The law of evolution?

Ni9htmar3r
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The law of evolution?

Right now, evolution is considered a scientific theory. I'd like to ask what would it take for it to become a law considering the mountains of evidence supporting it


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I want go into too much

I wont go into too much detail in case I'm wrong,someone more qualified can deal with that. Basically, I think in science a theory can be the highest something goes. After all, how much evidence is there for the Theory of Gravity?  Like I always say, theory has different meanings in laymen and science terms. Like I wrote before:

Layman: Used to signify a opinion or idea, not neccesarily backed with facts. In this context, it's easy to see why theists make this claim.

Scientific: A testable model, capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation. For scientists, fact and theory do not stand in opposition. It is something that has been tested and has backing evidence. With this correct definition, the argument for evolution is much stronger.

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Ni9htmar3r wrote:Right now,

Ni9htmar3r wrote:

Right now, evolution is considered a scientific theory. I'd like to ask what would it take for it to become a law considering the mountains of evidence supporting it

 

I would say that genetic evolution is already substantiated as law by the plethora of evidence. 

 

What remains to be adjudicated, and may never be since it's not generally considered the role of science in this technological (post philsophical) age, is in what sense it stands as law; ie metaphysical interpretation. That said, I remain optimistic that the philosophical (as opposed to technological) role might be embraced by biological science again, as has been the fringe case in physics and mathematics recently. I am inclined to believe it would behoove us all to really 100% know what the patterns of genetic evolution are telling us about our human reality.

 

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Scientific theories are as

Scientific theories are as high as anything can go in science. Once an explanation reaches the status of a scientific theory, it can't go any higher. Scientific theories are evidence-based models of how something occurs, much in the same way that the gears and mechanisms inside a clock would be the evidence-based model of how the clock works. It's a demonstrable explanation, not an idea.


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Yep.  Your grade school

Yep.  Your grade school science books were wrong.  Evolution is both a theory and a fact.  It most certainly and undeniably happens.  The theory of evolution attempts to explain the mechanisms behind it.  It is always, and will always be, up for debate and scrutiny.

 

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 What hamby and others

 What hamby and others said, but also "Law" in a scientific sense is closer to formalized math, like with the Law of Gravity. To frame evolution in terms of a law is almost misleading. A theory would be a much more complex expression than a law, and evolution isn't quite a mathematical expression.

Here's a decent explanation:

Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories

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They used to call the Theory

They used to call the Theory of Gravity the Law of Gravity and a lot of other things Law too.

This changed after Einstein released his Theory of Relativity.  It encompassed and added to Newton's work.  After that shake up scientists became a little more humble with what they called them.  If it had happened differently they would call Gravity and Evolution Laws.

However, who knows if some brilliant mind comes along in 50 years and makes a startling discovery about how evolution works that really increases our insight into the process?

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Quote:Right now, evolution

Quote:

Right now, evolution is considered a scientific theory. I'd like to ask what would it take for it to become a law considering the mountains of evidence supporting it

I hate it when people do this. They somehow think that "law" means that it has a higher position on a truth heirarchy than a theory does. Nonsense. A law is a generalized statement, usually expressed in terms of a singular equation or statement of a certain relationship. Physics tends to have many laws. Biology has very few. The Mendelian Law of Genetics is an example of a law in biology (that is to say: Where two parents each contribute a gamete towards an offspring, each gamete must make a precisely equal contribution towards that offspring). But please do not think that "law" means "set in stone" whilst theory means "contingent". In reality, both are contingent statements, and a law does not necessarily need to be more "true" than a theory is. Science does not progress from hypothesis to theory to law. Theory is the ultimate goal of scientific inquiry, and theory is more important than law (theory explains why such-and-such a law is the case). Boyle's Law, Guy-Lussac Law, Charles' Law etc. mean nothing without kinetic theory, and knowing kinetic theory is necessary to understand why any of these were the case, although all of the aforementioned laws were worked out before Kinetic theory was, kinetic theory was more important than finding out any of the aforementioned laws. Theory is more important. Di not labour under the delusion that when something is especially well-founded it gets "Promoted" to a Law from a theory, or when its founding is called into question it is demoted from a law from a theory. "Law" and "theory" do not describe relative positions on a heirarchy of "what is more likely to be true". A theory constitutes a conceptual understanding, explanation, predictive body of facts, wheras a law constitutes a singular statement which is usually an equation. They are different, surely, but not relative positions on which a "law" is more "true" than a "theory" is. 

