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msjones

Theory of Evolution -- do you avoid teaching it?

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Recently I found "Living Fossils, Evolution: The Grand Experiment" (Vol 1 & 2)--great books, excellent photos, written for lay people by a former staunch evolutionist, who was challenged to prove the theory. It's his lifelong pursuit, and he's found some interesting things along the way.
Thanks for the recommendation, Georgiana! That's a reference I have not heard about before! I'm always amazed in these threads that we all seem to come with different reference information. As Jumping in Puddles said, it's impossible to keep up with all of it!

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I always read these threads on evolution but usually most of it goes right over my head. Regarding the OP, the question for me would be: are you going to teach Creationism? After reading this, I believe I need to. Many of my children's friends are Creationists, and my children need to know the other side. They know their parents are firmly in the evolution camp, but I want them to be knowledgeable about all POV's. So I will be collecting books titles on Creationism.

 

Janet

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The bottom line here is that the study of evolution is an IMMENSE waste of resources and mindpower. This is in stark contrast to the statements posted here that claim how valuable evolution is to science. Unfortunately, pouring resources into a never-ending study that has no chance to ever bear fruit cannot be a productive enterprise.

 

I'm sorry, but this is the way I see things. It's extremely unfortunate that the only way evolutionism can be defended is by silencing the clearly-superior alternative explanation that exists and using many logical fallacies to try to prop up the corpse of Darwin's theory.

 

Ditto here, and thanks for doing all the typing, Reg!

 

And just because something is a waste of time, doesn't mean we don't teach our children what other folks believe. It can take us about 60 seconds to do so :001_smile:

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I always read these threads on evolution but usually most of it goes right over my head. Regarding the OP, the question for me would be: are you going to teach Creationism? After reading this, I believe I need to. Many of my children's friends are Creationists, and my children need to know the other side. They know their parents are firmly in the evolution camp, but I want them to be knowledgeable about all POV's. So I will be collecting books titles on Creationism.

 

Janet

 

Yes. We'll teach about Creationism. We're Christians, so my kids know the Genesis creation story inside and out. But, we are firm believers that evolution is a well-established, plausible theory and we'll be teaching that, too.

 

We don't believe the Bible should be interpreted literally, so we have no problem reconciling evolution with our belief in God. It's sort of a non-issue for us and for our church.

 

That's why I posted the question. All of this dinosaurs-walking-with-man (!) and Noah's-ark-recent-flood-fossil-record stuff is foreign to me, sort of shocking, and so I wanted to hear more about that point of view.

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The bottom line here is that the study of evolution is an IMMENSE waste of resources and mindpower.

 

And you think that proving the earth is 6,000 years old is a better use of resources, that we should study how there was a bowl of water above the firmament and how stars that appear millions of light years really didn't exist millions of years ago?

 

Unfortunately, pouring resources into a never-ending study that has no chance to ever bear fruit cannot be a productive enterprise.
Well, I think that knowing how the world works for it's own sake is quite useful, but an understanding of evolution is enormously useful. We use it for medicine and pharmacology, we use it for agricultural science. Much of our knowledge of pigmentation, enzymes, and antibiotics has come from evolutionary study.

 

Evolutionary study has even yielded mathematical advances. For example, statistical analysis techniques in linear regression and variance analysis, developed by evolutionary biologists, have been applied to economics, physics, and other fields.

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Here's the book we'll be using to cover creation myths and stories:

 

Marduk the Mighty: And Other Stories of Creation

 

This book starts "The Seven Days", and then covers stories both modern and ancient. It includes in order: Bible Old Testament, vision of St. John, Egyptians, Babylonian's Great Flood myth, Shinto legends of Japan, Finnish epic Kalevala, Greeks, Arizona Pima tribe, Native American folktales, Borneo, Nigeria, Zulu, Chinese Tao, Polynesian chant, India, Mayans, Australian Aborigines, Mali, Sierra Leone, Norse Myths, and more. As we study each world area, this will be a great read-aloud for my daughter!

 

Marduk has been highly recommended in some of the history curriculums I've seen. My copy is hard cover with colorful illustrations abound.

 

Here's another one, although we don't have it yet:

In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World

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When you have a large group of people who believe something, even if you don't agree, to completely discount learning about what they believe as an immense waste of time I think is only hurting yourself. If not for the sake of understanding the ideas the other side is advocating, how about for the sake of understanding a large segment of the society you live in? That's why I will teach my children about ID and creationism and I will spend more than 60 seconds doing so.

