Kentucky religious conservatives cannot wrap their head around theory of evolution

KingGorilla:

Yup, that's the one.

However, scientists also use the term "fact" to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact.

That's the part that's bad science. I can't believe the NSA is pushing this propaganda. It's odious to my sensibilities as a scientist. Scientists shouldn't use "fact" to refer to anything that isn't fact. It's bad all around. That many American scientists do that should be corrected by the NSA, not endorsed.

That living things change is a fact, observed, tested, close to 300 years of evidence. In the same way, crap falls to earth still happens. The planets still orbit around our sun.

That's not the ToE. Good lord. Even Nye mistakenly talks about Big Bang Theory, Tectonic Plate theory and other theories in his YouTube as if they were ToE or related to ToE. I couldn't watch it without cringing every 5 seconds. And this is the so-called "Science Guy?!?"

Adaptation has been observed. Natural selection has been observed. Creationists do not contest this. Those are facts. Those are NOT the ToE.

ToE proposes that the variation of species we see in the world today is largely or wholly due to those processes taking place over millions of years. That is not a fact, and it's entirely a different concept. ToE could be overturned completely tomorrow and it would have no impact on the validity of Big Bang Theory, Tectonic Plate Theory, or any of a bunch of other, unrelated theories.

Nye even mistakenly thinks that ToE underlies a lot of the life sciences. It doesn't. He's probably mistaking it for Cell Theory - also a different theory that would not be affected if ToE were overturned tomorrow.

I think, KingGorilla, that your own take on this mirrors that of many posters here who cannot seem to understand what it is I'm saying. The lack of rigor in scientific thought is rather stark. This suggests to me that, yes, US education could use more reinforcement over what science should be.

And we circle back around at this point. Is the a flaw in the supposition that over all this time evolution (changes in the species) is a factually existent as the forces of gravity or magnetism?

Yes. The "flaw" is that it's an assumption, NOT an observation. When you put assumptions and observations together, you get a deduction, extrapolation or interpolation. This works to determine "fact" in rational disciplines. Science is an empirical one. It must always question statements that are not observations; and even observations should be questioned in terms of bias, variability, and interpretation.

This science is so basic, I learned it at age 13, and it was only subsequently reinforced at every year of my education thereafter. Clarity of thought, term, and reasoning is paramount in every serious discussion of any philosophy. Of course, this is accepted in math and other strictly rational disciplines, but such rigor is also central to any discussion about science.

KingGorilla:

You must appreciate the conceptual difference between Evolution/Adaptation; and Theory of Evolution. Certainly, many prominent Creationists appreciate the difference; and they hide behind it. Dawkins from the video I viewed, does not; which just makes the Creationists appear more reasonable. It appears that you have not considered it, either.

This:

According to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, organisms that possess heritable traits that enable them to better adapt to their environment compared with other members of their species will be more likely to survive, reproduce, and pass more of their genes on to the next generation.

is not a complete statement of Darwin's ToE. It's just a description of Natural Selection. Darwin proposes that Natural Selection is responsible for species variation on earth; it takes that basic idea and goes beyond it. That is ToE, in a nutshell. Darwin is oft misquoted on this point; which must probably have driven him as batty as it's driving me on these forums.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

Dude, we get it - evolution is a theory. But it is seemingly the most plausible theory available, and I think we can all agree that while still a theory, there are more facts that back it up than creationism, and for the sake of good conversation we can assume that people who use ToE understand. We don't need to keep going down this rabbit hole - we are all kind of in agreement.

And here we go again. (This is in response to LarryC, BTW)

Note. I just wanted to clarify that my frustration is with the path that discussion like this *always* seem to head down any time the Theory of Evolution (as it always seems to be this topic) rears its head. This frustration is not aimed at any posters in particular, but the whole subset of posters that whenever that gate is opened, no matter that it is always the same points raised, always walk through it, event though it may only be a complete minor tangent to the topic at question.

I apologize to LarryC for making it appear that I was criticizing him and him alone.

SallyNasty wrote:

Dude, we get it - evolution is a theory. But it is seemingly the most plausible theory available, and I think we can all agree that while still a theory, there are more facts that back it up than creationism, and for the sake of good conversation we can assume that people who use ToE understand. We don't need to keep going down this rabbit hole - we are all kind of in agreement.

So not the point.

"There are more facts that back up ToE than Creationism," falls into the Creationist trap of making you talk of it (Creationism) as if it were a scientific theory. By comparing it to ToE in this sense, we are validating it. It's not a scientific theory. It's just NOT. We should NEVER talk of it as if it were. That just plays into their hand.

