The Gross National Debt

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Evolution, Christianity and facts

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This is a blog written at the request of a reader.

To start, I direct you here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/evolution-threatens-christianity/2011/08/24/gIQAuLVpbJ_blog.html

Combining both of 'em.
Paula in her column writes this simple statement "Evolution is a simple fact."

Yup. Only the most idiotic of people will dispute this. You only need to look at the present crop of pesticide-proof bedbugs to see it. They have evolved to be immune to the sprays we are trying to kill them with.

Evolution. A fact.

What many Christians dispute is the idea that the present form of man evolved from a lower order life form. This concept is evolution according to scientists.

Yep. It's complicated.
The problem then comes, as Paula points out, in the terminology. "In everyday English, 'theory' can mean something vague, a hunch, a guess. In scientific English, it is almost as far from that meaning as it's possible to get: in science, a theory is the best explanation for a set of facts."

As I am  not an evolutionary scientist, I can't swear to her statement. I can only say that scientists I have spoken to and interviewed over the years say theory is a statement in which all the known facts and observable information and repeatable experiments prove. Arg. Complicated.

Lemme try again. A theory is the idea which explains how all the known facts come together.

Mo betta.
E=MC squared. Also a theory. Altho not pictured here.

Now the very BEST scientific minds will stress that word "known." Why? Cause they admit they don't know everything. If they did, we'd have a Unified Field Theory at hand.

Theories, BTW, get shot down when new evidence comes up which disproves theories. Science is PACKED with examples of "facts" which were later tossed out when new evidence comes to light. This is why the word "theory" exists.

Theory is the best available explanation for the information we have.

Paula also says " Evolution is a theory in the scientific sense of the word - tested, researched, explored and supported by masses and masses of evidence."

True. And she'll continue to get no argument from me about the validity of evolution.

PROOF OF EVOLUTION OF HUMANS! Har!
 
So let's look what she's REALLY writing about. Evolution of humans.

At one time science insisted humanity could not descend from a single female. This was a fact. It should have been a theory.

Now, mitochrondial DNA says we all descend from one female. Yet another article in National Geographic points to more DNA evidence that we all descended from one male.

This is considered to be a theory.

Best evidence we have points that way. Maybe evidence we don't have.

With that in mind, the idea that modern humans evolved from a slope-headed, big-browed semi-arboreal whatever is a theory.
Yep. That's evolution for you.

We have no absolute evidence of it. We have a bunch of bone-shaped rocks, also called fossils.

You cannot put a human in a petri dish and de-evolve the human into an ancestral form.

Nor can you take an ancestral form hominid and evolve it into a human.

You cannot prove the evolution of humanity in a controlled scientific setting, ergo it is a theory.

A lotta scientists insist the evolution of humanity is a fact. I have yet to see the proofs I mention above. I have read and heard of many many reports on the evolution of humanity, all of which rely on interpretations of things which cannot be re-created in a controlled experiment. This is called the scientific method. Nor have we observed the transition from a "Lucy" type creature to a modern human. This is called seeing is believing.
The book I suggest you read.

The rigid proofs and requirements found in almost every other field of science to go from theory to fact are either absent, ignored or given slight attention when human evolution is discussed. Apply the same "proofs" of evolution to other scientific matters and the person offering the "proof" would be laughed out of the room.

M'kay.

What about Creationism?

It's a theory when the scientific method is applied to it.

Oops. Just torqued all the Creationists who read this and highly amused all the atheists. Agnostics are still not sure.

Scientists, not that any read this column, will also be highly irked in that I'm using their lingo to describe something they don't accept.

Creationism is a theory. It's backed up by the Bible. That proof is just as solid to me as any of the proofs for the evolution of humanity.

The crux of the issue is an accepted fact by both sides - You can't prove a negative. In this debate, being rational, both sides are negatives.

But, I know what side I'm on because I have all the proofs I need.

7 comments:

  1. Mountains of scientific evidence, which you choose to ignore > Silly old book.

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  2. I would not call Darwin's work On The Origin of Species a silly old book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve#Common_fallacies

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  4. I recommend Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, or The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. The amount of evidence supporting evolution is staggering. But more importantly, there's more to a scientific theory than you're putting forward. For a theory to be scientific, it must meet the following criteria:

    It is falsifiable.
    It is consistent (although not necessarily in exact agreement) with pre-existing theory.
    It is supported by multiple foundations of evidence.

    It should also preferably be at least some of the following:

    It is tentative and correctable, rather than asserting absolute certainty.
    It is parsimonious, via Occam's razor.
    It is predictive, in that the explanation can be used to determine future outcomes.

    The theory of evolution meets all of these criteria, and is thus definitely scientific and indeed a very strong theory. So, tell me, which of these criteria does creationism meet? Because as far as I can tell, the answer is "none of them."

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  5. I disagree that it "must" meet your first three statements. But as I am not a scientist by trade, I could be wrong. I can only go with the information scientists have provided me over the years.

    1) Perhaps we are not sufficiently advanced to show creationism is falsifiable. At one time man thought everything in the universe was a mixture of earth, air, fire and water. At one time, the atom was considered indivisible.

    2) If it has to be consistent with pre-existing theory, this presupposes the existence of something prior. You can't go any further back than the beginning. (yeah, confusing I know but it's been a bloody long day).

    3) Can't think of anything on this one. Conceded for the moment.

    4) I do not purport that creationism is an absolute certainty. I call it a theory.

    5) From my perspective, Occam's Razor can't shave it any finer.

    6) Conceded.

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  6. You silly old bat of cource eveolution is true, I give a stuff what anyone thinks, darwins theorem is very well backed up it's just a matter of faith and the power the church has to enforce its views. So you can all bugger off and believe it

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  7. I always find it funny to see how a particular discipline assumes that the homegrown criteria it has defined on its own behalf to justify itself as being "true" can consequently use those same criteria on other perceptions of the world in order to falsify those other perceptions. It's no different than the catholic church saying that Judas' gospel was a lie, simply because it's not consistent with the gospels that the catholic church had chosen to be "true". In the end however, they're both perceptions.

    If I say "Red is the only colour. Everything else is just a hue or a shade of light. I am red, therefore I am a colour" does that universally establish that you being blue are anything else but a colour? If science wants to establish that creationism cannot be true it must first learn that it is proving its own factuality by measures it has established by itself. In this sense, even science itself is a theory. Remember Plato's cave. Your (western civilization's) concepts of scientific confirmation and falsification are things you created, based on what you saw while looking out of the tunnel. Before Einstein, science didn't realize how relative everything is.... or is it? Before Keynes, economists thought economy was simple, and many still do.

    Three decades ago some "science" guy told me that dogs don't think. Maybe his definition of "thinking" was too much based on what he does with his cortex, but he is only one example of one species of all of Creation. Who the h* does he think he is determining whether or not an animal he doesn't know how to communicate with can or can't think? If he had said "It has not been proven that dogs can think, so we assume that they don't" I wouldn't have had a problem. Definitively concluding falsification because science lacks the ability to conclusively confirm or falsify is arrogance, if you ask me.

    Signed:
    Some nerdy guest who does believe that Darwin's theory is a good theory, but if promoted to the "truth" it gets turned into yet another religion... caveat emptor!

    ReplyDelete