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Now I understand that die-hard bible literalists and Intelligent Design believers are not going to have an open mind, so I know they are not going to change their minds, thus is a waste of breath for me. I would like to talk to those that do have an open mind and simply don't know. :)

 

Our minds are as open to your beliefs as yours is to ours. :)

 

Originally Posted by Satori View Post

I have an open mind, I have been through religion/bible half my life. And when I read, I always throw in a book from the other side. Also, I do plan to teach my child the other side, what others believe, so she is well educated, but not this summer. We will cover the most popular creation myths. And just for fun, we will cover a few other fantastic creation myths, such as when people believed that the world was created from the insides of a giant animal, a bird laying an egg, a ripped up corpse, dude that created it all in 7 days and a big flood, a raven coaxing humans out of a clam, etc... All highly entertaining!

 

How rude and disrespectful.

 

Frankly, I find the blatant rudeness and ridicule of Christianity in this thread, and the fact it's allowed to continue, disturbing.

 

And, to answer to OP, I do teach the theory of evolution to my dc. It's taught as what it is...a theory.

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:iagree:

Well, Sickle Cell Anemia is a recessive disease. In order to get Sickle Cell Anemia, you need to have received the mutation from both parents. That is not a functional advantage.

 

But one copy of the Sickle Cell mutation protects against malaria. And that is a huge functional advantage in certain places.

 

So we have a change in the genome, new information, that creates a structural change that is an advantage. And this is just the standard textbook example of many more.

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Evolutionary study has even yielded mathematical advances. For example, statistical analysis techniques in linear regression and variance analysis, developed by evolutionary biologists, have been applied to economics, physics, and other fields.

 

:iagree:

 

Thank goodness that the scientists of the world understand evolution. We're saving many lives with medicine, feeding the world with better crops, and not to mention our very own selves (we would've gone extinct a long time ago without evolving). Even now, we're slowly evolving to be smarter, taller, and more adapted to the foods we eat.

 

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." - Theodosius Dobzhansky.

 

RegGuheert: The bottom line here is that the study of evolution is an IMMENSE waste of resources and mindpower.

 

It makes me sad that if some people don't understand something, they don't seek out scientific answers, but rather, chalk it up to a supernatural god or magic.

 

You may have different priorities Reg, but here in our household I want my daughter to thoroughly understand science. I'd be so proud if she did continue to be a paleontologist like she wants, or become an evolutionary biologist.

 

Evolutionary biology concepts were some of the first science concepts my daughter learned in her first homeschool year. She understands them, and for my husband and myself, it has given us a deeper understanding and appreciation as well. Some people even discover God in the beauty of science.

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How rude and disrespectful.

 

And, to answer to OP, I do teach the theory of evolution to my dc. It's taught as what it is...a theory.

 

Why does everyone assume that when I wrote dude I was talking about God? There are MANY creation stories and since many borrowed from previous religions, there are many creation stories that have to do with a god that created the world in less than 7 days! There are many creation stories that had to do with an ark and flood as well. I specifically did not say God to represent all the other creation myths. :)

 

And not everyone believes in God, some may even think it's offensive to feel compelled to type out His Name In Capitals.

 

And I love it that you all teach evolution as a THEORY, because a theory is stronger than saying evolution is a fact. :)

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If not for the sake of understanding the ideas the other side is advocating, how about for the sake of understanding a large segment of the society you live in? That's why I will teach my children about ID and creationism and I will spend more than 60 seconds doing so.

 

Much of Western culture, art, history, and literature relies on an understanding of the Bible. It's hard to even understand common idioms in English without knowing what is meant by "40 pieces of silver," "house built on sand," "Good Samaritan," "Garden of Eden," "Promised Land," and a thousand other common references to the Bible.

 

Even as a member of that unfortunate mass of humanity condemned to eternal hellfire for the sin of believing the wrong thing about the nature of God, I think the Bible is enormously important.

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- We are guided by an overriding principal known as "methodological naturalism" which requires us to ignore any possible explanation of the world around us that goes beyond the natural laws which man has created to explain the universe.

- All life on Earth is composed of immensely complex and intricate machinery which is coded in a system which is much more eloquent and powerful than any system which man has devised. We observe that NO coding system has ever arisen out of nature, but rather are always the product of intelligent actors.

