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rmsgrey
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #50 on: Dec 13th, 2007, 11:52am »
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on Dec 13th, 2007, 9:48am, ecoist wrote:
Although I still question your stone arch analogy, towr, you are right on everything else.  Indeed, how some complex organisms evolved may be lost.  And some organisms can have come into existence either by evolution or design.  But, when Behe says something could not have arisen by evolution, neither he nor anyone else can ever provide any evidence for such a claim.  Thus, design theory must ever remain a matter of faith beyond scientific inquiry.

"Irreducible complexity" - Behe's argument is that there exist complex structures such that the removal of any part causes them to cease functioning - like a stone arch which becomes a heap of rubble when you remove any of the stones.
 
There are two major flaws in irreducible complexity. Firstly, as Towr said, things can evolve by losing (now) surplus parts as well as by gaining new parts - so rather than building the arch as two unstable piles of rock that fall over before you can get the keystone in place, you can build up a solid stone wall and then remove the non-load-bearing stones until what's left barely stands.
 
Secondly, unlike the stone arch, where the heap of rubble is pretty much useless, most (if not all) biological complex structures turn out to do something (else) useful when you take something away - for example, "half an eye" is still a useful light-sensor. A bacterial flagellum (trumpeted as an example of irreducible complexity for a time) minus some key proteins is very useful as the bacterial example of a sting.
 
In other words, examples of "irreducible complexity" are often found to be reducible (to other purposes) instead, and, even if a truly irreducibly complex system were found, it wouldn't be a compelling argument against natural selection - it could have arisen through reduction of a redundant system that developed by gradual accretion.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #51 on: Dec 13th, 2007, 5:36pm »
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on Dec 13th, 2007, 5:58am, SMQ wrote:
I'll try to dig a bit deeper when I have the chance as I'm now intrigued as well.

 
Just as a side note, the Qur'anic translations always refer to heavens in the plural form, the earth in the singular form.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #52 on: Dec 14th, 2007, 12:36am »
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Just a note since it came up, Genesis (Bereish*t) 1:1 was my portion when reading from the Torah on my Bar Mitzvah. Cool
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #53 on: Apr 24th, 2008, 1:47pm »
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I think it's ironic that evolutionists have to constantly defend themselves against the standard creationist arguments about DNA, missing links, irreducible complexity, etc..., because not only are there perfectly good evolutionary explanations for these things, but creationists seem to assume that if we didn't have an answer it would somehow be evidence for creation. Creationists have no evidence of their own, so instead of trying to find some, they just find "holes" in the opposing theory and claim it as evidence for their own.  
 
Unfortunately for them, that's not how evidence works. Even if it turned out that evolution couldn't explain the supposed "irreducible complexity" argument, that STILL would not be evidence for creation, it would just be evidence that there is more work to be done on the theory of evolution. Any evidence for Creation would need to come in the form of someone making a hypothesis, such as "If Creation is true, then I would expect to observe X when I perform experiment Y". And then they test it out and publish their findings. But Creationists refuse to test out any of their beliefs.
 
If Evolutionists took the same approach to the debate then they could just say, "Well since you can't prove Creation, then Evolution must be right." But scientists do not resort to those school-yard tactics. Evolutionists challenge their own theories and test them out, rather than simply point out the flaws in Creation (I'm not saying they don't ever point out the flaws in Creation, just that they also find evidence for their own claims).
 
So far all evidence from experiments, predictions, and observations about genetics, fossils, geology, biology, etc.. all confirm the theory of evolution. So (without exaggeration) we have all evidence pointing towards evolution, no evidence against it, AND no evidence for Creation but tons of evidence against it. So why is there even a debate? The only answer I can come up with is so that people can continue to support their faith-based beliefs, but that sort of motivation has no place in a logical debate.
 
Another ridiculous claim that Creationists make is that, "the Theory of Evolution, is just that, a THEORY." That is such an insult to the intelligence of everyone listening. Yes, Evolution is just a THEORY in as much as gravity is just a THEORY. But both of those theories have been tested to the point where we can predict the outcome of experiments, and the results are measurable, repeatable, observable, quantifiable, and verifiable. So we accept those theories to be true. If someone is so hung-up on the term "theory", then they should not get in an airplane, because there are a lot of "theories" at work keeping them from crashing.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #54 on: Apr 24th, 2008, 2:10pm »
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"New Scientist" has an evolution special as of April 16th, which might be interesting to work through:
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn13620-evolution-24-myths-and- misconceptions.html
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #55 on: Apr 24th, 2008, 2:22pm »
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on Apr 24th, 2008, 1:47pm, skeptic1000 wrote:
But scientists do not resort to those school-yard tactics.
hihi.. You should read some of the tactics sociologists/anthropologists of science find scientists using, you'd be surprised. A renowned author in this field is Bruno Latour, if you're interested in finding some literature (e.g. there's his book "Science In Action"; but there's also some articles on line if I'm not mistaken).  
Mind you, despite the sometimes dubious tactics and motivations, that does not at all discredit the scientific enterprise; just like our all too flawed politicians don't discredit democracy as the least worst practical mode of government. There is method to the madness, but it isn't Popper's falsificationism.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #56 on: Apr 25th, 2008, 3:31am »
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I have seen it said that the main reason creationism v evolution is a live issue in the US is to do with money and power - something about the tax laws and local politics (my source - The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch - only touches on the matter tangentially, so that's all I know about it)
 
