Is Evolutionary Theory Undermined by Creationist Claims?

  • Thread starter Daneel_Olivaw
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Evolution
In summary, your friend sent you an article from the website drdino.com, claiming that it disproves the theory of evolution. However, after researching and reading responses from other biologists, you discovered that the claims made in the article have been refuted by evolutionists. You also found that the article confuses the theory of evolution with the origin of life, which are two separate concepts. Furthermore, you explained that Louis Pasteur's experiments did not test the origin of life, but rather showed that microorganisms in the air can contaminate sterile solutions. The validity of the theory of evolution is not dependent on man's ability to create living cells, and the Miller-Urey experiment has also been refuted. In addition, you
  • #141
TheStatutoryApe said:
Again, I am not agreeing with ID. I am only pointing out that there are variations on it that simply saying it is a rebranded version of creationism does not address. Whether or not they are at all compelling, scientific, or well described by the term 'intelligent design' is not my point.

The overwhelming majority of ID is rebranded creationism. The term entered the popular consciousness in Michael Behe's book Of Pandas and People. In the earliest drafts of that book, the phrases "creator", "creation", etc were used. In 1987 the terminology of ID was coined and replaced that of creationism wholesale due to a federal court ruling; in particular, the definition of the designer was exactly the same as that of a creator. This all emerged when the publishers of the book were supoenaed in the Dover vs. Kitzmiller case. See Ken Miller's public lecture in Ohio on YouTube.

When people from the Discovery Institute look for funding they have no hesitation whatsoever in identifying the designer with the Christian god.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #142
Nan said:
Also worrisome is without deductive reasoning and critical thought being taught, encouraged and applied EARLY in education, our ability to adapt and meet the challenges of the future will be in jeopardy. For individuals, it allows them to assess, determine what maybe false and what maybe true in their lives. Increasingly, it is that critical thought and deductive reasoning which is required daily to live successfully in our complex culture.

Agreed. I think school science curricula have to take their share of the blame, too. In the UK topics on scientific methodology etc. have found their place in the curriculum, but it's a poor compensation for the way the rest of the course is taught. GCSE biology bored me witless, as huge parts of it were rote learning with little to nothing that could be understood. "Label the parts of the flower"; "label the parts of the heart" etc. My younger brother is taking his A-levels in physics now, and to "sex up" the curriculum they've been trying to teach him De Broglie's wave-particle duality before he's been taught properly about diffraction.

I did a stint as a teaching assistant in a school once. One science teacher would begin every lesson, without fail, by getting the kids to read pages X->X+1 and answer the questions at the bottom of X+1. One day, I was in that lesson when that teacher was off sick, so they had a cover teacher to enforce order and I was the only person who knew anything about science in the room. The kids had been left work to do, and there was one question that every kid in the room was getting wrong. "Why do the Nobel gases have similar properties"? Rather than explain it to every child individually, I stood up at the front and went throught the spiel about full outside shells that is the kid's version of atomic theory -and they'd never come across it before. It wasn't until after the lesson had ended that I worked out the answer that they had been supposed to give: "They're all in the same group in the periodic table". It struck me as a crap way to teach science. To a kid who doesn't know the reason why the periodic table is structured the way it is, it's saying "these chemicals have the same properties because we grouped them that way on that wall chart over there". Someone with no exposure to science other than that could be readily excused for thinking it dogmatic. When creationists spin people easy answers and superficially "common sense" objections, someone who's been taught science in the same superficial way won't be able to tell the difference.
 
  • #143
ideasrule said:
I'm been a victim of this, and I feel betrayed by the person I once thought was a friend. It's part of the reason that creationist material enrages me every time I read it. I know this attitude isn't conducive to logical thinking, but when you see the same boneheaded arguments in every single piece of propaganda every year without any mention on the rebuttals against them, it takes enormous willpower to persuade myself to soothe my anger.

!
Creationism and ID seeks to discriminate, just as religions do. "I'm right and you are wrong" arguments are absolutely folly with people who strongly believe something in a religious context. Being born and raised in the South, those who strongly believed that people of color were subhuman and mere animals gave them the reasoning in their minds from their 'faith' that discrimination was acceptable and of course it meant a whole lot more that today has been PROVEN false and is totally unacceptable socially now (thankfully). It is sad that some still cling to that, but socially, it takes time for changes, sometimes generations to correct. The silliness in my early education included such discrimination to include teachers telling me I was going to burn in hell because I wore pants, because my mother was divorced, because I befriended to only kid of color in the school. Those days shaped me in profound ways, I found solace in the clarity of science and its processes.


People are free to have their religious beliefs, whatever they maybe. It becomes unacceptable when their 'beliefs' are translated in opaque and obtuse ways to classify them as a science to indoctrinate in an educational setting.

People discriminate through reasoning that 'creationism' and ID are not sciences and argue about it, those who strongly believe it will not listen to the arguments and that alone is an indicator it isn't a science. Science requires vetting, arguments, proof and unemotional examination. The very nature of religious 'belief' is to take on 'faith' that something is factual. It is the same in religions of all ilks that seek power and control over untold masses of people.
 
  • #144
muppet said:
Agreed. I think school science curricula have to take their share of the blame, too. In the UK topics on scientific methodology etc. have found their place in the curriculum, but it's a poor compensation for the way the rest of the course is taught. GCSE biology bored me witless, as huge parts of it were rote learning with little to nothing that could be understood. "Label the parts of the flower"; "label the parts of the heart" etc. My younger brother is taking his A-levels in physics now, and to "sex up" the curriculum they've been trying to teach him De Broglie's wave-particle duality before he's been taught properly about diffraction.

