Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

They said it: “Evolution is a Fact!”

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The opening of  the current version of the Wikipedia article, “Evolution as theory and fact,” (with links and references removed) reads:

The statement “evolution is both a theory and a fact” is often seen in biological literature. Evolution is a “theory” in the scientific sense of the term “theory”; it is an established scientific model that explains observations and makes predictions through mechanisms such as natural selection.

When scientists say “evolution is a fact”, they are using one of two meanings of the word “fact”. One meaning is empirical: evolution can be observed through changes in allele frequencies or traits of a population over successive generations. Another way “fact” is used is to refer to a certain kind of theory, one that has been so powerful and productive for such a long time that it is universally accepted by scientists. When scientists say evolution is a fact in this sense, they mean it is a fact that all living organisms have descended from a common ancestor (or ancestral gene pool) even though this cannot be directly observed. [Emphases added.]

In explaining this, they cite the US National Academy of Sciences:

Scientists most often use the word “fact” to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence is so strong.

[Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999), National Academy Press, Washington DC, 2006.]

{UPDATE, Jan 14, 2011: An objector, below, points out that NAS has somewhat corrected this blunder in the 2008 update to their pamphlet; which Wikipedia did not cite — NB: above, I am noting on how Wiki supported its claim as at Jan 12, 2011. That, first, leaves unexplained how from at least 1999 – 2006, such a body could make the basic error of confusing observed facts with inferred explanatory models, i.e. theories. That, surely, is a basic distinction that should be clear from Grade School mnemonics on the scientific method — tracing to Newton’s Opticks, Query 31 — that distinguish between observations and hypotheses and again experimental tests.  Moreover, in the 2008 adjustment, NAS tries (using context)  to indirectly compare favourably the operations science theory of gravity — something subject to direct observational tests — with macro-evolutionary theory, which is about origins issues on a deep and unobservable past that we can only infer to. In short, we have here a subtler form of the same blunder. A fairer approach would be to recognise the inescapable difference between what is observable and what is not, and so acknowledge that origins science theories are simply not as capable of empirical support as are operations science theories such as gravity. We use the principle of uniformity to infer from the present to the deep past of origins, but we do not directly observe that past. And, as we do so, that raises the point that, for instance, the only reliably observed source of digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information, is intelligently directed configuration, i.e. design. So, on the uniformity principle [roughly: like causes like, where we see characteristic signs], we have excellent reason to infer that DNA — which manifests just such dFSCI — is designed. Which, if acknowledged, would immediately devastate the whole Darwinian theoretical account of the origin of major body plans on undirected chance variation, natural selection and similar culling mechanisms, thence descent with modification deemed powerful enough to account for biodiversity from pond scum to us.}

First, we see how Wikipedia resorts to a No True Scotsman fallacy.

Regardless of qualifications, if one is not in agreement with the above asserted “consensus,” one is disenfranchised as a scientist. This is little more than name calling, and shows us an example of why it is fair to caution the user that Wikipedia is so often marred by bias. And, the appeal to consensus in science ignores the basic fact that science is inherently provisional, so it must be open to correction and progress, whether by theory refinement or by theory replacement. AKA, scientific revolutions.

Next, a slippery definition acts: observed minor changes in populations, sometimes called micro-evolution, are “evolution.” It is indeed reasonable to call such observed changes a fact: something we directly know per observation, is so and/or has occurred.

But, we are being told as well — and not only by so humble a source as Wikipedia but by the US National Academy of Science — that so is the UN-observed hypothesis that all forms of life and all body plans derive from a common ancestor, through descent with modification on chance variation, differential reproductive success and the like.

However, this is an assertion, not a demonstrated or observed reality. We have no right to infer or assume that the one simply  accumulates into the other. Nor, are we even remotely capable of directly observing the remote past of origins, so we cannot know the proposed universal common descent for a fact. Instead, we can only observe evidence in the present, and infer and debate about alternative explanations and proposed timelines and mechanisms. But, plainly, an inferred explanation — however strongly we may wish to believe it to be true — is not and cannot be a fact.

Sadly, even more unsupportable claims have been made in recent textbooks. For example, in a recent blog post, Dr Cornelius Hunter pointed out on the discussion of Fig. 17.3  in the 5th Edn of the Johnson and Losos text, The Living World (McGraw Hill, 2008), that the authors claim:

It is important not to miss the key point of the result you see illustrated in figure 17.3: evolution is an observation, not a conclusion. Because the dating of the samples is independent of what the samples are like, successive change through time is a data statement. While the statement that evolution is the result of natural selection is a theory advanced by Darwin, the statement that macroevolution has occurred is a factual observation. [Emphases added.]

Hunter aptly rebuts:

A sequence of fossils is an observation of macroevolution? It would be difficult to imagine a more misleading statement than this. And it is not as though this was an unintended mistake that just happened to elude the 100+ reviewers. Johnson and Losos went out of their way to make and elaborate this message, and the army of evolutionist reviewers all nodded their heads. [Emphasis added.]

