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Author Topic: Scary Ignorance
LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by pickled shuttlecock:
If you're looking for evidence of interference by, say, an intelligent designer, you have to postulate the possibility of the existence of a designer. Postulating that designer in the manner I outlined would make it fit within the framework of science.

Turns out that's exactly what they've done, yet people still call it "not science" because "it includes God," and "God can change the outcome of your experiment."

Don't get me wrong: it's still a very young avenue of research and as such shouldn't get taught along with more mature stuff, but I do believe it's a justifiable line of inquiry.

How is it justified if it is untestable?
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Everard
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So, now you are arguing that postulating your conclusion is a good way to prove your conclusion?
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Further, the only things we know about the universe are based on measurements made from one infinitesimally small piece. Abstraction from such a limited sample to the whole thing is bad science.
Nope. It is actually one of the postulates of science that was mentioned when I took physics.

We assume that what is true here is true across the universe, until we have reason to believe otherwise. And discovering such a reason may take a while (for obvious reasons [Smile] ).

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LinuxFreakus
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If you believe in intelligent design, do you also believe in intelligent falling?

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

If so, why?

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Adjudicator
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quote:
We assume that what is true here is true across the universe, until we have reason to believe otherwise. And discovering such a reason may take a while (for obvious reasons [Smile] )
That is all well and good for macroscopic phenomenon where we have data to inform our assumption (stars and so forth), but doesn't this assumption of uniformitarianism then require that we assume that there is in fact life in other places? And if so does it not further extend to the belief that planets like ours near suns like ours which have existed longer than ours should therefore also have life which is much older than ours?
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KidA
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How do you prevent "intelligent design" from becoming a default explanation for any "design" that hasn't been fully explained yet?

Here is a lovely editorial from a little left-wing publication called The National Review

quote:
Teaching Science
The president is wrong on Intelligent Design.


Catching up on back news this past few days — I was out of the country for the first two weeks of August — I caught President Bush's endorsement of teaching Intelligent Design in public school science classes. "Both sides ought to be properly taught," President Bush told a reporter August 2, "so people can understand what the debate is all about."



This is Bush at his muddle-headed worst, conferring all the authority of the presidency on the teaching of pseudoscience in science classes. Why stop with Intelligent Design (the theory that life on earth has developed by a series of supernatural miracles performed by the God of the Christian Bible, for which it is pointless to seek any naturalistic explanation)? Why not teach the little ones astrology? Lysenkoism? Orgonomy? Dianetics? Reflexology? Dowsing and radiesthesia? Forteanism? Velikovskianism? Lawsonomy? Secrets of the Great Pyramid? ESP and psychokinesis? Atlantis and Lemuria? The hollow-earth theory? Does the president have any idea, does he have any idea, how many varieties of pseudoscientific flapdoodle there are in the world? If you are going to teach one, why not teach the rest? Shouldn't all sides be "properly taught"? To give our kids, you know, a rounded picture? Has the president scrutinized Velikovsky's theories? Can he refute them? Can you?

And every buncombe theory — every one of those species of twaddle that I listed — has, or at some point had, as many adherents as Intelligent Design. The hollow-earth theory was taken up by the Nazis and taught, as the Hohlweltlehre, in German schools. It still has a following in Germany today. Velikovsky's theories — he believed that Jupiter gave birth to a giant comet which, after passing close to earth and causing the miracles of the Book of Exodus, settled down as the planet Venus — were immensely popular in the 1950s and generated heated controversy, with angry accusations by the Velikovskians that they were being shut out by closed-minded orthodox astronomers determined to protect their turf, etc., etc. Lysenkoism was state doctrine in Stalin's Russia and was taught at the most prestigious universities. Expressing skepticism about it could get you shot. (Likewise with the bizarre linguistic theories of Stalin's protégé N.Y. Marr, who believed that every word in every human language derived from one of four basic elements, pronounced "sal," "ber," "yon," and "rosh." I tell you, the house of pseudoscience has many, many mansions.) Dianetics was rebranded as Scientology and is now a great force in the land — try criticizing it, and you'll find out.

Nor is any of these theories lacking in a certain appeal, as Martin Gardner, from whose book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science I compiled that list, is charitable enough to point out. Of Lawsonomy — "The earth is a huge organism operating by Suction and Pressure..." — Gardner says generously: "This makes more sense than one might think." Pseudoscience is in fact a fascinating study, though as sociology, not as science. Gardner's book, now 50 years old, is still an excellent introduction, and great fun to read.

What, then, should we teach our kids in high-school science classes? The answer seems to me very obvious. We should teach them consensus science, and we should teach it conservatively. Consensus science is the science that most scientists believe ought to be taught. "Conservatively" means eschewing theories that are speculative, unproven, require higher math, or even just are new, in favor of what is well settled in the consensus. It means teaching science unskeptically, as settled fact.

Consider physics, for example. It became known, in the early years of the last century, that Newton's physics breaks down at very large or very tiny scales of distance, time, and speed. New theories were cooked up to explain the discrepancies: the special and general theories of relativity, quantum theory and its offspring. By the 1930s these new theories were widely accepted, though some of the fine details remained (and some still remain!) to be worked out.

