Evolutionary questions

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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Sun Sep 20, 2015 10:01 am

I keep getting ideas after I post...

I need to make it crystal clear that no one can really discount the possibility that an intelligence is behind the creation of life and evolution. That's something that as yet is not testable. Some of this discussion has overlapped with the origin of life and virtually none of my comments are directed to that issue; I regard it is largely separate from evolution. We are fairly certain evolution is the underlying explanation for the diversity of life on earth but we are not certain about the origin of life and we don't know that some intelligence is not behind either. What we do know is that the theories suggested by creation science and intelligent design are testable and do not conform to the evidence, so they have been rejected by the scientific community. That does not mean that some form of intelligence could never have been involved or that we should ignore that possibility. But as yet no testable hypothesis has been presented to account for such a possibility. My primary focus here has to been to explain that there is no reason to object to evolutionary theory on the grounds that we can't replay history. In fact, I believe such a thing is counter intuitive even to those who hope that an intelligence is behind life. If that is true then it's possible that we might discover it through science. We certainly won't discover such a thing through religion because religion doesn't explore the universe the way science does.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby sayak » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:14 pm

I would point out that physics has very good reason to believe that the events in the past followed the same physical principles as events in the present because the Law of Conservation of Energy will not hold otherwise. Since fortunately we can observe the past of our universe through looking at distant stars and galaxies, we know that Conservation of Energy is valid far back into the past. So all our physics and chemistry principles will be valid in the past. Hence projection of current regularities and processes into the past is valid.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noether%27s_theorem

As an illustration, if a physical system behaves the same regardless of how it is oriented in space, its Lagrangian is rotationally symmetric: from this symmetry, Noether's theorem dictates that the angular momentum of the system be conserved, as a consequence of its laws of motion. The physical system itself need not be symmetric; a jagged asteroid tumbling in space conserves angular momentum despite its asymmetry — it is the laws of its motion that are symmetric.

As another example, if a physical process exhibits the same outcomes regardless of place or time, then its Lagrangian is symmetric under continuous translations in space and time: by Noether's theorem, these symmetries account for the conservation laws of linear momentum and energy within this system, respectively.


If you cut to the heart of it, it is physics itself that tells me we can use the present processes in conjunction with evidence of the past conditions to create scientific theories about the past in a testable manner.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby sayak » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:43 pm

Lenski's expt

Here is a nice presentation of evolution in the lab. Must watch (but skip the intro)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6KlAI5S6Cg

Why is this not sufficient Rian? Consider that Darwin came up with a theory by distribution of living species in the world alone, a theory whose predictions have turned to be consistent with
a)a fossil record whose richness Darwin never imagined (cladistics),
b) discovery that living organisms had the machinery that could support such a process (modern genetics) and leave traces in the genes of this evolutionary history in exquisite detail
c) buttressed by a whole host of formal mathematical theory (population genetics) and usage in computer aided design (genetic algorithms)
d) And also observed in great detail in labs on types of organisms completely unknown to Darwin. (video above)

There is a reason why scientists say that apart from quantum field theory, evolutionary theory is the most well demonstrated and successful theory in the world.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:25 am

These are very good points you are making sayak; points I've been arguing to Rian for a long time. Scientifically speaking, Evolutionary Theory is extraordinarily sound and well supported. There is no scientific reason or logical reason to dismiss it or even question it's validity. That is all legitimate and none of this "historical" business has any validity to it. There are a multitude of areas within evolutionary science where the conclusions are far from complete and many areas can experience major changes depending on new evidence. This is where the excitement is, in understanding evolution and its many ramifications. It's also important to note that "new" evidence comes in many forms, sometimes just by re-examining existing lines of evidence with new tools. The fact that this goes on and that scientists jump at the chance to prove someone else wrong is a powerful endorsement of the scientific method. There's a scientist out there right now trying to convince the scientific community that humans are a crossbreed of an ancient hominid and a pig. For a long time there was a group of scientists that endorsed the idea that humans were descendants from an aquatic ape specie. So it's not like evolutionary science is a static field.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:20 pm

I'm putting your earlier post here for reference:
JR wrote:Rian, if there are strong, sound reasons to question or even reject evolution to its very core, why is it that only people within an ideologically--as in opposed on ideological, not scientific, grounds--anti-evolution subculture reject evolution? Why are there no non-theist biologists who reject evolution? (Even most Christian biologists accept evolution, from what I understand.)


