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Author Topic:   Cases Troublesome for Scientists
Dr Adequate
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Posts: 12597
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 16 of 30 (551357)
03-22-2010 1:15 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by InGodITrust
03-21-2010 3:35 PM


But as a lay person, the explanations seem weak.

And, as a lay person, the Darwinian/Fisherian explanation of sexual selection seems to me to be overwhelmingly obvious.

But I, like you, am a layman. So perhaps we should look at what scientists have to say about the subject.

You don't want to go there.

Darwin would not have arrived at his theory by contemplating the crazy plumage of some birds; rather, he had to find a way to reconcile the plumage with his theory.

I have noted before that not only are creationists wrong about science, they are wrong about the history of science.

I wonder about any cases of organisms with features or behaviours that do vex scientists as to how natural selection is responsible. I wonder if, starting with natural selection as a given, there are cases in which scientists struggle for an explanation that fits in.

Well of course at the cutting edge of science scientists are always "struggling for an explanation that fits in". That's their job.

But to answer your question in the spirit that it was intended --- then NO. Biology and evolution fit together perfectly.


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Taq
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Posts: 5136
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 17 of 30 (551377)
03-22-2010 3:33 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by InGodITrust
03-21-2010 3:35 PM


My example of ornaments may have been a bad one. I wasn't sure how scientists saw it. But as a lay person, the explanations seem weak.

If you study bird behavior it is not weak at all. In many bird species sexual/courtship displays are extremely important in finding a mate. Some of the most extravagant can be seen in the birds of paradise. Color displays are used by hundreds of species to tell predators that they are poisonous. Some non-poisonous species even copy the color displays of poisonous species to reduce predation (e.g. coral snakes and king snakes).

Mr Jack, your reply, "some may quibble with the 'by natural selection' bit" tells me there are cases of evolution for which at least a percentage of scientists struggle to see how natural selection is responsible.

There are probably millions of such cases. That's why science is so much fun, there are millions of things to figure out. The important thing here is that the theory of evolution has been a very useful tool in figuring these things out. At the genetic level, the theory of evolution is an indispensible tool for finding genes that are under selection and might be responsible for specific characteristics. Scientists use the theory of evolution because it works. If some other theory is proposed and it works better then scientists will use that theory.


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InGodITrust
Member (Idle past 694 days)
Posts: 53
From: Reno, Nevada, USA
Joined: 05-02-2009


Message 18 of 30 (551419)
03-22-2010 5:21 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Taq
03-22-2010 3:33 PM


From a Feb. 2009 Article by Nicholas Wade I found on the NY Times website: "Showy male ornaments, like the peacock's tail, appeared hard to explain by natural selection...." And "but by worrying about this problem [Darwin] developed the idea of sexual selection."

I still believe that it is accurate to say that Darwin did not come to the more general concept of natural selection by first contemplating sexual selection with ornaments. Maybe I can find some better references to back this up when I get a chance.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 12597
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 19 of 30 (551435)
03-22-2010 6:20 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by InGodITrust
03-22-2010 5:21 PM


I still believe ...

I am now uncertain as to what it is you are arguing for.

You say that you "still believe" that Darwin grasped the idea of natural selction before he grasped the idea of sexual selection.

What baffles me is why you say "I still believe" as though someone had been arguing with you on that point. No-one has, in fact, argued with you on this point.

Indeed, I don't see how it matters. Perhaps some eminent 19th-century naturalist thought of sexual selection first and then thought of natural selection as a generalization; or perhaps he thought of natural selection first and then thought of sexual selection as a specific case.

And I really don't see how it can be an issue which order Darwin thought of them, or why you bring it up, or why (to come back to my original point) why, why, why, are you writing ("I still believe") as though someone had maintained that Darwin thought of sexual selection first and natural selection later. No-one has in fact said that.


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Percy
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Posts: 13028
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 20 of 30 (551458)
03-22-2010 7:51 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by InGodITrust
03-22-2010 5:21 PM


InGodITrust writes:

I still believe that it is accurate to say that Darwin did not come to the more general concept of natural selection by first contemplating sexual selection with ornaments. Maybe I can find some better references to back this up when I get a chance.