I did a stint as a teaching assistant in a school once. One science teacher would begin every lesson, without fail, by getting the kids to read pages X->X+1 and answer the questions at the bottom of X+1. One day, I was in that lesson when that teacher was off sick, so they had a cover teacher to enforce order and I was the only person who knew anything about science in the room. The kids had been left work to do, and there was one question that every kid in the room was getting wrong. "Why do the Nobel gases have similar properties"? Rather than explain it to every child individually, I stood up at the front and went throught the spiel about full outside shells that is the kid's version of atomic theory -and they'd never come across it before. It wasn't until after the lesson had ended that I worked out the answer that they had been supposed to give: "They're all in the same group in the periodic table". It struck me as a crap way to teach science. To a kid who doesn't know the reason why the periodic table is structured the way it is, it's saying "these chemicals have the same properties because we grouped them that way on that wall chart over there". Someone with no exposure to science other than that could be readily excused for thinking it dogmatic. When creationists spin people easy answers and superficially "common sense" objections, someone who's been taught science in the same superficial way won't be able to tell the difference.

Thats disgusting! Without foundations being laid, it becomes vastly confusing. That almost like a purposeful method of discouragement. Teachers must be versed well in the topics they are teaching. It isn't acceptable to have a math teacher or science teacher who has no formal education in either. Just because you are a 'coach' and have a degree in education doesn't qualify one to teach science or math!

Increasingly it is the responsibility of a parent to guide a child's education, this is true here in the US too. Unfortunately, many do not have the time, inclination or education themselves. Home schooling is more prevalent than ever now. Although it is a parent's right to do this, how can a child learn that algebra and chemistry are applied in a lab experiment without a lab? Application of knowledge foundations and how they are seen and demonstrated are keys to making young minds light-bulbs go off. Memorization isn't learning.
 
  • #145
D H said:
Just because you do not understand evolution does not mean that punctuated equilibrium is "a near impossibility" without a designer.

One way to look at evolution is that it is a local optimizer. In fact, evolution can often do quite a bit better than finding local optimum. To illustrate this, imagine that you are a mountain climber in a landscape peppered with somewhat isolated mountain peaks. Your goal as a mountain climber is to maximize your elevation. However, you do not have a terrain map on hand. Lacking such a map, you simply move in the direction of increasing elevation. You might eventually reach the top of Mount Everest if you are lucky. Much more likely however, you will reach the top of some unnamed hill. This is fairly lousy search technique called steepest ascent. This approach easily gets stuck at local maxima such as the top of this unnamed hill, even if a huge mountain lies just across the valley. Thanks to mutations, evolution can "leap" across valleys -- provided these valleys are narrow enough.

If an environment is stable for a long time, evolution will find a fairly good optimum. Once a population reaches such a point, mutations are almost always disadvantageous. The population will remain stable if the environment remains stable. Suppose that something drastic happens to the environment. Nasty predators from elsewhere might wander in, completely changing the ecology; a mountain range might arise due to plate tectonics, completely changes the local climate; a bunch of volcanos can erupt, completely changing the global climate; changes in Earth's orbit can trigger an ice age.

When catastrophe strikes evolution can proceed amazingly quickly. It is not "a near impossibility" and it does not require a designer. I used the analogy of a mountainous terrain earlier. I'll switch gears and use another analogy. Manly men like to collect tools. Their mantra: "He who dies with the most tools wins!" In evolution, those individuals who die with the most grandchildren win. No designer is needed. All that is needed is having your offspring survive long enough to reproduce.

I wish you would explain this further - without analogy. I think the argument (which I am not repeating very competently) is saying that the standard presentation of Darwinian evolution says that it is gradual and that this contradicts the fossil record and defies statistics. It seems to me that you are just saying that that is wrong - but perhps you could specifically describe what really is going on - say from a genetic point of view.
 
  • #146
arunma said:
OK, this is the sort of vitriolic response I'm trying to avoid. I don't mean any offense, but,

1.) I don't understand how a tour through Catholic European history pertains to our discussion of evolution and creationism.

I believe t was stated to show that history existed before religious groups tried to destroy it in an effort to instill their ideologies of the beginning. If all those books, scrolls and papers weren't destroyed not only would we be that much wiser (some estimate up to 10,000 years wiser in technology) we probably wouldn't be having the debates between truth and fiction.

2.) Ascribing guilt to all Christian churches for the destruction of various cultural and religious artifacts is a major logical fallacy. You might as well call all Republicans racist because the KKK supports the Republican party (not that I like Republicans). One can't blame modern American fundamentalists for various acts committed by people a thousand years ago. If you wish, you can certainly argue that such deeds result from the same type of thinking that results in fundamentalism, but I don't think that this was what you were trying to say.

History doesn't lie, and if you don't learn from it, you're doomed to repeat it. The KKK still exists, the KKK is still predominantly republican. However none of which have any bearing with ID or Evolution other then the fact i wish humanity could evolve to not be so racists, stupid and biased ;)

Calling the creationists crusading inquisitors isn't going to accomplish anything. Scientific truth does a fairly good job of standing on its own merit. Why not simply present the facts about evolution and cosmology, and leave it at that?

That is what they are. The truth hurts. Why should scientists even give them the light of day when the institutions pushing Creationism are doing so by re-writing the very definition of science and creating wedge issues NOT to spread fact but to spread fear and the wrath of god into people so if they are religious they HAVE to believe in ID.

That is the problem with ID. Again, i would seriously love to see a scientist or a research group studying ID who isn't biased and being funded by extreme Christian fundamentalists groups who want to prove Genesis as fact. Every group i can find has been subpoenaed in court to handle a creationist case to sustain the often mentioned cases of schools trying to implement that dreaded Pandas book. I have YET to see an ID people published as a scientific process/paper/test/research that is breaking down the truths of evolution.
 
  • #147
wofsy said:
well put. I think a lot of people think that irrationalist belief naturally leads to oppression. So everything gets lumped into the same basket and people who have done nothing are grouped with the Inquisitors.

If you can't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it :)
 
  • #148
muppet said:
The overwhelming majority of ID is rebranded creationism.

The vast majority of Americans have only a high school level education or less. When I was in High School I was taught that evolution was animals changing to adapt to their environment. Imagine my shock when later on I learned that this explanation was so over simplified as to pretty much be dead wrong. Now this is what people apparently learn in school but then outside of school hear instead from creationists/IDers that evolution (in an equally over simplified fashion) actually means random mutations haphazardly led from "pond scum to primates".