For, first, events claimed to have happened 50 – 35 million years in the deep past are  simply not open to direct observation; as, we were not there to see for ourselves, nor do we have generally acceptable and credible record of the true facts from those who were.

Notwithstanding, the claim is being made that the dating is “independent” of the reconstructions and artistic photo-paintings made based on fossils recovered in certain layers of rocks.  Not quite.

For, as Science writer Richard Milton has summarised , such dating schemes face several challenges [U/D, 01:23, link added],  and again, are simply not direct observations of the remote, unobserved — and, credibly, unobservable — past:

[1 Untestability/ Circularity:] . . . the overwhelming majority of [radioactive] dates could never be challenged or found to be flawed since there is no genuinely independent evidence that can contradict those dates . . . .

[2 Ballpark thinking:] Any dating scientist who suggested looking outside of [the standard] ballpark . . . would be looked on as a crackpot by his colleagues. More significantly, he would not be able to get any funding for his research . . . .

[3 Intellectual phase-locking:]  . . . all scientists make experimental errors that they have to correct. They naturally prefer to correct them in the direction of the currently accepted value thus giving an unconscious trend to measured values . . . .

[4 Conformity to consensus:] Take for example a rock sample from the late Cretaceous, a period which is universally believed to date from some 65 million years ago. Any dating scientist who obtained a date from the sample of, say, 10 million years or 150 million years, would not publish such a result because he or she will, quite sincerely, assume it was in error. On the other hand, any dating scientist who did obtain a date of 65 million years would hasten to publish it . . . [Shattering the Myths of Darwinism (Park Street Press, 1997), pp. 50 – 51. {UPDATE, 11:01:13: I here cite Milton as having made a cogent summary of the challenges faced by dating science, not as an endorsement of either his wider argument as a Neo-Lamarckian, or of his general views as an alternative science journalist. One may accept geo-dating results on the preponderance of evidence and argument [note the standard of warrant applied], but equally, one should also reckon with the sort of concerns on strengths and limitations as are cited. We should not mistake inherently and inescapably provisional results of a long chain of inferences within a school of thought for indisputable observed fact. HT: Bevets.} ]

Now, we may argue that, notwithstanding such concerns, there is a general consensus that the dating scientists are dating something real. But, that is also an inference, not a direct observation or record of it by a competent and credible eyewitness. Radioactive dates, index fossil dates and stratigraphic dates — however plausible they may seem to be — form a model timeline within the general origins science theoretical framework; they are not an extrinsic, independent cross-check on it. (And, a case like this one should give us pause before dismissing such a concern out of hand.)

Worse, as we have discussed recently here and here, the underlying context for all of this is the sort of imposed a priori evolutionary materialism that Lewontin so notably summarised in his 1997 NYRB article:

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [“Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Emphases added.]

Such blatant question-begging  should give us serious pause when we hear the ever so confident assertion that “Evolution is a FACT!”