As for why creationists focus on discrediting evolution rather than on proving creation, I can think of three reasons off the top of my head:
 
1) When people go looking for evidence, it has a strong tendency to come up favouring evolution, or, at best, neutral.
 
2) There is no even vaguely plausible third explanation being put forward, so if evolution is discredited, creationism wins by default - which reflects a general feature of real-world science - when testing a new hypothesis, there's always some sort of default explanation by which to judge which features of the new hypothesis to test as surprising-if-true, and to revert to if the new hypothesis fails to be supported.
 
3) Possibly the most significant reason is that the majority of, if not all, creationists don't think in scientific terms, so aren't inclined to adopt the scientific method in arguing their case (most, if not all, people who think in scientific terms about evolution/creationism are persuaded by the evidence in favour of evolution)
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #57 on: Apr 27th, 2008, 6:45am »
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on Apr 24th, 2008, 1:47pm, skeptic1000 wrote:
But scientists do not resort to those school-yard tactics.

As a Creationist I take exception to that. Although there are a noisy minority of Creationists that give the rest of us a bad name, there are Evolutionists that are guilty of the same thing. I consider myself to be a well educated person and I certainly do not subscribe to an inconsistent or incoherent philosophy.
 
Indeed we have many unanswered, and possibly unanswerable questions, but an honest and well researched Evolutionists would concede the same.
 
In all of these debate I think you are misunderstanding where we are coming from, so let me explain...
 
The fundamental difference between us is the basis of our perspective which comes from our faith. We believe that God has transformed our hearts and minds so that we see what non-believers see differently. For example, I look at the wonder of the universe and declare, "Glory to God!" Others look at the same thing and declare, "Isn't it incredible how my preconceived notions of order versus chaos allows me to extrapolate to an irrational sense of numinousness."
 
Please note that I am neither arrogant nor foolish enough to put this "perspective" down to anything intrinsically insightful in me or anything I've learned or done. We believe it is a gift from God, which I would never dare try to explain.
 
So there lies our fundamental difference. We start with the premise that God created and then aim to establish a logical and rational model to explain creation. Non-believers, on the other hand, have no way to explain origins, but attempt to make sense out of the world that surrounds them.
 
To tell a Creationist that they are welcome to discuss "creation" as long as they leave God out of it would be like telling a particle physicist to explain matter as long as they leave dark matter out of it. "But it is of fundamental importance!" they declare. "Can you see it?" "No, but we observe its effect," they retort. "That's not good enough. And you call yourself a scientist!"
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #58 on: Apr 27th, 2008, 7:34am »
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on Apr 27th, 2008, 6:45am, Sir Col wrote:
Others look at the same thing and declare, "Isn't it incredible how my preconceived notions of order versus chaos allows me to extrapolate to an irrational sense of numinousness."
Name one person that declares that Wink
 
And I'm not sure if I'd called mathematics a "preconceived notion of order vs chaos". On the other hand, I'm also not quite sure what you meant by that whole sentence.
 
 
Quote:
To tell a Creationist that they are welcome to discuss "creation" as long as they leave God out of it would be like telling a particle physicist to explain matter as long as they leave dark matter out of it. "But it is of fundamental importance!" they declare. "Can you see it?" "No, but we observe its effect," they retort. "That's not good enough. And you call yourself a scientist!"
It isn't good enough that they observe it; not if they want it to count as science. For that, everyone has to, in principle, be able to reproduce the method by which to observe the effects.
The only way to observe the effects God has, is to be gifted by him to see it. It's not a matter of following the right procedures and using the right equipment; like it is in the case of replicating scientific observation.
Also, particle physics makes plenty of predictions to test that don't involve observing (effects of) dark matter (actually, isn't dark matter more the territory of cosmologists?) So what can we test in creation theory where we don't need to be gifted by god to do it? That's what they're asking, or should be asking: something to test that doesn't require the belief they lack. If a theory revolving around God works better to predict and control physical phenomena, no scientist can reasonably object; the best theory should win.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #59 on: Apr 27th, 2008, 12:53pm »
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You're right, my analogy sucks, and I will make no attempt to salvage any part of it!
 
