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Author Topic:   Does an atheist have to believe in evolution?
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 64 (310404)
05-08-2006 7:42 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by jar
05-07-2006 7:01 PM


Poisoning the well...
quote:
I would assume that an Atheist could be as stupid as a Theist. I would imagine that even an Atheist could be dumb enough to doubt Evolution. It's a little harder for the Atheist but that simply makes it a bigger challenge. The Theist has a slight advantage cause they could use Goddit but the Atheist could also believe that things just happened without evolution or Goddit.

The bottom line is anybody who is not in someway mentally handicapped or wilfully ignorant must accept evolution based on the overwhelming preponderance of evidence.


I love this. One of the best examples of "poisoning the well" you're ever likely to see. Redirect the argument by insulting your opponent as opposed to attacking his ideas. It's generally, but not always, indicative of a weak argument. After all, if you have the data to back up your argument, why resort to insults?

The theory of evolution leaves some important questions unanswered. I'm not going to enumerate them because it's not relavent to this discussion. The point is, the theory is incomplete. Models don't answer some fundamental questions. Our understanding of biology is really just at it's infancy (we've only recently mapped the human genome and have yet to finish mapping chimps, who some scientist claim are our closest relatives). Parts of ToE have been very well documented and for them we have mountains of evidence (like natural selection). Other sections leave a lot of questions unanswered and/or give no mode for the proposed methods. (This is the case for every incomplete theory so it's not unique to ToE.)

It's a certainty that the ToE is going to go through changes which, essentially, means that the current theory is flawed. (Again, generally true for every incomplete theory so it's not unique to ToE.) If I were to take your words as "gospel," however, I'd have to conclude the ToE is complete and should be renamed as the Law of Evolution. Such is obviously not the case.

In short, your comments are obviously intended to be insulting and are devoid of any actual content. If I were a moderator, I would remove your post on those grounds.

Also, if you wish to reply to this and expect any sort of future comments from me, please restrict your topic of discussion to the one posted by the OP (or start a new thread).

As for the original post, if you don't have a reason to disagree with science then why do so? Yes, you're going to be wrong... more often than not I'd guess (just because science, in general, is made up of incomplete theories.... our best guesses given the current evidence) but you're usually "close enough." Occasionally someone has an epiphany and you realize the world isn't flat, or gravity doesn't work quite the way you thought, that time marches along at a different pace depending upon your frame of reference, etc, and you have to update your models of reality but "usually" there's no harm done (medieval medicine excluded.... and sometimes modern medicine excluded as well).

My 2 cents...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by jar, posted 05-07-2006 7:01 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by jar, posted 05-08-2006 7:55 PM DrFrost has not yet responded
 Message 21 by crashfrog, posted 05-08-2006 8:25 PM DrFrost has responded

  
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 26 of 64 (310513)
05-09-2006 1:20 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by crashfrog
05-08-2006 8:25 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
Jar:

I don't see any relevant content. Nothing to comment on.

Crashfrog:

As far as the comment about tearing down hospitals, I don't believe I suggested anyting of the like. I don't believe I suggested throwing out the ToE. I'm not sure why you would employ such an outrageous example in reference to what I posted. Is it or is it not obvious that Jar was poisoning the well? Is that or is it not a reasonable, civil means for discussing a topic?

And my conclusion that most educated athiests would be likely to choose whatever science's best guess at the moment is? Did you find anything flawed with that argument?

And, yes, the words law and theory can often be used with slightly different meanings. Some common meanings:

A scientific law is a readily demonstratable fact that cannot be disproven.

A scientific theory is a hypothesis that has been rigorously tested, and not found faulty, usually also having been found somewhat useful.

A scientific hypothesis is an educated guess, speculation which needs to be tested and verified.

These are common meanings. If you don't believe me, let's consult Websters. I'm only going to list the relavent definitions:

Law: A statement describing a relationship observed to be invariable between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions are met.

Theory: An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.

Hypothesis: A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.

These definitions obviously suggest a hierarchy of certainty. But these are just words. The idea that I was trying to convey is that there are many questions left to answer in the ToE. It's incomplete. If you have a hard time agreeing to this then I suspect it's because you're letting your emotions become involved and your becoming too invested in the argument itself. But that's just my hypothesis.

