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=:: Debate #3 ::= April 15, 2006 7:22 PM

Topic:

Evolution is not a scientific theory.

Limitations:

There will no elements of ID or creationism discussed in this debate.

Debate participants:

Freediver/Cheryl (towelie)

Please, if you are not Freediver Cheryl or myself, do not post in this thread. Read the rules on the billboard. If you have any questions please feel free to start a thread or NM me.

Thank you,

Good luck!

 [ send green star]
 
evolution is not a scientific theory April 15, 2006 7:33 PM

Evolution is not a scientific theory because it is not falsifiable. It is a theory about what happened in the past, not about the nature of the universe.

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=6387&pst=352565&archival=1

The modern scientific method is defined in terms of hypotheses, theories and laws. The difference between each is the level of acceptance in the scientific community. What they all have in common is that they must be falsifiable. This means that it must be possible to run a repeatable experiment that would disprove the theory (or hypothesis or law), if it were false.

Empiricism (a basis in experiment) is what gives science it's credibility and differentiates it from other fields of study. It means that a scientist in Poland does not have to take your word for it - they can do their own experiment and attempt to disprove it for themselves. The falsifiability part prevents people from coming up with theories that can only be proved right. Evolution fails both of these tests. There is no experiment that can test the theory. Any new evidence that comes to light cannot disprove the theory - only either back it up or call for a modification of the evolutionary tree or a modification of the theory.

Natural selection is a scientific theory. Evolution differs from natural selection by including the ideas of common ancestry and beneficial mutation.

Just because a theory is not scientific does not mean that it has no merit. However, claiming that a theory is scientific lends it undeserved authority and diminishes the authority of science.

The modern scientific method arose during the scientific revolution - after the renaissance.

Observation of nature and speculation do form part of the scientific method. That is how new hypotheses are formed. However they should be immediately checked to see whether they are scientific or not.

 [ send green star]
 
 April 17, 2006 10:13 AM

Evolution can be defined as "the gradual process by which the present diversity of plant and animal life arose from the earliest and most primitive organisms, which is believed to have been continuing for at least the past 3000 million years.  Lamarck was the first biologist to publish a theory to explain how one theory could have evolved into another (Lamarckism) but it was not until the publication of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" in 1859 that it became a viable scientific theory.  Unlike Lamarck, Darwin proposed a feasible mechanism for evolution and backed it up with evidence from the fossil record and studies of comparative anatomy and embryology.  The modern version of Darwinism, which incorporates discoveries in genetics made since Darwin's time, remains the most acceptable theory of species evolution."  This taken from the Oxford Dictionary of Science, page 305.
First off, I would like to note, that while evolution is indeed concerned with common ancestry of all species, it is not concerned with the origin of life itself.  This is known as abiogenesis, and although some biologists have immersed themselves into this highly speculative field, it is not a part of evolution per se.  The next step is then how to define science.  There is certainly more than one working definition for science.  I would say that it is the ways and means of understanding the natural world, and naturalistic events and phenomena (including those from the past), by utilising observational and experimental methods.  It has been put forth erroneously that evolution does not fit these criteria, and is therefore not a scientific discipline or a theory.  It has been established otherwise, that evolution is a valid, functional historical natural science.  It can, in its own way, be observed--and experimented. 
When FD says one cannot observe evolution, I will guess as to what he is means is that one does not see speciation occur--ie, one has never observed one species change into another.  That is indeed correct, but given on the timescale that macroevolution occurs, one could not possibly see speciation occur, or it would very well falsify it (I will get more to that later).  We have taken observations of the geographical strata, and have learned that evolution is a mostly gradualistic affair, and does not occur in a straight line, but has many distinct branchings-out (more tree-like than linear) and false starts--and dead ends.  Certain variables may speed the process of speciation somewhat, but this is by a factor from millions of years to hundreds of thousands of years or, in extreme circumstances, tens of thousands of years.  The view that gradualistic change is sometimes interspersed with more rapid speciation events is known as punctuated equilibrium.  It chief proponents were Gould and Eldridge. 
Observations are actually continously being made in evolution, on more of a micro level to be sure, but vast accumulations of microevolutionary events translate into eventual macroevolution, so these observations are not without merit or consequence.  Consider the example of mutation in the Escherichia coli bacterium when continously exposed to cirpofloxacin, otherwise known as Cipro.  The Cipro works by attaching itself to an enzyme (gyrase) that helps the bacteria function properly.  Well, E. coli developed a mutation in its DNA that has kept the cipro from attaching to gyrase, therefore rendering the drug useless against this mutant.  This is an example of beneficial mutation. 
Another example can be seen on the primatological level, chiefly concerning an orang-utan population in the Kluet swamp, in the Suaq region of Sumatra.  This isolated group of orang-utans have learned rudimentary tool use, which is unique among the species in the wild.  No other population of orang utans has been observed using tools in the wild to this point.  They use sticks to get ants, termites, and honey out of holes too far deep for their fingers to reach.  Also, they use a sort of tool to extract fruit from the Neesia, which is filled with sharp needles to deter seed predators.  Well, these orangs stripped the bark off of short, straight twigs, hold them in their mouth, inserted into the crack, and detached the seeds from the stalks. 
How does that tie in with evolution?  If the Suaq orangs were exposed to other populations of orangs, then they would perhaps teach these tricks to the other animals, and they to other orangs...so forth.  Something very similar to this very likely happened in our own early history--a resourceful individual, or group of individuals, taught others to make tools.  This could be the beginning of an evolutionary leap for these animals, should they survive habitat destruction and other hostile conditions. 
These have all been observed phenomena, but we should move forth now to experimentation.  Can evolution be treated experimentally?  I will refer to Ernst Mayr on this point: 
"It is obvious, for example, that we cannot experiment with the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Instead, one applies the method of historical narratives to explain historical (including evolutionary) processes.  That is, one proposes an assumed historical scenario as a possible explanation and tests it thoroughly for the probability of its correctness."  Mayr 276.  If that is not scientific in its methodology, I don't know what is. 
Finally, for this segment, I would like to write a little bit concerning scientific philosophy.  FD seems to be mistaking past phenomena, which are known and knowable events, for the metaphysical realm, but I will touch on this later.  Additionally, he discusses empiricism without (in my opinion) fully understanding the full scope of this philosophy.  I would like to discuss it further, if it does not digress too much from the subject at hand, evolution. 