That's the point.

EDIT: Changing your wording won't change my point here, because unfortunately, it's not just you that's making this mistake. Dawkins is. Nye is. Many, many proponents of science are. I hear them and cringe a lot. Creationists set the trap and Dawkins just walks right into it. Ugh.

Well I would like to see what people think about evolution being comprised of fact and theory...

The observable data is factual and reproducible. The conclusions, however, are subjective. Yet the collection of conclusions is true despite not being immutable.

I think here again there is the disconnect. The black and white world view versus the gray areas. Can something never be true that is not immutable? What is the tolerance of degrees of variation for truth. I mean in a particular world view, nothing can be true. (and that would explain the attachment to the one true god as the one and only truth)

How far back do we go? I can't even prove that I exist. Therefore anything I observe is questionable.

SallyNasty wrote:

Dude, we get it - evolution is a theory. But it is seemingly the most plausible theory available, and I think we can all agree that while still a theory, there are more facts that back it up than creationism, and for the sake of good conversation we can assume that people who use ToE understand. We don't need to keep going down this rabbit hole - we are all kind of in agreement.

Let me quote this part again:

LarryC wrote:

You must appreciate the conceptual difference between Evolution/Adaptation; and Theory of Evolution. Certainly, many prominent Creationists appreciate the difference; and they hide behind it. Dawkins from the video I viewed, does not; which just makes the Creationists appear more reasonable. It appears that you have not considered it, either.

Let me overstate this to explain it: when you talk of the ToE in the context of Creationism, you're not talking about a scientific theory. You're talking about an historical theory. How the life forms we see on Earth got here is technically a question of history, not of science. Both biologists and historians dig sh*t up out of the ground, and that sh*t is called evidence. They then use that evidence to form a theory about what happened in the past. History goes beyond just fossils, but in the end they're doing the same thing. The nature of their evidence differs, but both are trying to explain change over time using evidence that we are observing today but which was created by events in the past.

I think the problem here is that the phrase "Theory of Evolution" refers to both the scientific theory that "change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations" is how the biological part of the universe works, and the historical theories about how the living things we see on planet earth got there. I talked about this earlier in the thread--nobody but LarryC probably paid any attention--about how that's like the difference between the Theory of Gravity and Giant Impact Hypothesis. You use the scientific theory of gravity to back up a historical theory like giant impact hypothesis. You use the scientific theory of evolution to explain the historical theory of...evolution. Creationism is an historical theory, the same as someone trying to explain the appearance of the Huns in European History as a Scourge of God as opposed to causes unrelated to the need of the wicked to repent.

Yeah, it comes down to semantics. Deal with it. What's really arguing semantics is NOT to delve deeper into the concepts behind the terms you are using, and to just let your ideas be controlled by words. I've come to realize it's not so much that I argue semantics, it's that I point out when other people are, I just don't accuse them of doing so and instead try and explain why they're wrong without the rhetoric.

Now, we're used to teaching the kind of history where the only evidence we have is scientific in nature outside of history class. We teach that as science itself. And yeah, that is an argument about semantics and whether we should call it Natural History instead. However, we are NOT all kind of in agreement. The sake of good conversation is getting in the way, I believe, of good science, because I think you're wrong to assume people who use ToE understand. I'm just not that confident that people can distinguish between when we're using previously done science to explain how the universe around us looks the way it does with a planet over here and an amphibian over there and cosmic background radiation here and there, and when we're doing science to explore how the universe actually works by observing fruit flies or retrodicting past events or smashing tiny particles together until we get a Higgs Boson.

Now, maybe it would be a rabbit hole to talk about how the same evidence can be used for both a scientific theory and a natural history theory and the relationship between those, but I don't think we have to go that far to make sense of LarryC's objections. I guess what I can't wrap my head around is how people who think what's being done in Kentucky is so horrible could be so resistant to improving their own scientific education.

Demosthenes wrote:

I kept trying to make that joke and my phone kept glitching! glad someone else made it after I got mad and quit. :)

I can assure you, my deeply held religious beliefs are no joke.

Indeed, you can just browse this thread here and read more content to the effect of mistaking calculations for facts and other such things.

Yes, don't go mistaking 5x10=50 as a fact or any such thing.

It's reductive but true: 5x10=50 is not universally true. It is true in the integers and any other group, field, ring, etc. in which it is defined as such. But it is not
Always true, either due to defining what actual operation the "x" symbol represents, or by choosing the elements of the set and how they interact.

In one sense, it is perfectly acceptable to state that 5x10=50. Conversationally, there is little gained by always defining the qualifying contexts in which this holds. But there are times when the context is crucial, and typically these are analogous to the contexts in which a differentiation between the terms noted above is fruitful, maybe nigh required.

