This discussion took place in 2011 on CARM (where else?) I dug this up on Metacrock's blog and thought it was an interesting discussion.
Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
Many atheists will shift to the side that claims physiological laws are only descriptive to avoid the necessity of a mind to house physical laws that are prescriptive.
Of course the physical laws are merely descriptive. To say that the equation e=mc^2 is prescriptive is to say some mathematical entity is performing this computation in order to work out what the universe is supposed to look like next, which is nonsense.
The problem is unless you can guarantee that your descriptions are 100% accurate then anything that goes against them (such as miracles) is just more detail that you didn't get.
The descriptions aren't 100% accurate, and more importantly they are increasingly *probabilistic* - eg. various quantum "laws" describe (very accurately) the probabilities of a state of affairs.
Alleged violations of the laws of physics imply a lack of our knowledge of the physical world, rather than miracles.
you have also nixed any means of explaining the regularity of the natural. Since the basic quantum state is to hover between real and unread (particle and wave) then there's no basis for your assertion on any level.
Plus, I'm sure you recognize a qualitative difference between the known laws of physics being violated in some highly contrived physics experiment, as compared to the known laws of physics being violated by (say) an angel appearing in a hospital and healing everyone of cancer before disappearing.
No miracle claim that I know of sticks an angle into it so you are just loading the senerio agaisnt belief and being more imponderable by multiplying entities beyond necessity.
The only answer atheist can make to this is to argue that either their descriptions are prefect, (in which case just one miracle invalidates your whole world view) or they have to beg the question and just there are no other descriptions which is easily disproved.
either way atheism has no basis in fact for a world view.
how about that wave-partial duality? How can you claim to have a 100% description when you have incredible contradiction that basically makes the ultimate nature of reality untenable?
Meta:Huh? This is a problem in physics, one which there are several plausible answers to, how does this state of affairs imply the supernatural?
what makes you think your world view is immune to problems in physics? You seem somehow to think that the "them vs us" mentality is a valid part of logic. that's ludicrous. Your position is as much on the line with physics as with anything else.
If anything it simply suggests that the nature of physical reality is much stranger than we initially thought (eg. multiverses etc), which is something we've started to suspect for quite a while now.
So why would you still have the arbitrary line that says "we can be surprised by any thing but it can never never never be supernatural?" what is supernatural? anything religious. That's just biased as hell. you are just setting up a truth regime don't' you know that that means? It's mean your view is exactly what you accuse theology of being, just a bunch of made up stuff that you evoke like fake little rules that are only important for you because they give up a pretense at ruling out the view you don't like.
Meta vs Darth Prengle
Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
Unless you accept prescriptive laws of physics you are merely asserting that your description is 100% actuate.
Absolutely false. The physics of General Relativity is a more accurate description of the universe than that presented by Newtonian laws. Ergo, General Relativity offers a more accurate description. However, General Relativity is only a partial theory and thus, cannot be considered 100% accurate.
I think those alternatives do not define the dichotomy. In other words, we can have prescriptive physical laws in a quantum universe, we can have descriptive laws in a quantum universe, ditto for relativity universe. So appealing to modern physics does not resolve the question. As I understand it physicists are not 100% agreed upon which it is.
You have not come to terms with the logic of my statement. If you choose descriptive you must either claim 100% accuracy or you must be willing to accept that there aer other descriptions you didn't get. That's a prori. except or not that's obviously the choice. So I should have said that, either claim 100% or admit to other options.
It can always be overhauled with more description.
Yes, and that is what happens.
So it just boils down to the fact that reductionism and naturism are circular reasoning. you lose the phenomena in reductionism then based upon that pretense the notion that there is no counter description.
Where did I do that? Can you provide a quote? Erm, no. In fact, in another thread I clearly told you that I'm not a reductionist and hold to emergentism. Plus, you have done nothing to tackle the probability argument.
that's also reducationst, whether you like the label or not. You are either reductionist by fact or by label, unless you are willing to admit all the phenomena into the analysis.
1. If miracles occur then they are statistically unlikely events (if this were not true then we would see them happening all the time).
2. Natural occurrences are extremely likely events (we see them happening constantly and on a daily basis).
you are dealing with events that by definition can't comply with the norm.
