What is evolution? Does it qualify as a fact?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 3 weeks, 1 day ago.

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  • #24420

    Unseen
    Participant

    Or is it just a theory?

    #24425

    Matt
    Participant

    It’s a scientific theory (not “just a theory”), with mountains of evidence supporting it. Some people might call that “a fact”, but that really does it injustice.

    Why do you ask, Unseen? Just stirring the pot?

    #24426

    Unseen
    Participant

    When you argue with Xians, they will want to say we treat evolution as a “fact” but that we can’t prove it, and they will throw things at use that we can’t explain or demonstrate like “We’ve all seen the charts purporting to show the evolution of the horse, do why can’t you show us one with the evolution of the cow?” or “Show us an extinct creature  from the past that branched off into two totally different distinct modern species.”

    As for ‘It’s a scientific theory (not “just a theory”),’ okay, is it JUST a scientific theory (but not a fact)?

    #24459

    W
    Participant

    It is a theory in the same way that the behavior of gravity is a theory. It can’t really be “proven” since we can’t see what is happening. However we can see the results of the effect and produce testable hypotheses that can then be experimentally confirmed or refuted. Once a sufficient body of tested and confirmed behaviors has been amassed, the theory becomes accepted as “fact”.

    The important point in this is that the testable hypotheses be refutable.The Xtian argument that the universe/world/etc. was created in seven days produces no testable hypotheses whatsoever (aside from “it says so in the Bible” – a weak argument indeed as there are many assertions in the Bible that ARE testably refutable).

    The response to “show us an extinct creature from the past that branched off into two totally different distinct modern species” is “the absence of such an example is not evidence that the theory is invalid.” As it turns out, there are examples of individual species evolving to produce new lifeforms that are sufficiently different as to qualify as distinct species – specifically, they are not capable of interbreeding. The fact that the original species (which is capable of interbreeding with either of the new species) hasn’t died out is largely irrelevant to the discussion. At some point, the original species may indeed become extinct. The fact that it has yet doesn’t invalidate the observations supporting the divergence.

    Whenever I have these kinds of discussions with Xtians, I have begun using the term “evidence” instead of “proof”. For example, instead of saying “Intelligent Design is false”, I say “There is no evidence supporting Intelligent Design”. If they ask for “proof” that evolution is true, I respond “I don’t have ‘proof’ but I can point you to a huge body of evidence.”

    #24461

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I am done discussing important topics with the willfully ignorant for now.  It hurts my brain.

    #24462

    This article is worth reading. See also the videos in the first link.

    Maybe start with this video first.

    I give them to Creationists when they come a knockin’ and  asking to see some fronkeys down on the farm 🙂

    Rule No.1 – Don’t not give them free science lessons. Ask them to watch the videos and come back next week to explain where and how the science is wrong….if their irreducibly complex eyes can read something that is not 2000 years old.

    #24463

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    The article from this weeks’ Sunday School about evolutionary psychology tells us a lot about the explanatory power of the theory of evolution.

    #24464

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Maybe start with this video first.

    Nicely thought-out/spelled-out video, covering biggest myths and providing best explanations. Most people like to simplify explanations, but “KISS” makes it too easy to avoid deeper understandings. “God did it, so why bother with scientific details?” is an easy cop out. OTOH, some atheists KISS with “evolution is a fact”, while it’s really a mixture of theory plus what we can conclude are some facts to support it.

    Our brains did not evolve to support flawless intellectual discussion, and indeed 99.9% of it evolved even before we invented language and discussions. KISS had the best day-to-day survival value. It takes libraries full of books, educational institutions, and now internet comms for a human to learn just the tiniest fraction of how the universe works. I don’t know how to approach our serious deficits of education, finding credible sources of news and information, and critical thinking without a willingness to mentor adults with atrophied intellect as if it were a natural disability, and start with the young before they fall prey to the most popular KISS cultures that surround them.

    #24465

    @ PopeBeanie, Yes, I agree completely. Nobody needs a college degree to understand the basic concepts of what Evolution is (and what it is not). It is just a matter of getting the basic concept clear in your mind. This is true for all academic endeavors. I use the Feynman Technique (often during a 5k run) to check my own knowledge of a particular subject or idea.

    “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

    I explain it to myself and then I explain it to someone else and then revise as necessary.

    #24466

    tom sarbeck
    Participant

    Thanks, Reg, for the link to Feynman’s Technique. I’ve been looking for an illustration of Bayes’ Theorem I can play with and found it there. I will try the technique to design a talk I will give in a week or two on, you guessed it, the Electric Universe. BTW, three thousand cheers for Ireland’s weaning itself further from Catholicism.

    #24467

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    That’s a very good and very interesting video about evolution.

    #24468

    Thanks Tom. I have posted links in the past on Bayesian Theory including Yudkowsky’s post. But this one has merit. Good luck with the talk :-). Yes, I guessed it before my eyes got there.

    I voted “Yes” and I am confident (about 70% based upon Bayes…:-)) that it will be past. I could not help myself when collecting my ballot papers but comment that “I am glad to see my campaign to keep that book of vile religious horrors of the tables at the heart of the democratic political process seems to be working”. I stared at the shithead for Jesus who tried to have me arrested for complaining about having Bibles on tables during the marriage equality referendum when I said it, in the hope that I might finally get arrested for Blasphemy!! Come on, have a go if you think you’re tough enough. He knows I was the person behind a nationwide campaign to keep Bibles out of the polling stations.

     

    #24469

    Unseen
    Participant

    Maybe start with this video first.

    Nicely thought-out/spelled-out video, covering biggest myths and providing best explanations. Most people like to simplify explanations, but “KISS” makes it too easy to avoid deeper understandings. “God did it, so why bother with scientific details?” is an easy cop out. OTOH, some atheists KISS with “evolution is a fact”, while it’s really a mixture of theory plus what we can conclude are some facts to support it. Our brains did not evolve to support flawless intellectual discussion, and indeed 99.9% of it evolved even before we invented language and discussions. KISS had the best day-to-day survival value. It takes libraries full of books, educational institutions, and now internet comms for a human to learn just the tiniest fraction of how the universe works. I don’t know how to approach our serious deficits of education, finding credible sources of news and information, and critical thinking without a willingness to mentor adults with atrophied intellect as if it were a natural disability, and start with the young before they fall prey to the most popular KISS cultures that surround them.

    Evolution is a fact demonstrated by progressive changes taking place in creatures over time. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is/was an attempt to explain that fact. It is the best explanation going because it makes general sense and beats a magical explanation.

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