Jesus Raves wrote:Never did I even imply that I question the integrity of theistic biologists.

Why would you bring up ideology in a scientific discussion, then? If a person says "The only people that do not believe in leading scientific theory ABC are people that believe in worldview XYZ", aren't you claiming that those people are letting their ideology influence them? (and IMO, that would be a lack of integrity). Am I misunderstanding you? Please set me straight if I am!

As far as your question "Why are there no non-theist biologists who reject evolution?", well, why would they believe the alternative? They don't believe in God, so they would have to believe that life came about by purely naturalistic means, and evolution matches that worldview, so that's what they would study.

Evolution, rightly or wrongly (and it's wrongly!), like it or not, is definitely tied to worldviews; that's why people get so emotional about opposing views on the question. Now hopefully scientists don't let their worldview influence their analysis of data, but scientists are people, too. And Christians aren't the only scientists with a dog in the fight - as Dawkins said,

Dawkins wrote:An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

Many atheists here say that they feel marginalized and even sometimes downright disliked and not trusted, and Dawkins points out that evolution supports atheists, so atheists definitely have an ideological reason to support their worldview, too. Now hopefully everyone here sees the logical errors involved when either side claims it supports their ideology, but evolution certainly can and has been used to support atheists.

I had better not go any further before I hear your response, or my response may not be addressing what you meant!
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:21 pm

Sayak - keep your post bookmarked; I really can't get to it until I finish off some previous points - sorry!
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Jesus Raves » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:53 pm

Rian wrote:Why would you bring up ideology in a scientific discussion, then? If a person says "The only people that do not believe in leading scientific theory ABC are people that believe in worldview XYZ", aren't you claiming that those people are letting their ideology influence them? (and IMO, that would be a lack of integrity). Am I misunderstanding you? Please set me straight if I am!

Even an individual of the greatest integrity is not infallible; such an individual still has the capacity to be wrong, and he will be wholly honest in his wrongness. If he believes the Earth is hollow and says so, his integrity comes out intact because he's speaking the truth as he knows it.

Also, I believe ideology is always an influence--no matter the ideology and no matter the person (everyone has a bias). However, the degree of bias varies from person to person and from situation to situation. In virtually every case--that I've seen--in which a theist argues for Creationism and against evolution, the degree of bias appears drastically severe. These theists seem to want desperately for evolution to be proved false. Because of that, ideology must be highlighted when discussing arguments against core evolution; these arguments virtually always emerge due to anti-evolution ideologies, because there is no strong argument against core evolution. (By core evolution, I mean the central aspects of evolution that are so massively supported by evidence that they are undeniable.)

As far as your question "Why are there no non-theist biologists who reject evolution?", well, why would they believe the alternative? They don't believe in God, so they would have to believe that life came about by purely naturalistic means, and evolution matches that worldview, so that's what they would study.

They could find another explanation. There are plenty of non-theistic contrarians and rebels who would love to prove the establishment wrong. And, as vaguely implied by that Dawkins quote, atheists existed prior to Darwin. Atheists can still exist without evolution as an explanation for complex life. I don't accept evolution because it's the best alternative to God and Creationism; I accept it because it makes sense, and, more importantly, is backed by mountains and mountains of solid evidence (here I spoke for myself because there are plenty of ignorant atheists who likely do accept evolution solely because it's the most popular alternative to God).

Evolution, rightly or wrongly (and it's wrongly!), like it or not, is definitely tied to worldviews; that's why people get so emotional about opposing views on the question. Now hopefully scientists don't let their worldview influence their analysis of data, but scientists are people, too.

Evolution can be--but is not necessarily--tied to worldview. But that's beside the point, really. The problem with Creationism is that it's either backed by bad science or by no science at all. That's what leads to me pointing out anti-evolution subcultures as an issue.

Anyway, can you expound upon your claim that evolution is tied to worldview? Do you mean it is necessarily tied to worldview? My worldview was strongly anti-evolution, but once I studied up on the topic, I realized how fucking cool evolution is. I, as well as many other atheists, accepted evolution before I rejected gods. Like other facts of life, evolution transcends worldview.

