). I'm more interested in the evidence for the philosophic underpinning for your brand of secular science. If you're only interested in evidence, then where is your evidence that knowledge is only gained by evidence? Where is your evidence that everything must have a natural explanation? Where is the evidence that only “scientific” evidence is valid evidence? Edge said religion is a belief without evidence. I'm still waiting on the evidence for your theory.

16 comments:

Steven J. said...

You might, of course, be lying to me about your eye color, but then, I might actually see you face to face, and misremember your eye color or mistake it. Empirical evidence does not yield perfect certainty, but you posting your eye color on your blog (for me to see with my eyes) is a form of observational evidence. Seeing an angel and hearing him as he delivers a message from God would be observational evidence. Having God speak to you in a dream (or dreaming that God spoke to you) is arguably observational evidence. I'm not quite clear how "revelation" is supposed to take place apart from observation, unless you count "hey, this idea just occurred to me, and I feel that God gave it to me!"

Of course, if I cared passionately about your eye color, and did not trust you to report it accurately, I could try to locate other observers who could provide independent corroboration. This is the principle of "repeatability," which probably separates "empiricism" from reliance on revelation more than does an emphasis on sensory observation.

There are numerous claims of revelation, some of which contradict others rather radically. As you have noted in other contexts, observations are open to multiple interpretations (I am not conceding that all interpretations are equally reasonable). If you have a revelation, and the Muslim down the street has a rival revelation, and the Hindu up the street yet a third, and the lady with the crystal ball has yet a fourth, how do we determine which are accurate?

Surely you will concede that some claimed revelations do not really provide knowledge. That by itself is not an insurmountable problem: some scientific observations are mistaken. But the problem of telling true revelation from false seems less tractable than telling good observations from bad ones (the bad ones tend not to be repeatable), and such methods as have been proposed all fall back on, dare I say it, empirical grounds.

The Palaeobabbler said...

I just wanted to comment on this:

"For example, how much evidence for evolution have these skeptics seen first hand? Have they seen the fossils with their own eyes? Very few people have actually laid eyes on any fossils of supposed ancestors. The originals are all sequestered away. Also, have these skeptics done research in a lab? Of all the people who believe in evolution, only a fraction are scientists with training and experience in a related field."

Those people we are trusting have to publish their findings. If it is an experiment, then others will repeat the experiment. If it is a fossil, then it will be extensively illustrated and photographed, casts will be made, and others will be allowed to examine it. Often separate groups will look at the same data, hoping to disprove each other, but sometimes failing to do so, thereby strengthening the claims. All of this gets published and can be accessed and (in theory) recreated by almost anyone. It is not blind trust, but a case of "if you don't believe me, then you can try it yourself". If one understands the science in question, then naturally one knows where and when to be sceptical. Some of us commenting on your blog do get to look at things such as the fossils - they scream evolution.

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

You said, “I'm not quite clear how "revelation" is supposed to take place apart from observation, unless you count "hey, this idea just occurred to me, and I feel that God gave it to me!””

I guess some might argue that even “reading” is observation. Is that your position? If so, then I must surrender. I understand that we cannot gain any knowledge unless it enters our brain via some sensory perception. However, I don't think that is what is meant by empiricism.

I believe revelation includes the Bible. For example, God told us about the first man, Adam. There is no “scientific” evidence for Adam. If it were not for the Bible, we could not even know his name. But since we cannot see him, measure him, or study him, there is no “empirical” evidence for Adam.

You said, “There are numerous claims of revelation, some of which contradict others rather radically. As you have noted in other contexts, observations are open to multiple interpretations (I am not conceding that all interpretations are equally reasonable). If you have a revelation, and the Muslim down the street has a rival revelation, and the Hindu up the street yet a third, and the lady with the crystal ball has yet a fourth, how do we determine which are accurate?”

I'm confused. You do seem to understand what is meant by revelation. From your comments above, I wasn't sure.

All of these things, including my comments about my eye color, are claims to be revelations of something that is true. But such is the nature of evidence. We hear the “evidence” and we must decide what is true. I'm believe my theory for many of the same reasons you believe yours – I'm convinced of the truth of it.

