Testing for Evolution

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 6, 2002.

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    LOGIC BOT
    My studies in evolution have unearthed the following doctrine.

    #1 That evolution is a scientific theory that is fits into the epistemological scheme of the scientific method.

    #2 It can be falsified or edited based on the evidence.

    #3 Like all good scientific theories, it makes predictions, and allows for these predictions to be tested.

    #4 Like gravity, and other concepts, it unifies it's field. Evolution is the unifying theory behind biology.

    In this sense it is an applicable theory, and stands as the best explanation for biodiversity.

    What other naturalistic theory explains the evidence? What evidence is there that puts evolution in question?
    What replacement theory is there for the evidence that we already have?


    HELEN
    Hi Logic Bot, and welcome to the board.

    First of all, I would like to define terms. It's awfully easy to end up talking past one another in this sort of discussion. Understand that I know variation is normal. I consider it normal within type, or kind. I am defining that, for purposes of this discussion, as at the family level taxonomically (although it may vary in reality, this is sufficient for this discussion). In other words, for example, the family of 'canine' has a number of variations not just including wolf, coyote, and dog, but variations of wolves and dogs, certainly - although I am not sure how much variation there is within the coyote branch. But I think you get the idea. So understand that my argument is NOT going to challenge simple genetic variation. When we speak of evolution, I presume we are speaking of the distinct changes which must take place, no matter how gradually, in order to change some type of fish into some type of reptile, or amphibian, or mammal. Fair enough?

    And when we talk about the scientific method, I am presuming we are speaking about the gathering of extant evidence, the examination of it in light of what is already KNOWN (not simply accepted), the formation of a further or new hypothesis, the establishment of a protocol by which that hypothesis can not only be tested but repeated, the following of that protocol in order to validate or disprove the hypothesis, examination of the results, and the conclusions drawn, with, ideally, the results written up. I don't care, myself, if the results appear in a peer-reviewed journal or not. That may make the results more acceptable to some, but I am not even concerned with acceptability at this point. I simply want to define both evolution as we will discuss it and what you mean by the scientific method. Are we on the same track?


    LOGIC BOT
    First of all, I would like to define terms.

    Certainly.

    When I speak of evolution, I speak of common descent with modification.
    This would include mechanisms that we have observed such as speciation, genetics, etc.

    The whole kit and kaboodle.

    I would define the scientific method as an epistemological tool that stresses reproduction, clarification, testability, extraction, and rejection of unsupported ideas.


    HELEN
    Are you therefore agreeing or disagreeing with my definitions? The reason I am asking is because I don't want to get stuck in the morass of confusing the simple variation we see everyday with the distinct changes evolutionary theory claims the fossil record represents. In other words, I don't want to talk about 'how' you think it might have happened, but about 'what' happened in the final eventuality as far as evolution is concerned. We can't talk unless we agree upon terms.

    Regarding the scientific method, I gave you the classic form. If you disagree with it, please let me know and let me know what form you would like to use. Your current statement is much too vague to be useful.


    LOGIC BOT
    Your first definition wasn't needed. The progression of evolution is irrelevant. In some cases it's fast, in others it's slow. Common descent is what Darwin proposed, and is what is propped up by the evidence. That is the definition I will be using, it's the definition that science uses, and as such, what I will use as well.

    Your definition of the scientific method will do just fine.


    HELEN
    Great. Here are your four points.

    #1 That evolution is a scientific theory that is fits into the epistemological scheme of the scientific method.

    How?


    #2 It can be falsified or edited based on the evidence.

    How? What sort of protocol can be set up to test for descent from a common ancestor?


    #3 Like all good scientific theories, it makes predictions, and allows for these predictions to be tested.

    How? Can you give me an example, please?


    #4 Like gravity, and other concepts, it unifies it's field. Evolution is the unifying theory behind biology.

    In what way? Taxonomic categories predate evolutionary ideas via Darwin by quite a bit. Biology is the study of living things. They can be studied quite thoroughly without presuming common ancestry. So please explain yourself here.


    LOGIC BOT
    How?

    This question was answered by the previous assertions I made. Although we will be testing the validity of those assertions in this debate.

    To sum it up. Evolution is
    #1 A naturalistic explanation
    #2 Explains the evidence
    #3 Can be falsified


    What sort of protocol can be set up to test for descent from a common ancestor?

    Every unearthed fossil has the chance of destroying common descent. If a trait is in a different geologic strata, and just abruptly appears then It can cast doube into common descent. If there is no gradual progression in the fossil record, then common descent wouldn't be a very good explanation.

    There is a gradual change in the fossil record, and in this case common descent explains why.


    How? Can you give me an example, please?

    Certaintly If common descent were true then we would expect to see a gradual change of organisms in the fossil records.
    We do.