Then, in the late 1950s, along came your humble correspondent, to study physics to advanced level at a good English secondary school. What did they teach us? Newtonian mechanics! I didn't take a class in relativity theory until my third year at university, age 21. I never have formally studied quantum mechanics, though I flatter myself I understand it well enough.

My schoolmasters did the right thing. Newton's mechanics is the foundation of all physics. "But it's wrong!" you may protest. Well, so it is; but it is right enough to form that essential foundation; right enough that you cannot understand the nature of its wrongness until you have mastered it. (Along with some college-level math.) Furthermore, it is consensus science. By that I mean, if you were to poll 10,000 productive working physicists and ask them what ought to be taught in our high schools, I imagine that upwards of 9,900 of them would say: "Well, you have to get Newtonian mechanics into their heads..." No doubt you'd find the odd Velikovskian or adherent of the Hohlweltlehre, but Newtonism would be the consensus. Intelligent high-school seniors should, I think, be encouraged to read popular books about relativity and quantum mechanics. Perhaps, nowadays — I couldn't say, I am out of touch — teachers have even figured out how to make some of that higher stuff accessible to young minds, and are teaching it. If so, that's great. The foundation, though, must be consensus science, conservatively taught.

I think intelligent teenagers should also be given some acquaintance with pseudoscience, just so that they might learn to spot it when they see it. A copy of that excellent magazine Skeptical Inquirer ought to be available in any good high school library, along with books like Gardner's. I am not sure that either pseudoscience or its refutation has any place in the science classroom, though. These things properly belong in social studies, if anywhere outside the library.

And what should we teach our kids in biology classes, concerning the development of living things on earth? We should teach them Darwinism, on exactly the same arguments. There is no doubt this is consensus science. When the Intelligent Design people flourished a list of 400 scientists who were skeptical of the theory of evolution, the National Center for Science Education launched "Project Steve," in which they asked for affirmation of the contrary view, but only from scientists named Steve. (Which they estimate to be about one percent of all U.S. scientists.) The Steve-O-Meter stands at 577 as of this July 8, implying around 57,000 scientists on the orthodox side. That's consensus science. When the I.D. support roster has 57,000 names on it, drop me a line.

And Darwinism ought to be taught conservatively, without skepticism or equivocation, which will only confuse young minds. Darwinism is the essential foundation for all of modern biology and genomics, and offers a convincing explanation for all the phenomena we can observe in the life sciences. It may be that, as we get to finer levels of detail, we shall find gaps and discrepancies in Darwinism that need new theories to explain them. This is a normal thing in science, and new theories will be worked out to plug the gaps, as happened with Newtonism a hundred years ago. If this happens, nobody — no responsible scientist — will be running round tearing his hair, howling "Darwinism is a theory in crisis!" any more than the publication of Einstein's great papers a hundred years ago caused physicists to make bonfires of the Principia. The new theories, once tested and validated, will be welcomed and incorporated, as Einstein's and Planck's were. And very likely our high schools will just go on teaching Darwinism, as mine taught me Newtonism fifty years after Einstein's revolution. They will be right to do so, in my opinion, just as my schoolmasters were right.

If you are afraid that your children, being confronted with science in school, will turn into atheists and materialists, you have a wide variety of options available to you in this free nation. Most obviously, you should take your kids to church regularly, encourage them to pray, say grace before meals, and respond to those knotty questions that children sometimes ask with answers from your own faith. Or you could homeschool them, or send them to a religious school, and make sure they are not exposed to the science you fear so much.

You really shouldn't be afraid of science, though. Plenty of fine scientists have been religious. The hero of my last book, one of the greatest mathematicians of the 19th century, was a very devout man, as I took pains to make clear. The same can be said of many Darwinists. I am currently researching the life of the Victorian writer Charles Kingsley, who was a keen naturalist, an early and enthusiastic supporter of Darwin, and also a passionate Christian, who preached the last of his many fine sermons from the pulpit of Westminster Abbey. (The last words of that sermon were: "Come as thou seest best, but in whatsoever way thou comest, even so come, Lord Jesus." I suppose this man would be considered impious by the Intelligent Design merchants.)

A great deal of nonsense is being talked in this zone recently. Science is science, and ought to be taught in our public schools conservatively, from the professional consensus, as settled fact. Religion is quite a different thing. It is not entirely unconnected with science. Many scientists have believed that in their inquiries, they were engaging with God's thoughts. Faraday certainly thought so; probably Newton did, too; possibly Einstein did. This has even been a strong motivation for scientific research, and it is probable that in a world with no religion, we should have much less science than we have. Those are matters psychological and motivational, though. They don't — they can't — inform the content of scientific theories, because those theories are naturalistic by definition. Whether miracles happen in the world is a thing you must decide for yourself, based on your own faith, study, and life experiences. To admit miracles into a scientific theory, however, turns it into pseudoscience at once; and while pseudoscience can be fun, it is not science. Nor is it religion, except in the widest and loosest possible sense of that word, a sense that includes every kind of supernatural baloney that any clever crackpot can come up with — a sense I personally will not accept.