And sorry, but I was being somewhat flippant with that sentence: "Isn't it incredible how my preconceived notions of order versus chaos allows me to extrapolate to an irrational sense of numinousness."
 
It fits into the same category as those crass arguments that theists use to prove the existence of God, only it is based on the classic (and horribly flawed) argument that atheists use to disprove God. It usually goes something like this... By nature we are pattern spotters and so when we discern order we naturally conclude that there must be a creator God. However, our perception of order versus chaos is based on a combination of survival instincts and nurturing, and is therefore borne out of nothing more than our cultural and anthropological roots. Hence when we believe we have discovered God we have only discovered the primitive essence of our own humanity. To quote Xenophenes: "But if cows and horses and lions had hands or could draw with their hands and make the things men can make, then horses would draw the forms of gods like horses, cows like cows, and they would make their bodies similar in shape to those which each had themselves." Ergo, God does not exist.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #60 on: Apr 27th, 2008, 8:19pm »
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on Apr 27th, 2008, 6:45am, Sir Col wrote:

Indeed we have many unanswered, and possibly unanswerable questions, but an honest and well researched Evolutionists would concede the same.

 
Unanswered? Yes. Unanswerable? Absolutely not; not in the same sense that creationist claims are unanswerable. If a scientist tells you that something is unanswerable it means that it is currently unanswerable, simply because it takes time to collect all the evidence required to draw a conclusion. When creationists say their questions are unanswerable they mean there is no evidence that could ever possibly exist that would either refute or prove their claim since they are by definition not dealing with the natural world. Their claims are intentionally formulated to be untestable, which is much different than simply being unanswerable by current evidence.
 
on Apr 27th, 2008, 6:45am, Sir Col wrote:

We start with the premise that God created and then aim to establish a logical and rational model to explain creation.  

 
...and why start with that premise? It drastically limits your ability to find a correct answer when you insist on starting with an unproven premise. That just seems plain silly, and also extremely obvious that you are not out to find the truth, but rather to somehow prove to yourself what you already believe.
 
on Apr 27th, 2008, 6:45am, Sir Col wrote:

Non-believers, on the other hand, have no way to explain origins, but attempt to make sense out of the world that surrounds them.

 
No way to explain origins? Just because Evolution doesn't try to explain origins doesn't mean that science in general doesn't attempt to explain it. There are tons of theories about origins out there.  The Big Bang is one that comes to mind, and even though the details are immature as far as a scientific theory goes, the evidence for it is massive when compared to the God-origin that you propose.
 
Creationists would do well to take their zealous critique of scientific theories and apply it to their own beliefs. If someone wants to demand more evidence from evolution before they accept it then I say more power to you, as long as you also make that same demand of the other (i.e., religious) theories that are presented to you.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #61 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 12:03am »
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Judging by your disrespectful manner it is clear that you did not read my post in the spirit it was intended. I would remind you that an ad hominem argument is no argument at all.
 
If you read the posts of the other learned members on this forum, for whom I have maximum respect, you will see that they acknowledge the limits of our understanding.
 
However, given your faith in the current Big Bang model I would invite you to comment on the progress of "answers" to any of the three following unanswered questions:
(i) There should be an equal "quantity" of matter and anti-matter. Why can we not detect this abundance of anti-matter?
(ii) The current model for the origins of the universe demands the existence of an abundance of Population III stars. Why can we not find any?
(iii) The density of monopoles should be billions of times the critical density of our universe. Why have scientist failed to either detect or experimentally create a single one?
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #62 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 2:16am »
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on Apr 27th, 2008, 8:19pm, skeptic1000 wrote:
Unanswered? Yes. Unanswerable? Absolutely not; not in the same sense that creationist claims are unanswerable. If a scientist tells you that something is unanswerable it means that it is currently unanswerable, simply because it takes time to collect all the evidence required to draw a conclusion.
There may not be evidence. Consider for example the multiple universe interpretation of quantum mechanics. It is in principle impossible to prove those other universes exist (if we could observe them, they'd be part of our universe). Or take string theory; as far as I know, they haven't thought of one single testable consequence. Or consider the geometry of the universe, is it Euclidean or not? Poincare proved it is impossible to decide (it's simply a consequence of math).
There are inevitably truly unanswerable questions to scientific theories, because we're part of the system we're trying to describe and therefore some things are inaccessible to us. Which isn't to say I don't prefer the scientific method for answering those questions that may have an answer, but it's not a foregone conclusion that looking long enough can always yield an answer.
 
