Kentucky religious conservatives cannot wrap their head around theory of evolution

LarryC wrote:

Redwing:

See, I see what you wrote, and other than that you trust scientists for reasons that you accept, I don't materially see anything different from trusting scientists and priests. Don't priests of various religious persuasions challenge each other all the time, sometimes even violently?

On what basis are you saying that scientists don't lie? Scientists lie all the time. Have you read journals lately? In fact, lying on studies and scientific works is such an endemic problem in the field that there are ways and means in place to deal with just those sorts of things. In general, I'm more inclined to think an individual priest of any denomination to be more forthright, since the daily practice of that profession actually depends on moral integrity of some sort.

Individual scientists lie, and other scientists discover those lies and call them out for it. Priests of differing religions tend to fight over different flavors of lies, despite all agreeing that they shouldn't be fighting at all.
I honestly don't care about the morals of any particular scientist, I care about the data they provide. If their moral lapses include faking that data, then it will be found out when someone tries to repeat their process, or bases their own equations on the assumption that the ealier data was good, and get a wildly different result than what they were expecting.

Stengah:

Depends on what you want their authority on. If you want to know why there are so many different types of animals, a biologist is a much better authority figure than a priest. If you've got a question about the Bible, a priest is a better authority figure to go to than a biologist (biblical scholar would be the best though). Personally, with the caveat that it won't work well for everyone, I'd trust a scientist to tell me how X works or why Z happens over a priest every time. When a scientist is wrong they just modify their views/knowledge to incorporate the right answer. It's a bit harder for priests since the wrong answer was part of their religion.

I think you have a romanticized notion of how science works. When a scientist is proven "wrong" by his peers, his most likely response is to get right back to work proving himself right again. This is what we mean when we say that scientific theories are testing by rigorous "peer review." It means more people put stock in it because its chief proponents essentially won in a public battle royale to the death.

Priests have a more centralized concept structure in general. They're more like government servants. They're free to interpret and adapt small portions of theology, and they're often called upon to do so. But the broad sweep of moral teaching is hashed out in committee and handed down like corporate policy. That doesn't mean it can't change - it just means that individual priests can't do it alone, and they can't go against it unless they want to migrate churches.

Individual scientists lie, and other scientists discover those lies and call them out for it. Priests of differing religions tend to fight over different flavors of lies, despite all agreeing that they shouldn't be fighting at all.
I honestly don't care about the morals of any particular scientist, I care about the data they provide. If their moral lapses include faking that data, then it will be found out when someone tries to repeat their process, or bases their own equations on the assumption that the ealier data was good, and get a wildly different result than what they were expecting.

Your bias is showing.

There's no guarantee that any particular lapse by any one scientist, well-meaning or otherwise, will be uncovered by another. Confirmation bias often taints the interpretation of data, and how studies are structured to get that data. This data doesn't float in midair for us to take it. It usually takes rather roundabout ways and means just to get anything at all, and even then you have to wonder what the hell you're looking at. It's not an exaggeration to say that it's often closer to a Rorschach test than it is to anything else.

What your statement says is that you trust scientists as authority figures based on your own rationales. You think those rationales are valid. Thus, you do not question anything they say; and you take them as truth.

Is this correct?

LarryC wrote:

I think you have a romanticized notion of how science works. When a scientist is proven "wrong" by his peers, his most likely response is to get right back to work proving himself right again. This is what we mean when we say that scientific theories are testing by rigorous "peer review." It means more people put stock in it because its chief proponents essentially won in a public battle royale to the death.

Which it won by being the most accurate way to describe whatever phenomena was observed. The periodic table isn't used over the 5 elements because it's more popular, but because it more accurately describes reality.

Priests have a more centralized concept structure in general. They're more like government servants. They're free to interpret and adapt small portions of theology, and they're often called upon to do so. But the broad sweep of moral teaching is hashed out in committee and handed down like corporate policy. That doesn't mean it can't change - it just means that individual priests can't do it alone, and they can't go against it unless they want to migrate churches.

So it essentially wins a private battle royale to the death (via committee) and then a public one (different branches for people who dissent with the committee's winner). Except that how well the winner reflects reality isn't one of the criteria for deciding what wins.

LarryC wrote:

Redwing:

See, I see what you wrote, and other than that you trust scientists for reasons that you accept, I don't materially see anything different from trusting scientists and priests. Don't priests of various religious persuasions challenge each other all the time, sometimes even violently?

Sure, priests argue, but they'll never change one another's minds. It's considered a good thing to be unshakable in your faith. Science demands the opposite.

LarryC wrote:

On what basis are you saying that scientists don't lie? Scientists lie all the time. Have you read journals lately? In fact, lying on studies and scientific works is such an endemic problem in the field that there are ways and means in place to deal with just those sorts of things.

