Thursday, November 10, 2005


The Debate rages on

I've decided to pull something out of the comments regarding the whole "Macroevolution isn't testable" fallacy.

First off, Jamie r. posted a link to The scientific case for common descent.

(from the article)

"In the following list of evidences, 30 major predictions of the hypothesis of common descent are enumerated and discussed. Under each point is a demonstration of how the prediction fares against actual biological testing. Each point lists a few examples of evolutionary confirmations followed by potential falsifications.


It must be stressed that this approach to demonstrating the scientific support for macroevolution is not a circular argument: the truth of macroevolution is not assumed a priori in this discussion. Simply put, the theory of universal common descent, combined with modern biological knowledge, is used to deduce predictions. ..."

(me again)

I think there seems to be some confusion regarding what it means to "test a theory." Once again, I pulled this out of the comments (these are my words):

Let's look at the theory of gravity. The many equations we have regarding the way thinks fall in a gravitational field (all based off of F=ma) are based on nothing but observation of evidence. There is nothing before F=ma. You can't derive F=ma from another equation. We simply looked at some evidence, it said F=ma, and there you go. You can't argue with Nature.

So then we look at evolution. There's a certain body of evidence. This "theory" describes that evidence. So I guess they wrote an equation: lightening+cell=human or something to that effect. What can you do? You can't stop nature, you can only hope to contain her.

You see, that's what it means to say that macroevolution is testable. We see evidence and we see how that evidence agrees with theory. Just like with gravity or relativity.

There are so many misconceptions regarding evolution, the definition of a theory, and the purpose of science. It is a good idea to read up on these concepts before attacking them.

I still think that some of this stems from a language thing. In evferyday language we tend to say "theoretically" meaning maybe yes and maybe no. But that's not the same definition of THEORY in the scientific sense. In sciece there cannot be conflicting theories. What the unenlightened really mean is 'hypothetically'. There can be conflicting hypotheses but once a working theory is established all the hypothesis go away and you are left with just your working theory. It might get tweeked and such but remember there are NO examples of a working theory being thrown out. None. How could there was already working! The theists don't even get this basic working of science. They hear the word 'theory' and think the word 'theoretically' and off to the races we go.

Oh yeah I see we got Nefi for two more years and no Burnitz. Can you field a team with no outfield at all?

Scott -

Nice breakdown and I agree completely. But, you know, what are you going to do? It doesn't help to try and explain.

Re: Burnitz. Don't worry, Neifi is so good going back on the ball that we don't need an outfield.

Pat Robertson warns Pennsylvanian town of God's wrath.

Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

..."I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

For their sake, I hope there's not rain in the forcast.
Scott, many of us understand what the meaning of a scientific "theory" is. We can keep this discussion at a higher level, if you're interested.
jamie, I am a conservative Christian, and I don't know a single person influenced by Pat Robertson.
I briefly looked through the article linked to by jamie. I don't have time to look through all of it right now. When I do, I'll have to wade through this.

In any event, you can't convince me of macroevolution unless you can convince that the God of the Bible doesn't exist. I have been convinced that He does exist. Just as you won't stop believing in macroevolution until you stop denying the God of the Bible.

An impass, yes, though that doesn't mean the debate has to end.
I'm afraid a debate about biblical literalism doesn't particularly interest me.

The Robertson snippet wasn't directed at you, btw. I just thought it was funny. He's a piece of work.
i guess old pat doesn't believe in a god who forgives ...
Jason -

I really feel that there is so little common ground that there is no way for a debate to continue. At a certain point, it is really just two people talking at each other rather than two people having a discussion.

And one last thing, just because I can't help myself. I don't "believe" in macroevolution. I don't take it on "faith". It is a scientific theory supported by evidence. Unless you decided that God put the evidence on Earth to fool us, then there is no reason to deny the evidence. On that note, though, we could just say that God makes things fall in a manner that makes it *seem* as if there is gravity, but gravity doesn't really exist. Where do you draw the line?
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