    In what way? Taxonomic categories predate evolutionary ideas via Darwin by quite a bit. Biology is the study of living things. They can be studied quite thoroughly without presuming common ancestry.
    So please explain yourself here.


    It unites all life on earth in a phylogenetic tree, it explains why we see simmilarities in nature.
    Why we see vestigal structures, why we see vestigal structures such as fused wings under beatle shells, why we see simmilarities in genetic code etc.


    JOHN WELLS
    Certaintly If common descent were true then we would expect to see a gradual change of organisms in the fossil records.
    We do.


    We do" is an example?
    Sounds like a "because I said so" answer.


    LOGIC BOT
    I was giving an example of the theory making a prediction. In this case the prediction followed all of the rules of science, and didn't go against the current body of facts.

    We are speaking general concepts at this point, if you want references for anything that I post, don't hesitate to ask.
    But while we discuss general topics, the answers will be general.


    JOHN PAUL
    My studies in evolution have unearthed the following doctrine.
    #1 That evolution is a scientific theory that is fits into the epistemological scheme of the scientific method.


    Scientific method and the theory of evolution? Let me guess, the theory of evolution can be observed in the fossil record and tested by the same. If that guess is correct how would one verify those findings biologically or genetically? If not correct please correct me. I would like to hear how scientific method can be applied to the theory of evolution.


    #2 It can be falsified or edited based on the evidence.

    Finding fossils out of place MAY falsify common descent but would not harm the theory of evolution. However given the nature of the fossil record (incomplete and fragmented) I seriously doubt any ‘out-of-place’ fossils would do anything but add another contortionists’ move to the already shifting sands that is the theory of evolution.


    #3 Like all good scientific theories, it makes predictions, and allows for these predictions to be tested.

    According to Dennett on the PBS special on evolution ‘there is no way to predict what would be selected for at any point in time’. Most of the alleged ‘predictions’ are in reality, accommodations. How would you propose to test that a procaryotic organism could evolve into an eucaryotic organism? Or a single-celled organism evolving into something other than a single-celled organism?


    #4 Like gravity, and other concepts, it unifies it's field. Evolution is the unifying theory behind biology.

    Comparing the theory of evolution to gravity is deceiving. They are nothing alike. One can be empirically tested (gravity) and one can not because it is, by its nature, a historical science. If the theory of evolution IS the alleged unifying theory behind biology why does most of the evidence come from paleontology? What biological or genetic evidence do you think best supports the theory of evolution?


    In this sense it is an applicable theory, and stands as the best explanation for biodiversity.

    Now that we know what we do about DNA, even though we have much more to learn, we have observed that most mutations are deleterious or neutral. Very few are beneficial. Add that to the fact that most mutations will be lost in a population, even beneficial mutations, and the problems for that theory just begin to mount.


    What other naturalistic theory explains the evidence?

    And here lies the biggest problem of them all. On one hand we have evolutionists saying (I believe without just cause) that science can ONLY try to explain the ‘natural’ (I guess that means what we perceive to be natural- just how did ‘nature’ come about?). On the other hand we have Creationists saying that if the ‘natural’ explanation is NOT indicative of reality, what good is it?


    What evidence is there that puts evolution in question?

    It’s more like the evidence that the theory of evolution does not have that puts it in question. That would be any observable, testable, repeatable and verifiable evidence that a single-celled organism can ‘evolve’ into something other than a single-celled organism. Also some evidence that organs, complex nervous systems, respiratory systems, digestive systems, reproductive systems etc., could evolve from an organism that did not have them.
    That is NOT saying those evolved all at once. I know evolutionists worship Father Time, Mother Nature and the unknown natural processes so just sprinkle them where you need to.


    What replacement theory is there for the evidence that we already have?

    The Creation model of biological evolution and ID.
    John Boy, I have read where you and other evolutionists state that refusing to accept the theory of evolution is to reject all of science. You have accused me of such on several occasions. Now you turn around and say that other fields of science have no relevance to a biological theory. Please, make up my mind...
    Thanks


    JOHN WELLS
    What evidence is there that puts evolution in question?

    How about a non-living cell deciding to become a living cell?

    Richard Lewontin, Harvard geneticist stated, "in the struggle between science and the supernatural, we take the side of science because we have a prior commitment to materialism. The methods of science are driven by materialistic philosophy. The rules that define what qualifies as science in the first place have been crafted by materialists in such a way as to ensure they get only materialistic theories. We are forced by our a priori (a decision reached before examining the facts) adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations."


    HELEN
    Logic Bot,
    You said you learned, first,
    #1 That evolution is a scientific theory that is fits into the epistemological scheme of the scientific method.

    And I asked, "How?"