Aren't you wondering a bit far afield from your own topic? You're looking for examples in nature that are difficult for evolution by natural selection to explain, remember?

For Darwin, sexual selection was just one type of natural selection. That's why in Origins the section on sexual selection appears in the chapter on natural selection. If you're sincerely interested in whether Darwin recognized sexual selection before or after natural selection then that's a topic for another thread.

--Percy


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InGodITrust
Member (Idle past 694 days)
Posts: 53
From: Reno, Nevada, USA
Joined: 05-02-2009


Message 21 of 30 (551565)
03-23-2010 4:22 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by dwise1
03-22-2010 1:30 AM


Dwise1, I'm just getting the chance to answer one of your questions from post #14. You asked, "Are you seeking to disprove only certain mechanisms of evolution, or are you seeking to disprove that evolution has ever happened?"

Basically I would like to see the scientific basis for man evolving from apes fall, by whatever means necessary, because it obviously clashes with the Bible.

There are two reasons that I was focusing on the natural selection component of the theory of evolution: 1) natural selection is a concept that I understand and am most familiar with, and 2) natural selection is the key component of the theory of evolution.

Obviously I cannot realistically hope to find a fault with natural selection myself; I am not educated well enough nor even that bright. But I can poke around. If enough average people poked around some one might turn something up one day.

So with this thread I was hoping to generate a list of good places to poke around.

IGIT

Edited by InGodITrust, : No reason given.

Edited by InGodITrust, : deleted last two lines


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Taq
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Posts: 5136
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 22 of 30 (551607)
03-23-2010 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by InGodITrust
03-22-2010 5:21 PM


I still believe that it is accurate to say that Darwin did not come to the more general concept of natural selection by first contemplating sexual selection with ornaments.

Yes and no. One of the first things that piqued Darwin's curiosity was animal husbandry, and pigeon breeding specifically. He noticed that in just a few generations pigeon breeders could produce amazing variety through strict selection of mates. In fact, Darwin devoted an entire section of Chapter 1 in "Origin of Species" discussing pigeons in particular (entitled "On the Breeds of Domestic Pigeon). Darwin even raised pigeons himself:

quote:
Believing that it is always best to study some special group, I have, after deliberation, taken up domestic pigeons. I have kept every breed which I could purchase or obtain, and have been most kindly favoured with skins from several quarters of the world, more especially by the Hon. W. Elliot from India, and by the Hon. C. Murray from Persia. Many treatises in different languages have been published on pigeons, and some of them are very important, as being of considerably antiquity. I have associated with several eminent fanciers, and have been permitted to join two of the London Pigeon Clubs. The diversity of the breeds is something astonishing. . .

Great as the differences are between the breeds of pigeons, I am fully convinced that the common opinion of naturalists is correct, namely, that all have descended from the rock-pigeon (Columba livia), including under this term several geographical races or sub-species, which differ from each other in the most trifling respects.--"Origin of Species", Chapter 1



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AZPaul3
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Posts: 2356
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 23 of 30 (551612)
03-23-2010 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by InGodITrust
03-23-2010 4:22 AM


Poke 'em in the rib.
If enough average people poked around some one might turn something up one day.

You're free to poke around all you desire IGIT, just remember this:

Literally 10s of thousands of people more highly educated and brighter than you and I put together have been poking around this thing for 150 years, and the one place they all come back to is the realization that evolution is a fact of reality.

The details of specifically what mechanism is more or less effective in what situations may be in heated debate but you will find the fact of evolution can only be denied by idiots, fools and charlatans.

A point, btw, that may seem picky to you but goes to the heart of the issue is that man did not evolve from apes. Homo Sapiens are apes. We and the other great apes in our present world evolved from a common ancestor.

Your bible is not in conflict with evolution, unless you insanely insist the bible is a literal biology textbook. As a spiritual guide it stands on its own with or without evolution. A conflict only exists in those whose delusions force them to go out of their way to make one.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2100
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.6


(2)
Message 24 of 30 (551622)
03-23-2010 12:07 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by InGodITrust
03-23-2010 4:22 AM


Ah, yes! The Great Leap Forward approach: you have no clue what you're doing, so you throw lots and lots of bodies at it. The Great Leap Forward ended in disaster and resulted in 30 million deaths. Yet again, we know that ignorance does not work, because we've tried it already.

