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Lecture Time: Evolution

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Clark Kent View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clark Kent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Lecture Time: Evolution
    Posted: 31 July 2006 at 11:47am

Ok - so some of the recent threads have brought this issue back to the front of my brain again.

One of my grand obsessions are the various anti-evolution movements (that's "evolution" as in "The Origins of Species").  I feel a pressing need to spread good information to overcome the bad.

SO:

I invite anybody who has questions/doubts/inquiries/curiosity about evolution and related topics to post them here. 

It has been my experience that 99% of anti-evolution views are the result of lack of understanding/information.  I hope to be able to correct that.

I am not trying to "convince" anybody - just inform.  The information speaks for itself, and requires no convincing.  I don't plan on debating (hopefully), just performing a public service.

If people care, this could be an informative thread for all.

If nobody cares, this thread will be gone in a day.  Win/win.

So, post yer queries - I shall respond, politely.

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Rico's Revenge View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rico's Revenge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 11:56am

Here is an inquiry:

How is it that the THEORY of Evolution is treated as fact without consumate proof given the inaccuracy of Carbon-14 dating and the lack of any "missing link" fossil records?  

However, Creationism is considered "unfactual" based on the same.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cedric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 12:06pm
Creationism isn't based on fact, man. It's based on theory made up by people who wanted an easy explanation for how everything came to be.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rico's Revenge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 12:22pm

Originally posted by Cedric Cedric wrote:

Creationism isn't based on fact, man. It's based on theory made up by people who wanted an easy explanation for how everything came to be.

As opposed to a Theory made up by people who wanted a complicated explanation for how everything came to be.

*edit - I am not supporting one side or the other in this debate, neither side has any concrete facts to support their "guesses."



Edited by Rico's Revenge - 31 July 2006 at 12:23pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 12:26pm
I think Rico just owned this thread.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Monk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 12:44pm
Two words... Intelligent Design....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clark Kent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 12:50pm
Originally posted by Rico's Revenge Rico's Revenge wrote:

Here is an inquiry:

How is it that the THEORY of Evolution is treated as fact without consumate proof given the inaccuracy of Carbon-14 dating and the lack of any "missing link" fossil records?  

However, Creationism is considered "unfactual" based on the same.

I knew this was going to get me in trouble - each reply is going to be a freakin' treatise... 

But - good question, Rico.  Here goes:

1.  The theory of evolution is not treated as "fact" to a greater or lesser degree than other scientific theories with similar empirical support.  Science never declares any theory as "fact" in a strictly empirical sense - all theories are subject to revision and deletion at any time.  As a practical matter, people (including scientists) may refer to a theory as "fact", but this is vernacular shorthand and not strictly scientific.

Consequently, NO scientific has "consummate proof".  ALL scientific theories are subject to further investigation, including evolution.  Volumes of research is done on evolutionary topics each year, and the theory of evolution is constantly being revised and updated.

It is staggeringly unlikely that the entire theory of evolution will suddenly be discovered to be "wrong" simply due to the massive volume of evidence supporting its key tenets.  That's just not how science works.  It is extremely rare for a well-proved theory to be outright overturned - instead, they are modified. 

Take Newton, for instance.  His theories of physics were the gold standard for centuries, and there are literally tons of evidence supporting the basics of his theory.  But then Einstein comes along, and revolutionizes physics again.  Did Einstein prove Newton "wrong"?  Yes and no - turns out Newton didn't have the whole picture.  Einstein's theories explain things that Newton could not - together they expand our knowledge of the universe.

Similarly, it is a near-certainty that we will see some discovery that will lead to radical changes in the way we view evolution.  Nobody claims to have a complete picture of how this works.  What we DO claim is to have a pile of evidence to support the basic principles.

So, while it is possible that evolution is "overturned", that is extremely unlikely.  But it is guaranteed to be modified on an ongoing basis.

To challenge evolution on the basis that it doesn't have "consummate proof" is unfair and unscientific.  There is no theory in science that could pass that test.  Not one.

If that is your standard, then you must reject all of science.

 

2.  As to C14 carbon dating - this is a bit of a red herring from the creationist community, the CRI notably has some very shady "scientific" studies on their website that claim to bolster this claim.

First - C14 dating is merely one of many methods of radiometric dating.  It is also not the primary method of testing for really old stuff - C14 is generally considered accurate back about 50,000 years, not a long time in evolutionary terms.  C14 is used by historians more than paleontologists.  Any criticism of C14 is more a criticism of historians than of paleontologists.  Criticisms of C14 are fundamentally irrelevant to the central issues in the theory of evolution, since the theory of evolution mostly deals with things that are much older.  