So how many people out there that believe ID may be possible do you think are actually creationists or believe anything even very similar to creationists? I myself am pretty sure that the average creationist will likely just call them selves one. So instead do you think that just maybe there are a lot of people out there who were never properly taught what evolution is (most of which are religious) and now, not knowing what to think, just figure that ID is quite possible? And if this is correct do you think that calling ID just another word for believing silly things like the world is 6000 years old and flat and that man was sculpted from mud is really going to endear you to any of these people who believe ID is possible? I mean we're not talking about religious fanatics here, we're talking about people whom you may be able to bring around and educate on the matter. Do you really want to kick off your discussion with them by completely insulting their intelligence?
 
  • #149
wofsy said:
I think the argument (which I am not repeating very competently) is saying that the standard presentation of Darwinian evolution says that it is gradual and that this contradicts the fossil record and defies statistics. It seems to me that you are just saying that that is wrong - but perhps you could specifically describe what really is going on - say from a genetic point of view.
What I am saying is wrong is your previous post where you said that punctuated equilibrium is "a near impossibility" (without a designer), and now in this last post where you say that it "defies statistics."

Punctuated equilibrium does not contradict evolution; it is an accepted explanation of some speciation events and is a part of the larger theory of evolution. Biologists do not look upon Darwin as a god; his views are not sacrosanct. He didn't know about genes. He didn't know about DNA. He didn't have access to huge number of fossils found after his death. The fossil record shows that speciation sometimes occurs rapidly while some species remain more-or-less unchanged for a long, long time. (Note well: Rapid is used here in a geological sense, where 100,000 years is a blink of an eye.)

Punctuated equilibrium does not require a designer and it does not defy statistics. What makes you think it does?
 
  • #150
TheStatutoryApe said:
I am sure you have heard the term "Blind Watchmaker" before yes? Do you know how old that argument is? The concept of intelligent design is quite old and there are many variations on it just as the concept of religion is very old and there are many variations on it.

The Concept of creationism is old, no doubting that. However it is old in the theological sense, not the scientific sense. It wasn't branded intelligent design until they felt compelled to make it look scientific and that happened fairly recently. :) Also, wasn't blind watchmaker more about complexity in nature and not the notion of design in nature?

If an neural network evolved a better means of solving a problem would you not consider the resultant product a 'design'? And really what other sort of design is there in anything that a human produces? Its all a collection of mostly minor adjustments and improvements made by multiple people over a period of time that was eventually pieced together to create this new 'design'. Also I was unaware that science had come up with a conclusive definition of 'intelligence' and that it only applied to "A GREATER BEING", what ever that is.

Intelligence refers to an ability to reason in its simplest forms. How do you measure ones ability to reason without prejudice? I could say bats are more intelligent than humans because they can use neural networking to fly blind with 50,000 other bats in and out of caves and use sonar to sense prey and eat and then have the ability to fly back to their home every night and communicate in that "neural network" or "hive" and land safely.

What does that prove? i dunno.. that's what I'm asking you to tell me. ;)

See above and please pay attention to my original post where I give an example of a possible intelligence other than man, aliens, or god.

The problem with that statement is no one debates the existence of intelligence, however the existence of intelligence has NOTHING to do with ID. There is nothing to measure. In a way you could measure intelligence as through technology but again, once you do that, it does nothing but whole heartedly support evolution because even our technology and intelligence of a species has evolved (And will continue to evolve) There may one day be humans that have sonar and neural networking to navigate around in complex patters.. who knows ;)

Note please that I do not support ID. I just think people need to be informed about the ideas they are attempting to refute. If you were to discuss ID with someone who believes in ID but is not christian your insistence that it is only rebranded creationism would likely insult them and turn them off from any argument you have no matter how well reasoned.

Honestly, if the fact of the matter insults them then they're not looking at it from a scientific process but that of a personal belief. Sometimes the truth hurts. Should science be based on belief systems or the scientific process?
 
  • #151
TheStatutoryApe said:
T Do you really want to kick off your discussion with them by completely insulting their intelligence?

If stating scientific fact is insulting their intelligence then there really is no debate is there?

Playing victim solves nothing and isn't debate. If you're victimized by scientific facts then there is nothing we can debate logically anyway.

Yes, it sucks schools have failed, yes it sucks people don't get evolution, yes it sucks science is almost an elementary skill unless you become passionate about it on your own. However continuing to appease those elementary views as having any relevence is what keeps this debate alive. The book should be shut, the door should be closed. Creationism isn't science and we already caught them trying to re-brand it as science by clever marketing.
 
  • #152
byronm said:
If stating scientific fact is insulting their intelligence then there really is no debate is there?

Playing victim solves nothing and isn't debate. If you're victimized by scientific facts then there is nothing we can debate logically anyway.

Yes, it sucks schools have failed, yes it sucks people don't get evolution, yes it sucks science is almost an elementary skill unless you become passionate about it on your own. However continuing to appease those elementary views as having any relevence is what keeps this debate alive. The book should be shut, the door should be closed. Creationism isn't science and we already caught them trying to re-brand it as science by clever marketing.

Indeed and bravo! Gawd save us from marketing gurus!
 
  • #153
D H said:
What I am saying is wrong is your previous post where you said that punctuated equilibrium is "a near impossibility" (without a designer), and now in this last post where you say that it "defies statistics."

Punctuated equilibrium does not contradict evolution; it is an accepted explanation of some speciation events and is a part of the larger theory of evolution. Biologists do not look upon Darwin as a god; his views are not sacrosanct. He didn't know about genes. He didn't know about DNA. He didn't have access to huge number of fossils found after his death. The fossil record shows that speciation sometimes occurs rapidly while some species remain more-or-less unchanged for a long, long time. (Note well: Rapid is used here in a geological sense, where 100,000 years is a blink of an eye.)

Punctuated equilibrium does not require a designer and it does not defy statistics. What makes you think it does?

I didn't say that I think that it does. I just think that it has been used to question the standard model of evolution and asks the question of what really happens.

I know that biologists have thought about this.

By the way, just so you'll know where I am coming from - I have graduate credits in the theory of evolution and am currently working on research on the origins of human bipedalism.
 
