Debate: The Scientific Method is useless.

Discussion in 'Formal debates' started by scifes, Mar 16, 2011.

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  1. scifes In withdrawal. Valued Senior Member

    Debate topic: The scientific method is useless.
    For the affirmative: scifes
    For the negative: GeoffP

    Rules of the debate:
    1. Each debater will have 10 posts in total.
    2. Dictionaries and other reasonable sources of authoritative definitions are to be taken as authoritative.
    3. Each debater has 3 days from the time of the last post by the other debater to post his next response. If a debater does not post within this 3-day limit, he will be considered to have forfeited the debate, barring any mutual agreement between the debaters.
    4. Supporting evidence for all arguments is required.

    Proposal thread is here: [thread]106882[/thread]
    Debate thread is here: [thread]106965[/thread]
    Discussion thread is here: [thread]106991[/thread]

    scifes' opening post follows:

    if God exists;
    his existence is the most important piece of information one needs to get.
    for then he will be all that matters, and everything else is worthless and pointless.

    if he doesn't exist, everything is worthless and pointless.

    if there is scientific proof for god, i'd like to hear it. and i admit my defeat here.

    if a methodology for acquiring and validating information can't reach the most important piece of information...
    and results in perceiving the world as worthless...
    then that methodology is useless.

    the argument that god doesn't exist and so science is valuable for making our pointless life a better pointless life, can't be taken by g because he believes god exists.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2011
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  3. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    I will keep my comments short and sweet, since I am very tall and very mean.

    The topic of this debate is "The scientific method is useless". That this is a very bold – even absurdly bold – statement is probably evident to more than half of those reading the thread; and to those for whom it is not so evident, no succor is possible, frankly. (I personally would be amazed if such individuals were aware of the correct way to sit on a toilet seat.) It goes without saying that the scientific method pays numerous dividends: agricultural improvement, germ theory, drug testing, and so on. So the scientific method is clearly not useless, and the OP statement in error.

    Dealing with scifes’ specific argument:

    “if God exists;”

    his existence is the most important piece of information one needs to get.
    for then he will be all that matters, and everything else is worthless and pointless.

    if he doesn't exist, everything is worthless and pointless”

    “If God exists” is a sizeable ‘if’. I would also ask him to define in what way everything would be worthless or pointless if there were no God. There are numerous other refinements that could be described if this were the case: would scifes, perhaps, cease to get up in the morning? Refuse food and water? Would many people do so? If scifes did, indeed, do these things and pass into the infinite black of nothingness, would my life necessarily follow the same pathway? Would I view the world’s value in the same way? Of course not. Even as a theist, I suppose I would abandon my faith and pursue the most effective living possible. So this value for the argument – that life without God is worthless – is not well established. I reject it.

    This does not necessarily take away from his argument about the methodology – that the scientific method, as a process for collecting and evaluating information, cannot evaluate whether God exists, and is therefore ‘useless’.

    However, that argument is flawed. Firstly, as above: clearly the scientific method is not useless, for its products are apparent.

    But more specifically: invariably, when the scientific method is cited as being ineffective for the evaluation of God, it is at the impulse of theists, and not of the users of the theory. This criticism is, like the debate topic (‘The scientific method is useless’), biased: it is to theists (or some of us, anyway) that science is of ‘no use’, since it cannot locate God for them despite any perversion applied to the system of science. In fact, that has sometimes been my defense, or comment: ‘we’re discussing a supernatural being here’ I sometimes say, and we are. At some point, the concept of God evades refutation – not because the scientific method is lacking, but because the very idea of God can evade all knowledge or reason at whim. As I say: we’re discussing a supernatural being.

    Yet this does not mean that we should be unable to find God using the scientific method. We need merely find conclusive evidence of Jesus, or a miracle, to convince ourselves that the OT and NT might have something to them. Or we might find that evolution is somehow extremely improbable: so improbable that it would not, could not, come about by chance. Yet, the scientific method does not find these things. Is it scifes’ argument, then, that because the scientific method is useless because it cannot support his contention? This is what it sounds like.