Sure, in fringe sciences I'm sure some scientists get creative, but that hardly applies to me. Or indeed anyone but fringe scientists. And you can be sure that there will be other scientists waiting eagerly to shoot down those lies. Evolution is hardly something that's considering cutting edge science at this point. If you think scientists are lying about evolution, I don't know what else I can really say to you, you're a conspiracy theorist at that point.

LarryC wrote:

In general, I'm more inclined to think an individual priest of any denomination to be more forthright, since the daily practice of that profession actually depends on moral integrity of some sort.

Priests say the same lies over and over, that doesn't mean they're more trustworthy. It just means their lying is less creative.

LarryC wrote:

If your undergrad is worth anything, then you must know that theology is founded on logic. They take their assumptions and premises from Biblical sources, but it's not fluff. It's often very rigorous logic, and interpretations of public sentiment and moral trends. Have you read Pope John Paul II's works on human sexuality?

Moreover, you seem to be saying that science is a better religion because its magic works. Clarification?

It uses an internally consistent logic, yes. Such a logical mode can be deeply flawed, but still appear to "work" within the confines of itself. Religious "logic" starts with a presupposition - a god exists, souls exist, an afterlife exists - all assumptions about the fundamental nature of reality that are made a-priori (not dependent on empirical evidence). These assumptions, the foundation of their "logic", are unproven and do not accurately reflect the world as it presents itself. It is fluff. It's myth. It's no different than a theoretical apologist for ancient Greek mythology, using the texts as the source of their "knowledge" and attempting to explain the hows and whys of the natural world with it. It does not work. When Christian apologists use their "logic" to defend scripture, they must engage in some serious mental gymnastics and slight-of-hand tricks to hide the fact that their beliefs are not consistent with the natural world. The Hebrew Bible is rife with contradictions, errors, and outright nonsense, and to use such a work as the basis of one's "logic" and approach to understand the natural world is to invite disaster.

Science is not a better "religion"; it is not a religion at all. It holds to the use of time-tested methods of empirical study, not dogma and superstition.

But you aren't addressing my main contention: how does one use supernatural methods and means to explain a naturalistic world?

*sigh*

Time to remove this thread from my favourites. I have no desire to read Larry telling me how I am doing it wrong by believing in the Theory of Evolution, the theory of gravity and other scientific facts.

Redwing:

Sure, priests argue, but they'll never change one another's minds. It's considered a good thing to be unshakable in your faith. Science demands the opposite.

A mistaken notion as well. When the Catholic Church was deliberating on the question of artificial contraceptives, it was an important enough question that cardinals were convened into a Commission to come up with an answer. You know what they said? They were in favor of it.

You read that right.

They submitted the results of their deliberation to the Pope. He overturned it.

That's why the Catholic Church doesn't support artificial contraception. It's not because everyone agreed, and it's not because the Bible said so. It's because the Pope used a rare authority to overrule the deliberation of his cardinals.

In 1966 word went out to some Catholics that they no longer had to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, except during Lent. The commission established by Pope John XXIII to study birth control concluded in 1966 with a majority and a minority report. The Commission concluded that artificial contraception was not intrinsically evil and that a Catholic couple ought to decide for itself its method of family planning. The minority report urged that Pope Paul uphold Papal authority on the issue and maintain the prohibition against artificial contraception. Pope Paul went with the minority report.
Sure, in fringe sciences I'm sure some scientists get creative, but that hardly applies to me. Or indeed anyone but fringe scientists. And you can be sure that there will be other scientists waiting eagerly to shoot down those lies. Evolution is hardly something that's considering cutting edge science at this point. If you think scientists are lying about evolution, I don't know what else I can really say to you, you're a conspiracy theorist at that point.

It's unfortunate that serious scientists don't challenge ToE more regularly. To me, it's overweighted authority in the field of biology is a drag, not a benefit. Its overwhelming authority sucks every opinion in biology around in its orbit.

I don't think that scientists are lying about their implicit belief in ToE; it's the implicit belief that bothers me a whole lot more.

Scientists are incentivized to come up with data that supports their assertions. "Fringe" is not an accurate description. "Active investigation" is better. And no, I can't be sure that other scientists are waiting around to shoot down biased results. I've seen this happen. Weighty scientists with a lot of clout can quash a lot of valid questioning, even amongst people who are supposedly critical thinkers.

Priests say the same lies over and over, that doesn't mean they're more trustworthy. It just means their lying is less creative.

Ideally, you shouldn't be considering anyone as trustworthy. This is a biased statement, and I don't see this slanted priest-bashing going anywhere. I'm going to drop this last tangent; if you don't trust priests based on personal life experiences, no logic is going to sway you.

