Evolutionary questions

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Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:57 am

Starting a new thread to get out of the cesspool. Is there a legitimate reason to reject evolutionary science if a person knows and understands the scientific methodologies involved? Would that reason be based on science or a philosophical or religious belief?
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby mitchellmckain » Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:29 am

spongebob wrote:Starting a new thread to get out of the cesspool. Is there a legitimate reason to reject evolutionary science if a person knows and understands the scientific methodologies involved? Would that reason be based on science or a philosophical or religious belief?


Nope.

There are certainly legitimate reasons to reject philosophical theological conclusions that some people derive from evolutionary science. For example... There is no God. God did not create the living things on this planet. Human beings and everything about them is a product of evolution. There is no need for God. Theists are just uneducated or willfully ignorant saps. The laws of nature explain everything that is real.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Razor » Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:57 pm

mitchellmckain wrote:There are certainly legitimate reasons to reject philosophical theological conclusions that some people derive from evolutionary science. For example... Human beings and everything about them is a product of evolution


What part of humans isn't a product of evolution?
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:31 am

I'm going to introduce this topic since Rian hasn't posted anything here yet. There's this scientist who has postulated that humans are the result of primate and swine interbreeding somewhere in our evolutionary past. At first glance it sounds preposterous and silly, but I listened to him doing an interview and he is very persuasive because he has done a lot of real science and he actually isn't a kook. He doesn't talk about this stuff like some nuts talk about their quack theories; he says he isn't emotionally invested in whether it's true or not but he's been following this idea for years now and I guess he just can't let it go. Here's a link; read about him if you dare.

http://www.macroevolution.net/human-ori ... PxOzZy-aLk
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby sayak » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:11 am

Completely nutty idea bro.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby sayak » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:55 am

Here's my general take on this "controversy".
1) Those who believe in a literal young earth creation can take their arguments to geologists and cosmologists where the primary evidence for the age of the earth and of the universe lies. Since the evidence is based on physics (radioactivity, rock structure, crystallography etc.) I would like to see them try to refute them.
2) Those who believe in an old earth but still consider that god created the species need to answer a few questions:-
a) How did god do it? If a researcher went back in time to a point where god was about to create a new species of snail or a ringworm, what would she see?
b) When did it happen? Did all species were created by the direct intervention of god? Did god continue to create the billions of species throughout the history of the earth one at
time, watch them go extinct again and again, and replace them with new species again and again and again....for 4 billion years? Is the increasing complexity of organisms with time
is just a whimsical artifact. God just wanted to create bacteria for the first 3 billion years, got bored eventually then created a lot of sea-dwelling animals, then had a brainwave
300 million ago to put animals and plants in land as well? :roll:
c) If god creates species, can it still be happening today? Or just as humans came on this earth, god has conveniently decided to stop creating any more species so that we can never see God getting his hands dirty anymore?
d) If on the other hand , one says god created species only a few times, i.e. lent a hand here and there when a lot of evolutionary radiation occurred (like the Cambrian explosion, or the move from sea to the land)....what exactly is the claim? Is one conceding that evolution is perfectly capable of creating multiple species of fish from one species, multiple species of birds from one original species of bird etc. but the first fish or the first amphibian was created "specially"? Then how to explain fish-like amphibians like tiktaalik or feathered dinosaurs? Why does it take tens of million years for earth biota to recover from a great extinction, why doesn't god lend a hand then? And again what would a researcher see if he sees god in action making those specially created species? Does he also lend a hand to create "specially" created virulent classes of bacteria or virus, parasites etc.?
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:31 pm

There are a lot of those in category #1, who reject the basic science indicating a very old earth, but we tend to ignore those.

For those in category #2, there are a lot of scientific issues that have to be dealt with, morphologically and genetically, for those arguments to hold together. In a nutshell, those kinds of arguments become little more than a string of special pleading.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:05 pm

Sorry I'm late to the party, guys - I'll get here, but it will be slow going right now. Please be patient :-)
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:43 pm

Not a problem. Just posted a couple of things to get it started. This one might splinter off quite a bit depending on the topics introduced.

I will carry over the question I posted on the previous thread, before it was moved, of why evolution really matters to the belief of Christianity? Does it really pose a serious issue with the theology and the practice of the religion and why?
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:08 pm

spongebob wrote:Starting a new thread to get out of the cesspool. Is there a legitimate reason to reject evolutionary science if a person knows and understands the scientific methodologies involved? Would that reason be based on science or a philosophical or religious belief?


