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Author Topic:   scientific theories taught as factual
frannyfresh
Junior Member (Idle past 4294 days)
Posts: 3
From: Fargo, ND, United States
Joined: 10-12-2007


Message 1 of 295 (427596)
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


Im a college student who stumbled across this site find alot of this very interesting. My question will probably have a lot of holes and maybe bad judgement but i would like to hear what some of you have to say on this subject so try not to tear it apart to bad.

In high school i was taught that evolution was a fact in some ways such as dating systems, overall fossil records that i dont know that correct phrase but i think maybe transitional fosils that prove how animals evolved, and just overall in general that scientific theories are basically factual even though they are not a law.

So my first question is does the above make sense and if so why not make it clear that it is not a law and that it is not factual.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by jar, posted 10-12-2007 7:40 AM frannyfresh has not yet responded
 Message 4 by mark24, posted 10-12-2007 7:49 AM frannyfresh has not yet responded
 Message 5 by Modulous, posted 10-12-2007 8:05 AM frannyfresh has not yet responded
 Message 7 by Chiroptera, posted 10-12-2007 12:47 PM frannyfresh has not yet responded
 Message 8 by Discreet Label, posted 10-12-2007 9:26 PM frannyfresh has not yet responded
 Message 9 by Zhimbo, posted 10-12-2007 9:37 PM frannyfresh has responded
 Message 22 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-15-2007 11:15 AM frannyfresh has not yet responded

    
AdminSchraf
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 295 (427597)
10-12-2007 7:33 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
jar
Member
Posts: 31452
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 3 of 295 (427599)
10-12-2007 7:40 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frannyfresh
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


differentiating between the observation and the theory
I think part of your problem may be confusion between the observation and the theory that explains what is seen.

It is also possibly a confusion about how terms are used in science.

First Law and Theory are the same thing. Basically they both simply mean a model or explanation that is supported to a very high degree of confidence. Everything in science though is always held tentatively. If new evidence is found that refutes a model, whether we call the model a law or theory, we need to step back and reevaluate the explanation.

The other issue is the difference between the observation and the theory. There is Evolution, the observation that life has changed over time, and there is the Theory of Evolution which so far is the best explanation of how Evolution happened.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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mark24
Member (Idle past 3478 days)
Posts: 3857
From: UK
Joined: 12-01-2001


Message 4 of 295 (427601)
10-12-2007 7:49 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frannyfresh
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


franny,

Welcome to EVC!

why not make it clear that it is not a law and that it is not factual.

A "fact" in science means something that is so evidentially well supported that to withhold consent is unreasonable. By contrast there is no such thing as a 100% absolutely known conclusion in science, it is all tentative to one degree or another.

Evolutionary theory is supported by a wealth of interdisciplinary evidence that all points to the same thing, & as such is as much a fact as anything else considered a fact in science.

Mark


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those that understand binary, & those that don't

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 387 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 5 of 295 (427604)
10-12-2007 8:05 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frannyfresh
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


So my first question is does the above make sense and if so why not make it clear that it is not a law and that it is not factual.

The fact is that two bodies with mass will attract each other. This is the fact of gravity. It is true beyond any reasonable doubt. It would be perverse to deny it.

The law of gravity states that the strength of the attraction is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.

The theory of gravity hypothesises that gravity is caused by the curvature of spacetime that occurs as a result of mass/energy.

I'm sure that we can basically agree on this. So:

A fact is information about the universe which is true beyond reasonable doubt.

A law can describes a fact, often in mathematical terms.

A theory explains a fact.

As wiki describes it: "A scientific law attempts to describe an observation in nature while a scientific theory attempts to explain it."

Evolution is a fact. That evolution has been occurring for billions of years and has resulted in the natural history we see in the museums and described in scientific papers is a fact. There is a theory that explains this fact, which is often called 'The theory of evolution'.

The education system is unfortunately imperfect. There is limited time and often a set curriculum of concepts that need to be learned. That means that subsidiary ideas are left to one side. One such subsidiary idea is the philosophy of science and the descriptions of what 'fact', 'theory' and 'law' means. As such, the consensus theories are simply taught, quickly and incompletely. Students learn about the more complex concepts at higher education (usually at university level, but it probably depends on the country and its education policies).


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.0


Message 6 of 295 (427611)
10-12-2007 8:36 AM


Fact of evolution: evolution has occured and is occuring.

Theory of evolution: it did and does so in accordance with the law of natural selection and the laws of genetics.

Got that?

---

Did we have to have a whole new thread just for someone who doesn't know the what "fact", "theory" and "law" means?

I mean, they come along quite often, don't they? Couldn't s/he have been referred to one of the zillions of times this has been discussed here already?

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


  
Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6802
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 6.6


Message 7 of 295 (427700)
10-12-2007 12:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by frannyfresh
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


Hi, fannyfresh. Welcome to EvC.

To answer your question, the evidence seems to indicate that it is indeed a fact that all known species have descended from a single common ancestral species through natural selection acting on randomly occurring variations.