3. Therefore, any claimed event (miraculous or otherwise) is more likely to have a natural explanation.
your argument does not change the fact that the consequence of descriptive laws is either claim 100% accuracy or admit to the possibility.
Ergo, a bias towards natural explanations is justified. It has nothing to do with appealing to partial laws (descriptions) already in our possession but would influence the development of new ones.Meta:
Its' then the atheist starts games like "there never been any evidence in the past therefore this can't be evidence now." Or the evidence is just wrong, it has to be wrong it must be. The doctors liked the x-ray is faked ect ect. I will never under sany circumstances I have to be right (they pull that all the time man. You may not but other do).
Do you not see what I have proved here?
Nothing much as far as I can see. You haven't even tackled the probability argument that I presented in the previous (and now this) post. I see very atheists on here saying that miracles are impossible.Meta:
Most seem to be saying that miracles can't be ruled out a priori but then justifying their bias towards natural explanations.
(1) they assume an absence of evidence which is based entirely upon merely hiding the evidence of the past becuase the same sort of circular assumptions were made about it, then the alleged absence of evidence is used as a justification for hiding the new evidence.
(2) The assertion that incredulity is an argument against any evidence.
I've proved that It's a truth regime that atheism have created. It's a construct based upon hiding the phenomena.
You've proved nothing of the sort because the brand of atheism you appear to be attacking bears little resemblance to the brand of atheism held by myself and many atheists on this board.
I'm sure that your view is different than most. You are one of the good one's. The problem is you are still using the justification process based upon the artificial absence of counter evdience, which is nothing more than the instances in the past where the same circular reasoning has been applied. Now it's become a coda, the absence of evidence rather than the ignoring of it (which is what it really is).
with all of this you hare totally ignored the problem of discretion. If the only barrier to miracles is past discrimination and you admit that your description can miss things then there's no reason not to take seriously the allegation that there has been evidence in the past that got ignored.
Since I can name that evdience that makes the argument even stronger.
DP: Meta, you have studied the history of science so what I'm about to type really shouldn't need to be pointed out to you by a novice like myself. However ....
There are currently two theories which explain different aspects of reality which are General Relativity (large phenomena) and Quantum Mechanics (miniscule phenomena). These theories are known to contradict each other which is why the search is on for a unified theory of everything.
How could a set of contradictory and partial laws be considered prescriptive? The reason why any atheist with a basic knowledge of scientific history will argue that scientific laws must be viewed as descriptive rather than prescriptive is because they are aware of the above problem. We know that our current description of reality is contradictory and incomplete and thus, needs improvement.
You are overlooking the possibility of assuming that the laws are prescriptive as a preliminary course of assumption, but not assume we understand the relationship between the two theories--yet! When we do come to understand that relationship in a unified way it will be within [B][I]a frame work involving prescriptive laws.
We can also work on the possibility of augmenting what we mean by preservative laws. We don't necessarily have to mean by that a determinism. There can be an uncertainty principle along with prescriptive laws.
Descriptive laws don't explain the regularity of the universe or how something can come to be without a process to guide it. The concept of natural law evolved out of the Church's understanding of nature and involved the concept of preservative laws. It's hard to see what meaning "natural law" has if not law like. In deep what is "nature" if it is not something set on a course by some pre ordinared establishment.
the concept of a miracle is going to be relative to the concept of possibility. miracle means something happened we don't understand that seems to violate our concept of what is possible. But without prescriptive there is no way to say what's possible and what is not. (I think I said this, right?)
Again, unless a claimed miracle is logically contradictory then it is possible and no atheist is in a position to rule it out a priori. The dismissal of the claim that a miracle has occurred and a bias towards natural explanations is not based upon possibility or 100% knowledge but on the basis of likelihood.
That's only because when the concept of natural law came to replace God in the mind of modern scinece (Laplace in the Napoleonic era) it was in light of prescriptive natural law that it did so. That's largely why scientists spent such a long time refusing to theorize or philosophize about natural law. Until Einstein they just memorized Newton and assumed somehow these laws were in place and they did ask how they could be in place. Two profs form UT should read on this score, Robert Solomon and Robert Koons.