 [ send green star]
 
 April 17, 2006 10:49 PM

Nothing in your opening quote is an indication that evolution is a scientifc theory, merely that it is better than alternative theories.

It can, in its own way, be observed--and experimented.

how?

When FD says one cannot observe evolution

I don't recall actually saying that.

I will guess as to what he is means is that one does not see speciation occur

Beneficial mutation has also never been observed.

but vast accumulations of microevolutionary events translate into eventual macroevolution

No they don't. All you get is natural selection. You need beneficial mutation etc for (macro) evolution.

Well, E. coli developed a mutation in its DNA that has kept the cipro from attaching to gyrase

You don't 'develop a mutation,' it occurs spontaneously. They have no way of knowing whether this was a pre-existing trait that spread due to natural selection.

As for the orangotang story, I'm not sure how this shows that evolution is a scientific theory. Explaining evolution in great detail, or using evolutionary concepts to explain observations, does not make evolution a scientific theory.

That is, one proposes an assumed historical scenario as a possible explanation and tests it thoroughly for the probability of its correctness."  Mayr 276.  If that is not scientific in its methodology, I don't know what is.

That is a standard tool for historians, but it doesn't make theories subjected to it scientific.

Go ahead and discuss empiricism, that is what science is all about. I do not have a narrow view of empiricism as many have assumed.

 [ send green star]
 