You said, “Surely you will concede that some claimed revelations do not really provide knowledge. That by itself is not an insurmountable problem: some scientific observations are mistaken. But the problem of telling true revelation from false seems less tractable than telling good observations from bad ones (the bad ones tend not to be repeatable), and such methods as have been proposed all fall back on, dare I say it, empirical grounds.”

Some things are not true. Many widely held, scientific theories have ended up on the trash heap of history in light of new information. There's no scientific reason why new information MUST only be of the scientific variety.

Thanks for visiting. God bless!!

RKBentley

RKBentley said...

PB,

You said, “Those people we are trusting have to publish their findings. If it is an experiment, then others will repeat the experiment. If it is a fossil, then it will be extensively illustrated and photographed, casts will be made, and others will be allowed to examine it....”

I'm going to cut you off there. Everything you're saying is true. However, you must remember who we're talking about. Only a tiny fraction of people who believe in evolution are scientists. The vast majority of lay people have not even read a technical paper. Certainly none of them attempt to repeat the experiments that are published. The testing you're talking about occurs in academia and not in the court of public opinion.

You said, “If one understands the science in question, then naturally one knows where and when to be sceptical. Some of us commenting on your blog do get to look at things such as the fossils - they scream evolution.”

You're committing the logical fallacy of reification. The fossils don't “scream” anything. It's the militant evos that I usually hear screaming their opinions about the evidence.

Thanks for visiting and for your comments. God bless!!

RKBentley

RKBentley said...

Steven J and PB,

Absent from either of your comments was any scientific evidence for methodological naturalism. This is an underpinning of all secular science yet the only “evidence” that has ever been offered to support it is of the philosophical variety.

I'm constantly asked for scientific evidence for my theory. All the while, evolutionists excuse themselves from providing scientific evidence to show why only scientific evidence determines truth. The hypocrisy is painfully obvious.

You both had interesting comments. Neither of you addressed this main point of my post.

God bless!!
RKBentley

The Palaeobabbler said...

RK:

In academia, amongst scientists in relative fields, both evolution and the antiquity of the Earth are fact. If you want to be consistent, then you should not be an anti-evolutionist. There should really only be two options for laymen: 1) accept what the experts say. 2) simply say "I don't know". You seem annoyed that laymen are trusting experts.

I will continue to say that the fossil record screams evolution, because I do believe that the people I say it to know that I am not speaking literally. What they literally do is demonstrate a pattern which is evolutionary; no other explanation comes close to sufficing.

RKBentley said...

PB,

You said, “In academia, amongst scientists in relative fields, both evolution and the antiquity of the Earth are fact.”

You've made another, blatant appeal to authority. You are saying, “these people are experts so it must be true.” I don't care how convinced someone is of his theory (or even how many someones), it isn't evidence for the theory.

You said, “If you want to be consistent, then you should not be an anti-evolutionist. There should really only be two options for laymen: 1) accept what the experts say. 2) simply say "I don't know". You seem annoyed that laymen are trusting experts.”

I'm very sorry that you feel that way. It''s rather elitist of you.

I worked in banking for many years. I used to hold various licenses that allowed me to make investment recommendations. In order to obtain and continue holding those licenses, I was required to attend hundreds of classroom hours of instruction and pass written tests. I was an “expert”. Customers would seek my advice and I would give it to them. Based on their personal circumstances, I would recommend certain products for them to invest in. However, it was their money and their decision to make. Under the Paleobabbler school of reasoning, my customers should simply turn their money over to me and I'll decide what's best for them.

You said, “I will continue to say that the fossil record screams evolution, because I do believe that the people I say it to know that I am not speaking literally. What they literally do is demonstrate a pattern which is evolutionary; no other explanation comes close to sufficing.”

