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Author Topic:   Does an atheist have to believe in evolution?
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 16 of 64 (310268)
05-08-2006 10:45 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by ohnhai
05-08-2006 12:48 AM


Best answer yet.
Right on. Atheism is merely a refusal to accept dogma in any form.
Since ToE is a rationale, well supported scientific explanation, it is logical that few atheists would have a problem with it.

It is only those blinded by some form of dogma that feel a need to reject the overwhelming evidence that supports ToE.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by ohnhai, posted 05-08-2006 12:48 AM ohnhai has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Funkaloyd, posted 05-08-2006 11:52 AM EZscience has responded

  
Funkaloyd
Inactive Member


Message 17 of 64 (310279)
05-08-2006 11:52 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by EZscience
05-08-2006 10:45 AM


Re: Best answer yet.
EZscience writes:

Atheism is merely a refusal to accept dogma in any form.

I think that's a better description of skepticism. Plenty of atheists have dogmatic political and societal beliefs, myself included.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by EZscience, posted 05-08-2006 10:45 AM EZscience has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by EZscience, posted 05-08-2006 11:59 AM Funkaloyd has not yet responded

  
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 18 of 64 (310282)
05-08-2006 11:59 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Funkaloyd
05-08-2006 11:52 AM


Qualification
Quite correct. Myself included as well.
I should have said..

"...refusal to accept any form of dogma as providing any rationale explanation of natural phenomena."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Funkaloyd, posted 05-08-2006 11:52 AM Funkaloyd has not yet responded

  
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:
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 Message 21 by crashfrog, posted 05-08-2006 8:25 PM DrFrost has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 20 of 64 (310408)
05-08-2006 7:55 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by DrFrost
05-08-2006 7:42 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
Thanks for supporting my point. In spades.

Please point out where I mentioned the Theory of Evolution in the part that you quoted or in the message itself.

Of course the TOE will change as we learn more. But you really need to be wilfully ignorant to not accept the fact that Evolution happened and is happening.

The point of my post is that it is as possible for an Atheist to be as wilfully ignorant as the Theist.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by DrFrost, posted 05-08-2006 7:42 PM DrFrost has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 64 (310411)
05-08-2006 8:25 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by DrFrost
05-08-2006 7:42 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
It's a certainty that the ToE is going to go through changes which, essentially, means that the current theory is flawed.

Well, sure. Much as our knowledge of cancer is flawed.

But those flaws don't mean we tear down hospitals; it means we build more schools. Imcomplete knowledge is not a reason to throw up our hands and give up; it's a reason to try even harder.

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.

People have this hilarious idea that there is some kind of hierarchy of scientific models, with "conjecture" at the bottom, "hypothesis" next, "theory" on top of that, and finally at the top, representing certainty about the universe is "law."

Where does that come from? It certainly doesn't work like that in the sciences. All those models you know of as laws, DrFrost? The law of gravity, Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics?

They're all theories. All of them. Every single one. That's what a theory is - an explanitory model. There's no hierarchy of certainty that models graduate through. There's no overseeing panel of scientists who dictate which models get to be called "laws" and which don't. There is only theory.

Evolution is one of the best-supported models in science. Better support than Newton's laws of motion. The reason that Newton's laws are laws and evolution is a theory is because Newton decided to call them "laws."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by DrFrost, posted 05-08-2006 7:42 PM DrFrost has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by EZscience, posted 05-08-2006 10:41 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 26 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 1:20 PM crashfrog has responded

  
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 22 of 64 (310429)
05-08-2006 10:41 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by crashfrog
05-08-2006 8:25 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
Crash writes:

There's no hierarchy of certainty that models graduate through.

Not officially, but there are gradations of certainty in the support of theories. My theory of host range expansion by a particular cerambycid is about a 4 or 5 on a scale of one to ten in terms of certainty. Newtons law of graviational pull is a 10.

Crash writes:

The reason that Newton's laws are laws and evolution is a theory is because Newton decided to call them "laws."

Crash - look at what you're saying. You think if they hadn't been totally verified by the observations of others we would still call them laws !? This guy died a couple centuries ago.

I agree with your suppport of evolution, but I think you were closer to the truth here:

Crash writes:

...this hilarious idea that there is some kind of hierarchy of scientific models, with "conjecture" at the bottom, "hypothesis" next, "theory" on top of that, and finally at the top, representing certainty about the universe is "law."