Your assertion that an atheist is not in a position to rule out a miracle a preori unless it contradicts (?what?) is a good point. Because by the same token we don't have to think of God as working outside the lines that "he" created in natural law. So the blowfly idea of angels dispensing miracles is out. It could as well be God works through natural law just by beginning the probabilities, working the Tao.
1. Miracles are statistically unlikely events (even if they occur) whereas natural occurrences are highly likely.
Does not necessitate being outside structures of norm.
2. Because of (1), any claimed event (x) is more likely to have a natural explanation.
Does not necessitate the assertion that the more detailed description can't include the opposite--the extremely unlikely. Nor does it justify assuming ignored evidence is lack of evidence.
And even then, we need to be clear on what we mean by "explanation".
O now you are getting around that hu? you can't deal with that without accepting the fact that you can't factor in a lack of evidence since evdience int he past has been ignored.
In the same way that, "James dropped the ball" doesn't form a part of a scientific explanation as to why the ball dropped when I let go of it, "God did X" does not provide a scientific explanation of X. The reason why "God did X" claims are often dismissed (often in favour of "I don't know") is that there is no real difference (in terms of understanding) between "God did X" and "I don't know" and natural explanations are proven to have greater explanatory power.
that's an evasion. that's an excuse to use the perennial excuse machine of atheism and always assert another possibility however unlikely. the most ridiculously unlike scenarios must be accept before anything miraculous. That's based upon the past ignoring of evdience.
You can say what is normative but normative and possible are not the same. do you understand?Meta:
you don't understand. if you suddenly assumed that all the past evidence has been covered up was admitted as evidence your case for no miracle would look totally different. you would have to be saying things like "even though there are thousands of examples of miracles we still find this one is irrational and not probable."
But normative does govern our sense of what is likely or probable and will have a direct impact on which explanations are preferred.
that contradicts everything in your other deal. Normative would mean probable in this case.
Something you are thus far ignoring. We don't embrace explanations simply because they are possible and if we are faced with a number of competing possibilities and no empirical evaluation is possible then we will be biased towards what is more probable.
I'm not ignoring that. you are ignoring the consequence that obtains form saying that physical laws are only descriptions of what happens. That means that the limit on what can happen disappears and you are left with only probability. Probability can be deceiving because you are basing your view of what is probable on a lie, on all the hidden miracles that have been ruled out.
you are also ignoring the process through which ruling them out transforms them from ignored to a variable in calculating the probability.
so if natural laws are NOT PRESCRIPTIVE but merely DESCRIPTIONS OF WHAT HAPPENS, THAT OPENS THE DOOR FOR THING THAT WE DIDN'T THINK COULD HAPPEN. iT'S JUST A MATTER OF DESCRIBING THINGS BETTER. DON'T YOU SEE?
"God did X" is not an explanation of X (where X is a claimed miraculous event).
Now that's moving beyond basing descriptions upon evidence or using probability to determine explanation that's moving back into the realm of ruling out miracles a prori the reason there's never a case where you will be wiling to consider divine action. As long as that's the case (it always will be) then you always have a structure that's ready made to deny miracles. when you ad to that the idea that you can't say God did something it ceases to be defacto and become dejure. (sp).
It merely takes something that is mysterious (X) and attributes it to something (God) that is even more inexplicable than the thing (X) that was being explained.
But you see that is an ideologically conditioned stilted rendition of how the attribution of miracles takes place. the Lourdes committee is made up of scientists and researchers who are much too sophisticated to just say "God did it" every time something is unexplained. There's a lot more to it than that.
One can make a whole scinece of just determining when it's valid to claim miracles, aside from getting around to presenting evidence for them.
The last time we had a big argument about Charles Anne's lungs the atheist declared that the x-rays have to be made up and he would not believe until I gave him a copy of the x-rays. I said I have actually talked to a guy on the committee who assures me that the x-rays are true,l he's sense them. He just said "he has to be lying because he's religious." when I accused him of belief that miracles are impossible he says NO of course I don't think ti' just that there are never any happening.
So when push comes to shove they always transmute the evidence into doubt then the doubt into presumption against miracles. That's still a contradiction to the basic assumption of descriptive laws.