    Your response was that "This question was answered by the previous assertions I made. Although we will be testing the validity of those assertions in this debate.
    To sum it up. Evolution is
    #1 A naturalistic explanation
    #2 Explains the evidence
    #3 Can be falsified


    OK - first of all, you claimed that evolution theory fits into an epistemological scheme. That means you can formalize the study of it. That means it can be examined via certain rules. One of the reasons I put down a formal scientific method was to make sure we were on the same track here. But when I asked you how it fit into an epistemological scheme, you did not answer in the ballpark. You lobbed a few extra balls in, instead.

    So let me ask you again. How does the study of common descent fit into a formalized scientific method? I think that phrases the question in a way that says the same thing you were talking about only I have made it a question, because I am curious about that premise.

    As part of your answer, though, you said that evolution is a naturalistic explanation. Two points:

    1. It is not scientific to eliminate a possible conclusion before you start, especially if that conclusion is being eliminated on philosophical grounds, which is happening here. By limiting the only possible conclusions to those which are naturalistic, you have eliminated, a priori, any explanation which is therefore not naturalistic. And why has this been done? Because science cannot work with something that is not naturalistic, it is said. But that is an incredibly arrogant statement at its core, because it implies that the only knowledge worth knowing, or perhaps even in existence, is that we can understand from our frame of reference now. In other words, if we can't work with it and it doesn't submit to our mathematical or physical manipulation, it doesn't exist. That is not rational or scientific. So your implicit requirement of a naturalistic explanation declares a non-scientific presumption which very possibly, on purely logical grounds, may not be true.

    2. Evolution depends on not just natural selection, but on the genetic mutations occurring from which to select. These mutations must therefore be beneficial immediately in one way or another or, at the very least, neutral.
    But, in nature, this is not what we see happening. What we see in mutations which are expressed is nearly always damaging to the organism. There is no mutation I am aware of which affects form in a multicellular animal, for instance, which is beneficial. Those which affect function generally are lethal. The few exceptions, as I have mentioned earlier, such as sickle cell in humans, are beneficial only in specific instances and places and, in the case of that one, lethal when received from both parents (homozygous) instead of only one (heterozygous).

    Therefore I would submit to you that the theory of evolution does NOT reflect naturalistic processes, but distinctly unnaturalistic ones - processes which we simply do not see in multicellular organisms today. We do not see, even in unicellular organisms, which have extraordinarily short generation times and can mutate much more quickly, any series of mutations which end up fixing in a population and actually producing individuals who are different, as a rule, from the original population. We see the opposite occurring. We see the wild type being reverted to - even in the case of HIV virus (which is not even DNA based!) – every time, thus eliminating forced differences in a population. In addition, the variations we see occurring naturally are those which go 'back and forth', such as the finches' beaks on Galapagos. Beak size and shape is not fixed in any of the individual populations, but varies in response to seasonal rainfall. So I would say that the dependence upon mutation and natural selection to produce something with a greater complexity and different form or function in a population is depending upon something we don't see naturally and therefore cannot be presumed to be a naturalistic process.

    I would then submit to you that the creation explanation makes more sense and is better science, simply because it really does look for naturalistic explanation, only it looks for them within the framework of truth God has given us in the Bible. Therefore we expect to see what we do see: variation within basic type (the taxonomic family for purposes of this discussion); natural selection eliminating genetic information and not adding to it; a buildup of genetic load (the accumulation of negative mutations in a population); and the existence of a growing number of endangered species, simply because natural selection through the millennia has eliminated so much possible genetic variation that a certain species cannot deal with any but the specific environment it was 'selected' for through the elimination of those variations. The way I see it, then, is that the creation explanation fits the observable facts better than evolution, and is, in the long run, even a better naturalistic explanation within the bounds set for it by the Creator Himself.

    You said evolution can be falsified. No, it cannot be. For instance, when it was 'discovered' by evolutionary scientists that the eye could not be linked back to a common ancestral origin, it was not evolution or common ancestry which was looked at, but a new explanation was invented out of thin air: convergent evolution. It now appears that the eye has not 'evolved' just once, but as many as forty times, independently each time. This is pure hogwash, number one, and number two, shows that evolutionary presuppositions are matters of faith, not fact, and most certainly not observable fact! Evolution MUST stand, and so the grab bag of explanations gets bigger and bigger as more explanations are needed to explain away the very evidence which is falsifying evolution by any ordinary standards! I have heard that evolution could be falsified by finding a human fossil in a Cambrian strata. First of all, many anomalous fossil finds exist. Secondly, evolution either has an excuse or cries 'fraud, lie!' every time! Just for fun, consider Cremo and Thompson's Forbidden Archeology. It has about 800 pages of pretty well-referenced stuff. Let's suppose ¾ of it is pure fabrication - again, just for fun. That still leaves 200 pages of anomalies to be explained.

    Maybe it's time to take of the blinders, sir, and check out some of the evidence which does not fit?
     
