Dawkins-The Greatest Show on Earth

by KateWild 189 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • cofty

    Of course the theory of evolution has never been confirmed through observation or experimentation - WAWYM

    Why don't you try again and put that in the form of a question?

    Evolution is as safe a theory as any in science.

    Repeatedly confirmed over 150 years through experiment, observation and a faultless ability to make successsful predictions.

    Only fundamental (American) christians and Muslims reject it.

  • adamah

    WAWUM said-

    A scientific theory must be able to be confirmed through observation and experimentation. Of course the theory of evolution has never been confirmed through observation or experimentation. Thus it is still just a hypothesis, or just a plain old theory.

    Nope, not so. It's more firmly proven as a theory than even the 'theory' of gravity (in fact moreso, since there are still many unanswered questions about HOW gravity operates, when we have a firmer grasp of the mechanics of evolution, understanding the basis of how it works down to the level of genes).

    Even though we cannot observe the change happening in real time in mammals (and need to rely on fossil evidence, or DNA evidence), we can see observe it happening over the short-term in life that rapidly reproduces, eg bacteria and even insects. In fact, evidence of evolution is seen all around you, eg dogs may be breaking into different species (eg great dane vs chihuahua are being reproductively isolated, due to their difference sizes). Donkeys, horses, and mules, may be in the process of separating. Other species are in the process, but you cannot "see" it, since it all seems pretty normal to you.

    On shorter time frames, we can observe evolution in action, where the obvious example is drug-resistance in bacteria: some bacteria just happen to possess traits that allow greater survivability (which must occur BEFORE the challenge is presented, with traits acquired via random mutation in the gene pool), and hence newly-developed antibiotics become less-effective over time, as the population of survivors pass on the genes that allowed them to overcome the hurdle.

    Same can be said on a larger level, for insects (like mosquitoes) where the gene pool has evolved to adapt to life in the London Tubes:



  • bohm

    To paraphrase dawkins main points from memory:

    The main issue is evolution cover many things, for instance (1) our particular ancestry (2) overall shape of the tree of life (3) high-level mechanisms driving evolution (sexual selection) and (4) population genetics. It seems to me all areas have aspects that can be called undisputed facts; but it is not meaningfull to talk about the overall collection of ideas as an "fact". I simply cannot tell what it should mean.

    This is equivalent to the status of gravity. Take for instance the best current theory (general relativity). Certainly there are many factual aspects of general relativity (gravity (apparently) bend light, gravity affect time, formation of black holes), but there are also paradoxial aspects when for instance it collide with quantum theory. As such I dont think it make sence to call the theory of gravity (as such) a "fact".

    The bottom line is a theory capture both facts, mechanisms, etc. that allow it to make usefull predictions. That allow us to show us both a theory is correct (within some domain in the case of relativity) and make the theory much, much more valuable than the a brute listing of the facts alone. Same with evolution.

    I suppose one is free not to care about that sort of stuff, but i think its a good point.

  • Phizzy

    From the article Tammy gave us a a link to :

    " So when we are scientifically discussing gravity, we can talk about the law that describes the attraction between two objects, and we can also talk about the theory that describes why the objects attract each other "

    The Theory of Gravity has much work to be done on it, although we do appreciate, since the time of Newton particularly, some of the Laws.

    The Theory of Evolution is established beyond doubt, unless you are a flat-earther or similar. As with all Scientific Theories it will expand, or rather evolve LOL, and parts may be modified or even rejected in future, that is how knowledge progresses. But the Theory itself has withstood every onslaught, as Cofty says.

    (Cofty- I don't think Muslims en-masse reject it, surely their are Islamic biologists etc who simply cannot reject it ?)

  • wearewatchingyouman

    This is where the term the "theory of evolution" gets tricky. If you're calling evolution organisms like bacteria, birds and mesquito's adapting to their environment then fine Evolution is a scientific theory. That can be proven through scientific observation and experimentation.

    Take a bear as an example. they traveled further north put on some fat, developed longer hair etc, etc, etc. that is adaptaion that is considered an evolution. It is a scientific theory that could be proven through observation. Now once you start saying that a unicellular organism adapted millions of times to become the bear, that's still a hypothesis. So yes, in one sense "evolution" is a scientific theory. However, as a theory as to how everything came to be it is still just a hypothesis, and like I said a pretty strong one, because no one has ever observed it or done an experiment to prove it.

  • adamah

    GromitSK said-

    Good explanation Adamah. One small point - I'm not sure it's true to say that gravity is also a theory, it is a fact as you say. There may be theories about gravity.

    The distinction between theories and facts is important, since the value of a theory is that they can explain facts (AKA confirmed observations), and theories even can provide us with some predictive value.

