When stories become science (and when they don’t)

I hesitate to continue on the subject of maths in evolution, as it takes us into some deep philosophical waters, and especially as evolutionary programming is outside my comfort zone. But some useful stuff arose from the comments on previous threads, and there may be a couple of posts in it to make us think more critically.

Let’s start by posing the kind of general scientific questions one might ask, on the reasonable assumption, based on the fossil record, genetic variation etc, that biological evolution exists in the real world. A hierarchy of such questions might be:

  • Are the proposed mutation and natural selection true mechanisms for it?
  • Do natural evolutionary mechanisms account exhaustively for the entire variety of life?
  • Do mutation and natural selection provide such an exhaustive explanation?
  • Is it possible to describe evolution in mathematical laws?

Taking the the last question first (as I did in the previous posts), the ability to achieve mathematical description is, I would suggest, the goal of science, in that it provides a defined abstraction from the messiness of reality that makes sense of the world. To quote Galileo:

[The universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.

But even mathematics provides only a model of reality. One writer on Gödel says this:

In 1931 Gödel proved that no mathematical model is perfect, and none ever will be. There are always foundational assumptions included in any model that are not explainable by that model, and some will later be found to be “false” as science and scientific knowledge progresses. A model is not absolute, in the sense we normally think of. Further, scientific observation (experimental method) does not yield ultimate truth at all, but only the best truth we can arrive at a given time with our available instruments and measurement techniques.
A “model” must be judged on its usefulness and without the question of “absolute” even being raised. All modern scientific knowledge is relative knowledge, not absolute knowledge! Modern and more enlightened scientists thus regard any present model as at best a “somewhat better approximation” than some prevailing model, but far from perfect.

The epistemological gap between our theories (models) and reality is very well described in The OFloinn’s must-read series on the issue starting here. OK, it’s yet more reading, but you got yourself into this by coming here, right?

One simple summarising example (but you still need to read TOF!). Giovanni Battista Benedetti (a thousand years after John Philoponus in the sixth century and a few decades before it was attributed to Galileo) discovered the constant acceleration due to gravity by dropping different weights from a height. Now in reality objects fall at different speeds owing to air pressure (of which he was probably ignorant), as he’d have found had he used a feather or a glider with his cannonball. But within the parameters of his experiment, using solid masses of equal size, this was negligible – and the result was of practical use as well as theoretical, because other factors can often be ignored in our world. The mathematical law of gravity is a demonstration that gravity can be usefully treated as an isolated, but major, phenomenon. The maths enables one to distinguish it from the other forces artificially excluded by the model. TOF’s series shows how modelling, and therefore the ability to abstract useful science, becomes progressively more tentative and fallible in complex systems.

For example, the Marxist theory of history may well have some application to reality, but cannot be treated as scientific because history is chock-full of confounding factors: has the predicted world socialism failed to materialise because the theory is wrong, or because of contingent factors that have simply delayed it? It’s academic, because like astrology it has simply gone out of fashion because it cannot be abstracted usefully from messy reality, even though, like astrology, its core premise has not been falsified.

Incidentally the same limitations apply to using “the god hypothesis” as a scientific theory. Let us suppose that God often answers prayer requests directly. But unless that is the only or predominant cause of things happening, it fails as a scientific model because, in the real world you’re necessarily studying, natural phenomena, human malice, people lying about praying, and of course God’s larger agenda make the reality too complicated to model. One has to approach answered prayer on a different epistemological basis than experimental modelling, and science simply has insufficient warrant to comment on prayer as one factor in reality. Or on Marx, or on astrology.

I’ll turn now to the modelling of Darwinian evolution, especially by those pesky algorithms. Lou Jost helpfully points out that, according to the theory, the information necessary to bring successful change is added to the stochastic (and therefore directionless) variation of organisms by the environment. And hence a common thought experiment pictures green organisms being confronted by a red environment (the latter being the information), and any red variants being selected because they are camouflaged. In computing terms, the red environment is a Hamming oracle, which organisms query by being either red (correct) or green (incorrect – die, earthling).

This is what justifies using oracles to simulate the selecting environment in computer algorithms. In Chaitin’s case, the information added was the criterion that his virtual organisms be able to calculate large numbers. Other programs have other criteria by which entities are deemed “successful” or “unsuccessful”. These are all part of the information in the program, and are simulating the assumption that the environment, too, adds analogous directional information to the mix.

