SocioSphere Editorials

April 2002 - February 2009 Archive
Reflections on Religion, Current Events, and Other Subjects

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Sunday,September 30,2007

Someone wrote:

You probably meant natural history

I don't know what the Wikipedia says on it, but the term "naturalism" refers to something like biological reductionism. A naturalist is someone (biologist, zoologist, etc.) who attempts to explain biological phenomena naturallly, not supernaturally. My point was that creationists invoke an alleged being outside of nature for their explanations. They are supernaturalists, not naturalists; and supernaturalism is not compatible with the scientific method.


So 'fact' has to do more with sociology,then epistemology?

As a sociologist, I would argue that a fact is treated as consensus in all scientific communities, even if some of their members may claim otherwise. My argument falls into the category of what is sometimes called postpositivism.


Ok.But communal conscience changes over time,so it is reasonable to predict that Evolution may be rejected in future.
And according to your opinion,when we say 'fact' we may simply imply 'current fact'.

That is an unknown possibility, but unknown possibilities are not arguments.Wink

So this is basically about scientific popularity and authority,not truth?

There are many definitions of "truth." Mine is a critical constructionist one. I would contend that truth is merely a name for the constructions of those in power.

posted at 05:54:32 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Someone wrote:
So,what you are saying is that naturalism is science, according to you interpretation?
It's somehow logical that naturalists would support Evolution,since Evolution is naturalistic theory.

Naturalism is generally defined as the scientific study of plants and animals. It would include paleontology, biology, zoology, physical anthropology, etc.


And something is a 'fact' if naturalists have consensus about it?
So if they have consensus that colors does not exist(for example),that means that this is a 'fact'?

A scientific fact reflects the consensus of a scientific community. Facts, like the sciences themselvse, deal with relative knowledge.

I originally wrote:
>>However, due to the inductive character of the scientific method, no proposition, not only those in evolution, is beyond all doubt. One is also not required to speculate in order to note that the vast body of evidence supports biological evolution.<<

And I wrote again:
>>Some individuals may have agendas. However, evolution is a fact and a theoretical tradition. What matters, from a scientific perspective, is the evidence. <<

To which you said:


This statement contradicts with your previous one:

I don't see the contradiction. Sciences are community activities, not merely those of individuals acting alone. That alone generally filters out ulterior motives. Is it flawless? Of course not. However, I think that dishonest research is generally discovered eventually.


Second,'evidences' that you have mentioned can be interpreted in creationist sense..

Creationists can do what they want. However, the fact that their researches are rarely published in mainstream refereed journals is an indication of their lack of credibility, not the result of some agenda.

posted at 03:22:09 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Someone wrote:

As was proposed by Francis Bacon.

I am talking about the modern research process, as it is generally understood by scientists. It is substantially an inductive method (hypothesis testing), but it also has a deductive component (developing hypotheses from theory).


No.It [evolution] is involved with ontological interpretation of reality,like Creationism.A job that does not belong to science,but belief system.
And for me (personally) a belief system is 'religion'.

I think you are conflating evolution as theory (or theories) and evolution as fact. As theory, yes, evolution refers to the interpretation (or explanation) of the data. The dominant theoretical approach today is called the modern evolutionary synthesis. However, evolution as fact refers to the broad consensus of natural scientists (naturalists). When one says that most naturalists recognize evolution as without significant doubt, one is saying it is a scientific fact.


Science has to do with observation of empirical facts,not about speculations of origins of these facts.

As a nominalist, I agree with you about avoiding unnecessary metaphysical speculations. However, due to the inductive character of the scientific method, no proposition, not only those in evolution, is beyond all doubt. One is also not required to speculate in order to note that the vast body of evidence supports biological evolution.


I'm fully agnostic on question of genesis/evolution.

Well, if you are using the term agnostic as did Huxley, you would be compelled to be agnostic about, not only evolution, but all scientific discoveries.

posted at 02:21:25 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

>>Evolution does not belong to biology,since it is based on induction and not deduction..therefore it is a form of pseudo-biology.<<

Well, of course, the scientific method is substantially induction. Deduction applies when deriving hypotheses from theory. However, the process of data analysis is inductive.Wink

>>Same goes,off course to creationism.<<

Creationism claims to be inductive, but it is almost entirely deductive. If you look through the major creationist organization sites (and I am not including those devoted to so-called intelligent design, which has its own problems), they require that members subscribe to a fundamentalist (or conservative evangelical) belief system.

>>Actually evolutionary 'biology' is quite involved in theological questions since,like creationism goes beyond observable experience and gives metaphysical statements about nature of reality,although atheist one.<<

Evolutionary biology is involved with creationism???

posted at 01:13:05 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

IMO, the divine meaning (or, more properly, will) of evolution would be a proper theological question. Biological origins would not.

posted at 01:01:47 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,September 28,2007

Pragmatically, the problem with the U.S. court system is its three-tiered system of "justice." There is justice for those who can afford the top legal representation; justice for those who just hire a lawyer; and justice for those who must rely upon court-appointed attorneys.

Regarding that last category, I tell my students a few stories which invariably leaves a few of them weeping.

posted at 06:13:46 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Someone wrote:

Our courts I think work too much with precedent. It should be treated more on by a case by case basis. Nothing would stop them from trying, but is that really wrong?

On one level I agree with you. However, I can think of a couple of problems. First, court dockets (at least in the U.S.) are already overburdened. Limiting precedent would only compound that problem. Second, there is a controversy regarding differential justice. The same offense might be punished in vastly different fashions in various jurisdictions. Your suggestion would increase that differential.

posted at 04:50:54 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,September 26,2007

As I said, historically Israel, established by the United Nations, has a greater claim to legitimacy than most nations. That, however, is entirely a separate issue from the policies of the Israeli (or any) government. IMO, the problem is that nation states - not just Israel - pursue their own perceived interests over and against other nation states. A world federation could reduce, even eliminate, it.

posted at 06:07:10 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,September 24,2007

I don't expect anyone to agree with me. Linguistic realism encourages intellectual laziness and discourages critical thinking. It is the path of least resistance.

Some people take that (becoming as little children) to mean a kind of uncritical fundamentalism - where the superficial becomes normative.

posted at 09:10:35 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,September 22,2007

All texts are inspired by whatever they are written about. Whether God himself inspired any of them is something only God knows.

posted at 08:08:38 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Copyright © 2002- Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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