Dr. Ard Louis on science and faith: two videos

I was intrigued by this short video showing Dr. Ard Louis (Oxford University) articulate a simple but profound critique of this fundamental aspect of the reasoning behind intelligent design.

Read Darrel Falk’s helpful summary and commentary here.

This same sort of argument can be applied to the various attractive (but always suspicious) “fine tuning arguments“.

As I said, I was struck by Dr. Louis’s evident intelligence and so went googling to find more about him. In so doing, I discovered that just a few nights ago (January 24, 2010) he gave a lecture at Stanford entitled “Can Science Explain Everything?” in which he argues that even when we accept the answers we find in the laboratory, our search for answers doesn’t necessarily come to a dead end there.

So, what do you think?

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  • Matt

    Using Drummond’s “God of the Gaps” as the ultimate test case, wouldn’t we be forced to always drop any argument that appeals to the material world to suggest the existence of God?

    I’m a hesitant to use that word “existence” because its loaded materially. I don’t believe God would “exist” in any sense we would use in the material universe!

    Finally, “Everything” in the materialist view is covered by Science. I am just beginning to dig into the concept of consciousness being something not covered in the material world (if I understand that!) so it should be interesting to have a chance to discuss that too.

    • Using Drummond’s “God of the Gaps” as the ultimate test case, wouldn’t we be forced to always drop any argument that appeals to the material world to suggest the existence of God?

      Agreed. Probabilities against the likelihood of something always are always subject to being revised when new input data is discovered. Not a wonderful idea to put our eggs in that basket, methinks.

      Finally, “Everything” in the materialist view is covered by Science.

      I disagree with them in that I think everything material should be studied – and cannot be exhaustively covered – by Science. “God of the gaps” is but one form of invoking an explanation that lies outside the domain of inquiry. It isn’t a logical failure, but a practical one: in science, positing a “God of the gaps” argument to cover for lack of understanding cripples our investigation of the natural world by invoking a supernatural explanation for natural phenomena. But in searching for transcendent, extra-physical, absolute meaning, a parallel problem manifests when people try invoking natural explanations for abstracts, such as in the famously true-but-insufficient explanation of love as mere “chemical reactions in the brain.” To say that love is “chemical reactions in the brain” isn’t to say that this is all it is: it has meaning. Appealing to science to explain this away is, as is obvious to all those honest with themselves, ultimately an incomplete description of the phenomenon. (This reminds me of that great Star Trek: Voyager episode <a href="http://undeception.com/when-a-sound-rational-explanation-misses-the-point/"<I blogged about a while back.)

  • Matt

    Using Drummond’s “God of the Gaps” as the ultimate test case, wouldn’t we be forced to always drop any argument that appeals to the material world to suggest the existence of God?

    I’m a hesitant to use that word “existence” because its loaded materially. I don’t believe God would “exist” in any sense we would use in the material universe!

    Finally, “Everything” in the materialist view is covered by Science. I am just beginning to dig into the concept of consciousness being something not covered in the material world (if I understand that!) so it should be interesting to have a chance to discuss that too.

    • Using Drummond’s “God of the Gaps” as the ultimate test case, wouldn’t we be forced to always drop any argument that appeals to the material world to suggest the existence of God?

      Agreed. Probabilities against the likelihood of something always are always subject to being revised when new input data is discovered. Not a wonderful idea to put our eggs in that basket, methinks.

      Finally, “Everything” in the materialist view is covered by Science.

      I disagree with them in that I think everything material should be studied – and cannot be exhaustively covered – by Science. “God of the gaps” is but one form of invoking an explanation that lies outside the domain of inquiry. It isn’t a logical failure, but a practical one: in science, positing a “God of the gaps” argument to cover for lack of understanding cripples our investigation of the natural world by invoking a supernatural explanation for natural phenomena. But in searching for transcendent, extra-physical, absolute meaning, a parallel problem manifests when people try invoking natural explanations for abstracts, such as in the famously true-but-insufficient explanation of love as mere “chemical reactions in the brain.” To say that love is “chemical reactions in the brain” isn’t to say that this is all it is: it has meaning. Appealing to science to explain this away is, as is obvious to all those honest with themselves, ultimately an incomplete description of the phenomenon. (This reminds me of that great Star Trek: Voyager episode a while back.)

  • I must have missed something here but is sounded to me like Dr. Louis used the argument: “Evolution happened because it did. We see stuff happening right now, so therefore evolution must have happened. So to question the possibility of it happening in this way is to ask the wrong question.”

    What did I miss? Because isn’t ID’s point that it couldn’t have self-generated? The fact that we see things replicating now means little if I’m following the reasoning right. (Which, I fear, I’m not.)

    Sorry, I’m feeling stupid at the moment, like a flunking college student listening to a prof and thinking, “Duh… wha? Huh?”

    ~Luke
    .-= Luke Holzmann´s last blog ..Two HUGE Updates to Sonlight.com =-.

    • AMW

      Luke,

      I think what he’s saying is, we know of a process (self-assembly of protein structures) that 1) produces specific, complex structures from a host of possible variations and 2) can be explained in terms of natural cause and effect. If we were just shown the structures themselves, we would think, “there’s no way that just happened on its own; an intelligence of some sort must be making those things.” That intuitive reaction is incorrect, however, because we can actually see them self-assembling, and (apparently) mathematicians have worked out how that is possible through natural means. He’s arguing that just because you can’t immediately see how something could come about by natural means doesn’t mean that it couldn’t.

  • I must have missed something here but is sounded to me like Dr. Louis used the argument: “Evolution happened because it did. We see stuff happening right now, so therefore evolution must have happened. So to question the possibility of it happening in this way is to ask the wrong question.”

    What did I miss? Because isn’t ID’s point that it couldn’t have self-generated? The fact that we see things replicating now means little if I’m following the reasoning right. (Which, I fear, I’m not.)

    Sorry, I’m feeling stupid at the moment, like a flunking college student listening to a prof and thinking, “Duh… wha? Huh?”

    ~Luke
    .-= Luke Holzmann´s last blog ..Two HUGE Updates to Sonlight.com =-.

    • AMW

      Luke,

      I think what he’s saying is, we know of a process (self-assembly of protein structures) that 1) produces specific, complex structures from a host of possible variations and 2) can be explained in terms of natural cause and effect. If we were just shown the structures themselves, we would think, “there’s no way that just happened on its own; an intelligence of some sort must be making those things.” That intuitive reaction is incorrect, however, because we can actually see them self-assembling, and (apparently) mathematicians have worked out how that is possible through natural means. He’s arguing that just because you can’t immediately see how something could come about by natural means doesn’t mean that it couldn’t.