Demand: All you have, is a great opinion, no evidence or proofs. Just an opinion, not fact.
Reply: Proofs exist only in mathematics and logic, not in science. Atheists repeatedly claim that a solid view or position, in order to be acceptable and valid, must be capable in principle of being empirically verified. The inadequacy of this epistemological approach led to the complete collapse amongst philosophers of science during the second half of the twentieth century, helping to spark a revival of interest in Metaphysics. Today’s Flew’s sort of challenge, which loomed so large in mid-century discussions, is scarcely a blip on the philosophical radar screen. Asking for 100 percent, to truly know what occurred in the past is unrealistic. We believe lots of things with confidence even though we do not have absolute certainty. It is up to logic and the factors of different lines of evidence to determine what causes best to explain our origins. Every worldview, without exception, is a faith-based belief system, consisting of a set of statements the holder adopts as being true. Starting from this view, we can dispense with the foolish notion of "proof," as some are so quick to require. Instead of "proof" in the absolute sense, we proceed with examining the available evidence, which should point with confidence to the worldview that best accounts for that evidence.
Science provides us with evidence. Based on it, we can make post-dictions in regard to the past. Historical sciences cannot go back with a time-machine and observe what happened back in the past. As such, abiogenesis, and macroevolution ( primary speciation ) cannot be demonstrated in as much as ID/creationism. This is not a dispute between religion and science, but good interpretations of the scientific evidence, and inadequate interpretations, which do eventually not fit well the data.
… we can never have perfectly clean-cut knowledge of anything. It is a general consequence of the approximate character of all measurement that no empirical science can ever make exact statements.
P. W. Bridgman; (1882-1961); The Logic of Modern Physics; 1927/1951; p33, 34
A typical epistemological lack of understanding common to atheists is how to setup a correct methodology to find the best answers in regards of origins and reality, and to assume that given further investigations, science will or can discover with absolute certainty and tell us what has happened in the past. The truth is, science is limited in that it does not grant absolute truth, but only yields degrees of probability or likelihood. Asking theists to prove that there is a God is silly.
Science isn’t in the business of proving things. Rather, science judges the merits of competing models in terms of their simplicity, clarity, comprehensiveness, and fit to the data.
Science observes the Universe, records evidence, and strives to draw conclusions about what has happened in the past, is happening now, and what will potentially happen in the future, given the current state of scientific knowledge—which is often times woefully incomplete, and even inaccurate. The late, prominent evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson discussed the nature of science and probability several years ago in the classic textbook, Life: An Introduction to Biology, stating:
We speak in terms of “acceptance,” “confidence,” and “probability,” not “proof.” If by proof is meant the establishment of eternal and absolute truth, open to no possible exception or modification, then proof has no place in the natural sciences.
Luke A. Barnes writes:
Theory testing in the physical sciences has been revolutionized in recent decades by Bayesian approaches to probability theory.
Wiki: Bayesian inference is a method of statistical inference in which Bayes' theorem is used to update the probability of a hypothesis as more evidence or information becomes available. Bayesian inference is an important technique in statistics, and especially in mathematical statistics. Bayesian updating is particularly important in the dynamic analysis of a sequence of data. Bayesian inference has found application in a wide range of activities, including science, engineering, philosophy, medicine, sport, and law. .......and......... historical sciences, including intelligent design theory which tries to explain how most probably past events occurred. That is similar to abductive reasoning :
Wiki: Abductive reasoning is a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation. In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion. One can understand the abductive reasoning as "instant-deduction to the best explanation". 3
No one can know with absolute certainty that the design hypothesis is false. It follows from the absence of absolute knowledge, that each person should be willing to accept at least the possibility that the design hypothesis is correct, however remote that possibility might seem to him. Once a person makes that concession, as every honest person must, the game is up. The question is no longer whether ID is science or non-science. The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis. 4
For, we did not – and cannot -- directly observe the remote past, so origins science theories are in the end attempted “historical” reconstructions of what we think the past may have been like. Such reconstructions are based on investigating which of the possible explanations seems "best" to us on balance in light of the evidence. However, to censor out a class of possible explanations ahead of time through imposing materialism plainly undermines the integrity of this abductive method.
Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific "dead ends" and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic; which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically. 5
The first difference is that historical study is a matter of probability. Any and all historical theories are supported by evidence that is not deductive in nature. We might consider them to be inferences to the best explanation, or Bayesian probabilities but they cannot be deductions. historical theories are not based on experiments, – repeatable or otherwise – nor are historical theories subject to empirical verification. The evidence for a historical theory may be empirical, but the theory itself is not. These differences mean that one cannot simply treat science and history as similar disciplines. 6
Stephen Meyer writes:
Studies in the philosophy of science show that successful explanations in historical sciences such as evolutionary biology need to provide “causally adequate” explanations—that is, explanations that cite a cause or mechanism
capable of producing the effect in question. In On the Origin of Species, Darwin repeatedly attempted to show that his theory satisfied this criterion, which was then called the vera causa (or “true cause”) criterion. In the third chapter of the Origin, for example, he sought to demonstrate the causal adequacy of natural selection by drawing analogies between it and the power of animal breeding and by extrapolating from observed instances of small-scale evolutionary change over short periods of time. 7
The main problem with Darwinism is that it is an all-encompassing HISTORICAL hypothesis. Common ancestry, and primary speciation/macroevolution cannot be empirically tested. It seeks to answer questions about the origin of life forms by interpreting information about contemporary life-forms and fossils in order to extrapolate all the way back to the origin of life on Earth. The primary issue involved is whether or not current life (processes and structures) and the extant artifacts of past life are BETTER or MORE ADEQUATELY explained due to naturalistic evolutionary mechanisms and functions and extrapolation of physics/chemistry vs. Intelligence having acted to originate biodiversity. Both options require almost entirely interpretation and extrapolation from the available data, and when these are present in greater vs. lesser measure, it's important to take into account just how far from the data such interpretation and extrapolation actually lies.
The best science and the most reliable hypotheses are those which lie closest to the data, which explain the data in the most adequate manner, with the least amount of fudging or guesswork. It's fair to say that, given enough data accumulation, the scientific method itself can decide the fate of naturalistic explanations for the origin of life and biodiversity. The point has already been reached where Darwinism is demonstrably inadequate to explain the available data and will only grow more and more distant from it as time goes on. The reason for this?—the proliferation of data which Darwinism simply doesn't/can't explain.
The old fallback that 'Darwinism is the best explanation science has, since all supernatural explanations—e.g., creation of life by God's intervention in the natural world—are automatically ruled out-of-bounds' is invalid. One reason is that any historical theory requires extrapolation from extant evidence and is, by definition, non-repeatable. Other scientific disciplines than biology do deal with historical theories—e.g., cosmogony of the Solar System, forensics, archaeology—and proceed similarly, and so all historical events would theoretically automatically be invalid objects of scientific inquiry; Historical theorizing has inherent limitations that, say, chemistry—which is repeatable in a laboratory setting at any point in time—transcends. Chemistry is therefore closer to its own data than is, say, paleontology.
There's an additional problem: The same, physical universe in which we humans observe nature also contains various artifacts of supernatural intervention, and so the assumption that the natural world is somehow entirely independent of any knowable supernatural intervention is not necessarily true. For example, Christians can be aware of informational artifacts contained within the text of the Bible which defy naturalistic explanation; these are in the areas of correct/detailed scientific/medical information before humans could have acquired it themselves via science, 100% accurate and detailed prophetic information, and historical information of various kinds that has been confirmed as true by achaeology. Yet another problem is that the central figure of Christianity—Jesus of Nazareth—was born, lived and breathed and walked, and died/rose again within the same observable world and the same flow of human history in which science and the scientific method operate. We know when and where he lived, many of the things he said and taught, and have the testimonies of contemporary eyewitnesses regarding his supernatural interventions in the natural world. As historians have pointed out, those keen to dismiss this kind of evidence with the quick wave of a philosophically inclined hand are simply not dealing validly with the historiographical evidence of Jesus' life.
Science, based on philosophical and methodological naturalism may philosophically reject historical records of supernatural intervention in the observable world, but in the strictest scientific sense they cannot forever disregard such records and the evidence which bears them out. To metaphorize the situation: God has intervened in the observable world in very tangible ways and, in so doing, has left behind striking artifactual 'fingerprints.' Some of those fingerprints are remarkable indeed, and all of them are just as tangibly present in our universe as are its other physical and information elements which, for the sake of convenience and discussion, we like to characterize as 'natural.' However, linguistic/conceptual categorizations are far less important to the actualization of the scientific method than is the stubborn, raw data itself.
7. Darwin's Doubt pg.162:
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