- Regardless of the above, our adherence to "methodological naturalism" has caused us to reject, out of hand, the obvious conclusion that life is the product of some being which is immensely more intelligent and powerful than we ourselves. We also used this excuse as our reason to ban the teaching of the more logical explanation based on a supreme being to our children. In fact we have banned these discussions from all of our public institutions.

- Instead we have devised a naturalistic theory 150 years ago in an attempt to explain the life around us. Unfortunately, this theory has been repeatedly shown to be impotent to explain ANY of the life found on Earth nor the diversity therein. But because we have vowed to avoid any supernatural explanations for life, we will continue to tweak this theory without any hope of bringing it to the point where it can explain the life that we observe around us.

 

The bottom line here is that the study of evolution is an IMMENSE waste of resources and mindpower. This is in stark contrast to the statements posted here that claim how valuable evolution is to science. Unfortunately, pouring resources into a never-ending study that has no chance to ever bear fruit cannot be a productive enterprise.

 

I'm sorry, but this is the way I see things. It's extremely unfortunate that the only way evolutionism can be defended is by silencing the clearly-superior alternative explanation that exists and using many logical fallacies to try to prop up the corpse of Darwin's theory.

 

I want to respond to this, but I don't have time right now. However, the above is a response to my claim and examples that evolution is falsifiable, yet it does not address this important point. Given my examples, do you agree that evolution is falsifiable? If so, given your admission that creationism is not, do you concede that evolution is a scientific theory with respect to falsifiability and creationism is not?

 

OK, I know you don't concede, but I have to ask the question. :)

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Much of Western culture, art, history, and literature relies on an understanding of the Bible. It's hard to even understand common idioms in English without knowing what is meant by "40 pieces of silver," "house built on sand," "Good Samaritan," "Garden of Eden," "Promised Land," and a thousand other common references to the Bible.

 

Even as a member of that unfortunate mass of humanity condemned to eternal hellfire for the sin of believing the wrong thing about the nature of God, I think the Bible is enormously important.

 

 

Yep, I am an atheist who reads my children 'bible stories'. Cultural literacy demands knowing certain things. The Wisdom of Solomon is as important to know as say, The Midas Touch.

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Oh, and my daughter has a little bible on her desk, you might even be able to see it in some of our blog pictures. :) As you can see, I'm not totally anti-bible, although I've already read it all when I was younger, I do not read it today. I even plan on getting her a children's picture bible! My religious parents will love that, even though they're not bible literalists.

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Why does everyone assume that when I wrote dude I was talking about God?

 

 

Quite simply because you were, at least have the courage in your convictions to admit this.

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Wait, so Noah not only had to fit all those thousands of existing species on the ark, he also had to make room for all the sauropods, tyrannosaurs, and the like? Wow, that is some boat.
Not thousands. Dinosaurs hatched from eggs. He didn't need to take full grown adults with him. But, most likely, he didn't take them at all. Dinosaurs are a mystery. They may have been created for a reason unknown to us.

 

I don't understand how evolution says that they were all wiped out by a meteor and at the same time there are modern animals that evolved from them?

 

I also grow very tired of every argument against creation being aimed at YE. Not everyone who believes in creation believes in YE.

 

That's why I posted the question. All of this dinosaurs-walking-with-man (!) and Noah's-ark-recent-flood-fossil-record stuff is foreign to me, sort of shocking, and so I wanted to hear more about that point of view.
Dinosaurs walking with man is something that I find fascinating. I am not fully convinced of it and I am not a believer in YE, but I love reading about evidence. I love reading about "evolution" as well. Extinct animals really fascinate me.

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Why does everyone assume that when I wrote dude I was talking about God? There are MANY creation stories and since many borrowed from previous religions, there are many creation stories that have to do with a god that created the world in less than 7 days! There are many creation stories that had to do with an ark and flood as well. I specifically did not say God to represent all the other creation myths. :)

 

And since I may not believe in your God, I find it offending to write His name in Capital Letters. I will go on writing god as I please.

 

And I love it that you all teach evolution as a THEORY, because a theory is stronger than saying evolution is a fact. :)

 

I couldn't care less what you believe; I take issue with your disrespect.

 

Your last sentence makes no sense.

 

Oh, and :)

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Your last sentence makes no sense.