Last edited:
  • #154
A lot of rapid speciation after a major extinction event can be explained by genetic drift. It is difficult to explain quickly but you can google it pretty easy. There is a pretty complete set of lecture notes out there that addresses the statistics of genetic drift and inbreeding. The quick story though is that genetic drift applies to small populations much more than large ones. So if a large population is split into small ones by a major extinction event, then genetic drift will carry their evolution in separate directions. Gene flow works against evolution in a large and stable population so if there is no selection pressure strong enough to overcome it and the population has reached a local maxima, then evolution is essentially stopped until the equilibrium is 'puncuated' by a change in the environment.
 
  • #155
TheStatutoryApe said:
The vast majority of Americans have only a high school level education or less. When I was in High School I was taught that evolution was animals changing to adapt to their environment. Imagine my shock when later on I learned that this explanation was so over simplified as to pretty much be dead wrong. Now this is what people apparently learn in school but then outside of school hear instead from creationists/IDers that evolution (in an equally over simplified fashion) actually means random mutations haphazardly led from "pond scum to primates".

My housemate and I agreed that we didn't really understand evolution until we read books by Richard Dawkins, and I think you just put your finger on why. I'd forgotten how it was presented in school: "Polar bears have white fur so they are camoflaged in the snow" etc.

So how many people out there that believe ID may be possible do you think are actually creationists or believe anything even very similar to creationists?
First, I'd re-emphasise that the protagonists of ID are creationists without exception to the best of my knowledge. As for people unfortunate enough to have come across their material, see below.
I myself am pretty sure that the average creationist will likely just call them selves one.
You'd really hope so, wouldn't you? The thing is that they *KNOW* that ID is not a scientific theory in any conventional or even meaningful sense of the term. The strategy that they've been pursuing is to try and dress creationism up as science. By bandying about phrases like "irreducible complexity"- claims which, if true, would indeed be the death of evolution- it opens a wide variety of propaganda options to them. Rather than fighting a losing battle in the faith vs science dichotomy, they can construct a facade of intellectual substance to hide their real motivation. They can fight to have it taught alongside evolution in biology classrooms. They can protest that intellectual freedom is being stifled by people's refusal to publish their papers in journals.

So instead do you think that just maybe there are a lot of people out there who were never properly taught what evolution is (most of which are religious) and now, not knowing what to think, just figure that ID is quite possible? And if this is correct do you think that calling ID just another word for believing silly things like the world is 6000 years old and flat and that man was sculpted from mud is really going to endear you to any of these people who believe ID is possible? I mean we're not talking about religious fanatics here, we're talking about people whom you may be able to bring around and educate on the matter. Do you really want to kick off your discussion with them by completely insulting their intelligence?
Well if we're not talking about religous fanatics, then exposing ID as what it is- creationism in fancy dress- with reference to the catalogued deceptions of the proponents of ID and the overwhelming rejection of ID by the scientific community should bring someone's consideration of it to a fairly abrupt end. My introduction to ID was just such a case- my aunt gave me a video she'd been given which didn't mention religion explicitly, began with Michael Behe in his labcoat, etc etc. If someone who's not fairly scientifically literate is told that there's scientific evidence that might disprove evolution, it's fairly reasonable for them to consider seriously that it might be wrong. (My aunt, for the record, is a senior hospital pharmacist- so perhaps even "fairly scientifically literate" doesn't quite cut it! Perhaps "naturally sceptical and familiar with pure science specifically" might be nearer the mark :wink: ) I don't think it's necessary to insult someone's intelligence to explain to them that they've been lied to.
 
  • #156
aPhilosopher said:
A lot of rapid speciation after a major extinction event can be explained by genetic drift. It is difficult to explain quickly but you can google it pretty easy. There is a pretty complete set of lecture notes out there that addresses the statistics of genetic drift and inbreeding. The quick story though is that genetic drift applies to small populations much more than large ones. So if a large population is split into small ones by a major extinction event, then genetic drift will carry their evolution in separate directions. Gene flow works against evolution in a large and stable population so if there is no selection pressure strong enough to overcome it and the population has reached a local maxima, then evolution is essentially stopped until the equilibrium is 'puncuated' by a change in the environment.

great explanation. So rather than mutation per se - random flows of already existing gene frequencies cause genetic diversification of small separate - originally identical groups . Because these groups are separated the drifts can not be homogenized through interbreeding and therby persist. Did I get that right?
 
  • #157
wofsy said:
So rather than mutation per se - random flows of already existing gene frequencies cause genetic diversification of small separate - originally identical groups . Because these groups are separated the drifts can not be homogenized through interbreeding and therby persist. Did I get that right?
Somewhat. Mutations are still needed to get big changes. Genetic drift pertains to the alleles already present in a population. A population split into isolated sub-populations can drift in different directions via genetic drift. A small population not particularly attuned to its environment is susceptible to change by genetic drift and by mutation. Large, stable populations are much less susceptible to change, either by genetic drift or by mutation. Even mutations that one would think would be beneficial are selected against in a large population.

For more on genetic drift google the term "ring species".
 
  • #158
wofsy said:
great explanation. So rather than mutation per se - random flows of already existing gene frequencies cause genetic diversification of small separate - originally identical groups . Because these groups are separated the drifts can not be homogenized through interbreeding and therby persist. Did I get that right?

That's a pretty good synopsis. In addition, whatever changes to the environment caused the population reduction probably did so in a non-homogeneous manner so that the environment changed one way across one part of the species range and differently in another part. Remember that the environment has to be taken to include other organisms as well for this discussion. Strictly speaking, we should be talking about individual genes, in which case, the environment includes other genes as well. So then you get the sort of slow gradual evolution leading to distinct species. 100,000 years is the blink of an eye in geological terms but is enough time for serious evolution to occur as well. Every new bit of evidence indicates that it happens faster than is commonly believed. The example of the finches that I gave you is a good example of that. They reversed the size of the sexes in 15-30 generations. That's a small change, granted, but multiply that by 3000 and you are starting to get the idea.
 
  • #159
byronm said:
I believe t was stated to show that history existed before religious groups tried to destroy it in an effort to instill their ideologies of the beginning. If all those books, scrolls and papers weren't destroyed not only would we be that much wiser (some estimate up to 10,000 years wiser in technology) we probably wouldn't be having the debates between truth and fiction.

