Dr. Young Addresses The Big Question
- Chapter 1: Deductive and Inductive Logic
- Chapter 2: The Scientific Method
- Chapter 3: The Forensic Scientific Method and the Inferential Test
- Chapter 4: Application of the Forensic Scientific Method and the Inferential Test, Part 1
- Chapter 5: Application of the Forensic Scientific Method and the Inferential Test, Part 2
- Chapter 6: Inductive Arguments
- Chapter 7: Analysis of Counterarguments
Chapter 4: Application of the Forensic Scientific Method and the Inferential Test, Part 1
In the last chapter, I told you I would address “The Big Question” as a forensic scientist using the FSM (Forensic Scientific Method) and the IT (Inferential Test for Expert Testimony). The IT is always true; I demonstrated that in an article on my website entitled, The Inferential Test is Always True. Think of it as a Law 9. You may not understand all the logic, the logical operator notation, and the truth tables, but this is not necessary to understand my point. My point is that the IT is a necessary truth and is true under all circumstances. I have demonstrated that fact through deductive logic. This should add to your confidence when it is used (it certainly adds to mine).
Once again, the Inferential Test:
One can be reasonably certain if witness accounts of the past are consistent or not consistent with physical evidence in the present, but one cannot reliably surmise past events from physical evidence unless there is only one plausible explanation for that evidence.
First of all — for the sake of argument — let us assume that we are not aware of any sufficient witness accounts regarding the creation of the heavens and the earth. In that situation, we look at the question as all scientists up to this point (except for me) have chosen to look at it. I say this because scientists — for some reason and it is not a good reason — choose to believe that there is no sufficient account of past events that addresses this issue. They choose to tie one arm behind their backs, so to speak. In that situation, we would have to rely on the exception in the second half of the IT — following the word, “unless” — which allows us to be certain from circumstantial evidence only (circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence without sufficient witness accounts). Even so, we could determine with certainty through circumstantial evidence that God (a name we assign to an intelligent and powerful creator and sustainer) provides the only plausible explanation for the creation and the sustenance of the heavens and the earth.
To some degree, this is the conclusion of an argument offered by scientists who espouse Intelligent Design. In my opinion, their argument does not go far enough in several respects. First of all, the argument ignores witness accounts that exist for these past events (to be covered in the next chapter). Secondly, not only does there have to be intelligence to design the system called “the heavens and the earth” but there also has to be power introduced into the system not only to create the system but also to order and sustain it. This is an ongoing and vitally important activity that is a present reality, not just a past event. That power is delivered through certain vehicles (the sun providing heat and light, for example) in certain ways that follow “scientific laws.” “Scientific laws” are reliable and truthful conditional statements of cause and effect. Such “laws” are — in and of themselves — another evidence of an intelligent and powerful creator and sustainer.
The IT is practical as well as logical. The use of the exception means that in the absence of witness accounts, all other plausible explanations have been considered and rejected. Ordinarily, this is a tough standard to meet because circumstantial evidence cases are hard to argue in court, but I would challenge anyone to falsify the exception by providing another plausible explanation for the intricate creation and sustenance of the heavens and the earth.
The IT as expressed in logical operator notation — as you may have noticed from the previous link 9 — uses a biconditional operator (double arrow) for the exception: Q ↔ P. This is not the same operation as a conditional (P → Q) which utilizes a single arrow. Q ↔ P in English means “Q if and only if P.” Another way to state it is “Q is both a necessary and sufficient condition for P.”
Consider the following examples as a way to understand “sufficient” and “necessary.” Drowning may be a sufficient condition for death but not a necessary one: death can also be caused by other means, i.e. stabbing, shooting, heart attack, etc. On the other hand, water is a necessary condition for the life of a plant (life only if water) but it is not sufficient. Other items are necessary for the life of a plant, such as sunlight, soil, etc. Now there are a very few situations where something is both a necessary and sufficient condition for something else, such as:
God created the heavens and the earth 10 if and only if all things are possible
with God 11.
If all things are possible with God, then there is no reason to doubt that God can create the heavens and the earth; and if God can create the heavens and the earth, there is no reason to doubt that all things are possible with God. If one part is true, the other part is true; and if one part is false (God cannot create the heavens and the earth), then the other part is false (With God, all things are not possible). In a biconditional, one part cannot be true and the other false, and vice versa. This allows only one plausible explanation because two plausible explanations — one being true and the other false — cannot both exist if the biconditional is true.
What if one does not want to believe in an intelligent and powerful creator and sustainer? Consider the following:
- Assume that there is no God.
