Night Owl Mk. II

HomeSite 4.0
Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.0

Last Update: 29 Dec 99

Return to "Evolution vs. Creationism" essay

Back to Philosophy page

Please feel free to E-mail me with your own comments on this issue or on anything else included in my Philosophy of Life section. Debate is good!

Please report any problems with this page to the Webmaster!


Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) I enjoyed your WebPages and I thought I'd throw out a few thoughts. They are not completely original. I'd attribute the underlying premise to be somewhat derived from the ideas of Karl Popper. I hope you'll excuse my laziness for not elaborating more or doing the underlying principal of Falsification justice. I'll leave that for Mr. Popper.
(MB) Popper's philosophy is well-known to those of us who are old hands at debates involving science -- especially when it comes into conflict with religion. Unfortunately, the supporters of religion tend to mangle his arguments. In regards to falsification, they will argue that scientific theories can't be believed since there is always the chance that they might be proven wrong. On the other hand, they will claim that religious beliefs are bulletproof since they can never be disproven. Of course, those of us whose neurons are still firing properly understand that this is pretty much bass-ackwards, but such an argument can have some appeal for the lay audience.

(R) In REPLY #46 TO "EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM" you state "Truth is truth..."
    Truth is unknowable. Rather we simply do our best to test ideas to be certain (as best we can) that they are not false.

(MB) Perhaps I should elaborate a bit. If we can agree that at least one thing exists in physical reality, then that thing's existence is a "truth" whether or not we are ever able to know about it or understand it. What you mention is the process by which we can consider an idea about the nature of a truth to be "sound".

(R) Consider Newtonian physics - perfectly false. It explained a lot and was/is extremely useful, and more than two books agreed, but, alas, false. If I'm being too obtuse for some here, Relativity shows Newtonian physics to be an excellent approximation (i.e., false). Nevertheless, I believe from your careful wording you are aware of this.
(MB) That's applying a rather harsh standard. Newtonian physics (primarily his Theory of Gravity) is an excellent appromixation of reality, as you said. The fact that it falls a hair short of covering all the bases when the relativistic realm is included should not be sufficient reason to label it as being "false". As I've said in previous responses, a theory does not have to be 100% accurate to be worthy of adherence -- although it should be very close to that ideal. Newtonian physics is certainly "close" and works extremely well for the vast majority of macroscopic applications. If a theory is best described as "false", it is one which has little or no useful purpose due to egregious errors. The Steady State theory of the universe is "false". I doubt that either you or I would try to argue that Newtonian physics is comparable in its "falsehood".

(R) In the end, it takes of the community of specialist studying that area (scientists, philosophers even theologians) to test and idea and agree that it is valid. That's the best we can do. In the end it has a good dose of subjectivism. In other words, we do the best we can, with the explanations we have mostly agreed on, the ones that explain the most, have been tested, and that have not been shown to be false.
(MB) That is a much better description of how to determine whether or not a given idea is "false". If that is our standard methodology, we can have increased confidence in the final verdict applied to any given idea.

Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.0 .......... Last Update: 29 Dec 99

Earthlink Network Home Page