Is that modelling assumption valid, though? In the real, messy world, environments are never uni-dimensional (red-green), and seldom can it even be demonstrated that one feature of the environment is exclusively linked to the success of one trait (cf Piotr’s suggestions on the Uncommon Descent thread about drift and spandrels in connection with scorpion burrows, contrasted to postulated selection by temperature and humidity.) Environments are not even stable sources of information, because they are constantly changing.

Consider, for example, Darek Barefoot’s example of chaotic weather systems as being incapable of perfect prediction. In fact, such systems are a major environmental determinant of life, to which extent the selective environmment becomes chaotic and unpredictable too. Even out of my window here I see changes in the balance of species dependent on annual weather patterns: a few bad winters can even lead to the extinction of species. It’s a good year for tortiseshell butterflies, unlike last. The breeding success of the swallows in my stable is largely governed by stochastic, and varying, factors like how good as a nesting patform the floodlights I installed are, the presence and persistence of marauding jays and magpies, and so on. The swallows in the unlit field shelter 100 feet away couldn’t get the mud to stick, and were anyway killed by a cat because the roost was lower. Genes didn’t come into it.

Now, such unpredictable changes in the environment cannot be usefully modelled, and so are likely to be factored out of computer simulations, just as Lenski’s lab experiments factored out nearly every environmental factor apart from citrate and glucose levels. Only by doing so was there an experimant at all.

Does this matter? It could be that it’s the very fact of shifting peaks in the fitness landscape that enable evolution to proceed apace. Perhaps the gaps between peaks are constantly filled so that there’s always a new hill to climb. But equally plausibly, the hugely stochastic nature of environmental changes could mean that a random set of variations and a random environment makes real evolution utterly directionless. It partly depends on the speed and extent of environmental changes, which ones matter, and other incalculable imponderables.

Another simple thought experiment to clarify this: run the METHINKSITISLIKEAWEASEL algorithm, but with every new input (or every 5 inputs, or every 10) you also change the target phrase (by a little, or by a lot). Intuitively it’s going to take a lot longer for the input to match the target, if it ever does. But you’ll only be able to decide how much and how often it’s realistic to change the target parameters if you know something positive about the change in significant information in the environment you’re modelling in the real world. And that cannot be done, because nobody can quantify the information in the environment. All one can say is, “It changes a lot”.

So the answers I would give to the four questions I posed at the start are these:

  • Are the proposed mutation and natural selection true mechanisms for evolution?

Ans: yes – there is good experimental evidence that mutation and natural selection lead to change in gene frequency, and even phenotypic traits.

  • Do natural evolutionary mechanisms account exhaustively for the entire variety of life?

Ans: Unknowable by science. It’s a metaphysical preference.

  • Do mutation and natural selection provide such an exhaustive explanation?

Ans: Without demonstrating their sufficiency, one cannot show their exclusivity. And there are enough anomalies in the literature to make it very doubtful.

  • Is it possible to describe evolution in mathematical laws?

Ans: No, and to the same extent that one can’t, one demonstrates the relative weakness of the model as science, without in the least suggesting that it isn’t true: there’s truth, and there’s scientifically knowable truth, and they are not the same.

In the next post, I may describe a frustrating personal experience of the limits of scientific knowledge.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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14 Responses to When stories become science (and when they don’t)

  1. Lou Jost says:

    Glad my comment was helpful. You are right that if the environment is too variable, it won’t be able to drive evolution, but in reality many aspects of the environment are highly stable. In most places the environment really is reliably green, and in many places where it is not (like the arctic) the changes are themselves reliable and predictable. It is not correct to say “Environments are not even stable sources of information, because they are constantly changing.” Information is a probabilistic quantity; it does not require certainty.

    You are also greatly exaggerating the unpredictability of the environment when you say
    “a random environment makes real evolution utterly directionless. It partly depends on the speed and extent of environmental changes, which ones matter, and other incalculable imponderables.”

    The environment in any one place is not random or anything close to random. Most leaves during summer are reliably green. Temperatures and humidity vary within a relatively small range. Much of the variation that is present is predictable. And even in the face of unpredictable variation, the variation usually falls around a slowly-changing or stable mean, and evolution should be able to keep up with that. An example is seed size variation from season to season in the Galapagos, with Darwin’s finches tracking these variations with a slight time lag (if the variations were faster, the birds would not be able to track them, but could still adapt to the mean value).

    “Do natural evolutionary mechanisms account exhaustively for the entire variety of life?”

    You say science can’t answer this, but science certainly could answer it in the negative, if the true answer were “no”. So it is not purely “a metaphysical preference” as you suggest.

