Facts of evolution cannot be denied.

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Dinosaur, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Why?

    I can imagine discovering disqualifying defects that falsify the theory of biological evolution by natural selection.

    In this instance, I don't know of any disqualifying defects and don't believe that they exist. I'm just arguing that it isn't outlandish to think that Darwin's explanation is at least potentially falsifiable. Popperians would insist on it.

    Falsification of theory A is in no way dependent on whether we are able to propose a better theory B. Those are two separate issues.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Sort of. In practice, what tends to happen is there may be areas of a theory which observations show to be problematic. The theory is however usually retained with reservations, for the predicted value that it does have, until such time as a better theory is developed to account for the area where the old theory breaks down. People do not chuck the whole thing away the moment a defect is discovered.
     
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The most influential eruption of contemporary intelligent design theorizing are the so-called 'fine-tuning' arguments.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

    The rhetoric tells us that physics has demonstrated/proven/something that a universe in which life is possible must have precisely the physical constants that our universe is observed to have. Anything else would supposedly be sterile by its nature.

    I've never seen what I consider a convincing justification for believing that's true. (How can physics make such confident judgements about what will and won't happen in all conceivable counter-factual universes when they don't even fully understand this one?) But the fact remains that many prominent scientists are adherents of this belief.

    So presumably Sciforums will want to argue that anyone who doesn't accept that our universe is fine-tuned for the appearance of life (and presumably for the appearance of us) is antiscience and a denier.

    Of course if our universe is fine-tuned for life, it's still an open question who or what fine-tuned it. God is an obvious candidate. Chance might be another, combined with a multiverse theory and a weak anthropic argument. (If there's an infinity of universes, and variants conducive to life are exceedingly rare, any life present will perceive itself to be in one of the rare universes.) And the quantum-idealists have proposed strong anthropic versions, where the presence of possible minds and observers in a possible universe cause the 'wave function' to 'collapse' such as to make that universe actual.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I agree with that. That's typically how theory change happens in the history of science.

    But it doesn't imply that a critic is somehow obligated to produce a better theory before that person can identify difficulties in or express doubts about an existing one.

    It's true that the critic is unlikely to start a stampede away from the theory being criticized unless there's a more attractive place for the herd to migrate to. Otherwise the scientific community might just respond with a series of ad-hoc adjustments to the embattled theory. Especially if it is already in all of the text-books, if countless colleagues have built their careers around exploring its ramifications, and if it forms the basis for much of the thinking about the subject at hand. That's a lot of historical momentum.

    I should say that I agree emphatically with your point earlier in the thread that ID theories aren't informative.

    Scientific explanation works by reducing the unknown to the known. ID seeks to "explain" small unknowns in terms of grander unknowns. Hence it's really a form of mystification. (What is the nature and mode of action of the 'intelligence' that supposedly did all the designing?)
     
  8. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    Let me make it clear that I am not proposing a replacement theory, nor am I proposing that a replacement theory is required, nor that an amendment to the current theory to incorporate elements of intelligent design is required. I am asserting that it is worthwhile to ask "might there be some aspect of intelligent design (wholly non-religious) present in evolution and if so how would we recognise it?"

    As an aside, I don't know of any exobiologist who would insist that water is essential to life( as you appear to do), though all would likely require a solvent with properties approaching those of water.

    You stated that "If someone says that you cannot question a theory then that is dogma". FR stated that anyone who questioned evolution theory was anti-science.

    No one is suggesting life did not evolve on Earth - why even introduce that?

    You were speaking of alien action at a species level. That would, as you suggest, involve an incredible degree of involvement. As I sought to make clear in my subsequent example, I am contemplating changes to early common ancestors that then replicate through ensuing generations with conventional evolution building on them. And - because I sense the risk of knee jerk reactions from some readers - I reiterate: I am not a believer in such events, I am not proposing such events, I am contemplating such events and pondering on how we might identify them if they had occurred. I was taught that "What if?" was a powerful question in science.

    Excellent, you are starting to see where I am coming from. The questions you ask here are precisely the ones I am asking. And I am uncomfortable with you calling this alternative view a theory. It is very clearly not a theory. It is the groundwork for the possible introduction of a hypothesis. Nothing more.

    ID ,as proposed by the cretinists makes sense only as a defense mechanism against indefensible beliefs. We do ourselves a disservice if we eliminate a potentially interesting arena of enquiry because of mistaken identity.

    I am well aware of the Wedge Strategy, so no - I would not be surprised.

    So it seems that those who think that ID proponents are either starting from a religious stance or are just confused, haven't thought the matter through properly. (And - because this is regrettably necessary for some readers - I am not proposing intelligent design, I am suggesting it would be interesting to consider how we might identify it, if it had occurred.)