Second - all scientific tools sometimes give bad results.  Samples get contaminated, the lab screws it up, etc.  This is why all of science is based on the fundamental principal of repetition and more repetition.  You cannot accept the result of any single study, no matter what the result.  No result is valid until it has been replicated many times.  And C14 has withstood the test of replication.  Yes, there have been some screwy results, but even really good pregnancy tests are only 99% accurate.  That doesn't mean the pregnancy test is useless.  It is all about the repetition.  In the long run, C14 testing is VERY reliable and accurate.

Third - The various screwball results of C14 that are routinely brought up by anti-evolutionists have all been addressed numerous times.  These results are usually due to reservoir effects or other weaknesses of C14 testing that can be controlled for with proper procedure.

Fourth - Let's assume that C14 is unreliable.  As I mentioned, it is used more by historians than paleontologists.  If C14 is unreliable, then we cannot accept the dating of Pompeii, the dating of the Mona Lisa, the dating of the Mayan pyramids or the Egyptian pyramids, or the dating of the sword your dad claims is from the Civil War.  C14 dating is in widespread use throughout the world, mostly in fields that have absolutely nothing to do with evolution.  This is not just some evolutionist tool.  Most of what is in your history books is based, to some degree, on C14 dating.

 

3.  The "missing link".  The very existence of "the" missing link is a red herring.  The fossil record has lots of missing links.  Lots.  There is no "one" missing link.  This is an idea created by creationists, who incorrectly focus on the issue of the evolution of homo sapiens.  Scientists do not consider the evolution of man any more or less important than the evolution of snails.  This challenge to evolution is always about the missing link in the evolution in man - where is the question about the missing link in the evolution in snails?  And exactly which missing link in the homo sapiens fossil record is "the" missing link?

There will never come a time when there is no missing link.  But again, this is an impossible standard.  By this standard, scientists and historians could never claim to know anything.  Science and history is all about filling the gaps.  And gaps are being filled all the time - an important missing link was just discovered a few months ago, actually (nothing to do with humans, but very important).

Moreover, we don't need a complete fossil record.  Yes, it would be nifty, but we don't need it.  Paleontology is only one of the fields that supplies evidence for evolution of species.  Biology, zoology, genetics, geology - they all independently support the theory as well.  The lack of a complete fossil record is a bummer, but is also (a) inevitible, and (b) not a problem.  There is significant paleontological evidence for evolution - significant.  Just because the evidence isn't perfect doesn't make it any less significant.

 

4.  As to creationism - again, I would hope nobody refers to creationism as "fact" in a strict scientific sense of the word, as they should not so refer to the theory of evolution. 

But more importantly, from a scientific perspective, creationism is both (a) unproven, and (b) unprovable.

First, you have to define creationism, of course.  I will use this definition:  "the earth was created from nothing by a supernatural being".  I think that definition should be generally acceptable.

Here's the trick:  Even if we could prove that the Earth is only 5,000 years old, or 1 week old, or 5,000,000,000 years old - that still will not be evidence of the central part of creationism:  that Earth was created by god.  The central point of divine intervention will not have been proven.

God is unprovable - more importantly, is un-disprovable.  Any scientific theory has to be falsifiable.  There have to be observable facts that could contradict the theory.  Since god is supernatural/divine/omnipotent, it is true by definition that we can never disprove god.  Science deals only with the measurable - god is unmeasurable.

Science doesn't claim that god doesn't exist - science doesn't even claim that god didn't create the earth.  In fact, many evolutionary scientists do believe that god created the earth.  Science simply does not address the issue of god or ultimate creation at all, because it cannot.

God is outside of the capabilities of science.  Creationism is therefore not a scientific theory.  This is not an attack on creationism - it is simply a limitation of science.

 

There.  Hope that was helpful and not too long.  Keep'em coming.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote .Ryan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 12:51pm
The word "theory", in common usage, usually means guess...what's why we get a lot of that stuff like Rico said. However, in science, a "theory" has much more clout. It's much much more than a guess, it's basically a proven fact, but with room for future flexibility.....

Edit: Damn you Clark...


Edited by .Ryan - 31 July 2006 at 12:51pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rico's Revenge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 1:04pm

So Clark, in 1000 words you basically said that both of the largest theories of the origin of the World (Good grief, imagine if we threw in the rest of the known Universe and the possibility of life on other terrestrial masses or even Theistic Evolution!) are based on a system of beliefs none of which has any proof.  