* * *



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Adjudicator
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quote:
How do you prevent "intelligent design" from becoming a default explanation for any "design" that hasn't been fully explained yet?

Simple enough- require solid evidence as to why something is intelligent design. To go back to my previous example, there may be telltale effects of using specific molecular biology tools in tailoring a given organism. These effects may be identified by a molecular biologist and his case may be made before his peers.

In order for ID to become acceptable as a real theory, its proponents must find something which has clearly been tampered with, and they must show how we can identify the tampering. If they are allowed to simply cry "IRC" they are guilty of the same fallacy as I have been arguing against here- which is to argue from ignorance rather than from evidence.

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EDanaII
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Postulate: If the DNA of a species suddenly alters to transform that species into a new one, and that mutation cannot be solely explained by the genetic drift and random mutation, then some other force is acting on that species.

In other words, if an ape suddenly gives birth to a human, we can infer that the normal processes of evolution, at least, the known ones, are not in play. Furthermore, we can infer that, since a huge number of steps are required to go from ape to man, that this was, in fact, not a natural process, and, possibly the act of a designer.

The evolutionary record, in fact, supports this view. There is no proof of gradual evolution from ape to man. Instead, there's a sudden change from one species to another.

To be fair, I'm not using that fact to declare that there is a god, since the fossil record is suffering from a _lack of data._

However, given sufficient data, this sudden change in species _can be explained by the hand of a designer_ and is a perfectly legitimate scientific question.

Ed.

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KidA
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@Adjudicator

quote:
Simple enough- require solid evidence as to why something is intelligent design. To go back to my previous example, there may be telltale effects of using specific molecular biology tools in tailoring a given organism. These effects may be identified by a molecular biologist and his case may be made before his peers.

In order for ID to become acceptable as a real theory, its proponents must find something which has clearly been tampered with, and they must show how we can identify the tampering. If they are allowed to simply cry "IRC" they are guilty of the same fallacy as I have been arguing against here- which is to argue from ignorance rather than from evidence

Do you know of any real example of this?

@EDanall

quote:
In other words, if an ape suddenly gives birth to a human, we can infer that the normal processes of evolution, at least, the known ones, are not in play. Furthermore, we can infer that, since a huge number of steps are required to go from ape to man, that this was, in fact, not a natural process, and, possibly the act of a designer.

The evolutionary record, in fact, supports this view. There is no proof of gradual evolution from ape to man. Instead, there's a sudden change from one species to another.

Rapid changes are known as "punctuated equilibrium" - which is an accepted part of evolutionary theory. It has been for decades. No supernatural compnent or "designer" is required.
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EDanaII
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quote:
Rapid changes are known as "punctuated equilibrium" - which is an accepted part of evolutionary theory. It has been for decades. No supernatural compnent or "designer" is required.
Yes, I know, KidA, but that wasn't my point.

Punctuated Equilibrium is only a theory, correct me if I'm wrong, hence my point about lack of evidence. However, if the source of such rapid changes cannot be explained by natural means, it is perfectly valid to ask if a designer had a hand in those changes.

Ed.

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KidA
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quote:
Yes, I know, KidA, but that wasn't my point.

Punctuated Equilibrium is only a theory, correct me if I'm wrong, hence my point about lack of evidence. However, if the source of such rapid changes cannot be explained by natural means, it is perfectly valid to ask if a designer had a hand in those changes.

It is not just a theory. There is a tremendous amount of evidence.

But this keeps coming back to my earlier question...what are your criteria for deciding that "has not been explained by natural means" becomes "cannot be explained by natural means."

I mean, if I find a piece of stone in the shape of a perfect cube in the middle of the woods, I know that it has an artificial origin - not because it's "complex" (a cube is very simple) but because it is not a natural shape.

At what point does a natural phenomenon become "unnatural?" I cannot think of any example in biology, cosmology, paleontology, etc. wherein a phenomenon has something "artificial" about it.

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Everard
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"Punctuated Equilibrium is only a theory,"

Gravity is only a theory, too, Ed.

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EDanaII
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quote:
I mean, if I find a piece of stone in the shape of a perfect cube in the middle of the woods, I know that it has an artificial origin - not because it's "complex" (a cube is very simple) but because it is not a natural shape.
And that's precisely my point. [Smile]

The process that drives one species to another is a very simple process. Driven by random mutation or natural selection.

Now, consider my point concerning an ape giving birth to a human. It's possible, KidA. It can happen... but not by natural means. It would, in fact, be a very complex process to make happen. And it it would be _poor science_ to conclude that, if such an event ever happened, it could only have happened by natural means. It would, OTOH, be a perfectly valid scientific question to ask who had a hand in the process.

quote:
At what point does a natural phenomenon become "unnatural?" I cannot think of any example in biology, cosmology, paleontology, etc. wherein a phenomenon has something "artificial" about it.
Then you're not thinking hard enough.