Science is built on models. Scientists create systems that they hope closely match reality by building the system which explains observations. Scientists, no matter their apparati or credentials, don't have direct access to the underlying framework of reality, do not employ an epistemological engine beyond that of laypersons. Which is one of the attractions of science: it relies less on an anointed mouthpiece of the Beyond than do at least most religions.

But many people have similar relationships to some scientists or scientific establishments as some have to their religious leaders. At least in the US, the "math is hard" movement combined with a few media whores with PhDs has created the scientist-profit, like Dawkins and de Grasse Tyson. It isn't to say these folks don't mean well or aren't bright; rather, the lazy will watch a sensational half-hour bit on the Discovery channel about dark matter and swallow all the hype and bile calling it "science".

I think this is among the things we would hope to address by focusing on critical thinking as a program, over a memorization and regurgitation of historical facts.

Tangentially, I think people could do worse than to read—and reread—A Mathematician's Lament (PDF). I won't say it's perfect, but it struck a cord with me.

PiP wrote:

Demosthenes wrote:
I kept trying to make that joke and my phone kept glitching! glad someone else made it after I got mad and quit.

I can assure you, my deeply held religious beliefs are no joke.

If you are a worshipper of Satan, you are a Satanist and practice Satanism.

Satinism, as far as I can find from Google (which I had to force to search Satinism instead of Satanism), is a misspelling of Satanism. Or a lot of jokes about how it's worshipping the Devil while he's wearing only a satin cape.

I cannot find any records at all of Satinism as anything other than as a misspelling, though if there is more information, I would be respectfully curious to learn about it.

Your excellent reference materials suggest to me that the Creationists didn't really fire the first salvo in this conflict. The Deists, in conflating science with God, fired the first shots. For that matter, Philosophy of Science atheists who insist that "science is the Truth," aren't that far afield, either.

Bear in mind that the idea that Nature is another revelation of God goes back to at least Augustine of Hippo and other thinkers of the period in Christianity, and outside of Christianity but still in the West is found referenced in some of Plato's works. Aquinas was known for solidifying the idea of "Natural Theology" in Catholicism. So it's not the Deists who *origininated* this line of thinking, but rather they were following a trend that crops up again and again in Western thought since ancient times.

I would say that the Creationists are indeed responding to Enlightenment arguments, but bear in mind that until the Protestants showed up, biblical literalism (without which there is no Creationism) was universally reviled and regarded as backward and unsophisticated. So I have trouble with the idea that either side provoked this; the three strains (literalism, common in the first few hundred years of Christianity; the Bible as metaphorical or mystical or the like, the Word of God to be understood through study; and Naturalism, the idea that Nature, the created world, tells us at least as much about God as does the Bible) have existed since Christianity coalesced in the 4th century, or even earlier. They've always struggled; however, the obvious applicability and usefulness of science in evaluating the real world has indeed caused many Christians to worry that it would somehow "disprove God", and react accordingly. Atheists sometimes take that stance, too.

...it is an ad. A joke. Good lord.

Also... and by all means correct me if I am wrong on my memory of the evolutionary timeline... humans did not evolve from chimpanzees! We can from distant ancestors... but a group of chimps is not likely to evolve into human beings...

Dr. Pepper was not the catalyst that turned our pre-homo sapians into modern humans but you don't see scientists getting into an uproar on it.

Demosthenes wrote:

Dr. Pepper was not the catalyst that turned our pre-homo sapians into modern humans but you don't see scientists getting into an uproar on it. :)

My theory of Pepperlution says otherwise.

Ironically enough, the idea that men descended from chimps was one of those soundbytes the Catholic Church used against Darwin, IIRC, and because it was so sensationalized that way, it annoyed him a whole lot. It's a gross misstatement of what ToE is all about.

If anything, Dr. Pepper by pushing this ad, is perpetuating gross propaganda against ToE. It boggles my mind that people on either side of this debate can't see this. Will no one speak for Darwin's actual theory?

Since we don't really know what the common ancestor of monkeys and humans looked like, that's probably about as close as they can reasonably get.

Malor wrote:

Since we don't really know what the common ancestor of monkeys and humans looked like, that's probably about as close as they can reasonably get.

No, it's not. This thinking reflects a lack of critical thought, and a bias for considering humans as the apex of evolution, a view that comes from religious POVs, not science. As far as the empirical evidence is concerned, there is nothing to suggest that humans are inherently more evolved than chimpanzees.

