Friday, August 29, 2014

That annoying complaint about the terms "prove" and "proof"

UPDATE 9/1 #2: So for the time being it's keeping on keeping on. Percy continues:
I'm sorry, Faith, but I was only trying to explain how you're using the word "prove" incorrectly.
You know what, Percy, I am not using it incorrectly. I'm using it the way it is used in ordinary English, and for conveying what I want to convey it is correct. Instead of insisting on your strict scientific definitions, which are only used to mystify and talk down to people, it's time you all bent a bit to ordinary English, which is what most of us speak. You all don't even agree with each other about terminology but you don't mind using it to put down creationists. In this case it is only serving to obscure the point I've made clearly enough.
As I said, scientists use the word "prove" all the time, but they don't mean it in any mathematical sense. Nothing in science is ever proven in any mathematical sense.
I have reached the point where "what scientists think" is becoming obnoxious. I am not using the concept of proof in any mathematical sense either so your remark is pure mystification. I am using it the way it is used in ordinary everyday English. I suspect that if you made an effort to break out of your Science shackles even you would know what I am talking about instead of having to circumvent it with your tiresome and irrelevant definitions.
Science is tentative.
I'm sure you can't imagine just how sick to death I am of this kind of recitation of the Science Creed, the usual abstraction we're all supposed to salute, while in reality it is not true. I've given examples of those horrific flat-out declarations one finds everywhere that such and such animal evolved from this that or the other in such and such a time frame, which is pure fiction being stated as if it were fact. No, when it comes to the ToE and the Old Earth there is nothing tentative about it, which is odd because of all scientific work these pieces of lore are the most tentative, the least confirmable, which is what this argument6 is all about. Some bits of flotsam found in a layer of rock is your evidence for all this stuff, which is all far better interpreted in terms of the Flood. You don't have the kind of evidence for these things you have for the hard sciences, yet you all keep denying this flat out.
When scientists use the word "prove" all they mean is that they can provide persuasive evidence.
Get real. Deal with the issues on the table instead of reciting your articles of faith. You do not have the kind of evidence you seem to think you have, what you have is what I just described, not hard evidence at all but stuff that is better interpreted by the Flood.

The issue on the table is that you can never have the kind of certainty about speculations about events in the past that you have about scientific questions you can test in the laboratory. This is really quite obvious and should be conceded.

But I see that now you are trying to grant my request by suggesting how I might rephrase my point. Thanks for that, but now I'm beyond caring.
Avoid the word "prove" altogether. I think it would work much better to say that interpretations of evidence are tentative, and that some interpretations are better supported by evidence than others.
First you need to concede that most of the time statements about events that supposedly occurred millions of years ago according to the Old Earth theory, and supposed evolutionary history of various creatures, are not presented tentatively but as fact, which of course the public swallows whole because golly gee, Scientists said it. And again, there is no evidence for any of it but the flotsam found in the strata. That's it. Concede that for starters.


UPDATE 9/1: Percy has "answered" this post, and of course NOT by doing what I requested at the end of it, that is, by providing the terminology to make the point I'm making. In other words, I have a point I'm making with perfectly reasonable ordinary usage of the word "prove," and if it can be made in more accurate terminology, fine. But helping me make my point is not on Percy's agenda, obscuring it is the agenda. The M.O. at EvC is sophistry and semantics, and in this case the very refusal to read in context I say below is the problem. So much for that, and so much for EvC.

P.S. I'm coming to the conclusion that EvC with its science jargonizing and mystification has made itself utterly irrelevant not only to creationists but to ordinary nonscientists of all beliefs.

Oh and one more thing. The evidence you keep touting can only be interpreted, not proved. Creationists have a different interpretation (talking about the unwitnessed/prehistoric past here) and since you can't prove yours, so much for your evidence. And (answering Coyote in this case) this is what is meant when we say all you have is theory too. It's unprovable interpretation. This has been explained many times but you continue to recite the party line and claim your theory is more substantial than that. It gets tiresome repeating these simple obvious points.



And HBD in Message 457 touches on another common theme that is used against creationists, which is that we do often use the words "prove" and "proof" in our discussions, which is verboten according to strict scientific standards. science we don't deal with proof, we deal with evidence.
But this is really just their refusal to read in context, how we are using the terms. There is really no way to discuss the difference between the conclusions that are possible from testable science versus from science that studies the prehistoric past, without pointing out that you CAN prove testable hypotheses in a sense that is simply not possible in the other case.

That is, you CAN "prove" that blood circulates in the body, that material objects always fall to the ground, that the DNA is a spiral double helix, in a sense that you can NEVER prove that the Great Unconformity was once the root of a mountain range, that the stegosaurus lived during a particular time period when the climate was thus and so and it shared the planet with thus and so range of other living things. THERE you only have hypotheticals.

Now, if anyone would like to rephrase the distinction I'm trying to make to *prove* that other terminology would serve the point better, have at it.

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