    It strikes me that the scientific method fulfills its purposes well enough: observation, hypothesis, designing, testing and drawing conclusions about our results. If we cannot detect God in such an approach, how does it follow that it is a failing of the system, rather than the concept? If I test for God, and find no evidence of God, and scifes falls back on faith to denounce my process, who then is at fault?

    Finally, scifes’ comment that “if there is scientific proof for god, i'd like to hear it. and i admit my defeat here” is of course the basest of straw men, and may be ignored. As for scifes’ plea to my own theology (“the argument that god doesn't exist and so science is valuable for making our pointless life a better pointless life, can't be taken by g because he believes god exists”) I refute it utterly. Not because it is incorrect – I, indeed, believe in such a Creator – but that i) I am free to change my belief either within or without this discussion, so long as I do so ethically, and also ii) it is by no means evident that a life or a universe without God would necessarily be a pointless one at all, unless one has no appreciation of human dignity, morality or achievement; or in the perpetuation of the species, among numerous other impulses. It is your impression that such a universe or such a life would be meaningless, because of your belief system, and it is not an agreed-to point that such a life would indeed be ‘pointless’. I do believe, as can scarcely be refuted, that many agreed-to elements of human morality do derive from religious edict – ”thou shalt not kill” – but such elements, from a factual point of view, could as easily have been written without divine inspiration. I believe otherwise, but I have no proof, and neither do you.

    I refute your straw choices. Have you others to offer?
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  5. scifes In withdrawal. Valued Senior Member

    ok i'm very busy so i'll make it snappy;

    1-saying the scientific method is not useless because it provides many benifits in our lives and that it is very evident and even a blind man can see it and those who can't sit on toilet seats and all that.. well i'm not even ready to go check what fallacy is that called.. "appeal to short sight" maybe?

    very simply, whether i live in a cave or in a skyscraper means nothing the moment i'm dead, capiche?
    so untill science gives us immortality, yes, it IS useless, even if it gives us EVERYTHING else, death will take that away.

    2- seizing the "if" in "if god exists";
    it is important to note that that "if" is merely hypothetical, and even when it is, and we say that god doesn't exist, then life IS useless, whether he chooses to reject it or not doesn't make a difference, he asks if i will stop waking up in the morning or stop eating if god doesn't exist, well no, i will continue doing things, they will merely become of no real consequence, and by real consequence, i mean one that will be eternally perceived by me. now go reject that

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    secondly, siezing that "if" is.. idk, a strawman? because the "if" has no real meaning in this debate..
    god DOES exist, and the scientific method does NOT lead to him, and so the scientific method will kick you to hell, literally. so in reality, the scientific method is not useless,
    it is actually[in this world where sciforums, me, g and god exist] harmful.
    in a world where god doesn't exist, the scientific method is elevated to useless.

    so the scientific method is only useless to thiests...
    and to athiests??
    it's deceiving

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    i also disagree that the SM is useless to theists, actually, it is only useful to theists, because they can use it to better their eternal lives later on, they can use it to gain their god's favor and obey him in a better way, don't you think?

    what is mirage?
    something you see from far away, try to reach, but when you get there, it's not there.
    where are those things when you die?

    so some say that this stuff will follow you after death?
    do they have any scientific proof?
    or any proof that is accepted by the scientific method?
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  7. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member


    Two things.

    The ramble above is, well, a ramble. Obviously the scientific method has provided numerous advantages to our lives, and this is essentially undeniable. So the OP statement is defunct. I could go into the additional problems of your thesis, but this leads us to the second issue: timeliness. Your response occurs today, on March 22nd. My response was on the 18th, at 11:05 AM. This is a lapse of four days. This exceeds the time limits provided for response. The debate is, so far as I can tell, over: you have effectively forfeited.

    I realize this seems shallow, or conniving, but consider: your arguments have no real merit, and my time is limited. Is there a reason I should continue?

