A “both/and” principle: I want tea


enlightenment thinking

The problems that come with Enlightenment “either/or” thinking comes when we adhere to the belief, whether implicitly or explicitly, that “there shall only ever be one explanatory slot for anything requiring an explanation.” However, almost everything in life admits of a plurality of explanations. If you come to my house and see a pot of water boiling on the stove, you may rightly ask me why the water is boiling. One explanation is that the water molecules are moving around excitedly and getting ready to go from a liquid state to a gaseous state. And, you could spend a considerable amount of time investigating what goes on at that level. A second explanation of the boiling water is because I turned the stove on. But still a third explanation is that I want some tea. The scientific method holds the first explanation rightly and firmly within its jurisdiction and is completely adequate to discover and expand upon similar types of explanations. However, it has only the tiniest grasp of the second explanation and can only make inferences to these types of causal events (similar to the cause of the universe). Furthermore, it holds no grasp whatsoever upon the third explanation. Apply the scientific method to its fullest and still you will never come to the explanation that I wanted some tea.

picardteaearlgrey

The real conflict here lies in the fact that the naturalist thinks the first explanation of the excited water molecules replaces the third explanation of “I want tea”. But, this not the case. These are not contradictory explanations. They are layered and complimentary. They cannot even apply Occam’s Razor to this because Occam’s razor applies only to competing explanations, not complimentary ones. In a similar fashion, why should the Christian act as if the first explanation undermines the teleology of the third explanation? Whether the water was boiled on the stove or over a quiet fireside in the middle of the woods, the specifics of the event has no bearing on its teleology. Neither does it affect the teleology of the event if the water molecules gradually turned into gas or instantly turned into gas. In the same way, a gradual creation or an instant creation does not affect the teleology of the universe. And why should we be committed to thinking gradual means without purpose? If one were to see a man gradually turn into a pig, a bit of an ear here and a portion of a leg there, it would be a more traumatic event than if the transformation was instant. One might think sinister forces were at work, but it would be hard to say that this was being done on accident.

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3 thoughts on “A “both/and” principle: I want tea

  1. You’re trying to pull a bait and switch here again, Daniel with your tea analogy, switching effortlessly to the notion that those who respect reality’s role to determine what is true about it are claiming only scientific claims are meaningful.

    This is the big lie behind scientism, liberally applied by those who do not wish to respect reality’s role to adjudicate claims made about it against those who insist we must if we wish to gain knowledge about the universe we share. Additionally, the term ‘scientism is used as a pejorative in order to pretend there is a competing world view or perspective equivalent to the one used to inform faith-based belief an equivalent but different kind of knowledge.

    This is rubbish. This is clearly exposed in this recycled tea analogy for the purpose of pretending there are ‘layers’ of knowledge.

    The notion of layers to explanations as if this somehow confronts and confounds the method of inquiry we call science is entirely bogus. Skeptico explains why: The problem (for those who use this tea analogy) is that this metaphor is self-refuting. Science can tell us about water molecules vibrating, but it can also tell us if the kettle is on because someone wants tea. For example, we could observe the kettle and see if someone pours the boiling water into a teapot and makes tea. We can also check to see of someone drinks the tea or if they just pour it down the sink. In other words, “I want tea” is testable, so it is a scientific explanation. A huge flaw in the analogy (to make religious claims appear to be exempt from scientific testing) is we know tea exists!

    There is no equivalent knowledge about god and gods, no equivalent knowledge about personal and subjective meanings and purposes, and no equivalent knowledge from other metaphysical musings about the reality we share. The fact remains that once we move away from allowing reality to adjudicate our claims made about it, which is the method of science, then we’ve moved away from any means to adjudicate them and entered the realm of pure speculation unhinged from the reality it purports to describe. But if you want to gain knowledge about reality, then you have to use a method that produces it. This tea analogy about layers of knowledge is false.

  2. I see no bait and switch here. I’m not delivering something different than I promised.

    You say reality determines; reality arbitrates? You’re talking nonsense. Can I sign up for classes in which the earth speaks to us? Lead me to where rocks talk.

    You’re using the term “reality” wrongly here too. Reality is a term that encompasses all that exists. Matter is just one of those things that exist. And if things other than matter exist, science is inadequate to tell us if other things exist because it only studies matter. It is complete arrogance that dares to assert the dogma that nothing exists apart from matter when science restricts itself to dealing with matter alone. It’s like if I stay in my house all day with no windows and say that nothing exists outside of my house because I restrict myself to house.

    Tildeb, What, in your view, would be a meaningful claim that is not scientific?

    The scientific method cannot tell you I want tea. It can tell you this this particular piece of matter over here is ingesting this particular piece of matter over there. If you use the word “I”, you’re assuming something the scientific method cannot tell you: personhood. If you use the word “want”, your moving into the realm of purpose. And ,unless you ask the person what he wants, you won’t know. He may not want tea, but is drinking it anyway. He may be drinking it to help a sore throat.

    Skeptico needs to figure out what self refuting means. The analogy may be mistaken about what explanations the scientific method can cover, but that is not the same thing as self-defeating. But, it is not mistaken. The analogy illustrates that there are multiple levels of explanation because there are persons in the universe. Persons use material things for there own purposes and even reform material things in order to create something new that purposely does something different. They give purpose to materials.

    And why should you then deride the analogy for not being equivocal? An analogy is analogous. The person who wants tea is analogous to the person who made the universe, not equivocal. This analogous person gives purpose to the materials we see around us. Science looks at materials, but not at the person.

  3. The scientific method holds the first explanation rightly and firmly within its jurisdiction and is completely adequate to discover and expand upon similar types of explanations. However, it has only the tiniest grasp of the second explanation and can only make inferences to these types of causal events (similar to the cause of the universe). Furthermore, it holds no grasp whatsoever upon the third explanation. Apply the scientific method to its fullest and still you will never come to the explanation that I wanted some tea.

    So…scientists can’t tell if you want tea? There’s just no way to know?

    (….awkward silence…)

    (…giggle..)

    Dan? … um, scientists can figure out if someone wants tea or not.
    Honest.
    It’s not that hard a thing to do. Especially if Picard is in the room.
    You are being very silly.

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