The Ape giving birth to human hypothesis _would cause scientists to reconsider_ natural evolution. Paleontological evidence of such an event in the fossil record (were this possible) would also cause scientists to reconsider.

Let's take another example, since you bring up paleontology, let's say we humans get nutty, launch the nukes and blow ourselves and any record of our civilization out of existence. Let's say, for the sake of argument that cockroaches evolve sentience and some become scientists. These cockroach paleontologists then, one day, discover the glassy surfaces of where our cities once stood. Should they (A) declare that since no evidence of a previous intelligence existed, that these glassy surfaces were caused by simultaneous volcanic explosions that happened around the entire globe? Or, (B) that a great civilization once stood here and was foolish enough to wipe themselves off the map?

The answer is (C) neither: a scientist goes where the evidence leads him. If it leads him to volcanoes, then he finds volcanoes. If it leads him to a prior civilization, then civilization it is. And if it leads him to God, then that's where he goes. But, once again, it would be just plain BAD science to decide ahead of time where his journey ultimately can and cannot go.

Ed.

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Everard
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"But, once again, it would be just plain BAD science to decide ahead of time where his journey ultimately can and cannot go."

True, unless we're talking about his journey going somewhere that his methods aren't applicable. You don't use a submarine to get from madison to dallas, and you don't fly an airplane to explore the wreck of the titanic.

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KidA
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Ed,

My question was about an actual, observed phenomenon, not about a "what if" scenario.

We have no need of developing new theories to explain unobserved anomalies.

So...I put it to you again. What actual phenomenon do you find inexplicable without ID?

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Lewkowski
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Lets use our imagination. If evolution was suddently not being taught in schools (which incidently even if ID is accepted evolution will still be taught conccurently, but hey we are using our imagination) what earth shattering consequence will happen?
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Lets use our imagination. If evolution was suddently not being taught in schools (which incidently even if ID is accepted evolution will still be taught conccurently, but hey we are using our imagination) what earth shattering consequence will happen?
None, really. At the primary and secondary level, nothing is taught about any one subject that couldn't be made up in a few weeks (or in most cases, a few days) of college or university level education.

That isn't to say that I think ID should be taught in sicence classes, because I do agree with Ev et al. that it probably doesn't qualify as science (and even if it does barely scratch by on that point, it's still just a trojan horse for creationists anyway) but I am skeptical about the real practical consequences of not teaching evolution, or teaching ID in a high school environment. What science you can learn in a high school isn't enough to fill a test tube. Any kid with even a remote interest in science can take an afternoon to read a book on the subject, and will probably catch up on what he missed.

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Gaoics79
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By the way, to Wayward, just in case no one mentioned this already: disbelieving something on faith isn't technically ignorance. To be ignorant, you'd have to not know about something at all. Here, people know about it, but just don't believe it, for whatever reason. Stupid? Irrational? Maybe. But not ignorant.
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Everard
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Jason-
My problem is that the scientific method is hard enough to teach. Since the scientific method is the only predictive epistomology that actually produces accurate predictions, I believe its important that all americans at least understand the method. Putting ID, or other such "theories" into a science curriculum undermines the science teacher's most important job... teaching the scientific method.

And yes, I agree that many science teachers do a bad job teaching the scientific method.

The earth shattering consequence is that we produce fewer and fewer people capable of competing on the world stage in the sciences, and thereby lose our technological edge in the world, and get run over by the chinese in 75 years.

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KidA
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Jasonr,

You must have had a lousy high-school science dept.

What you're saying is true only if you consider "education" to be a form of data transfer. That's not what it's for - you're supposed to be learning how to think critically. That means how to ask questions, form ideas, reach reasonable conclusions and detect unreasonable ones.

The consequence of not teaching, in biology, one of the fundamental underpinnings of that branch of science, is quite dire. I can't believe I even have to say that.

Let's teach an astronomy class...and leave out the bit about the Earth not being in the center. [Roll Eyes]

[ December 13, 2005, 11:52 PM: Message edited by: KidA ]

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KidA
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quote:
Any kid with even a remote interest in science can take an afternoon to read a book on the subject, and will probably catch up on what he missed
That interest will never be more than remote if their classes do not present challenging ideas.
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EDanaII
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@ Everard:
quote:
True, unless we're talking about his journey going somewhere that his methods aren't applicable. You don't use a submarine to get from madison to dallas, and you don't fly an airplane to explore the wreck of the titanic.
Of course. [Smile]

I'll be the first to say that I don't think ID is a valid science, but that's not the same as saying that it should not be pursued as a valid science. It will stand or fall on its own evidence.


@ KidA:
quote:
My question was about an actual, observed phenomenon, not about a "what if" scenario.
And yet, science begins the process of observing phenomenon and gathering evidence by postulating "what if" scenarios.

quote:
We have no need of developing new theories to explain unobserved anomalies.
You mean, theories like Punctuated Equilibrium?:
quote:
This theory is one of the proposed explanations of the evolutionary patterns of species as observed in the fossil record, particularly the relatively sudden appearance of new species in a geologically short time period, and the perhaps typical lack of substantial change of species during their existence.
This theory OWES ITS VERY EXISTENCE the fact that scientists can't explain why cockroaches are the same today as they were 65 million years ago. It owes its existence to the fact that no one has seen, or observed in the fossil record, the transition of one species to another. It owes its existence to the above, highlighted, unexplained phenomenon.