I hope this helps.


In many respects, the Bible was the world's first Wikipedia article. -- Doug Brown (quoted by Carlin Romano in The Chronicle Review)

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Discreet Label
Member (Idle past 3346 days)
Posts: 272
Joined: 11-17-2005


Message 8 of 295 (427777)
10-12-2007 9:26 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by frannyfresh
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


In high school i was taught that evolution was a fact in some ways such as dating systems, overall fossil records that i dont know that correct phrase but i think maybe transitional fosils that prove how animals evolved, and just overall in general that scientific theories are basically factual even though they are not a law.

I'd like to reiterate on this point.

And as Modulous pointed out, school systems are very constrained in their time. I mean consider your own high school experience, how in depth do you feel they treated science courses, or even math or literature courses? For example, consider an american literature class, there is aproximately 400 years worth of american literature to examine, and if you want to get at it even more you have to look back a little bit at european literature, how well can 36 weeks compress 400 year's worth of literature plus background information? Or even general biology, keep in mind you have 36 weeks... and theres alot of material to talk about! Consider, cellular processes, aerobic respiration, anaerobic respiration, glycolysis, photosynthesis, then theres just plant cells and animal cells and all the little cell organelles, then you have things like anatomy and physiology (bones, muscles, nerves, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, waste system). then you can talk about DNA, and genetics... I mean right there is 14 topics to talk about and each of them a huge amount of information buried in them! Consider that at college level there are semester long courses just devoted to the study of genetics at the undergraduate level and there are even graduate level courses that go even more specific!! And high school classes are expected to teach biology in the span of 36 weeks?


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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4294 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 9 of 295 (427779)
10-12-2007 9:37 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by frannyfresh
10-12-2007 6:58 AM


Theory = "explanation"
Fact = "so well confirmed it is assumed to be true"
Law = "a regularity in nature"

As an ulta-short introduction to what those terms mean in science, that's pretty good if I may pat myself on the back.

Read those over again, and think about them...

They are not exclusive categories!

This is pretty much Mod's point, but with a slightly different spin. Maybe it'll help.

Edited by Zhimbo, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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frannyfresh
Junior Member (Idle past 4294 days)
Posts: 3
From: Fargo, ND, United States
Joined: 10-12-2007


Message 10 of 295 (427852)
10-13-2007 6:38 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Zhimbo
10-12-2007 9:37 PM


thanks
thanks for taking the time to explain that stuff to me. I understand alot more of the process than before.

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JRTjr
Member (Idle past 2588 days)
Posts: 178
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Joined: 07-19-2004


Message 11 of 295 (440616)
12-13-2007 9:48 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
10-12-2007 7:40 AM


Re: differentiating between the observation and the theory
There is Evolution, the observation that life has changed over time, and there is the Theory of Evolution which so far is the best explanation of how Evolution happened.

Dear Jar,

You started off with a decent explanation of the distinctions between two different things that have been called “2aEvolution” however; I take exception to your assertion that 2[Macro] Evolution took place.

One of the problems with discussing 3Creationism and 4Evolutionism is that many time words are tossed around, and often misused. (I see this on both sides, so please, do not think I am harping on Evolutionists)

A good example of this is your assertion that:

…Law and Theory are the same thing.

Please see the definitions of 6Law and 7Theory below.

As to Evolution; Yes, even the ‘Young Earth’ 5Creationists agree that 1‘Micro’ Evolution happens. {Also known as ‘Adaptation’} However, 2Macro-Evolution has neither been evidenced nor proven by any stretch of the imagination.

There are two primary things that Creationists take exception to with respect to ‘Macro-Evolution’. The first is that the evidence does not show a progression from one less ‘evolved’ creature to many, more ‘evolved’, creators of varying types. Yes, there are variations within phyla (species, or group of animals) but these ‘variations’ in no way explain never before seen organs, limbs, etc. [I.E. New species popped into existence, and were not decedents of previously existing species {The ‘Cambrian Explosion’ for example.}]

Secondly, and probable the more contentious of the two, is the idea (touted by Evolutionist) that we can explain all of the working of the universe by only looking at what is inside the universe; as if anything that exists outside of our universe is somehow unreal. It is this blind belief that has kept scientist from accepting the ‘Big Bang’ for so long.

This is tantamount to an investigator, locked in a house with no windows, believing that everything in that house must have come into existence from inside the house, and of its own accord.

Definitions:

1 Micro-Evolution:

n.
Evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies.

Dictionary.com - American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary

1a Adaptation:

n.

4. Biology.
A. any alteration in the structure or function of an organism or any of its parts that results from natural selection and by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive and multiply in its environment.
B. a form or structure modified to fit a changed environment.
C. the ability of a species to survive in a particular ecological niche, esp. because of alterations of form or behavior brought about through natural selection.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

2 Macro-Evolution:

Evolution on a species level (speciation and extinction) and at higher taxonomic classifications (appearance and disappearance of genuses, families, orders, etc.).