 

If people knew science, they would know that a theory holds more weight over a fact. :)

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I want to respond to this, but I don't have time right now. However, the above is a response to my claim and examples that evolution is falsifiable, yet it does not address this important point. Given my examples, do you agree that evolution is falsifiable? If so, given your admission that creationism is not, do you concede that evolution is a scientific theory with respect to falsifiability and creationism is not?

 

OK, I know you don't concede, but I have to ask the question. :)

Yes, it is falsifiable, but when modern human skulls are found too deeply in the layers of the earth, someone covers it up and hides the evidence. :)

 

And obviously, as Satori has made perfectly clear, belief in evolution is a hill to die on. So, no matter what evidence comes to light someone will always say that it does not present conclusive evidence.

 

Those of us that believe in God, on the other hand, can go on to believe that God created the world by means of evolution....

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Here's the book we'll be using to cover creation myths and stories:

 

Marduk the Mighty: And Other Stories of Creation

 

This book starts "The Seven Days", and then covers stories both modern and ancient. It includes in order: Bible Old Testament, vision of St. John, Egyptians, Babylonian's Great Flood myth, Shinto legends of Japan, Finnish epic Kalevala, Greeks, Arizona Pima tribe, Native American folktales, Borneo, Nigeria, Zulu, Chinese Tao, Polynesian chant, India, Mayans, Australian Aborigines, Mali, Sierra Leone, Norse Myths, and more. As we study each world area, this will be a great read-aloud for my daughter!

 

Marduk has been highly recommended in some of the history curriculums I've seen. My copy is hard cover with colorful illustrations abound.

 

Here's another one, although we don't have it yet:

In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World

We are using the Illustrated Book of Myths. I wanted more bang for my buck. :lol: That first one has me intrigued. I might look into it.

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Yes, it is falsifiable, but when modern human skulls are found too deeply in the layers of the earth, someone covers it up and hides the evidence. :)

 

And obviously, as Satori has made perfectly clear, belief in evolution is a hill to die on. So, no matter what evidence comes to light someone will always say that it does not present conclusive evidence.

 

Those of us that believe in God, on the other hand, can go on to believe that God created the world by means of evolution....

 

 

:iagree:

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That's one of the hardest things about teaching science, keeping up! It is also a great boost for kids who want to grow up to be scientists... they can discover, and contribute to a field that is so vast that, literally, there are new discoveries every day. It is exciting!

 

I know I taught my olders that Pluto was a planet, that there was only four oceans and that there was only five Kingdoms. You expect major progress in physics but not so much in the basics.

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I don't understand how evolution says that they were all wiped out by a meteor and at the same time there are modern animals that evolved from them?

 

In the Jurassic period, some dinos had evolved feathers, one feature was probably to help them stay warm. There were also small mammals that lived underground, in order to not get eaten by the dinos during the day. At the end of the Cretaceous when the meteor hit, it caused volcanoes to erupt and the whole climate changed. Many plants died out, with them, the plant-eating dinos, and eventually, the meat-eating dinos. A very small percentage small creatures were able to survive, and the ones that did were able to keep themselves warm with their feathers or fur, or by burrowing underground.

 

Eventually the little mammal rodents, not confined to their underground burrows, were able to venture out, eat more, and get bigger. We then move on to some of the largest land mammals ever, which are also fascinating! Eventually mammals branched out more and more until we find ourselves here.

 

Hope this helps!

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Dinosaurs walking with man is something that I find fascinating. I am not fully convinced of it and I am not a believer in YE, but I love reading about evidence. I love reading about "evolution" as well. Extinct animals really fascinate me.

 

I find the dinosaur/man possibility extremely fascinating too. Not sure what I truly believe on this point, but Job Ch 40-41 is an interesting read in this light. Also, think of all the cultures that have dragon myths, etc.

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I want to respond to this, but I don't have time right now. However, the above is a response to my claim and examples that evolution is falsifiable, yet it does not address this important point. Given my examples, do you agree that evolution is falsifiable? If so, given your admission that creationism is not, do you concede that evolution is a scientific theory with respect to falsifiability and creationism is not?

 

OK, I know you don't concede, but I have to ask the question. :)

OK, you are correct! I don't! ;)

 

As I stated previously, no theory about what happened in the past is either provable or falsifiable. Period.