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    JOHN BOY
    Scientific method and the theory of evolution? Let me guess, the theory of evolution can be observed in the fossil record and tested by the same. If that guess is correct how would one verify those findings biologically or genetically? If not correct please correct me. I would like to hear how scientific method can be applied to the theory of evolution.

    Can you point out where evolutionary theory falls outside the standard methodology of science?
    Evolution (descent from previous lifeforms) does make predictions that can be verified in the fossil record and genetics, JP. Y'know, all those pesky reptile-like mammals in the therapsid sequence, the sequence that shows the transformation of the reptilian jaw to the function of the mammalian inner-ear, all those transitional functions and so forth, all found in the prediction order in the fossil record...
    Evolutionary theory passed those with flying colors.


    Finding fossils out of place MAY falsify common descent but would not harm the theory of evolution. However given the nature of the fossil record (incomplete and fragmented) I seriously doubt any ‘out-of-place’ fossils would do anything but add another contortionists’ move to the already shifting sands that is the theory of evolution.

    A primate fossil in pre-Cambrian layers would utterly destroy evolutionary theory. About the only "contortionist" move one could make with that would be to invoke time-travel, and I don't think that would go down too good.


    According to Dennett on the PBS special on evolution ‘there is no way to predict what would be selected for at any point in time’. Most of the alleged ‘predictions’ are in reality, accommodations. How would you propose to test that a procaryotic organism could evolve into an eucaryotic organism? Or a single-celled organism evolving into something other than a single-celled organism?

    You're playing word games, JP. Perhaps, since we cannot predict which particular atoms of hydrogen in a nebula will go into making a star, astrophysics doesn't make any predictions, right? The general predictions of evolution, such as transitional forms between families and such, can be tested. They have been found (such as the therapsid series I linked to). Evolutionary theory also predicts that all life on Earth would be related genetically, fitting into a twin-nested hierarchy; which it does.


    Comparing the theory of evolution to gravity is deceiving. They are nothing alike. One can be empirically tested (gravity) and one can not because it is, by its nature, a historical science. If the theory of evolution IS the alleged unifying theory behind biology why does most of the evidence come from paleontology? What biological or genetic evidence do you think best supports the theory of evolution?

    Gravity is a fact that is easily observed, but the THEORY behind it is up for grabs. You'd be surprised how many theories there are of Gravity.

    Paleontology was primary because of the extreme periods of time evolutionary changes take and demonstrated transitional forms found in the past that are now extinct. However, the emphasis on fossils, while still important, has shifted more to emphasis on the genetic as new tools for diagnosis have become available.


    Now that we know what we do about DNA, even though we have much more to learn, we have observed that most mutations are deleterious or neutral. Very few are beneficial. Add that to the fact that most mutations will be lost in a population, even beneficial mutations, and the problems for that theory just begin to mount.

    So you say. Funny how geneticists who would be most in the know, in general, have no problem with that. I know, you're going to declare that ID is the majority opinion in genetics, right? Or quickly on the way to it?

    IDists you keep talking about (such as Behe and Denton, among others) generally agree that all life on Earth is descended in just this fashion.

    Which is it, JP? Did all life descend from previous lifeforms as Theistic evolutionists/IDists generally say or was everything created all at once, fully formed within days of each other as YEC say? Thistic evolutionists/IDists are only debating the MECHANISM for macroevolutionary changes, NOT that they occurred.

    The YEC model has pretty thoroughly refuted by available evidence in just about EVERY field of science. Unless you want to say that science must be rebuilt from the ground up. ID is little more than theistic evolution--a quibble over the mechanism for evolution. However, unless we find "Made by God(s)" or "Made in Beteleguese" stamped somewhere on the genome, I don't see how ID can be scientifically tested.



    HELEN
    OK, let's go on to point number 2.
    Your second point was that evolution can be falsified. I partly responded to that in the first response. But let's go into that a little more deeply in terms of your response to my question of "How? What sort of protocol can be set up to test for descent from a common ancestor?"

    I am curious, Logic Bot - do you know what a protocol is? I ask because you totally avoided that part of the question. Instead I got what was probably gleaned from Talk Origins or something. You told me evolution could be treated epistemologically. I am asking you to do that by showing me some kind of protocol which would work in order to test common descent. That means I am asking for some kind of formalized experiment, with control factors, which will test the idea of common descent. Something that can be checked and repeated by others.
    This is the scientific method we agreed upon. I would appreciate you following through here.
    Instead you responded with a couple of statements:

    Every unearthed fossil has the chance of destroying common descent. If a trait is in a different geologic strata, and just abruptly appears then It can cast doubt into common descent. If there is no gradual progression in the fossil record, then common descent wouldn't be a very good explanation.
    There is a gradual change in the fossil record, and in this case common descent explains why.


