Adamant about teaching "evolution as just a theory" [YOU RESPOND]

Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7522
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
Adamant about teaching "evolution as just a theory" [YOU RESPOND]

I know this is extremely lengthy, and I'll be surprised if I get a reply...but I'm taking a shot! Smiling

I am currently discussing with a Christian re: their reasons for homeschooling (using the curriculum, Apologia) their children and teaching them the theory of evolution. This individual obviously has the right to teach her children anything in this situation but I wondered why she was so adamant about teaching evolution as 'just a theory'.

Her response (which is quite lengthy):

"The basics of science are taught, in Apologia, from a perspective of ID. The only difference is how the big WHY question in science is answered differently. You should look at it or view online samples of lessons. Information is presented in with an immersion approach.

Psuedoscience:
Modern science began with ID Christian men who assumed God created an orderly universe. If the universe was created randomly then if we take that ideology to the logical extent we should only expect it to follow that same pattern of randomnness, and we should not expect to have any order in nature. We don't see that, instead we see order evidenced by both aspects of science past and current. Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Bacon (and I could go on) used biblical truths as a foundation for their scientific innovations. Would you say their discoveries are psuedoscience?

Let's define both aspects of science: Operational and historical. A scientific operational theory is: an explanation of a set of facts based on a broad set of repeatable and testable observations that is generally accepted within a group of scientists. Operational science we agree on. The only exception is any event that occurs outside of natural law I would refer to as supernatural or a miracle. You would dismiss it as untruth. Right?

Historical/origin science is where we differ. Because evolutionary ideas are interpretations of past events, they are not as well-founded as testable scientific theories like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or Newton’s Theory of Gravity. These theories offer predictable models and the ability to conduct experiments to determine their validity in different circumstances. Molecules-to-man evolution does not offer this opportunity because these events happened in the past. Therefore, evolution is not an operational theory. The past is not directly observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable; so interpretations of past events present greater challenges than interpretations involving operational science. Neither creation nor evolution is directly observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable. Each is based on certain philosophical assumptions about how the earth began. Naturalistic evolution assumes that there was no God, and biblical creation assumes that there was a God who created everything in the universe. Starting from two opposite presuppositions and looking at the same evidence, the explanations of the history of the universe are very different. The argument is not over the evidence...the evidence is the same...it is over the way the evidence should be interpreted. Wouldn't you agree?

Historical Theory: an explanation of past events based on the interpretation of evidence that is available in the present. This is where I believe that it can be evidenced that evolution isn't fact. In the naturalistic scientific community, evolution has become a theory that is assumed to be an established fact and not an explanation. Evolution is the prevailing paradigm, and most scientists have stopped questioning the underlying assumptions that the theory is based upon. Creationists develop theories, too, in light of biblical truth, but they are not as widely accepted by scientists. All interpretations (theories) of the past are based on assumptions and cannot be equated with facts that are observable in the present.

In the naturalistic scientific community, evolution has become a theory that is assumed to be an established fact and not an explanation. Evolution is the prevailing paradigm, and most scientists have stopped questioning the underlying assumptions that the theory is based upon. Creationists develop theories, too, in light of biblical truth, but they are not as widely accepted by scientists. All interpretations (theories) of the past are based on assumptions and cannot be equated with facts that are observable in the present. This holds true for both theories.

Evolution also relies heavily on the assumption of uniformitarianism— a belief that the present is the key to the past. According to uniformitarians, the processes in the universe have been occurring at a relatively constant rate. One of these processes is the rate of rock formation and erosion. If rocks form or erode at a certain rate in the present, uniformitarians believe that they must have always formed or eroded at nearly the same rate. This assumption is accepted even though there are no observations of the rate of erosion from the distant past and there is no way to empirically test the erosion rate of the past. However, the Bible, Epic of Gilgamesh, Native American folklore, etc. makes it very clear that some events of the past were radically different from those we commonly observe today. Noah’s Flood, for example, would have devastated the face of the earth and created a landscape of billions of dead things buried in layers of rock, which is exactly what we see. Would you consider yourself of the uniformitan belief system?"