As I stated earlier: non-religious groups have done the same thing. And might I also remind you that most of the genocides of the twentieth century have been performed by non-religious or religiously-ambiguous groups (in fact creationists capitalize on this to suggest that secularism results in mass murder). Clearly the point here is to show that religions have an established pattern of erasing historical records. And that point is very poorly made. I'm surprised that this line of reasoning is being taken seriously on a forum populated by scientists. Haven't we all been trained to make correlations based on observed data rather than emotional appeals?



byronm said:
History doesn't lie, and if you don't learn from it, you're doomed to repeat it. The KKK still exists, the KKK is still predominantly republican. However none of which have any bearing with ID or Evolution other then the fact i wish humanity could evolve to not be so racists, stupid and biased ;)

I mentioned the KKK and Republicans soley to illustrate the poor logic being employed here. Do you think it's reasonable to say that Republicans are racist?



byronm said:
That is what they are. The truth hurts. Why should scientists even give them the light of day when the institutions pushing Creationism are doing so by re-writing the very definition of science and creating wedge issues NOT to spread fact but to spread fear and the wrath of god into people so if they are religious they HAVE to believe in ID.

Everyone here, myself included, agrees with you that creationism and ID shouldn't see the light of day in legitimate science. It's demonstrated itself to be unfalsifiable and pseudoscientific. I would not make any attempt to defend creationism or even to suggest that it be taken seriously. What I've said is that scientists shouldn't be appealing to ridicule the way creationists do (e.g. see the "pond scum" comment made by an earlier poster).

byronm said:
That is the problem with ID. Again, i would seriously love to see a scientist or a research group studying ID who isn't biased and being funded by extreme Christian fundamentalists groups who want to prove Genesis as fact. Every group i can find has been subpoenaed in court to handle a creationist case to sustain the often mentioned cases of schools trying to implement that dreaded Pandas book. I have YET to see an ID people published as a scientific process/paper/test/research that is breaking down the truths of evolution.

You're right, ID isn't a legitimate scientific theory. It has a purely religious motivation. And as you yourself are aware, most creationists try to tell people that in order to be obedient to God you must believe in creation science, and that "secular science" is morally bankrupt and is performed by atheists who hate God. So why give them ammunition? Respect religious peoples' beliefs as you demonstrate the truth of modern biological and astrophysical theories, and strip the creationist proponents of the ability to say that you have an ungodly and demonic motivation. As you yourself said, creationists are winning in public opinion polls because they strike the fear of God into the public in spite of their very poorly constructed arguments.
 
  • #160
byronm said:
Honestly, if the fact of the matter insults them then they're not looking at it from a scientific process but that of a personal belief. Sometimes the truth hurts. Should science be based on belief systems or the scientific process?
byronm said:
If stating scientific fact is insulting their intelligence then there really is no debate is there?

Playing victim solves nothing and isn't debate. If you're victimized by scientific facts then there is nothing we can debate logically anyway.

Yes, it sucks schools have failed, yes it sucks people don't get evolution, yes it sucks science is almost an elementary skill unless you become passionate about it on your own. However continuing to appease those elementary views as having any relevence is what keeps this debate alive. The book should be shut, the door should be closed. Creationism isn't science and we already caught them trying to re-brand it as science by clever marketing.
What keeps the debate alive is not being willing to educate. One must engage those one wishes to educate. You are not very engaging when you are insulting people's ideas and beliefs. One can definitely discuss and inform without being blunt and dismissive.

If scientists can not find it within themselves to be properly engaging educators of the masses then they ought to remove themselves from the issue and quit complaining that people won't listen. Their arrogance, lack of patience, and condescending attitudes only hurt the cause.


muppet said:
Well if we're not talking about religous fanatics, then exposing ID as what it is- creationism in fancy dress- with reference to the catalogued deceptions of the proponents of ID and the overwhelming rejection of ID by the scientific community should bring someone's consideration of it to a fairly abrupt end. My introduction to ID was just such a case- my aunt gave me a video she'd been given which didn't mention religion explicitly, began with Michael Behe in his labcoat, etc etc. If someone who's not fairly scientifically literate is told that there's scientific evidence that might disprove evolution, it's fairly reasonable for them to consider seriously that it might be wrong. (My aunt, for the record, is a senior hospital pharmacist- so perhaps even "fairly scientifically literate" doesn't quite cut it! Perhaps "naturally sceptical and familiar with pure science specifically" might be nearer the mark :wink: ) I don't think it's necessary to insult someone's intelligence to explain to them that they've been lied to.

You can certainly educate people in a polite and engaging manner. That is what I am advocating. Many people though who are pro-evolution, as we can see here in this thread even, have no patience and are not very polite or engaging about their opinions. Also telling someone that they have been lied to is not very engaging. It implies that they have been duped due to a lack of intelligence. Some people, such as your aunt, may take this ok, especially coming from someone they trust, but a significant number of people do not. If you state that its just a rebranded creationism and attack its source this is just a sort of ad hominem, it does not directly tackle the issue of what is being proposed. While not everyone is capable of seeing fallacious arguments for what they are people tend to notice them rather quickly when they are feeling defensive.

So if you are going to make an argument it ought to be proper, polite, and engaging. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and possibly hurting your own cause.
 
  • #161
TheStatutoryApe said:
What keeps the debate alive is not being willing to educate. One must engage those one wishes to educate. You are not very engaging when you are insulting people's ideas and beliefs. One can definitely discuss and inform without being blunt and dismissive.

If scientists can not find it within themselves to be properly engaging educators of the masses then they ought to remove themselves from the issue and quit complaining that people won't listen. Their arrogance, lack of patience, and condescending attitudes only hurt the cause.




You can certainly educate people in a polite and engaging manner. That is what I am advocating. Many people though who are pro-evolution, as we can see here in this thread even, have no patience and are not very polite or engaging about their opinions. Also telling someone that they have been lied to is not very engaging. It implies that they have been duped due to a lack of intelligence. Some people, such as your aunt, may take this ok, especially coming from someone they trust, but a significant number of people do not. If you state that its just a rebranded creationism and attack its source this is just a sort of ad hominem, it does not directly tackle the issue of what is being proposed. While not everyone is capable of seeing fallacious arguments for what they are people tend to notice them rather quickly when they are feeling defensive.