Doesn't sound like this would be an arguement that anyone could win.

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clark, what do you do for a living?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote High Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 1:17pm
assuming we get a few more good questions, this thread has uber potential. i look forward to reading it when i get off work tonight.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gatyr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 1:23pm
Its a general consensus that she is a 17 year old lesbian. She has posted pics to prove it, and there is no evidence to the contrary, so we must accept it as true. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clark Kent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 1:37pm
Originally posted by Rico's Revenge Rico's Revenge wrote:

So Clark, in 1000 words you basically said that both of the largest theories of the origin of the World (Good grief, imagine if we threw in the rest of the known Universe and the possibility of life on other terrestrial masses or even Theistic Evolution!) are based on a system of beliefs none of which has any proof.  

Doesn't sound like this would be an arguement that anyone could win.

I don't believe I said that, Rico.

First off, evolutionary theory has nothing to do with the origins of the Earth, the universe, or life.

Evolution is the study of the origins and change of SPECIES.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The origins of life and the planet are far beyond the scope of evolution.

Creationism, on the other hand, does address all of those, which is another reason why the two theories are not directly opposed.

Nor did I say that these theories do not have any proof.  To the contrary, I said several times that there is vast empirical evidence to support evolutionary theory.  Vast.  So vast that even trained scientists casually (and incorrectly) refer to theory as "fact".  Evolution is arguably one of the best-supported scientific theories there is.  Certainly better supported than any current theory of gravity, for instance.

Creationism, on the other hand, has ZERO scientific evidence to support its central claim - that god created something.  This is not a slam on creationism, but simply an observation that religious beliefs are at their fundament non-scientific.  Religion deals with the unprovable - if it were provable, it would just be science.

Most importantly, I am not trying to win an argument.  I am not trying to disprove creationism (can't be done).  Heck, I have nothing against creationism.

I am simply trying to correct some of the misunderstandings about evolution and science in general that are so prevasive in American society.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote __sneaky__ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 3:39pm

Creationism = really dumb theory so people wont go all evil and kill everybody

Evolutiom = an absolutly retarded idea so people can try to sound smart with they're half-ass theories

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TEHGANGSTER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 3:43pm
Originally posted by __sneaky__ __sneaky__ wrote:

Creationism = really dumb theory so people wont go all evil and kill everybody

Evolutiom = an absolutly retarded idea so people can try to sound smart with they're half-ass theories



i like the way you think


Edited by TEHGANGSTER - 31 July 2006 at 3:43pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Destruction Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 3:55pm
Originally posted by __sneaky__ __sneaky__ wrote:

Creationism = really dumb theory so people wont go all evil and kill everybody


Evolutiom = an absolutly retarded idea so people can try to sound smart with they're half-ass theories



Then what's your belief on how life came to be on earth and how the earth came to be itself?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote __sneaky__ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 4:06pm
Originally posted by Destruction Destruction wrote:

Originally posted by __sneaky__ __sneaky__ wrote:

Creationism = really dumb theory so people wont go all evil and kill everybody


Evolutiom = an absolutly retarded idea so people can try to sound smart with they're half-ass theories



Then what's your belief on how life came to be on earth and how the earth came to be itself?
Honestly, I dont know. No religion or theory out there really makes any sence. Basically all of them (evolution included) is physically impossible.

For all I know a monkey coulda had sex with a walrus and thus came the human race... It makes more sence then most religions out there... I try not to dwell on it too much, I just live my life and enjoy it while im here. when I'm dead... well I'll figure that one out when i get there.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clark Kent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 4:08pm

Originally posted by __sneaky__ __sneaky__ wrote:

  Basically all of them (evolution included) is physically impossible.

Would you mind telling me why you believe evolution is physically impossible?  Maybe I can help you with that.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 4:14pm
Originally posted by Destruction Destruction wrote:

Originally posted by __sneaky__ __sneaky__ wrote:

Creationism = really dumb theory so people wont go all evil and kill everybody


Evolutiom = an absolutly retarded idea so people can try to sound smart with they're half-ass theories



Then what's your belief on how life came to be on earth and how the earth came to be itself?



Duh.







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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2006 at 4:20pm
Wow, what a quality post. A little bored at work clark?


Just for clarity, you did pretty much tuch on this however, we need to state that evolution != big bang, they are two different things and deal with entirely different issues.


Seriously though, sweet thread clark.

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