LarryC wrote:
Individual scientists lie, and other scientists discover those lies and call them out for it. Priests of differing religions tend to fight over different flavors of lies, despite all agreeing that they shouldn't be fighting at all.
I honestly don't care about the morals of any particular scientist, I care about the data they provide. If their moral lapses include faking that data, then it will be found out when someone tries to repeat their process, or bases their own equations on the assumption that the earlier data was good, and get a wildly different result than what they were expecting.

Your bias is showing.

There's no guarantee that any particular lapse by any one scientist, well-meaning or otherwise, will be uncovered by another. Confirmation bias often taints the interpretation of data, and how studies are structured to get that data. This data doesn't float in midair for us to take it. It usually takes rather roundabout ways and means just to get anything at all, and even then you have to wonder what the hell you're looking at. It's not an exaggeration to say that it's often closer to a Rorschach test than it is to anything else.

That's some damn fine detective work there, I'd have never guessed I was talking about my personal biases by starting off with "I honestly don't care." If you reread my statement that "If their moral lapses include faking that data, then it will be found out when someone tries to repeat their process, or bases their own equations on the assumption that the earlier data was good, and get a wildly different result than what they were expecting" you'll see that I'm aware that errors/false data can get past peer-review. That there's not guarantee that any particular lapse will be uncovered by the very next person to look at the data does not mean that you should assume that all data has been falsified.

What your statement says is that you trust scientists as authority figures based on your own rationales. You think those rationales are valid. Thus, you do not question anything they say; and you take them as truth.

Is this correct?

No, it is blatantly incorrect (also a little insulting). When I find a new science tidbit, I compare what it says against how well it fits with what I know about the subject. If it fits, I tend to leave it at that. Sometimes if it doesn't fit I'll leave it at that, especially if it's in a field that I don't particularly care about. If it does peak my curiosity, I'll read up on it, and if possible, go look at their work (assuming it's not completely over my head). I'll sometimes skip all this if I can find a source I trust that does a decent job of explaining it in language I can understand. However I'm well aware that they're not "truth" or are unquestionable. Beyond this, most of the sources I trust themselves don't claim that what they're saying is the objective truth, use the word "seems," "appears," and "indicate" when drawing their conclusions, and tend to end with "more study needed."

At all times, everything I know has a "So far as I'm aware:" tacked on the front. Everything anyone else says has a "So far as I'm aware:" tacked on the front of it as well. So if I read about a new discovery or correlation, whatever conclusion gets filed away as "that person says X" not "X is the truth."

LarryC wrote:

It's unfortunate that serious scientists don't challenge ToE more regularly. To me, it's overweighted authority in the field of biology is a drag, not a benefit. Its overwhelming authority sucks every opinion in biology around in its orbit.

What? What would you have them challenge? What part of it do you think isn't accurate?

Nicholaas:

It uses an internally consistent logic, yes. Such a logical mode can be deeply flawed, but still appear to "work" within the confines of itself. Religious "logic" starts with a presupposition - a god exists, souls exist, an afterlife exists - all assumptions about the fundamental nature of reality that are made a-priori (not dependent on empirical evidence). These assumptions, the foundation of their "logic", are unproven and do not accurately reflect the world as it presents itself. It is fluff. It's myth. It's no different than a theoretical apologist for ancient Greek mythology, using the texts as the source of their "knowledge" and attempting to explain the hows and whys of the natural world with it. It does not work. When Christian apologists use their "logic" to defend scripture, they must engage in some serious mental gymnastics and slight-of-hand tricks to hide the fact that their beliefs are not consistent with the natural world. The Hebrew Bible is rife with contradictions, errors, and outright nonsense, and to use such a work as the basis of one's "logic" and approach to understand the natural world is to invite disaster.

ALL logic starts with assumptions and suppositions. There is no exception to this. That is how logic works. You start with a-priori assumptions and make your thesis from there using purely logical methods. It's Rationalist, not religious.

Mathematics is the same way. Different branches of math can come to different conclusions because they can start from different assumptions. These assumptions are not empirical, and they are not supposed to be proven. They are made a-priori. Does math not work, too?

Pre-Kantian philosophers were divided along the lines you drew - Rationalists and Empiricists. Rationalists believed that Truth could be arrived at using purely logical methods - the kind you seem to think doesn't work. Nowadays, modern Rationalists strike from assumptions that Empiricism is valid, but their methods for creating knowledge has not changed. Only their assumptions have, and that perforce.

It is not trickery to use logic; and your course has done you a grave disservice if it presented the material in that manner.

Science is not a better "religion"; it is not a religion at all. It holds to the use of time-tested methods of empirical study, not dogma and superstition.

