Friday, July 28, 2006

Science Education

1. Is Science education is not simply a matter for scientists alone? Do the parents of the children have a crucial place in the discussion?
2. Is the world view that is behind the approach to issues of origins a matter of great concern to many parents? Does the approach have huge implications well beyond the confines of the subject? Where there is a world view conflict between teachers and parents is this a recipe for a very uncomfortable parent/school relationship?
3. Is the tendency of strict methodological naturalism to become closely allied to philosophical naturalism and in some cases to become indistinguishable?
4. Do both philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism tend to lead to an overly positive view of the evidence for abiogenesis and macro-evolution?
5. If scientists say that science education should be taught in an atmosphere of philosophical naturalism and parents say that they want science taught in an atmosphere of theism who should win?
6. If the majority of parents want a religious ethos and environment for their children during their formative years does the state have the right to deny them their desire? Is it right for the tax system to be used to provide an education which ends up being hostile to the worldview and ethos that the majority of parents desire? Is this a stable situation in the longterm?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Case of Dean Kenyon

Dean Kenyon was a distinguished senior biology professor at San Francisco State University and co-author of a standard work on the origin of life on earth, “Biochemical Predestination.” Kenyon eventually became disillusioned with efforts to explain life as a product of purposeless and unguided chemical reactions. He became a proponent of intelligent design.

When Kenyon taught the prevailing naturalistic theories of biological origins in his introductory course for non-majors he also explained his own scepticism about whether these theories are consistent with the evidence and argued that intelligent design is a legitimate alternative to naturalistic explanations of the origin of life.

A handful of students complained, and the department chairman immediately endorsed their complaints. He announced that he would not allow Kenyon to teach this course in the future, on the ground that Kenyon was improperly introducing his religious opinions into the science curriculum.

Was the department chairman right?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The idea of unintelligent abiogenesis.

Comments on the previous post focused on the terminology usage which is frustrating though I am partly to blame for this. Apologies.

Allow me to concede the semantic point to commenter “Anonymous” regarding the usage of the phrase “the theory of abiogenesis.” at present this “field of research” should not apparently be dignified with this title. Apologies.

May I call it the “scientific idea of unintelligent abiogenesis.”

What are the criteria for determining whether an idea is a scientific idea or not?

Is it necessary for the idea of unintelligent abiogenesis to be falsifiable for it to be considered a scientific idea or is the idea of unintelligent abiogenesis a simple axiom of scientific thinking with no other options permissible within science.

In other words is the following proposition necessarily true:

Life exists in the universe therefore it must have had an unintelligent origin at some point in time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Is Abiogenesis Falsifiable?

(With acknowledgements to Commenter William Bradford)

The theory of Abiogenesis is closely related to the Theory of Evolution. In many text book treatments of evolution abiogenesis is included within the category of evolution in its broadest meaning.

Abiogenesis is the natural extension of the principle of common descent allowing a chance/time bridge to be built between inanimate and animate matter.

Abiogenesis is the hypothesis that it is possible to account for the origin of life either on the earth or somewhere else in the universe by chance without the intervention of pre-existing intelligence… in other words without design.

Materialists have two options (it seems to me.)

1. Abiogenesis is probable enough to have occurred in this universe… and in fact it has.
2. Abiogenesis is not probable enough to have occurred in this universe and so there must be multiple universes and we simply happen to be in one of the universes that spawned life.

Option 2 (it seems to me) should be excluded from science because by definition we cannot have any evidence of the existence of another universe. Which leaves only option 1.

What does a materialist do if 1 is actually falsified?

Can science in principle allow 1 to be falsified? If so how? If not is Abiogenesis really science?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Intelligent Design ....or not?

Is this a collection of random boulders or have they been placed intelligently? How do we know?

Holiday Pictures

The view from Slioch.

Eilean Donan Castle

Loch Maree