EZScience:

If you were referring to my post, it would be more accurate to say that my argument was more "evolution is incomplete" as opposed to "evolution is flawed." My biggest problems with evolution are some of the unanswered questions, some of the undemonstrated parts of the theory. That is, certain methods are proposed to answer questions but these methods have not been demonstrated in lab and there are no documentated cases of such actions occuring in recorded history. Now, I realize that even if these methods are correct, it could be extremely difficult to reproduce them and could take an extremely long time before they occur naturally. Still, I'm a skeptic. And I think thats a good thing.

NosyNed:

While I read your post as a good natured joke, I'll post this reference for other readers:

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/poiswell.html

Readers may find a striking similarity between one of the examples given in the above reference and jars original post:

"Only an ignoramus would disagree with fluoridating water."

It's rude. It's abusive. It reflects poorly on the character of the person who employs such a method and it really has no place in a civil, logical discussion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by crashfrog, posted 05-08-2006 8:25 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by CK, posted 05-09-2006 1:30 PM DrFrost has responded
 Message 28 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 1:39 PM DrFrost has responded
 Message 30 by EZscience, posted 05-09-2006 1:44 PM DrFrost has not yet responded
 Message 35 by Chiroptera, posted 05-09-2006 6:25 PM DrFrost has not yet responded

  
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 29 of 64 (310519)
05-09-2006 1:41 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by CK
05-09-2006 1:30 PM


Re: Laws and theories.
quote:
That's an erronous idea - since you like websters, like use it again (I notice how you seem to quote websters for "commmon" meanings of those words but then your own versions for the scientific varitations - odd that).

I don't see the error. Did you not read the part where I conceded that, yes, in fact these words also have other meanings? And I listed the ones I was trying to suggest with the surrounding context. To me it seems obvious that these words sometimes, not always, are used to convey a sense of certainty.

And I'm not sure what you meant by the last line. Neither of those versions were "mine." One was taken from websters and the other from a random website (I could probably find it again if you really wanted me to).

But, honestly, I'm done arguing semantics. I think I've conveyed what I was trying to get across. One can almost always reduce a discussion to an argument over semantics but it's usually pointless.

This message has been edited by AdminJar, 05-09-2006 12:41 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by CK, posted 05-09-2006 1:30 PM CK has not yet responded

  
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 31 of 64 (310525)
05-09-2006 1:53 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by crashfrog
05-09-2006 1:39 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
quote:
No, I don't see any poisoning of the well. There are some positions that are not consistent with a reasonable state of mind; there are some things that reasonable people by definition cannot disagree on.

The basic accuracy of the theory of evolution is one of them. Obviously, the specific details are a manner under debate. But the evidence as it stands cannot simply be dismissed by a reasonable person.

That's all Jar conveyed.


Ok, this is my last post on this thread today. This has rapidly deviated from the original post and is, for the most part, pointless. I find this comment by you interesting though. To me, and I assure you I'm the expert when it comes to my opinions, it conveys an obvious bias. I could have the professor who teaches the class on logic review this if you like, but I assure you he would classify it an example of poisoning the well. I even gave a reference for this particular logical fallacy. If you still contend that it's not, then we'll have to agree to disagree.

Also, while it would still be a logical fallacy to simply state "No reasonable person would reject the ToE.", jars took it to another level by using phrases like "stupid", "mentally handicapped" and "willfully ignorant." I take your comments as supporting his use of this language and I find that disappointing.

EDIT: I pasted the wrong quote the first time... doh!

This message has been edited by DrFrost, 05-09-2006 01:59 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 1:39 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 4:57 PM DrFrost has responded

  
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 36 of 64 (310597)
05-09-2006 7:23 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by crashfrog
05-09-2006 4:57 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
quote:

quote:
I could have the professor who teaches the class on logic review this if you like, but I assure you he would classify it an example of poisoning the well. I even gave a reference for this particular logical fallacy. If you still contend that it's not, then we'll have to agree to disagree.

I'm a person who believes that words have meanings. One such word is "reasonable."

