Search Our Site
Atheism vs. Theism
Charge 1, Deduction and Induction
"Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Introduction and Charges
1, Deduction and Induction
2, Question 1
2, Questions 2 and 3
2, Summary and Question 4
3 and 4, Definitions
Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Razor and Conclusions
2 and 3
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Circle of Reasons
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
Let's start by discussing the difference between deduction
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
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.