I'm sure you will continue in your belief. However, you STILL have not addressed the point of my post. Where is the EVIDENCE for methodological naturalism? Where is the EVIDENCE for empiricism? Where is the scientific EVIDENCE that only “scientific” evidence determines truth? You are convinced of your theory. I get it. You demand evidence from me. I get it. I want to know what OBJECTIVE standards you have in asking for and evaluating evidence, You don't get it. You gloss over the point without a word and go straight back to your demands for “scientific” evidence (that is, “scientific evidence” as defined by your arbitrary brand of science).

I'm STILL waiting for the evidence for your theory. Until then, God bless!!

RKBentley

The Palaeobabbler said...

RK, I thought I had made it clear that I only wanted to address a small portion of your post. I have given Biblical reasons in the past for accepting methodological naturalism and do not wish to do so now.

"You've made another, blatant appeal to authority. You are saying, “these people are experts so it must be true.” I don't care how convinced someone is of his theory (or even how many someones), it isn't evidence for the theory. "

You are the one who brought up laymen and I am simply saying that laymen should trust what the overwhelming majority of experts say. I do not believe authority means truth, because truth in science can often be transient. A theory like evolution is the best explanation we have at the time and should be accepted as such, especially by the lay public.

"I'm very sorry that you feel that way. It''s rather elitist of you. "

So you think it is OK for people who know nothing about a subject to publicly make proclamations about that subject and teach others their uninformed nonsense?

" However, it was their money and their decision to make. Under the Paleobabbler school of reasoning, my customers should simply turn their money over to me and I'll decide what's best for them."

That's odd, as I clearly gave too options (accept what scientists accept, or say "I don't know"). There is a third option - believe whatever you want, but keep it to yourself. I'm not trying to silence people, but when people are blatantly uninformed, ideally they should silence themselves.

" I get it. You demand evidence from me."

Where have I demanded evidence here? It seems all I did was correct you on a point.

RKBentley said...

PB,

You said, “I thought I had made it clear that I only wanted to address a small portion of your post.”

I think it's crystal clear that you're ignoring the main point of this post. Technically, that makes all of your comments “red herrings.”

You said, “I have given Biblical reasons in the past for accepting methodological naturalism and do not wish to do so now.”

As I've said, I'm still waiting for SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE for science's philosophical underpinnings. All of the “evidence” I've heard thus far, including your comments, are of the philosophical variety. Why then should I feel obligated to provide “scientific” evidence for my philosophical foundations? Further, why are evolutionists so blind to their hypocrisy?

You said, “You are the one who brought up laymen and I am simply saying that laymen should trust what the overwhelming majority of experts say. I do not believe authority means truth, because truth in science can often be transient.”

If even the majority of experts can still be wrong, why should I blindly trust their opinion? Also, I continue to be amazed at theistic evolutionists' willingness to trust science when they KNOW that scientific “truth” might not even be true!

You said, “A theory like evolution is the best explanation we have at the time and should be accepted as such, especially by the lay public.”

Still being an elitist, I see. The overwhelming majority of theologians believe in God. They've devoted their lives to studying Scripture. They know God is real. Why don't atheist lay-people simply trust their opinions?

You said, “So you think it is OK for people who know nothing about a subject to publicly make proclamations about that subject and teach others their uninformed nonsense?”

Hearing elitism like this is almost frightening. Do you think that the masses are stupid and need someone to lead them or else they'd be lost? I have a Shepherd already and He seems sufficient.

Anyway, I have a little more confidence in people than you. I know we're all sinners but we're equally sinful. I'm no worse a sinner than your average scientist. We also all have within us the capacity to judge the truth. I don't know “nothing” about the subject. I used to believe in evolution. I've later seen the truth and now reject your theory.

I know what is the truth – my status as a layman not withstanding.

You said, “That's odd, as I clearly gave too options (accept what scientists accept, or say "I don't know"). There is a third option - believe whatever you want, but keep it to yourself. I'm not trying to silence people, but when people are blatantly uninformed, ideally they should silence themselves.”

So, in the evolution v. creation debate, you are saying a person should either believe in evolution or say, “I don't know”? If they elect the 3rd option (creation), they should keep it to themselves?

You said, “Where have I demanded evidence here? It seems all I did was correct you on a point.”