Quote:
...and why start with that premise?
Because they know it to be true.
Or if you prefer, they think they know it to be true (who really knows anything; we may be in a large computer simulation for all we can tell).
 
Quote:
No way to explain origins? Just because Evolution doesn't try to explain origins doesn't mean that science in general doesn't attempt to explain it. There are tons of theories about origins out there.  The Big Bang is one that comes to mind, and even though the details are immature as far as a scientific theory goes, the evidence for it is massive when compared to the God-origin that you propose.
The big question, though, is not so much what happened but why. "In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded." That something 'exploded' (expanded is a better word) is something science can confidently say, but how that could happened is problematic. Possibly as problematic as explaining where God came from.
 
Quote:
Creationists would do well to take their zealous critique of scientific theories and apply it to their own beliefs.
Well, even without the latter; they advance (mainstream) science by asking (possibly) uncomfortable questions that adherents of evolution don't ask themselves. Of course, when those questions are answered, it'd be nice if they would seem to have more of an impact; some acknowledgment that good work was done. To some extent it should be possible to respect a theory without agreeing with it. On the other hand, as Kuhn said, adherents of different paradigms essentially live in different worlds, speaking a different language. Neither makes view sense when viewed solely from the other side.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #63 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 7:10am »
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Sir Col:
Ad hominem? Unless you are the inventor of Creationism and religion I wouldn't consider my comments a personal attack on yourself. Maybe I overused the word "you", but it was meant to be a generic "you".
 
Also please note I made no allegiance to the Big Bang theory, I was simply pointing out that even though Evolution makes no attempt to explain origins, other areas of science do (because you said non-believers have no explanation for origins). I don't want to contaminate a good evolution/creation debate with that topic so maybe we can start another thread with your 3 questions about the Big Bang theory. Because certainly you are not implying that the fact that you have 3 questions about the Big Bang theory is somehow proof for Creation.
 
towr:
Good points about quantum mechanics.string theory, but Sir Cols allegation about "unanswerable questions" was strictly addressed towards Evolution, so that's the only field I was defending.
 
And yes, it is great that Creationists ask the tough questions about science, because science thrives on being put to the test. That's why I said if someone wants to demand more evidence then more power to them. But then they have to be willing to accept the evidence when it is laid out before them, and then they also have to demand the same level of evidence from any other religious belief or theory.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #64 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 9:39am »
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on Apr 28th, 2008, 2:16am, towr wrote:

Because they know it to be true.
Or if you prefer, they think they know it to be true (who really knows anything; we may be in a large computer simulation for all we can tell).

 
So when scientists perform an experiment or do research they are trying to find out what is true. But when religious people do research they get to start with the premise that "what they think they already know" (a.k.a. their faith-based beliefs) are true, and then they only look for "evidence" to support what they already believe in or refute what they don't believe in. (I use "evidence" in quotes here because as I mentioned earlier they don't use real evidence since there is none, they just use questions about other theories as proof of their own theories). So since Creationists have arbitrarily decided that God created us, they get to use that as a premise for their logic? That type of logic seems dangerous to me. Many creationists (incorrectly) argue that Evolution allows people to do away with morality, but it seems to me that being able to arbitrarily decide what is true has much deeper implications on morality. You can justify anything with that logic. Granted that creationists are not directly trying to use that logic for harm, but they have to realize that that same logic is how suicide bombers are able to justify their actions also.  
 
Creationists then demand all sorts of evidence from Evolutionists (which is usually provided), but never demand that same evidence from their own beliefs. So why is their Creationist belief not subject to the same rigors? Why do their beliefs have to babied, for fear that attacks on their beliefs will be construed into attacks on the person (as we have seen above)? You can try to attack scientific beliefs all you want but no scientist would ever take it as a personal attack. They would just take those attacks to the drawing board and figure out if they hold water.
 
That last quip about computer simulations is cute, but it doesn't really even the playing field of "truth" as much as The Matrix would have you believe. Because even if that were the case, there is still truth within the simulation. As long as that truth can independently be determined by experiments that are observable, measurable, predictable, verifiable, and repeatable then it doesn't matter if you want to call life a simulation. Truth is truth, and all concepts of truth: scientific, religious or otherwise should be held to the same flame of scrutiny. Imagine if we treated all beliefs the same way we treated religious beliefs; just giving everyone a carte blanche to accept truth and myth as they desire. Religion is the only place where that sort of irrationality is not only accepted, but many times even rewarded, because the more irrational you are able to be, then clearly the more must faith you must have. And in turn the more faith you have somehow makes you more Godly. So you can literally rise through the ranks by forcing yourself to believe in something that doesn't make sense. That's not a hierarchy I'd be interested in climbing, and it seriously concerns me about the people at the top.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #65 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 10:00am »
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skeptic1000, you seem to be intent on misquoting/misunderstanding me...
 