    Now I am assuming that you won't take my word for anything. For that reason I would like to offer you the word of some others:

    "Increasing diversity and multiple transitions seem to reflect a determined and inexorable progression toward higher things. But the paleontological record supports no such interpretation. There has been no steady progress in the higher development of organic design. We have had, instead, vast stretches of little or no change and one evolutionary burst that created the whole system." [Steven Gould, "Paleontology and the Modern Synthesis," in Evolutionary Synthesis, 1980, p. 164].


    The beginning of the Cenozoic Age, roughly 65 million years ago, saw the appearance of an almost entirely new cast of characters. … In a relatively short time, the mammals had evolved into an amazing assortment of creatures. [From Tufts educational webpage on evolution: ]http://www.tufts.edu/as/wright_center/cosmic_evolution/docs/text/text_bio_4.html]


    "It should be noted," writes Jim Gibson of the Geoscience Research Institute, "that there are many groups that suddenly show up without identifiable ancestors. Examples include the sharks, bony fish, frogs, salamanders, dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodilians, primates, rodents, bats, edentates, and many others. Abrupt appearance is a pervasive pattern in the fossil record." [Creation and Evolution: A Look at the Evidence, 1999].


    Or, in the words of a professor on the internet: "One of the most difficult problems in evolutionary paleontology has been the almost abrupt appearance of the major animal groups--classes and phyla--in full-fledged form, in the Cambrian and Ordovician periods. This must reflect a sudden acquisition of skeletons by the various groups, in itself a problem."
    http://www.colorado-mall.com/HTML/EDUCATIONAL/SCIENCES/PALEONTOLOGY/paleontologyIntr o.html


    EDGE
    1.It is not scientific to eliminate a possible conclusion before you start, especially if that conclusion is being eliminated on philosophical grounds, which is happening here.

    Sorry, Helen, but we are not at the start, or before the start here. We have come a long way down the road of research.


    By limiting the only possible conclusions to those which are naturalistic, you have eliminated, a priori, any explanation which is therefore not naturalistic. And why has this been done? Because science cannot work with something that is not naturalistic, it is said. But that is an incredibly arrogant statement at its core, because it implies that the only knowledge worth knowing, or perhaps even in existence, is that we can understand from our frame of reference now. In other words, if we can't work with it and it doesn't submit to our mathematical or physical manipulation, it doesn't exist. That is not rational or scientific.

    Actually, it is rational and scientific, by definition. The supernatural is not addressed by science, pure and simple, because it does not adhere to natural laws. You cannot apply scientific methods to the supernatural and irrational. No problem.


    So your implicit requirement of a naturalistic explanation declares a non-scientific presumption which very possibly, on purely logical grounds, may not be true.

    It applies when you are talking about science. If you want to talk about religion, fine, we can discuss the supernatural and irrational.


    I would then submit to you that the creation explanation makes more sense and is better science, simply because it really does look for naturalistic explanation, only it looks for them within the framework of truth God has given us in the Bible.

    But that is by definition supernatural and therefore not scientific.


    The way I see it, then, is that the creation explanation fits the observable facts better than evolution, and is, in the long run, even a better naturalistic explanation within the bounds set for it by the Creator Himself.

    Ah, good. Then you will pleas explain the fossil record?


    You said evolution can be falsified. No, it cannot be. For instance, when it was 'discovered' by evolutionary scientists that the eye could not be linked back to a common ancestral origin, it was not evolution or common ancestry which was looked at, but a new explanation was invented out of thin air: convergent evolution.

    That just means that your evidence was inconclusive. Work harder. It also means that your conclusion was really based on incredulity.


    Evolution MUST stand, and so the grab bag of explanations gets bigger and bigger as more explanations are needed to explain away the very evidence which is falsifying evolution by any ordinary standards!

    Actually, it means that evolution is so well founded in other areas that even if we do not understand some aspect, we think that it can still be explained within the evolutionary framework.


    Just for fun, consider Cremo and Thompson's Forbidden Archeology. It has about 800 pages of pretty well-referenced stuff. Let's suppose ¾ of it is pure fabrication - again, just for fun. That still leaves 200 pages of anomalies to be explained.

    I think your assumption is off a bit, but even if we did, those 200 pages are hardly a threat to evolutionary theory. A lot of Cremo's stuff is not exactly a silver bullet.

    HELEN
    Logic Bot,
    Regarding the third thing you stated you have learned, which is "Like all good scientific theories, it [evolution] makes predictions, and allows for these predictions to be tested"

    I then asked you to give me an example. You did not. You stated that evolution explained gradual changed in the fossil record.

    First of all, the fossil record does not record gradual changes. If it did, Gould would not have had to present the concept of punctuated equilibrium. If it did, possible transitionals would not be trumpeted - they would be common.

    But the main point is that you need to understand that an explanation is NOT a prediction! Scientifically and logically, you cannot predict what you are attempting to explain. This is a major point that most evolutionists seem to miss!