Dictionary.com - American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary

2a Evolution:

n.
1. A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

Dictionary.com - American Heritage Dictionary

3 Creationism:

–noun
A. the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

4 Evolutionism:

n.
1. A theory of biological evolution, especially that formulated by Charles Darwin.
2. Advocacy of or belief in biological evolution.

Dictionary.com - American Heritage Dictionary

5 Creationists:

There are two major ‘brands’ (if you will) of Creationists. First there are the ones that believe that all of Creation is between six and forty-four thousand years old because they view the six days of Creation in Genesis as six twenty-four hour periods. These are known as ‘Yong Earth Creationists’. The second is know as ‘Old Earth Creationists’, they believe that the six days of Creation in Genesis are six undisclosed time periods (probably Millions of years each day).

I, personally subscribe to the latter. For more on the Six Creation Days you can follow the link to where I discussed this at length. {Page: #2, Message: #137}

6 Law:

15. (in philosophy, science, etc.)
A. a statement of a relation or sequence of phenomena invariable under the same conditions.
B. a mathematical rule.

Dictionary.com - American Heritage Dictionary

7 Theory:

1. a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity.

Dictionary.com - American Heritage Dictionary

Edited by jrtjr1, : No reason given.

Edited by AdminNosy, : removed unwarrented use of larger font.

Edited by jrtjr1, : Changed Font Size, my apologies; I am suppose to wear glasses.:-o


For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him should not perish (come to destruction, be lost), but have eternal (everlasting) life.

For God did not sent the Son in to the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, But that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
John 3:16, 17 (Amplified Bible)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by jar, posted 10-12-2007 7:40 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by jar, posted 12-13-2007 9:56 PM JRTjr has responded
 Message 13 by nator, posted 12-13-2007 10:34 PM JRTjr has responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 31452
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 12 of 295 (440623)
12-13-2007 9:56 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by JRTjr
12-13-2007 9:48 PM


Re: differentiating between the observation and the theory
It doesn't matter what Creationists accept, they are irrelevant, a joke and of no worth or importance.

Creationism is only willful ignorance.

If Creationism ever wants to be something more than a joke, it needs to present models that explain what is seen better than the existing ones.

So far Creationism has never been able to present a model that explains anything.

We have many threads here where we have begged Creationists to present their model, but so far, not one has presented anything that stands up to examination and in most cases they don't even present a model.


Immigration has been a problem Since 1607!

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Replies to this message:
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nator
Member (Idle past 452 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 13 of 295 (440634)
12-13-2007 10:34 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by JRTjr
12-13-2007 9:48 PM


Re: differentiating between the observation and the theory
So what mechanism prevents many small, microevolutionary changes from accumulating into a macroevolutionary change?

Here is an analogy.

If I want to walk from my house to the corner, it takes a certain number of steps, and it takes ony a short length of time to complete the journey.

If I want to walk from my house (in New England) to the California coast, it takes many more steps, and it will take quite a lot longer to complete the journey.

In each case, I am doing the same thing; walking.

If you agree that walking the short distance to the corner is possible, then why is walking to the California coast an impossibility?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by JRTjr, posted 12-13-2007 9:48 PM JRTjr has responded

Replies to this message:
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JRTjr
Member (Idle past 2588 days)
Posts: 178
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Joined: 07-19-2004


Message 14 of 295 (440642)
12-13-2007 11:10 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by nator
12-13-2007 10:34 PM


Re: differentiating between the observation and the theory
Dear Nator,

You have a good point with the walking thing. However, to make the comparison valid you would have to be able to get to the moon by just walking.

We see not only variants on a design, but new designs. (I.E. give me a process that gets me from never having leg to walking upright) You have to have legs, to be able to walk, to take the first step of a journey of a thousand miles;-}

Dear Jar,
I want to rely to you, but I also want to go into more depth, so it may take me a few days.

Dear AdminSchraf,

I assume you added

IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO YELL!
to my thread. Forgive me, however, I am not sure what you mean by it. It is my understanding that ‘All Caps’ is considered ‘Yelling’.

Edited by jrtjr1, : Changed Font Size, my apologies; I am suppose to wear glasses.:-o


For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him should not perish (come to destruction, be lost), but have eternal (everlasting) life.

For God did not sent the Son in to the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, But that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
John 3:16, 17 (Amplified Bible)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by nator, posted 12-13-2007 10:34 PM nator has responded

Replies to this message:
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DrJones*
Member
Posts: 1953
From: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Joined: 08-19-2004
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 15 of 295 (440656)
12-14-2007 12:07 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by JRTjr
12-13-2007 11:10 PM


Re: differentiating between the observation and the theory
It is my understanding that ‘All Caps’ is considered ‘Yelling’.

The larger font you use in your posts can be considered to be yelling too.


Live every week like it's Shark Week!
Just a monkey in a long line of kings.
If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room", I'll be an elitist!
*not an actual doctor

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