Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Inductive Vacuum of Presuppositionalism

My last entry was about induction, so it's only fair that I come back to it again and hammer the Christians with it some more.

Someone, I think Derek, pointed me previously to Michael Martin's article "Does Induction Presume the Existence of the Christian God? (1997)". It's a nice debunking of presuppositionalism applied to induction, although given the weakness of the opposition it seems more like killing an insignificant fly with a jackhammer.

The part that attracted my attention is on the second-to-last paragraph :

In addition, learning from induction is compatible even with local failure of the present laws so long as this is not complete. Suppose, for example, that after 1998 only statistical laws held on the macro level so that for instance fire is hot only 98% of the time. This would be sufficient to teach us not to get burned.
Well, Martin's claim in this passage is dubious and vague. If he means that natural law or induction is somehow suspended after 1998, then we have to reject this because induction is necessary. The proposition "fire is hot only 98% of the time" is itself arrived at by induction, so it would be self-refuting to claim that natural law or induction has somehow been "broken".

But the other part, and this is why I wanted to bring this passage up, is that within the materialist, reductionist universe (the very properties that Manata likes to point and laugh at), we can determine the cause of this 2% deviation. We can look at the lower levels of the material hierarchy, reduce the property of temperature, and look at these 2% cases to determine what's going on. If there is something to be known, we as human beings can decide to go and find it - to apply our moral will to discovery.

Of course, Martin is right that we would still be justified in keeping away from flames. It's entirely possible to walk on hot coals, if properly prepared, but it's usually a bad idea to do so. A few people have survived falls of thousands of feet without a parachute, but it's not recommended to do so.

Does the Christian have the same solution ? Not really, no. In fact, since "fire is hot only 98% of the time" is based on induction, the Christian wouldn't even know there is a problem ! Of course, he would rely on science to point out the problem, and then go on atheist message boards and crow that only God can solve the problem.

Given Manata's ridicule of reductionism, I gather that he wouldn't like that solution either. So he would have absolutely no way of understanding why the flame is not warm 2% of the time. Which brings me to another problem...

Anti-reductionism seems to be saying this :

(1) You can't look at lower hierarchical levels to explain properties that are observed at a higher hierarchical level. Those properties can only be explained by God.

But :

(2) Theories use lower hierarchical levels to explain properties that are observed at a higher hierarchical level.

So :

(3) According to anti-reductionism, theories are always false.

Which is absolutely ridiculous, and in itself a disproval of anti-reductionism, since many scientific theories are proven.
But furthermore :

(4) Some theories are based on facts and laws.

Take for example the explanation for rainbows. We explain the rainbow by reducing it to the interaction of light and water drops, by the law of refraction. Since the law of refraction is itself observed directly, one would think that the Christian shouldn't have any problem with it. But if refraction is true, then the theory we use to explain rainbows is true, which contradicts anti-reductionism.

My point is that theories are interlaced with facts and laws, and that any attempt to cut one from the other is illogical. Anti-reductionism is therefore illogical by that very token.

Post a Comment


At 4/15/2005 1:11 AM, Blogger Res Ipsa declaimed...

What does your reference to the "moral will to discovery" mean?

At 4/15/2005 2:00 AM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

hellmouth said:

"hail satan"

Are you a Church of Satan style Satanist or one of those Satanists that actually believes in Satan and God?

At 4/15/2005 2:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...

I eat the young children of mothers! I come her to do the bidding of Shub Niggurath. Iak Sakkath! Azazel! I'm a crazed maniac who dances naked in the moonlight! I wear dead peoples skin for masks. I'm the big scary satanist. Don't look at me in the light, for I'm as pale as a Summarian ghost. I wear all balck and have 50 pendant necklaces hanging from my neck. You can call it "satan bling" if you wish. I come for the knife! I said, I-I-I I want the knife!

At 4/15/2005 2:31 AM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Anonymous, you sound like a Christian to me.

At 4/15/2005 8:12 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...


So, Paul, I guess all that old devil-worshipping crap comes in handy, after all?



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