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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, May 05, 2008

"Theorem" is better term for ID than "theory"

What is truth?
-- Pontius Pilate

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary's definition of the scientific meaning of the word "theory" is:

a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena (emphasis added)

The use of the word "theory" to describe Intelligent Design has always irked me because a scientific theory is supposed to explain something whereas ID does not explain anything -- it is just a criticism of evolution theory.

On the other hand, one of Merriam-Webster's definitions of "theorem" is:

an idea accepted or proposed as a demonstrable truth often as a part of a general theory : PROPOSITION (emphasis added)

The term "demonstrable truth" might cause a problem for some people because it may be impossible to prove the truth of ID with certainty. However, an acceptable level of truth is sometimes not certainty -- for example, courts accept positive DNA test results even though DNA testing labs say that there is one chance in a few billion that two DNA samples that appear to come from the same person actually come from two unrelated people.

So from now on, whenever appropriate, I am going to use the name "theorem of Intelligent Design." I have already started to apply the word "theorem" to criticism of co-evolution theory (e.g., "Fundamental Theorem of Co-evolution of Total Co-dependence of Two Organisms").

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

Larry strains at a gnat and swallows a camel.

ID is not demonstrable by any stretch of the imagination.

Monday, May 05, 2008 6:35:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

an idea accepted or proposed as a demonstrable truth often as a part of a general theory

Your critics would be happy with any demonstrable indication that ID is true. A piece of toast with "ID is TRUE!" would be fine. So far, there's been nothing.

I do appreciate your statement that ID is basically a negative hypothesis at this point.

Monday, May 05, 2008 8:37:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViU said,
>>>>> Larry strains at a gnat and swallows a camel.

ID is not demonstrable by any stretch of the imagination. <<<<<<

So you are saying that my rejection of the word "theory" as a name for ID because ID does not explain or attempt to explain anything is straining at a gnat. I would say that that is a pretty big gnat -- maybe as big as a camel.

Note that the Merriam-Webster online definition of "theorem" says that it is "an idea accepted or proposed as a demonstrable truth" -- so this definition says that to be a theorem, ID only needs to be proposed as a demonstrable truth and does not need to be accepted as a demonstrable truth. Also, Merriam-Webster online gives "proposition" as a synonym or similar word. Also, one of my printed dictionary's (Webster's New World Dictionary -- Third College Edition) definitions of "theorem" is: Math, physics -- a proposition embodying something to be proved." I have a much bigger problem with calling ID a "theory" than with calling ID a "theorem," because a scientific theory is supposed to explain something whereas ID does not explain or attempt to explain anything.

"Theorem" can mean something that has been proved, e.g., "The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus," but I am not using that meaning of "theorem" here. I am using a different meaning of theorem, in the same way that the meaning of "theory" in science is different from another meaning of "theory": a "hunch."

Dan said,
>>>>> I do appreciate your statement that ID is basically a negative hypothesis at this point.<<<<

There is nothing wrong with negative hypotheses. When Thomas Edison was accused of not making any progress in his efforts to create a practical electric light, he answered, "I've made lots of progress -- I know lots of things that won't work."

Monday, May 05, 2008 9:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

So you admit that ID doesn't work. Where you differ from Edison is that he found things that did work. You never have.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 4:53:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Urbanness driveled,

>>>>> So you admit that ID doesn't work. <<<<<<

No -- what I obviously meant is that Darwinism doesn't work.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 5:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if your own existence is attributable to neither "Darwinism" nor "Intelligent Design", then to what do you attribute it?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I want to make some more comments about one of my printed dictionary's (Webster's New World Dictionary -- Third College Edition) definitions of "theorem": Math, physics -- a proposition embodying something to be proved." As I noted, contrary to this definition for theorems in math, some things in math that have already been proven are called "theorems," e.g., Pythagorean theorem, fundamental theorem of calculus, and binomial theorem. These things should actually be called "laws," and some things in math are called "laws," e.g., law of sines, law of cosines. However, "Fermat's last theorem" had that name long before it was finally proven. So the term "theorem," like "theory," is ambiguous. I just prefer the word "theorem" for Intelligent Design because IMO some of the definitions of "theorem" fit ID much better than any of the definitions of "theory."

Anonymous said...
>>>>> So, if your own existence is attributable to neither "Darwinism" nor "Intelligent Design", then to what do you attribute it? <<<<<

One of the biggest fallacies of Darwinism is that it is a good scientific explanation just because it appears to be the only scientific explanation.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 1:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is that a fallacy?

BTW, you did not even attempt to answer my question.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Larry: You may be interested in a post at Uncommon Descent, February 3, 2006, by DaveScot: entitled Machines Are the Result of Intelligent Agency. It's a positive argument for intelligent design, and not a merely negative argument against Darwinism.

I mentioned a less radical positive argument for ID to you. And actually, I based it upon some other arguments by DaveScot.

For the uninitiated, DaveScot is one of the moderator's of Bill Dembski's blog. He's an agnostic who believes in descent of all species from a common ancestor, and in intelligent design: he supposes that the designer is space aliens.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 7:20:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> Why is that a fallacy? <<<<<<

That should be self-evident.

>>>>> BTW, you did not even attempt to answer my question. <<<<<

See the disclaimer in this blog's heading under "About Me":

My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

A lot of bloggers participate little or none at all in the discussions in the comment threads -- I participate quite a bit, but that doesn't mean that I should answer every question. That is one question I choose not to answer.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 9:06:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said,
>>>>> Larry: You may be interested in a post at Uncommon Descent, February 3, 2006, by DaveScot: entitled Machines Are the Result of Intelligent Agency. It's a positive argument for intelligent design, and not a merely negative argument against Darwinism. <<<<<<

Something can be a "positive argument" and still not be a scientific explanation for natural phenomena. That is my main reason for calling ID a "theorem" instead of a "theory" -- ID is not a scientific explanation for anything.

Thursday, May 08, 2008 1:10:00 PM  

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