One last, little thing: I never get emotional over discussions on evolution just because I can't handle the idea of evolution being proved wrong. First off, I can handle that, just as I handled it being proved right. Second, I'm more confident that evolution is fact than I am that God does not exist. I will not state definitively that God does not exist, but I will state definitively that evolution is fact. I am not at all insecure in my stance on evolution, so I have no reason to feel such arguments threaten my worldview; therefore such arguments would not make me fear the shattering of my worldview and thus bring on emotion. Instead, if I get emotional in such arguments--and rarely do I get emotional in such arguments--it's likely because the degree of ignorance often displayed by Creationists can be baffling and irritating. Also, I hate the idea of kids being taught that evolution is fictional. But that tends to make me more sad than mad. They deserve better.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:30 am

Rian wrote:As far as your question "Why are there no non-theist biologists who reject evolution?", well, why would they believe the alternative? They don't believe in God, so they would have to believe that life came about by purely naturalistic means, and evolution matches that worldview, so that's what they would study.


I think this line of discussion is getting off into less valid/more controversial territory because it is starting to question people's motivations and not science. But there are certainly people who question evolution on grounds other than Christianity and even religion; we just rarely hear about them because of their smaller numbers and influence and frankly because their ideas are so outrageous. Creationist christians may feel that they are marginalized but they really have nothing on people like the Raelians or Scientologists. So the answer to JR's question; there are such people and their logic and arguments are no better or worse than a creationist's because they are all non-scientific. BTW, there have been numerous wild hypothesis over the decades about evolution that depart from the consensus into what most people would call science-fantasy. My point is there are plenty of ideas other than religious ones that don't follow the consensus science of evolution but none so vocal and persistent as creationism.

Evolution, rightly or wrongly (and it's wrongly!), like it or not, is definitely tied to worldviews; that's why people get so emotional about opposing views on the question. Now hopefully scientists don't let their worldview influence their analysis of data, but scientists are people, too. And Christians aren't the only scientists with a dog in the fight - as Dawkins said,


This is DEFINITELY not true. Evolution is a scientific theory and owes nothing to any religion or lack of religion. Evolutionary theory is not an extension of atheism any more than big bang theory is. This is an exhausted non-sequitur and I'm disappointed that you are relying on such intellectually weak arguments.

Please don't revive the "emotional" argument; that is nothing but a red herring. It doesn't exist in the way you are suggesting. If you want to discuss that as a separate topic, I would be happy to do that, but for the purpose of this topic, emotions are not relevant. And if you are going to introduce something as controversial as that, you need to support it with some evidence or references. I am certainly not going to just agree that this argument is valid just because it is presented here in the CL.

Dawkins wrote:An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.


Many atheists here say that they feel marginalized and even sometimes downright disliked and not trusted, and Dawkins points out that evolution supports atheists, so atheists definitely have an ideological reason to support their worldview, too. Now hopefully everyone here sees the logical errors involved when either side claims it supports their ideology, but evolution certainly can and has been used to support atheists.


This is a mischaracterization. Evolution does not "support" the idea that no gods exist and Dawkins isn't saying that either. He is saying that there are now scientific grounds to reject much of the mysticism of religion and in that he is absolutely right. Mysticism was the answer to many questions before science got involved. So an atheist now has some ammunition in rejecting religion because religion no longer holds all the answers as it once did. It is true that Science has forced religion to change and alter its scope, but it has not disproved god. If one is inclined to believe in god, then being an evolutionist need not be a deterrent. And you have to understand that "religion" is not just the idea of the existence of god but the entire network of beliefs that have developed around it, a network that is not absolute and can be incorporated into the reality of evolution. If there is a point at which Dawkins can be said to be rejecting religion for evolution, it is when one draws absolutes and that is not always the case. As JR pointed out, Christianity is not uncommon among scientists, including evolutionary biologists. So, clearly evolution does not preclude a belief that god exists.