You shoot around blindly and you only succeed in shooting yourself in the foot. You poke around blindly and you only succeed in poking yourself in the eyes and other tender spots. And even if you were to stumble upon an actual weak spot in evolution, you wouldn't know enough to be able to recognize it. Yet again, we know that ignorance does not work, because we've tried it already.

There's an old vaudeville routine where a guy is intently searching the ground under a street lamp. When asked what he's doing, he says he's looking for his wallet, which he had dropped about a block over that way. So why is he looking for it here? Because the light's better. Will he ever find his wallet that way? No, he won't.

Your stated objection to evolution is the idea that we are a species of ape. So to attack that idea, you try to attack natural selection because you understand it better. You're searching under the street lamp for something that is known to be elsewhere. You think that by attacking natural selection, part of an explanation for how evolution works (AKA, the theory of evolution) you will be able to disprove the fact that evolution has happened and does happen. Your ignorance of basic scientific concepts has led you away from your stated goal and into a wasted effort. Yet again, we know that ignorance does not work, because we've tried it already.

Besides which, the fossil and genetic evidence for man's evolution do not depend directly on natural selection, making your attempts to attack natural selection even more of a wasted effort. Why don't you instead study that fossil evidence and pursue that course of investigation? That way, you will be directly addressing the very thing that concerns you, that motivates you.

But I must insist that you study the actual evidence and that you learn all that you can from the scientists who work with that evidence, rather than from creationists. Of course, you could start with a creationist claim about a particular fossil, but then you must go to the scientific sources to learn the truth about that particular fossil.

The reason you cannot trust what the creationists tell you about those fossils is because they are lying to you and to themselves. I know this for a fact, because I have seen it done. Indeed, it was the first time I had witnessed creationists in action. Back in 1981, I was starting to study "creation science", wondering what their evidence was. On Pat Roberton's CBN one night, there was a televised debate between a creationist and an "evolutionist"; as I wrote to a friend a decade later:

quote:
I first saw creationists in action one night in 1982 on CBN. A Tennessean host would run various debates (I believe it was David Ankerberg). This particular night, a creationist was debating a scientist (kind of looked like Drs. Morris and Awbrey, though I cannot be sure since I didn't know of either of them at the time). I remember that the scientist showed several slides of hominid fossils, such as knee joints (to show evidence of developing bi-pedalism). Then he showed slides of a human pelvis and chimpanzee pelvis side-by-side. First from the side, then from the top, he pointed out two sets of characteristics that clearly distinguish the one from the other (i.e. whether viewed from the side or from the top, the pelvis could be positively identified as human or chimpanzee). Next he showed both views of a hominid pelvis. From one view it was definitely ape, from the other it was definitely human; thus demonstrating it to be a intermediate form. The creationist then proclaimed the hominid pelvis to be 100% ape and not the least bit human by completely ignoring the human characteristic (even when reminded of it repeatedly by his opponent) and concentrating solely on the view that displayed the ape characteristic. Of course, the host declared this to be a creationist victory and threw in the standard gross misinterpretation of punctuated equilibrium for good [?] measure.

This event made a lasting impression on me. The creationist's steadfast ignoring of the blatantly obvious evidence that was repeatedly pointed out to him is a selective blindness that I have found to pervade much of the creationist literature.


You need to learn from the scientists who work with the evidence, instead of from the creationists who have a vested interest in ignoring the evidence and in lying about it.

Obviously I cannot realistically hope to find a fault with natural selection myself; I am not educated well enough nor even that bright. But I can poke around. If enough average people poked around some one might turn something up one day.

A large number of people who don't know anything but are strongly motivated to disprove evolution, or, as was put by Paul Ellwanger, the author of the model bill that the Arkansas and Lousiana laws were based on, in 1981: "... -- the idea of killing evolution instead of playing these debating games that we've been playing for nigh over a decade already." They don't know what they're doing nor anything about what they're attacking nor anything about the science involved, so they create arguments and claims based on their ignorance. The more zealous ones will even fabricate outright lies.