 April 19, 2006 10:59 AM

The question has arisen concerning how evolution is defined, and how it translates into being a valid and legit historical natural science, I will comply.  This is outlined in "On the Origin of Species" Darwin 1859.  Modfifications have been made, but subsequent discoveries in  genetics,embryology,biochemistry, related fields have corroborated the Darwinian model:
Evolution:  Organisms change through time. 
Descent with modification:  Evolution proceeds via branching through common descent.  Offspring are similar but are not exact replica of their parents.  This produces the necessary variation to allow for adaptation to an ever changing environment. 
Gradualism:  Change is slow and continual.  Natura non facit saltum--Nature doesn't make leaps.  Given enough time, evolution accounts for species change. 
Multiplication of speciation:  Evolution not only creates new species, but also an increasing number of species. 
Natural selection:  I understand this is not the issue being discussed here, but it is the crux of evolution, its mechanism.  Here is an outline:
A. Populations tend to increase in a geometric ratio:
2,4,8,16,32,64,128...
B. In a natural environment, populations stablise at a certain level.
C. Thus, there must be a struggle for existence because not all of the organisms can survive.
D. There is variation in every species.
E.  In the struggle to exist, those individuals with variations (mutations) that are better adapted to the environment leave behind more offspring than those that are less well adapted.  This is called differential reproductive success, and is the crux of natural selection. 
So, when we say, "change is due to natural selection, not mutation--this is a false dichotomy, that common fallacy of either-or.  Well, in actuality, mutation and natural selection are complementary of each other.  Mutations are random variations.  When I said that E. coli "developed" a mutation, this is what I meant.  Most mutations are neutral, and this is why they difficult to observe.  A few are harmful--natural selection will not preserve those individuals.  A very rare few are beneficial.  Relating to the e. coli's resistance to cipro?  Well, one individual e coli bacterium--it only has to happen ONCE--mutated into a form that happened to render it immune to the effects of cipro.  Since the other bacteria lacked this trait, they did not leave behind offspring, so they had low differential reproductive success.  However, this new mutant bacterium, since it could survive cipro, was the most "fit" and therefore survived to produce more offspring--with the same mutation.  Mutation is random.  Natural selection is not. 
I have a bone to pick about the historical sciences being written off as "not being scientific."  There is a misconception that science only deals with the here-and now, and cannot answer historical questions--such as about whether common descent is valid, because we cannot use the same methods experimentally to test for this.  The fact is that science does deal with past phenomena.  Consider the historical sciences of cosmology, geology, paleontology, paleoanthropology, and archeology, to name a few.  Look, there are experimental and historical sciences.  They use different methodologies but both are equally capable of tracking causality.  Evolutionary biology uses the methodologies of the latter.  It is a valid, legitamite historical science. 
How do we go about defining science anyway?  Philosophers of science are continously rethinking and refining just what science is.  I am glad for this, or Ptolemaic astronomy would still be the model for studying the universe today.  Still, we can give a working, day-to-day definition of science, and I can find no better candidates for defining it than 72 nobel laureates.  This is taken from theh amicus curiae brief of 1986, compiled by Jeffrey Lehman and Beth Shapiro Kaufmann, for the case of Edwards v Aguillard.   The ball was set rolling by Murray Gell-Mann, a nobel laureate of quantum physics, whose contributions to that field include the quark.
"Science is devoted to formulating and testing naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena.  It is a process for systematically collecting and recording data about the physical world, then categorising and studying the collected data in an effort to infer the principles of nature that best explain the observed phenomena."  The scientific method begins with the collection of "facts" or the data of the world.  Based on well-established facts, testable hypotheses are formed. Testing "leads scientists to accord a special dignity to those hypotheses that accumulate substantial observational or experimental support."  This is called a theory.  However..."even the most robust and reliable theory is tentative." (AC 24)  They are always provisional, not absolute.  The New Synthesis interpration of evolution is not the same as in Darwin's day.  New discoveries have been made, old ones have been falsified and discarded (such as the notion that traits can be acquired.  This is an idea that has since been falsified).  We collect data by looking at fossil forms in the geographic strata, comparing them to other fossils--and to living forms today.  We have mapped the genome of several animals, including the human genome, and have discovered our genes not only share the same basic "tool kit" but share some of the very same genes.  Animals as diverse as fruit flies, earthworms, frogs, bovines, and humans all have Hox genes, for example (I can explain to any who is interested), this and other discoveries points to common descent.  If anyone wants any further material to read, I have many outstanding sources. 

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 April 20, 2006 12:35 AM

People tend to make the mistake of assuming that evolution is scientific because it is the only reasonable explanation we have. This is why, when people try to argue that it is scientific, they go to great lengths to explain the theory, to explain everything in evolutionary terms or to provide evidence for evolution, even though such explanations are irrelevant to the debate.

Definition of Evolution

I made it clear at the start which parts of the theory I considered scientific and which parts I didn't. That is, I consider natural selection to be a scientific theory. But not universal common ancestry, beneficial mutation, the origin of the species etc. In the first part of your post you are trying to argue that these parts are scientific by lumping them together with natural selection and then showing that natural selection is scientific. However, it is possible to distinguish them and there are clear differences, so your line of argument leads nowhere – you are just trying to generalise evolution in such a way that it evades scrutiny.

Modfifications have been made, but subsequent discoveries in  genetics,embryology,biochemistry, related fields have corroborated the Darwinian model:

No they haven’t. For example, gradualism and multiplication of speciation (which you cite in your definition of evolution) have been abandoned. The theories they have been replaced with reinforce the obvious separation between natural selection and (macro) evolution.

