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Evolution - and how we know it's right


ShadowTemplar
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Aside from the preponderance of evidence and predictions that have come from the theory of evolution, I can only say that there is no other demonstrable mechanism to explain our existence. The creation explanation can be immediately disgarded, since there are many hundreds of variations of these and none are testable.

 

But lets get a few conventions out of the way first:

 

1) We are discussing evolution, not the origin of the universe. These are two different concepts and deserve separate threads. Personally, I'll likely not post in the universe thread since I have limited education in astronomy and cosmology. I make the distinction because in nearly every evolution argument I've been in, within a few posts the opponent to the fact of evolution will bring up the beginning of the universe.

 

2) The word "theory" does not some how imply a hierarchy that evolution aspires to become, specifically moving on to be a "law." Theories and laws are two different, but related, things. Laws are generalizations, principles or pattersn in nature, while theories are the explanations of those generalizations. Theories in science are very different that the "theories" of colloquial speech in that they are based on one or more hypotheses that have been tested in some way.

 

But I can't imagine that anyone these days would dare challenge evolution as an explanation for life as we know it. There simply aren't any other viable explanations and the evolution explanation has far too much evidence supporting it. Okay... I'm trolling a little. But just a little

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Oh, hi Skin. Nice of you to chime in. True to the style of your comment, I'll lay down a convention and a warning as well.

 

The convention first: Don't bring up ethics as if ethical concerns somehow invalidates a theory. The ethical or philosophical implications of - say - nuclear fission are interesting. But that doesn't lead anyone to challenge the basic validity of the theory.

 

And now for the warning: With most arguments I'll go through the trouble of explaining why those arguments are invalid (or at least point you in the direction of a proper explanation). But if you start talking about the 2nd Law, I'll not bother, since it will then be painfully clear that you are rehashing arguments that you either do not understand and/or haven't bothered to even attempt to challenge.

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I was just thinking about this.

 

I read an opinion column by Pat Buchanan this morning on his personal theories on evolution. (Column here: http://www.theamericancause.org/a-pjb-051219-darwinism.htm)

His basic postulation, that Darwinism has failed because it has yet to produce definitive proof in the limited amount of time that it has existed as a scientific theory shows an absolute misunderstanding about how science really works.

He thus concludes that all thinking, rational people will abandon the theory for a creationist point-of-view eventually.

 

Personally, I believe this goes a long was to show the absolute importance for a world-class science education for each and every person in this country. That this type of backwards warping of what the scientific method is and how it works can even exist in this day and age by someone who holds a somewhat influential position baffles my mind.

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Well i'm always amazed that in today's day and age so much of america still doesn't believe in evolution. But lets not go into that.

 

One of the major things that continues to convince me that it is true is that with every new discovery and new scientific method we develop we keep finding more and more evidence that supports it, and still haven;t found anything that disproves it.

Its a bit like a blurry image loading, we can see the overall picture from a distance, but each new development improves the clarity in a certain area.

 

Sometimes it doesn't turn out to be exactly what we were expecting and we have to readujst our viewpoint a little, but on the whole it all still fits together.

 

If anything was likely to blow evolution out of the water it was the recent advances in genetics. Suddenly we are able to look into the way things are acually made in so much more detail than we could before... and so this was a point where we could have looked in a new way and gone "oh heck, that doesn't do what i expected". But in actual fact the more we understand about the genetic makeup and connections of species the MORE it strengthens the case for evolution.

 

Its a bit "dumbed down", but the BBC programme Walking with beasts (follow up to walking with dinosaurs) gives a really nice view of how the changes in the earth's climate, the habitat and the evolution of other species affects the evolution of tiny organisms into mamals.

The timescales are mind boggling, but seeing it all occur in "fast forward mode" does really help visualise the process. Otherwise it can simply be a bit hard to imagine.

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To understand the anti-evolution crowd, you really have to look at their strategies and goals. There is the infamous "Wedge Strategy" of the mis-named Discovery Institute, which outlines very boldly some of these. We also get a look at some of the psychology involved with the anti-evolution movement.

 

I give you this essay for comment, but please forgive the length of the post.

 

The Wedge Strategy of Creationist Pseudoscience

 

The author of the Wedge Strategy (Johnson [alleged] ca. 1998) claims the creation of humans in the image of the Christian God to be the "bedrock principle" of Western civilization. This may be bedrock principle of Christianity, but Western civilization was built on the traditions of democracy, rule of law, and parliamentary procedure. Indeed, the very institutions in our own nation that are representative of these guiding principles reflect an architectural style of pre-Christian Greece, where much of our democratic tradition was born.