You've not “corrected” me on anything. You've merely ignored my main point and engaged in red herrings on another point. Well... actually you may be correct about your demanding evidence. You may not have demanded evidence for creation; you've merely asserted over and over that there is no evidence for creation. Dare I say this again? - I'm still waiting on evidence for your theory!

The Palaeobabbler said...

RK,

As I have made it clear that I am not addressing your main point, but an isolated point, I will ignore your points where you claim I am not addressing your main point (I have no intention of doing so, why should I?). I have not asked you for scientific evidence of your philosophical foundations.

"If even the majority of experts can still be wrong, why should I blindly trust their opinion? Also, I continue to be amazed at theistic evolutionists' willingness to trust science when they KNOW that scientific “truth” might not even be true! "

Be consistent and throw away that computer. Science is put to use, which works as a test for the theories. Those ideas about an old age for the planet, well, those are tested every time oil companies search for oil. We can trust science because it gives results.

"Still being an elitist, I see. The overwhelming majority of theologians believe in God. They've devoted their lives to studying Scripture. They know God is real. Why don't atheist lay-people simply trust their opinions?"

I've already shown why that is not a good argument. You are attacking a straw man if you think that is a good analogy. However, atheist laypeople should trust that theologians are making more informed claims about what things such as Scripture claim, even if they believe it has no application to the real world.

"Hearing elitism like this is almost frightening. Do you think that the masses are stupid and need someone to lead them or else they'd be lost? I have a Shepherd already and He seems sufficient."

I think the masses are ignorant, but that needs clarifying. We are all ignorant, I have subjects where I haven't got a clue even about the basics. If I spoke authoritatively on those subjects then I would be a fool. I don't need leading on those topics, though I could ask for it, but I should defer to those who do grasp it. This is not elitism, no matter how much you like to throw that word around.

"So, in the evolution v. creation debate, you are saying a person should either believe in evolution or say, “I don't know”? If they elect the 3rd option (creation), they should keep it to themselves? "

By "keep it to themselves" I mean that they should not offer it as anything more than their opinion. Sadly, creationists dogmatically claim their uninformed views as fact.

So, pay attention to what I am here for and stop demanding evidence. I made my intentions clear. I am not avoiding your demands, I simply see no reason to address them when I came to address another point. Your claim that I am avoiding you should warrant the label of red herring.

Steven J. said...

A point occurs to me. When evolutionists appeal to "evidence," they are appealing to things that very few people dispute exist. No matter how you insist that, e.g. a fossil of Archaeopteryx or the GULO pseudogene are open to creationist interpretations, you do not (I think) deny that the fossil exists (or even that it represents the remains of a once-living animal), or that the GULO pseudogene exists and has the sequence of nucleotides ascribed to it. These things are not matters of faith.

You take it on faith that the text of the Bible represents "revelation" -- not merely that someone said it, but that God said it. And, of course, you take it on faith that contrary claimed revelations are not revelations at all. Before something can serve as a basis for knowledge, shouldn't there be a general consensus that it actually exists?

You seem to be complaining that evolutionists are bigoted and unreasonable because they will not allow your own beliefs not merely to constitute knowledge, by virtue of the fact that you hold these beliefs, but to overrule any other sources of knowledge that might exist.

RKBentley said...

SJ,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for your comments.

You said, “A point occurs to me. When evolutionists appeal to "evidence," they are appealing to things that very few people dispute exist. No matter how you insist that, e.g. a fossil of Archaeopteryx or the GULO pseudogene are open to creationist interpretations, you do not (I think) deny that the fossil exists (or even that it represents the remains of a once-living animal), or that the GULO pseudogene exists and has the sequence of nucleotides ascribed to it. These things are not matters of faith.”

I'm a little worried that this point just “occurred” to you when I have talked about this very thing many times online before. Haven't I said that the evidence is neutral and that we merely have different explanations for the same evidence? Things like fossils are dumb rocks and cannot tell us anything about themselves – they cannot even tell us that they are fossils. We can merely examine them and draw conclusions about them. Some conclusions are more obvious than others but the rocks themselves say nary a word.