Comments
F/N: I noticed a rather dismissive commentary here that speaks of how a "consilience" of dating results makes the cited, common-sense remarks above on the due diligence limitations of terrestrial dating in effect a reflection of my ignorance (and if I am to take a commenter seriously, unwillingness to accept correction -- even when I am --as demonstrated by actual runs of a credible Weasel -- right :) ) I hope it is not too much to ask the commenter to read and respond cogently to my wider remarks here, particularly noting the challenges of the classic consilience case, Isochrons [Cf Figs. G.6 & G.7, with associated remarks]. As I noted there, too, from a recent peer-reviewed paper by Davidson, Charlier, Hora, and Perlroth:
The determination of accurate and precise isochron ages for igneous rocks requires that the initial isotope ratios of the analyzed minerals are identical at the time of eruption or emplacement [i.e. they must come from a common initial “molten rock point,” as shown]. Studies of young volcanic rocks at the mineral scale have shown this assumption to be invalid in many instances. Variations in initial isotope ratios can result in erroneous or imprecise ages. Nevertheless, it is possible for initial isotope ratio variation to be obscured in a statistically acceptable isochron. Independent age determinations [but Milton's four “reasoning in a circle” challenges undercut such “independence”] and critical appraisal of petrography are needed to evaluate isotope data. If initial isotope ratio variability can be demonstrated, however, it can be used to constrain petrogenetic pathways [i.e. It is used to argue for models of rock origin]. [Abstract, “Mineral isochrons and isotopic fingerprinting: Pitfalls and promises,” Geology, Vol. 33, No. 1, Jan. 2005, pp. 29–32. (Parentheses and emphases added.) ]
Again, my general observation on origins timelines, is that I am far more impressed by the stellar life cycle models and their empirical support, than by any terrestrial dating scheme, whether stratigraphic or radioactive. That's why I give the H-R diagram and related data pride of place as origins science done right. (And as for the "Creationist" smear that is predictably used, I draw observers' attention to the specifically scientific context for the discussion. I am hardly trying to force-fit scientific findings into a Bible interpretation framework, or arguing that a specific Biblical model of origins is a superior hypothesis for origins. But, someone -- predictably -- could not resist the "Creationist" red herring - strawman - ad hominem atmosphere-poisoning trifectas fallacy talking point. Duly addressed here.) But, given the ladders of inferences and hypotheses involved with ALL origins science work, we need to face the fact that we were not there to see the deep past, not do we have good and credible record from those who were there. So, let us have the humility to report such timelines and dates as what they are: MODEL dates of a largely theoretically reconstructed past. And, please, please, please, let us not indoctrinate trusting people into a degree of certainty that we cannot justify on the evidence. At least, if we care about science. GEM of TKI PS: And, kindly, have the decency to respect my privacy and request that I not be exposed to more spam etc than is absolutely necessary. (Given what just happened to Mr Gaskell, the insistence on privacy violations by Darwinist advocates has to be seen as willful enabling behaviour, also.)kairosfocus
January 23, 2011
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2. The emphasis by Darwinians on random heritable change selected by natural selection consistently hides what I believe is the real core belief of the Darwinian theory and which is almost never explicitly stated, namely that major modifications and new biological features, such as body plans, organs and organ systems, and processes such as blood clotting, sexual reproduction, and insect metamorphosis can arise through a series of incremental changes over long periods of time. I would say that this core claim is already pretty explicitly stated Darwins "On the Origin of Species" and has not really been hidden ever since.second opinion
January 16, 2011
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Noesis, 2 points: 1. There isn't "a" theory of gravity, there are two theories of gravity, Newtonian and General Relativity, and they contradict each other. So which one is the "fact"? Gravity is a great example, because the Newtonian theory was accepted as "fact" for around 200 years, but was then overthrown by another which explained phenomena that were not explained by Newton's. 2. The emphasis by Darwinians on random heritable change selected by natural selection consistently hides what I believe is the real core belief of the Darwinian theory and which is almost never explicitly stated, namely that major modifications and new biological features, such as body plans, organs and organ systems, and processes such as blood clotting, sexual reproduction, and insect metamorphosis can arise through a series of incremental changes over long periods of time. It is this core belief that is at issue, NOT the efficacy of random mutation and natural selection to produce change in organisms. And for this core belief there is no direct evidence whatsoever (it has never been observed, either in nature or in the laboratory), precious little indirect evidence, and abundant evidence that it is in fact false. If you're going to comment on blogs like this, please do us and yourself the favor of finding out what the professional scientists and mathematicians who critique Darwinism (Behe, Denton, Wells, Dembski, Meyer, Axe, Sanford, Berlinski, and others) are actually saying.Bruce David
January 14, 2011
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Noesis [36]: You quoted the NAS Institute of Medicine document thusly: But creationism is not science. Creationist arguments are based on beliefs about an entity outside the natural world. But science can only investigate naturally occurring phenomena. Let's play this game: Why don't we try to prove who killed Nicole Brown Simpson, but with this proviso: we can't involve O.J. Simpson. Here's one: Ron Goldman followed her home, slit her throat, and then slit his throat to make it look like he didn't do it. Is this absurd? Yes. But we're left to absurd descriptions because the 'agent' of the action cannot be invoked. I hope you see the parallels between this and trying to understand biology without invoking an intelligent agent at work.PaV
January 14, 2011