 

Let's look at two completely hypothetical possibilities:

 

1) We demonstrate in the laboratory using a modified Miller's experiment that we can grow people just like us from some primordial slime. It happens quickly, right before our eyes and scientists around the world can duplicate this experiment. In this case, such an experiment would provide evidence that life *could have* arisen in such a manner and would be strong evidence that it did happen that way. However, there is no way to know that it DID happen that way. In other words, it does not rule all other possible explanations, as there are an infinite number of them.

 

2) We demonstrate in the laboratory that the genome of all life forms are completely immutable, rendering Darwin's theory false in our current conditions. This, in no way, falsifies the theory. It brings strong evidence against it, but there is no way to prove that we have tested in the actual conditions that existed or even that perhaps evolution worked in the past but has stopped working today.

 

Hopefully we can agree that reality lies somewhere between these two extreme positions, but I feel safe in interpolating to conclude that none of the in-between positions prove the past either.

 

This is simply the nature of forensic science. It should not be confused with operational science, which many of us use day-in and day-out to cure diseases, make new strands of plants, make rockets go into space or communicate over wireless devices.

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Those of us that believe in God, on the other hand, can go on to believe that God created the world by means of evolution....

 

I am very happy when Believers can also accept evolution. :)

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In the Jurassic period, some dinos had evolved feathers, one feature was probably to help them stay warm. There were also small mammals that lived underground, in order to not get eaten by the dinos during the day. At the end of the Cretaceous when the meteor hit, it caused volcanoes to erupt and the whole climate changed. Many plants died out, with them, the plant-eating dinos, and eventually, the meat-eating dinos. A very small percentage small creatures were able to survive, and the ones that did were able to keep themselves warm with their feathers or fur, or by burrowing underground.

 

Eventually the little mammal rodents, not confined to their underground burrows, were able to venture out, eat more, and get bigger. We then move on to some of the largest land mammals ever, which are also fascinating! Eventually mammals branched out more and more until we find ourselves here.

 

Hope this helps!

That does help. We have a replica of a newly hatched dino baby from a fossil at our museum. You can see the fossil and the replica. It looks like a baby bird. I just love it.

 

I do want to point out that my question shows some misunderstandings about evolution beliefs, but there are just as many misunderstandings about creation beliefs, which is very evident by some of the bashing of creationists that I have seen in this thread.

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Doh, I forgot to mention that the dinos with feathers evolved into birds, but I think I was assuming that was a given. We have proof of this evolution with the Archaeopteryx.

 

I think throughout this thread, almost all of the evolutionists seem pretty familiar with the Bible, and some, like myself, are willing to teach their children some bible and other creation stories.

 

Don't forget that there are also people bashing science and reason, and that will offend the people that value science and reason.

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When you have a large group of people who believe something, even if you don't agree, to completely discount learning about what they believe as an immense waste of time I think is only hurting yourself. If not for the sake of understanding the ideas the other side is advocating, how about for the sake of understanding a large segment of the society you live in? That's why I will teach my children about ID and creationism and I will spend more than 60 seconds doing so.

 

 

It doesn't matter how large the group of adherents is . . . if something is not true, it is just not true.

 

I was kidding about the 60 seconds. The way I read Reg's post was that the ongoing, never-ending religious quest to prove that macro-evolution is a fact has been, and still is, very non-productive. And I agree with that.

 

As far as the OP question about whether or not I "avoid" teaching evolution . . .it's sort of like asking if I'll tell my kids that other people have tattoos! You just can't avoid it, it's everywhere! You just tell your kids what you believe to be the truth and move on.

 

It is the incessant quashing of the anti-ID, anti-Creationism ideology that makes us wonder what the evolutionists don't want out in the open. It's like forcing us to have tattoos so that we can be part of the "almost universally accepted". I'm not on a quest to get people to stop getting tattoos. Or teaching their children evolution. I'm not closed-minded because I am already established in what I believe is true.

 

Let's allow the next generation to hear ALL possibilities regarding life and its origins, and then they can make up their own minds. It has worked wonderfully that way for a long time!

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I know I taught my olders that Pluto was a planet, that there was only four oceans and that there was only five Kingdoms. You expect major progress in physics but not so much in the basics.

 

 

I guess because we don't really understand nutrition (what could be more basic than that! :lol:), or why we hiccup, I really do just expect refinement and major discoveries - even on the basic level. For the oceans, that is just semantics but learning about our world is extremely difficult - especially when species become extinct before we even discover them! The oceans, right now, are almost a complete mystery. Of course, there are scientists who devote their lives to studying ocean creatures and habitats, but right now it is too difficult (too deep, to remote, to few...) to study even if we wanted to.