    “Is it possible to describe evolution in mathematical laws? Ans: No…”

    As I mentioned in the previous thread, this is wrong. When we know the boundary conditions, including the fitnesses of different alleles in the given environment, we can write probabilistic equations for the trajectory of the population. This is exactly analogous to what we do in statistical mechanics or even Newtonian physics, where we have to assume an idealized environment in order to make mathematical predictions. As I mentioned before, nobody criticizes physics because the laws of motion can’t derive the number of planets in the solar system. Contingent events, and lack of full knowledge of initial conditions, constrain universal laws in both biology and physics. I don’t think there is a fundamental difference.

    Finally about this line:

    “…science simply has insufficient warrant to comment on prayer as one factor in reality. ”

    It could have been otherwise: prayers could be answered often enough that this fact would rise above the noise level. It is significant that it does not (contrary to some statements in the Bible). Science does have a warrant to say that so far, prayer has no demonstrated effect. And science has demonstrated the existence of forces much more subtle than answered prayers are supposed to be….

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

      Lou, as ever you reply primarily with bare assertions.

      I ask for (or rather deny the possibility of) a mathematical treatment of the environment, and you give me a narrative, “The environment’s quite stable really.” We all know that – but we also know that it changes, and most importantly that its a hugely complex mix of millions of constants and variables, which cannot be tested empirically for its effects on evolution. Meanwhile there are theoretical reasons why the effects of a handful of simple, constant selection pressures may not be legitimate to scale up to the real world, as has been pointed out by various arguments for well over a century.

      Once more, without mathematical foundations it’s an argument over what one believes likely.

      Conversely there are examples of major environmental change not leading to adaptation – such as Prothero’s work on Cenozoic North American fauna that shows stasis and possible species sorting instead of adaptation under major climate change leading to the ice age.

      There are always possible explanations – but without maths, they are stories. It’s all so reminiscent of the universal explanations of Freudian psychoanalytic theory. The differences between Newtonian physics and evolution are too obvious to need stating. Apart from Chaitin’s stated desire to redress the lack of a mathematical basis (someone should tell him it’s already as solid as Newton, maybe?) one can point out that Newton’s predictions can get you to the moon, because the idealised environment is close enough to reality. The exceptions all show the limits of the theory (eg relativity, chaos) – one doesn’t have to model it, but simply use it.

      In population genetics, even your “fitness” is a modelled function, not a measure – the conservation of synonymous mutations, for example, is very much less convincing in the light of ubiquitous alternative splicing – or indeed of any of the mechanisms of multiple gene use that make the very linkage of a gene to a selected trait, even a hypothetical one, a gross oversimplification. A gene said to be “selected” may, or may not, be selected for some of the traits governed by many (in most cases) overlapping genes, alternative splicing, reverse-transcription. That may teach truth about the population of a gene – but the real world its supposed to describe is a huge black box.

      You say science could certainly demonstrate if evolutionary mechanisms did not account for the entire variety of life. That’s a remarkably confident universal claim, especially since there are already varieties of GM life that did not evolve. But you’d have to know which ones to look at amongst the haystack of 10 million existing species and God knows how many extinct ones.

      But then you also seriously believe that for prayer to be effective, it has to rise above some kind of scientifically testable noise level. That’s seriously to underestimate how much noise there is in the world. As a comparison, try devising a study to prove that private lobbying of politicians affects geopolitical outcomes, as it surely does.

      Literature reviews show that there are far more studies showing significant effects of prayer than not – but that the few “well-controlled” studies do not. I predict that the same pattern would emerge from my lobbying studies, because as I know well from medical research, “controlling” means trying to create the artificial environment in which reality doesn’t complicate the issue. Sociology can never be physics – and neither can theology. Neither can biology, actually.

      • Lou Jost says:

        “Once more, without mathematical foundations it’s an argument over what one believes likely.”

        As you know, there IS a mathematical foundation for evolution, called population genetics. We can test its logical consistency by looking at computer simulations, which confirm the theory is internally consistent and broadly consistent with reality. We can also examine the effects of adding noise and variable conditions. Yes, this theory is hard to test in the real world, but not impossible. I mentioned the beak sizes of Darwin’s Finches responding to stochastic variation in weather; the speed of this was broadly consistent with what would be expected by theory. I mentioned that the genetic differences between chimps and humans are also broadly consistent with this mathematical theory.