 

The author attributes most, "if not all," Western achievements in democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in arts and sciences to the Christian concept of God and religion, which is simply not the case. While a significant amount of art is influenced by the world's religions, the Christian God's impact on achievements of democracy, human rights, and free enterprise is minimal, especially with regard to the most significant advances in these areas. Indeed some of these achievements occurred in spite of Christian principles, most notably achievements in science! That's not to imply that religions –Christian or otherwise- haven't been positive influences in society or have not done their share of good. However, it would be incorrect to assert that Western society would be amiss without Christianity's input. Certainly the point is arguable, but the assertion that Western society is the result of the Christian God's influence on humanity is a bold claim, and, at best, it can only be demonstrated that it is the belief in this God that may have some minimal influence.

 

Undoubtedly, this is the sort of dismissive tone that the Wedge author would cite as an example of a "wholesale attack" that is being carried out by intellectuals in the name of science, and it is this "wholesale attack" that the author presents as a major, if not the primary, concern for him. In the Wedge, careful word-play neatly sandwiches Karl Marx between Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud -three obvious nemeses of Christian fundamentalism: Marx accused religion of being the "opium of the people;" Darwin demonstrated that environment influences speciation; and Freud slapped Christianity in the face with the hypothesis that Moses was an Egyptian in the grain of the monotheistic Akhenaton and that religion is an infantile obsession with the Father figure (God). The Wedge author's use of these figures is to villainize them, and those like them, for portraying humans "not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines," subject to the physical laws of the universe and nature.

 

The main fallacy of this is, of course, a non-sequitur. It does not follow that being an animal –we're certainly not plants- or being allegorically compared to machinery means that morality and spirituality are absent. It is, in fact, very obviously a part of humanity to be moral, since moral codes or laws exist in all cultures, regardless of whether or not they have a god or gods. So, too, is spirituality very obvious to anyone who has studied non-Christian cultures. The traditional Navajo, for instance, are deeply spiritual and hold that the land is sacred and live their lives accordingly.

 

The Wedge author goes on to deride all that do not conform to his narrow worldview with labels such as "materialist." The use of this label suggests that the physical world is somehow secondary to the metaphysical –and it may be. But the problem is that the metaphysical, by its nature, is unverifiable, un-testable, and eludes any consistency –even among individual believers who describe it.

 

The physical or the material, however, is measurable and observable. From it, we can draw conclusions and inferences and, occasionally, make predictions. Hope and belief are comforting, and one cannot disparage those for whom religion works. But these are not tenable methods of science. That the author of the Wedge is Phillip E. Johnson may or may not be true, but other works of Johnson are consistent with this document. The overall tone and accusatory nature that exists in the Wedge is present in his other works as well. Throughout several articles published in National Review, Commonweal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, Johnson uses terms such as "materialistic science," "scientific materialism," "philosophical materialism," "Darwinism," "neo-Darwinist," and "scientific atheism." The idea is clearly to paint the picture that there is an establishment of science, or at least a faction of science, that has some vested interest in abolishing religion and religious beliefs, most specifically, Protestant Christianity.

 

In The Religious Implications of Teaching Evolution (Johnson 1999), he writes the following.

 

"Real education requires that students be exposed to dissenting views about evolution in their strongest form, rather than merely to some caricature written by a scientific materialist."

 

There is no more valid a dissenting view of evolution than there is of gravity. And this is where the proponents of creationist rhetoric like "intelligent" design have failed with regard to the goals and objectives established in the Wedge Strategy. The strategy's author includes three phases of action, the first being "scientific research, writing & publication;" the second, "publicity & opinion making;" and the third, "cultural confrontation & renewal."

 

Among their goals for Phase-One, the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC) initially sought to establish research and scholarship that would stand on its own and provide evidence for the creationist point of view. The Wedge author stated, "Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade," and this is supported later by the CRSC (West 2004) with an opinion that the "materialistic world-view" has dominated Western society and needs to be defeated. The CRSC says, "[m]aterialism is a dehumanizing philosophy that has been used to justify genocide, infanticide and eugenics, among other evils. We want to see it discredited." Not only has the CRSC failed to produce any testable hypotheses in support of the creationist view point; not only have they ignored the preponderance of evidence that biology, geology, and anthropology have produced that not only verify past predictions regarding evolution but make new ones; but the creationists at CRSC continue with derisive labels like "materialism" as if this were a legitimate argument.