So if you are going to make an argument it ought to be proper, polite, and engaging. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and possibly hurting your own cause.
Thank you. I've always felt the need to respect the people we're trying to enlighten. I am continually dismayed to see an abundance of emotive dismissal and derision coming from we who as a agroup claim to be the rational and logical ones.

It is good to hear someone else say it.
 
  • #162
TheStatutoryApe said:
Also telling someone that they have been lied to is not very engaging. It implies that they have been duped due to a lack of intelligence.
I really don't think it's intrinsically offensive to the listener to call ID proponents liars. Consider the following 3 statements:
1. I have a grandmother in Liverpool who is blind.
2. I have an aunt in London who has cancer.
3. I have a cousin in Bristol who has eczema.
One of those statements is false. How are you supposed to know which one?

When an ID proponent calling himself Dr Hovind tells you that there are no transitional fossils and an evolutionist calling himself Dr Miller states that there are, there's no way around the fact that one of them isn't right. EITHER Dr Miller is lying about the existence of fossils or "Dr" Hovind is lying about the non-existence of fossils or somehow, despite arguing with evolutionists for a living, no-one has ever told "Dr" Hovind of the existence of transitional fossils. (I suppose, if you really, really wanted to, you could claim that paelentologists have been collectively lying to Dr Miller, along with everyone else, but the nature of his claim is such that you can't say he's ignorant of the non-existence of such fossils). I'd suggest that it's really much less offensive for someone to be the victim of a deception than to have bought into a dumb argument.

If you state that its just a rebranded creationism and attack its source this is just a sort of ad hominem, it does not directly tackle the issue of what is being proposed...
It is important that people understand that it has no scientific basis whatsoever. I couldn't agree more that it's important to explain why. The only reason I mentioned the personal disingenuity of some of the more prominent IDers was because you said you figured an out-and-out creationist would identify themselves as such, and I lamented that we weren't dealing with honest people. Ideally, of course it's best to make the arguments that the evolution of the bacterial flagellar motor has arisen from other much simpler systems that have been cobbled together from doing other jobs; that the "irreducibly complex" blood clotting system in humans has been found with one fewer component in dolphins and wales, and with four fewer components in puffer fish, and that Darwin predicted the existence of an intermediate between birds and dinosaurs before Archaeopterix was discovered, and that palaentolgists know perfectly well that C-14 dating isn't a reliable way to assess the age of anything more than a few thousand years old, and that you can see evolution happening in systems like bacteria today, and that... etc.

However, when people are being told things by different people that directly contradict each other, I think it's necessary to explain honestly why the conflict arises. Theoretically anyone can go and find the evidence for all of this stuff, but in practice I'd guess that I wouldn't be able to read a professional biologist's paper on the topic, and I'll never have access to a lab or an archaeological dig. People who want to accquire a broad picture of how the world works sooner or later have to put their trust in someone; it takes at least 6 years from beginning university to getting a PhD in the UK, and usually more like 8. You simply can't know it all.

So if you are going to make an argument it ought to be proper, polite, and engaging. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and possibly hurting your own cause.
I agree entirely that you shouldn't insult the listener's intelligence, and that it's easy to come across as negative, arrogant or vitriolic when you're speaking about a proposal that is essentially devoid of all merit, apart perhaps from by some aesthetic criteria. I'm also fully aware that sentences like that one are derisive, but I don't think it's an overstatement, and the truthfulness of ID is not something that we're discussing here, so I don't see any harm in it.

To my mind, the absolute textbook demonstration of how to treat the topic can be found here. It's the lecture by Ken Miller that I've already alluded to repeatedly in this thread. The lecture is an hour long with another hour of Q and A, but if you've got the time it's fantastic stuff. He is himself religious, so he's not an atheistic tub-thumper. He has an excellent sense of humour and a great way of communicating the evidence; he doesn't come across as arrogant or condescending. But he's absolutely unequivocal about the strength of the case for evolution, about the weakness of ID, and about the disingenuity of the proponents of ID.
 
  • #163
muppet said:
To my mind, the absolute textbook demonstration of how to treat the topic can be found here.
Due to the very slow internet here, I can't really watch that huge YouTube video. Did somebody upload it after splitting it into several smaller parts? I couldn't find it. It maybe asking too much, but would it be possible for you to upload it in several parts. That way, it would be possible for me to watch it.
 
  • #164
DaveC426913 said:
Thank you. I've always felt the need to respect the people we're trying to enlighten. I am continually dismayed to see an abundance of emotive dismissal and derision coming from we who as a agroup claim to be the rational and logical ones.

I originally wrote a wall of text response to this, but i'll just keep it short(er) ;)

Those who believe in creationism are already "enlightened" and thus will refuse any evidence to the contrary as they are delusional in the sense that they purposely and willfully refuse any evidence to the contrary to their personal beliefs.

Also, i take great disgust in the statement "claim to be the rational and logical ones" because more often then not that is the very counter argument against us. In modern day politics you lose if you're considered intellectual because intellectualism is now demonized, i certainly hope the science community doesn't appeal to that nonsense.

If people can't accept facts and be critical enough of their own beliefs to incorporate those facts, its not my fault or my job to further embellish them to appease their willful ignorance.

I would love to debate creationism if it was so simple as to enlighten someone with fact however the simple truth of the matter is creationism is about accepting the truths as Christianity presents them, not through the scientific process.

*I* think its rather sad that as adults, the ones using science to convey a message have to appease those who appeal merely on an emotional level.

And no, i don't just call them a-holes when i start out conversations, so I'm not sure why there is so much response here as to why we should appeal to them when they have no concern to appeal to us?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #166
wofsy said:
A lot of anti-evolutionists argue from the idea of intelligent design - an idea that has been revived I think from pre-Darwinian beliefs. What do you think of the arguments from intelligent design?

My brother, a molecular biologist, told me an early evolutionist's sarcastic argument against intelligent design. When JBS Haldane was asked what he thought of God's role in creation he responded, "I think he had an inordinate preoccupation with beetles."