There's a name for this version of the Great Leap Forward: "creation science". It is a disaster that has destroyed the faith of countless victims and which has kept countless more from ever being able to seriously consider Christianity. It is an abomination.

Yet again, we know that ignorance does not work, because we've tried it already.

Now, I'm not trying to discourage you from posting questions here. I'm just saying that you should learn everything you can about evolution and so you should be posting questions based on what you're having problems understanding.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5137
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 25 of 30 (551623)
03-23-2010 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by InGodITrust
03-23-2010 4:22 AM


InGodITrust writes:
Basically I would like to see the scientific basis for man evolving from apes fall, by whatever means necessary, because it obviously clashes with the Bible.

As it happens, there is lots of evidence supporting the evolution of man. And there are pretty sound reasons for believing that the Adam and Eve story is a fable. So maybe you should adopt a more realistic attitude, and not invest all of your hopes in what is not going to happen.
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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 12597
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 26 of 30 (551630)
03-23-2010 1:11 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by InGodITrust
03-23-2010 4:22 AM


Basically I would like to see the scientific basis for man evolving from apes fall, by whatever means necessary, because it obviously clashes with the Bible.

You're welcome.

Obviously I cannot realistically hope to find a fault with natural selection myself; I am not educated well enough nor even that bright. But I can poke around. If enough average people poked around some one might turn something up one day.

But scientists spend their whole professional lives "poking around". Let's hear, shall we, what conclusions they have drawn:

Since its first appearance on Earth, life has taken many forms, all of which continue to evolve, in ways which palaeontology and the modern biological and biochemical sciences are describing and independently confirming with increasing precision.

--- Albanian Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina; Australian Academy of Science; Austrian Academy of Sciences; Bangladesh Academy of Sciences; The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium; Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazilian Academy of Sciences; Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada; Academia Chilena de Ciencias; Chinese Academy of Sciences; Academia Sinica, China, Taiwan; Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences; Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences; Cuban Academy of Sciences; Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters; Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt; Académie des Sciences, France; Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities; The Academy of Athens, Greece; Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Indian National Science Academy; Indonesian Academy of Sciences; Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Royal Irish Academy; Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy; Science Council of Japan; Kenya National Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic; Latvian Academy of Sciences; Lithuanian Academy of Sciences; Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Academia Mexicana de Ciencias; Mongolian Academy of Sciences; Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco; The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand; Nigerian Academy of Sciences; Pakistan Academy of Sciences; Palestine Academy for Science and Technology; Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru; National Academy of Science and Technology, The Philippines; Polish Academy of Sciences; Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal; Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Singapore National Academy of Sciences; Slovak Academy of Sciences; Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Academy of Science of South Africa; Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain; National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka; Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Council of the Swiss Scientific Academies; Academy of Sciences, Republic of Tajikistan; Turkish Academy of Sciences; The Uganda National Academy of Sciences; The Royal Society, UK; US National Academy of Sciences; Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences; Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela; Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences; The Caribbean Academy of Sciences; African Academy of Sciences; The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS); The Executive Board of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

And this is 150 years after Darwin and Wallace proposed the theory of evolution. If there really was any problem, then someone would have found it by now. You wouldn't have to rely on "average people" who were just "poking around". If there was a real problem with the theory, then scientists would be the first people to spot it. But in fact they are the first and foremost people who will stand up and say that the theory is correct.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2100
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 27 of 30 (551648)
03-23-2010 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by InGodITrust
03-23-2010 4:22 AM


Obviously I cannot realistically hope to find a fault with natural selection myself; I am not educated well enough nor even that bright. But I can poke around. If enough average people poked around some one might turn something up one day.

An army of creationists have already tried that. Professionals and academics who are far better educated that either of us are and far brighter. They've been at it since long before 1970 (a seminal point in time, since it saw the creation of "creation science" in the wake of Epperson vs Arkansas (1968) which brought about the end of the 4-decade reign of the "monkey laws"). And they have found nothing.

If an army of well-educated creationists working full-time for decades to kill evolution have come up empty-handed, how do you expect you and "enough average people" to fare any better by poking about blindly in your spare time?