        I don’t understand why you think that just because there are a lot of environmental variables, the fundamental theory must be incomplete (though I agree that it very well might be). An analogy with the chemistry of color might help. No one doubts that quantum mechanics and the standard model of subatomic particles is sufficient to determine the exact color of a substance. In a few simple cases we can indeed predict the exact color based on our theory. But in a big organic molecule, we can’t always predict the exact color. Does that provide a reason to think the theory is incomplete? No, not by itself. In practice we can usually get the color approximately right by simplifying the system. This is also what we do in evolution. If it really is incomplete, the onus is on the claimant to show that it really contradicts some observations.

        “Newton’s predictions can get you to the moon.” Yes, but it can’t predict tomorrow’s weather. Does that mean something is wrong with it and the air molecules are not following Newton’s laws? No, it means the boundary conditions and initial conditions and contingent events (like a forest fire) are insufficiently known to apply the theory accurately. The dependence on contingent events makes it virtually impossible even in theory to apply the laws to such a complex system. The situation in population genetics is analogous.

        I don’t understand your claim that fitness is a modeled function rather than a measure. Sometimes we can measure it directly. Yes, fitness is a property of the whole organism, not an individual gene, but often we can largely separate out the influence of a single gene on the mean fitness of the organisms in the population. An example would be the gene that causes sickle-cell anemia and confers resistance to malaria. Again, fitness is not that different from a complex property like the color of a big molecule. We know the color is determined by the constituent atoms, but the atoms are all interacting and this is very hard to deal with. This doesn’t mean something is wrong with the atomic theory. You are right that “A gene said to be “selected” may, or may not, be selected for some of the traits governed by many (in most cases) overlapping genes, alternative splicing, reverse-transcription.” But none of that has any impact on the adequacy of the evolutionary explanation of changes in allele frequencies over time in terms of fitness (properly calculated), population size and structure, drift, etc. It just means that fitness is often hard to calculate.

        You criticize my claim that science could provide a negative answer to the question of whether evolutionary mechanism completely account for the entire variety of life. But of course it could. All it would take is a demonstration of some other kind of mechanism. Such a demonstration is certainly conceivable. Therefore your claim that this is a purely metaphysical preference is false. There are conceivable universes in which this is an empirical question, not a metaphysical preference. It is up to us to figure out if we live in one of those universes.

        Then you criticize my statement about the ineffectiveness of prayer. The inefficacy of prayer seems to be a general concern even among Christians, considering how much they write to explain why we should not expect most of our prayers to be answered. Most Christians I talk to agree that prayers for very improbable things are granted very improbably.

  2. Jon

    Interesting thoughts and questions.

    I hope I don’t get myself in trouble again with dated information or lack of technical mastery of a subject, but my understanding is that at least up until fairly recently none of various accretion models of the origin of the planets of our solar system has proven out in anything like fine mathematical detail. Yet there is much circumstantial evidence for that kind of origin for the planets, noticed as far back as Kant, and no strong theological objection to it that I can see. It continues to be the presumptive explanation of solar system structure. An analogy, admittedly imperfect, might be made with mutation-and-selection models of evolution.

    The existence of God as an experimental result is problematic to say the least. I agree with what you say about the effects of prayer being immeasurable. This is also because God’s supply of anything his people ask him in faith is interpreted in the Scriptures themselves as sufficient spiritual resources for any need, not necessarily alterations of physical circumstances (cf. Luke 11:5-13; 2 Cor 12:7-9; Jas 1:5). The New Testament teaching as a whole does not support a “divine vending machine” interpretation of petitionary prayer. Nor does the refusal of Jesus to perform signs on demand lend bode well for scientific experiments designed to trap God like a vapor in a test tube (Mark 8:11-12; Luke 23:8-9).

    Rather than God being detected as an experimental result, consider God as the reason experimental results have value. It should be evident that the hidden order of nature to which scientific models conform with varying degrees of fidelity is beyond observation or detection—otherwise such models would not be in principle subject to correction. Even the mathematical tractability of nature is not an observed property. The success of any particular theory or of the scientific method as a whole assumes a statistical argument against chance alignment of theoretical results and real world observations, in other words, it assumes that nature reveals its character under mathematical analysis. Because science in order to get off the mark must assume that nature is to a significant extent mathematical, the mathematicality of nature cannot be demonstrated scientifically.

    In the words of Hugo Meynell in his book, _The Intelligible Universe: A Cosmological Argument_, “Nature is full of clues that it is a mental construction, but it is not our mental construction.”

