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Basic Worldview:
102 Atheism vs. Theism


Charge 1, Deduction and Induction

Prelude: "Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Atheism: Introduction and Charges
Charge 1, Deduction and Induction
Charge 2, Question 1
Charge 2, Questions 2 and 3
Charge 2, Summary and Question 4
Charges 3 and 4, Definitions
Empirical Evidence
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Occam's Razor and Conclusions
Footnote 1
Footnote 2 and 3
Proof of Life
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Scientists: Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Atheisms Circle of Reasons
Is God a White Crow?



Now we will debunk the Atheistic/Agnostic charges against Theism, beginning with Charge No. 1.

Atheistic/Agnostic Charge No. 1: Theistic proofs inherently rely upon inductive reasoning, which by definition, is an invalid argument form, while Atheistic/Agnostic proofs rely upon deductive reasoning, which is a valid scientific form of argument.

Let's start by discussing the difference between deduction and induction.

Deduction: Reasoning from a general rule to a specific instance. It's a valid form of argument because the conclusion is necessarily true if the premises are true. However, whether or not a deductive argument is true depends on whether or not the proposed general rule is true.

How do we learn (about) a general rule? (How do we come to know general rules?)

There are two ways?
1) First, we could observe the general rule directly.
2) Second, we could observe a number of specific instances and infer the general rule based upon what those instances have in common. (Or in other words we could observe a number of effects and use those effects as a basis for making conclusions about their cause.)

In reality, only No. 1 will actually tell us that the general rule is true. Only by observing the general rule directly can we be sure that our perception of that rule is true and accurate on all points. Only No. 1 is can be considered deductive reasoning.

In the case of No. 2, we would not actually know if the general rule we were inferring is true. The reason for this is that even though every specific instance we've observed may fit the general rule that we are proposing, there may be instances we have not observed that would negate or alter the general rule we have proposed. This, by definition, is inductive reasoning.

Induction: Reason from specific instances to a general rule. Observe specific instances. Notice a pattern. Propose a theory explaining the existence of that pattern. That theory or pattern becomes the hypothetical general rule. The certainty of such an argument can only be true for the observations we have made and can never tell us for sure whether or not the general rule we've proposed is true for all instances beyond those we have observed. Although useful and unavoidable in scientific inquiry, this form of argument is considered invalid because even if the instances we have observed are true, they will not automatically accurately describe the general rule as a whole nor, therefore, tell us about all instances beyond those we've observed. Thus, with induction, we can never actually know if our hypothetical general rule is an accurate perception of the general rule itself.

In short, the "validity" or "invalidity" of an argument refers to whether or not the conclusion is necessarily true if the premises are true. In the case of deduction, the general rule or cause functions as a premise. If the general rule is true, then we know that the conclusion about a specific instance (or effect) is also necessarily true. Thus, deduction is a valid argument.

In the case of induction, the general rule or cause is not a part of the premises. The general rule or cause is unknown to us. Instead, the premises are composed entirely of instances (or effects) that have been observed. We then use these instances as premises in order to make inferences about the general rule, which is itself the conclusion. Since we can never know if we have observed all the instances or effects, we do not know if our assessment about the general rule or cause is correct. All our observed instances may be true and yet we may be missing information and so misperceive the general rule or cause. Thus, since the conclusion is not necessarily true even if all the premises are true, induction is not a valid argument.

In summary, the difference between deduction and induction is as follows. In deduction the general rule is a premise. In deduction, the general rule is not constructed from any observed specific instances. In induction the general rule is the conclusion and it is entirely constructed from the observed specific instances, which form the premises.

And furthermore, in logical discussions the terms "valid" or "invalid" do not indicate "correct" and "incorrect." Rather, "valid" and "invalid" refer to the certainty of the conclusion based upon the form of the argument. When we say an argument is "valid," as in the case of deduction, we mean that the conclusion is certain if the premises are true. When we say an argument is "invalid," as in the case of induction, we mean that the conclusion is still not certain, even if all the premises are true. When we say a conclusion is not certain, we do not mean it is necessarily false or even that it is necessarily unlikely. We simply mean that we cannot know that it is true with any absolute certainty.

It must be noted that almost all of scientific knowledge is inductive. A scientific (or natural) law is an abstract thing. We do not observe any scientific law directly but rather we make the best possible assessment of what a scientific law involves by observing specific instances or effects of that law and using those observations of instances to make inferences about what the general law could be like. Or, in other words, a scientific law acts as a cause. We do not observe the cause directly but observe instances, which we believe to be effects of that law and from those observed effects we draw conclusions about the cause or law itself.

However, because this form of reasoning is inductive, the conclusions that we draw about the laws are not certain, as they would be if drawn from deductive processes.

Now, in the case of experiments, scientists try to recreate the cause in order to observe the cause or law directly. However, even in such instances when recreating and observing a cause directly are possible, we are still not observing the scientific law itself, but rather we are observing specific instances of that law at work. Based upon the instance of the law at work observed during the experimentation processes, we then make inferences about how that law works in general. Again, by its very nature this is inductive and so any inferences we draw about the general law or cause can never be certain.

Because even experimental recreations of a cause only involve instances of a law at work, for scientific purposes, absolute deduction is almost never available. We may apply deduction during a particular experiment but the results of that deductive experiment only provide for us an instance from which we induce ideas about the law or cause as a whole. We never get to observe the entirety of a law or cause, but only a specific instance of it at work.

Specifically, with regard to the origin of the universe, we cannot recreate this event, nor can we go back in time to watch it occur. Thus, we cannot observe the origin of the universe and are forced to draw conclusions about the origin of the universe by observing the effects (particular instances), which have resulted from that original event. (This problem also applies to the origin of life since we cannot go back in time and observe the actual origination of life on earth.) Therefore, all theories about the origin of the universe (and the origin of life) are inductive in nature. And consequently, one cannot disregard one origin theory in favor of another on the grounds that a particular theory is based upon induction. All origin theories necessarily rely upon induction because we have no direct access to the cause itself (even if we suppose that the cause is natural laws), we only have direct access to particular instances of its effects. Conversely, because all origin theories are necessarily based upon induction, we can never assert that our conclusions are certain.

In conclusion, since all theories about the origin of the universe and the origin of life (even atheistic theories) rely upon induction, not deduction, we cannot reject Theism based upon its reliance upon induction. Therefore, Atheistic/Agnostic Charge No. 1 is unjustified and must be discarded.