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Author Topic:   Verifying truth in science - is evolution faith-based?
Garrett
Member (Idle past 4242 days)
Posts: 111
From: Dallas, TX
Joined: 02-10-2006


Message 16 of 104 (288659)
02-20-2006 11:49 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by Percy
02-20-2006 10:49 AM


I agree with your premise, but I don't think macroevolution can even be proven the the extent that other scientific theories can. I think the distinction is the timeframe involved. Gravity, for instance, is active in the present moment and can therefore be evaluated and experimented against. With macroevolution, you can point to current microevolutionary evidence that can be evaluated and experimented against, but the assumption must be made that these lower level changes lead to larger level ones. Granted, I see the logic in assuming that since these diverse organisms exist these changes must have occured. However, that is based on an assumption of naturalism and uniformitarianism. I don't think the analogy to other unprovable theories is valid, therefore, because most theories can be evaluated in the present time. Those that can't, I would say, dealve into a little scientific philosophy.
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SuperNintendo Chalmers
Member (Idle past 3910 days)
Posts: 772
From: Bartlett, IL, USA
Joined: 12-27-2005


Message 17 of 104 (288661)
02-20-2006 12:00 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Garrett
02-20-2006 11:49 AM


Misconceptions
I apologize for going a bit off-topic here but I think this should be corrected:

Macro-evolution is not a THEORY. Macro-evolution is simply a term used by scientists to classify large scale evolutionary changes.

There is one theory of evolution and it is active now and can be evalutated and experimented against.

If you want an example of things that are hard to experiment against gravity is a good one. So are many other things in theoretical physics. Evolution is easy to experiment against because it is occuring constantly all around us.

I don't think that it requires much faith to believe in evolution because it simply works. Anti-biotics and modern agriculture are enough proof for me.

Similar to how this computer makes me pretty confident that our electro-magnetic theories present a useful model.


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Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 18 of 104 (288676)
02-20-2006 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Garrett
02-20-2006 11:49 AM


Garrett writes:

I agree with your premise, but I don't think macroevolution can even be proven the the extent that other scientific theories can. I think the distinction is the timeframe involved. Gravity, for instance, is active in the present moment and can therefore be evaluated and experimented against.

It sounds like you're rejecting induction. If so then you're actually rejecting modern science.

Macroevolution is no different than black holes. For practical reasons we can't actually observe and experiment on a black hole in the present moment, but both cosmological observations and theory lend support for the concept. The same is true of macroevolution which, by the way, has been observed for some microorganisms if you're willing to consider speciation an example of macroevolution.

However, that is based on an assumption of naturalism and uniformitarianism.

All of science is based upon naturalism. Modern biology is not based upon uniformitarianism.

I don't think the analogy to other unprovable theories is valid, therefore, because most theories can be evaluated in the present time.

Some can, some can't. Geology and cosmology are examples. What we do is make observations in the present and use induction and the assumption of naturalism to project the implication of those observations onto the past.

There are theories and ideas in biology that are no different.

--Percy


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 19 of 104 (288721)
02-20-2006 2:38 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Garrett
02-20-2006 10:04 AM


If you define "faith" as a belief that cannot be rationally proven, then macroevolution does indeed require faith

Indeed, if we define faith in this way everything requires faith. It makes the word meaningless. No scientific thing has ever been proven. I defined faith as a belief that lacks independent verification (which is the definition you used here)

I've seen you've clarified this by suggesting that macroevolution won't be demonstrated to the same level as other theories.

Macroevolution is an historical event which is inferred from physical evidence, not a theory. The Theory of Evolution is used to explain how macroevolution occurred. Think back to my murder analogy. We cannot prove the murder happened, but we can use various theories to explain why we can conclude a murder happened, and even infer who was responsible.

'Macro'evolution, or universal common descent, has independent lines of verification like our murder.

I have a thread open about this confusion Message 1

In other words, our argument actually seems to be over what "faith" means, not if it's required to accept macroevolution.

Technically its both. First we need to define faith, then we need to see if macroevolution requires it. The definition of faith should be specific and useful, otherwise we could show that everything requires some element of faith. Which is great and Cartesian and all that, but not useful for everyday discussion; it would also be disengenious to specify macroevolution when it requires as much faith as anything else.