Theories vary greatly in the amount of supporting data they have from independent observations, hence we should attach varying levels of confidence in them.

The better way to counter the 'evolution is flawed' argument is simply to point out that only the specific details are being refined in particular contexts. The general mechanisms and processes have been demonstrated widely applicable and are generally agreed upon.


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 23 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 9:08 AM EZscience has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 64 (310466)
05-09-2006 9:08 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by EZscience
05-08-2006 10:41 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
Crash - look at what you're saying. You think if they hadn't been totally verified by the observations of others we would still call them laws !?

Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying.

I'm sorry; was my post not very clear?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by EZscience, posted 05-08-2006 10:41 PM EZscience has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by NosyNed, posted 05-09-2006 11:59 AM crashfrog has not yet responded
 Message 25 by EZscience, posted 05-09-2006 12:40 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8838
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 24 of 64 (310489)
05-09-2006 11:59 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by crashfrog
05-09-2006 9:08 AM


Post Titles
I don't see the connection to wells.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by crashfrog, posted 05-09-2006 9:08 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 25 of 64 (310495)
05-09-2006 12:40 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by crashfrog
05-09-2006 9:08 AM


Apparently I do not always effectively detect your meaning - or your sarcasm :)

This message has been edited by EZscience, 05-09-2006 11:40 AM


This message is a reply to:
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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

  
CK
Member (Idle past 2203 days)
Posts: 3221
Joined: 07-04-2004


Message 27 of 64 (310515)
05-09-2006 1:30 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by DrFrost
05-09-2006 1:20 PM


Laws and theories.
quote:
These definitions obviously suggest a hierarchy of certaint.

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).

quote:
A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory".

This message has been edited by Charles Knight, 09-May-2006 01:33 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 1:20 PM DrFrost has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 1:41 PM CK has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 28 of 64 (310517)
05-09-2006 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by DrFrost
05-09-2006 1:20 PM


Re: Poisoning the well...
Is it or is it not obvious that Jar was poisoning the well?

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.

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?

Nothing contentous there at all, IMO. Atheists are largely people who adopt a reasonable approach to looking at the world; such people more or less have to accept the theory of evolution (as I've argued above.)

But it's possible to be an unreasonable or insane atheist. It's possible to believe that there are no gods because your invisible giant bunny friend told you that, and you always believe whatever he says.

I would not expect such an atheist to be swayed by scientific evidence and reasoning. Would you?

These are common meanings.

No, I get that. The common meanings are irrelevant because that's not how those terms are used in science. Nobody calls anything a law anymore; that's a linguistic artifact of a time when the relationship of scientific inquiry to the world was substantially different.

These definitions obviously suggest a hierarchy of certainty.

In common use, yes. It's not clear where that common use originates, however, because that's certainly not the scientific use.

I mean, Newton called his laws of motion "laws." But they've been disproved. But their name hasn't changed. Isn't that enough to prove that "law" and "theory" don't describe different levels of certainty, but rather, naming conventions from two radically different epochs in science?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 1:20 PM DrFrost has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 1:53 PM crashfrog has 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

  
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 30 of 64 (310520)
05-09-2006 1:44 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by DrFrost
05-09-2006 1:20 PM


ToE incomplete
DrFrost writes:

My biggest problems with evolution are some of the unanswered questions, some of the undemonstrated parts of the theory.

Well, there are many component parts of ToE that are more difficult to understand than others, or require greater understanding of technical or scientific methodology. These tend to engender less acceptance among non-scientists (ability to understand carbon dating, molecular clocks etc.) The ToE encompasses so many different avenues of investigation, it is in some sense always going to be incomplete. But it is also constantly growing. In other words, every day, more and more evidence accumulates that is entirely consistent with the overall framework. This gives us confidence that we are employing appropriate reasoning. The corrections and modifications are all concerned with clarifying its precise application in highly specific contexts, not with modifying its general mode of action.

DrFrost writes:

I'm a skeptic. And I think thats a good thing.

Yes, provided your skepticisim is based on logical reasoning, rather than on preconceived notions driven by religious convictions.

Perhaps you could be more specific about where you feel the ToE is incomplete? Some area sufficiently significant to warrant doubting the overall theory?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 1:20 PM DrFrost has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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