    To exchemist. You talk of the difficulties of identifying external interference and I agree with what you have said. It seems beyond our capacity, at present, to identify a means to do so. But this is a matter that has generally not engaged many (perhaps any) great minds in a serious manner. Part of the reason for that may be - as suggested earlier by origin(?) - that no one wishes to waste their time on a silly idea. Part of it may be due to the automatically hostile reaction that greets such suggestions.

    One potential benefit of pursuing an intelligent design form of questioning is that it would be an additional way of highlighting holes and gaps in current evolutionary thinking, which could then be plugged.

    In the latter part of your post you again associate intelligent design with religion and the supernatural.
    "As soon as one postulates design in relation to a phenomenon, one is in effect claiming there is an "un-natural" or"super - natural" process at work."

    In what way is an alien entity unnatural. If our descendents later tweak the single celled organisms on a distant exoplanet with the long term goal of terraforming it - and then lose interest - would there be anything unnatural about that?

    None of which contradicts anything I have said and actually implicitly supports it.
     
  9. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    I would like to add, relative to the question of the OP: I firmly agree that the facts of evolution cannot be denied. Evolution undoubtedly occurred and is occurring. Our understanding of the mechanisms is sound in a general sense and in very many of the details. We shall continue to expand and deepen this understanding, abandoning some of the details along the way. I just think it is silly, in what appears like a reaction to the beliefs of a bunch of self deluded fundamentalists, to ignore potentially interesting questions.
     
  10. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Just because a question is "interesting" doesn't mean it's sensible.
     
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yes we're in agreement that a critic of a theory is not obliged to produce a ready-made solution to the problem he or she identifies. Science is a collective rather than an individual effort, so the person who spots the problem does not also have to be the person who solves it.

    However, given the context (Evolution vs. ID) I think it may be worth pointing out that merely raising objections to a theory is just the start of a long process, which may lead nowhere. ID has never got beyond the stage of raising objections to aspects of evolution, and yet its proponents have already jumped, without evidence, to an untestable conclusion.
     
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    After replying to you, two further points about all this struck me.

    One is to do with Ockham's Razor. Given there is not - and probably cannot be - unambiguous evidence of "design", postulating "design" seems doomed to remain be an unnecessary additional hypothesis. This will be almost certainly be one reason why it has not attracted more attention from the "great minds" that you mention (thought I think it has had plenty) - they will have said to themselves "what's the point"?

    The other is more of an aesthetic consideration. Attributing, say, a key step in the development of Earthly life to an alien is in a sense merely kicking the can down the road rather than explaining anything profound. It is effectively saying life on Earth came from life somewhere else and thus cops out of the scientifically interesting problem of how life itself arose. Where did our putative alien come from and how did the biochemistry that it uses arise? Unless you subscribe to supernatural intervention, you have to think that life arose somewhere in the universe for the first time by natural processes. So the problem still is there to be solved. So why not try to solve it here, for the life we can observe around us, on the planet we know, and see how far we can get.
     
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting questions such as?
    Most of the questions regarding evolution are already being asked. The not-so-interesting aspect (other than in any interest one has in examining their thought processes) is the conclusions that some reach, such as Intelligent Design.
     
  14. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    Would it not be more accurate to say that the proponents of religious ID jumped to an untestable conclusion and then raised objections to aspects of evolution, rather than the other way around?
     
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I'm honestly not sure. Fundamentalist Christians object to evolution, I think, because of the implications it has for their theology. They still hold to the literal view that death entered the world at the Fall of Adam, which of course precludes evolution. ID people? Well I don't know. They seem to find it necessary to show that life required divine assistance in some way, while accepting death in the animal kingdom and that the Old Testament cannot be read literally. I'm not really sure what theological hook that gets them off.

    P.S. Actually, I suspect it may not be a genuine theological predicament at all, in the case of ID. The whole ID movement is basically a social engineering ploy to insert God into science teaching. The Wedge Document etc makes that objective very clear. They may simply think that evolution is a good place to insert the wedge, in view of the traditional suspicion of it in the US Bible Belt. They are a cynical bunch of two-faced shysters.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  16. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Creation deals in symbols, while science deals in tangibles and signs. What happens is apples are being compared to oranges. This is why the debate never seems to go anywhere, but tends to become a pissing contest. Symbols are different from signs/tangibles. The statue of liberty is both a tangible object and a symbol of liberty. Neither linear approach, by itself; symbol or tangible, can fully express the significance of that statue in the harbor. If one side says this is only a statue, and other side says it is only about the symbol of liberty, they will never meet minds, because both are half right and will stop and stay there, thinking partial truth is the whole truth. This may be an artifact of a random universe, where partial data is good enough.

    Let me show you how I combine the signs of science with the symbols of creation. In Genesis 1:1; In the beginning was the word and the word was God. This statement is like the statue of liberty in that is sign or tangible thing, and a symbol. Science has shown that the invention of writing occurs in the same time frame as Creation in Genesis, with Genesis one of the oldest writings in human history.