You said, “You take it on faith that the text of the Bible represents "revelation" -- not merely that someone said it, but that God said it. And, of course, you take it on faith that contrary claimed revelations are not revelations at all. Before something can serve as a basis for knowledge, shouldn't there be a general consensus that it actually exists?”

I don't simply believe the Bible by faith. I believe the Bible for the same reasons people believe anything – I'm convinced that it's the truth. And I became convinced that the Bible was true the same way we become convinced of anything – I was persuaded by the arguments it presents. You believe your theories because you believe they are the best explanation of the world as you see it. I believe the Bible is the better explanation.

You said, “You seem to be complaining that evolutionists are bigoted and unreasonable because they will not allow your own beliefs not merely to constitute knowledge, by virtue of the fact that you hold these beliefs, but to overrule any other sources of knowledge that might exist.”

I think I've made it clear what I'm “complaining” about. I'm curious when evolutionists demand “scientific evidence” from me when there is no basis IN THEIR OWN DEFINITION OF SCIENCE that truth is determined only by scientific evidence. You are the ones who exclude the Bible when considering the evidence. I look at the evidence AND the Bible when I'm considering what is true. And I'm not so much complaining as I'm trying to open your eyes to your bias.

Thanks again for visiting. Have a great new year. God bless!!

RKBentley

Todd Williams said...

I think you have your answer, Robert. If there were scientific evidence that empiricism is the only way to obtain knowledge, then we would have heard about it. When you ask the question, all you get is a heap of logical fallacies as Palaeobabbler has aptly demonstrated.

Empiricism is a philosophical worldview, and materialists/evolutionists/atheists are too afraid to admit it for fear of being lumped in with the rest of us believers. I can at least admit that I am biased towards theism and that I interpret evidence in that light. I have yet to hear a materialist make a respective admission.

RKBentley said...

Todd,

Any non-biblical worldview is ultimately self-defeating. For example, a person may claim he doesn't believe anything without evidence; however, he cannot produce empirical evidence for why he has that view. So indeed he does believe something without evidence. Thus he has contradicted his own worldview and believes – without evidence – that he won't believe anything without evidence!

You might have also come across this quote on my blog already since I've used it a few times but I'll give it again as another example. Scientific American said, “A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms.” This statement contradicts itself because the principle of methodological naturalism cannot be observed or tested.

You're right that we all have assumptions – but our assumptions should at least be rational. The only rational world view is one based on the Bible. All others are houses built on sand.

God bless!!

RKBentley

Josue Cruz-Perez said...

RK,

I was looking into older posts of you and was very excited about your debate with Mr. Blabber. When he said we should trust the experts, I remembered about Heliocentrism, which was the expert worldview (universeview??) since Aristotle until recently. I also remembered about the scientific belief that the universe was eternal, also since Aristotle. Whoever dared to think different to them would face the same or worse threats as us Creationists. Just look at Galileo for example. At the end, the experts were proven wrong after many silenced attempts.

Also, you said "The only rational world view is one based on the Bible. All others are houses built on sand." I believe in this from a Theological standpoint, from experience and from faith. But, how to explain it to others? Maybe you should post about this some time if you haven't yet.

Blessings to you!!

RKBentley said...

Josue,

Thank you for your comments and for your encouragement. I'm sorry it's taken a while to respond.

You're absolutely right by pointing out that the majority of scientists have been wrong before. It happens with a fair amount of regularity in the theory of evolution. How many times have we read headlines like, “new find redraws evolutionary tree of life”?

Concerning the Christianity to be the only rational worldview, I have commented on this on several occasions. You might check out these two posts in particular (the first link is actually the first in a series):

http://rkbentley.blogspot.com/2011/09/loving-god-with-our-minds-series-in.html
http://rkbentley.blogspot.com/2013/04/what-is-their-ultimate-authority.html

But I might take some time and write another post specifically on that subject.

Thanks again for your comments. Please keep visiting. Please share my posts on FaceBook and Twitter. God bless!!

RKBentley