A footnote I wrote for my webpage (not currently up, having lost my webhost):

quote:
Professors William Thwaites and Frank Awbrey teach in the Biology Department at San Diego State University, where they used to run a true two-model course, in which half the lectures were given by creationists, but they had to discontinue it after protests by Christian clubs. In 1977, they pioneered the successful debating strategy of researching creation science claims beforehand and then presenting what the evidence really showed or what the misquoted source had actually said.

In 1993, they announced their retirement from the fray and described their very last debate on 1993 April 29. The description of the debate was preceeded by a summation of their experiences in those 15 years, of what they had hoped to learn, and of what they had learned. They had entered into debates with the hope and expectation that:

quote:
"... a creationist would dig up a real biological paradox, one that would prove to be an interesting brain-teaser for the scientific community. We hoped that we could use the creationists to ferret out biological enigmas much as DEA agents use dogs to seek out contraband. ... While we had discovered that every creationist claim so far could easily be disproved, we still had hope that there was a genuine quandary in there somewhere. We just hadn't found it yet."

What did they discover after those 15 years? Complete disillusionment with the creationists. None of the creationists ever presented any real paradoxes or genuine quandaries. The creationists had no actual case to present.

(Thwaites, W., and F. Awbrey 1993. Our last debate; our very last. Creation/Evolution 33:1-4.)


A PDF of that entire issue is at http://ncse.com/webfm_send/1163. If that link does not work, then you can access it from http://ncse.com/cej/13/2.

Also, since having written that I learned that Awbrey retired in 1997 and died of cancer in 1998. The obituary article, The Legacy of Frank T Awbrey, is reprinted at http://ncse.com/rncse/18/1/legacy-frank-t-awbrey.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2100
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.6


(3)
Message 28 of 30 (551654)
03-23-2010 2:25 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by InGodITrust
03-23-2010 4:22 AM


AZPaul3; Msg 23 writes:

Your bible is not in conflict with evolution, unless you insanely insist the bible is a literal biology textbook. As a spiritual guide it stands on its own with or without evolution. A conflict only exists in those whose delusions force them to go out of their way to make one.

I thought that it might help to examine the logic behind AZPaul3's statement.

Let's say that I was to make a clear and definite statement or prediction about the physical world and examination of the physical world then shows my statement/prediction to be completely contrary to reality. Which is incorrect? My statement/prediction? Or reality?

Obviously, it is my statement/prediction that is incorrect. What explains that discrepancy? Any number of reasons; eg, I had made an error, the references I used were incorrect, I misunderstood what the references said, I didn't understand the natural phenomenon involved, etc. But the main point is that it was I who was mistaken, not the physical world. And, obviously, the correct course of action for me to take would be to try to correct my mistakes.

Similarly, if one were to make predictions about the physical world based on their interpretation of the Bible and those predictions are found to be contrary-to-fact, when which is wrong? Reality? Or that person's interpretation and/or application of that interpretation to the real world? Obviously, it was either that person's interpretaton or his application of that interpretation, or even both. And the corrective action would be for him to find where he had made his mistake and correct it.

Unfortunately, what we constantly see creationists doing instead is one of two things:


  1. They will deny reality and ignore or try to disprove the evidence that contradicts their contrary-to-fact claims.
  2. They will conclude that the Bible is wrong and that God doesn't exist.

Actually, that second thing is what they will insist is the only conclusion that they could possibly draw should their contrary-to-fact claims prove wrong, whereas it's the first that they actual do.

So why can't they consider that they are perhaps mistaken in their interpretation? Frankly, that is a mystery that has the rest of us very deeply puzzled.

Edited by dwise1, : last line

Edited by dwise1, : left out one word


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InGodITrust
Member (Idle past 694 days)
Posts: 53
From: Reno, Nevada, USA
Joined: 05-02-2009


Message 29 of 30 (551771)
03-24-2010 5:08 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by dwise1
03-23-2010 2:25 PM


Thanks for taking the time to post all the advise, Dwise1. It is sound and logical.