Why is it that the ancestor looks like a chimp and not a human? Is it not at least equally likely that the ancestor is an in-between, more human-like than chimp-like, or not like either species whatsoever? If humans evolved from the common ancestor enough to be conspicuously different, why wouldn't chimps have evolved alongside, also away from the common ancestor? Are humans special in this manner? Why?

It should not be particularly surprising to find that a human/chimpanzee divergence to be very human-like if it's not considered surprising to find it very chimp-like. Either of those is possible. Why favor the chimp-like depiction, then?

Why is it that the ancestor looks like a chimp and not a human? Is it not at least equally likely that the ancestor is an in-between, more human-like than chimp-like, or not like either species whatsoever?

Because pretty much all the monkeys look similar? It's a little exceptionalist to claim that our specific ancestors in deep time looked that much different than all the other monkeys.

Hell, we don't look that much different now.

Why favor the chimp-like depiction, then?

Because the transition to humanity was very recent, and the divergence from apes was long ago, so at the vast majority of points along that path, the ancestor should look more like a monkey than like a human.

Because pretty much all the monkeys look similar? It's a little exceptionalist to claim that our specific ancestors in deep time looked that much different than all the other monkeys.

Hell, we don't look that much different now.

I... ...ugh. Where to begin?

First of all, primates do NOT look at all very similar. A gorilla is instantly distinct from a chimp and an orangutan, even if they were all sized the same. Sure, they have similarities in bone structure and other such things, but the outside look is fairly distinctive. Those are all within the ape family. If you're telling me that this:

IMAGE(http://www.allaboutwildlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/GibbonWhtChkedRogerSmith.jpg)

is all but indistinguishable from this:

IMAGE(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/50/Male_gorilla_in_SF_zoo.jpg/220px-Male_gorilla_in_SF_zoo.jpg)

then I will have to question whether or not you can even distinguish one end of the Dr. Pepper commercial from the other. Aren't they all human?

Because the transition to humanity was very recent, and the divergence from apes was long ago, so at the vast majority of points along that path, the ancestor should look more like a monkey than like a human.

You cannot say that with authority. The one overarching thing you must understand about the fossil record is that it is very, very, very, very spotty. If it were a jigsaw puzzle, it would represent one part in a thousand; maybe less. Simply consider the amount of species we have in the world today. Do they all exist in the future fossil record? No. The majority will simply disappear without a trace. Heck, I'm not that sure enough fossils of humans will survive long enough for future intelligent species to have known we ever existed.

Up until very recently, many paleontologists thought that humans evolved in a single line, without any competing species of the same genus - also a religious conceit.

So, no, we don't know that the transition to human-like forms was very recent, or that the common ancestor between chimp and human was more like the chimp than the human. It is always a mistake to assume that the fossil record is exhaustive and to draw conclusions from that very mistaken assumption.

Darwin himself would have said the same thing.

LarryC wrote:

So, no, we don't know that the transition to human-like forms was very recent, or that the common ancestor between chimp and human was more like the chimp than the human. It is always a mistake to assume that the fossil record is exhaustive and to draw conclusions from that very mistaken assumption.

Darwin himself would have said the same thing.

I've always heard that the main sources of evidence that suggest the placement of human divergence from other primates were genetic, not fossil records.

Valmorian wrote:
LarryC wrote:

So, no, we don't know that the transition to human-like forms was very recent, or that the common ancestor between chimp and human was more like the chimp than the human. It is always a mistake to assume that the fossil record is exhaustive and to draw conclusions from that very mistaken assumption.

Darwin himself would have said the same thing.

I've always heard that the main sources of evidence that suggest the placement of human divergence from other primates were genetic, not fossil records.

That's plausible. The relationship of genetic similarities offers a broad idea of how much differentiation through mutation has occurred, but since we know bupkiss about how fast mutations actually occur or are selected, we can't really use that as a reliably timeline. We can only say which species appear the most similar from their chromosomal and DNA parameters.

More relevantly, even if we could tell, there's still no way to say whether the ancestor resembles humans more or chimps more, since adaptation is matched to environment, and the most adaptable species survive. As successful survivors, our genus and/or species is probably hyper-adaptable. Our appearance now could merely mask a variety of possible phenotypes for human DNA.

A whale's appearance suggests that it's more related to a shark, but it's really closer to a cow.

The relationship of genetic similarities offers a broad idea of how much differentiation through mutation has occurred, but since we know bupkiss about how fast mutations actually occur or are selected, we can't really use that as a reliably timeline. We can only say which species appear the most similar from their chromosomal and DNA parameters.