 

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Law of Evolution

A law is a theory so popular that few question it and so fundamental that nothing makes sense without it. The difference between a law and a theory is just semantic hairsplitting.

Evolution is understood much better than Gravity. It makes more sense in communication with laypeople to speak of the "Law of Evolution". Nothing in Biology makes sense without it. No observations contradict it.

 

Nobody would have any problem with it if it didn't make religious myths look embarrassingly silly.

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Oh I didn't know 'theory'

Oh I didn't know 'theory' was the highest it goes. Thanks guys!


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Da, all is changing , in

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Hambydammit wrote:  It is

Hambydammit wrote:

  It is always, and will always be, up for debate and scrutiny.

 

Indeed, this is one of my favorite bits of knowledge about evolution that I've acquired since investigating it. As my signature, courtesy of Ken Miller says:

Quote:
Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community.

 

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


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Ni9htmar3r wrote:Oh I didn't

Ni9htmar3r wrote:

Oh I didn't know 'theory' was the highest it goes. Thanks guys!

 

Read the posts again. Several people have already told you that it's not a question of vailidity, importance or for that matter height.

 

In scientific terms a theory is any deduction from observation that is, for the purposes of refinement, deemed to be falsifiable.

 

Falsifiable does not mean that it is probably wrong. It means that further observation might cause it to be re-evaluated and restated. In that way one can see how Richard Dawkins, for example, exploits the falsifiability of Charles Darwin's theory in order to further demonstrate that evolution is not only fact but a fact better understood.

 

The religious person who wishes to advance "creationism" at the expense of rationality exploits both these terms wrongly. When arguing against evolution as a concept they dismiss the term "theory" as meaning simple conjecture and they (of course) seize on "falsifiability" as a likelihood to be wrong. Both these misapplications of terminology reveal their ignorance, and their unwillingness to accept this reveals it as wilful ignorance on their part.

 

The reason they feel they can be so dismissive of truth, fact and even language is of course that the ability to subjectively alter, ignore and interpret whatever they like in any way they like is the very basis of their approach to establishing, justifying and propagating their own belief system. One thing that system teaches them is that anything, however fantastically unbelievable it might be on a rational basis, automatically acquires the status of fact simply by being said. This is how their deity does things, after all, and they are just following suit.

 

My own approach if I ever find myself at loggerheads with one of these people is to point out that they might be going a little too far in emulating their god in this way, and that should they be right and such a deity does indeed exist, then I wouldn't want to be in their shoes when he finds out they've been impersonating him. It's the kind of thing we're told god gets exceedingly touchy about.

 

I don't bother to argue the logic of my case against the illogicality of theirs. They don't listen to it. Indeed they're terrified to do so and, like any cornered creature, tend to get aggressive about it too. Thoroughly horrible people!

 

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This never ceases to amaze

This never ceases to amaze me. People genuinely don't understand the difference between a LAW and a THEORY.

In layman's terms, a scientific LAW is something that is, in the end, usually reducible to a mathematical concept - a law explains a single action, a single phenomena, wheras a theory explains a set of inter-related phenomena.

I do a WHOLE show about this distinction in our mailbag "dissent from an atheist" on our free flam player.

Go here:

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scroll down and click on: "Mailbag response: dissent from an atheist"

 

 

 

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bump

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Yellow_Number_Five wrote:In

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

In layman's terms, a scientific LAW is something that is, in the end, usually reducible to a mathematical concept -

Interesting sound clip.  Y#5, can you tell me one of the mathematical concepts of a law in evolutionary theory?  I'm not familiar with any.

Thanks.

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The way I think of it, a

The way I think of it, a scientific LAW expresses , usually in mathematical terms, a consistently observed pattern or relationship from observations. It really is essentially descriptive.

For example, the law of gravity expresses what has been deduced from many observations and measurements, that objects behave as though there was a force of attraction acting thru their centers of mass that is proportional to each of their total mass, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between those centers.