For the purposes of this debate, I chose your definition of faith, outlined in the OP:

if the evidence infers a conclusion that isn't verifiable, you rely on faith

And then demonstrated to you several ways in which the conclusion of macroevolution could be verified, which means faith isn't required to accept it.

You seem to think that verification in a scientific sense is the same as truth. Verification in a scientific sense is not proof, so changing my quote to read verification rather than proof is disingeneous. From wikipedia:

No need, I changed it BECAUSE they are different, not because they were the same, I wasn't being disengenous because I explained that I had both done it, and why.

The most you could ever assert about macroevolution, therefore, is that it is the superior scientfic model available at this time. It's not, however, proven.

Agreed! I accept this entirely. You can never prove any scientific theory. All you can do is lend it support or falsify it.

Further, by arguing that your computer may not be on your desk because you could be hallucinating or imagining it, undermines your whole argument. Either there is objective reality or there is not (not to mention, hallucination could be falsified by having other people view the computer).

Indeed, either there is objective reality or there isn't. We can't prove it. The hallucination hypothesis wouldn't be falsified, just weakened...the person that verifies the the table could also be hallucinating OR I could be hallucinating that they have verified the table.

However, it is another independent verification of the table hypothesis. The more we have, the more compelling the conclusion. After a number of verifications it become unreasonable to doubt the table, but we cannot prove its there. At this point there is no reasonable doubt. Which we can tie into macroevolution neatly. There are so many independant tests the results of which verify that macroevolution has taken place it becomes unreasonable to doubt that it is a reality.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Garrett, posted 02-20-2006 10:04 AM Garrett has responded

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Garrett
Member (Idle past 4242 days)
Posts: 111
From: Dallas, TX
Joined: 02-10-2006


Message 20 of 104 (289214)
02-21-2006 2:42 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
02-20-2006 12:00 PM


Re: Misconceptions
I understand your point, but you're misunderstanding my argument I think.

Microevolution can be evaluated in the present...things change, new species are resultant. However, you can't even know for sure that changes above the species level ever occured, let alone evaluate against them. It only makes sense if you start with the assumption that they did occur. If you start with the assumption, for instance, that God made distinct kinds that are capable of adaptation to the environment in order to survive...there would be no reason to assume that this adaptation would change a whale into a cow for instance, because the cow would have always been there.

It all comes down to a priori assumptions. You don't beleive that God created the distinct animals, therefore logic forces you to believe that macroevolutionary changes do occur. Starting from my base, it isn't logically necessary for macroevolution to have occured.

Until you've witnessed a whale becoming a cow, it's just an assumption that it occured. Gravity is a poor example because it's laws are binding in the current timeframe. If you throw up a ball, you will always witness it fall back down to earth...which you can evaluate.

You may believe that you are evaluating macroevolution, but the fact is only microevolution can be evaluated against. Microevolution is a scientific theory ( a very good one at that), and macroevolution is scientific philosophy based on the theory of microevolution.

Theoretical physics is a field of change. Old theories are discarded when new evidence shows they are in error. I'd agree with this comparison to macroevolution. The question is, will you be willing to abandon it for another theory when the evidence shows it may be in error?


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 104 (289224)
02-21-2006 3:05 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Percy
02-20-2006 10:49 AM


But if by proven you mean broadly supported by evidence and widely accepted among the relevant community of scientists, then macroevolution is proven, just like many other theories, and your conclusion is incorrect.

A lot of the evidence seems circumstantial to me--except for the fossils.


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Garrett
Member (Idle past 4242 days)
Posts: 111
From: Dallas, TX
Joined: 02-10-2006


Message 22 of 104 (289229)
02-21-2006 3:23 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Percy
02-20-2006 12:49 PM


I'm not sure what you mean when you suggest I am rejecting induction. I don't question that it's used in the scientific method...I wouldn't suggest that the concept doesn't exist...and I'm pretty sure all of the letters that make up the word are real also. I'd also agree with your inference that induction is a major assumption.

The philosopher Hume addressed causality and induction in terms of the scientific method and suggested these were believed by blind faith alone. Bertrand Russell agreed with this stance. It follows then, that if I reject science you reject logic.

In truth, these assumptions were tied hand-in-hand to the belief in the God of the bible. According to Loren Eisley, a scientific historian:

‘The philosophy of experimental science…began its discoveries and made use of its methods in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation… It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.’