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PS: It seems that somebody gave NAS a few wrist-slaps between 2006 and 2008, so they have backed off a tad. That leaves mysteriously unexplained how they could have made such a blunder even in 1999 and how they continued it right up to the 2006 printing Wikipedia is citing -- as of a few moments ago -- as its reference 18. I cite:
# ^ Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999), National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy Press, Washington DC, 2006.
For, the difference between observed facts and inferred explanations of facts is a basic point. (And of course reader, recall the context: I am primarily addressing Wikipedia [which is still pushing the evolution is a fact meme today], which cited the NAS' 1999 booklet, 20006 printing in support and still cites it as of a few moments ago.) And, unfortunately, they have made the same blunder by incorporating a comparison between a reconstruction of the remote inherently unobservable past and the directly observable operations of gravitation in action. First substantial problem: the facts do not substantiate what is needed to make Darwinian macro-evolution a factually well supported theory (especially in accounting for the origin of the digitally coded, functionally specific complex information to create dozens of major body plans through chance and mechanical necessity), and the theory rests on inferences to an unobservable past, not actual observed facts. There is no proper epistemic warrant comparison between claimed macro-evolution on darwinian mechanisms over the course of millions and more of years, and gravitation, which we can observe in action today. Origins and operations sciences are very different, inescapably so. As the OP discusses. Finally, even if the facts were to support common descent [as many feel they do], that is worlds apart from supporting common descent on darwinian, evolutionary materialistic mechanisms of chance variation and differential reproductive success leading to descent with modification claimed to be enough to account for variation from pond scum to us. Again, until there is a credible account for the bio information required to form major body plans, we do not have a factually well warranted theory. Further to all this, the primary focus of this post is Wikipedia, and the response is corrective to their claim that evolution is a fact, a point that continues to be endorsed by say the NCSE as is seen in the onward post here. What is actually the case is what Philip Johnson pointed out in 1997, in reply to Lewontin as cited in the OP:
For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence.Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]
kairosfocus
January 14, 2011
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Noesis: First, the NAS's position of 1999 has been maintained to 2008, and you will see that in my always linked note, the IOSE course and previous post in this series I quoted the NAS' redefinition of science on imposition of evolutionary materialism from the 2008 version of the "long-running pamphlet" -- see if you can tell whee I used that phrase. (In short, you have projected accusations without having done the duty of care to check facts first.) Second, had you paid more careful attention just the original post above you would have immediately seen why I cited the 1999 version there. Namely, that is the version Wikipedia cited in support of their own fallacious claim that evolution is a fact. Observe my introduction to the cite:
In explaining this, they [i.e. Wikipedia] cite the US National Academy of Sciences . . .
So, your little turnabout rhetoric exercise blows back in your face. It also reveals -- sadly -- that your posts so far are fundamentally mischievous, more interested to project real or imagined fault and to distract, than to deal seriously with a serious matter with very sobering consequences. When it comes to the attempt to conflate creationism and design thought that you went to town on just now, I suggest you work your way through post no 4 in the "They said it" series, put up earlier this morning. This will expose the willful smear involved in that rhetorical stratagem. Further to this, I suggest to you that the key and relevant, damaging non-scientific concept being deleteriously injected into real science classes on the ground today is a priori evolutionary materialism. Lewontin, in his infamous 1999 NYRB article, sums it up all too tellingly (as the original post cites):
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [“Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.]
Moreover, if the US NAS -- in the question-begging grips of Lewontinian a priori materialism -- demonstrably cannot get the basic definition of science and its methods right, and confuses a theoretical explanation of facts with being a fact, it has a lot more work to do closer to home than trying to criticise Creationists. As in: physician, heal thyself. (As this issue is not germane to this thread, i.e. yet another red herring led away to the Creationism straw man, I again suggest you carry the issue to the relevant thread. I note you seem to have taken the immateiral mind issue no further once you were pointed to where I was and am perfectly willing to address it. That sounds like you are trying one red herring after another rather than being serious about the substantive issue. And, that in a context where such red herrings are enabling behaviour for abuse up to and including unjustifiable career busting. Please, think again.) G'day, sir. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
January 14, 2011
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kairosfocus, I think you have little to object to in the language of the 2008 NAS statement. I've highlighted "fact" in the following excerpts.
Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature that is supported by many facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena. A good example is the theory of gravity. After hundreds of years of observation and experiment, the basic facts of gravity are understood. The theory of gravity is an explanation of those basic facts.
Also,
We all know from our experience that biological traits pass from parents to offspring. This is the basis of evolution. Sometimes traits change between generations. If a new trait results in an offspring doing better in its natural surroundings and producing more offspring that also inherit the trait, that trait will become more widespread over time. If the new trait makes the offspring less able to survive and thus leave fewer offspring, the trait will tend to fade from existence. Natural selection is the process by which some traits succeed and others fail in the environment where the organism lives. For every type of life we see today, there were many other types that were unsuccessful and became extinct. Scientists no longer question the basic facts of evolution as a process. The concept has withstood extensive testing by tens of thousands of specialists in biology, medicine, anthropology, geology, chemistry, and other fields. Discoveries in different fields have reinforced one another, and evidence for evolution has continued to accumulate for 150 years.