Just a fun note - as I'm typing this, I'm in the middle of a Star Trek (original tv series) marathon watching as I'm finishing taxes and catching up on paperwork post-surgery. I think the first red-shirt is about to get killed ... :D

I don't think you can reject it outright (as in saying it must be wrong) but I think that you can say you don't think some areas are as supported as others, because - and here's the first of the controversial terms - of the historical nature of certain parts of it. And if those parts are crucial to the theory, then the entire theory is not as likely as it could be.

What I mean by "historical" is this : basically, that which is NOT able to follow the classic scientific method of testing because what you're looking at is something that is in the past and cannot be tested and re-tested in the classical sense; IOW, it cannot be operated on to see a result.

This would probably be a good place to start the discussion. And just to make things perfectly clear, I am NOT one that says that evolution should be taken out of schools, or that evolution is wrong, or that YEC is right, or that historical sciences are bad. I have an open, inquiring mind, and I enjoy deep talks, and don't like to buy into the party line for anything, including religion and evolution - I go with what I think is right.


(note to self - here's a link to an article by the geological society of america that might be good for discussion on historical science; I didn't finish reading it but I wanted to bookmark it http://www.brynmawr.edu/geology/documen ... method.pdf and this had a good line about interpretations http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/Kuhn.html it was "Philosophers of science have repeatedly demonstrated that more than one theoretical construction can always be placed upon a given collection of data (76). " )
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:01 am

Rian wrote:Just a fun note - as I'm typing this, I'm in the middle of a Star Trek (original tv series) marathon watching as I'm finishing taxes and catching up on paperwork post-surgery. I think the first red-shirt is about to get killed ... :D


I've always wondered why the writers, directors and producers of the show didn't see this as such a cliche. At the time, this was a common practice in episodal shows and I guess people didn't notice or mind, but when we watch it today it just stands out as so obvious. I actually have a T-shirt with 3 or 4 characters from the show standing on a set and one is a redshirt. The caption says, "Which one won't be making it back to the Enterprise?"

I don't think you can reject it outright (as in saying it must be wrong) but I think that you can say you don't think some areas are as supported as others, because - and here's the first of the controversial terms - of the historical nature of certain parts of it. And if those parts are crucial to the theory, then the entire theory is not as likely as it could be.


I would be interested to know what areas, specifically, you feel are not as well supported, vs. which ones you feel are very well supported.

What I mean by "historical" is this : basically, that which is NOT able to follow the classic scientific method of testing because what you're looking at is something that is in the past and cannot be tested and re-tested in the classical sense; IOW, it cannot be operated on to see a result.


My challenge to this notion is that you are viewing the science as historical, but I don't think that's right. The events or steps are certainly historical, but the science is modern and shouldn't be confused with when the events took place. What I think you are concerned about is that we have scientific methods/evidence that point to a series of events that took place millions of years ago, yet we cannot go back in time to actually witness these events, so you are describing this as historical science. But those historical events have left clues and what we are actually doing is putting together an ancient puzzle with many of the pieces missing. The more sophisticated our science gets, the more pieces we find and can fit together. I wouldn't argue with the fact that the events are ancient and the clues are as well, but what you seem to be resisting is that the clues lead to the conclusions that scientists have made. There are at least a few ways to guard against this. One is through large amounts of scientists reviewing the data and questioning the results and this is something that is done. This helps to prevent mistakes and fraud. And we've had fraud in the past and generally it is discovered by other scientists and corrected. Another way is that scientists are inquisitive and some will inevitably set off in directions not agreed upon by others. Often this leads to dead ends, but sometimes it leads to new discoveries. We have that in the evolutionary sciences, which is why I mentioned the pig-primate hybrid scientist. The field of evolution is not stagnant and scientists still get new ideas and take off in directions that aren't considered standard knowledge.

I think we've discussed the analogy of solving a crime to evolution before, yes? It's a very good analogy, I believe. If we were to go back 100 years, the methods of solving a murder would be crude by today's comparison. Today we have incredibly sensitive forensic methods that can detect fibers and other materials in very small amounts. We can detect DNA, and of course finger prints. When a detective puts all these pieces together along with motive and opportunity, he builds a narrative. Unless someone recorded the murder, we will never know with 100% certainty that our narrative is true, but with the compounding of evidence, we can become very positive. With today's technology, we can even become very certain of the solution to mysteries that are very old. This is the same with evolution and I think survival makes a good analogy to motive. No credible scientist would say that there is zero possibility that evolutionary theory is seriously flawed, but what they tend to say is that with the evidence we have, there is a very high likelihood that it is correct. Only serious contradictory evidence would cast doubt on it and as I've said, there's just is no credible scientific theory that contradicts evolution at this point. There are some speculations, hypotheses and wild guesses, but none of them can claim the vast body of supporting evidence that evolution does.