    So PLEASE show me where a testable prediction can be, or has been, made which is dependent upon evolutionary theory (common descent) being true.

    And the last point is that even if the fossil record did show gradual changes, which it does not, common ancestry/descent is only one possible explanation, and the fossil record itself cannot validate any one explanation over another. We would have to look at some other field, such as genetics. Genetics flatly denies evolution. So, scientifically, a different explanation should be considered for the fossil record.


    One more response here, this time to Edge:
    When I stated that it was not scientific to eliminate a possible conclusion before one starts, especially on philosophical grounds, Edge replied that we are not at the start, but have come a long way.

    Edge, one of the primary jobs of science is to test presuppositions. Common descent is a presupposition. It is not immune to questioning. You cannot say it is true simply by assuming it, especially when you have to explain away so much!

    Nor does it matter if something adheres to the natural laws as we understand them. What matters is what is true. True knowledge has to be based on an objective search for the truth. When you eliminate one possible explanation ahead of time on the basis of not being able to apply the scientific method to it, that is simply saying something about your limitations, not about either rationality or the truth. In fact, it might be (and, I believe is) quite irrational and untruthful to limit possible outcomes to only that which you feel you can deal with.

    Nor am I interested in this 'religion vs. science' ruse. Because that is all it is. Looking at all possibilities, whether or not we can manipulate them, does not make something unscientific. If it did, then astronomy would certainly be down the tubes! So would archaeology itself. So would forensics, as a matter of fact.

    If, however, you are saying science is only interested in what we can deal with in our finite minds and with our finite ability to manipulate, then I guess we have come to a real parting of the way. Because I am interested in what is true, whether or not we can manipulate it or even understand it. For instance, we don't understand gravity. Yet we all are bound by it here on earth. We know very well our lack of understanding will not stop a man from dying who jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge. That's why the barriers are there now.

    You cannot, in other words, simply define something out of existence the way evolution tries to do.

    You asked how I see the fossil record. I see it as the remains of a series of earth history catastrophes which changed the basic environment/ecology of the earth in between each one, thus favoring certain life forms, which were then fossilized during other local or wide-spread catastrophic events. I am not a 'one flood did everything' person. I think both the geologic record and the Bible support a series of catastrophes and the fossil record seems to reflect that.

    And please don't presume to tell me to work harder when I bring up the ridiculousness of the eye evolving independently thirty or forty times. There is a reason for some incredulousness, you know. It can be based on knowledge of a subject and the history known in that area. Convergent evolution is where the sublime meets the ridiculous in evolutionary excuses.

    You then made the unbelievable statement that because the evolutionary grab-bag of 'reasons' and excuses keeps growing larger that it was because “evolution is so well founded in other areas that even if we do not understand some aspect, we think that it can still be explained within the evolutionary framework." First, what other areas do you consider it well-founded in, please? I am curious. I have not found one, and I tried to defend evolution myself years ago. Secondly, a good explanation is, by definition, one with the minimum number of exceptions - ideally meaning zero. Evolution proves its lack of explanatory power by adding more and more weird explanations for anomalous data which it really can't explain in the original form. This is not scientific, this is excuse-making - the sort that we try to get our teenagers to stop for their own behavior!

    [ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    SCOTT PAGE
    Originally posted by John Paul: Scientific method and the theory of evolution? Let me guess, the theory of evolution can be observed in the fossil record and tested by the same.

    You guess incorrectly. For example, in my research, divergence dates estimated by use of molecular data was largely congruent with the extant fossil record where applicable. Two such disparate lines of evidence pointing to the same thing is quite powerful, providing one does not look at it with the glasses of a naysayer on...

    The Theory of evolution is not a fairy tale, it is a multidisciplinary scientific theory. The whole point behind the 'debate' is the desire for Christian extremists to force their particular religious views on a captive audience in order to recruit larger numbers of 'Christian soldiers.' For if one examines their 'scientific' claims, one sees that they are not.


    EDGE
    Edge, one of the primary jobs of science is to test presuppositions.

    Correct. The presupposition of creationism was tested and found lacking over a hundred years ago. Why do you think that evolution was so attractive as a theory of origins? And fret not, evolution is questioned every day by true scientists. However, at some point science must move on. A scientist goes ahead once in a while, too. Hey, it's worked so far. You go ahead and find your evidence and then we can open the case again.


    Common descent is a presupposition.

    It was not a presupposition 200 years ago. Then common descent was presented (with overwhelming evidence) and then accepted.


    When you eliminate one possible explanation ahead of time on the basis of not being able to apply the scientific method to it, that is simply saying something about your limitations, not about either rationality or the truth.

    Actually, it means that we have moved on. We used make sacrifices to the volcano gods as well. Shall we review that mitigation method for volcanic catastrophes? Besides creationism was not abandoned before its time. It had plenty of time and just didn't measure up.