And then she goes on to transitional fossils:

"Transitional fossils: Darwin fretted over the lack of them, paleontologists are still looking for them, but they are often touted as the foundation of evolutionary theory. Fossils do not come with tags telling us when and how the animal was buried, its lifestyle, and if or how it was related to another species. Scientists must make reasonable assumptions based on what they believe about the past and extrapolations from the data. Without an OBJECTIVE source of information, these assumptions are often tied to the SUBJECTIVE evolutionary worldview. Creation scientists, on the other hand, see the fossil record as evidence for both a global Flood and also the amazing diversity of the original created “kinds.”

Because there are a lack of transitional forms (and the ones found, including “walking whales” and fish, are contentious to say the least), evolutionists must resort to blurring the lines and claiming that since all species are in transition, we should not expect to find “missing links.” Consider this, the reason we do not find true transitional forms is because one created kind does not, cannot, and has never changed into another created kind."

 

Any advice on responding to her?

 

___________________________________

I'll send him this link: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html 

I'm a tad busy today... Do you folks want to help?  Any thoughts? 

I'm sending him the link to this thread with his permission to post.

 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3702
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Let's

Let's see.

Quote:
Psuedoscience: 

Modern science began with ID Christian men who assumed God created an orderly universe. If the universe was created randomly then if we take that ideology to the logical extent we should only expect it to follow that same pattern of randomnness, and we should not expect to have any order in nature. We don't see that, instead we see order evidenced by both aspects of science past and current.

Ah. Immediately, we can observe the usual false dichotomy strawman of God vs. randomness because theists can't comprehend how something could be unintelligent and non-random.  

Quote:
Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Bacon (and I could go on) used biblical truths as a foundation for their scientific innovations. Would you say their discoveries are psuedoscience?

Lol. Whether their theories are psuedo-science depends on whether or not their theories are based on the scientific method and evidence. Their theism is irrelevant.

And this part, "used biblical truths as a foundation for their scientific innovations" is just completely false. For example, Galileo clearly reached his conclusions by studying the universe, not by reading the Bible. Nobody ever made any important discoveries or invented anything of value after reading the Bible. Every famous theistic scientist that I know of made their discoveries and achieved success by using keen observation, rigorous experimentation, and mathematical calculations. Then, when confronted with their own evidence, they attempt to reconcile their knowledge with their faith (in the case of Christians, with the Bible). This even applies for Darwin. If you look at his own writings, he clearly had a horrible time trying to reconcile his observations with Genesis.  

Quote:
These theories offer predictable models and the ability to conduct experiments to determine their validity in different circumstances. Molecules-to-man evolution does not offer this opportunity because these events happened in the past. Therefore, evolution is not an operational theory. The past is not directly observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable; so interpretations of past events present greater challenges than interpretations involving operational science. Neither creation nor evolution is directly observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable. Each is based on certain philosophical assumptions about how the earth began. Naturalistic evolution assumes that there was no God, and biblical creation assumes that there was a God who created everything in the universe. Starting from two opposite presuppositions and looking at the same evidence, the explanations of the history of the universe are very different. The argument is not over the evidence...the evidence is the same...it is over the way the evidence should be interpreted. Wouldn't you agree?

No, I don't agree with that at all. The evidence is the same, but the argument is clearly mostly over the evidence because you clearly don't even know what the evidence is, and you clearly don't understand evolution. It's not a matter of starting from different assumptions. If you understood the evidence, you would not be a Creationist, period.

First of all, this is conflating abiogenesis and evolution. Abiogenesis are theories that explain how life began. Biological evolution explains the propagation and the variety of life. Don't confuse the two. In fact, you're also confusing biological evolution with theories about the origin of the universe; stop it if you want to be taken seriously.  