It simply isn't reasonable, for instance, to believe that one is Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French leader and strategist. It's an unreasonable position, under any circumstances. There's no way that reasonable people can hold that position. (Living people, anyway. There was of course one person who could have reasonably believed he was Napoleon Bonaparte, but that man is long dead.)

quote:
Also, while it would still be a logical fallacy to simply state "No reasonable person would reject the ToE.", jars took it to another level by using phrases like "stupid", "mentally handicapped" and "willfully ignorant." I take your comments as supporting his use of this language and I find that disappointing.

Those are also words that have meanings. It's appropriate to use them when they are applicable. If Jar showed up here with the sincere belief he was Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French strategist, would you object to characterizing him as "unreasonable"? Or even "suffering from delusions or psychosis"? Would you find that to be "poisoning the well"?

In fact isn't the very charge of "poisoning the well" itself an act of poisoning the well?


Words do have meanings. So do phrases. This one has a very specific meaning. Please see the post I included earlier which gives a very good description of poisoning the well and how to specifically identify it from other ad hominem logical fallacies. I welcome other readers to do the same and simply give your opinion of whether or not Jars' original post was a good example of such (but post it in another thread).

As human beings we have the capacity to be utterly convinced of something that is wrong. If you think you are immune to such shortcomings let me assure you, you're not. If you can't start a debate by admitting that there is some, albeit small in your opinion, chance that you are wrong then you're likely too invested in the argument and, quite possibly, shouldn't participate. Science is often held back by dogmatic beliefs and bullying FROM WITHIN IT'S OWN RANKS. I assure you such things are not isolated to non-scientific realms. Unfortunate, but true. Neils Bohr is a prime example in my opinion. In my opinion, you also seem to be an example. Can you admit that you might be wrong? Can you admit that the ToE might be invalid? I could cite many examples of long held scientific beliefs (some quite recent) that have been completely overturned (some practically overnight). Still sure you couldn't possibly be wrong???? Not even remotely????

I can say with utter confidence (though I admit I could be wrong) that parts of ToE are right and parts of ToE will be found to be faulty. Again, it's simply the nature of theories based on limited knowledge.

To get back to your post, if you'll read the definition of poisoning the well then you can answer a lot of your own questions. (The fact that you haven't suggests that while you care about the meaning of words, or so you say, you may not have the same enthusiasm for phrases.)

1: Stating that a person's assertions are unreasonable (it would be polite to add "in your opinion" or "based on the evidence you've seen" but it's not necessary... sometimes I remember, sometimes I don't but I generally try to be polite and phrase my words in the "nicest" way) is not poisoning the well. Primarily because it's not pre-emptive... they have to make those assertions before you claim that they've commited a logical fallacy (please see previous link).

2: My assertion that jars was poisoning the well cannot be an example of poisoning the well (or ad hominem in general) for several reasons. First, it wasn't pre-emptive. Second, it was based on an analysis of his post, not an attack primarily aimed at him as an individual. (Actual evidence! I even supplied references!) Ad hominem fallacies IN GENERAL (in my experience anyway) contain no real content, no references to the terms used, no actual data, etc. Again, it's not always the case, but a good rule of thumb.

Now, if I had been the first to reply to this post and said something like "Don't listen to that -fill_in_the_blank- fellow, he's obviously biased and lacking in anything remotely resembling logical reasoning." THAT would have been poisoning the well. (For the record, I do a pretty good job of avoiding statements like that but I'm not completely immune to frustration.)

It's often not what you say but how you say it that makes the biggest impression. The fact that jars committed a logical fallacy is not what disturbed me the most. If he had simply said "Any athiest, or any person in general, who doesn't believe in ToE is being unreasonable and anyone who disagrees with this opinion falls under the same classification." I would not have replied to his post. I would have noted the logical fallacy and moved on. It's how it was stated that motivated my reply. Whether I agreed with him or not. (And parts of ToE have overwhelming amounts of evidence. It doesn't matter. His statements were still fallacious and, more importantly, abusive.)