In my original post I was careful to say, "Indeed we have many unanswered, and possibly unanswerable questions, but an honest and well researched Evolutionists would concede the same."
 
You just said, "but Sir Cols allegation about unanswerable questions was strictly addressed towards Evolution, so that's the only field I was defending."
 
If that's the only thing you were trying to defend, then your efforts seem unnecessary, as I never said that.
 
As for it being Creationists that ask these tough questions, I think you give them too much credit. I don't ask these questions because I am a Creationist, I ask them because I consider myself to be a good scientist. And in fact, it is from the brilliant minds behind the development of ideas in string theory that most of these "unanswerable" questions have sprung. Of course they are not without their own answers too, but they flatly (for those in the know, please excuse the pun) undermine the popular model for the Big Bang. Their solution, which goes some of the way to address the questions relating to horizon size and the inexplicably small deviations from flatness in spatial geometry just after the Big Bang, is an inflationary universe. However, this Big Bang model does not address the important question about monopoles, anti-matter, and population III stars. A fact that they firmly admit.
 
 
[edit]
 
It looks like you made another post as I was replying and I find some of your comments deeply offensive. For example, to suggest that people possessing faith have the same mindset as suicide bombers is outrageous.
 
So far I have seen little evidence of any scientific pedigree in the realm of creation/evolution from you. All you seem to do is constantly spout the same stereotypical dogma about religion being a substitute for intelligence, and quite frankly it is tedious. I have tried to make the distinction between the noisy minority from all quarters that give each other a bad name. I have tried to explain that most Creationists subject themselves to the rigorous protocols of empirically verifiable evidence in matters of science. But like all good scientists they are honest and humble enough to know the limitations of their knowledge. It seems that you are either missing these points or refuse to accept them.
 
If you have any pertinent points to make relating to Evolution or Creationism then I am quite happy to hear them, but I refuse to be involved in a puerile discussion that is based on bigoted and misplaced views.
 
[/edit]
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #66 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 12:12pm »
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on Apr 28th, 2008, 10:00am, Sir Col wrote:
skeptic1000, you seem to be intent on misquoting/misunderstanding me...
 
In my original post I was careful to say, "Indeed we have many unanswered, and possibly unanswerable questions, but an honest and well researched Evolutionists would concede the same."
 
You just said, "but Sir Cols allegation about unanswerable questions was strictly addressed towards Evolution, so that's the only field I was defending."
 
If that's the only thing you were trying to defend, then your efforts seem unnecessary, as I never said that.

 
It appears I may have misinterpreted your statement. I read it as "Indeed we [creationists] have many unanswered, and possibly unanswerable questions [about our theory of creation], but an honest and well researched Evolutionist would concede the same [about their theory of evolution]."
 
I think you are saying that what you meant was "Indeed we [humans in general] have many unanswered, and possibly unanswerable questions [about the universe], but an honest and well researched Evolutionist would concede the same [about those same questions]."
 
If that is the case, then yes, I did misinterpret your statement, but I hope you can see how and that it was not my intent to twist what I thought you were trying to say.
 
[/quote]
 
on Apr 28th, 2008, 10:00am, Sir Col wrote:

It looks like you made another post as I was replying and I find some of your comments deeply offensive. For example, to suggest that people possessing faith have the same mindset as suicide bombers is outrageous.

 
Speaking of misquoting...I never said they have the same mindset, I said they come to their conclusions using the same form of logic. The conclusions are vastly different, but the shared logic is that it is ok to start with the premise that what you believe is true, and then continue down that path only looking for evidence that supports your existing beliefs. And I even made it extra clear that I was not implying that creationists were the same as suicide bombers by adding that creationists are clearly not trying to harm anyone, just that they were using the same type of logic. I put that disclaimer in there so that you wouldn't misquote me, but you still managed to. And now that I think about it, creationists (maybe not you, but some) do cause some direct harm when they try to deprive our children of a proper education and try to halt the progress of scientific research, for the sole purpose of defending their religion.
 
 
on Apr 28th, 2008, 10:00am, Sir Col wrote:

 
So far I have seen little evidence of any scientific pedigree in the realm of creation/evolution from you. All you seem to do is constantly spout the same stereotypical dogma about religion being a substitute for intelligence, and quite frankly it is tedious. I have tried to make the distinction between the noisy minority from all quarters that give each other a bad name. I have tried to explain that most Creationists subject themselves to the rigorous protocols of empirically verifiable evidence in matters of science. But like all good scientists they are honest and humble enough to know the limitations of their knowledge. It seems that you are either missing these points or refuse to accept them.
 