Both of which, BTW, can be explained by the hand of a creator, given sufficient evidence.

quote:
So...I put it to you again. What actual phenomenon do you find inexplicable without ID?
That's not my issue here. My issue here is your declaration that science can have nothing to do with God. That's just plain wrong. Science is everything to do with evidence, and that includes evidence of God.

Ed.

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Everard
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"I'll be the first to say that I don't think ID is a valid science, but that's not the same as saying that it should not be pursued as a valid science. It will stand or fall on its own evidence."

So far its fallen off a cliff. Every suggested avenue of inquiry has been a dead end. I have no problems with people who want to do research into the possibility of ID. I have problems with suggesting that ID is a valid scientific theory. I also have problems with the suggestion that ID can possibly be a valid scientific theory, in the terms that it is laid out in right now. Various ID proponents variously define ID, and I have yet to find any formulation that does all of the following: seperates ID from evolution, has testable hypotheses that can be observed by multiple observers, and has testable hypotheses that can be falsified.

Until someone puts forth such a formulation, ID is not only not a viable hypothesis, its also not a possible viable hypothesis.

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Everard
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" It owes its existence to the fact that no one has seen, or observed in the fossil record, the transition of one species to another"

This is one of those "lies" or "misconceptions" that have been mentioned a few times on this thread. In other words, its a completely false statement.

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TinMan
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On the side of ID, if one can step back and perhaps take God out of the equation, and say perhaps, that Alien Life forms occasionally muddle in earth's evolutionary history. (This is why true ID will not be accepted by either side [Smile] True ID would postulate and prove WHO is doing the ID, as well as WHAT the source is doing. I am certain that this would never pass the creationists muster.)

There are specific examples in history that might lead one to conclude that there was an altering hand somewhere in the cycle. The sudden advancements of certain societies which remained hopelessly backwards in other areas. The Myans, the Egytians (both with Ziggurats). Sudden advances in certain thought processes, sometimes simultaneously across non-communicating cultures. How does one prove that these advances were NOT guided by some outside hand?

Also, Ev, ID does not have to separate itself from evolution, since evolution itself may be the result of ID. I write a computer program and run it. It runs by itself afterwards. I may or may not adjust some parameters during the cycle. Natural processes are not exclusive of ID simply because they follow a logical pattern. In fact, some would say that the fact that natural processes follow a logical pattern are somewhat conclusive evidence of a guiding, or originating force, behind them, as in the computer program above. Whether the orinigator is God, Species 15480, Demons from another dimension, or all of the above is what is also up to question.

ID is actually a very valid avenue of investigation. Unfortunely, both sides of the debate seem to want to quash its actual advancement.

If anyone wants to start a rational debate on the theories on ID, perhaps a new thread dedicated to it might be in order. If we are in the Matrix, how do we go about proving we are in the Matrix?

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Everard
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"Also, Ev, ID does not have to separate itself from evolution, since evolution itself may be the result of ID."

What I mean by this is that evolution takes into account human (or other) intervention as long as we can "detect" it. Guided evolution has been a part of the theory ov evolution for a long time now. (Detect has a longer meaning here I don't want to get into). If ID can't seperate from guided evolution, then its not a new theory.

" since evolution itself may be the result of ID."

If evolution is a RESULT of ID, then that makes them seperate beasts.

"ID is actually a very valid avenue of investigation."

Sure. But the hypotheses of ID put forth by ID proponents generally aren't. The PROPER scientific approach here is to say "Somethings odd. I don't get how this happened. lets see if I can find out. I've got a hypothesis that maybe some designer did this step. How can I test for that?" And then design an experiment that is repeatable, can return a result that falsifies the hypothesis, and can be observed by unbiased observers. Sadly, what ID proponents are doing is saying "I can't explain this, so ID must be true." The few scientists doing actual real scientific research into ID have, universally, not returned any results that back ID yet.

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KidA
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Ev is correct. There are plenty of transitional fossils on the record. I may even have a few of them in the back of my closet - though neither the brachiopoda, nor the crafty-wormy zoophycus are quite so dramatic as a hairy, fire-taming hominid.

quote:
This theory OWES ITS VERY EXISTENCE the fact that scientists can't explain why cockroaches are the same today as they were 65 million years ago. It owes its existence to the fact that no one has seen, or observed in the fossil record, the transition of one species to another. It owes its existence to the above, highlighted, unexplained phenomenon.


Scientists can and do explain this and punctuated equilibrium is a consistently satisfactory way of doing just that - in this and many other cases.

quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So...I put it to you again. What actual phenomenon do you find inexplicable without ID?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That's not my issue here. My issue here is your declaration that science can have nothing to do with God. That's just plain wrong. Science is everything to do with evidence, and that includes evidence of God.