A theory of gravity would be an attempt to explain the physical processes or attributes of matter which lead to this observation.

So a law is deduced by analysing observations and the results of experiments, a hypothesis (which strictly precedes a theory) is an attempt to explain the observations in a manner which, ideally, allows us to make predictions about observations and experiments not yet made. If these predictions are verified, the hypothesis advances to the status of a theory.

I don't see that the Theory of Evolution would ever quite fit into the category of a 'Law'. The only laws associated with evolution would be things related to the mechanisms of inheritance thru genetics, maybe rates of genetic drift and mutation, IOW the details, and in particular the constraints and limits, of the various processes that a Theory attempts to tie together.

Then there is of course evolution treated as a well established FACT, ie the observation that massive amounts of geological, fossil, and now genetic data point to the interrelatedness of all life and its change over time as various lineages change and split and some (most) die out.

So, we make observations and gather data, ie FACTS, eg objects released in free air fall to the ground.

We find significant and consistent relationships between groups of actual observations, eg objects of sufficient density to not be affected by the breeze accelerate at the same constant rate as they fall - this is expressed as a LAW.

Someone then attempts an explanation, ie a HYPOTHESIS. Not sure if Newton actually got this far, but proposals have been made about hypothetical elementary particles - gravitons - mediating gravity. Einstein proposed it as due to space-time geometry. These would be HYPOTHESES, at least initially. Since Einstein's ideas have proved very accurate in explaining and predicting observations such as anomalies in the orbit of Mercury and deflection of light by strong gravitational fields, it is definitely accorded the status of a THEORY.

So a LAW is really a direct deduction from observations, essentially descriptive, a THEORY is an attempt at explaining our observations, including those laws, but not just the laws.  So LAW and THEORY are really different categories.

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Watcher

Watcher wrote:

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

In layman's terms, a scientific LAW is something that is, in the end, usually reducible to a mathematical concept -

Interesting sound clip.  Y#5, can you tell me one of the mathematical concepts of a law in evolutionary theory?  I'm not familiar with any.

Thanks.

There ISN'T a law of evolution, which is what I was trying to convey. There ARE genetic laws which relate to the subject, but evolution is not so easily reducible into mathematics, though we are getting closer.

Let's take an example, we have the theory and the law of gravitation. The law of gravitation is reducable to an equation, the force of gravitational attraction between objects is equal to the product of their masses times the gravitational constant divided by the distance between the objects squared. The theory of gravitation EXPLAINS WHY and HOW objects exhibit this force. Newton developed the theory, which was refined by Einstein and is being further refined by quantum mechanics. We all KNOW the law of gravity works, the theory of gravity explains how and why it works. And whereas the newtonian gravitational law I just gave you is great for massive distant objects, it breaks down in the quantum world and certainly doesn't tell us HOW and WHY gravity works. The theory of gravity is an explanatory mechanism that encompasses everything from Newtonian physics to virtual gravitons and protons.

Evolution is similar. If anything can be called the law of evolution, it's simply that life changes over time (genetically speaking we'd simply say that allelelic frequencies change over time), but because of the ever changing variables involved, creating a mathematical law to represent it is not currently possible. We can, and have developed algorithms to predict what inputed variables may do though - see for example, AVIDA (http://devolab.cse.msu.edu/software/avida/). But we are currently incapable of taking all variables into account and our fundamental knowledge of some of the nuances involved are still wanting as well. On the other hand, we can step back, look at what is happening, and formulate theories to explain these observations.

The theory of evolution by natural selection explains wonderfully what we observe. This theory makes predictions of what we should see, long before empirical evidence confirms it, is supported by ridiculous amounts of empirical evidence from multiple fields of studies, and is readily open to falsifiability were evidence found that did not mesh with its predictions, some of which I mentioned in the link I sent you to.

People need to get it out of their heads that something needs to be a "law" in order to be valid. It is simply not the case.

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BobSpence1 wrote:So a LAW is

BobSpence1 wrote:

So a LAW is really a direct deduction from observations, essentially descriptive, a THEORY is an attempt at explaining our observations, including those laws, but not just the laws.  So LAW and THEORY are really different categories.

Succinct and says what I've been trying to convey in a single sentence. Well done as usual, Bob.

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