If you have any pertinent points to make relating to Evolution or Creationism then I am quite happy to hear them, but I refuse to be involved in a puerile discussion that is based on bigoted and misplaced views.

 
All the evidence is out there for you. It's up to you to decide if you will evaluate it without first assuming the premise that God created us. None of the evidence will mean anything coming from me if you insist on first making that huge leap of faith.  
 
As for creationists subjecting themselves to the rigorous protocols of science, but simply being humble enough to stop when they've hit the limits of their knowledge: That does sound quite noble at first, but in reality it's more of a scientific cop-out. Scientist can't throw in the towel every time we hit a wall, and then decide to assign everything past that wall to God. If we did that we would never get anywhere and we'd still be worshiping Sun Gods instead of knowing that the Sun is a star that we are orbiting.  
 
We shouldn't stop at things we don't know. Rather that is exactly where we should start working even harder to understand them. Like your questions about the Big Bang theory; just because you have questions doesn't mean the whole concept is wrong, it just means we need to do some more research on those details. Which is exactly what I plan on doing and I hope to see you in that thread also.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #67 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 12:45pm »
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on Apr 28th, 2008, 9:39am, skeptic1000 wrote:
So when scientists perform an experiment or do research they are trying to find out what is true. But when religious people do research they get to start with the premise that "what they think they already know" (a.k.a. their faith-based beliefs) are true
Scientists also start with things they take as true. Typically they work within a scientific paradigm, taking the core of that paradigm as true without question (things like "light speed is the upper speed limit"). The things that are open to question are the details and auxiliary hypothesis fleshing out the paradigm (like various possible interpretations of the core theory), but not the things they think have sufficient evidence for them.
The same may be said for creationists.
 
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and then they only look for "evidence" to support what they already believe in or refute what they don't believe in. (I use "evidence" in quotes here because as I mentioned earlier they don't use real evidence since there is none, they just use questions about other theories as proof of their own theories).
That's not really different from what scientist, in practice, do. While in theory -- well, according to falsificationism -- they should go out and shoot their own theory to bits if they can, they don't. They look to confirm their theory, and discredit other people's theories, just like any normal human. And when their theory is discredited, they don't throw out the core principles as long as they can tweak the auxiliary hypotheses to save it.
Most paradigms die out, not because it's adherents stop believing in it, but because they die of old age and the new generation is raised in the more successful ones at school/university. In case of religion, though, a new generation is born into the 'paradigm'; so it is unlikely to die out in the same way (hence the huge number of religions, of which at most one might be right).  
 
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So since Creationists have arbitrarily decided that God created us, they get to use that as a premise for their logic?
I don't think it's fair to describe it as arbitrary; they didn't just flip a coin and based on that decided to believe in God. I'm sure they think they have very good reasons to believe God created the universe; personal revelation even, perhaps.
Besides, Copernicus 'arbitrarily' decided the sun was the center of our solar system (well, actual, universe according to him); even when the Ptolemaic model worked better and had all evidence of that time in its favour. And I'm not sure how much evidence Einstein had when he 'arbitrarily' decided on the speed of light as the speed limit of the cosmos.
 
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That type of logic seems dangerous to me.
Well, perhaps if the paradigm isn't subject to the normal selective pressure. (Of course it's the pinnacle of memetic evolution; the idea that just won't die.) But it makes sense that people build their conception of the world around them foremost on the 'facts' they are most sure of. If I regularly saw objects defy gravity (like books and pens falling to the ceiling), then I wouldn't subscribe to the theory of gravity, even if I was the only one that experienced it. (Although there's the possibility I'd question my sanity, if there really wasn't anyone else.)
 
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Why do their beliefs have to babied, for fear that attacks on their beliefs will be construed into attacks on the person (as we have seen above)?
Well, I agree that their theories shouldn't be babied, at least not if they have scientific pretenses. But I'd try to keep in mind that they probably think they have good reasons for believing what they do; even if I don't agree with then and may not understand their reasons.
Not, mind you, that I'm always successful in my attempts.
 
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You can try to attack scientific beliefs all you want but no scientist would ever take it as a personal attack. They would just take those attacks to the drawing board and figure out if they hold water.
I'm not quite sure about that; scientists are still human. When you attack someone's theory you attack their pride and prestige, and that's personal. However I haven't got an example handy (maybe when my new book by Latour arrives).
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #68 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 12:46pm »
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That last quip about computer simulations is cute, but it doesn't really even the playing field of "truth" as much as The Matrix would have you believe. Because even if that were the case, there is still truth within the simulation.
Well, only up to the point 'someone' doesn't continually change the rules or gives each person a qualitatively different view of the universe, etc.  
 