I also want to comment on this statement that atheists feel marginalized and disliked. This is a documented fact supported by numerous polls and statements by religious leaders, but it has almost nothing to do with science or Dawkins. It's an altogether different issue revolving around Christian entitlement. Christians and even other religions are behind this lack of trust because they don't understand atheists and they don't appear to be interested in understanding. And of course the most common human emotion associated with a lack of understanding is fear.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby mitchellmckain » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:32 am

Rian wrote:Why would you bring up ideology in a scientific discussion, then? If a person says "The only people that do not believe in leading scientific theory ABC are people that believe in worldview XYZ", aren't you claiming that those people are letting their ideology influence them? (and IMO, that would be a lack of integrity). Am I misunderstanding you? Please set me straight if I am!

As far as your question "Why are there no non-theist biologists who reject evolution?", well, why would they believe the alternative? They don't believe in God, so they would have to believe that life came about by purely naturalistic means, and evolution matches that worldview, so that's what they would study.

But that is the whole point. You are making the reason for finding something wrong with evolution to be nothing more than a disagreement with their worldview. If they have to believe in God in order to see any problem with evolution then it tells us the issue is ideology rather than science.

I am afraid that what this points to is people who are unwilling to change what they believe to fit the evidence. The adjustment is quite possible as is demonstrated by Christians who accept evolution. Then we have ideologues of both sides blaming the religion itself for this unwillingness, while those who have made the adjustment look at the ideological rhetoric with a mixture of perplexity and contempt.

Rian wrote:Evolution, rightly or wrongly (and it's wrongly!), like it or not, is definitely tied to worldviews; that's why people get so emotional about opposing views on the question. Now hopefully scientists don't let their worldview influence their analysis of data, but scientists are people, too. And Christians aren't the only scientists with a dog in the fight - as Dawkins said,

Evolution has an impact on what is reasonable to believe. If you pin your worldview on things contrary to the objective evidence then you are faced with these two choices: either you adjust your worldview to fit the evidence or you drum up empty rhetoric to justify ignoring the evidence.

What Christians have to abandon as unreasonable is the idea of everything being designed. It is not that big of a problem if you simply understand the limitations of design. Why assume that design works with everything you want to accomplish. Can't you see how some things could require a different approach? How about a love relationship? Is that a product of design?

Rian wrote:
Dawkins wrote:An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

Many atheists here say that they feel marginalized and even sometimes downright disliked and not trusted, and Dawkins points out that evolution supports atheists, so atheists definitely have an ideological reason to support their worldview, too. Now hopefully everyone here sees the logical errors involved when either side claims it supports their ideology, but evolution certainly can and has been used to support atheists.

The word "support" is misleading here as a description of what Dawkins is saying. It is not that evolution supports atheism against theism. But that atheism is a bit more viable as a worldview because of evolution. I have discovered the same thing in regards to Christianity, which I don't find viable without evolution. It is the same thing with quantum physics. It doesn't support either theism or atheism. BUT it does make a worldview relying on things like free will and the involvement of God in events more viable than without it.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:54 am

Great comments, Mitch. I concur all around. I think you improved on my comments or at least helped clarify them.

And it reminded me that had I posted an idea that contradicts the ideological-limited pursuit of science. I believe that our continued research into genetics and evolution may someday lead to evidence of creation in some form, or at least answers to how, when and where life began. Evolutionary theory debunks the old mythological creation stories but it doesn't prevent the possibility of answers we haven't considered. That idea doesn't bother me one bit. What bothers me is holding on to mythological ideas like an earth that is only 10,000 years old and all creatures being created as they are today when the evidence does not support that.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Tue Oct 06, 2015 4:20 pm

There's no way I can keep up with 4 people, so I'll just pick out some of the things to try to finish up some points so we can move on soon (let me know if you guys want me to try to get to something I've missed). I definitely want to go over the eye simulation next.

spongebob wrote:
Rian wrote:And before I post the info I've researched, I wanted to run these things by you guys to see if you agree/disagree and if you have any additions.

IMO, statements in scientific fields can be critiqued in several ways, and one does not have to be an expert in the field in at least one kind of critique. Here are two examples:

1. a statement like "if you add chemical A to chemical B, you get chemical C plus byproduct D" must be critiqued by an expert in the field. A non-expert can use the critique in a discussion, though, if he references it back to the expert.