Definition of science

Don't you think it's a bit late to be redefining the other terms of the debate? My understanding of formal debating (on which I believe this format is based) is that this has to be brought up in your opening argument. I will respond anyway:

You claimed that science can be based on testing theories by observation alone. However, that method of enquiry is exactly what modern science tries to eliminate. Observation alone is a vastly inferior test of a theory. This is because it provides no 'litmus test' - no way of testing once and for all which is the better theory. Instead you just go around collecting more and more observations until you have collected so many that no one person could possibly consider them all in his lifetime. Such an approach leads to unresolvable questions and theories that are beyond the scope of scientific enquiry.

I realise that there are many definitions of science that are ambiguous about the role of observations. In general, the more specific the definition, the more likely it is to relegate observations to the source for hypotheses and demand empirical testing as a qualifier for a hypothesis to be scientific. Obviously there are some definitions promoted by evolutionists that do not do this. Given this uncertainty we must ask ourselves ‘what is the consequence of adopting each definition.’ The consequence of adopting a definition that doesn’t demand empiricism is that science can then be just about anything you want. Any brand of mysticism could then gather enough observations to claim that it is science, even though the theories they propose can never be tested experimentally.

What is an experiment?

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=6387&pst=496654&archival=1

Historical science
There is a misconception that science only deals with the here-and now, and cannot answer historical questions--such as about whether common descent is valid, because we cannot use the same methods experimentally to test for this.

That is not a misconception. Empiricism is fundamental to science. Science is not defined by what it is used to study. Science is defined by the methods used. This is the crux of my argument. Once you throw out those methods you are no longer doing science. That's why evolution is called natural history by those involved in the field of study. it is not called natural science, historical science or any other term that includes the word science.

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=6387&pst=354526&archival=1

Philosophers of science are continuously rethinking and refining just what science is.

No they aren’t. The scientific method has remained pretty much the same since the scientific revolution. Here is an outline of the history of the modern scientific method and why empiricism is the foundation of every real advancement in science and technology since the scientific revolution.

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=6387&pst=456922&archival=1

amicus curiae brief

A court case about creationism correct? This debate is not about creationism, so I’ll leave it there.


Consider the historical sciences of ....

Parts of these fields of study are scientific. Parts are pure speculation. You’d be surprised how clever scientists can be in coming up with ways to test theories empirically.

Summary
In conclusion, evolution (beyond natural selection) is not a scientific theory because it is not falsifiable. Any definition of science that excludes falsifiability (empiricism) is a flawed definition that leaves science hopelessly blurred and open to all manner of misrepresentation. It trivialises that painstaking process of science and critical role that empiricism plays in keeping science on track. A definition that does not demand empiricism opens the field of science to any brand of mysticism that claims common observations as supporting evidence but whose theories cannot be tested experimentally.

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 April 23, 2006 5:09 PM

In conclusion, evolution (beyond natural selection) is not a scientific theory because it is not falsifiable

Actually, this is an erroneous statement, an unargued opinion rather.  A common complaint made by critics is that evolution is not subject to refutation, therefore it is not a science.  However, this is simply not the case.  Karl Popper thought so originally, and he is the one who coined the term falsification.  But Popper later changed his mind. BTW, It is the Popperian model which is the mold for the natural sciences today.  Read his words at this link.  If the link itself doesn't work (it may not) just copy and paste this to your address bar:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA211_1.html

   If you would like a few specific examples of how one may falsify evolution, follow this link. 

