Objectivity and Subjectivity

(Mohammad Nur Syamsu) #1

I think the focus should not be on that belief in God is not a problem in regards to evolution theory, because that is actually not true in practise.

The focus should not be on God, but should be on acceptance of the validity of subjectivity. Expression of emotions with free will, forming an opinion. The conclusion the painting is beautiful, is equally logically valid to the conclusion the painting is ugly. The conclusion God exists, is equally logically valid to the conclusion God does not exist. Such is the foundation of democracy, the freedom of opinion and religion.

Subjectivity, as well as objectivity, are inherently creationist concepts. Creationism should replace materialism as the underlaying generic philosophy of science.

Because while expression of emotion, forming an opinion, like saying the painting is ugly, is not scientific, scientists should be forced to acknowledge this limitation on science. That things like beauty are real, while the existence of them is an opinion.

It is the most excellent feature of creationism, that with it one can describe the facts of how the earth came to be, and say the earth is beautiful as well. It is the only philosophy which validates both fact and opinion.

Creation and Evolution “Research Programs” (And Why It’s So Hard to Change Perspectives) | The BioLogos Forum
(Paul Lucas) #2

Mohammed, First, creationism is NOT a philosophy. It is a scientific theory. You say so yourself “It is the most excellent feature of creationism, that with it one can describe the facts of how the earth came to be,” See, Creationism is very much theory of how the universe came to be the way it is now. Prior to about 1800, YEC was the accepted scientific theory. From about 1790-1831 scientists (nearly all of whom were theists and many were ministers) found data (facts) that falsified young earth and a world-wide Flood. IOW, creationism could not explain the facts. In fact, the facts contradicted creationism. Many scientists (such as Lyell) then adopted the theory of “successive creations” in which God had successive large creation events (such as dinos) spread over hundreds of millions of years. However, that was being frayed in the 1840s and 1850s as scientists were beginning to see that species (Latin for "kinds’) were not stable or immutable. Then came Darwin, who discovered an unintelligent process – natural selection – to give design. Single interpositions of God in creating individual species gave way to God establishing “general laws” that gave rise to new species.

But your post typifies what Dr. Topp was talking about: despite all the evidence showing creationism is wrong and the history of Christians overwhelmingly rejecting creationism in the 1800s, here you are saying it “describe the facts”. For you, too, the perception seems to be that accepting evolution or science means accepting atheism. You think there is a “materialist philosophy” as an inherent part of science that denies the existence of God. You are fighting for your theism against atheism. But you are on the wrong battlefield and have the wrong enemy. Science isn’t your enemy. Evolution is not your enemy. Below I will explain somewhat how science works.

If you want to read more about the history of the theory of creationism, I suggest Davis A. Young’s excellent book The Biblical Flood, A Case Study of the Church’s Response to Extrabiblical Evidence

Second, “Creationism should replace materialism as the underlaying generic philosophy of science.”. There are 2 forms of “materialism”: methodological and philosophical. Philosophical materialism is basically atheism. However, despite the pious wishes of some atheistic scientists (Dawkins, PZ Myers, Atkins, Schaffersman, etc.) science is not philosophically materialistic.

Science is methdologically materialistic. It is a limitation of science and comes directly from how we do experiments. Let’s say you want to scientifically determine the causes of plant viability and growth. What do you do? Well you get a bunch of plants and then test whether things like water, soil, sunlight, and air are necessary. How do you do that? I think you already know: You put a plant in conditions where ONE of those (at a time) is missing. That is, you don’t water one plant. Another you put in a lightproof box. Another goes in a vacuum chamber and you pump out the air. Another you take out of the pot and hang so it’s roots dangle in air (no soil). When you are done, you will find that all 4 of those material causes are necessary for a plant to live and grow. So, is God necessary for plants to survive and grow? How would we test that? What plant can we point to and say with certainty “That plant has God in it” and what plant can we point to and say with certainty “God is not in that one.”? I don’t know of a way to do that, and neither does anyone else. If you can, then a Nobel Prize (at least) awaits you. I’m not being sarcastic.

What methodological materialism means is that science is agnostic. It is neither theistic nor atheistic. Your sentence "The conclusion God exists, is equally logically valid to the conclusion God does not exist. " is valid as far as science is concerned. Stephen Jay Gould expressed it very well:
“To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth millionth time (from college bull sessions to learned treatises): science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists.” SJ Gould, Impeaching a self-appointed judge. Scientific American, 267:79-80, July 1992.

So, when I’m speaking as a scientist, I’m agnostic. My faith that God exists comes from outside of science. Science will neither confirm nor deny it. IF, however, I make up a theory on how God created, then science can go to God’s Creation (the physical universe) and test the theory. Science cannot test the existence of God Itself, but it can test the method. For instance, atheists hate the various studies on intercessory prayer. Why? Because they show an effect of intercessory prayer. And hidden behind intercessory prayer is the hypothesis that it is God answering prayers.

