Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 

Suckers!

Here is what passes for intelligent commentary these days on the SAEN op/ed pages, and the worst of it is that they paid for it, via the always hysterical, never intelligent Maureen Dowd:
But exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education, even in the blue states and blue suburbs of Maryland; a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.

Even as scientists issue rules on chimeras in labs, a spine-tingling he-monster with the power to drag us back into the pre-Darwinian dark ages is slouching around Washington. It's a fire-breathing creature with the head of W., the body of Bill Frist and the serpent tail of Tom DeLay.

This has nothing to do with the point I am making really, but do you notice that Dowd fails to point out the evolution is still a theory? That's right, it is an unproven theory (missing link anyone?) and yet the left expects us to teach it in schools as if it is a fact. Interesting mention of Terry Schiavo there at the end; who's using her for politics now Ms. Dowd?

Now back to my point: in a perfect world the SAEN editorial board would consider giving Dowd's space over to a columnist who actually adds to the national debate.
Comments:
You misunderstand the term theory as used in science.
You can read more about it here.
Evolution is not an "unproven theory". It is a widely accepted standard for explaining the progression of life over time.
Just because it does not fit in with some literalist interpretations of the Bible is no reason to keep it out of our schools or to give "equal time" to a bunch of nutty flat-Earthers.
 
This has nothing to do with the point I am making really, but do you notice that Dowd fails to point out the evolution is still a theory? That's right, it is an unproven theory (missing link anyone?) and yet the left expects us to teach it in schools as if it is a fact.

You're right--this has nothing to do with the rest of this post. And since you consider evolution merely a "theory," we have less in common than I ever imagined.
Gregg
 
Yeah,

The left is scared that God-fearing Christians are actually trying to prevent the secularization of our country. How dare those people of faith dare to challenge so obvious liberal truths as evolution, gay marriage, the rights of 13 yr olds (who are not mature enough to drive or vote, but can make the decision to abort their child) to an abortion. The left must really, really, really be scared of losing all of their "progress" if the high shrill of their outcries is any indicator. And of course the MSM is more than willing to help give them a voice...
 
Uh Gregg, it's called the "Theory of Evolution." The operative word here being "theory." So Gregg, what's your problem with me calling it a theory?
 
Yes. Theory. Since it can not be proven in the macro it remains a theory. A widely-accepted theory. But still a THEORY since it can not be reproduced by the scientific community.

Merriam-Webster defines a theory as:

a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.

If it could be proved, then it would be a law or :

a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions.

The sticker that was the center of the controversy mentions nothing about creationsim, or God, or anything. It merely states that evolution that is taught in schools is a THEORY that is UNPROVEN.

Here is a link to the sticker:

http://www.trepryor.com/pics/2005/evolution_sticker.jpg
 
Mike,
Putting my personal feelings about the THEORY of evolution aside, all I wanted to point out is that saying that evolution is a fact is getting way ahead of ourselves. If you want it taught in schools all I ask is that it be pointed out that it is still a theory. I don't think that is unreasonable, do you?

--Commando
 
Dunacan,

Thanks for having my back!

Commando
 
I guess nobody read the link I posted.

The point is that a theory in science is not the same as the theory as defined in Merrian-Webster's dictionary.

Here is the explanation that I linked to above:

"Lay people often misinterpret the language used by scientists. And for that reason, they sometimes draw the wrong conclusions as to what the scientific terms mean.

Three such terms that are often used interchangeably are "scientific law," "hypothesis," and "theory."

In laymanís terms, if something is said to be ìjust a theory,î it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true.

Here is what each of these terms means to a scientist:

Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to explain, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and univseral, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They donít really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true.

Some scientific laws, or laws of nature, include the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, and Hookís law of elasticity.

Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.

Theory: A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is much more complex and dynamic. A law governs a single action, whereas a theory explains a whole series of related phenomena.

An analogy can be made using a slingshot and an automobile.