 

Rather than admit that human nature could possibly be responsible for atrocities like genocide or infanticide, or even acknowledge that religions, especially Christianity, have been driving forces behind such nonsense, CRSC issues a clearly biased rhetoric. It is also clear that the CRSC really means "the United States of America" when it refers to Western civilization and not the largely secular Western Europe, as Scandinavians, Germans, and Brits routinely laugh at the ignorance present in the so-called Superpower. So it would not be out of place to point out that all cases of genocide and infanticide in the U.S. appear to have more Christian influence than that of the so-called "materialist" science. That is, unless the U.S. Cavalry had naturalists in place of chaplains as it systematically wiped out thousands of Native American men, women, and children at places like Wounded Knee. Or perhaps it was physicists and geologists who organized lynch mobs to adorn Georgia peach trees with the "strange fruit" of black men, women, and children by their necks.

 

To conclude, the CRSC appears to have completely by-passed Phase-One of the Wedge Strategy, opting to pursue Phases-Two and –Three instead. The publications that have been produced consist only of apologetic books. Nothing substantial has been published by the so-called "intelligent" design proponents in peer reviewed journals such as Nature that provides any testable hypotheses or verifies any predictions of "intelligent" design. Indeed, the proponents of creationism clearly avoid peer-review and, instead, choose to appeal to the public directly with seminars, popular media, and books. Robert Park, author of Voodoo Science, reminds us in an article that ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2003) that pitching "the claim directly to the media" is the first warning sign of bogus science.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Johnson, P. E. (1999, 12/11/99). The Religious Implications of Teaching Evolution. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46(12), B9.

 

Johnson, P. E. [alleged]. (ca. 1998). The Wedge Strategy: Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture. Discovery Institute (alleged), ca. 1998 (Features). Retrieved 151205, from Antievolution.org: http://www.antievolution.org/features/Wedge.html.

 

Park, R. L. (2003, 31/1). The seven warning signs of bogus science. Chronical of Higher Education, 49(21), B20.

 

West, J. (2004, 8/1). The "Wedge Document": "So What?" Retrieved 181205, from The Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=349.

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He thus concludes that all thinking, rational people will abandon the theory for a creationist point-of-view eventually.

But of course, with the tonnes of evidence that supports it! How can I resist?!

 

The main fallacy of this is, of course, a non-sequitur. It does not follow that being an animal –we're certainly not plants- or being allegorically compared to machinery means that morality and spirituality are absent.

Roses are on the way :) .

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I was kinda hoping that we'd get Saber in here, though. This thread was started because of his comments after all...

 

And while making fun of creationists is always - well fun - let's not forget that it's not all that - ah - sporting.

 

“Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.”

 

- P.J. O’Rourke (1947- )

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Aye, that's been covered pretty extesively over at the 'Thumb

 

The short version is that the only Intelligent Design Creationist in the Dover Panda Trial who didn't seriously perjure himself was Mike Behe - and he was absolutely eviscerated on the stand. Apparently Intelligent Design is - according to Behe's testemony - on par with Astrology when it comes to scientific quality.

 

Even the Templeton Foundation - who are none too shy about funding inane projects - recoil from Intelligent Design Creationism.

 

Judge Jones' ruling is available here.

 

The short version is that he sustains all charges. Intelligent Design Creationism is a religious cult and the Dover School Board knowingly pushed it despite the self-evident violation of the Edwards vs. Aguillard precedent. The DASD science standards thus failed two prongs of the Lemon test and were declared unconstitutional.

 

It was, indeed, a Waterloo in Dover.

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"And when you consider the clocklike precision of the planets in their orbits about the sun ... does that seem to you like the result of random selection or the product of intelligent design?"

 

I'm going to have to go with gravity on this one. :p

 

Indeed. In fact it is the product of quasi-random selection in a fashion that the guy who wrote it (properly attributing quotes is a Good Thing, BTW) could ever appreciate.

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One reason why proponents of creationist nonsense will purposely avoid this thread is because they simply will not be able to argue against the evidence.