Let's rephrase. You don't question the authority of "science" because "technology" works. Does that work better?

But you aren't addressing my main contention: how does one use supernatural methods and means to explain a naturalistic world?

I don't understand the thrust of this vis a vis the thread topic or my own direction. Moreover, you're trying to jump conceptual paradigms. You can't use math to explain scientific phenomena. You can use it to quantify, describe, or interpret, but never to explain. Same thing applies.

Any scientific theory is subject to falsification by anyone willing to invest the time and resources to do so.

This is not true of religion, or other pseudo-sciences. The ability to disprove a proposition is a critical criteria in determining "is this science?"

Spoiler:

If it's not disproveable, it's not science.

Stengah:

What? What would you have them challenge? What part of it do you think isn't accurate?

Anything. Everything. Overturn the entire thing and present something new.

The thing is, I'm not the best guy to ask what to do about it because I think it's a good theory; this inherently biases ME to interpret every new data that comes along to fit into it. That's not good science.

That there's not guarantee that any particular lapse will be uncovered by the very next person to look at the data does not mean that you should assume that all data has been falsified.

There isn't really any meaningful difference between intentionally falsified data and unintentionally falsified data. They're both inaccurate; though for different reasons. If anything, the unintentionally inaccurate ones are more insidious because even the proponents of that data think it's perfectly good. There's no human tells to show that it's bad data.

To classify data between intentionally and unintentionally modified calls back to reliance on blind faith on authority figures. Your view of the data is influenced by your trust in who's telling it. Science ideally doesn't work like that. Data is data. Doesn't matter who's saying it; it speaks for itself.

And you look at all of it as if it was trying to trick you (or more accurately, that you're tricking yourself).

At all times, everything I know has a "So far as I'm aware:" tacked on the front. Everything anyone else says has a "So far as I'm aware:" tacked on the front of it as well. So if I read about a new discovery or correlation, whatever conclusion gets filed away as "that person says X" not "X is the truth."

Perfect. Have you tried telling Malor?

Let's get back to how this relates to Kentucky.

To your knowledge, has it not been possible to come to terms with them on ToE, by characterizing it as "Darwin said X?" It seemed to me that even the staunchest conservatives were okay with that. My distinct impression is that "X is the truth," is what gets their hackles up.

Dimmerswitch:

Are you implying that it's impossible for the Catholic Church to change its moral opinion on a topic?

Larry,

ALL logic starts with assumptions and suppositions. There is no exception to this. That is how logic works. You start with a-priori assumptions and make your thesis from there using purely logical methods. It's Rationalist, not religious.

If we are talking about how the world works, pure logic does not go very far. Empirical data is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Theological structures of thought have no empirical evidence to supports it's propositions. Science does. It's really that simple.

And stop trying to conflate mathematics with theology. The former is a one method we use to understand principles we see at work in the universe. 1+1=2 does not have any meaning behind it beyond our use; you can have a thing here, and a thing there, but two (2) is a human concept. It's a tool. But it's a useful tool; it helps us send men and machines to space, so we know it works. And theology? What does it have to offer? How many angels can fit on the head of a needle? What happens to a baby's soul if it dies before baptism? Or perhaps you prefer the more "sophisticated" theology of Plantinga? At the end of the day, even his analytic philosophical skills and penchant for sophistry can't hide the fact that it's the same baseless assumptions about reality that are ultimately unproven (at best).

Nicholaas:

If we are talking about how the world works, pure logic does not go very far. Empirical data is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Theological structures of thought have no empirical evidence to supports it's propositions. Science does. It's really that simple.

Ha! Spoken like a true Empiricist. You're a man after my own heart.

That said, I don't think you can appreciate theology from an Empirical conceptual standpoint. That's just wrong. And by "wrong" I do mean that you may not be doing that correctly from a POV or paradigm sort of way. Judging theology from a scientific perspective is like judging science from a theological perspective. In both practices, you're going to come up with weird inconsistencies.

They don't need to jive with each other, the same way Euclidean and non-Euclidean math doesn't.

And stop trying to conflate mathematics with theology. The former is a one method we use to understand principles we see at work in the universe. 1+1=2 does not have any meaning behind it beyond our use; you can have a thing here, and a thing there, but two (2) is a human concept. It's a tool. But it's a useful tool; it helps us send men and machines to space, so we know it works. And theology? What does it have to offer? How many angels can fit on the head of a needle? What happens to a baby's soul if it dies before baptism? Or perhaps you prefer the more "sophisticated" theology of Plantinga? At the end of the day, even his analytic philosophical skills and penchant for sophistry can't hide the fact that it's the same baseless assumptions about reality that are ultimately unproven (at best).