From your replies on this thread, and lack of denial since I've already suggested this, you seem to approve of not only his meaning but his methods as well. Why? It gains you absolutely nothing. It tends to degenerate the discussion in general. It turns interesting threads in utter drivel (much like this one). Who wants to spend three pages reading what has mostly turned into our personal disagreement? (If you like that sort of thing I can point you to a thread with several replies from relative.)

Now, I said I wasn't going to post to this thread anymore today and I did. Shame on me.

And I really need to apologize to the original poster. It was not my intention to hijack your thread this way. I'm afraid I must admit to a personal bias myself. I find the use of abusive language as was used in Jars' post to be especially irksome. I find it entirely too tempting to point out such a post's logical shortcoming. It's something I see all too often within scientific circles in general. Might I suggest, crashfrog, if you have any further replies that you start a new thread and provide a link here. You can call it "poisoning the well discussion" or whatever you like. If you are done with this discussion then I hope you at least consider the possiblity that the use of some of the words and phrases that were in Jars' post really have no place in polite conversation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 4:57 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 7:39 PM DrFrost has responded

  
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 39 of 64 (310654)
05-10-2006 1:14 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by crashfrog
05-09-2006 7:39 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
quote:
Neither was Jar. His statements were a reply to the OP, if you hadn't noticed.

His reply was to the OP. His statements suggested that anyone who didn't believe in the ToP was... I'll use the word unreasonable. A pre-emptive suggestion that anyone who was to post to the thread and disagree with him must, therefore, also be... "unreasonable."

He was not poisoning the well in regard to the orignal poster, he was poisoning the well against anyone else who might post after him with any opinion other than the one he subscribed to. Perhaps not the canonical example of poisoning the well, but sufficient in my opinion. And certainly pre-emptive in regard to coming posts. If you don't see that then we'll have to agree to disagree. It seems obvious to me (more obvious than natural selection to give a scale in certainty... and I find natural selection extremely obvious given the mountains of supporting evidence).

quote:
But, at this point in time and with what evidence we have, no reasonable person can call into question the theory of evolution. That's not to say that it can't be proven wrong. But no reasonable person can come to the conclusion that it has been.

That depends very much on which part of ToE you're referring to. There are parts of ToE that even the scientists who wholeheartedly support ToE can't agree on. So which side of those arguments are you putting yourself on and declaring that any reasonable person must obviously see you're correct? ToE is incomplete. Parts of ToE are only beginning to be answered and leading scientists don't necessarily agree which answer is best at the moment. Unfortunately some scientist are very "quiet" on these issues because they don't want to add any fire to their opponents debate (even though questioning/researching part of ToE is, of course, not equivalent to overthrowing... natural selection say, a prime component of the theory). This is a travesty really.

quote:
I don't see what's personal about it. Are you a person who believes that the theory of evolution is wrong? No? Then it what was did Jar's remarks refer to you?

Our personal disagreement in the sense that most of the posts are an ongoing disagreement between us and very few others. From my first post on there have been 20 posts. 10 of those have been posted by you or me. Most of that text has been directed at the other. That's all I meant to imply. (It will be 11/21 after I finish this post.)

As far as Jars' remarks referring to me, it doesn't matter if they did or didn't. If he made similar remarks about the fundamental theorem of arithmetic I would have been offended because of the abusive language. And I assure you that I wholeheartedly endorse that entire theorem.

If you reply to this post I would like you to answer one question: Was jars use of the words "stupid" and "mentally handicapped" appropriate or not. It's a simple question. If you want to continue this discussion with me, I'd like an answer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 7:39 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 05-10-2006 1:20 AM DrFrost has responded

  
DrFrost
Inactive Member


Message 44 of 64 (310875)
05-10-2006 7:54 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
05-10-2006 1:20 AM


Re: Poisoning the well...
If his statement had been about the sky being blue, it would still qualify as poisoning the well and would still be abusive.

Commiting a logical fallacy doesn't make your statement wrong and your statment being correct doesn't mean you aren't commiting a logical fallacy.

The main point is jars was being abusive and, despite his air of superiority, commiting an easily recognized logical fallacy.

This message has been edited by DrFrost, 05-10-2006 07:58 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 05-10-2006 1:20 AM SuperNintendo Chalmers has not yet responded

  
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