- If there is no God, then the universe came to be by the Big Bang scenario (that is why the scenario was invented — to explain the origin of the universe without God causing it).
- If the universe came to be by the Big Bang scenario, then the laws of physics were suspended (How does nothing become so dense that it becomes something that explodes?).
- If the laws of physics were suspended, then a miracle was performed.
- If a miracle was performed, then there is a God (A “miracle” is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency” 4).
∴ There is a God.
What I just offered is an indirect proof for the existence of God using reductio ad absurdum. If one is asked to assume something and that assumption leads to a contradiction, then the very opposite of what was assumed is true. A contradiction is a statement that is false in all circumstances. Consider the statement: “There is a God and there is no God.” This is a contradiction because God either exists or he does not — He cannot be both at the same time. That is like saying, “I am dead and alive at the same time.” The statement by necessity is false. Since a contradiction is always false, the negation of a contradiction (in logical operator notation: ~(G • ~G) or “It is not true that God both exists and does not exist at the same time”) is always true, according to the law of noncontradiction. The law of noncontradiction allows reductio ad absurdum to be used in an indirect proof for the existence of God and for many other arguments.
Using logical operator notation in a proof, the argument above is demonstrated deductively to be valid. For reference, ~G symbolizes the statement, “There is no God,” and G symbolizes the opposite, “There is a God.” B symbolizes the statement, “The universe came to be by the Big Bang scenario.” ~L symbolizes the statement, “The laws of physics were suspended.” M symbolizes the statement, “A miracle was performed.”
|1||~G||Assume (for reductio ad absurdum). The tilde means “not.”|
|2||~G → B||Restatement of line 2 above.|
|3||B → ~L||Restatement of line 3 above.|
|4||~L → M||Restatement of line 4 above.|
|5||M → G||Restatement of line 5 above|
|6||~G → G||Hypothetical syllogism string (If 2 then 3; if 3 then 4; if 4 then 5; therefore, if 2 then 5).|
|7||G||MP applied to lines 1 and 6.|
|8||G • ~G||Conjunction of lines 1 and 7 (G and not G, which is an absurdity).|
|9||∴ G||Lines 1-8, reductio ad absurdum (since statements 1-8 lead to a contradiction, the opposite of what was initially assumed in line 1 must be true)|
Steps 6 through 9 are additional steps in a proof to show the validity of the conclusion using well-known theorems — similar to the proofs we used in 10th grade Geometry class. If the premises in lines 2 through 5 are true (assuming line 1 to be true), then the conclusion is true.
What if one wants to call himself a “theistic evolutionist” — one who believes in both God and Darwinism? That is also absurd. Consider the following.
- If one believes Theistic Evolution is correct, then one accepts both the existence of God and the truth of Darwinian (or Neo-Darwinian) Evolution.
- If one believes Darwinian (or Neo-Darwinian) Evolution to be true, then one accepts the non-existence of God. (That was the whole point of the scenario when Darwin first proposed it: to explain the existence of life as we know it without the existence of God.)
∴ Theistic Evolution is not correct.
Consider the following proof using reductio ad absurdum. For reference, T symbolizes the statement, “One believes Theistic Evolution is correct.” G symbolizes, “God exists.” E symbolizes the statement, “Darwinian (or Neo-Darwinian) Evolution is true.”
|1||T → (G • E)||Restatement of 1 in logical operator notation|
|2||E → ~G||Restatement of 2 in logical operator notation|
|3||T||Assume that Theistic Evolution is true for reductio ad absurdum argument|
|4||G • E||MP applied to lines 1 and 3|
|5||E||Simplification of line 4 (If a conjunction of statements is true, then one of those statements is also true)|
|6||~G||MP applied to lines 2 and 5|
|7||G||Simplification of line 4 (see above)|
|8||G • ~G||Conjunction of lines 6 and 7 (if G is true and not G is true, then G and not G are true. This is an absurdity.)|
|9||∴ ~T||Lines 3 – 8, reductio ad absurdum|
I hope I have not thoroughly confused you by this point. Playing around with the logic is fun for me but perhaps not for you. Once again, the argument is shown to be valid, so if premises 1 and 2 are true, then the conclusion is also true.
As interesting as using the second half of the IT is by itself, it is not nearly as interesting nor is the argument nearly as compelling as when the first half of the IT is applied. What would the analysis look like if ancient witness accounts were compared to present-day physical and empirical evidence for consistency and inconsistency? There is more to come in Part 2. Keep reading.