I think you're looking for that to be valid in a different view of reality from which it's supposed to work. FWIW, I'm not trying to conflate math with theology. They're related through none of my doing; I'm just the messenger.

That said, I'm finding it hard to relate this back to Kentucky, or projecting a path where we end up there. What's the end game here?

Stengah:

These are small incidental asides. My inner scientist couldn't not discuss; ultimately beside the point:

Spoiler:
Which it won by being the most accurate way to describe whatever phenomena was observed. The periodic table isn't used over the 5 elements because it's more popular, but because it more accurately describes reality.

Again, I think you may have an overly romantic view of how science works. What wins isn't what's most accurate. What wins is what's most popular; just like in many human endeavors, unfortunately.

Science being a hands-on pursuit, what usually wins is what's pragmatic or repeatable - that's a strong factor in the same way that bike mechanics favor repair techniques that make their lives easier. If scientists can rely on another's work not to blow up in their faces, they're more likely to use that and thus favor it.

Also, let's not conflate reality with data. The periodic tables describes observed data; not reality. Those are not the same things.

So it essentially wins a private battle royale to the death (via committee) and then a public one (different branches for people who dissent with the committee's winner). Except that how well the winner reflects reality isn't one of the criteria for deciding what wins.

And here's why.

What you mean by "reality" is subjective. How you view the world isn't the same as how every other person on the planet views it. That why we call data data, and not "reality." My data is my data, it is subject to a lot of possible sources of bias and error; at no point do I view it as "reality," and I would look askance at any serious scientist who describes his data that way. It's suggestive that he's devolving to outlandish rhetorical statements because his science is crap.

Catholic Commissions often take their assumptions and premises from many sources. One of them is they discuss how their laity are behaving and believing. That's a sort of reality. It's even a sort of data; though I'm fairly sure they don't use statistical methods for organizing them. I could be wrong, though. They might be doing that now.

When the Catholic Church makes these decisions, they're largely basing it on human behaviors, thinking, and similar factors; with a mind to the past, present, and future. They pronouncements are moral, not natural. That is expected because their business is human morality, not empirical data.

I think this is sufficiently tangential to take to PM; will respond there if you like to talk about this further.

LarryC wrote:

Stengah:

What? What would you have them challenge? What part of it do you think isn't accurate?

Anything. Everything. Overturn the entire thing and present something new.

The thing is, I'm not the best guy to ask what to do about it because I think it's a good theory; this inherently biases ME to interpret every new data that comes along to fit into it. That's not good science.

The thing is, to have the new theory supplant evolution, you have to explain the phenomena better, simply being a new approach doesn't cut it.

There isn't really any meaningful difference between intentionally falsified data and unintentionally falsified data. They're both inaccurate; though for different reasons. If anything, the unintentionally inaccurate ones are more insidious because even the proponents of that data think it's perfectly good. There's no human tells to show that it's bad data.

To classify data between intentionally and unintentionally modified calls back to reliance on blind faith on authority figures. Your view of the data is influenced by your trust in who's telling it. Science ideally doesn't work like that. Data is data. Doesn't matter who's saying it; it speaks for itself.

And you look at all of it as if it was trying to trick you (or more accurately, that you're tricking yourself).

"Trust nothing" is a rather poor way to do science, as in most fields there's enough previous work you'd have to repeat yourself that you'd die before you could do anything new.

To your knowledge, has it not been possible to come to terms with them on ToE, by characterizing it as "Darwin said X?" It seemed to me that even the staunchest conservatives were okay with that. My distinct impression is that "X is the truth," is what gets their hackles up.

A more accurate characterization would be "All the data we have on the subject points to X" or maybe "The scientific consensus says X." It's been modified quite a bit since Darwin first wrote it down. The part of "X is the truth" that gets their hackles up is that it means "Y is not true" where Y is a literal interpretation of their holy book.

LarryC wrote:

A mistaken notion as well. When the Catholic Church was deliberating on the question of artificial contraceptives, it was an important enough question that cardinals were convened into a Commission to come up with an answer. You know what they said? They were in favor of it.

You read that right.

They submitted the results of their deliberation to the Pope. He overturned it.

That's why the Catholic Church doesn't support artificial contraception. It's not because everyone agreed, and it's not because the Bible said so. It's because the Pope used a rare authority to overrule the deliberation of his cardinals.

In 1966 word went out to some Catholics that they no longer had to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, except during Lent. The commission established by Pope John XXIII to study birth control concluded in 1966 with a majority and a minority report. The Commission concluded that artificial contraception was not intrinsically evil and that a Catholic couple ought to decide for itself its method of family planning. The minority report urged that Pope Paul uphold Papal authority on the issue and maintain the prohibition against artificial contraception. Pope Paul went with the minority report.