    But as explained in the NCSE download, theories are actually more powerful than facts, since they serve as useful models that explain the facts. Theories may gain the stutus of becoming facts, such that scientists no longer feel the need to constant perform re-confirmatory experiments (although those facts are always subject to disconfirmatory challenge). Thus facts and theories are both subject to challenge at any time, since there are no "sacred cows" in science: show us the evidence for why a fact or theory is wrong, and both are potentially discarded IF the evidence is compelling enough AND can be repeated by others.

    But back to your gravity example: there may be multiple 'theories' of gravity, but technically there is only ONE accepted theory as "the consensus opinion", and MULTIPLE hypotheses challenging it. That goes back to what I posted above about how evolution is on more solid ground as an uncontested theory within the life sciences than even gravity is for the physical sciences, i.e. there is more consensus opinion for the theory of evolution than even for the theory of gravity.

    GromitSK said- I wouldn't say evolution is a fact although I do think there is a high probability it is a fact, especially compared to other hypotheses about how we got here. I might say evolution is a fact if I was better informed though :)

    Science speaks in the language of probabilities, which is NOT the language of theology; there are NO absolutes in science, but only probabilities.

    That said, the evidence pointing to the FACT of evolution is overwhelming such that it's proven well-beyond a reasonable doubt, and that conclusion IS the overwhelming consensus opinion of those working in life sciences. As stated elsewhere, without evolution, my field (biology) is simply a random collection of interesting facts that simply must be memorized but then need to be updated, when they are no long true due to changes. Those changes cannot be explained without the theory of evolution, i.e. God would have to be constantly changing life forms, which violates God's creating life "according to their kind" (as fixed "kinds") found in Genesis.


  • cofty

    once you start saying that a unicellular organism adapted millions of times to become the bear, that's still a hypothesis - WAWYM

    No it's a fact that is explained by the theory of evolution which is beyond all reasonable doubt.

    You just haven't looked at the evidence yet. - Paeleontology, geology, biogeography, embryology, comparative anatomy, and especially genetics to name just some of the fields of evidence.

    Few things in life are more certain than the fact that every living thing dscended from a common ancstor over millions of years by a process of evolution.

    Here is a good place to start...

  • wearewatchingyouman

    LMAO. You guys sound like Jehovah's Witnesses trying to convince me that I'm just not looking at their beliefs from the correct perspective. Look, I've researched this topic considerably, including reading the book that this topic was based on. I just don't see how you get from point A to point Z without taking a few leaps of faith. Evolution, in regards to a theory as to how we all got here, is a very strong hypothesis. I think it's a little much to call it a scientific theory. You guys are free to have whatever beliefs you want in regards to the genesis of man and beast. I prefer to say that I believe evolution to be a more reasonable hypothesis than creation, but the truth is I can't say with certainty that it is factual scientific theory. If you choose to take a stance on one side or the other that's your choice. Mine is to say I can't say with certainty, nor can anyone else, and I'm okay with it.

  • cofty

    LMAO. You guys sound like Jehovah's Witnesses trying to convince me that I'm just not looking at their beliefs from the correct perspective

    No. People of faith demand obedience to dogma. Science invites you study the evidence and gives Nobel Prizes to people who are smart enough to find errors. Faith is anathema to science.

    Reading a book that is designed for absolute beginners is not studying a subject. I've been reading popular-science level evolution books and other resources quite intensely for about 10 years and I have not even scratched the surface.

    Evolution is a fact that does not require your consent.

    If you reject the genetic evidence for common ancestry please decline jury service. The techniques are exactly the same as the ones used to convict murderers and rapists.

  • adamah

    FWIW, a few of you may remember the thread started by Perry a few months ago, where the topic of DNA extraction from amber came up within the discussion of Dr Mary Higby Schweitzer, a Christian palentologist who claimed to find evidence of preserved protein in dinosaur fossils. The Discovery Magazine article mentioned how she sought out the aid of others working in her field, seeking advice of what studies she could do to provide more compelling evidence than what she presented.

    One of those who's opinion she sought out was Dr. Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist who said this:


    Others question Schweitzer's thoroughness. "The pictures were stunning, but the paper fell quite short," says Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Ontario. Schweitzer has not proved that the elastic tissue she found actually consists of molecules from the original dinosaur. Poinar ticks off a list of tests Schweitzer could have conducted, including searching for the building blocks of proteins and then sequencing them to determine their origin. "I understand you want to get your papers out quick and flashy," Poinar says, "but I'm more in favor of longer work with slam-dunk authenticity."

    Here's a TED Talk video I ran across recently featuring Hendrick Poinar discussing the sequencing of the Woolly Mammoth genome in order to bring an extinct species back to life:



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