Science studies nature, and God is supernatural. If God were natural, he wouldn't be God.

There is no scientific difference between attributing an occurrance to a super-natural cause and attributing it to nothing, or "the unknown."

Your idea is absurd when given specificity. Quantum entanglement...superstrings, or GOD? F=ma/GOD? We cannot find an early trilobyte sans exoskeleton - therefore, God made it?

How in "God's" name would you develop a scientific principle that involved God? That didn't sound ridiculous?

[ December 14, 2005, 01:53 AM: Message edited by: KidA ]

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FiredrakeRAGE
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I've always seen Intelligent Design as not someone (or something) mucking about with evolution so much as ...well, intelligent design.

The way I figure Intelligent Design, if there is intelligent design it is not in the continuing structure, but in the base upon which that structure is built. It would assume that in the basic structure of the universe, there was the intention to bring about life as it stands currently and as it will be in the future. If God had a hand in the design of the smallest form of matter – that which we have not yet catologued (and which it may be impossible to observe without altering), is it not possible that the design and structure of the smallest pieces of matter would affect the formation of people, the universe, and everything else in creation? It does seem plausable that that while we can explain the function of the universe, the ultimate beginning of the universe is of non-origin. How did it begin – we know about the big bang, but where did the matter and energy originate from before that? If it is a never-ending cycle, with the Universe expanding and contracting only to 'bang' again - forever, from what did the universe originally begin?

--Firedrake

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KidA
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quote:
I've always seen Intelligent Design as not someone (or something) mucking about with evolution so much as ...well, intelligent design.

The way I figure Intelligent Design, if there is intelligent design it is not in the continuing structure, but in the base upon which that structure is built. It would assume that in the basic structure of the universe, there was the intention to bring about life as it stands currently and as it will be in the future. If God had a hand in the design of the smallest form of matter – that which we have not yet catologued (and which it may be impossible to observe without altering), is it not possible that the design and structure of the smallest pieces of matter would affect the formation of people, the universe, and everything else in creation?

Now that is a perfectly reasonable and interesting concept. Back in the 18th century they called it "Deism," and it is similar to how many - if not most - religious scientists approach the problem.

Firedrake's version posits nature and natural law as the construct of the mind of God. The idea is not falsifiable, but then again it does not intrude on science as it is properly practiced.

It is another thing entirely to say that God intercedes in natural processes, granting temporary waivers on physical law to life-forms so that they can quickly sprout an opposable thumb or two as needed.

[ December 14, 2005, 02:12 AM: Message edited by: KidA ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
This theory OWES ITS VERY EXISTENCE the fact that scientists can't explain why cockroaches are the same today as they were 65 million years ago.
You obviously do not have a good fundamental grasp of evolutionary theory if you can make this statement, ED. There is no problem with cockroaches not having changed in 65 million years for at least three reasons I can think of off the top of my head:

1. They may have changed, but in ways that are not apparent in the fossil record. (This is almost guaranteed.)

2. As long as they are well adapted to their environment, there is no pressure to change. So why do you expect them to?

3. They may have changed. Just because some cockroaches became new species does not mean that all cockroaches have to become new species.

[/quote]It owes its existence to the fact that no one has seen, or observed in the fossil record, the transition of one species to another.[/quote]

Once again, you need a bit more education. This seems to be a good introduction, with several examples of species-to-species transitions.

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Adjudicator
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I think that Ed's statement, when taken as a whole is, in fact, accurate. Punctuated equilibrium was developed as a theory to explain the fact that species have a tendency to remain phenotypically stable for long periods of time, and when speciation does it occur it does so very rapidly (and hence leaves scant or no fossil evidence). That is essentially what Ed said.

edited to add- Here is Gould's summary of the mechanism and reasoning for punctuated equilibrium:
quote:
Large, stable central populations exert a strong homogenizing influence [on the gene pool]. New and favorable mutations are diluted by the sheer bulk of the population through which they must spread....But [in] small, peripherally isolated groups [that] are cut off from their parental stock ... selective pressures are usually intense because peripheries mark the edge of ecological tolerance for ancestral forms. Favorable variations spread quickly...

What should the fossil record include if most evolution occurs by speciation in peripheral isolates? ... In any local area inhabited by ancestors, a descendant species should appear suddenly by migration from a peripheral region in which it evolved. In the peripheral region itself, we might find direct evidence of speciation, but such good fortune would be rare indeed because the event occurs so rapidly in such a small population.



[ December 14, 2005, 04:33 PM: Message edited by: Adjudicator ]

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EDanaII
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Thank you, Adjudicator.

I guess one good turn deserves another. My point was originally posted in support of your point. So, thanks again. [Smile]


@ Everard:
quote:
Until someone puts forth such a formulation, ID is not only not a viable hypothesis, its also not a possible viable hypothesis.
Then opponents of ID have nothing to fear, do they? [Smile]

quote:
This is one of those "lies" or "misconceptions" that have been mentioned a few times on this thread. In other words, its a completely false statement.
Then why don't you explain to us why the theory is necessary within the framework of evolution. Why do scientists need to explain gaps in the fossil record if it is a "lie" or "misconception?"