Second, evolution does not assume that there is no God. God and evolution aren't even mutually exclusive; there is no dichotomy. Even if evolution is true, God could simply have started the process. However, Creationism does assume, with zero scientific justification, that there is a God, by definition and by the admittance of its own supporters. Yet, it has the nerve to parade around proclaiming itself a real scientific theory.   

Third, what is this, "The past is not directly observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable;" The past is not testable? The past is not falsifiable? Are you serious? You actually believe this? So, if you came home one night, and your door was broken open, and your entire house was a mess, and all your money and electronics and jewelry was gone, you would not be justified in concluding that someone probably robbed your house? Yeah, in fact, I would be equally justified in assuming that your house became a playground for unicorns for the day. Hey, we all have to start with some assumptions, right? So, I can make the assumptions that 1) Unicorns exist and 2) Several of them were in your house and 3) They were bored.

Fourth, evolution is certainly falsifiable. In fact, evolution is easily falsifiable because evolution makes countless precise predictions. For example, evolution predicts that all organisms will only be discovered to exist in specific parts of the historical timeline. And this is what we see. If Creationism were true, then you would expect to date all organisms to all ages because God created everything at the beginning and virtually all of their "forms" have persisted through time. This is wrong. You never get 10,000 year old dinosaurs. You never get rabbits before the Pre-cambrian. You never get 5 million year old domesticated dogs. Btw, chihuahuas and English mastiffs are of the same form? So, they can interbreed? Ha! Evolution predicts that that their phenotypes and genomes would reflect an increasing complexity and a gradual and continuous evolution through time. And this is what we see. Evolution predicts that viruses can evolve resistance to drugs, that pests can evolve resistance to pesticides. And this is what we see. Evolution predicts that organisms that are geographically further from each other would be less similar. And this is what we see. Evolution predicts that, due to the difficulty of evolving new systems, organisms would adapt existing morphology to new tasks. And this is what we see. 

I'll continue this later.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Answers in Gene...
High Level Donor
Answers in Gene Simmons's picture
Posts: 4214
Joined: 2008-11-11
User is offlineOffline
OK, my first thought is that

OK, my first thought is that there is no way that she came up with that on her own. Not that that is a problem for the average ID proponent but the use of grammar and thought patterns speaks volumes to having been written by someone with at least a masters degree in something. So does she even understand what she is saying or is she just sending you a cut and paste job from someone else?

 

Past that, the piece has a number of issues. Specifically on the definition of science (like we couldn't see that coming) and falsifiability. The author seems to hold to the idea that only that which can be checked out in a “hands on” manner is a “real theory”. Anything that cannot be tested is some type of faux theory.

 

So evolution can never be verified because it happened in the past? OK, but then ID also happened in the past and is therefore in the same boat. Not that I have any idea how one would go about testing special creation but then, it is the responsibility of those who advance a claim to say how it may be tested.

 

I must admit that I am morbidly curious to know if she has an opinion about black holes. By definition, you can't see them. You are restricted to inferring them from the behavior of surrounding objects. You simply cannot make one in the laboratory and examine it (even if you did, you still cannot examine it directly by definition). Oh wait! We have made them in the laboratory and they do have a property that nobody expected. They are less viscous than liquid helium. Trust me on this bit, nobody anticipated that.

 

But I digress...

 

The fact is that we can observe quite a bit of the evidence for evolution in real terms. For example, the age of the earth can be verified handily by western African uranium deposits. Every nation that has nuclear weapons routinely inspects it's fuel stockpiles to determine the isotopic content so that it is obvious if some of the fuel has been diverted clandestinely.

 

As it happens, in the early 70's France found that some of their new reactor fuel had clearly been inside a reactor at some point in the past. As it happens, the paper trail for the fuel clearly showed that it was new uranium fresh from the mines in Gabon. It also happens that nothing set off alarm bells in high places like the possibility of weapons grade uranium having been diverted to points unknown.