One thing though is that I'm not really wasting time on this. I'm not like a prospector who is roaming the mountains half-crazed with gold fever, and will waste his life in frustration and anguish because he will never find a rich lode. I'm more like a weekend prospector, who's hobby lets him enjoy the wilderness, and any gold he finds is a bonus. I'll learn a little about biology doing what I'm doing, and if by some amazing chance I were to see a fault in the ToE by looking at it at just the right angle, then it would be a bonus.

It's interesting that scientists tried to use creationists to stir up some challenges. In light of this I guess that I won't bother asking the question I had planned to, in a new thread, about which creationist points trouble scientists the most.

So maybe I'll be back to bug people here if I have more questions in a couple months or so, and hope there are some of you willing to waste your time answering. I'll read about genetic drift and the other non-adaptive mechanisms first, and try to come with a more comprehensive understading of the ToE.

IGIT


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dwise1
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Posts: 2100
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 30 of 30 (551893)
03-25-2010 2:33 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by InGodITrust
03-24-2010 5:08 AM


If you learn from it, then it is not a waste. And the more you learn, the better your questions should become.

It's interesting that scientists tried to use creationists to stir up some challenges. In light of this I guess that I won't bother asking the question I had planned to, in a new thread, about which creationist points trouble scientists the most.

It may seem paradoxical, but even though scientists seek answers to their questions, they also seek more questions -- ie, they love the answers that raise even more questions. Because those questions show them what they still don't know and there give them a direction in which to take their research. It's part of the process.

As for which creationist points trouble scientists, I would have to say none whatsoever.

For one thing, most scientists don't pay any attention to creationists. It doesn't affect their research in any way. I would have to assume that if they do become aware of creationists, then they would regard them the same as they would flat-earthers. Other than that, the only scientists who would in any way care about what creationists are doing would be educators and those who had personal reasons.

Obviously, since creationists spread a lot of false claims and work to undermine science education, the educators would be the most involved. But what troubles them the most are the outright falsehoods and the political maneuvering; there are no creationists claims that cause any problems when taken purely on merit. Just the creationist attempts to sabotage science education.

Other scientists could get involved for personal reasons. For example, they may have been victimized by the creationist debate hucksters who would recruit a local "evolutionist" who would come in thinking that they'd be discussing science and instead would be bombarded with ridiculously false claims that they had never heard before. As one write described the situation: "Of course it's ridiculous! But you can't just tell the audience that; you have to explain why it's ridiculous." And in the carefully formulated creationist debate format, such a task was impossible, especially when those claims were encountered for the very first time. That experience led many of those victims, many of them educators, to research "creation science" and learn the truth about their claims, and then to start communicating with each other and sharing what they had learned. This led to the state-level Committees of Correspondence and to a national clearinghouse, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). And around 1980, they started turning the tide and defeating the creationists in their own debates (though in their own publications the creationists continued to claim victory -- they never have been much for truthfulness and honesty, have they?).

There are also those scientists who are Christians and who are appalled at what the creationists are doing. One example would be biologist Dr. Ken Miller, a practicing Catholic and self-described creationist, though he is also an educator. Another is physicist Dr. Allan H. Harvey, an evangelical (albeit probably not radical enough for some) who has written a number of presentations for his church and which he has posted on-line at http://steamdoc.s5.com/writings.htm. Very worthwhile. Eg, from his Science and Christian Apologetics:

quote:
Maybe I can start by saying I wish this talk wasn't necessary. I think science has become a bigger apologetic problem than it should be, and, I hate to say, a lot of that is our fault as the church. Not because we don't know enough science (though that can be a problem, too), but because we've got some basic misunderstandings about how science and nature fit into Christian theology.

. . .

When people say they reject Christianity, a lot of the time what they're really rejecting is something else.

. . .

I have an example of this from my own experience. When I was working on my Ph.D., I shared a lab with a man from Taiwan named Albert. One day there was an evangelist making noise on campus, and Albert asked me a question out of the blue: "How can you be a Christian and believe all that Creationism stuff?" I managed to mumble something about how "that stuff" wasn't what Christianity was all about. But Albert's question had illustrated the problems we have with science and apologetics.