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In truth, I don't care what anyone believes in. I was happily religious for half my life and now happy without it.

 

I want all our children to have enough scientific understanding to compete in the 21st century world. If they don't get a good science education, including the study of evolution, they'll be well-prepared for the 18th century, but not for modern times. The bible was written so very long ago (up to 3500 years ago), and so much new science has been discovered since then. It is great that you can teach the bible in your bible and religion courses, but I believe that science classes should stick with modern day knowledge.

 

Now I fully realize that in homeschooling forums, bible literalists usually outweigh the scientifically-minded parents. Debating creationism/evolution could take millions of years. I've said what I wanted to say, and hopefully some of the evolutionist's messages will reach the "fence-sitters".

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It doesn't matter how large the group of adherents is . . . if something is not true, it is just not true.

 

I agree with you that having a large group of adherents doesn't make something true. I see ID and creationism as just not true. However, I still think that when a belief has a large group of adherents that belief is worth studying for the sake of better understanding the society around you.

 

As for the feeling that creationists have been marginalized, can I ask a possibly dumb, but sincere question? Are there creationists who are not Christians?

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....

 

As for the feeling that creationists have been marginalized, can I ask a possibly dumb, but sincere question? Are there creationists who are not Christians?

 

There are many creation stories from various religions.

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This is an interesting discussion. My plan is to teach the theory of evolution, but not until dd5 is older (and I am well versed enough in the subject to present it intelligently).

 

I would like my daughters to have a faith in God that can stand up to current scientific discovery. I don't believe in keeping knowledge from them, because I believe that the process of reconciling knowledge with our faith is very important. Yes, I will teach creation, and explore young and old earth explanations. I will introduce them to evolution, and any other plausible theories. I expect to have many long discussions on this topic with them! I don't think we have to choose a "side" and I think it is interesting that so many people seem to have a closed belief in how the world was created when they weren't there to actually see it happen. I like to say "maybe" to all of the above and leave it at that. :D

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If people knew science, they would know that a theory holds more weight over a fact. :)

 

It bears repeating, so I'm repeating it here from my post above (or is it below?):

 

The word theory, when used by scientists, does *not* mean "hypothesis". A hypothesis is an educated guess made by scientists prior to conducting an experiment. A theory is a synthesis of facts and well tested hypotheses. A theory goes beyond laws (hypotheses tested again and again and not contradicted ) or facts (something that competant observers can agree to be true). There are many scientific theories, for example, physicists use quantum theory to explain the behavior of light and geologists use the theory of plate tectonics to explain how the continents move.

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In addition, theories are a different class from facts. A fact is a single truth statment--a measurement, an observation, etc. A theory is a model that explains past observations and predicts future ones.

 

The apple falling from the tree is a fact. The theory of gravity is the model that describes the rules describing the fall in detail and why everything falls based on the same rules.

 

Facts support or disprove hypotheses. Where supported, a hypothesis move towards a theory, where disproved, the hypothesis gets thrown in the trash.

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Enough people have repeated the creationist talking point, "It's just a theory..." that at the very least it's obvious that they haven't read the thread, since we've rehashed the definition of a theory several times already.

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If people knew science, they would know that a theory holds more weight over a fact. :)

 

It bears repeating, so I'm repeating it here from my post above (or is it below?):

 

The word theory, when used by scientists, does *not* mean "hypothesis". A hypothesis is an educated guess made by scientists prior to conducting an experiment. A theory is a synthesis of facts and well tested hypotheses. A theory goes beyond laws (hypotheses tested again and again and not contradicted ) or facts (something that competant observers can agree to be true). There are many scientific theories, for example, physicists use quantum theory to explain the behavior of light and geologists use the theory of plate tectonics to explain how the continents move.

 

I consider myself knowledgeable on basic science. I disagree with these statements. Hypothesis and theory are quite closely related. Scientists often use the word hypothesis to indicate an educated guess or untested theory. Once tested, a hypothesis may be considered a theory, but this is a loosely held distinction. A scientific LAW is nothing more than a widely agreed upon theory, tested many times through inductive reasoning. As Regguheert points out, a theory (based upon induction as scientific theories are) can not be proven. A good theory can however be shown to be false. This is the whole point of the idea of progression in science through falsifiability.