The "molecular clock" is actually reasonably well developed. It's calibrated against fossils, but bear in mind, some types of fossils are ridiculously plentiful and provide numerous data points. Also, we can calibrate against old but not fossilized samples pretty readily.

It's not true that we know nothing about how fast mutations actually occur or are selected. That's been well-studied in various species since the mid-20th century; the work of Dobzhansky is an early exemplar.

SallyNasty wrote:

Dude, we get it - evolution is a theory. But it is seemingly the most plausible theory available, and I think we can all agree that while still a theory, there are more facts that back it up than creationism, and for the sake of good conversation we can assume that people who use ToE understand. We don't need to keep going down this rabbit hole - we are all kind of in agreement.

Evolution is a theory like gravity is a theory. People can have their silly-ass intelligent design and creationism theories taken seriously when they can choose to float free of the bonds of the Earth.

Robear:

First, thank you for the reference, of which you have already supplied me with many. And it includes work by Pauling, too! Very nice. I stand corrected. We do apparently have a way to broadly chart divergence through rate of mutation.

That said:

"The molecular clock technique is an important tool in molecular systematics, the use of molecular genetics information to determine the correct scientific classification of organisms or to study variation in selective forces.
Knowledge of approximately-constant rate of molecular evolution in particular sets of lineages also facilitates establishing the dates of phylogenetic events, including those not documented by fossils, such as the divergence of living taxa and the formation of the phylogenetic tree. But in these cases — especially over long stretches of time — the limitations of MCH (above) must be considered; such estimates may be off by 50% or more."

And that's assuming that all the assumptions you're making are correct, which they may not be, and assuming that the underlying assumptions of the estimate are correct, which we have no way of knowing. As mentioned, its main use is in estimating the dates of phylogenetic events within the framework of ToE and using various other estimates for calibration.

And that's assuming that all the assumptions you're making are correct, which they may not be, and assuming that the underlying assumptions of the estimate are correct, which we have no way of knowing. As mentioned, its main use is in estimating the dates of phylogenetic events within the framework of ToE and using various other estimates for calibration.

Right. But still, it's good to know what's changed since I was in school, so I thought it was worth pointing out.

Our appearance now could merely mask a variety of possible phenotypes for human DNA.

So, you'll just make up imaginary sh*t, but Dr. Pepper can't?

Malor wrote:
Our appearance now could merely mask a variety of possible phenotypes for human DNA.

So, you'll just make up imaginary sh*t, but Dr. Pepper can't?

I don't recall saying that Dr. Pepper can't do that; only that it's a mistake to think of it as definitive. The suggestion, however, that chimps are less evolved, or that humans evolved from them, is grossly inaccurate, and that was used against Darwin when ToE was more controversial.

Btw, "phenotype" means "how the thing looks like." I'm not making up imaginary sh*t when I say that how we look like right now is highly variable. Heck, my skin changes complexion from season to season; and there's a wide variation in human phenotypical expression, easily modified by ingesting various substances.

Larry. It is an advertisement. You are holding an advertisement to higher standards than you're adhering to yourself.

You're spinning elaborate, unsupported fantasies, and somehow it's okay for you to do it, but not an advertiser.

Their position is probably more accurate than yours, and they're just selling sh*t.

Malor:

I'm sorry that all you can see in critical thinking is "elaborate unsupported fantasies." That illustrates the problem well enough, I think. I'm convinced that most people in the US are similar to you in that respect. You can neither identify nor appreciate what I'm talking about. That's the problem.

As for the advertisement, I was simply pointing out that it's ironic that they're using the imagery that the Church used to demonize Darwin (and against which he vehemently disagreed) unfairly, in order to promote ToE. That's not an unsupported theory, by the way. That's a matter of record.

I'm not aware that I was holding them to any standard. I was pointing out something I thought was genuinely ironic. I wasn't thinking too hard about it.

LarryC wrote:

Malor:

I'm sorry that all you can see in critical thinking is "elaborate unsupported fantasies." That illustrates the problem well enough, I think. I'm convinced that most people in the US are similar to you in that respect. You can neither identify not appreciate what I'm talking about. That's the problem.

Hah, so now it's all my stupidity. That's what it always comes down to, with you -- we lesser mortals are unable to appreciate your superior mind, and if only we'd shape up and see the world as you did, we might be a little less inferior.

Dude, all that stuff about multiple human phenotypes is hypothetical bullsh*t with no evidence whatsoever. It's just sh*t you made up. And the sh*t you make up, no matter how many Important Words you put around it, is no better than the stuff that Dr. Pepper makes up.

Without evidence, it's pure fiction, and your fiction is not better than their fiction.