 

An investigation was conducted and at the end of the matter, they had to go to the mines and check to see what was actually in the ground. It turns out that what comes up from out of the mines is slightly stale uranium because the conditions 2,000,000,000 years ago were capable of forming a natural nuclear reactor.

 

The phenomenon has never been discovered anywhere but in those sixteen deposits of uranium. Everywhere else on the entire planet, the uranium that comes out of the ground has been shown to be consistent with what would be expected for no natural reactor having existed.

 

The only possible conclusion is that the earth is at least as old as those uranium deposits. Probably much older and there is plenty of evidence for the earth being as old as science says. However, the Oklo Fossil Reactors clearly show that the earth is at least old enough for life to have evolved as the rest of science says.

 

I could go on but I want to leave some material for others.

 

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=


Answers in Gene...
High Level Donor
Answers in Gene Simmons's picture
Posts: 4214
Joined: 2008-11-11
User is offlineOffline
butterbattle wrote:So, if

butterbattle wrote:
So, if you came home one night, and your door was broken open, and your entire house was a mess, and all your money and electronics and jewelry was gone, you would not be justified in concluding that someone probably robbed your house? Yeah, in fact, I would be equally justified in assuming that your house became a playground for unicorns for the day. Hey, we all have to start with some assumptions, right? So, I can make the assumptions that 1) Unicorns exist and 2) Several of them were in your house and 3) They were bored.

 

OK, I want to play with this one just to show how science may operate.

 

The most obvious thing here is that your order of events does not seem to work very well. Why would unicorns get in my place only to become bored later? It seem to me that it is much more probable that they would be bored and decide to break into my place than to do it your way.

 

In any case, given the conjecture that unicorns broke into my place, there is a testable prediction that can be made. A modern detective I pretty good at what he does. He can look at the remains of a door and tell at a glance whether it was a crowbar or a sledge hammer that was used to break a door down. Later on, when a suspect has been determined, the specifics of the imprint on the door can be linked to tools that the suspect is known to have access to.

 

Unshod hooves and the tip of the horn are the tools available to unicorns. They will make very different imprints on the remains of the door. So if unicorns break into my house, then the evidence will show as much. Granted, I don't really expect a detective to consider the hypothesis seriously but if unicorns were fairly common, then they would have to take the idea as at least plausible in the investigation phase.

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=


JAustinTX (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
Brian was kind enough to

Brian was kind enough to post this for me...  I'm having a very detailed debate with a devout (is there any other kind?) Creationist.  Thus far, you guys have given me a great place to start.  Thanks!!  Any other information would be much appreciated. 

Have a great night!! 


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
some additional evidence

JAustinTX wrote:

Brian was kind enough to post this for me...  I'm having a very detailed debate with a devout (is there any other kind?) Creationist.  Thus far, you guys have given me a great place to start.  Thanks!!  Any other information would be much appreciated. 

Have a great night!! 

We have three lines of current evidence for evolution.  The fossil evidence is current, as it is the state of discovery of fossilized remains.  My favorite reference is Evolution: What the Fossils Say ans Why It Matters by Donald R. Prothero  http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268160254&sr=8-2

Second, cladistics.  We can order current species via external characteristics and get from humans to bacteria. 

Third, genetics.  We can order current species via genetic variability and get from humans to bacteria.

So we have three ways to get from humans to bacteria.  And they all support each other, any one does not significantly differ from the other two.  There were some genetic surprises, but when they reviewed the cladistics, they discovered their errors where in the cladistics, not the genetics.  Current charts have been revised to fit the genetic evidence.

There is no similar evidence for the sudden appearance of the current myriad species as might have happened if a miracle occurred.  Or even the sudden appearance of "kinds".

Cutting and pasting from the ID website that sells the garbage she is feeding her kids does not constitute "informed parenting".

here is another resource: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/topicbrowse2.php?topic_id=46

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.