2. a statement like "T. Rex has feet with 3 large toes in the front, therefore he liked to dance the rhumba instead of the tango" may be critiqued by anyone with some common sense. (I'm not trying to ridicule evolution here, since people can get sensitive; I'm just trying to provide an obvious example)

Do you guys agree with my evaluation?


If I understand your question correctly, I think you made it more comical that it needed to be and it lost something. There are certainly aspects of historical creatures or events that can be little more than speculation. I like to watch programs on the History and Discovery channel about dinosaurs and pre-historic man, but I've seen quite a few that took too much liberty with the subject matter. I've also seen a lot of criticism of that by scientists. There are cases where I've seen actual heavy hitting scientists go out on a limb and make really speculative statements about technology, biology and maybe history, so there's no guarantee that a good scientist won't do this. We have to rely on the peer group to keep them honest. One really good example is Bill Nye, who not long ago seemed to go sideways with the scientific community over the efficacy of GMO crops. Bill was beginning to side with the anti-GMO group over some questionable reasoning. Thankfully, Bill has reconsidered due to him learning more and getting more data on the subject. So if your point is that speculation without evidence is bad then sure I have no argument with that.

Speculation without evidence, and another form of that, I guess you could call it - underlying assumptions without proof.

BTW, my very liberal sister and brother-in-law are getting me more aware (and concerned) about GM stuff. Our ecosystem is so complex and interconnected that I think it's quite a serious matter to introduce artificial components into it, unless the payoff is very important.

Regarding statement one, yes I agree that if you want to debate specific science, then you need to get very specific with the work itself and who did it.
And IMO, also be able to identify and evaluate the procedure used, and what types of results it can produce.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Tue Oct 06, 2015 5:12 pm

Jesus Raves wrote:
Rian wrote:Why would you bring up ideology in a scientific discussion, then? If a person says "The only people that do not believe in leading scientific theory ABC are people that believe in worldview XYZ", aren't you claiming that those people are letting their ideology influence them? (and IMO, that would be a lack of integrity). Am I misunderstanding you? Please set me straight if I am!

Even an individual of the greatest integrity is not fallible; such an individual still has the capacity to be wrong, and he will be wholly honest in his wrongness. If he believes the Earth is hollow and says so, his integrity comes out intact because he's speaking the truth as he knows it.
OK, I see what you're saying; thanks for the clarification. I'm glad you can see it that way; not everyone does. I thought you were taking the "they're just trying to push their beliefs on people!" tack.

Also, I believe ideology is always an influence--no matter the ideology and no matter the person (everyone has a bias).

I agree with you there. There are some people that speak of all scientists almost as if they are gods and are above their humanness. It's interesting to watch even the camera angles on scientific shows sometimes - the scientists are always shot from below on some (not all) productions, so that we are literally forced to "look up" to them. I think there' s a range of how much people let their ideology influence them, and just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean that they are all immune to - well, their humanness, as I said. And as you clarified for me (and I agree with), the influence is not always a dishonest one.

However, the degree of bias varies from person to person and from situation to situation. In virtually every case--that I've seen--in which a theist argues for Creationism and against evolution, the degree of bias appears drastically severe. These theists seem to want desperately for evolution to be proved false. Because of that, ideology must be highlighted when discussing arguments against core evolution; these arguments virtually always emerge due to anti-evolution ideologies, because there is no strong argument against core evolution. (By core evolution, I mean the central aspects of evolution that are so massively supported by evidence that they are undeniable.)

BTW, I have no problem with probably about 90% of evolutionary theory. Microevolution is clearly proven time and again, and we've learned so much about so many ways that things develop. However, I still have problems with macroevolution; we just can't see it happen, and there is more than one way to interpret the historical evidence. And over and over and OVER, we see organisms producing offspring like themselves, and mutations are harmful (or way more often, neutral). And in the many, MANY hours I've read documents from both sides, I see problems whenever they start to go into interpretation of historical data - they make unproven assumptions. And if the assumptions are changed, then it affects the results.