Now, if you want to challenge atheistic scientists who mistakenly try to make science atheistic rather than agnostic, then you are on solid ground. In fact, I’ll help. But trying to have creationism as an “underlaying generic philosophy of science”? Nope. It’s a falsified theory.

Now let’s get to “objective” and “subjective”. What you are getting at is concepts of evidence. David Hume showed in the late 1700s that ALL evidence is personal experience: what we see, hear, taste, smell, touch, and feel emotionally. Our conclusion of “beautiful painting” is based upon our personal experience of sight and emotion. The conclusion in this paper – Lucas, P.A. Chemotactic response of osteoblast-like cells to TGF-beta. Bone, 10: 459-463, 1990. – is what I saw. Notice I’m the only author.

The term you want in place of “objective” is intersubjective. Intersubjective experience is personal experience that is the same for anyone under approximately the same circumstances. Personal experience can differ from person to person. You and I can look at the same painting and differ about whether it is “beautiful”. The example I use in class is the taste of Brussels sprouts. So far, no class has had all members with the same “taste” for Brussels sprouts.

Science has made the collective decision to admit only intersubjective evidence. That places a limitation on science. It also reinforces the agnosticism of science. Science cannot say whether Moses parted the Red Sea or what experience Saul had on the road to Damascus. Science cannot say that your personal experience of God is valid or invalid. Because it is personal (to you) and because not everyone has personal experience of God, it lies outside of science. Science cannot comment on its validity. Now, you may ask how my paper is part of science, since it is only me as author. The idea is that anyone can see what I saw (essentially) if they follow the Materials and Methods section of the paper. And I took pains to be sure the results were repeatable for me. That is, I ran the experiment 4 times and got identical results (within experimental error) each time before I submitted it for publication. So, it should be intersubjective. Saul’s experience cannot possibly be intersubjective. Nor can your personal experience of God. Nor can the essence of a lot of relationships among humans. In fact, some relationships are ruined (such as marriages) if other people can get the same experience with a spouse. :smile:

Now, I agree that "scientists should be forced to acknowledge this limitation on science. " I’m not sure who you mean by science, since I am a scientist. You can find quite a few scientists acknowledging the limitation:

“It is important to recognize that not all “facts” are susceptible to scientific investigation, simply because some observations and experiences are entirely personal. I cannot prove that someone loves his or her child. The emotions that any individual claims to have are not susceptible to scientific documentation, because they cannot be independently verified by other observers. In other words, science seeks to explain only objective knowledge, knowledge that can be acquired independently by different investigators if they follow a prescribed course of observation or experiment. Many human experiences and concerns are not objective, and so do not fall within the realms of science.” Douglas Futuyma, Science on Trial, the Case for Evolution, 1995, p 167.

Notice this is a book by an eminent evolutionary biologist who is showing that creationism is false.

There is a philosophy called “scientism”. It’s rubbish. Basically, adherents of scientism think the only possible knowledge is scientific. But scientists know that we live the vast majority of our lives outside of science, where we routinely accept non-scientific “facts” and personal experience as reliable.

(Mohammad Nur Syamsu) #3

In science all theories are stated in their general form. Like gravity theory is not stated in respect to the gravity of the earth. Neither is creationism stated in respect to when and who created the earth.

So the theory of creationism in it’s general form, simply describes the mechanism of creation, which is choosing.

Creationism divides into 2 categories, the creator category, which chooses, and the creation category, which is chosen. Subjectivity, and only subjectivity, applies to the creator category, the the issue of the identity of the agency of a decision, which makes the decision turn out the way it does. Objectivity, and only objectivity applies to the creation category.

How subjectivity works, according to creationism, and according to common discourse, is one reaches the conclusion about the identity of the agency of a decision, by choosing the conclusion, resulting in what is called an opinion. One expresses emotions with free will, thus choosing the answer.

How objectivity works is evidence forces to produce a model of something in creation. A 1 to 1 model. With mathematics it is possible in principle to achieve perfectly exhaustive models.

As all people, you reject the procedure of subjectivity. You reject reaching a conclusion about what is real by choosing the conclusion, relevant only to the creator category.

And this is not about you accepting God or not, this is about you dealing with me, and I absolutely demand that my emotions are acknowledged, in a properly subjective way.

What is in my heart, you can only reach a conclusion about what is in it by choosing the conclusion. You express your emotions with your free will, thus choosing, about what is in my heart, the emotions that I choose with, the agency of my decisions. That is civilization. Of course I could also tell you what is in my heart, but still, what I say is in it, is an opinion also.