@ KidA:
quote:
Scientists can and do explain this and punctuated equilibrium is a consistently satisfactory way of doing just that - in this and many other cases.
You were arguing "We have no need of developing new theories to explain unobserved anomalies." Would you mind explaining to us why scientist would need to come up with a theory to explain anomalies in the geologic record if there's no need to explain anomalies in the geologic record?

quote:
Science studies nature, and God is supernatural. If God were natural, he wouldn't be God.
Even if I agreed with you -- I don't, my definition of God is very different than yours -- how does that assertion change this one: "Science is everything to do with evidence, and that includes evidence of God?"

You're declaring that there is a path science should not follow. How can you investigate anything properly if some roads are barred from you? Once again, this would be very bad science to forbid the questions that science may ask.

quote:
There is no scientific difference between attributing an occurrance to a super-natural cause and attributing it to nothing, or "the unknown."

Your idea is absurd when given specificity. Quantum entanglement...superstrings, or GOD? F=ma/GOD? We cannot find an early trilobyte sans exoskeleton - therefore, God made it?

That was never my point.

My point was that were such evidence to appear, asking if God had a hand in the matter is a perfectly legitimate question.

And the only way you can defeat the point is by retreating to "specificity."

quote:
How in "God's" name would you develop a scientific principle that involved God? That didn't sound ridiculous?
It only sounds ridiculous if you continue to ignore the REAL point I'm making instead of the straw man you are attacking.


@ Wayward Son:
quote:
You obviously do not have a good fundamental grasp of evolutionary theory if you can make this statement, ED. There is no problem with cockroaches not having changed in 65 million years for at least three reasons I can think of off the top of my head:
Kindly do me the courtesy of quoting THE ENTIRE POINT I made, instead of straw-manning it to its weakest point?

Now, kindly, explain to us just why Punctuated Equilibrium exists, if not to explain the gaps in the fossil record, and, as a by product of that, the stability certain species?


@ FiredrakeRAGE:
quote:
The way I figure Intelligent Design, if there is intelligent design it is not in the continuing structure, but in the base upon which that structure is built.
I figure it similarly, Firedrake. [Smile] My point, however, was to simply illustrate an example of something that might lead scientists to ask questions of God.

It was a hypothesis, nothing more.

Ed.

Edited to fix one hulluva typo. [Smile]

[ December 14, 2005, 07:41 PM: Message edited by: EDanaII ]

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Everard
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"Then why don't you explain to us why the theory is necessary within the framework of evolution. Why do scientists need to explain gaps in the fossil record if it is a "lie" or "misconception?""

And THIS is a strawman. Your contention was that there are NO fossil transitions, and NO observed instances of speciazation. Which is totally false.

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KidA
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quote:
You were arguing "We have no need of developing new theories to explain unobserved anomalies." Would you mind explaining to us why scientist would need to come up with a theory to explain anomalies in the geologic record if there's no need to explain anomalies in the geologic record?

I mean that there is absolutely nothing in the fossil record - or in the nature of the "gaps" - that would require us to theorize that an intelligent designer is responsible. There are occasions when evolutionary theory needs adjustment or re-calibration, but that is a very minor step compared to claiming that an intelligent, conscious being altered evolutionary process.

quote:
Even if I agreed with you -- I don't, my definition of God is very different than yours -- how does that assertion change this one: "Science is everything to do with evidence, and that includes evidence of God?"

You're declaring that there is a path science should not follow. How can you investigate anything properly if some roads are barred from you? Once again, this would be very bad science to forbid the questions that science may ask.

You may personally define God however you like, but there is an accepted common definition in the Judeo-Xtian tradition. That definition says that God is a supernatural being, operating above and beyond natural law. That is why Xtianity has a tradition of observing "miracles."

Science can follow any path that assumes natural law.


quote:
That was never my point.

My point was that were such evidence to appear, asking if God had a hand in the matter is a perfectly legitimate question.

And the only way you can defeat the point is by retreating to "specificity."

Your point - like any theory - has no substance or meaning if it cannot be applied to specific examples. You have yet to provide any. If you don't like mine, you may offer up your own.
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EDanaII
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@ Everard:
quote:
And THIS is a strawman. Your contention was that there are NO fossil transitions, and NO observed instances of speciazation. Which is totally false.
You know what? Yer right. My point, however, was a supporting point, intended to illustrate why scientists might ask such questions. The specifics may have been wrong, the point that Punctuated Equilibrium is used to explain the gaps in the fossil record is still correct.


@ KidA:
quote:
Science can follow any path that assumes natural law.
Would you do me a favor? Please explain what you mean by natural law in this context? I think we need to clarify that point before we move one.

Ed.

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Everard
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" the point that Punctuated Equilibrium is used to explain the gaps in the fossil record is still correct."

No its not. Its used to explain fossil evidence, not lack of fossil evidence.