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As long as that truth can independently be determined by experiments that are observable, measurable, predictable, verifiable, and repeatable then it doesn't matter if you want to call life a simulation. Truth is truth, and all concepts of truth: scientific, religious or otherwise should be held to the same flame of scrutiny.
Nah, a lot of truths don't matter in day-to-day life. That's why we humans get away with having such an incredibly, stupendously, unreliable memory. Getting the gist of things typically suffices. Now for Universal Truths, those, I'd agree, should typically hold up to scrutiny; but even there there's the question to what extend they matter (to other people).
As long as we can agree on how the world behaves, it doesn't really matter what else people believe around it; and there lies the problem. Frankly, I don't really care if someone believes the earth is 6000 years old, as long as they can concede that despite that fact it behaves as if it's 4.5 billion years old. Maybe I'm overly behaviouristic in this approach, but I don't much care about metaphysics. If the simulation was started (our) yesterday, all our memories in place at the start, what does it matter, right?
 
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Imagine if we treated all beliefs the same way we treated religious beliefs; just giving everyone a carte blanche to accept truth and myth as they desire.
Well, just like any freedom, up to the point where it interferes with other's.
 
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Religion is the only place where that sort of irrationality is not only accepted, but many times even rewarded, because the more irrational you are able to be, then clearly the more must faith you must have. And in turn the more faith you have somehow makes you more Godly. So you can literally rise through the ranks by forcing yourself to believe in something that doesn't make sense.
Now, see, this is a clear example for which I can see why Sir Col might be upset about it.  
Why presuppose they're irrational? People can end up with vastly different world views by similar rational means if they start from different positions. They're not forcing themselves to believe things that don't make sense to them; it does make sense to them, it just doesn't make sense to you.
A lot of scientific theories from the past don't make any sense in today's context, like phlogiston; but they made sense in the context of their day. They weren't thought up by irrational people, just people that worked from different principles.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #69 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 1:21pm »
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towr & Sir Col, thanks for taking the time to respond so comprehensively. towr, you seem to prefer sticking to the neutral philosophical side, you are a very diplomatic moderator Smiley Complete this joke: A Creationist, an evolutionist, and a philosopher walk into a bar..."
 
One thing I hear a lot is that "It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creation." I don't know if creationists really believe that, or if they just know how to push a scientist's button by accusing their theories of being faith-based. But even if it is just a tongue-in-cheek remark I figured it is worth evaluating.
 
First we have to assign a value to the amount of faith required for each theory. Let's say that evolution takes X amount of faith, and creation takes Y amount of faith.
 
Creationists must then consider that Creation assumes that the creator came from nothing, and since by definition the creator must be more complex than the beings it created, the theory of the creator coming from nothing must require more faith than the theory of humans evolving from nothing, so we can call that amount of faith X+1.  
 
 
So,
 
X  = the amount of faith required to believe that the complex life on earth could arise where there was none before.
 
Y = the amount of faith required to believe that God created all life on earth.
 
X+1 = The amount of faith required to believe that God exists.
 
So Creation requires Y+X+1 amount faith, but Evolution only requires X amount of faith. So no matter what initial values you decide that X and Y should take on, Creation always requires more faith than evolution.  
 
The key factor here being that it takes more faith to believe in the mere existence of God than it does to believe in the evolution of humans, as I proved above. This might surprise a lot of people because religion tells you that Creation is the simplest answer and that evolution is insurmountably improbable.
 
But what they aren't telling you is that with Creation you also have to account for the creation of the creator. Evolution and Natural Selection remove that entire level of complexity and explain how life could arise without getting into the paradoxical infinite loop that creation causes (what created the creator, what created that creator, etc...). Evolution is so much simpler. Creationists try to make it sound improbable, but fail to mention that creation still has to overcome that same improbability in order to explain the creator.
 
So now that we have one theory clearly requiring more faith than the other, you simply invoke Occam's Razor to come up with an answer.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #70 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 2:23pm »
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I think I figured out the punchline:
 
A creationist, an evolutionist, and a philosopher walk into a bar. The barman asks then what they'd like to drink. The creationist says he has church in the morning so he orders a coke. The evolutionist wants to unwind from his full day of debating with creationists so he orders a rum. Upon hearing this the philosopher says "Those both sound good, I think I'll have a rum and coke". Then the creationist and the evolutionist both offer to pay for it.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #71 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 2:37pm »
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on Apr 28th, 2008, 1:21pm, skeptic1000 wrote:
So now that we have one theory clearly requiring more faith than the other

Except that the "clearly the creator must be more complex than his creation" argument is only true when you define complexity in a way that makes it effectively impossible to assess. For example, which is more complex? The Mandelbrot Set, or a chessboard (without pieces)
 
For that matter, which is more complex? An acorn or an oak tree?
 