    If, however, you are saying science is only interested in what we can deal with in our finite minds andwith our finite ability to manipulate, then I guess we have come to a real parting of the way.

    I said nothing of the kind. Science is especially interested in the infinite and unknown.


    Because I am interested in what is true, whether or not we can manipulate it or even understand it. For instance, we don't understand gravity. Yet we all are bound by it here on earth. We know very well our lack of understanding will not stop a man from dying who jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge.
    That's why the barriers are there now.


    Then evolutionists' not knowing the details of the evolution of the eye doesn't bother you. Why do you make such a big deal of it then?


    You asked how I see the fossil record.

    Actually, I thought I asked how you explain it.


    I see it as the remains of a series of earth history catastrophes which changed the basic environment/ecology of the earth in between each one, thus favoring certain life forms, which were then fossilized during other local or wide-spread catastrophic events. I am not a 'one flood did everything' person. I think both the geologic record and the Bible support a series of catastrophes and the fossil record seems to reflect that.

    Not much of an explanation. How about the sequence of fossils in the record?


    And please don't presume to tell me to work harder when I bring up the ridiculousness of the eye evolving independently thirty or forty times.

    I told you why it didn't work. It is based on incredulity and probably you are overstating the "thirty or forty times" argument. Besides, this is not a big issue with scientists. Convergent evolution is just an hypothesis. It hasn't even been shown to be necessary. Just because we don't understand the evolution of the eye (gravitational theory) doesn't mean that we should throw out evolution (gravity).


    You then made the unbelievable statement that because the evolutionary grab-bag of 'reasons' and excuses keeps growing larger that it was because 'evolution is so well founded in other areas that even if we do not understand some aspect, we think that it can still be explained within the evolutionary framework." First, what other areas do you consider it well-founded in, please? I am curious.

    I have not heard a convincing argument for the fossil record by creationists. It is pretty clear that evolution has occurred. The only question is, in detail, how.


    I have not found one, and I tried to defend evolution myself years ago. Secondly, a good explanation is, by definition, one with the minimum number of exceptions - ideally meaning zero.

    Yeah, ideally. In case you hadn't noticed we are talking reality here and historically based science. Not a nice sterile lab with perfectly controlled parameters.


    Evolution proves its lack of explanatory power by adding more and more weird explanations for anomalous data which it really can't explain in the original form.

    Are you saying that you are throwing out these explanations before the start? Aren't you going to give them their fair time?


    This is not scientific, this is excuse-making - the sort that we try to get our teenagers to stop for their own behavior!

    Then explain the fossil record. I mean, REALLY explain it this time.



    JOHN PAUL
    The Theory of evolution is not a fairy tale, it is a multidisciplinary scientific theory. The whole point behind the 'debate' is the desire for Christian extremists to force their particular religious views on a captive audience in order to recruit larger numbers of 'Christian soldiers.' For if one examines their 'scientific' claims, one sees that they are not.

    Stop with the projecting already. All we want is for people to realize, and be taught, that the ToE may not be indicative of reality and other viable alternatives do in fact exist.


    JOHNV
    Originally posted by John Wells: How about a non-living cell deciding to become a living cell?

    First, there were never non-living cells. There were non-living proteins that combined into the building blocks of life. We can (and have countless times) duplicated that in the lab.

    Second, whether you believe in a long term evolution or short term creation, you must accept that God created life from lifelessness. You can't say it works for one but not the other.


    JOHN WELLS
    But those "building blocks" are far from an actual living cell, and the lab environment was supercharged (ideal) for success. The actual lab (earth's conditions) never were close to the experimental lab's.

    On your second point I agree!


    MAGFLARE
    All science is tentative, Garpier. Even the most popular and well-accepted theories (like, say, evolution...) could be overturned tomorrow if there is evidence to disprove it. Words like "probably" and "likely"-- words that an unusual number of creationists shy away from-- are honest. Would you put more trust in "The moon is certainly made of cheese," or "The moon is probably made of rock"?

    I suspect you'd choose the latter.


    GARPIER
    Thank you for making my point. I understand that theories such as evolution must be couched in terms such as probably and maybe etc. That being the case then I wonder why so many evolutionists (even those who disagree with one another) insist that their is no viable alternative to their particular theory.

    I know the same charge can be leveled against Biblical creationists, however my belief is based not on the word of fallible man, but on the Infallible Word of God. While you may say that is faith not fact, I would agree with you.
    However you also must have faith in your theory of origins. We believe that everything came from the eternal God while you believe that every thing came from eternal matter? If not that then on what does your theory rest?


    MAGFLARE
    I'm fairly certain I made no one's point but my own, Garpier. You ignored-- perhaps deliberately, or it could be that you only skimmed my post for what you felt could support your cause-- this bit of info: all science is tentative.

    I bet it's much easier to simply declare that God handed you all the answers-- scientists have to go through the tedious process of actually looking at the evidence and drawing inferences.