A scientific law is like a slingshot. A slingshot has but one moving part--the rubber band. If you put a rock in it and draw it back, the rock will fly out at a predictable speed, depending upon the distance the band is drawn back.

An automobile has many moving parts, all working in unison to perform the chore of transporting someone from one point to another point. An automobile is a complex piece of machinery. Sometimes, improvements are made to one or more component parts. A new set of spark plugs that are composed of a better alloy that can withstand heat better, for example, might replace the existing set. But the function of the automobile as a whole remains unchanged.

A theory is like the automobile. Components of it can be changed or improved upon, without changing the overall truth of the theory as a whole.

Some scientific theories include the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, and the quantum theory. All of these theories are well documented and proved beyond reasonable doubt. Yet scientists continue to tinker with the component hypotheses of each theory in an attempt to make them more elegant and concise, or to make them more all-encompassing. Theories can be tweaked, but they are seldom, if ever, entirely replaced."
 
Commando,

It is sad when people like Gregg decide that because you want to emphasize the evolution is a theory, especially in the sense of macro-evolution, that somehow you are somewhat.. beneath him? Atleast that is the general feeling I got from his post. Maybe you are just an ignorant evangelical who won't accept that their belief in Creationism is just a really nice fairy tale that can be proven as much as... well.. evolution...
 
Mike, great discussion on the terminology of the scientific community. The problem with the entire hypothesis and theory argument in concerns with macro-evolution is that it takes so much time.. hundreds of millions of years to observe, that only the fossil record remains. No scientist can observe macro-evolution, unless he happens to be immortal. And using the fossil record doesn't allow a smooth, uninterrupted observation of the data. One can
"guess" or hypothesize about what they are seeing in the past, without all the info that you would find in a scientific recreation in a laboratory. And the point is it still a theory, and as such should be treated that way. Instead it is taught as fact, that this is the way it DID happen. All the school board did was put a sticker saying that it should be approached with an open mind as a theory.
 
Anybody else want to talk about how the evil conservatives don't want their 5 yr old in a sex ed class? Perhaps that we should kill the unborn and harvest their stem cells? I mean, we are focusing on evolution so much that we are leaving out all the other things like uncompassionate "demonizing" of gays.

Ofcourse Dowd is much more happy demonizing the conservative/Republicans as heartless, ignorant brutes. Her ad hominem attacks are easy to launch but her positions are a castle built upon the sand, and we know what happens to such constructions...
 
Mike,

I read what you linked to, and I don't agree with your conclusions. It says:

Yet scientists continue to tinker with the component hypotheses of each theory in an attempt to make them more elegant and concise, or to make them more all-encompassing.

I see. So the Theory of Evolution is a scientific fact, but scientist are still "tinkering" with it so as to make it more "all-encompassing." Are you kidding? I can't think of anything less scientific than that. You can't just sit down and edit a theory so that it becomes more relevant and then expect it to be good science. Anyway, the definitions you link to fail to cover the self-proclaimed failing of the theory of evolution, the so-called missing link. You know, the piece of the puzzle that would make the theory a fact.
 
And the point is it still a theory, and as such should be treated that way.

No, the point is that because of its complexity, evolution will always be a scientific theory, as opposed to the layman's understanding of theory, no matter how much more evidence turns up in the fossil record. The one thing that could disprove evolution would be for a fossil to turn up in the wrong place (such as a rabbit turning up in the Jurassic period), but so far that has never happened.
By trying to preach to kids that evolution is an "unproven theory" the Kansas school board is misrepresenting science to its students.

I've never understood why some people hold such a narrow view of life that they can't make their understanding of God fit with broadly accepted theories in science. Rather than trying to deny something that has overwhelming evidence behind it, they need to open their minds a bit more.
 
The one thing that could disprove evolution

So now the burden of proof is on those would seek to disprove the theory of evolution? That's not how I was taught the scientific method operated.

Good thing we don't have this much argumentation over the theory of gravity...oh, wait, it's the LAW of gravity. Guess they were actually able to prove that one.
 
