Monday, May 07, 2012

Consistent Logic is Faith-Based

Up to now in this series of essays, we have looked at the topic of logical consistency, and have seen that deductive argumentation (what we normally associate with being rational or being logical) depends on two types of premises, major premises and minor premises.  We have seen that major premises are things we accept (by faith), and minor premises are things we observe.

We have seen that two people having access to the same scientific observations can nonetheless come to different conclusions about the interpretation or meaning of the observations.  Both people would be considered rational, intelligent beings who follow the same principles of logic.

One one level, all major premises are of equal validity, i.e., they can neither be proved nor disproved.  They can only be accepted or rejected.  This is the realm where philosophy and science intersect.  And the most two people who come to different conclusions about the meaning of their observations should do, in the way of relating to each other, is to say, "If your presuppositions are true, your conclusions are true, but I do not believe your presuppositions, so I reject your conclusions."  Likewise, the other person may take the same stance against the first person's presuppositions and conclusions.

Note that they are both performing the same logical operations and taking the identical stance in reaching their conclusions.  One is not more intelligent or more scientific than the other.  I belabor this point because I have seen some arrogant pseudo-scientists try to put down other scientists because they reach different conclusions with the same data.  Rather than acknowledging their own presuppositions or analyzing those of the other scientist, they claim to be right by assertion instead of by demonstration.  "I am right because I say I am right (and they sometimes add that an individual or community agrees with them)!"

You may have observed this kind of behavior in the "global warming" dialog.  This problem is obviously one of such a grand scale that it cannot be demonstrated in a scientific laboratory.  The atmosphere of the entire Earth is involved, and processes involving the Sun and the Moon are involved in the creation of our climate.  Geological data seems to indicate that the magnetic poles have moved in the geologic past, which may mean that the Earth has changed its orientation in relationship to the Sun, thus moving the polar ice caps by melting at a prior orientation and refreezing at another..  Some studies also show much cyclical temperature variation in geologic history.  To claim that man has done something in the recent past, or is doing something currently, to upset those processes, is simply a statement of faith, not a scientifically-demonstrated phenomenon.

Human-caused global warming may be possible; it may not.  The observations of a few years temperature and weather pattern changes really don't give us enough information (compared to geologic time frames) to determine whether or not the data indicates a pattern, much less the scale of the pattern.

The passion of the debaters for global warming points to their faith in their conclusions.  They have far more passion than the data warrant, partly because of the bleak consequences of the scenario they predict if their conclusions are true.

Can you see that their conclusions rely on their presuppositions more than (or at least as much as) on their conclusions?  This battle is one person's faith versus another person's faith.  It is not science.  It is not logic.

The same is true of the Origins debate.  Where does everything come from?  In another essay, I will demonstrate how different presuppositions affect the geologic argument for Origins.  How can two scientists with the same number of advanced college degrees come to different conclusions about Origins?  Is it because one went to a "better" school?  Is one of them smarter?  Or is it only because they embrace different religions?

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