So, I think you are mistaken when you say that science being conducted in evolutionary biology is not following the "classic scientific method" because the science at work is not testing the entire chain of events of evolution (i.e., watching to see if a fish will evolve into a rat). We are talking about much more discrete evaluations of evidence, such as the functioning of certain proteins coded in DNA. This work is absolutely science! By itself it does not confirm evolution, but put together with the many other pieces of the puzzle, the theory (which is a vast compilation of scientific ideas) is strongly supported. Again, just like our detective who finds the suspect's finger prints at the crime scene (which doesn't prove him guilty), a shell casing in his car matching the caliber of the murder weapon (still doesn't prove he did it), a drop of his semen on the bedroom floor (he's beginning to look guilty now), muddy shoes in his closet that match the prints found outside the victim's home...you get the picture. None of these pieces of evidence alone proves him guilty, but put together they build a very strong case. And if our police team is good, we can assume that they are using proven methods and being careful not to contaminate the evidence as they go. It's our detective's job to weigh whether there are alternative explanations to these evidences, such as was the suspect a boyfriend, explaining the semen and possibly footprints but not the shell casing. All of these things have to be weighed and explained if possible in other ways.

This would probably be a good place to start the discussion. And just to make things perfectly clear, I am NOT one that says that evolution should be taken out of schools, or that evolution is wrong, or that YEC is right, or that historical sciences are bad. I have an open, inquiring mind, and I enjoy deep talks, and don't like to buy into the party line for anything, including religion and evolution - I go with what I think is right.


This is a good thing, but I have seen you comment that you would like to see other ideas taught in school or maybe discuss the differences between evolution and alternative ideas. I think this is a very, very bad idea because these alternatives are not science and should not be presented as such. If they ever do become science, then I would certainly agree with you. But ideas such as ID, Creationism and the like are NOT science and have no place in a science class. They are absolutely extensions of religion and if you want to teach that in a comparative religion class then I would not object.


As a side note I want to suggest something to you. There's a podcast called "Serial" where a journalist investigated the murder of a high school girl 15 years ago by here former boyfriend, who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Aside from being an analogy to this topic, I think it's a great podcast and enormously entertaining. I think there are problems with the narrative the police developed for this murder. The boyfriend continues to claim his innocence and after all the police evidence is evaluated and all the witnesses are interviewed, I have my theories about the case as I'm sure other people do as well. But, I don't think this issue can be described as a problem with historical science or methodologies. I just think that the evidence does not match the narrative in this case and that is the key point to evolution. Does the evidence match the narrative? I believe it does.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Keep The Reason » Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:00 pm

spongebob wrote:I've always wondered why the writers, directors and producers of the show didn't see this as such a cliche. At the time, this was a common practice in episodal shows and I guess people didn't notice or mind, but when we watch it today it just stands out as so obvious. I actually have a T-shirt with 3 or 4 characters from the show standing on a set and one is a redshirt. The caption says, "Which one won't be making it back to the Enterprise?"


The red shirts were the cheapest to make since they were designated as crew personnel and were the highest number purchased. Hell, even Scotty got killed.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:18 am

Rian wrote:(note to self - here's a link to an article by the geological society of america that might be good for discussion on historical science; I didn't finish reading it but I wanted to bookmark it http://www.brynmawr.edu/geology/documen ... method.pdf and this had a good line about interpretations http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/Kuhn.html it was "Philosophers of science have repeatedly demonstrated that more than one theoretical construction can always be placed upon a given collection of data (76). " )


I've started reading some of this stuff by Kuhn and I have a lot of problems with it, most just being of a practical nature. It seems like his concerns have been mostly addressed by science but there are practical limits to it. And I don't dismiss his concerns because we've certainly seen this sort of thing cause scientists to go down the wrong path. Piltown man is the most serious examples I can think of, but I don't think anything remotely similar to that has happened in science in many years.