    I will add these comments as conclusion to the thread. I hope fisking is permitted?


    Well, perhaps you should go and check to see if it is indeed a fallacy. I provided several general examples, which seem to be to be irrefutable. So the scientific method (SM) has clearly not been useless, unless you have reverted to eating foodstuffs or environmental habits leading to a much greater probability of accidentally poisoning yourself.

    In the first case, we must ask "means nothing to whom?" To what, specifically? Salvation? I remind you here that salvation is a complete unknown. And, it should be noted that death does not take away everything: does your own demise remove the good or evil you have done? Will an architect's buildings fall? His bridges collapse? Will airplanes tumble from the sky and crops rot? No. Our secular works persist after death and provide ripples into generations gone by. My own genes persist in my children, as the ultimate expression of such a physical legacy.

    You might also also stop to consider that the use of the SM has permitted you a much longer potential life span in which to explore the idea of God and to venerate Him. Your prayers otherwise could be cut short by bad food or dental infections; they might still, but it's less likely. Should I think that this expansion of your theoretical veneration time is of no value to you?

    I do reject it, completely. Your concept of eternity seems, as above, to have a kind of Narcissistic flavour: you are concerned with immortality and perseverance only as it applies to you. Yet, the impact of your life will be felt long after your death: and for some of us, for aeons yet. Mohammed, for example, is long dead, and the impact of his beliefs or actions felt right up to the present day. Your actions will have long-term consequence to other people, and so it is not clear at all that it would be meaningless if there were no God. (I refer you to the concept of reciprocal altruism, as a general example: in the case being discussed, such altruism would occur over the long term rather than in the immediate examples given. There are other biological imperatives that mean the same.)

    This has not been proven. You feel, as I do, that God exists, but you cannot assert such existence. It is, for the time being, an unknown quantity.

    This is unproven in several respects: first, it is not clear whether or not the SM necessarily does not lead to God. Simply put, if sufficient natural evidence of God were to be found, free from reasonable doubt at some level of confidence, unaltered and intact, then one actually could actually use the SM to infer a few facts about elements of the stories: the existence of Jesus, or of the stone Commandments, and so on. Naturally, if one were to want wider support of the miraculous, the evidence would have to be pretty damned miraculous. But I conceive that it is theoretically possible to locate support (not proof) of the existence of God using the SM. Naturally, one looks to refute the idea, of course. Others have argued that the concept of God can be falsified through thought experiments; I disagree, but it might still theoretically possible to discuss God in this manner. Anyway, there is no way to say that the SM definitively does not lead to him, and none at all that it will "kick you to hell", literally or otherwise, and also no way to say that hell exists, which seems to have been a late addition to Abrahamic theology anyway. (Another point where the SM could be used to discuss theology, perhaps.)

    Not at all: life lived in a godless universe would not be pointless, unless you mean that all life everywhere would be destroyed by the cyclicity of the Big Bang theorem.

    I admit I have no idea how that would be possible. However, if we must consider one side to have ducked out of the utility of the SM on religion, it must be on the side of the religious, who can refer to a divine being free from all testing. "Do not put your God to the test", it is written of this "fickle" being, who could have made all believe, but didn't, just because. Well, why? Because He's fickle! It's convenient.

    Have you considered that this may, in fact, be a perfect analogy for God? It's possible.

    I would expect not: but how could this possibly be used to call the SM useless? You don't know whether God exists at all to begin with. You don't know what, if anything, will follow you after death. Your complaint is that you cannot use the SM to find God, a being whom you feel to exist, but cannot be certain of. Should I conclude that it is the SM that is flawed, or the original concept? The SM permits testing and refutation at least. I might try to use the SM on God, as above in my theoretical area, but disproving him would be very difficult, since His followers could simply refer to the divine incomprehensibility of God at some point, and evade taking further part in the debate.

  8. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator


    As per the rules of the debate (specifically rule #3 and the absence of an agreement to continue), scifes forfeits and GeoffP wins.
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