 

The Mousetrap

 

By John Allen Paulos

 

The theory of intelligent design, the purportedly more scientific descendant of creation science, rejects Darwin's theory of evolution as being unable to explain the complexity of life. How, ask its supporters, can biological phenomena such as the clotting of blood have arisen just by chance? A key supporter likens the "irreducible complexity" of such phenomena to the irreducible complexity of a mousetrap. If one piece is missing - spring, metal platform or board - it is useless. The implicit suggestion is that all the parts of a mousetrap would have had to come into being at once, an impossibility unless there were an intelligent designer. Design proponents argue that what's true for the mousetrap is all the more true for complex biological phenomena. If any of the 20 or so proteins involved in blood clotting is absent, clotting doesn't occur. So, the creationist argument goes, these proteins must have all been brought into being at once by a designer. But the theory of evolution does explain the evolution of complex biological organisms and phenomena, and the argument from design, which dates from the 18th century, has been decisively refuted. Rehashing the refutation is not my goal. Those who reject evolution are usually immune to such arguments.

 

To Read More of This Article Visit: http://www.csicop.org/intelligentdesignwatch/

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Sorry, been sick as a dog. And the last thing you do when you have a splitting headache is debate. Looks like a lot has happened.

 

Aside from the preponderance of evidence and predictions that have come from the theory of evolution, I can only say that there is no other demonstrable mechanism to explain our existence. The creation explanation can be immediately disgarded, since there are many hundreds of variations of these and none are testable.

 

That so? I've only heard one. Please tell me what variations you have heard. Also, how can you get evidence from a theory? I suppose you can get evidence for a theory, but a theory is not absolute.

 

1) We are discussing evolution, not the origin of the universe. These are two different concepts and deserve separate threads. Personally, I'll likely not post in the universe thread since I have limited education in astronomy and cosmology. I make the distinction because in nearly every evolution argument I've been in, within a few posts the opponent to the fact of evolution will bring up the beginning of the universe.

 

Rather than just bring up the beginning of the universe, I will at least humor you enough to explain how they're related. If we evolved, then we must have a beginning, something to evolve from, do we not? And of course, we must have a place to evolve. Does our world have no beginning, always here, or did it evolve as well? Nowhere did this thread say it was only human evolution.

 

But don't worry. I'll touch on the universe only when necessary, and I'll focus on humans as much as possible.

 

2) The word "theory" does not some how imply a hierarchy that evolution aspires to become, specifically moving on to be a "law." Theories and laws are two different, but related, things. Laws are generalizations, principles or pattersn in nature, while theories are the explanations of those generalizations. Theories in science are very different that the "theories" of colloquial speech in that they are based on one or more hypotheses that have been tested in some way.

 

Whoa, evolution has been tested? If you can show where evolution was tested, I'll back down now.

 

But I can't imagine that anyone these days would dare challenge evolution as an explanation for life as we know it. There simply aren't any other viable explanations and the evolution explanation has far too much evidence supporting it. Okay... I'm trolling a little. But just a little

 

Not only are you trolling there, you are dead wrong.

 

His basic postulation, that Darwinism has failed because it has yet to produce definitive proof in the limited amount of time that it has existed as a scientific theory shows an absolute misunderstanding about how science really works.

He thus concludes that all thinking, rational people will abandon the theory for a creationist point-of-view eventually.

 

Personally, I believe this goes a long was to show the absolute importance for a world-class science education for each and every person in this country. That this type of backwards warping of what the scientific method is and how it works can even exist in this day and age by someone who holds a somewhat influential position baffles my mind.

 

When I saw your avvy and recognized it from the political threads, I felt that I was about to have a huge brawl with you. But no, I actually agree with you. It appears that science of today is, "let's create a theory and find evidence to back it up". Whether it's for one side or the other, that's pathetic. I say, educate us on all the facts, and then let us choose. That would be Fox's goal, too bad they son't succeed.

 

One of the major things that continues to convince me that it is true is that with every new discovery and new scientific method we develop we keep finding more and more evidence that supports it, and still haven't found anything that disproves it

 

I haven't found anything that supports it. It may be a "blinding flash of the obvious" to you guys, but the obviosity eludes me. Where is the evidence it exists? Provide sources! Show me all sides of every shred of evidence! Not all at once if you can't, but a bit at a time is enough. I'd like to see what the scientists are saying today. I tend to mentally block off this kind of thing if I see it on TV, because it is presented as fact and not theory.

 

Now, I am not able to get through the entire thread and reply to it all. (Sorry to disappoint you, ShadowTemplar.) I'll be back in a bit. But let me make something perfectly clear:

 

AS TO THE AGE OF THE EARTH

 

Carbon dating is perfectly accurate, IMO. The Earth is a few billion years old. You see, there is religious grounding in that. According to the Bible, to God a thousand years is to a day as a day is to a thousand years. So when he says 'day' in Genesis, He may have meant it to symbolize an epoch. Or not, but that's my interperentation, anyhow.