    To Creationist, the "word" is not about any invention, but it is taken more symbolically. To them the "word" is more like the eastern philosophy word "Ohm!, that is used for mediation, that has the power to trigger and release inner energy, as the person chants the sound. This makes the "word", symbolic; mystical, mediative and mind expanding.

    In terms of the tangible, God as one of the first words written by the new invention of writing. It was written in the first sentence of Genesis; written story begins. It was like Alexander Graham Bell, yelling for his assistant; Watson, come here!, speaking the first words over a phone. This was an historical milestone, that would change the world. Watson come here, was more than just those words sounds; sign. Those words have an almost mystical significance in terms of pondering the new path of humans; pondered by historians.

    If we see cave drawings, of stick figure men hunting deer, we don't assume that the cavemen literally saw a flat world with only deer and hunters and nothing else; no birds or fish. We assume these drawings reflect the focus of their attention, and what they saw as important. In Genesis, they world they wrote of was their focus of attention. The caveman drawing of a blank world of hunters and deer, symbolizes sort of a one track mind that does not stop to smell the roses. To them, their world is mostly hunting deer. They were blind or unconcerned of the rest. In Genesis, with the invention writing, humans start to write it down, and smell the roses as their data base grows. Their focus reflects the state of their consciousness. They begin to draw curves through their hard written data to form early theories. Let there be light, is still used by science as the big bang theory.
     
  17. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

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    That sounds pretty impressive. Too bad it isn't true.

    I guess your attitude is why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
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  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Genesis is reputedly written some 1,800 years after the origin of writing. (Writing c.3,200 BCE, Genesis c.1,400 BCE - reputedly).
    How does that fit in with your fantasy?
    You mean apart for the Creationists who take the Genesis account of the Bible literally?
     
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well, it's more like you yelling "Watson, come here!" over your cellphone and then claiming you were the first one to use a telephone.
     
  20. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    I don't mean this unkindly wellwisher, for I see what you are trying to say, but your argument would carry more weight if any of your points were accurate. Sarkus has already pointed out the gross historical error relating to the subject of the first writing. (I believe the earliest writing is basically mundane, but practical tallies of and accounts of property and goods.) I point to your apparent ignorance of the Bible.

    Genesis 1:1, in the King James version, reads " In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." You appear to have confused it with John 1:1, from the New Testament, which you then quoted inaccurately. Here is the correct King James version. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

    Perhaps you should do a little more research before posting and your potentially interesting arguments would not then be instantly undermined by your lack of knowledge.
     
  21. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    In martial arts, sometimes you need to show a vulnerability, so others will engage instead of avoid.

    Instead of getting bogged down in the proper sequence of words, it is more productive to think of the general concept. If we apply Darwin's theory of natural selection to humans, and add a wild card like the invention of writing, writing adds new environmental potentials for selection. For example, written laws can lead the herd in ways not found in nature. This new potential will cause natural selection to drift toward the image of the writing. It is still a form of selection, but not by nature. Blood lines of humans, put in writing, would choose the leaders of the future. This is not natural selection since even if you get duds who should be replaced, you are stuck with a poor choice. Nature always picks the best, if possible.

    For example, if you look at PC laws, this is not how nature selects. Nature does not use irrational sentiment, of an imaginary place, carved in tablets of stone, enforced by thugs. Rather nature uses instinct that optimizes survival based on natural and physical laws. The tablets of stone add something that is not part of nature. If I act naturally and this is not part of the PC world, nature will be censored. I am no longer allowed to be part of natural selection.

    If you add God and/or the concept of God to writing, selection now becomes less based on sensory input; eyes and ears, as it does on the imagination; mind's eye. The imagination is connected to the brain's personality firmware. This begins an inside to outside form of selection. We image the city in the valley. Writing allows the imagination a bridge to a new tangible. This was considered divine, since it leveraged nature in new ways.
     
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I can only assume that you are referring to martial sports rather than the actual ethos upon which the art is founded. Engagement should be the last recourse (and finished as quick as possible), and avoidance is always preferred.
     
  23. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    The only valid reason I can think of for writing this sentence is that you wish to imply that you deliberately made the mistakes that have been pointed out to you, so that others would enter the discussion. If this is true, then you are very foolish. If it is not true, then you are lying.


    Do you so lack in confidence that you are unable to admit that you have made mistakes in what you recently posted?

    Are you suggesting that the behavior of humans in not natural? The written laws are a formalization of behaviors arising from our nature.

    You should be made aware that your sentence makes no sense. How can natural selection drift towards an image?

    Another meaningless sentence.

    And since the best is only revealed retrospectively, it is not always selected. Chance plays an important role.

    I guess you mean political correctness. Which imaginary place is carved in tablets of stone and subject to irrational sentiment. It would be a lot easier to follow your argument if you would try to write a bit more sensibly. Will you give it a try?
     

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