Finally,
Also, the creationist argument that such features “must” have been designed is based on their preconceived idea of a Creator, while the scientific position is based on observable facts and falsifiable explanations.
Noesis
January 14, 2011
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kairosfocus, The NAS Institute of Medicine released Science, Evolution, and Creationism in 2008, so your 1999 source, Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences is obsolete. I'll assume generously that you did not know, and were not purposefully attacking an "oil-soaked straw man." :) Some highlights from the "hideously anti-religious" 2008 document:
But creationism is not science. Creationist arguments are based on beliefs about an entity outside the natural world. But science can only investigate naturally occurring phenomena. [...] Because science has no way to accept or refute creationists’ assertions, creationist beliefs should not be presented in science classrooms alongside teaching about evolution. Teaching non-scientific concepts in science class will only confuse students about the processes, nature, and limits of science.
Yes, I added the emphasis on limits. My objection to ID is that it tries to make science into some grand system that speaks to all of reality, natural and supernatural. That, purely and simply, is the most distressing of expressions of scientism. As I see things, methodological naturalism in science is not nearly as corrosive as creeping scientism in culture.
Science and Religion Offer Different Ways of Understanding the World Science and religion address separate aspects of human experience. Many scientists have written eloquently about how their scientific studies of biological evolution have enhanced rather than lessened their religious faith. And many religious people and denominations accept the scientific evidence for evolution. Our education system and our society as a whole are best served when we teach science, not religious faith, in science classrooms.
Of course, some religions make claims about nature, and the first sentence is not always true. There is a very easy way for adherents of such religions to deal with science. It is to assert that naturalistic explanations are not always true. Perhaps you could explain to me what is wrong with teaching children, "Science leaves out God, and we believe that God did some things differently than science says." It strikes me as incredibly vulgar to say, "We believe that the Bible is true, and so is science." (Who said this on Praise the Lord last year?) Next comment: How the 2008 document uses the word fact.Noesis
January 14, 2011
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Bruce David writes, "It seems as though people are quite willing to look like fools rather than give up a cherished position." I believe this is referred to as cognitive dissonance (defined as "the confused mental condition that results from holding incongruous, often mutually contradictory, beliefs simultaneously). The problem with having evolution as both theory and fact is that a theory is defined as "a speculative idea or plan as to how something might be done" but is also categorized with law, as "something having considerable evidence". If you speculate, you're probably formulating a hypothesis and not a theory. This is probably why my 15-year-old, taking biology this year, finds it confusing.Barb
January 13, 2011
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BD: Thanks, I trust N will make a more on-target comment, helping the discussion to proceed. Gkairosfocus
January 13, 2011
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Well put, GEM of TKI. We'll see if Noesis gets it, though. One of the frustrations of commenting in threads like these is that one can make the most cogent points, with absolute clarity, and the response is as if they never read it. It seems as though people are quite willing to look like fools rather than give up a cherished position.Bruce David
January 13, 2011
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Noesis: Despite my warning, you have managed to fall into the trifecta atmosphere-poisoning fallacy: a distractive red herring led away to a strawman distortion, and thence it was soaked in ad hominems and has now been ignited by the "fingers pointing back" accusation. Such an accusation works by clouding, confusing, polarising and poisoning the atmosphere so that we lose sight of the track of truth and of our duty to it. That, even having been warned, you insisted on such a rhetorical distraction, is not a good sign. If you will look above, you will see that I have carefully made sure to distinguish a fact from an explanation: facts are about what we experience, observe or have from credible record. Explanations may adequately and so truthfully explain the facts, but they are not the same. You will note that this thread is about an improper popularised fact claim by Wikipedia backed up by the NAS (and in the next post, NCSE) that tries to shift the theory of evolution form its proper category, an explanatory model of how the world is believed to work, to the category of "fact." Where of course, only fools dispute credible established facts. And, where if something is improperly categorised as a "fact," it can all to easily easily be used to propagandise, indoctrinate and close minds, pervert justice and warp civilisations. As came up in this thread, on the issue of unjustified career busting; with several specific cases in point. A very sobering issue. With all of that on the table, you have now insisted on trying to project the distractive claim that I assert that it is a fact that there is "non-material intelligence." This, despite my specific pointing out that this is not germane to this thread and that if you wish to debate such there is another thread to do so. I actually took a moment aside, to point out that one may seriously argue on inference to best explanation, to a necessary being that is intelligent, purposeful, powerful and knowledgeable, in the context of our contingent, finely tuned cosmos that is fitted to the function of being a habitat for C-chemistry cell based intelligent life. Such an intelligence is prior to the world of matter, energy space and time that we inhabit, and so it is a reasonable and even warranted position to believe in a "non-material