IMO, and in the opinion of a minority of scientists in the field, the data is more compatible with some kind of creation event that gave us organisms roughly like we see today and that have changed to varying degrees due to many factors, but have stayed roughly the same. In the opinion of a majority of scientists in the field, the data is more compatible with abiogenesis giving us some extremely primitive starting cell-like thing, and everything we see around us today coming from that thing, which means radical, radical changes which we just can't see in a lab so they must be assumed.


Darwin started with a philosophical outlook - that we got from an unproven (and unprovable) starting point to what we see today via unguided descent with modification (Rats, I just went to grab my copy of Origin and can't find it! I really need to re-file my book pile back into the shelves). Many Creationists think something very similar - that we got from an unproven (and unprovable) starting point to what we see today via unguided descent with modification; it's just that they think that the unproven (and unprovable) starting point is different.

I guess that's the main difference for me - I think the creationist (not YEC, though) starting point is more likely than the evolutionist starting point BECAUSE of microevolution vs. macroevolution. I think belief in macroevolution is mainly supported by a philosophical POV of "things came about from all these chance occurrences, starting from a primitive blob and arriving at everything we see today, so macroevolution MUST have happened." I don't see macroevolution supported by data that doesn't contain some assumptions that are far larger than most made in the scientific world. I DO, however, see microevolution STRONGLY supported by actual data without assumptions, so that's why I think some kind of creationist starting point is much more likely.

Anyway, can you expound upon your claim that evolution is tied to worldview? Do you mean it is necessarily tied to worldview?

Good question - short answer, no. Longer answer will have to wait - sorry!! Out of time for now; got to go tutor math.

One last, little thing: I never get emotional over discussions on evolution just because I can't handle the idea of evolution being proved wrong. First off, I can handle that, just as I handled it being proved right. Second, I'm more confident that evolution is fact than I am that God does not exist. I will not state definitively that God does not exist, but I will state definitively that evolution is fact. I am not at all insecure in my stance on evolution, so I have no reason to feel such arguments threaten my worldview; therefore such arguments would not make me fear the shattering of my worldview and thus bring on emotion. Instead, if I get emotional in such arguments--and rarely do I get emotional in such arguments--it's likely because the degree of ignorance often displayed by Creationists can be baffling and irritating. Also, I hate the idea of kids being taught that evolution is fictional. But that tends to make me more sad than mad. They deserve better.
Just wanted to end with that I'm really glad that you're in on this discussion because I respect the way you discuss things. Sorry I can't move faster in the discussion, though! I just can't :( Too many RL issues (and am currently in a stupid fight for the ONE wheelchair that my son is allowed in his LIFETIME from our insurance company - they want to give us a cheap little plastic deal that will be ugly and fall apart.
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Rian
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Jesus Raves » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:40 pm

Rian wrote:OK, I see what you're saying; thanks for the clarification. I'm glad you can see it that way; not everyone does. I thought you were taking the "they're just trying to push their beliefs on people!" tack.

That's another matter altogether--a dreadful, heart-breaking matter. Yes, in my experience, virtually all Creationists genuinely believe in their bad science. That's one issue. A related but separate issue is that many of those Creationists have tried and continue to try to get their pseudoscience--in some form--into public school curricula. That is--in every meaning of the phrase I know--pushing their beliefs on others. I don't know that you meant that by the "beliefs pushing" tack, but I wanted to be clear on my feelings, just in case.

I agree with you there. There are some people that speak of all scientists almost as if they are gods and are above their humanness. It's interesting to watch even the camera angles on scientific shows sometimes - the scientists are always shot from below on some (not all) productions, so that we are literally forced to "look up" to them. I think there' s a range of how much people let their ideology influence them, and just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean that they are all immune to - well, their humanness, as I said. And as you clarified for me (and I agree with), the influence is not always a dishonest one.

I've never noticed this manipulative camera work. Off the top of your head, can you name any examples of this? I'm curious to examine it for myself.

BTW, I have no problem with probably about 90% of evolutionary theory. Microevolution is clearly proven time and again, and we've learned so much about so many ways that things develop. However, I still have problems with macroevolution; we just can't see it happen, and there is more than one way to interpret the historical evidence. And over and over and OVER, we see organisms producing offspring like themselves, and mutations are harmful (or way more often, neutral). And in the many, MANY hours I've read documents from both sides, I see problems whenever they start to go into interpretation of historical data - they make unproven assumptions. And if the assumptions are changed, then it affects the results.