From talkorigins...

"PE sometimes is claimed to be a theory resting upon the lack of evidence rather than upon evidence. This is a curious, but false claim"

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/punc-eq.html

[ December 15, 2005, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
The specifics may have been wrong, the point that Punctuated Equilibrium is used to explain the gaps in the fossil record is still correct.
Which was my point exactly, ED. If you list specifics that are wrong, it weakens your point, and helps spread bad information.

What if someone came along and read that it is a fact that "no one has seen, or observed in the fossil record, the transition of one species to another," and said that to another person?

The fact that paleotologists have observed species transitions in the fossil record means that punctuate equilibrium explains those (many) instances where there is not a complete record of this occurring. It explains why we don't see it everywhere rather than in only a few instances.

But this is a big difference from never seeing any instances.

Your overall point is correct, that punctuate equilibrium is a theory used to explain missing fossils, but that does not excuse making incorrect statements to support it. Those statements are still false, and I will call you on them when I see them. Because, as I'm sure you'll agree, we don't want to spread incorrect information.

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EDanaII
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@ Everard & Wayward Son:

Also from the Talk Origins web site:
quote:
The theory of Punctuated Equilibria provides paleontologists with an explanation for the patterns which they find in the fossil record. This pattern includes the characteristically abrupt appearance of new species, the relative stability of morphology in widespread species, the distribution of transitional fossils when those are found, the apparent differences in morphology between ancestral and daughter species, and the pattern of extinction of species.
And how do these new species "abruptly appear?" Well, lessee... In order to "abruptly appear" there must be an absence in the fossil record. Which can be characterized as a "gap." Hence it exists to explain those gaps in the record and the "lack of evidence" I'm referring to is an "evidence of lack." I.e. The evidence of slow evolution from one species to another is lacking, therefore, the theory explains that lack of evidence.

You guys are nitpicking this based on technicalities.


@ KidA

OK, since you ain't gonna define "Natural Law" in this context, I will. I have another word I sometimes use for Natural Law, I call it "reality." And, if God exists, he is real, and science, which investigates ALL REAL phenomena, is just as obligated to investigate him as anything else, regardless of whether he's supernatural or not.

It would be bad science to do otherwise.

Ed.

Fixed formatting.

[ December 17, 2005, 12:26 PM: Message edited by: EDanaII ]

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KidA
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quote:
And how do these new species "abruptly appear?" Well, lessee... In order to "abruptly appear" there must be an absence in the fossil record. Which can be characterized as a "gap." Hence it exists to explain those gaps in the record and the "lack of evidence" I'm referring to is an "evidence of lack." I.e. The evidence of slow evolution from one species to another is lacking, therefore, the theory explains that lack of evidence.


This is a misreading. "Abrupt" does not mean "instantaneous," nor does it imply that no transitional fossils exist. Transitional fossils do exist. Punctuated equilibrium modifies the traditional Darwinian model to explain why periods of stability may continue for millions of years, only to be "punctuated" by periods of relatively rapid change. "Rapid" or "abrupt" in this case can mean 100,000 years. There are, of course examples that are even more rapid (such as that species of English moth that changed colors in the 19th century as pollution from the smokestacks altered the color of the landscape).

quote:
OK, since you ain't gonna define "Natural Law" in this context, I will. I have another word I sometimes use for Natural Law, I call it "reality." And, if God exists, he is real, and science, which investigates ALL REAL phenomena, is just as obligated to investigate him as anything else, regardless of whether he's supernatural or not.

It would be bad science to do otherwise.

"Natural Law" was perhaps a bad choice of words on my part, since it carries a lot of baggage in western philosophy. What I meant is "natural" vs. "supernatural."

Now, let's say that the "supernatural" exists - I'm not saying I believe, just proposing it as a thought experiment. The reason we call it "super" natural is that it operates above and beyond the laws of nature. When we study the "laws" of nature, we have to assume consistency - that e=mc2 doesn't suddenly become e=mc3 in your back yard on a whim - otherwise there is no point, since we wish to form theories that make accurate predictions. Scientifically, there is no difference between a "supernatural" explanation and no explanation, since both resign themselves to an incongruity in the laws of nature, rather than seeking a natural explanation.

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Wayward Son
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The difference between seeing no transitional species and not seeing all transitional species is that those we have seen show that species can transition from one to another. The principle has been established. It's not like species cannot transition from one to another.

So it is not nitpicking to say that there is a difference.

quote:
And, if God exists, he is real, and science, which investigates ALL REAL phenomena, is just as obligated to investigate him as anything else, regardless of whether he's supernatural or not.
True, but He may not be subject to be investigated via the scientific method. How do you perform an experiment on someone who knows what you are doing and can decide to cooperate or not cooperate with you? Especially since He is not very cooperative with us right now. (Otherwise we could simply ask Him how (and why!) he created the Duck-billed Platapus. [Smile] )

Science works well with the mechanistic parts of the universe--those that function according to laws. God has free-will, so He can change His response at whim. How do you scientifically account for whim?

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