intelligence". I then also pointed out that people who have an experience of dealing with that Creator, may then legitimately claim that their knowledge of such is a fact of their experience, even as they experience the mindedness of other human beings. You did not address this, but instead hastened to complete the trifecta pattern of distraction and atmosphere poisoning. That is sadly telling, especially when we see a context of abuse of power in institutions, manifested in persecution and censorship. There is a name for such an action: enabling behaviour. I think you need to look, very carefully, on what you are enabling, and reflect on what you are thus supporting. Then, if you wish to discuss immateriality of minds, I suggest you go over to the relevant thread as already linked, and the background discussion here and even here if you wish to dig further in on worldview level considerations and principles of reasoning. But this thread is for a very different purpose, and I ask you to respect that. (To understand that focal issue and why it is important, I suggest you read the original post.) G'day sir GEM of TKIkairosfocus
January 13, 2011
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kairosfocus,
Kindly show where in the original post the issue of the reality or factuality of “non-material intelligence” even came up.
It seemed to me that you have had much to say about what, in general, should and should not be regarded as a fact. While you're pointing a finger at the NAS, you've got three pointed at yourself.Noesis
January 13, 2011
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Noesis: Kindly show where in the original post the issue of the reality or factuality of "non-material intelligence" even came up. (Have you managed to cross-thread a comment that belongs elsewhere?) The issues in this thread and in the original post are serious enough and freighted with enough sobering consequences that a distraction from the focal issue becomes a rhetorically loaded issue. So, can we please keep on track? GEM of TKI PS: Noesis, I do believe that the best explanation for the radical contingency of the observed cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life points to a necessary being as the intelligent, knowledgeable and enormously powerful, purposeful designer. Such a being would be prior to matter and would manifest mind in action. That is an inference on best explanation, which is credibly true on facts of observation and reliable causal patterns that give rise to such phenomena, but so far that would not be a fact. If one who believes such subsequently comes to personally meet such a being and have a relationship with him, then his knowledge of the reality of such an immaterial mind would be based on a fact of experience. One that would be as credible as his similar knowledge of other minded creatures such as his mother and father, on experience. (And yes, I have in mind here Plantinga's discussion on knowing God and other minds.) --> However, such a discussion would be distractive in this thread. I would be prepared to defend it in the thread where it has come up, e.g. from here and from here on.kairosfocus
January 13, 2011
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So the existence of non-material intelligence is a fact?Noesis
January 13, 2011
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Well seeing that "evolution" ha several meanings, nd some of those meanings are pretty basic- such as changeover time nd change in allele frequency over time within a population- both of thos are facs as things do change over timeand allele frequency within a population also changes over time. But when they say:
When scientists say evolution is a fact in this sense, they mean it is a fact that all living organisms have descended from a common ancestor Well that is just total nonsense. And the evidence for universal common descent is so "strong" hat no one even knows if the transformations required are even possible. Heck to try to refute Dr Behe Coyne brought up the "fact" that fruit flies have "evolved" hundreds of new genes in about 35 million year- yet they are still fruit flies Dr Coyne- not quite what your position rquires.
Joseph
January 13, 2011
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a bit OT kf, seeing as how you appreciate logic, you may find this video pleasing: Richard Dawkins Lies About William Lane Craig AND Logic! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1cfqV2tuOI here is Craig on Brierley's radio show last week: This week on Unbelievable : William Lane Craig reviews his debate with Dawkins http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievablebornagain77
January 13, 2011
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F/N: Here is Milton, on why he wrote Shattering: _______________ >> Darwin doesn't work here any more darwinismRichard Milton spent some twenty years studying the geology and palaeontology of the British Isles before writing Shattering the Myths of Darwinism. "It was the absence of transitional fossils that first made me question Darwin's idea of gradual change. I realised, too, that the procedures used to date rocks were circular. Rocks are used to date fossils: fossils are used to date rocks. From here I began to think the unthinkable: could Darwinism be scientifically flawed?" "I became an almost daily visitor at the Natural History Museum, looking more closely again at all the famous evidence I had been taught about: the evolution of horses, Archaeopteryx -- half-reptile, half-bird -- the peppered moth, the Galapagos finches and all the other totems of Darwinism." "One after another they crumbled as I subjected them to even routine journalistic scrutiny. At first I thought I must be mistaken -- then I began to discover one by one the many scientists around the world who had already realised the emperor has no clothes, but who cannot speak out without jeopardising their careers and even their jobs." "At this point my long years as a journalist took over and I started turning over stone after stone and making one amazing discovery after another. In fact, all the scientific work to show that Darwinism doesn't really work had already been done. Plenty of people with a religious agenda had tried to to overturn the theory. But no-one had put it all together before from a purely scientific standpoint." "As a science journalist and writer with a lifelong passion for geology and palaeontology -- and no religious beliefs to get in the way -- I was in a unique position to investigate and report on the state of Darwin's theory in the 1990s. The result was unambiguous. Darwin doesn't work here any more." >> ________________ When a Neo-Lamarckian alternative science journalist -- i.e. a man with nothing to lose -- has to take the lead to say the emperor has no clothes, and when scientists and medical men have to be secretly passing him anonymous tips to help him say what he writes [for fear of their careers] shouldn't that be telling us something? Something, we had better heed, before it is too late?kairosfocus