Albert knew that the claims of so-called "creation science" about the Earth being only 6000 years old and so forth were ridiculous, like saying the Earth was flat. I can't blame him for not wanting to be associated with that nonsense. But what's worse is that that was the first thing that came to Albert’s mind about Christianity. Not the death and resurrection of Jesus. Not even the Golden Rule or the Ten Commandments. The anti-science noise had drowned out the Gospel so all Albert had heard was a false Gospel, one that was centered in a particular interpretation of Genesis rather than being centered in Christ. [Gal. 1:6-9]

My concern is what can we do to correct the misconceptions that people have (both people like Albert and some Christians) that the findings of science (geology, astronomy, biological sciences [including evolution]) are incompatible with Christianity, that embracing Jesus means rejecting science. And it's a serious problem. It's serious because there are people like Albert out there who know science, and we put stumbling blocks in the way of them even considering Jesus. You hear missionaries talk about unreached people groups; here's a group of people that aren't hearing the Gospel because they can’t get past the huge credibility barrier put up by the things some Christians say about science.

But it's also serious because of its effects on Christians, and I'm especially worried about children. If we teach our children that they have to choose between science and faith, we're setting them up for a fall. Because some of them are going to grow up and study the real world God made and learn that what the church has told them about science is false. If we've taught them that the Gospel or the truth of the Bible depends on those things, then it's like the house built on sand, their foundation gets washed away, and their faith may go with it.
. . .

. . . [a lot of Christians] have the idea that in order for something to really "count" as God's work, it can't be natural, God has to have worked in some sort of miraculous interventionist way. There's actually a name for that, it's called "God of the Gaps" theology. God of the Gaps theology divides the world into 2 categories. There's things we can’t explain (gaps in our understanding where we say "that's where God is" [in primitive times thunder and lightning were gaps]). The second category is things where we do have a natural explanation, and therefore God isn't in those places. The result of "God of the Gaps" theology is that every time science finds a natural explanation for something, one more gap closes up and God gets squeezed closer to nonexistence. This forces Christians who have this theology to attack science in order to make room for God.

Maybe my most important message today is that this "God of the Gaps" theology is wrong. The reason it's wrong is that God is sovereign over nature. (Take-home point #2) The Bible tells us that everything that exists is upheld by God's power. God isn't just in the gaps, he's the creator and sustainer of the whole fabric of creation, including the things we call "natural." So what does God's sovereignty over nature mean for our apologetics? It means that science isn't any threat to Christianity. Scientific results don't count as points against God, they're just uncovering how God did things. It means that if somebody has the idea that some scientific explanation (evolution or whatever) has eliminated God, the wrong thing to do is to argue against the science – that's defending the God of the Gaps and it's a losing strategy (unfortunately, it's the strategy of a lot of Christians). The right thing to do is to remember that God is sovereign over nature, that the atheist argument that natural explanations mean God is absent isn't science, it's completely unjustified philosophy. We can tell people that natural explanations may eliminate the God of the Gaps, but they don't eliminate the Christian God.

. . .

First, we can get our own house in order. We can learn to read the Bible with its purposes in mind, and not try to ask it questions it isn’t trying to answer. We can reject any false Gospel that depends on a particular interpretation of how God created. We can affirm God's sovereignty over nature and reject the "God of the Gaps." If we can keep our children away from that horrible teaching that says Genesis 1 has to be true according to somebody’s narrow literal interpretation or else we might as well throw our Bibles in the trash, and if we can get them to understand that scientific explanations don’t mean God didn't do something, they just tell us how God did something, they'll be much better prepared to face the world.

Second, we can be ready to give people good answers. If they say that science contradicts the Bible, we can tell them that the Bible isn’t making any scientific claims about those things. If they think that scientific explanations have eliminated God, rather than argue against the science, we can point out that natural explanations of how things happened don't eliminate the Christian God, because our God is in charge of the whole picture, not just the gaps where we don't have explanations. If they want to argue "creation vs. evolution," we can point out that it's not a "versus" – those aren't mutually exclusive opposites, they're answers to two different questions. "Creation" is the answer to "What is all this?" All this is the creation of God. "Evolution" is the answer, or a plausible answer, to the different question, the less important question, "How did God do it?"



This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by InGodITrust, posted 03-24-2010 5:08 AM InGodITrust has not yet responded

    
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