    • Lou Jost says:

      “Because science in order to get off the mark must assume that nature is to a significant extent mathematical, the mathematicality of nature cannot be demonstrated scientifically.”

      Again, the mathematicality (and non-magical-ness) of nature is not an assumption but a conclusion, and had the world been magical, science could have come to a different conclusion.

  3. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:


    Rather than God being detected as an experimental result, consider God as the reason experimental results have value.

    Yes, absolutely spot on – that’s the kind of emphasis Aquinas put on things. He was always keener to demonstrate the reasoning to God from the ordinary – for example, the fact of existence itself – in his five ways.

    The axiomatic nature of maths to science (rather than its demonstrable truth) is again getting to the metaphysics that’s so often obscured, and which was the main point of the post. When there are problems or gaps in the science, the assumption that one way or the other they will be plugged is strongly faith based: firstly on the total intelligibility of the Universe (there can be no conceptual gaps) and secondly that there are always ways for us to uncover it… the faith is shown by the huge number of epistemological gaps in reality, and the conviction that even when plugging them is in practice impossible, our knowledge of the fragments we do understand can be assumed to apply to the rest.

    In other words, we believe our theoretical constructs apply even where we can never hope to test them fully.

    After your mention of stellar evolution I genned up on planetary formation. As you say, there are some surprisingly large gaps in the theories (I believe two main contenders – core accretion and disc instability). The interesting thing is how fundamental, in current knowledge, some of those gaps are: a site dedicated to exoplanets says of the accretion theory “the entire theory is based on a physical impossibility.” Indeed, its discussion reads like a textbook description of paradigm shifts in action. One source (scientific, not creationist!) I read considered the accretion theory was disproven a few years ago.

    Well, that’s the way science progresses, of course – by chipping away at the anomalies (in this case, “physical impossibility” at a key stage) until they either resolve or give way to a better explanation. Currently it looks as if the anomalies in accretion theory are building up rapidly from observations outside the solar system. At least planetary systems are plentiful, and governed by basic gravitational laws, so seem likely to yield their secrets eventually … on the metaphysical assumption, of course, that they evolved purely by efficient natural causes.

    But in the face of a “physical impossibility” it’s an interesting exercise in faith that accretion theory has remained the default position: is it because the rest of the evidence is that good, or because there was some non-scientific need for the theory (some of the historical discussion on Wikipedia’s entry on “nebular hypothesis” is interesting)?

    It’s also interesting how things operate sociologically: the actual position is that there are two radically different competing theories, both of which currently have major issues. What gets taught to kids is “Electrostatic forces or sticky carbon coatings made dust particles stick together to form clusters, which in turn stuck together to form rocks. Mutual gravity caused these rocks to come together, eventually to form planets.”

    Why is it that science is provisional and skeptical, but popular and educational science (which is all most people ever experience) is fixed and certain? A post on that is the not-too-distant future.

    • Lou Jost says:

      It seems to me that believers in the efficacy of prayer are making a virtue out of necessity when they say that god will not be tested…..Jesus was dishing out miracles pretty freely during his time, as were some saints and prophets of the early church. They were not shy about tipping their divine hand. Nowadays verifiable miracles appear to be absent.

      Jon, as always you are caricaturing scientists. Most scientists I know have no strong opinion about whether the universe will turn out to be completely intelligible with no gaps. It’s my impression that most think there will always be gaps. Many scientists, including myself, are pleasantly surprised at the reach of our math. And the application of math to science is not really an axiom. Rather, this is an empirical finding earned by hard work since the time of the ancient Greeks. The correct description of the universe could have been personal and magical rather than lawful and logical; it is an empirical discovery that the mathematical view works and the magical view does not.

      When you accuse scientists of having faith that “even when plugging [the gaps] is in practice impossible, our knowledge of the fragments we do understand can be assumed to apply to the rest” you misunderstand or misrepresent what is going on. Yes, it is rational to assume that the general principles we learned on simpler systems apply to more complicated ones, UNTIL SHOWN OTHERWISE. This is not faith; many scientists are alert and looking hard for new principles in the more complicated stuff. But we make do with the principles we have, until we extend or replace them with new ones that do better.

      • Lou

        You said:

        “And the application of math to science is not really an axiom. Rather, this is an empirical finding earned by hard work since the time of the ancient Greeks . . . The correct description of the universe could have been personal and magical rather than lawful and logical.”