January 13, 2011
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Bevets: Interesting link. I am not endorsing Milton as a whole, I am citing a cogent argument in a book where he makes a lot of sense. (NB: he is a neo-Lamarckian.) His arguments here are relevant, and need to be addressed on their own merits:
[1 Untestability/ Circularity:] . . . the overwhelming majority of [radioactive] dates could never be challenged or found to be flawed since there is no genuinely independent evidence that can contradict those dates . . . . [2 Ballpark thinking:] Any dating scientist who suggested looking outside of [the standard] ballpark . . . would be looked on as a crackpot by his colleagues. More significantly, he would not be able to get any funding for his research . . . . [3 Intellectual phase-locking:] . . . all scientists make experimental errors that they have to correct. They naturally prefer to correct them in the direction of the currently accepted value thus giving an unconscious trend to measured values . . . . [4 Conformity to consensus:] Take for example a rock sample from the late Cretaceous, a period which is universally believed to date from some 65 million years ago. Any dating scientist who obtained a date from the sample of, say, 10 million years or 150 million years, would not publish such a result because he or she will, quite sincerely, assume it was in error. On the other hand, any dating scientist who did obtain a date of 65 million years would hasten to publish it . . . [Shattering the Myths of Darwinism (Park Street Press, 1997), pp. 50 – 51.]
Can we justly say that issues of circularity, ballpark thinking, intellectual phase locking and conformity to a consensus are not serious origins science concerns, not only on dating but on many other aspects? In the case of the issues on geo-dating, what I find fascinating is how to date, no-one has taken up the case I linked above, or followed up my own discussion here. I find that cosmological dating, though riddled with its own ladder of inferences challenges [start with: how far away is a given star, and how do we know], has a much more transparent observational base than too much of geo dating. For instance, the H-R diagram, the H-ball star model, and the H-R diagrams of open clusters are at least a plausible case for the dating of say M67 to 4 BYA. But, the details (though they are significant) are not my primary concern. That is reserved for how we are projecting a tower of inferences intot he remorte, unobserved past, then building a self-reinforcing school of thought on that tower of inferences. Then, we are announcing the resulting model, inferred past, as "fact." But, the deep, unrecorded past is not directly observable fact, nor do we have record form those who were there so we can at least argue that on credible record, the projected past is a credible fact of record; with the burden of proof on those who would overthrow it. Should there not be a truth in education clause somewhere? GEM of TKIkairosfocus
January 13, 2011
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NR, BD & Null: The infamous case of Gonzalez [who had a better numerical and quality publication and research record than those who expelled him -- he is a pioneer of exo-planet research and a co-author of an observational astronomy textbook published by Cambridge], and the current one of Martin Gaskell [the far and away best candidate to head an observatory, sidelined for daring to dissent], as well as cases like what happened to Sternberg, and the many others documented by Bergman in Slaughter of the Dissidents show in aggregate that a reigning orthodoxy is ruthlessly using all means -- fair or foul -- to enforce conformity to its position. The widespread denial of that persecution and --worse -- the resort to slanderous blame the victim tactics in attempted justification [even in venues as significant as the formerly respectable Scientific American], are troubling facts about our times and trends as a civilisation. For, those who are not vigilant in defence of liberty, academic or otherwise, will lose it. It also shows an even more troubling breakdown of commitment to truth, fairness and justice. (I think our civilisation is paying a terrible price of a benumbed conscience, for our addiction to certain key ideas, agendas and favourite sins. And, the inherent, inescapable amorality of evolutionary materialism first seriously pointed out by Plato in his The Laws, Bk X 2,300+ years ago, and underscored more recently by Nietzsche,is coming home to roost.) NR, with all due respect, your attempt to deny or dismiss that there is such a thing as a guild of scholarship, or that dissenters from the evolutionary materialistic paradigm are routinely shamefully treated, does not speak well. The censored, expelled or slaughtered dissidents are the silenced canaries in the mineshaft. By their silence, bespeaking what has gone wrong with the C21 scientific academy. And, indicting all the way up to the level of a National Academy of Science or a National Science Teachers Association, and many other august institutions that should be standing up for academic freedom instead of suppressing it in the interests of a highly questionable materialistic worldview agenda that is now imposed on science as a censorship. Indeed, the focus for this thread underscores the power of that censorship. For, the reason why there is a push to reclassify macro-evolutionary theory as "fact," rather than proposed explanation of facts, is that facts are tantamount to unchallengeable truths. So, "only fools dispute facts." And, being a fool provides grounds for expelling people from the guild of scientists. Words carry weight, and often lead to actions that have even more weight. As Solomon put it, 3,000 years ago: life and death lie in the power of the tongue. In short, the Orwellian word games over theory vs fact are not merely an issue of innocent confusion. No, not in the context of the ongoing censorship, censure, denigration, demonisation, expulsion and metaphorical slaughter of the dissidents. And, not in the context of determined indoctrination of students, where textbooks could present artistic photo-paintings of reconstructed fossil animals, and model dates on a timeline, then claim that the resulting proposed timeline and claimed line of descent amount to an OBSERVATION of the "fact" of macroevolution. So, the growing list of silenced or expelled scientists who dared dissent from the imposed evolutionary materialistic "consensus," are indeed canaries in the mine shafts of our civilisation. A grim warning, and one that should be heeded. Before it is too late for the cause of liberty. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