If you have problems with the general concept of "macro-evolution", then I must respectfully reject your claim of having no problem with "probably about 90% of evolutionary theory." What you call macro-evolution--which is the same exact process as what you call micro-evolution--is a massive piece of the science of evolution. Honestly, I'm befuddled. You think that "macro-evolution" makes up only roughly 10% of evolutionary theory?

I'm curious, though, and I think I've asked this previously but never got an answer: Where do you stand on the age of the Earth?

If you accept "micro-evolution" and also accept the massively well-evidenced scientific estimate of the age of the Earth, then I don't see why "macro-evolution" is so hard to accept. If you don't accept the scientific estimate of the age of the Earth, why is that? Same as your problem with "macro-evolution"?

IMO, and in the opinion of a minority of scientists in the field, the data is more compatible with some kind of creation event that gave us organisms roughly like we see today and that have changed to varying degrees due to many factors, but have stayed roughly the same. In the opinion of a majority of scientists in the field, the data is more compatible with abiogenesis giving us some extremely primitive starting cell-like thing, and everything we see around us today coming from that thing, which means radical, radical changes which we just can't see in a lab so they must be assumed.

Humans have been recording their experiences of the world for just over five thousand years. Modern science has been around for only two hundred years. The examination and research of evolutionary processes has been going on for slightly less time than that. The Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. Life came about at least 3.5 billion years ago.

So we humans have had only 5,000 years to record the goings on of evolution. And far less than that to understand them on any appreciable level. Evolution has been going on for at least 3,500,000,000 years.

--------5000
3500000000

We can't even imagine the tiny changes--which, in aggregate, amount to massive changes--that could take place in that unfathomable number of years, but every morning, we can witness it in the mirror.

What appears to be stagnation in the minuscule short term could very well turn out to be complete transformation in the extreme long term.

Darwin started with a philosophical outlook - that we got from an unproven (and unprovable) starting point to what we see today via unguided descent with modification (Rats, I just went to grab my copy of Origin and can't find it! I really need to re-file my book pile back into the shelves). Many Creationists think something very similar - that we got from an unproven (and unprovable) starting point to what we see today via unguided descent with modification; it's just that they think that the unproven (and unprovable) starting point is different.

So you're saying that Creationists have a similar outlook to a guy 150 years behind on his knowledge of evolutionary biology? Sounds about right. :-D I tease lovingly. Many of those I hold dearest are Creationists.

I guess that's the main difference for me - I think the creationist (not YEC, though) starting point is more likely than the evolutionist starting point BECAUSE of microevolution vs. macroevolution. I think belief in macroevolution is mainly supported by a philosophical POV of "things came about from all these chance occurrences, starting from a primitive blob and arriving at everything we see today, so macroevolution MUST have happened." I don't see macroevolution supported by data that doesn't contain some assumptions that are far larger than most made in the scientific world. I DO, however, see microevolution STRONGLY supported by actual data without assumptions, so that's why I think some kind of creationist starting point is much more likely.

I must be skeptical of your claimed understanding of evolution, Rian. For the record, I respect you very much; I need to say that so this next part doesn't sound as harsh. If you honestly hold to the Creationist straw man of evolution purely by chance, then I find it hard to believe you've studied much on evolution.

From the very start, evolution was demonstrated to be a process not based solely or even mostly on chance, as seen in Darwin's finches. I'd find evolution hard to swallow too if I were under the impression that it's totally random, but it's not. There's no design, and there's no plan, but that doesn't mean the process is based on randomness. Just like the zombie movie protagonist fleeing the horde, evolution takes a winding, furious path. The path isn't at all random, as each turn is taken with the goal of survival. In fact, if the protagonist chose just to run about randomly, that would almost certainly lead her to running straight into hungry zombies. And sure, chance may play a part; the hero could happen upon a pistol that allows her to blast some zombie heads, but that helpful chance occurrence is rare, and the rest of the time, all she has to keep herself alive is her drive to survive. Who knows, maybe after thirty years of dealing with zombies, she'd develop amazing methods of survival, methods impossible and unthinkable during those first few days of running from zombies.

