"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Jun 18, 2007

Evolution and Creation

Debate about evolution and creationism is alive and kicking in the United States in a way that most people in the United Kingdom find very difficult to relate to. In Britain we have thankfully not been subject to the same propaganda from creationists as in the US. Indeed in the US there has been a concerted attempt by creationists and so called "Intelligent design" proponents to have their "theories" included in science education in schools.

Some creationists and IDers give an appearance of scientific credibility but a little scratching soon reveals the weakness of their so called "scientific" arguments. The reason for this is of course obvious. For their arguments stem ultimately not from reason or scientific argument but from blind faith.

The following two links are a recording from a programme which explores these opposing viewpoints.

Recording 1 Dr. Eugenie Scott trained as a biological anthropologist and runs the National Centre for Science Education in Berkley California which has campaigned against the teaching of creationism in American schools. She meets so-called Young Earth Creationists whose starting point is a literal interpretation of the biblical book of Genesis and who believe that the Earth, life and humans were created over six days less than 10,000 years ago.

Recording 2 Dr. Henry Morris III is Executive vice President of the Institute for Creation Research, founded by his father. He believes in literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, suggesting that the Earth, life and humans were created over six days less than 10,000 years ago.


Looney said...

Howdy Bunc,

I will try to get a chance to look at this tomorrow. Things have gotten a bit busy...

Bunc said...

Hi looney. Of on my hols for a week tonight to a place where they used to throw the Christians to the lions. Ah, they were the days.... ;-)

Looney said...

The mountain lions are probably stalking me on my trail runs. (Munched a lady in Santa Cruz awhile back.) My life may end that way too.

Looney said...

Well I listened to the first recording. Regarding Dawkins, I think he makes the usual erroneous deduction: Widget A (a fly?) is similar to Widget B (a human?), therefore, they evolved over millions of years and we have no need for a designer.

What distinguishes me from most Creationists is that I reject the notion of a scientist as taught in school. A scientist is a narrow specialist. The scientist as a generalist doesn't exist, but the respect that society gives to scientists is based on the generalist view. Also, the gene that causes religious fanaticism is present in everyone, including the atheist. The notion of the scientist involved in pure objective reasoning and observation is silly.

Separate from a scientist, we have the notion of an intellectual. The intellectual frequently has a Ph.D and is fairly well read. His job is to play with words and employs ideas in a garbage-in, garbage-out mode. The Lutheran minister is in this mode as well as much of academia. In fact, we all do this periodically while trying to use the title of science as cover.

For me, this means that my regard for science is extremely high as I deal with the tangible. As experiments become further and further removed in complexity from the tangible, the credibility of science decreases exponentially and the probability of intellectual garbage taking over tends to 1. This is why I would like to see a decoupling of biology from both prehistoric evolution and creation. Of course, my viewpoint is pretty much how I handle global warming, nutrition supplements and peaceful Islam theories. The title of 'skeptic' needs to be reclaimed by those who are truly skeptical!

I enjoyed Eugenie's presentation.

Anonymous said...

There are far too many things in this world that can not be explained according to Darwin's theory (the basis of modern evolutionary thought).

It is called the 'Theory of evolution' because it is a theory. Nowhere will you find references to 'Darwin's "fact"' only Darwin's theory. Science is fundamentally based on the investigation of Theories. Darwin himself stated that there were flaws in his theory, and yet, somehow modern 'science' seems to treat his theory as gospel without consideration for it's self-admitted faults.

If a creator does exist, with enough insight and power to create something as spectacular as the human 'being', then I see no reason that creation could not have been completed in 6 of our days. However, I also believe the common (and historical) use of the word 'days' to be a convenient one, and that this may in fact be a standin term for some unspecified/incomprehensible period of time.

Darwin was not completely "wrong", however the way his theory is used to the exclusion of all else goes against the fundamental principles of good science.

'Indoctrinating' school students with an arbitrary religion would not be tolerated, so why should the similar force feeding of Evolution be accepted?

The 'Head in the Sand' approach doesn't get us very far, we need to be able to consider and appreciate other views and possibilities whether they be religious, philosophical or 'scientific'.

Bunc said...

Hi Anonymous - you are a busy boy as I see your posts all over the internet.

A couple of (fairly obvious) responses to what you have written.

Darwins "theory" is a bit like the "theory" of gravity - a scientific theory subject to disproof. Try jumping up and not coming down though. You should distinguish between Darwins Theory of Natural Selection which certainly has been refined and improved ( the modern synthesis) and the facts of evolution.

I am afraid that the facts that evolution has occurred are inescapable - a bit like gravity is inescapable (well unless you are going fast enough).
Where do you get the idea that modern science treats Darwins ideas as "gospel" ?!

This is - without being too rude about it - utter drivel, hogwash and bilge and shows that you know very little about how science and in particular biology works.

Darwins theories of natural selection have been tested to the point of detsruction. They are tested every time a new species is found. Every time a new fossil is discovered. Every time a new geographical strata is found. They are tested by each new finding in genetics. They are tested by the evidence of microbial adaptation to anti-biotics and so on and so on. You could do with reading a bit more old chap.

You say "if a creator exits there is no reason that creation could not have been completed in six of our days". Of course but why take six days? Why not one day and rest for six or did he just fancy working a typical working week? Myth, superstition and twaddle.

You go on to say that these days could have represented incomprehensible periods of time. Which is as much to say that it just took as long as we know it did from the scientific evidence.

So why bring God into it at all? Your superstitious beard is in great need of trimming with a good application of Occams razor.

Earlier in your comment you say " far too many things in this world cannot be explained by Darwins theory" er yes well right - so Darwins theory doesn't explain planetary motion or particle physics. Is this a problem? If so I dont see it. If you mean it doesn't explain things in biology then please be more specific.

Darwins Theory is not used to the exclusion of all else. It is the Modern synthesis which is used -which is a much bigger beast. And if you mean to the exclusion of "intelligent design" then of course - because Intelligent design is not science as it makes no falsifiable predictions. Duh!

We are no more force feeding children or indoctrinating them when we teach them evolution and natural selection than we are when we teach them how electrical circuits work my friend. Are we to teach them the "Angels push the electrons round the circuit" theory of electronics??

Before accusing anyone else of having their head in the sand it behoves each creationist to take their own head out of their arse.

Looney said...

"Darwins "theory" is a bit like the "theory" of gravity - a scientific theory subject to disproof."

Bunc, I think it is quite clear that Darwin's theory is a meta-narrative, rather than a theory. It can't be scientifically disproven because it has no scientific form.

Bunc said...

I understand your point here Looney and it is true that physical theories are often able to be expressed in neat equations which is more difficult with a biological theory like Darwins.

Stricly speaking Darwins theory would be more analagous to stochastic theories in physics rather than Newtonian types of Physical "laws".

However this does not mean that they are not disprovable. Anytime someone finds a fossiled mammal in a geological sequence out of order with the amphibian , reptile, mammal sequence then current theories would be shaken to their roots.

Interestingly I am not sure if you have seen the recent reports that darwinian "selection" approaches have now been applied to quantum explanations , seemingly with good initial results.

In this sense I think it is true that darwins theory ( not sure he realised this) may in fact be a meta theory.

Technically it should apply in any system which has the characteristics of reproduction with variation and subsequent selective pressure. In that sense it may not just be a mechanism in living ssystems but in any system with these characteristics. Hence the reason that, within limits, it can be demonstrated in non living computer GA systems.

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