In fact, CS Lewis suggested that our own logicall process are suspect if athiestic evolution were the way of things:

‘If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of Materialism and Astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents.’

I think the problem really comes down to your failure to objectively see my point of view. I understand your views and how they are logical given a certain set of assumptions. If you start with the assumption that God created distinct "kinds" of animals, there is no evidence to suggest macroevolutionary changes have occured. What we see are changes within species..and even speciation (no I wouldn't accept this as an evidence of macroevolution since it is defined as changes above the level of species).

With black holes we have the same scenario...we can observe their effects ( X-ray emission from X-ray binaries and active galactic nuclei, etc...)in the present time. Concerning evolution, we can only observe the effects of microevolution, that is changes at or below the species level. This should be pretty intuitive given the fact that even intellectually honest evolutionists would admit it.

I'll accept your premise that biology isn't directly based upon uniformitarianism. However, surely you would admit that evolutionary biology is tied closely to geology and paleontology which are both built upon this assumption. In fact, those fields would be your best place to look if you wanted to try and prove macroevolution (ie. fossil record). Granted, I don't think the proof is there.

Interesting that you mention assumptions and projecting implications in a thread wherein you're trying to convince me that evolutionary theory doesn't require faith. And for the record, I personally am skeptical of many of the claims of both geology and cosmology. I am a YEC after all and certainly don't believe in millions of years and the big bang :-)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Percy, posted 02-20-2006 12:49 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 23 of 104 (289232)
02-21-2006 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Garrett
02-21-2006 2:42 PM


Re: Misconceptions
Until you've witnessed a whale becoming a cow, it's just an assumption that it occured.

The point of this thread is to demonstrate that observing an event isn't necessary when we can infer from the evidence and verify that conclusion.

We can't witness a murder, but we can convict when the evidence infers the criminal's guilt beyond reasonable doubt.


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Replies to this message:
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jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 24 of 104 (289234)
02-21-2006 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Garrett
02-21-2006 3:23 PM


If you start with the assumption that God created distinct "kinds" of animals, there is no evidence to suggest macroevolutionary changes have occured.

That's fine if you are willing to completely ignore all of the evidence and totally give up on the scientific method. But starting with an assumption is but an assurance that you will never find an answer.

Interesting that you mention assumptions and projecting implications in a thread wherein you're trying to convince me that evolutionary theory doesn't require faith. And for the record, I personally am skeptical of many of the claims of both geology and cosmology. I am a YEC after all and certainly don't believe in millions of years and the big bang :-)

Well, the YEC position has been totally falsified. There may well be, in fact almost certainly be changes in evolutionary theory over the coming years, but YEC is just plain wrong and can be simply dismissed. It's fine for you to be skeptical, no one would ever ask someone not to be skeptical, but you can forget YEC. It's DAID.

The big difference is in how Science is done as opposed to Religion. Religion starts with answers. Science starts with questions. Science does not require Faith, Religion does.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Garrett
Member (Idle past 4242 days)
Posts: 111
From: Dallas, TX
Joined: 02-10-2006


Message 25 of 104 (289238)
02-21-2006 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Modulous
02-20-2006 2:38 PM


I still don't see any evidence to suggest that macroevolution doesn't require faith even when faith is defined as a belief that lacks independent verification. You don't seem to have the ability to seperate micro from macro. It isn't valid to simply suggest that because speciation occurs and animals mutate and change, that they must change on the level of dino's to birds...the evidence just isn't there. Sure, birds exist..but what if there were created as birds in the beginning.

If you're convinced that macroevolution is an historical fact (nice use of an before 'H' btw), then it's apparant to me that you'll never objectively entertain the notion of other possibilities. This is the sort of paradigm paralysis that leads to the omission of new discoveries. If you assume the theory to be true...how, as a scientist, can you objectively evaluate it? (Not suggesting you are or aren't a scientist...just talking about "the" evolutionary scientist in general).

I agree that in a Cartesian sense, nothing can be proven. I don't agree that there is a preponderance of evidence for macroevolution as to remove any reasonable doubt, however. You mention the plethera of indepent tests that verify that macroevolution has occured without listing any. Let's discuss these independent verifications.