Or consider the effect of unleashing Langton's Ant on a featureless infinite plane.
 
For that matter, today's universe is a lot more complex than the standard model's picture of a split-instant after t=0
 
To say that any God capable of creating the observed universe must have been more complex than it, and then use that as an argument that something very simple (the Big Bang) must have created the universe instead is a little inconsistent.
 
 
This is without raising the point that the presence of a creator then affects the probability of intelligent life arising - so it requires a lot less faith to believe that a generally rectangular array of corn growing in regular rows was deliberately planted by some "farmer" than that the plants just happened to spontaneously arrange themselves in that way, even if you've no other evidence of the farmer's existence.
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #72 on: Apr 28th, 2008, 3:57pm »
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on Apr 28th, 2008, 2:37pm, rmsgrey wrote:

For that matter, which is more complex? An acorn or an oak tree?

 
Thanks for playing devil's advocate, but I don't see the correlation. Acorns become oak trees, so it's hard to assess that relationship, but it's not like humans grow up to be Gods.  I think it's safe to say that any religious person thinks of God as a higher-being than a human, and thus more complex. Anything else I'm pretty sure would be sac-relig. I'm comfortable with the assumption that the God of religious creationism must be more complex than humans, in the same way that humans are more complex than computers (so far).  
 
 
on Apr 28th, 2008, 2:37pm, rmsgrey wrote:

To say that any God capable of creating the observed universe must have been more complex than it, and then use that as an argument that something very simple (the Big Bang) must have created the universe instead is a little inconsistent.

 
I didn't try to justify the Big Bang with this proof. I only tried to show that the creation of life requires more faith the evolution of life. I opened up another thread for the Big Bang for just that purpose though.
 
on Apr 28th, 2008, 2:37pm, rmsgrey wrote:

This is without raising the point that the presence of a creator then affects the probability of intelligent life arising - so it requires a lot less faith to believe that a generally rectangular array of corn growing in regular rows was deliberately planted by some "farmer" than that the plants just happened to spontaneously arrange themselves in that way, even if you've no other evidence of the farmer's existence.

 
Really? I was pretty certain my proof accounted for that, that's why I said it doesn't matter what initial values you choose for X and Y. But I'm glad you brought it up so that we can explicitly evaluate it. Let's consider the extreme case where you say that initially X and Y both equal 10. But when you consider that God exists, Y drops all the way down to 1 (because certainly any life-form with the ability to create life should do it, right?) So you now have that evolution requires 10 units of faith, but creation requires 12 units of faith.  
 
The key to this relationship is that it has much less to do with how likely it is that God would have created life, and much more to do with the mere existence of the creator.  When you realize that, it's easy to see that it doesn't matter how much the presence of a creator affects the probability of intelligent life arising in order for this proof to hold true.
 
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #73 on: Apr 29th, 2008, 12:51am »
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If you have faith in God, then that already includes the belief he created life on earth; you don't need additional faith for that.
If I believe in chocolate chip cookies, I don't need to separately believe in chocolate chips; they're part of it, and delicious.
 
So we have
  X the belief in god and that he created the universe and life  
and
  Y the belief that life arose on it's own in a universe that appeared on its own.
and no way to rank them.
 
I'm skeptical about whether an a priori reasoning like this can really ever determine which of the two requires more faith.  
But how about an empirical test, look at the portion of evolutionists that turn creationist and vice versa. Of course, there is the problem of keeping the conditions fair. So perhaps select a number of each kind, and put them in the environment of the other, then check back in a few years.
There is anecdotal evidence for both types of "conversions".
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Re: Creation vs Evolution  
« Reply #74 on: Apr 29th, 2008, 5:49am »
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on Apr 29th, 2008, 12:51am, towr wrote:

 
So we have
  X the belief in god and that he created the universe and life  
and
  Y the belief that life arose on it's own in a universe that appeared on its own.
and no way to rank them.
 

 
That's fine because the complexity argument still shows that X=Y+1. (i.e., God arising from nowhere requires more faith than humans arising from nowhere). Or, just going back to my original proof, you simply use 0 for Y. Like I said, it doesn't matter what initial values you use for X and Y.
 
(Note: our X's and Y's are swapped)
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