I've never understood why some people hold such a narrow view of life that they can't make their understanding of God fit with broadly accepted theories in science.

"As a Catholic", my faith teaches that the theory of evolution is not incompatible with belief in God. The problem, Mike, is that the majority of people who so vehemently oppose the textbooks labelling evolution as "only a theory" are atheists, and their avowed goal is to discredit the Bible and undermine belief in God.

That's the real issue here, not pedantic details regarding the validity or falsehood of scientific support for evolution.
 
You can't just sit down and edit a theory so that it becomes more relevant and then expect it to be good science.

Um. Yes, you can. Happens all the time. As a matter of fact, many Nobel prizes in science are won by people who took established theories in science and improved upon them.

Many moons ago, I took a course in Anthropology at that bastion of liberalism Texas A&M University. There I learned that some of our ancient ancestors known as Australopithecus africanus preceded Australopithecus robustus, Australopithecus boisei and Homo Habilis.
But a few years after I got out of college, they made a discovery showing that Homo Habilis was around at the same time as Australopithecus africanus. So they came up with a new evolutionary scheme that still stands today, but did not change the overall concept of evolution.

That is how science works, and that is the way we should present it to our students, rather than hedging it as something that is not based on hard evidence and years of study.
 
Mike,

You say that the Theory of Evolution can be combined with God, but why should it have to? Either it stands on it's own as a rock-solid scientific fact, or it doesn't. What happens, scientists find a hole in the theory and say "oh, this is where God came in?" The theory of eveolution has a huge, huge hole in it called the missing link. I can't see how a theory become a fact when the basis of that theory is an idea about some mystical, unknown "missing link" that has no basis in fact. That's like saying that 2+2+an orange=5 is a scientific fact.

Commando
 
It is sad when people like Gregg decide that because you want to emphasize the evolution is a theory, especially in the sense of macro-evolution, that somehow you are somewhat.. beneath him? Atleast that is the general feeling I got from his post.

Duncan, you're certainly entitled to your feelings. But my post implied no such thing about Commando or others being beneath me. My objection is to the obvious contempt in which he holds scientific theory, another area with which I disagree with him. In your language, evolution is a "liberal truth". That type of polticization of science is very sad.
 
Gregg,

I never said I had a contempt for scientific theory. The only point I made, and want to make, is that evolution is a theory and should be identified as such. That's it.

My religion does not disallow a belief of or confidence in science. For example, just yesterday I read that the earth isn't flat!

Commando
 
The theory of eveolution has a huge, huge hole in it called the missing link.

No, the so-called missing link does not mean that evolution is unfounded or unproven. As I said above, we may never have a complete fossil record, but evolution will continue to be a sound scientific theory unless they turn up a fossil that obviously does not fit within the evolutionary framework. That has never happened.

Furthermore, as I noted above the scientific definition of theory is such that in the case of a complex system such as evolution that is the final step. They are not waiting to find a "missing link" before declaring evolution a "law". It doesn't work that way. Evolution is a theory and will always be a theory by the scientific definition because it is too grandiose and complex to define as a law, but that doesn't mean it is any less a proven fact than gravity.

the majority of people who so vehemently oppose the textbooks labelling evolution as "only a theory" are atheists

What does that matter? First, not all are atheists because I'm clearly not. Second, the point is that we should be teaching science to our students without mixing it up with whatever currently popular religious doctrine as some kind of valid alternative.
 
What does that matter?

It matters because it explains why this is such a contentious issue. Otherwise, your approach of "let's just teach science" would make sense. To the contrary, evolutionists have an agenda and are injecting it into the debate through the science they advocate. Religious people, who may not be creationist and may even accept evolution, have a problem with that.

After all, it's not as if it's the CREATIONISTS who are the ones who refuse to allow the theories of their opponents into the textbooks. Whatever happened to the "free exchange of ideas"? Or does that only apply when none of the ideas come from the Religious Right?
 
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