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


Message 26 of 104 (289239)
02-21-2006 3:47 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Garrett
02-21-2006 2:42 PM


forced conclusions
You don't beleive that God created the distinct animals, therefore logic forces you to believe that macroevolutionary changes do occur. Starting from my base, it isn't logically necessary for macroevolution to have occured.

Unfortunately, the Bible says that God did NOT create the distinct animals in the way they actually appeared over time. The Bible spells out one 6 day creation event (actually less than 6 days for living things). When Bible believing geologists first began to study the actual geology they realized this wasn't right. One thing that they then postulated was a series of "special creations" in order to have God creating the animals but still explain what they saw.

Unfortunately, over time this began to look more and more silly as it became clear that new forms arose again and again and again over long periods of time. It meant that there had to be constant "special creations" going on.

There don't seem to be many people who want to say that "special creation" is going on today which is where you end up by following this path.

The question is, will you be willing to abandon it for another theory when the evidence shows it may be in error?

Of course, that is what science is about. However, it is near enough to a dead certainty that what the new evidence will change (if anything) is the mechanisms for "macroevolution" will be understood differently. That is has occured is pretty darn unlikely to be overturned.

It would be interesting for you to speculate on what new evidence might turn up.


This message is a reply to:
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Garrett
Member (Idle past 4242 days)
Posts: 111
From: Dallas, TX
Joined: 02-10-2006


Message 27 of 104 (289240)
02-21-2006 3:50 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Modulous
02-21-2006 3:32 PM


Re: Misconceptions
If that is the point, then our discussion should be over because I agree completely with that statement. The problem is you can only infer the verification you seek when you start out with a given set of assumptions. Your faith shapes your worldview..whether it be a Christian or athiestic one. It's a problem of seperating the evidence from the theory. For instance, have you ever spent any time trying to fit the evidence into another theory (something required of jurists in a murder trial).

Reasonable doubt is the key phrase. I've seen no evidence to remove it as of yet.


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Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 28 of 104 (289243)
02-21-2006 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Garrett
02-21-2006 3:23 PM


Garrett writes:

I'm not sure what you mean when you suggest I am rejecting induction.

I mean that you don't accept induction as a way of making valid scientific inferences.

The philosopher Hume addressed causality and induction in terms of the scientific method and suggested these were believed by blind faith alone. Bertrand Russell agreed with this stance. It follows then, that if I reject science you reject logic.

I accept the scientific method because of it's empirical record of success and not because of any logical imperative. But it does not follow that I therefore reject logic.

Do you really reject science?

In fact, CS Lewis suggested that our own logicall process are suspect if athiestic evolution...

Evolution possesses the same scientific qualities as all other fields of science, so if evolution is atheistic, then aren't also physics, cosmology, geology and so forth?

Because your objections apply more broadly than just to evolution, it might be more accurate to speak generally of science instead of just evolution, in which case we would say that just as plumbing and accounting take no stance on the existence of a supernatural deity, neither does science.

If you start with the assumption that God created distinct "kinds" of animals, there is no evidence to suggest macroevolutionary changes have occured.

Ah, but there is such evidence. There is the evidence presented in Darwin's Origin of Species, and there's the confirming evidence of genetic analysis. If a deity actually created all life, he did so in a way completely consistent with macroevolution.

What we see are changes within species..and even speciation (no I wouldn't accept this as an evidence of macroevolution since it is defined as changes above the level of species).

Microevolution is defined as evolution within a species. Everything else is macroevolution, including speciation.

Concerning evolution, we can only observe the effects of microevolution, that is changes at or below the species level.

This would be false because of the evidence I mentioned earlier for observing the effects of macroevolution. The genetic evidence is particularly strong, as the particular genetic differences between related species are a record of macroevolutionary change.

I'll accept your premise that biology isn't directly based upon uniformitarianism. However, surely you would admit that evolutionary biology is tied closely to geology and paleontology which are both built upon this assumption. In fact, those fields would be your best place to look if you wanted to try and prove macroevolution (ie. fossil record). Granted, I don't think the proof is there.

The term uniformitarianism is no longer used in the field of geology, except when reciting the history of this science. And I don't believe uniformitarianism was ever a concept within paleontology - perhaps you're thinking of gradualism?