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA211.html

FD also stated that gradualism, a timeline for the evolutionary process, has been abandoned.  I will not deny that alternate timelines, such as punctuated equilibria, cosmic catastrophism, and others, have been conjectured.  But a great deal many of evolutionary biologists still are gradualists.  Richard Dawkins comes to mind.  The late Ernst Mayr, another example.  So does Lynn Margulis, and she is diametrically opposed to Dawkins in other matters concerning evolution.  More on that later.  Gradualistic descent can be corroborated by findings of transitional fossils, which do exist in the geological strata.  If anyone would like more information concerning this, I would be happy to share.  Gradualism may be the correct timeline, or it may not be.  Perhaps most evolution is gradualistic, with episodic "fast" changes.  As we learn more from the various fields of biology, we will be more confident as to the correct timeline.  Of course, we will never be 100% sure, because in science, one can never be 100% sure of anything.  In addition, multiplication of speciation has also not been successfully refuted (or should I say falsified?): "More than 30 million kinds of life, placed unambigously into five (some say 6) huge groups--bacteria, protocists (including 50 phyla of ciliates, diatoms, red and brown seaweeds, slime molds, water molds), fungi, animals and plants--evolved during the past 3,500 million years from our small common ancestors: bacteria.  Study of long chain molecules such as chitin, DNA, lignin, protein, yields spectacular evidence for the shared ancestry of all living matter.  Watery cell metabolism (chemical transformation  by salt balance, synthesis of proteins and other metabolites always bounded by cell membranes) is incessant whether in aardvark or zoogloea (Margulis)." 
In his statement, "A definition that does not demand empiricism opens the field of science to any brand of mysticism that claims common observations as supporting evidence but whose theories cannot be tested experimentally," does FD infer a mystical quality to evolution?  Yet what I said in my previous replies have not alluded to any mysticism.  Indeed, in evolutionary biology, any sort of dogmatic certainty is frowned upon by its constiuents, and at the first sign of dogmatic certainty, other scientists will call them out.  Consider Lynn Margulis, whose contributions to the field cannot be ignored (see her book, "Acquiring Genomes:  A Theory of the Origin of Species"), in this statement which she openly calls out the certainty felt about random beneficial mutations:  "Many biologists claim they know for certain that random mutations (purposeless chance) is the source of inherited variation that generates new species of life and that life evolved in a single-common-trunk, dichotomously branching phylogenetic tree pattern!  No!  I say.  This profound research question is assidiously undermined by the hegemony who flaunt their "correct" solution.  Especially dogmatic are those molecular modelers of the "tree of life" who, ignorant of alternative topologies such as webs, don't study ancestors.   Outr zealous research, ever faithful to the god who dwells in the details, openly challenges dogmatic certainty.  This is science."  So, you can see, if evolutionary biologists do take that road and hold that their findings are sancrosanct, then other scientists such as Margulis will call them out.  If there are evolutionary biologists who do ascribe to dogmatic certainty (and there are) it is not unique to that discipline.  Einstein himself tried to refute quantum physics with certainty, "God does not play dice with the universe."  Yet quantum physics has stood the test of time as a valid science--and Einstein's contributions to physics (relativity, gravitation theory) cannot be understated.
If anyone would like to read further about evolution,  I include a few outstanding links for you to peruse.  Again, if the links are not active, I apologise, but again, it only takes a few seconds to copy, paste into the address bar.   

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-research.html

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/

The last of these links is a science research news site that includes many of the newest developments in all of science, including evolutionary biology and related fields.    

 [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 5:48 PM

Is this thread open for further general discussion by anyone now?  [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 5:52 PM

I think it's supposed to be taken to the discussion thread from here.    I'm not certain.  Buck hasn't been around to ask.   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:05 PM

I was actually thinking it would be an intro to the subject from each participant, then four posts each for the debate, then one final post, a summation, from each one.

That is ok though. Let the discussion continue from here as long as it remains civil, and no one gets personal.

I think we are all capable of that.

I want to thank you two for participating. Hopefully you will be taking on other debates in the future.

Discuss away...




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 April 23, 2006 7:16 PM

You claimed that this link:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA211.html

shows how evolution could be falsified. However, it just lists possible ways in which the evidence could not support the theory. However, falsification requires an experimental basis (if observation alone does not disprove the theory). That is, there has to be a repeatablke experiment that can be carried out that would disprove the theory if it were not true.

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 April 23, 2006 7:18 PM

We are now getting into a question of hermeneutics, which I don't have time right now to discuss.  IE, your interpretation of Popperian method (falsification), and how you interpret Conjectures and Refutations.   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:19 PM

Further, what is your position on empiricism?  Do you hold with the Logical positivists, ie, Hume and Locke, et al?  Or are you more in line with Ernst Mach?   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:20 PM

Popper did not coin the term:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

In work beginning in the 1930s, Karl Popper gave falsifiability a renewed emphasis as a criterion of empirical statements in science.

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 April 23, 2006 7:22 PM

Popper brought it into the realm of the natural sciences.  Before then, inference was still used to a great degree.   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:25 PM

Actually, it is.  It was his answer to Hume's "problem of induction."  Induction as characterised by Hume as being arriving at theories or laws by observing regularities in experience.  Are you familiar with his "black swan" metaphor?   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:25 PM

The black swan metaphor was Popper's not Hume's.   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:36 PM

Yes. I just read about it on wikipedia. Evolution is a bit like the 'all swans are white' hypothesis, except that it is far less specific because it can be adapted so easily. Many of the adjustments made to the theory are a bit like the 'all swans are white, except for the ones in Australia' line of argument.