 

Again, the simple example would be Newton's laws of motion. These are theories that became so well accepted as to be agreed upon as laws of physics. They have since been shown to only be accurate when distances are neither very, very small, nor very, very large. In such cases, the theories of quantum mechanics and relatively are used.

 

Unlike a hypothesis, theory, or law, a fact is presented as this magical thing we might think of as the absolute truth. In science, when we say something is a fact, we mean that it is the 'truth'; when we say something is a theory, we mean that it is an explanation or description that seems to fit the facts, but any good scientist knows that all explanations and descriptions are inherently flawed.

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OK, you are correct! I don't! ;)

 

As I stated previously, no theory about what happened in the past is either provable or falsifiable. Period.

 

Provable, No. Falsifiable, yes.

 

Let's look at two completely hypothetical possibilities:

 

1) We demonstrate in the laboratory using a modified Miller's experiment that we can grow people just like us from some primordial slime. It happens quickly, right before our eyes and scientists around the world can duplicate this experiment. In this case, such an experiment would provide evidence that life *could have* arisen in such a manner and would be strong evidence that it did happen that way. However, there is no way to know that it DID happen that way. In other words, it does not rule all other possible explanations, as there are an infinite number of them.

 

Agreed. No theory based upon inductive reasoning can be proved. However, I disagree with your next point which is the most important point about scientific progression.

 

2) We demonstrate in the laboratory that the genome of all life forms are completely immutable, rendering Darwin's theory false in our current conditions. This, in no way, falsifies the theory. It brings strong evidence against it, but there is no way to prove that we have tested in the actual conditions that existed or even that perhaps evolution worked in the past but has stopped working today.

 

 

Here's where we disagree. Your hypothetical experiment does falsify the theory of evolution. The theory would have to be abandoned or modified.

 

Science progresses via induction. Observations are made, questions asked, hypothesis is formed then tested, theory is formed. This is an inductive process; you notice that things always seem to happen in a certain way. If we find just one instance that they happen in a contrary fashion, the hypothesis or theory is falsified. The problem in proving such a theory is that no matter how many times you observe the action, perhaps, just maybe, if we do the experiment just one more time, something different will happen. The theory cannot be proven.

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I consider myself knowledgeable on basic science. I disagree with these statements. Hypothesis and theory are quite closely related. Scientists often use the word hypothesis to indicate an educated guess or untested theory. Once tested, a hypothesis may be considered a theory, but this is a loosely held distinction. A scientific LAW is nothing more than a widely agreed upon theory, tested many times through inductive reasoning. As Regguheert points out, a theory (based upon induction as scientific theories are) can not be proven. A good theory can however be shown to be false. This is the whole point of the idea of progression in science through falsifiability.

 

Again, the simple example would be Newton's laws of motion. These are theories that became so well accepted as to be agreed upon as laws of physics. They have since been shown to only be accurate when distances are neither very, very small, nor very, very large. In such cases, the theories of quantum mechanics and relatively are used.

 

Unlike a hypothesis, theory, or law, a fact is presented as this magical thing we might think of as the absolute truth. In science, when we say something is a fact, we mean that it is the 'truth'; when we say something is a theory, we mean that it is an explanation or description that seems to fit the facts, but any good scientist knows that all explanations and descriptions are inherently flawed.

 

You might be very knowledgable about basic science, and you are certainly welcome to disagree, just as you are welcome to disagree that the earth orbits the sun, but your definition of a scientific theory is simply wrong.

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In the Jurassic period, some dinos had evolved feathers, one feature was probably to help them stay warm. There were also small mammals that lived underground, in order to not get eaten by the dinos during the day. At the end of the Cretaceous when the meteor hit, it caused volcanoes to erupt and the whole climate changed. Many plants died out, with them, the plant-eating dinos, and eventually, the meat-eating dinos. A very small percentage small creatures were able to survive, and the ones that did were able to keep themselves warm with their feathers or fur, or by burrowing underground.

 

Eventually the little mammal rodents, not confined to their underground burrows, were able to venture out, eat more, and get bigger. We then move on to some of the largest land mammals ever, which are also fascinating! Eventually mammals branched out more and more until we find ourselves here.

 

Hope this helps!

 

How do you know all this? A meteor? Really?

 

Who recorded this historic event? And how do you know they got the facts right?

 

"Branched out" What does that mean?

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Once tested, a hypothesis may be considered a theory, but this is a loosely held distinction.

