Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things that can't be proved by science

This debate (apparently on William F. Buckley's "Firing Line") features William Lane Craig debating Peter Atkins. Craig makes some of the points I have made on this blog about things that cannot be proven by science. The video does not show Atkins' response, which would be instructive.


Art said...

It would help if Craig had even a slight inkling of what science is.

Or if he had even a tiny grasp of some pretty basic facts. His "recollection" of Einstein's thought processes is pretty amusing, almost Bachmann-ian in its vacuity.

This is the cream of the theological crop?

Lee said...

Could you specify, Art?

Singring said...

Wow...looking to Craig as validation for one's ideas is about as credible as looking to Scooby Doo.

Interestingly, I waged a very long and hugely entertaining debate with an evangelical Christian going by the screen 'Paulomycin' in the comments section of this very video on YouTube (you can still find it, I'm sure) in which he made the admission - among other things - that he would feel no compunction in killing children if he were an atheist.

With regard to the video: Atkins is a very poor debater, Craig is very skilled debater. Atkins made a claim that was poorly phrased and thus left a huge opening for Craig to spew his sophistic claptrap.

His response can be found on YouTube, but it vwas weak as far as I can recall.

The simplest answer to Craig is this:

a) Just because science can't 'account' for everything doesn't mean it can't account for anything, including the origin of life or the universe


b) religion (or philosphy, take your pick) can't 'account' for the things he lists either.

So the score remains at science: 1, religion: 0

KyCobb said...

Well, science doesn't "prove" anything, but we can, through observation, establish as fact a matter confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent. For example, the speed of light has been observed to be constant throughout the observable universe going back 13 billion years, so it is not a mere assumption, as Craig asserted, but an observed fact.

Art said...

Hi Lee,

Einstein did not work in a vacuum (pardon the pun). In his time, there was experimental data suggesting that the speed of light was constant, and this body of experimental work was at least part of the backdrop in which Einstein's work should be viewed. I suppose that there are many, many sources, but I think Ch. 6 of Abraham Pais' biography ("Subtle is the Lord ...") explains things nicely.

So when Craig says, in essence, that Einstein arbitrarily assumed that the speed of light is constant, he is just exposing a profound ignorance of a very exciting and influential time in the history of science. Ignorance such as this renders his entire debate meaningless. If he is so reliant on gross errors (or worse - I cannot help but think that someone with Craig's credentials actually knows something about the history of science, and deliberately chooses to misrepresent things to score a cheap rhetorical point) for one of his points, I suspect he is equally reliant on errors and falsehoods for the rest of his argument.

Lee said...

So Art, are you are saying that the mistake he made was over an issue central to his entire point?

Or are you saying that to make any mistake invalidates all other points that were being made, and absolves his critics of any responsibility to deal with them?