Good question - short answer, no. Longer answer will have to wait - sorry!!

I eagerly await the longer answer.

Just wanted to end with that I'm really glad that you're in on this discussion because I respect the way you discuss things. Sorry I can't move faster in the discussion, though! I just can't :( Too many RL issues (and am currently in a stupid fight for the ONE wheelchair that my son is allowed in his LIFETIME from our insurance company - they want to give us a cheap little plastic deal that will be ugly and fall apart.

I'm sorry that insurance companies are such jerks. And thanks for compliment. I'm definitely less knowledgeable on the issue than the others in this conversation, though, so I can't say my input is particularly valuable. Lastly, I appreciate that you're here to move the discussion along at all. I much prefer that over your complete absence.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Wed Oct 07, 2015 6:30 am

Jesus Raves wrote:
Rian wrote:I agree with you there. There are some people that speak of all scientists almost as if they are gods and are above their humanness. It's interesting to watch even the camera angles on scientific shows sometimes - the scientists are always shot from below on some (not all) productions, so that we are literally forced to "look up" to them. I think there' s a range of how much people let their ideology influence them, and just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean that they are all immune to - well, their humanness, as I said. And as you clarified for me (and I agree with), the influence is not always a dishonest one.


I've never noticed this manipulative camera work. Off the top of your head, can you name any examples of this? I'm curious to examine it for myself.


I would like some examples of this as well. Never seen this in my life that I can remember. Are you talking about documentaries or dramas? If it's dramas then I think you are just focusing on something irrelevant. We don't have enough space on this forum to discuss all the silly cliches and devices that directors use in fictional dramas and we all know they are intended to be manipulative. Even with that I would argue that the cliche of the "mad scientist" or at least "weird and nerdy" is far, far more common than presenting scientists as infallible creatures of absolute knowledge. And I've never seen this filming technique Rian mentioned. If anything, filming from below is considered bad technique because it makes people look fat. Have you ever seen a selfie; it's always from above and it's far more complimentary than from below.

If you are talking documentaries then I just have to laugh. The vast majority of scientists that I see on documentaries come off a weird and nerdy at best. There was even this occasion where Dr. Steven Novella, head of the New England Skeptics Society and host of the Skeptics Guide podcast, appeared on Dr. Oz. When questioned, Dr. Novella had the perfect responses but his personality came off as this half-dead geek and of course Oz cut him off several times. If anyone is "exhalted" on TV for their scientific prowess, it's the charlatans like Dr. Oz (who run their own shows). I think this is nothing more than Rian's perception and it makes me wonder if she harbors some sort of internal disdain for science and scientists. This is not the first time Rian has commented on this sort of thing, so I have to wonder where this is coming from. Rian, if you don't know this, the vast majority of scientists HATE going in front of the camera or the public to "promote" their work. Most of them consider it pandering and unbecoming of their work and they actually criticize others who do it. There are very few scientists willing to actually promote science in public and people like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson have done an amazing job of bringing science to the public in an interesting way.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Wed Oct 07, 2015 6:51 am

Rian wrote:Speculation without evidence, and another form of that, I guess you could call it - underlying assumptions without proof.


I don't understand. Are you talking about a specific example of something? What is an example of this?

BTW, my very liberal sister and brother-in-law are getting me more aware (and concerned) about GM stuff. Our ecosystem is so complex and interconnected that I think it's quite a serious matter to introduce artificial components into it, unless the payoff is very important.


Of course this is another subject but my guess is that they are being swayed by another form of pseudo science and it falls right in your wheelhouse, assumptions without evidence. Saying our ecosystem is "complex" and "interconnected" is not a valid reason for dismissing GMO technology as "dangerous". This is the typical over-reach that you are always talking about. Where's the evidence? It's making the assumption that bad things will happen and it's fear mongering just like anti-vaccinations and anti-fluoridation. If the argument is that any new technology will bring about changes that we can't predict then yes, they are right. So is the answer to that to stop developing new technology?

Regarding statement one, yes I agree that if you want to debate specific science, then you need to get very specific with the work itself and who did it.
And IMO, also be able to identify and evaluate the procedure used, and what types of results it can produce.


Of course. But I haven't seen any objections to specific scientific data or methods from you.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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