        Actually, math and logic are the means by which magical control of reality has been debunked. To put it differently, math and logic say that math and logic are useful and voodoo is not. This is circularity, or more charitably, a reflection of the presumptive status of math and logic.

        Here’s an example I like to use. You see a gambler who habitually blows on the dice before rolling them and you ask him why he does it. He says that it helps him to win. You point out that there is no obvious way such an action could have effect the result of dice rolls, but he replies that he doesn’t pretend to know exactly how it helps him win, only that it does.

        So, you take another tack with the gambler. You ask him why he thinks his little ritual is helpful. He says simply that his experience is that it does help. “Have you ever kept a record of your dice rolls when you blow on the dice, and then refrain from blowing on them and keep a record of those rolls?” you ask. You encourage him to form statistical samples and then compare them to see if the effect he believes in is real. That would be a scientific approach to the question of whether the ritual is, in some way, helping the gambler win.

        The gambler as you originally encountered him was relying on an unscientific judgment–a raw subjective impression. The “scientific” approach is to trust that mathematical procedure will reveal the truth of the situation. But there is no non-mathematical way to demonstrate that math is revealing the truth of the situation.

        A theory–relativity or QM or whatever–is supported when observations correspond to the the theory’s predictions. But only if the correspondence is not merely coincidental, and how do we determine whether it is or isn’t? By tabulating observations and making an implicit statistical probability argument, just as we recommended to the gambler. It is astronomically improbable that so many paired particle experiments would coincidentally conform to QM entanglement, for example, and few or none would fail to. But to repeat, a statistical argument of this kind, whether explicit or implicit, assumes that nature will reveal itself under some type of mathematical analysis.

        • Lou Jost says:

          Darek, thanks for your reply. I’ll use your gambler example to show that my argument is not circular. The key point you did not address in your example is my statement that the world could have been different. It could have been a world of magic. It could be that blowing on the dice (or better, some completely non-physical ritual like praying to a particular god and not other gods) really did help your gambler win. If we lived in such a world, the statistics of random dice throws would have shown that the non-magical worldview is false. We’d come to the conclusion that magic is real and the world is not completely materialistic. Nothing about the use of math fore-ordained my conclusion; this argument about the nature of reality is not circular.Of course, I cannot prove that there is never any magic. But I could have proven that there was magic, if the effects of magic were strong enough. It is an empirical question, not just a metaphysical preference.

          In your QM/relativity argument also, it is not assumed that nature will reveal herself under some type of mathematical analysis. We try different things and find that some of them work. We don’t assume it, we hope that it works. This is an empirical process; it didn’t have to be the case that nature follows the equations of general relativity to an astonishing precision even at the far reaches of the universe, at scales far beyond anything Einstein ever experienced

          • Lou Jost says:

            “statistics of random dice throws would have shown that the non-magical worldview is false” -> I should have said “could have shown”, not “would have shown”, since some forms of magic could be undetectable. If you make enough special rules and exceptions about how magic behaves, so that it becomes empirically indistinguishable from non-magic, then we do have more of a philosophical problem.

  4. Avatar photo GD says:

    “….Jesus was dishing out miracles…”

    As is so often Lou makes things up as he goes along. See:

    Mt 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

    Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

    I guess we will have some nonsense from Lou on what these words must mean….

    I so not think that Lou is in a position to speak for all scientists – instead of having faith, however I am inclined to view most scientists as believing in science in general – this is a lingering belief that eventually science will ‘explain’ or ‘understand’ everything, and if it does not, such ‘other’ part of reality is not worth knowing or understanding. I think some may be questioning such a commitment – but that is for each scientist to say and think.

    • Avatar photo GD says:

      oops, I so not think … should read … I do not think….

    • Lou Jost says:

      So after Jesus departed without leaving any signs, he went somewhere else and left signs. And at least the Catholic church (I don’t know about others) thinks saints are able to pray miracles into existence even today (this ability is a prerequisite for sainthood, in fact).

      • Avatar photo GD says:

        I cannot make sense of these remarks/ramblings. You made the comment that “… Jesus was dishing out miracles …” (whatever that means) and I have shown you that people were trying to ‘get Him to dish out signs (miracles for Jews)’ and this was His answer. As always your ramblings degenerate into irrational statements …… (!)

        The prerequisite(s) for sainthood are examined exhaustively by both the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions, and anyone (who want to understand this) can find all of the information without indulging in your nonsense.

        I would be extremely interested in a reasoned response from you on, for example, the method and examinations used to identify saints in Christianity – perhaps you may suggest ways to improve on this activity?

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