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Who believes in evolution?

Who believes in evolution?

  • I believe

    Votes: 23 60.5%
  • Bogus

    Votes: 15 39.5%
  • What's evolution?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    38

Barliman Butterbur

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Thanks for that link, Eriol! I bookmarked it and will be looking it over shortly.

Just now my main interest is in reading the Tolkien letters: the book just arrived yesterday. I was up till 2 am with it last night — had to force myself to go to bed!

Lotho
 

Walter

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Gravity, to name but one of the examples above, is of course not a "theory". Gravity is a "phenomenon" we observe. Watching the apple fall down the tree was, what is said to have inspired Newton to ponder why this is so. Why, for example, the apple doesn't go astray towards outer space.

The result of Newton's pondering was a "theory", an attempt to describe the phenomenon by means of mathematics and this is what made Newton a scientist and one of the great forefathers of modern physics.

And while Aristotle had considered gravitation and the movement of heavenly bodies as entirely unrelated it was Newton who recognized that both could be desribed with the same "theory". Furthermore it enabled to make predictions about further "observations" - a very important "feature" of every scientific "theory". Hence Newton's theory was "better" than Aristotle's...

Electricity is - for the same reasons - not a theory, but a phenomenon we "observe". In Dr. Johnson's famous A Dictionary of the English Language of 1755 we find:

ELECTRICITY. n.s. [from electrick. See ELECTRE.] A property in some bodies, whereby, when rubbed so as to grow warm, they draw little bits of paper, or such like substances, to them.
and
ELECTRE. n.s. [electrum, Latin.]

1. Amber; which, having the quality when warmed by friction of attracting bodies, gave to one species of attraction the name of electricity, and to the bodies that so attract the epithet electrick.
This, clearly, is the description of a "phenomenon" rather than a "theory". But it took minds who connected this "property of amber" with thunder and lightning - like Maxwell and Faraday - to come up with the first "theories" regarding electricity.

A "theory" is what enables us not only to describe a certain "phenomenon" in a scientific way (e.g. through mathematical equations), but also to make predictions about future observations (e.g. experiments trying to verify the theory).

"Biological Evolution" originally also was an "phenomenon" - though less obvious than the apple falling down the tree - which was observed long before Darwin and Lamarck came up with their theories attempting to describe what has been observed.

But unlike with gravitation and electricity, mathematics has not been a tool available to the biologists, they had to rely on language and logic to describe their theories which complicates matters further. But nonetheless "biological evolution" is a theory that desribes observed phenomena and enables to make predictions of future observations.

What with "Creationism"? Can it be considered a "theory" and what exactly does it describe? Can we make predictions about future observations?

To me comparing the theory of biological evolution with an account of the creation - like in the Genesis, Enuma Elish, Kalevala, Voluspa, etc. or even Ainulindale - seems like comparing apples with oranges...
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Thanks, Walter, for that very clarifying disquisition on the difference between theory and phenomenon! Clearly, we must be more precise in our terms and agree on our definitions in order to make this discussion more productive — myself included.

(BTW, your signature is a jewel — I may just co-opt part of it!)

Lotho
 

Eriol

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Lotho_Pimple said:
Thanks, Walter, for that very clarifying disquisition on the difference between theory and phenomenon! Clearly, we must be more precise in our terms and agree on our definitions in order to make this discussion more productive — myself included.
Indeed. And this is why I must restate that Gravity and Electricity are theories that explain phenomena such as an apple falling from a tree and the attractive properties of amber.

Gravity is not "apples falling from a tree". Gravity is "matter attracts matter to the direct proportion of its mass and to the inverse square proportion of its distance". And that is a theory. The "theoretical" part of it is "matter attracts matter"; the rest is a description of how it attracts matter.

Biological evolution is not a phenomenon. It is a theory.

The notion that a theory is something that allows for future predictions is in itself a theory ;). There are fields which are very rigorous and yet predict almost nothing; such as economics. After all, it is not those schooled in economical theory that become rich :D.
 

Walter

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Lotho_Pimple said:
Thanks, Walter, for that very clarifying disquisition on the difference between theory and phenomenon! Clearly, we must be more precise in our terms and agree on our definitions in order to make this discussion more productive — myself included.

(BTW, your signature is a jewel — I may just co-opt part of it!)

Lotho
Thanks but that is too much honour, because meanwhile I realized, that I have been not as precise - as I hoped to be - either. Eriol probably spotted this correctly - but still expressed it wrongly, I think.

"Gravitation" and "Electricity" are not the phenomena we observe, but the names we gave at some point in the past to the phenomena observed - as the example from Johnson's dictionary above clearly shows. The according "theories" - as attempts to "scientifically" explain the phenomena - came later, but the names are now indeed often used synonymously with the theory...

Also, maybe I should have better called it a "scientific theory" rather than just a "theory", since many people mistake a "hypothesis" with a "theory"...

But this all goes to show how important a careful wording is when approaching such controversial issues...

PS: I'm glad you like my signature :) The longer I live and the more I learn, the more I realize how limited my intellectual knowledge as well as my spiritual wisdom is, hence I am rather partial of those 2 quotes...
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Eriol said:
...There are fields which are very rigorous and yet predict almost nothing; such as economics. After all, it is not those schooled in economical theory that become rich :D.
Reminds me of the definition of the specialist: someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing!:p

Lotho
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Walter said:
...I'm glad you like my signature :) The longer I live and the more I learn, the more I realize how limited my intellectual knowledge as well as my spiritual wisdom is, hence I am rather partial of those 2 quotes...
You're in excellent shape! To know that one does not know is the beginning of wisdom!

Reminds me of a notion that came to me with the force of divine revelation when I was 17: Suddenly I was filled with the unassailable conviction that I now knew everything I would ever need to know! You can imagine what a pain I became. I saw what a dunderhead my father was. It was amazing to me how he got smarter as I grew older, until I finally got it straight that my "revelation" was but hormonal hubris of the worst sort...

Lotho
 

HLGStrider

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Time has something to do with it, but genetics and natural selection operating over time is the main thing. If you think it's a matter of time, then you don't understand evolution
All I got was told I didn't understand evolution when I was complaining that I didn't understand the post I quoted. I would very much like to understand the post I quoted. Is there anyone who does who will tell me what it meant?

Evidently you sink to sarcasm because you have nothing else to offer. I have all the time in the world, give me names, house addresses AND phone numbers.
It wasn't sarcasm. It was light hearted flippancy based on the fact that I was trying to get offline quickly, and didn't have time to list names or look things up online, or anything like that. It was just a happy way of saying "I know of some."

Duane T. Gish comes to mind off the top of my head. Used to be my favorite Paleontologist. I can only list last names after that, without doing internet research, and it wouldn't tell you much. I used to have alink to a news story about it that I VERY much liked . . .but I don't anymore. . .so I'm going to say Eriol's link works for me.
 

Gildor

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From the basis of my own observations and experiences, the theory of evolution makes sense. Its not perfect...which is to say it doesn't cover everything and is probably wrong on a lot of details, but as a means to comprehend our physical world I find it to be quite plausible.

I don't know everything. I'm not inclined to believe in Creation as it is described in the Bible, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have happened, just as I can't rule out (or prove) the existence of a divine being or beings. I'm merely an interpreter of reality, just like everyone else.
 

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