I just found this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction

Popper went further and stated that a hypothesis which does not allow for experimental tests of falsity is outside the bounds of science.

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 April 23, 2006 7:41 PM

That is an oversimplication.  He stated that if you observed that swans were white--every swan you've ever seen-- you cannot say for certainty that ALL swans are white.  All it takes is for one black swan to refute it utterly.  The same can be applied to evolution, as stated in the link I provided, in Popper's own words.  All it would take is for one fossil of genus homo to turn up in, say, a strata consisting of trilobites. 
Actually, Popper's methodology has not been used to try and debunk evolution really, but it has been applied extensively to Marxist and Hegel dialectics, and to an extent Plato and Freud.  But Popper himself has come under fire, particularly from Lakatos and Feyerabend, if you are familiar with them. 

 [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:46 PM

All it would take is for one fossil of genus homo to turn up in, say, a strata consisting of trilobites.

That sort of thing happens all the time. Digging up fossils is not an 'exact' way to go about things. If something is dug up that refutes previous theories, there are several ways to deal with it. You can ignore it on the basis that it was some kind of mistake - maybe someone buried their aunt very deep to make sure she stayed buried. Or if it keeps recurring you just rearrange the evolutionary tree. But because there is nothing repeatable about what you are doing you can never know for sure. You just end up with mountains of evidence which is of very little value.

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 April 23, 2006 7:47 PM

There is no exact way of doing things.  Nor one that will ever prove anything beyond the provisional sense. 

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 April 23, 2006 7:54 PM

Further, historical, human, and social sciences, including archaelogy and anthropology utilise a different methodology.  To read more on this, I would recommend familiarising yourself with Gadamer (Truth and Method) and Charles Taylor (The Explanation of Behaviour).   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:56 PM

The value of science is not exactness but what it has given us - an ever more fundamental understanding of nature. This understanding is a powerful tool for improving our lives. All modern technology is based on understanding derived from the scientific method as I have described it. Deviating from that method leads you away from progress. There is nothing inherently better about any definition of science. Rather, you judge the definitions based on where they will take you - you judge the tree by it's fruit.  [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 7:57 PM

Very well.  And can you show me, empirically, how evolution has led us away from that progress in science?   [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 8:00 PM

Historical science etc is only a science if you define science as knowledge like the ancient Greeks did. It makes more sense to separate the study of history from science.

Science is not a field of study. It is a methodology. Some of the fields you mentioned do employ the scientific method to a certain extent. But you cannot put any field of study wholly within or outside of science. A good car mechanic for example will use the scientific method.

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 April 23, 2006 8:04 PM

As much as I'd love to take it further--trust me, I would--I have to go.  It's late here (11 PM) and I have to work tomorrow.  I'll remember where we left off though. 

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 April 23, 2006 8:05 PM

Over all the centuries that people have been working on the theory of evolution, how far have they come? Not very far. The theory is only slightly different from what Darwin proposed, and not different in any significant sense. That is not going to change in the future either. That is a characteristic of philosophy.

Compare that with what we normally regard as science - our fundamental understanding of nature. This has given rise to dramatic changes in our understanding such as replacing newtonian mechanics with Einstein's theories. It has also given rise to the understanding of ever smaller particles. The technology that arose form this science has changed our lives. All 'modern technology' is built on it.

Evolution has given us nothing, except for a new philosophy to argue over for eternity.

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 April 23, 2006 8:14 PM

Evolution has given us a philosophical approach to explaining things. We can now say - 'it is that way because it evolved that way'. Natural selection is the scientific part of that explanation and is a powerful tool for farmers, food technologists etc. Macro evolution only gives you an alternative explanation for how things came to be the way they are. If for example the theory that beneficial mutation created the diversity we see today was scientific it would be (empirically) falsifiable, and would aslo generate very powerful technology. But it isn't scientific. It only gives us an explanation that can never be put to the test. Natural selection is worth studying in a scientific context and this study is constantly generating new and useful knowledge about the properties of plants and animals.  [ send green star]
 
 April 23, 2006 8:41 PM

Here is an alternative theory to evolution:

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=6387&pst=354524&archival=1

It fits our observations far better than evolution. However, because neither theory is scientific the question of which one is correct will never be solved. People will choose between the theories based on non-scientific considerations. That is, they will go with the one they like best. My reason for posting it is just to highlight how unscientific evolution is, and also to get people out of the mental trap of assuming evolution is scientific because it is the only philosophically adequate explanation for them.

 [ send green star]
 
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