Good for them, they changed an interpretation of their own internal dogma. The dogma itself will still never change. You still don't understand the difference between earned trust and blind faith do you?

LarryC wrote:

It's unfortunate that serious scientists don't challenge ToE more regularly. To me, it's overweighted authority in the field of biology is a drag, not a benefit. Its overwhelming authority sucks every opinion in biology around in its orbit.

I don't think that scientists are lying about their implicit belief in ToE; it's the implicit belief that bothers me a whole lot more.

Scientists are incentivized to come up with data that supports their assertions. "Fringe" is not an accurate description. "Active investigation" is better. And no, I can't be sure that other scientists are waiting around to shoot down biased results. I've seen this happen. Weighty scientists with a lot of clout can quash a lot of valid questioning, even amongst people who are supposedly critical thinkers.

Where you see a overwhelming authority that sucks every opinion around it into its orbit, I see a framework from which greater understanding can be built. And if you think there aren't scientists trying to disprove evolution right now as we speak, then you're kidding yourself.

LarryC wrote:

Ideally, you shouldn't be considering anyone as trustworthy. This is a biased statement, and I don't see this slanted priest-bashing going anywhere. I'm going to drop this last tangent; if you don't trust priests based on personal life experiences, no logic is going to sway you.

I don't see slanted paranoia of authority taking us anywhere either. I consider many people trustworthy. I also acknowledge that people are fallible. Trust does not imply blind or implicit belief, it is simply the understanding that the person you are placing trust in has given you good reason to believe what they say. I trust that the people who designed and engineered and built my car understood how it works. I sure don't understand how my car works, but I drive anyway. That's not faith, it's trust.

Faith is blind. Faith is implicit. Faith is unquestionable. Faith is illogical. Faith doesn't build cars, or put people in space, or make the internet function. It is not a vice I choose to indulge in, and no semantic dancing around will change that fact.

Stengah:

The thing is, to have the new theory supplant evolution, you have to explain the phenomena better, simply being a new approach doesn't cut it.

I disagree. A lot of theoretical physics doesn't explain current observations better at all. They're alternative interpretations of various possibilities; and each new observed data point favors one or the other. The fact that we don't have this kind of theory selection for biological processes relating to the origin of species is bad, not good.

Having a new approach that does anything better or at par would be wonderful! Nothing stifles the growth of ideas and knowledge more than a lack of alternative thinking.

Supplanting ToE isn't the point. Do we not use the Theory of Gravity anymore? I still do.

"Trust nothing" is a rather poor way to do science, as in most fields there's enough previous work you'd have to repeat yourself that you'd die before you could do anything new.

You don't have to trust something in order to use it. You can just use it, and qualify in your notes that your results are dependent on or inspired by previous work. In fact, that's what the Review of Literature section is for.

A more accurate characterization would be "All the data we have on the subject points to X" or maybe "The scientific consensus says X." It's been modified quite a bit since Darwin first wrote it down. The part of "X is the truth" that gets their hackles up is that it means "Y is not true" where Y is a literal interpretation of their holy book.

Right. So why is it important to press "X is the truth" at all? That is an especially important question since that stance is, as you've agreed, also scientifically bad!

Let's call it, "Scientific consensus by the National Academy of Science is X." That's good, right? For that matter, what business do we have teaching the entirety of every facet of modern ToE in an elementary science curriculum? That's way over their level. Tackling the original "The Origin of Species" as literally penned down by Darwin by itself is enough for that stage of education.

And if they later learned that that theory was obsolete? PERFECT!

Redwing:

Good for them, they changed an interpretation of their own internal dogma. The dogma itself will still never change. You still don't understand the difference between earned trust and blind faith do you?

My understanding of that is that the former is the one you like, and the other is the one you don't.

Where you see a overwhelming authority that sucks every opinion around it into its orbit, I see a framework from which greater understanding can be built. And if you think there aren't scientists trying to disprove evolution right now as we speak, then you're kidding yourself.

Could you point me to any credible work being done on this right now? I really would like to see that.

Faith is blind. Faith is implicit. Faith is unquestionable. Faith is illogical. Faith doesn't build cars, or put people in space, or make the internet function. It is not a vice I choose to indulge in, and no semantic dancing around will change that fact.

So you agree that further discussion between us on this point is useless? I'd like to clarify that my questions have not been semantic whatsoever.

LarryC wrote:

Stengah:

The thing is, to have the new theory supplant evolution, you have to explain the phenomena better, simply being a new approach doesn't cut it.

I disagree. A lot of theoretical physics doesn't explain current observations better at all. They're alternative interpretations of various possibilities; and each new observed data point favors one or the other. The fact that we don't have this kind of theory selection for biological processes relating to the origin of species is bad, not good.