January 13, 2011
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Neil Rickert, you said: "A biologist who denies evolution will lose respect among biologists, just as a physicist who denies relativity will lose respect among physicists." I'm pretty sure that if a physicist came up with well reasoned arguments based on solid scientific facts and findings that relativity had some major problems, he or she would not be vilified by those who disagree in the way that Behe, Denton, Wells, Dembski, Meyer, Axe, and many others have been for doing exactly that with respect to Darwinism. These men are all bona fide, credentialed, published academics and deserve respect as such, even if one disagrees with their conclusions. The way they have been and are treated is shabby beyond measure and a disgrace to supposed high ideals of science. The difference between how the critics of Darwinism have been treated and the way our hypothetical critic of relativity would be is due, I believe, to the non-scientific implications of an overthrow of Darwinism. Darwinism is more than just another scientific theory, it is one of the lynchpins of atheism. If Darwinism as an explanation of the origin of all species turns out to be false, it will make atheism a far, far less tenable position. I believe that this is extremely threatening to most scientists (who are atheists) on at least two levels. First, many scientists believe, rightly or wrongly, that religion has the potential to be a threat to the free exercise of scientific inquiry, and second (and more important), it is generally true that one's most deeply held paradigms become part of one's identity, so that a threat to one of those paradigms is experienced as a threat to one's very self. Even so, that is still not an excuse for the disgraceful way that the critics of Darwinism have been treated by the larger scientific community.Bruce David
January 12, 2011
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That’s the “publish or perish” world of academia for you. As far as I know, it was not related to his support for ID or his disagreement with evolution. Yeah, all evidence to the contrary, it wasn't that I suppose. Consider this more a basic commentary on human nature than anything else. People don't act like ideals.nullasalus
January 12, 2011
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barb @ 6 Go on amazon and have a look at the book description of the book you cited (Shattering the Myths of Darwinism) Interesting book. Here is an archive view of the authors former website.bevets
January 12, 2011
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nullasalus (#19)
Like Guillermo Gonzalez, yeah.
That's the "publish or perish" world of academia for you. As far as I know, it was not related to his support for ID or his disagreement with evolution.Neil Rickert
January 12, 2011
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I’m pretty sure that you folk have a list of scientists who support ID, and that list includes some respected physicists. Like Guillermo Gonzalez, yeah. The idea that 'a person who does good (x) work will never have their status as an (x)-worker disparaged just because they hold unpopular position (y)' is idyllic. People don't always keep those categories neatly separated.nullasalus
January 12, 2011
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nullasalus (#16)
Don’t you think you’re being a little too idyllic here?
I'm pretty sure that you folk have a list of scientists who support ID, and that list includes some respected physicists.Neil Rickert
January 12, 2011
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How bout we call a spade a spade: “Ultimately, the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century…” Dr Michael Denton1 ATHEISM’S GREAT COSMOGENIC MYTH Entire quote: “[C]ontrary to what is widely assumed by evolutionary biologists today, it has always been the anti?evolutionists, not the evolutionists, in the scientific community who have stuck rigidly to the facts and adhered to a more strictly empirical approach… … “Ultimately, the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century…” Dr Michael Denton1 http://www.superflumina.org/PDF_files/atheism%27s_cosmogenic_myth.pdf No Beneficial Mutations - Not By Chance - Evolution: Theory In Crisis Denton - Spetner - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4036816/bornagain77
January 12, 2011
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If a physicist doubts evolution, he will still be respected as a physicist as long as he does good physics. Don't you think you're being a little too idyllic here?nullasalus
January 12, 2011
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Personally, I don't like the "evolution is fact" way of talking. Equally, I don't like "gravity is fact." Gravity is not fact, it is a phenomenon. Normally "fact" refers to a true natural language statement, not to a phenomenon. So I see "gravity is fact" as a metaphorical use of "fact" but not strictly correct. And the same goes for "evolution is fact". Note that I have no problem with evolution as a phenomenon. My disagreement is with that choice of wording, not with the science. However, people do actually talk that way (what I think of as metaphorical) about gravity, relativity, etc. So I don't see that kind of talk about evolution as being different from the way people talk about other parts of scientifically investigated phenomena.
Regardless of qualifications, if one is not in agreement with the above asserted “consensus,” one is disenfranchised as a scientist.
Science isn't a franchise, so one cannot be "disenfranchised as a scientist." One can lose respect, but respect for a scientist is an individual kind of thing, not a consensus kind of thing. If a physicist doubts evolution, he will still be respected as a physicist as long as he does good physics. A biologist who denies evolution will lose respect among biologists, just as a physicist who denies relativity will lose respect among physicists. In summary, I don't like that way of talking. But people do talk that way, and not just about evolution. So I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill.Neil Rickert
January 12, 2011
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This link may work better: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000088262100bornagain77
January 12, 2011
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