I'm not certain why the term uniformitarianism was abandoned, though it could be due to how easily the term is misunderstood. Likely you yourself have in a mind an incorrect definition, possibly believing that it means that all processes proceed at a fixed and predictable rate. What it actually applies to is the range of processes and forces that can affect our planet. Uniformitarianism means that the same processes and forces we see operating on our planet today were the same ones that molded our planet in the past to cast it into its present form, expressed more succintly as, "The present is the key to the past."

Interesting that you mention assumptions and projecting implications in a thread wherein you're trying to convince me that evolutionary theory doesn't require faith. And for the record, I personally am skeptical of many of the claims of both geology and cosmology. I am a YEC after all and certainly don't believe in millions of years and the big bang :-)

Yes, I understand. It isn't just evolutionary science that you view as accepted on faith, but much of all other science, too.

--Percy


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Garrett
Member (Idle past 4242 days)
Posts: 111
From: Dallas, TX
Joined: 02-10-2006


Message 29 of 104 (289244)
02-21-2006 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by jar
02-21-2006 3:37 PM


When you say the YEC position has been falsified, I'm certain you refer to a creationist model that I don't. If you'd like to start a topic I'd be happy to discuss.

If religion is based on faith, science is based on assumptions...I say 6 of one half-dozen of the other.


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 Message 24 by jar, posted 02-21-2006 3:37 PM jar has responded

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 30 of 104 (289246)
02-21-2006 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Garrett
02-21-2006 3:43 PM


The OP contains the answers!

I still don't see any evidence to suggest that macroevolution doesn't require faith even when faith is defined as a belief that lacks independent verification.

I provided some in the OP, in fact I provided a link to a massive list of evidences. Each one of these evidences is an independent line of enquiry inferring the same conclusion. I count this as verification, do you?

You don't seem to have the ability to seperate micro from macro.

Let me clear your mind of such thoughts. Macroevolution is a change in a population of organisms that takes place over such a long time scale as to be unobservable.

. It isn't valid to simply suggest that because speciation occurs and animals mutate and change, that they must change on the level of dino's to birds...the evidence just isn't there

I have never said any such thing. I suggest you re-read the OP where I set forth my actual argument. The conclusion is as follows:

quote:
As such when we have well over a dozen evidences that all point to the same conclusion of evolution it requires faith to not accept that conclusion, not vice versa.

Sure, birds exist..but what if there were created as birds in the beginning.

Then an alternative, and better, explanation for all the evidence that strongly infers they are related to crocodiles has to be put forward. If they were specially created, why all the evidence that says the opposite?

If you're convinced that macroevolution is an historical fact (nice use of an before 'H' btw), then it's apparant to me that you'll never objectively entertain the notion of other possibilities

I have entertained other possibilities on many occasions, I've even vehemently argued Special Creation when the mood has taken me. My central point was that there is a phenomena: natural history, and a theory: ToE which is used to explained the phenomena.

The word fact does not mean 100% guaranteed, it means 'there is so much evidence for it it would be perverse to think otherwise'. As I hinted at in the OP.

This is the sort of paradigm paralysis that leads to the omission of new discoveries.

I'm happy to entertain other explanations. The only explanation I have ever heard for the DNA evidence for example is that it is evidence of a similar designer, which does not explain the evidence in anyway whatsoever.

If you can put forward a decent explanation of the evidence then by all means do so in an appropriate thread, its off topic here (see OP).

I don't agree that there is a preponderance of evidence for macroevolution as to remove any reasonable doubt, however. You mention the plethera of indepent tests that verify that macroevolution has occured without listing any. Let's discuss these independent verifications.

I discussed one in detail in the OP:

quote:
So take the evolutionary time scale. One of the biggest criticisms that faces evolutionary time scales is that we cannot verify it. For example, the fossil record shows that the marsupial mammals and placental mammals diverged about 143-178 million years ago1.

How? From radiodating of the fossils. How do we verify this?

One way to do it is to attempt to calibrate a molecular clock based on a radiodating time. If this molecular clock gives us times similar to the radiodating times (for times other than the calibration time obviously) then this is considered verification of radiodating. It would be a tremendous coincidence if the two just happened to line up. It has been done on several occasions.


And I linked to others in the OP:

quote:
The (in)famous 29+ evidences (which is now the second result on google if you search for 29+) demonstrate many of these lines of enquiry.

Might I resepectfully suggest you re-read my OP because it seems you missed a lot of what I was saying. Hopefully I've cleared any issues up now :)

Take care!


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