Having a new approach that does anything better or at par would be wonderful! Nothing stifles the growth of ideas and knowledge more than a lack of alternative thinking.

Supplanting ToE isn't the point. Do we not use the Theory of Gravity anymore? I still do.

You're applying my statement to the wrong theories. We're talking evolution, not theoretical physics. The theories you're talking about are all partially right, but also partially wrong. They explain somethings well, but get others really wrong. They're competing theories because we don't have a better one that unifies both yet. The main reason we don't have a unified theory is that we're unable to gather the data we think we would need to determine which (if any) were accurate. The goal of science (as I see it, you're free to disagree, but I don't care enough to debate it with you) is to come up with an accurate explanation for why a certain thing is, not to come up with several partially accurate options and let everyone pick their favorite.

A more accurate characterization would be "All the data we have on the subject points to X" or maybe "The scientific consensus says X." It's been modified quite a bit since Darwin first wrote it down. The part of "X is the truth" that gets their hackles up is that it means "Y is not true" where Y is a literal interpretation of their holy book.

Right. So why is it important to press "X is the truth" at all? That is an especially important question since that stance is, as you've agreed, also scientifically bad!

Let's call it, "Scientific consensus by the National Academy of Science is X." That's good, right? For that matter, what business do we have teaching the entirety of every facet of modern ToE in an elementary science curriculum? That's way over their level. Tackling the original "The Origin of Species" as literally penned down by Darwin by itself is enough for that stage of education.

And if they later learned that that theory was obsolete? PERFECT!

That's a perfect way to get what we have now: a significant chunk of the population that is severely misinformed about evolution. Darwin got a lot of things about evolution wrong, so teaching them that would be doing them a disservice. It'd be far better to use it as an example of how scientific theories work, and compare what Darwin though to what we know now. You don't need to cover it in the same depth a college level biology class would go over, but it's not so hopelessly complex that it can't be simplified enough for a kid to grasp.

LarryC wrote:
Where you see a overwhelming authority that sucks every opinion around it into its orbit, I see a framework from which greater understanding can be built. And if you think there aren't scientists trying to disprove evolution right now as we speak, then you're kidding yourself.

Could you point me to any credible work being done on this right now? I really would like to see that.

I don't think you'll find anyone credible attacking the idea that evolution happens, but there are many contested parts of the theory. When to call a specific organism a new species is one off the top of my head.

LarryC wrote:

So you agree that further discussion between us on this point is useless? I'd like to clarify that my questions have not been semantic whatsoever.

Probably. It was probably a mistake trying to clarify things at all. How you got this out of my attempts to explain why we use shorthand (the very definition of semantics, I might add) I'll never know. I'll just chalk it up to LarryC magic.

Redwing:

It's both a paradigm and a cultural difference in outlook. There's no small part of language game difference as well. Only the latter part is semantic. I got past that easily; though I get the impression that I don't project that well.

Certis himself has said that the point of these forums is to engender discussion; to be open to changing your mind. If you say that your mind is made up, then there's no discussion to be had. That is the impression I got from your last reply.

Stengah:

The goal of science (as I see it, you're free to disagree, but I don't care enough to debate it with you) is to come up with an accurate explanation for why a certain thing is, not to come up with several partially accurate options and let everyone pick their favorite.

Slightly different take. I think the goal of science should be to describe observations, to tally them, and to organize them. If it takes several theories to describe a set of phenomena, then that's what it takes. It's unfortunate that scientists often feel a need to champion their favorite pet theories, but don't take it out on us, we're only human.

A picture can look like a duck, or it can look like a young woman; it depends on how you're looking at it, not on what it is. Both views can be useful; but both are interpretative. To be able to only see the duck is surely the worse state.

You don't need to cover it in the same depth a college level biology class would go over, but it's not so hopelessly complex that it can't be simplified enough for a kid to grasp

And yet we have adults who don't understand it, or have difficulty doing so. Darwin didn't "get it wrong." His Origin of Species covers the data he gathered well enough. We have since taken that idea and have broadened it to apply to more data. This requires modification. It's still neither wrong nor right. It accounts for the data.

I think it's more important to teach critical thinking at the fundamental education levels. You can still teach that skill with Creationism, if only because it's easier to point out its weaknesses. I don't know that the Creationists would like that very much, though.

Robear wrote:
See, I don't think it does. I don't think it's just semantics. I think it gets us to a distinction that gets glossed over: that between what I guess you can call experimental science and natural history. It's a deep question--where does the statement "the life we see today on earth evolved from earlier life forms" belong? Is it science or is it history? There's plenty of science in history--to cross over with religion, think of the tests done on the Shroud of Turin. So that doesn't settle it. It's pre-history because there are no textual sources, but that doesn't automatically make it science.