We don't know the mind of God, maybe he does like beetles.
 
  • #167
muppet said:
When an ID proponent calling himself Dr Hovind tells you that there are no transitional fossils and an evolutionist calling himself Dr Miller states that there are, there's no way around the fact that one of them isn't right. EITHER Dr Miller is lying about the existence of fossils or "Dr" Hovind is lying about the non-existence of fossils
"Only a Sith speaks in absolutes."
The options are not so black & white. The fossil evidence is open to interpretation (i.e. grey area), and they have interpreted it differently. It would appear Dr. Hovind does not see the fossils as transitional.

byronm said:
Those who believe in creationism are already "enlightened" and thus will refuse any evidence to the contrary
Agreed, but this isn't about them, it's about "our" philosophy toward them. "We" see them as in-the-dark science-wise, and our goal would be to illuminate that darkness with facts and logic.

byronm said:
Also, i take great disgust in the statement "claim to be the rational and logical ones" because more often then not that is the very counter argument against us. In modern day politics you lose if you're considered intellectual because intellectualism is now demonized, i certainly hope the science community doesn't appeal to that nonsense.
I'm confused. You are disgusted at my comment about us being rational and logical becasue other people are trying to besmirch these virtues? Are you saying you have accepted their judgement of logic and rationalism as demonized?

byronm said:
i'm not sure why there is so much response here as to why we should appeal to them when they have no concern to appeal to us?
For the same reason that we don't scream at our children when they scream at us?

If "our way" truly is more enlightened, then we must be enlightened. To do otherwise is to accept Creationists as equal opponents (us vs. them) on a level playing field. It's not anti-this versus pro-this; it's ignorance versus education. Right?
 
  • #168
DaveC426913 said:
If "our way" truly is more enlightened, then we must be enlightened. To do otherwise is to accept Creationists as equal opponents (us vs. them) on a level playing field. It's not anti-this versus pro-this; it's ignorance versus education. Right?

I think you've put it quite well.
 
  • #169
byronm said:
I originally wrote a wall of text response to this, but i'll just keep it short(er) ;)

Those who believe in creationism are already "enlightened" and thus will refuse any evidence to the contrary as they are delusional in the sense that they purposely and willfully refuse any evidence to the contrary to their personal beliefs.

Also, i take great disgust in the statement "claim to be the rational and logical ones" because more often then not that is the very counter argument against us. In modern day politics you lose if you're considered intellectual because intellectualism is now demonized, i certainly hope the science community doesn't appeal to that nonsense.

If people can't accept facts and be critical enough of their own beliefs to incorporate those facts, its not my fault or my job to further embellish them to appease their willful ignorance.

I would love to debate creationism if it was so simple as to enlighten someone with fact however the simple truth of the matter is creationism is about accepting the truths as Christianity presents them, not through the scientific process.

*I* think its rather sad that as adults, the ones using science to convey a message have to appease those who appeal merely on an emotional level.

And no, i don't just call them a-holes when i start out conversations, so I'm not sure why there is so much response here as to why we should appeal to them when they have no concern to appeal to us?
You're still equating ID with creationism and religious fanaticism.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm
A Gallup poll shows that apparently approximately 9% of people believe in naturalistic evolution, 47% believe in biblical creation, and 40% believe that evolution has occurred but guided by the hand of god.
That's nearly half of the population who believe that evolution is true but at least 40% likely give credence to the idea that ID is possibly true as well and they are not creationists.
No one is talking about appeasing any one, I have no idea where you are getting that, we are talking about these 40% (or more) who can be spoken to and possibly swayed so long as you are not insulting their beliefs or calling them the little deluded dupes of creationist conspirators and liars. Its not 'appeasement' to be polite and truly attempt to educate without resorting to ridicule and improper or dismissive arguments.
 
  • #170
Before we go any further, I'd like a brief pause to share this:
drdino.com said:
Critics of creationism often say that creationism is simply religion, whereas evolutionism is based on science. The Bible says in Genesis 1 that all creatures reproduce "after their kind"(no change to another kind, i.e., no transitional forms). So the complete absence of transitional forms in the fossil record supports creationism.
I promise you that I've not edited that in the least detail :biggrin:
Daneel_Olivaw: I'm afraid I have precisely zero knowledge of editing videos, but I've started working on it. At present I appear to be suffering from codec issues...

DaveC: I take the point about interpreting the evidence, but when articles such as http://www.drdino.com/read-article.php?id=100 imply that a fully functional organism cannot be a transitional form, I'd suggest that that amounts to a misrepresentation of the claims of evolution.
Again, I'd re-iterate that I agree entirely that when speaking to people who have been presented with these ideas and take them seriously, that we shouldn't insult them, but present them with the rational arguments and evidence that make the case for evolution so overwhelming. I'd like return to your earlier comment:
I am continually dismayed to see an abundance of emotive dismissal and derision coming from we who as a agroup claim to be the rational and logical ones.
If I understand what you're saying here, you're making a point about how to persuade people ID/creationism/however they repackage it next is wrong. As you've implicitly characterised creationism as ignorant, I'd infer that you've no problem with people being derisive about it per se. My own take on this would be that by and large people -at least within a community such as this one- don't simply state that "ur gods not reel and ur unbeleivably dumb go [insert profanity here]". (YouTube would of course be an altogether different kettle of fish.) However, statements such as the one that evoboy made above are likely to get a fairly curt response. I don't think the responses can be reduced to "emotive dismissal and derision", but they might well contain it. I think there's two reasons for this:
1)These arguments have been refuted so many times that it's both tedious to repeat the exercise and maddening that someone who has heard it refuted has continued to promulgate it.
2)It's irritating to hear people make with confidence assertions that they evidently don't understand, and such statements lower our opinion of the speaker. I'd like to think that a statement "I've heard that ..." would have elicited a more patient response.
Whilst neither of these factors alters the fact that the understanding of science has not been promoted to the fullest extent in these circumstances, I'd suggest that these go some way to accounting for why reasonable people lose their rag over this issue. Your thoughts?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #171
TheStatutoryApe said:
You're still equating ID with creationism and religious fanaticism.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm
A Gallup poll shows that apparently approximately 9% of people believe in naturalistic evolution, 47% believe in biblical creation, and 40% believe that evolution has occurred but guided by the hand of god.
That's nearly half of the population who believe that evolution is true but at least 40% likely give credence to the idea that ID is possibly true as well and they are not creationists.
No one is talking about appeasing any one, I have no idea where you are getting that, we are talking about these 40% (or more) who can be spoken to and possibly swayed so long as you are not insulting their beliefs or calling them the little deluded dupes of creationist conspirators and liars. Its not 'appeasement' to be polite and truly attempt to educate without resorting to ridicule and improper or dismissive arguments.