But to address this question of more than one theoretical model explaining the data; well, duh. Everybody knows that. The point is to develop enough scientific evidence to block out those alternate interpretations; to render them dead. This is a basic part of the process. And this is why ID has gotten nowhere in science, because all of the claims of ID can be refuted with hard science. A theoretical model can't continue to exist if everything it is built upon can be demonstrated as false.

Example: Homo floreisensis. This is/was a hotly debated topic on whether these human remains represented a new speice or just a population of deformed individuals. Much debate and scientific analysis has been conducted. I believe the matter has been settled but even if it isn't now it likely will be at some point when the evidence stacks up that one side or the other is more clearly supported and consensus begins to form on that. Following Kuhn's ideas, I don't know what the alternative would be; just believe both?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_floresiensis

And I think Kuhn references Popper's criticism that evolutionary science doesn't make predictions like "real" science does. Well that is just baloney. Many predictions have been drawn from evolutionary theory, often long before we were capable of investigating them. But with the emergence of new technologies, many of those predictions have been confirmed. These predictions also serve to refute alternate interpretations of the data that contradict evolutionary theory because the outcomes are often mutually exclusive.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:13 pm

Well, I warned you it would be slow *sigh* At first I was waiting for others to respond - I was expecting the "historical" thing to be a bit of a contentious point - and then my daughter came out of remission and we had to travel and get her treatments for a week. I'm so freakin' tired ... anyway so it's gonna be slow, but things often move slowly in evolution, right? ;)

I read through your posts and maybe I just missed it, so let me ask another way - let's say your life depended on the results of an experiment. Experiment A is conducted by sincere, smart scientists "live" in the lab, with all of the ingredients available, and all of the processes involved watchable and repeatable. Experiment B is based on looking at something that happened millions of years ago, under initial conditions that are conjecture, with processes that are conjecture, and with another group of sincere, smart scientists trying to work out what they think happened but unable to actually see if it did happen. They come up with two different solutions that they want to inject into you to save your life, and you can't have both. Which solution would you choose?

spongebob wrote:
So, I think you are mistaken when you say that science being conducted in evolutionary biology is not following the "classic scientific method" because the science at work is not testing the entire chain of events of evolution (i.e., watching to see if a fish will evolve into a rat). We are talking about much more discrete evaluations of evidence, such as the functioning of certain proteins coded in DNA. This work is absolutely science!
Yes, that part is, because it's in the present time.

By itself it does not confirm evolution, but put together with the many other pieces of the puzzle, the theory (which is a vast compilation of scientific ideas) is strongly supported.
Yes, I believe it is.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:29 pm

Rian wrote:I read through your posts and maybe I just missed it, so let me ask another way - let's say your life depended on the results of an experiment. Experiment A is conducted by sincere, smart scientists "live" in the lab, with all of the ingredients available, and all of the processes involved watchable and repeatable. Experiment B is based on looking at something that happened millions of years ago, under initial conditions that are conjecture, with processes that are conjecture, and with another group of sincere, smart scientists trying to work out what they think happened but unable to actually see if it did happen. They come up with two different solutions that they want to inject into you to save your life, and you can't have both. Which solution would you choose?


You've clearly set up a false dichotomy here, Rian and a straw man as well. Your second example is a poor straw man of evolutionary science. I get the feeling that you are still resistant to understanding this because you just keep returning to the same old tropes that I've been trying to explain are not what you keep saying they are. You are still putting weight on an idea that is of little importance in science. The simple fact is that the long term evolution of species is not something that is possible to observe, no more than the development of the galaxies. But observing the long term evolution of species is not necessary to determine both the validity of the theory and the overall evolutionary picture. There is plenty of evidence to support the idea and no good evidence that contradicts it. The only reason to reject the theory is a religious or philosophical ideology that has no basis in science.

Yes, that part is, because it's in the present time.


You're still making more of this than it actually is. Everything in evolutionary SCIENCE is present time. ALL the work is in present time. ALL of the work is done on evidence in present time. The age of the evidence is determined in present time by valid methods. The place this evidence fits in the evolutionary puzzle is determined in present time. Just like a murderer who killed someone ten years ago and left clues. Those clues, if found, still don't lie. A murder weapon that matches a bullet is no different if the murder took place ten years ago. The only thing age does to evidence is degrade it and hide it. It doesn't change what it represents.

Yes, I believe it is.


Then if that's the case, I can't imagine where your concerns come from.
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