To whatever extent it is a derail, recognize that it's not a semantic, meaningless derail. It actually forces us to ask some difficult questions about science and about knowledge in general. Maybe it won't make the case for Creationism any stronger, but those of us who believe in the Theory of Evolution will come away with a better understanding of it.

One thought on this, though - many times, the deeper inquiry into the meta-analysis of a term means never getting to the actual *point* of a discussion, and that didactic approach to seemingly everything can be difficult for people interested in an issue to get past. If someone is talking about, say, the merits of Irreducible Complexity and it's refutation, then bringing in a full-bore discussion of whether evolution is a science or history, and what *are* science and history anyway, will usually be seen as willfully avoiding the point of the conversation, and causes a lot of frustration.

Just an observation. Sometimes, it's better to start a new thread with an interesting question that's meta for a particular thread, than to inject it and expect everyone to be content with the new line of reasoning.

Sure. Then again, there are all kinds of ways the argument can turn and never get to the actual point of a discussion. A discussion about whether evolution is a science or history in a thread about the teaching of evolution in school barely registers compared to most of the derails I see around here that have nothing to do with the meta-analysis of a term. It feels a lot more like people jump into that deeper inquiry, they don't like how it turns out, and then they just walk away muttering about semantic grapes.

LarryC wrote:

Stengah:

The goal of science (as I see it, you're free to disagree, but I don't care enough to debate it with you) is to come up with an accurate explanation for why a certain thing is, not to come up with several partially accurate options and let everyone pick their favorite.

Slightly different take. I think the goal of science should be to describe observations, to tally them, and to organize them. If it takes several theories to describe a set of phenomena, then that's what it takes. It's unfortunate that scientists often feel a need to champion their favorite pet theories, but don't take it out on us, we're only human.

A picture can look like a duck, or it can look like a young woman; it depends on how you're looking at it, not on what it is. Both views can be useful; but both are interpretative. To be able to only see the duck is surely the worse state.

I think this should be emphasized and may explain a lot of the disagreement between you and other posters. I assume they are from a similar background to mine, and to them natural history is a part of science. I know from our previous conversations you don't see science as competing theories about reality, just organizations of facts into 'duck' or 'woman'. Like the same way you can organize a set of files either alphabetically or by date--is that an accurate analogy?

Obviously there cannot be competing but equally good versions of history: either something happened or it didn't. This is a significant difference between your view and what most people assume: this difference is probably driving a lot of the disagreement.

CheezePavilion:

Thank you; that is an apt analogy.

A small caveat though: I also think that there are alternative histories. History is essentially an account of the past told by those who have lived through it. Each person will have his own version of what went down ala Rashomon. The broad facts of an event shared by many may be indisputable, but other things surrounding the event cannot be anything other than personal story, regardless of how factual it's making itself out to be.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

Thank you; that is an apt analogy.

A small caveat though: I also think that there are alternative histories. History is essentially an account of the past told by those who have lived through it. Each person will have his own version of what went down ala Rashomon. The broad facts of an event shared by many may be indisputable, but other things surrounding the event cannot be anything other than personal story, regardless of how factual it's making itself out to be.

I get what you're saying: that's why I said 'either something happened or it didn't' and 'versions of history'. In the sense of 'history is what actually happened' and 'versions of history are the accounts of the past told by people'. History is the territory; versions of history are the map. There are alternate versions of history just like there are alternate maps, but there's one actual history/territory. It's true though: it is difficult to keep those two concepts distinct because we use the same word for both of them.

I think you're all freaks in P&C, and against my better judgement I'm going to post in this thread.

I agree with the overall thrusts of LarryC's (and Cheeze's) posts. I believe think that LarryC is championing rigor, in all things—teaching science, doing science, arguing, posting in this thread. I definitely don't feel like he passes judgement on any concept in this or other threads that have turned in this direction. Questions of whether or not LarryC "believes" in this or that are turned around with a demand to rigorously interrogate what that means, and disabuse intellectual shortcuts. It is constant, dispassionate critical thinking. It's an admirable thing, and I've at least been admiring it reading this thread, though it drives others up the wall.

LarryC, please let me know if I'm putting words in your mouth or have misinterpreted you. But that's how I've understood your posts, and am not sure why others have taken issue with them. In terms of the OP, everyone in this thread is in principle on the same side, as far as I can tell.

Isn't it a logical fallacy that you can only believe in immutable things?

Does believing in something change something from immutable to fixed? Does it have to?

Can you believe in something immutable but still have an open mind about it?

I think the real war here is that doubt and open mindedness are equated with weakness.

Gravey wrote:

I agree with the overall thrusts of LarryC's (and Cheeze's) posts.