This post suggests that we might perhaps be talking at cross purposes. When I use the phrase ID I use it to mean a fairly specific set of propositions, as formulated in the books by Michael Behe in which the term was coined. As already discussed, it is well documented that this is creationism packaged as science. An integral feature of this set of propositions is the idea of "irreducible complexity", which explicitly asserts that structures exist in nature which could not have arisen by evolution. Consequently, the 40% who consider that God might have had some role in evolution couldn't be considered as believing that ID in this sense might be true.

If, however, by "intelligent design", you mean the literal meaning of the phrase in the most general sense rather than the special set of propositions I've been talking about, then of course that does have the potential to be quite far removed from creationism. Similar arguments abound in physics, along the lines of "if the charge of the proton/gravitational constant/initial rate of inflation were slightly different then atoms/planets could never have formed", and I've no particular hostility to them.
 
  • #172
muppet said:
This post suggests that we might perhaps be talking at cross purposes. When I use the phrase ID I use it to mean a fairly specific set of propositions, as formulated in the books by Michael Behe in which the term was coined. As already discussed, it is well documented that this is creationism packaged as science. An integral feature of this set of propositions is the idea of "irreducible complexity", which explicitly asserts that structures exist in nature which could not have arisen by evolution. Consequently, the 40% who consider that God might have had some role in evolution couldn't be considered as believing that ID in this sense might be true.

If, however, by "intelligent design", you mean the literal meaning of the phrase in the most general sense rather than the special set of propositions I've been talking about, then of course that does have the potential to be quite far removed from creationism. Similar arguments abound in physics, along the lines of "if the charge of the proton/gravitational constant/initial rate of inflation were slightly different then atoms/planets could never have formed", and I've no particular hostility to them.

Evolution is a mathematical model built on stochastic processes. It is no different from physics or any other science in that respect. The math IS the science. The rest is experimental or observational evidence to back up the model. Period.

Whether God (or little green men) guided the process or not makes no difference to the model. This means that creationism (or ID) which is consistent with the evidence and the model is consistent with science.

The reason we use stochastic math here (or Quantum Physics as far as that goes) is that the underlying deterministic processes (if there are any) are not knowable. We can't know them. As such, arguments about the underlying processes are equivalent to the Medieval discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They are meaningless.

The 40% who believe in the model but feel that God may have a hand in the underlying stochastic processes believe in the science. They are just as valid in their beliefs as are anyone else
 
  • #173
Sorry, does the above post make it sound like I don't think they are?
 
  • #174
muppet said:
This post suggests that we might perhaps be talking at cross purposes. When I use the phrase ID I use it to mean a fairly specific set of propositions, as formulated in the books by Michael Behe in which the term was coined. As already discussed, it is well documented that this is creationism packaged as science. An integral feature of this set of propositions is the idea of "irreducible complexity", which explicitly asserts that structures exist in nature which could not have arisen by evolution. Consequently, the 40% who consider that God might have had some role in evolution couldn't be considered as believing that ID in this sense might be true.

If, however, by "intelligent design", you mean the literal meaning of the phrase in the most general sense rather than the special set of propositions I've been talking about, then of course that does have the potential to be quite far removed from creationism. Similar arguments abound in physics, along the lines of "if the charge of the proton/gravitational constant/initial rate of inflation were slightly different then atoms/planets could never have formed", and I've no particular hostility to them.
I've already tried multiple times in this thread to point out the fact that ID (in general) is nothing new and has many interpretations of meaning just like any other philosophical or religious idea. People hearing about this discussion over intelligent design and catching a youtube video or news article here and there often think that it is interesting and that these people may have a point. I have heard plenty of relatively intelligent religious individuals say that they think ID is possible and that scientists may not have the whole story on evolution. And these are the people who are turned off by the evolutionists position when they blow off ID (something these people have decided to believe is possible) as nothing but ridiculous non-science (read: something that only fools take seriously). Then the IDers pull the "arrogant closed minded scientists" card and there you go, an incredibly large subsection of the population has been made to not trust what scientists have to say. I am absolutely flabberghasted that so many intelligent people can not see this happening and continue to spout ridicule and anti-religious comments as if this is supposed to help somehow. You'll even notice that a rather significant percentage of people in this thread seem to think that if a person has begun to think that ID is plausible they are obviously lost to ignorance and not worth wasting your breath on.
 
  • #175
TheStatutoryApe said:
I've already tried multiple times in this thread to point out the fact that ID (in general) is nothing new and has many interpretations of meaning just like any other philosophical or religious idea.
Intelligent Design, as it is popularly used today, is the religious creation of Charles Thaxton and Stephen C. Meyer in June 1988. Since Intelligent Design was created in order to challenge the teaching of evolution in schools and disguise religion as science, we need to make it clear that the term "Intelligent Design", for reasons of keeping everyone on the same topic, refers to this attempt at undermining the teaching of science in schools in favor of teaching religion. See "The Wedge" document if you are not aware of this.

The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to "defeat [scientific] materialism" represented by evolution, "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions"[2] and to "affirm the reality of God."

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

Because "Intelligent Design" is part of Christian religion, we do not allow discussion of their religious beliefs. Discussion of ID falls under the religious discussion guidelines. It's not science. It's sad that people are being duped into thinking it is.
 
Last edited:

Similar threads

Replies
14
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
Replies
16
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
47
Views
4K
Replies
6
Views
920
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
2
Replies
66
Views
16K
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
7
Views
8K
Replies
4
Views
3K
Back
Top