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That so? I've only heard one. Please tell me what variations [of creation stories]you have heard.

 

You're kidding right? There are creation stories for nearly every culture past and present: Egyptian, Native American, Maya (popohl vuh), Asian, etc, etc.

 

Also, how can you get evidence from a theory? I suppose you can get evidence for a theory, but a theory is not absolute.

 

Nothing in science is 'absolute,' and everything in science is provisional. That having been said, a theory provides an explanation and offers the ability to infer, deduce, and/or make predictions. Many predictions have been made from the theory of evolution and these have been born out as true, thus adding to the overall preponderance of evidence.

 

Whoa, evolution has been tested? If you can show where evolution was tested, I'll back down now.

 

The theory of evolution states that life on this planet is the result of gradual changes over time. If so, then we would expect to see progressive changes in morphology that reflect the adaptation of species to their environments. This is exactly what is noted in the fossil record. The test in this case is this: if the theory is correct, the gradual progression in morphology must be present. It is.

 

 

Nice link to the world's religious breakdown. But it doesn't provide any viable explanations to life on the planet.

 

AS TO THE AGE OF THE EARTH

 

Carbon dating is perfectly accurate, IMO. The Earth is a few billion years old.

 

4.6 billion to be more precise, but this age is not determined from radiocarbon dating. This form of dating is only relevant for up to 80,000 years (depending on the methodology).

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Another good thread on evolution: http://www.gamingforums.com/showthread.php?p=2514650#post2514650.

 

4.6 billion to be more precise, but this age is not determined from radiocarbon dating. This form of dating is only relevant for up to 80,000 years (depending on the methodology).

And at least a 1000 years, I seem to recall.

 

Not only are you trolling there, you are dead wrong.

Religious creation myths aren't "viable" like evolution is viable.

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Well i'm always amazed that in today's day and age so much of america still doesn't believe in evolution. But lets not go into that.

Heh heh... I'm always amazed that we're still not on the metric system here in this day and age... but there you go. ;) I feel that's rather telling of our national distrust and casual rejection of all things scientific. But let's not go into that either...

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Heh heh... I'm always amazed that we're still not on the metric system here in this day and age... but there you go. ;) I feel that's rather telling of our national distrust and casual rejection of all things scientific. But let's not go into that either...

 

Supposedly changing our standards of measurement would incur costs to companies of some amount. I don't see the problem though, as we're taught both in schools.

 

That, and the metric system just doesn't sound as good in casual speech in my opinion.

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*sigh* You do understand the book of Genesis, correct? I cannot answer for all religions, but I can safely say that Christianity (and Catholicism), and Judaism, and I believe Islam, three major religions, have Creation.

 

I see, LV. Got anything better than flames? I think I shall simply return to issues that can be debated civilly. I have yet to see flames posted against me in the 403-3 thread, and it is a model debate as far as the post content goes. But I refuse to debate with the mediablitz type:

 

YAWN

 

i'm mediablitz, you're wrong, I'm right.

 

wasn't that easier than making a long post?

 

I might tolerate that if this issue were less personal, but calling my faith bullsh!t is not something I am prepared to give merit. Let's leave it at that.

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I think if you were to go back and read LV's comments a little more carefully, you'd note that he said it was "that evolution is against faith" is what was "bullsh**t." Not your faith. If memory serves me correctly from past threads here, LV has the same faith as you.

 

That having been said, I disagree that we cannot criticize religions. This isn't the thread for it, but why is it that we cannot argue or debate the merits of someone's religion. We debate and argue the politics of others. We debate and argue the legal positions others take on issues like marriage, executions, border security, immigration and the like. But somehow we've all agreed to respect the beliefs of others no matter how irrational they are. But I digress... this is, perhaps, another thread.

 

Regardless, LV wasn't attacking your faith. Only the notion that your faith cannot co-exist with evolution. Personally, I'm more than willing to attack anyone's faith.

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Look... At this point, even the Catholic Church has acknowledged evolution as what is actively going on, with the Book of Genesis becoming what essentially amounts to a giant metaphor. I mean, damn, if those old geezers at the Vatican figured it is probably right, it's likely not against any form of monotheistic (and it was NEVER against polytheistic) faith.

 

On a side note, I do not subscribe to any form of organized faith that I know of, unless you want to count agnostic...

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