That’s the way it works, and intersubjectivity is false. Intersubjectivity is really first categorizing everything as fact, then finding out you left no room for opinion, and then asserting that there is an inherent subjective element in any fact, as some hodgepodge solution to the problem that was created in step 1.


Your quote from Futuyma is highly selective;

“By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”

(Evolutionary Biology, by Douglas J. Futuyma (3rd ed., Sinauer Associates Inc., 1998), p. 5.)

You are also falling into a philosophical hole by claiming that only scientific knowledge is objective. From you posts you are advocating theological anti-realism in which theological claims have no truth value. If an anti-realist states that God exists then he/she is making a category mistake as there is no objective reality for God to refer too. In addition if the anti-realist claims it is not the case that God exists then this is a category mistake as well as God is subjective. If I have read you correctly, then you are an atheist as ‘God’ just refers to a fuzzy feeling or an orientation towards the world.

(Mohammad Nur Syamsu) #5

There is a specific meaning attached to “objective” in the scientific sense. It is making a 1 to 1 representation of something. There is the moon and a book about the moon containing the facts about it in the form of words, pictures and mathematics. What is in the book is basically a model, and a forced result of what the actual moon consists of.

You cannot do this with love or hate. You cannot make a 1 to 1 representation of it. That is because love and hate are agency of a decision. You can only express your emotions about what love and hate are with free will, creatively.

And God clearly also belongs in the category of agency of decisions. As clearly also the soul chooses, so it also belongs in that same category, therefore the existence of the soul, God love and hate is a matter of opinion.

The conclusion the painting is beautiful, is equally logically valid to the conclusion the painting is ugly. The logical validity of an opinion merely depends on that it is chosen, and that it is in reference to the agency of a decision. Opinions are radically different from facts.


That’s my point. You are describing an anti-realist understanding of God. To the theological realist if he/she claims that God exists this means that the word “God” has a referent who is a person who has the traditional Omni-attributes and cares for creation. That is the understanding that most theist’s have when they talk about God. You may not know it but you are denying the existence of God.


Yes Matt, God is objective, while our perception of an objective God is subjective. We can also have a subjective perspective on the moon, which is nevertheless a real object.

(Mohammad Nur Syamsu) #8

You are simply rejecting subjectivity is valid. You are saying subjectivity is nonsense which has nothing to do with reality, only facts have to do with reality.

There are 2 domains in reality, creator and creation. You put God in the creation category, together with all material stuff. Do you know what scripture says about people who confuse the creation for the creator?

(Mohammad Nur Syamsu) #9

You have to get an idea about the physics of how subjectivity works. Take a subjective idea about the moon, for example, “the moon is beautiful”. We can see this statements, these words, the existence of them is fact, so how exactly do these words physically come to be?

It works like this, more or less. First there is a choice between the words “beautiful” and “ugly”, and beautiful is chosen. Spontaneously, in expression of emotions with free will.

The word “beautiful” refers to a love of the way the moon looks. This love then is what chose the word “beautiful” in expressing. The existence of this love then is a matter of opinion, meaning the conclusion the love does not exist, is equally vallid to the conclusion it does exist.

That’s how it basically works. But to my mind the statement “the moon is beautiful” does not only refer to the love of the way it looks, but also it refers to the spirit in which the moon was created, or the spirit in which it is sustained.

So you see then the moon becomes to be regarded as expression of the spirit. There are decisions by which the moon is created, there are decisions in relation to these decisions resulting in the words that it is beautiful. It is the spirit choosing, relating to another spirit choosing.

It is very obvious to me when considering people that the beauty or ugliness is in the soul. That is my sense of beauty about which I have no doubt. And there is no doubt that the soul is not a material thing.

Which leads me to believe that deconstructing a statement like saying the “body is beautiful”, it will also turn out that it is not the material body that is referred to. but that the physical body is regarded as expression of the spirit, and that the spirit which created or sustains the body is referred to. What is meant by saying the body is beautiful, is for instance in my opinion the human body is an expression of strength of character, adventure, love, universality.


It is true that where one person sees beauty, another sees ugliness. The barren, wasteland craters of a lifeless moon could be seen to be rather unappealing, and ugly. Yet the reflection of the sunlight on the moonscape brings us the night light which beams beautifully through the trees and clouds. In fact, we might see beauty and ugliness at exactly the same time, in the same object. But this is simply how it impacts us. The moon itself is not an expression of our spirit, but could certainly be regarded as an expression of God’s interest in us.

Nevertheless, there is a surface beauty that often attracts us in certain people or objects. Yet, when we understand the person or object better, that beauty becomes secondary, or even disappears under the aura and knowledge of the personality or purpose of the person or object.

Interesting thoughts.

(Brad Kramer) #11

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