    Garpier. Those who accept the theory of evolution don't have faith in it. We take the available data and form conclusions. No faith is required.


    JOHN WELLS
    Let's sum up what you and other evolutionists have said: Science is tentative; it's true evolution has not been proven; no faith is required?

    Not only do you exercise faith in your belief in evolution, you take steps of faith all day long. Did you drive your car today? Consume something you didn't grow in a controlled contaminant-free environment? Every day of our lives require countless acts of faith. That some place their faith in God and some don't is one of them.


    THE BARBARIAN
    "Proof" is not part of it. A theory only stands or falls on the weight of the evidence. Because the evidence is all one way (not the "dino DNA" thing, brought up by a hopeful creationist, turned out to be another powerful evidence for evolution)


    GARPPIER
    Magflare,
    My contention is still that the living God of heaven and earth created everything around us. This is not just phraseology, it is the way I approach everything in life. You also have a faith in something whether you will admit it or not. Hiding yourself behind "the evidence" does no good. Both creationists and evolutionist have exactly the same set of evidence to work with. How you interpret is directly related to whatever you place your faith in or whatever bias you have. For example as was pointed out in another thread, there was the discovery of T. rex with bone not completely fossilized. Now given the evolutionary bias that this bone is millions of years old, it was not even discussed why this bone should not be completely fossilized. However a creationist bias would automatically say that this lends support to an early date for the earth and all of it's creatures. I don't claim to be a scientist and I wouldn't attempt to step into a discussion that requires an advanced education just to understand the terms. But I do know what I believe and despite protests to the contrary I believe that the evidence supports my belief. You on the other hand know what you believe and would claim that the evidence supports your belief. It all depends on the biases we carry and what we place our faith in. I"ve admitted where my faith is while you won't admit that you have any.


    MAGFLARE
    I suppose that, as an atheist, I've always considered faith to be important. As I said to Garpier, creationists all too often insult the concept of faith by equating it with the assumption that there will be milk at the grocery store.

    I have faith in humanity. I have faith in my friends. I have faith in my own abilities.

    I don't have faith that my car will start when I turn the ignition. I accept that, barring an empty tank or dead battery, it's most likely that my vehicle will start. Likewise, I accept evolution because it is currently the best explanation for the present diversity of life.

    When you treat your faith in God like it's equivalent to the acceptance of scientific theories, you degrade both.


    Hiding yourself behind "the evidence" does no good. Both creationists and evolutionist have exactly the same set of evidence to work with. How you interpret is directly related to whatever you place your faith in or whatever bias you have.

    While you openly admit that you see the evidence through the filter of a two thousand year old religious text, I should point out that the theory of evolution was developed specifically to explain the evidence, and is continually updated as new evidence comes to light.

    I'm not a scientist either. I'm just an interested layman. Let's discuss the evidence regardless-- but I'm talking about the evidence, mind you, and not transparent word games. -- evolution is neither a belief nor a bias. It is a theory.

    I'll cheerfully own up to my faith; I just reserve it for those things more important than scientific theories. Like people, for example.


    JOHN WELLS
    Let's do get scientific. Pick a date for the age of the universe. 12 billion, 17 billion years according to your theory. At that point when the universe came into being . . . when one moment there was nothing, no matter, no energy, what does your faith say caused/created matter and energy from nothing?


    GARPIER
    Magflare,
    My "two thousand year old religious text" hasn't changed one bit in the time since God gave it, while you have admitted that evolution has undergone change. Also my "two thousand year old religious text" has yet to be proven wrong. How bout the theory of evolution?


    MAGFLARE
    Hold on a minute! Let's do get scientific. Pick a date for the age of the universe. 12 billion, 17 billion years according to your theory.

    I don't know. I'm more interested in evolution than in quantum physics-- approximately 15 billion years, the consensus of astrophysicists, has always been good enough for me.

    And before you say it: no, I don't have faith in science. Heck, science doesn't have faith in science. It's a self-correcting discipline in which faulty hypotheses are tested to destruction.

    At that point when the universe came into being . . . when one moment there was nothing, no matter, no energy, what does your faith say caused/created matter and energy from nothing?

    Couldn't tell you. My faith says nothing about the beginning of the universe, and at any rate I'm not certain that the Big Bang required a cause.


    JOHN WELLS
    Do you mean . . . everything could come from nothing spontaneously? Think about it.


    LOGIC BOT
    You mean you have the frame of reference, the evidence, and the tools needed to come to a conclusion that the universe needs a cause?

    How can you attempt to use reason on a system that is devoid of space and time? Do we know how the universe started?


    JOHN WELLS
    I have faith in how it started. It takes less faith to believe that God started it than anything else anyone has come up with. I guess that makes me a person of "little faith" in the evolutionist's eyes. So be it.

    [ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     

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