 

A scientific LAW is nothing more than a widely agreed upon theory, tested many times through inductive reasoning.

 

That's simply not so. It's a very common misconception (in general, not simply amongst creationists or IDers) that theories are laws that just haven't been proven or don't have enough support yet but it's wrong. If you encounter a text that claims a law is nothing more then a tested theory then it's a good sign that the text should be filed in the garbage.

 

I wrote a blog post about this awhile ago and I'll just reproduce that post here (although it's worth checking out the original as the comments were great - I even had an evolutionary biologist comment). Just before that I'll make a point. Tthe first quote in the post makes it clear that what constitutes a law depends on consensus in the scientific community. That means that if you're pushing a definition that most of the scientific community disagrees with then it doesn't and can't work. On to my post;

The difference between a law and a theory in science really needs to be cleared up. Its causing, as my Thomas the Tank Engine-obsessed son would say, confusion and delay in my blog comments. Let's explore.

 

I found this very nice entry at the MadSci Network in which Dan Berger offers this:

 

The current consensus among philosophers of science seems to be this:

 

Laws are generalizations about what has happened, from which we can generalize about what we expect to happen. They pertain to observational data. The ability of the ancients to predict eclipses had nothing to do with whether they knew just how they happened; they had a law but not a theory.

 

Theories are explanations of observations (or of laws). The fact that we have a pretty good understanding of how stars explode doesn't necessarily mean we could predict the next supernova; we have a theory but not a law.

 

This is not, "a simplistic, hierarchical view of the relationship between theories and laws whereby theories become laws depending on the availibility of supporting evidence." (from the same site)

 

If you're an auditory learner and need a nice, simple explanation try this page, scroll to the bottom and click on, "To hear this program click here." From the transcript:

 

D: Well, the definition of a law is easy. It's a description--usually mathematical--of some aspect of the natural world.

Y: Like gravity.

 

D: Exactly. The law of gravity describes and quantifies the attraction between two objects. But the law of gravity doesn't explain what gravity is or why it might work in this way. That's because that kind of explanation falls into the realm of theory. And the theory that explains gravity is the theory of general relativity.

 

Y: Right. According to the National Academy of Sciences, a scientific theory is a "well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." In other words, all scientific theories are supported by evidence, and you can test them, and--most importantly--you can use them to make predictions.

 

D: So based on that definition, theories never change into laws, no matter how much evidence out there supports them. Formulating theories, in fact, is the end goal of science.

 

Y: So to say evolution is just a theory is actually an argument for it and not against it. You can't do any better in science than to be a theory.

 

Interesting.

 

Here's a fun page from high school chemistry teacher, David Dice -Proof and Science. This page isn't simply valuable for the person who doesn't understand the difference between theory and law but also for those of us who tend to talk of evolution being 'true'.

 

No scientist will ever claim that a theory is true. What they will do is state that the evidence agrees with the theory.

 

Maybe those of us who accept the theory of evolution need to tidy up our terms too. The site is an excellent read, generally agrees with the definitions from the MadSci Network and has a quiz. Kudos Mr. Dice!

 

Let's hear from Ronald Matson, Professor of Biology at Kennesaw State University but instead of his definition of laws and theories (you can guess by now what at least one of his definitions will be), let's hear what he has to stay about what laws and theories most definitely are not:

 

Regardless of which definitions one uses to distinguish between a law and a theory, scientists would agree that a theory is NOT a "transitory law, a law in waiting". There is NO hierarchy being implied by scientists who use these words. That is, a law is neither "better than" nor "above" a theory.

 

I hope this clears the matter up somewhat. A theory is not a baby law. A law is not a theory that's been proven. Next time you're discussing the matter with someone defending the theory of evolution you will know that you simply can't, with any honesty, claim evolution is a theory because it's unproven. Next time you're discussing the matter with a creationist you will know that when you insist evolution is the truth, you're using inexcusably sloppy language.

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I agree with Kai here.

 

Scientists hold theories as highest. They go in this order:

 

Most Important

 

 

  • Theories
  • Laws
  • Hypotheses
  • Facts

 

Least Important

 

The average person thinks it goes like this: Facts, Laws, Theories, Hypothesis. If you were to study science, you'd go by the first list.

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Science is a tool to describe, explain, and manipulate nature. It does not reveal the 'truth'. Instead it offers analogies and pictures to describe, explain, and manipulate.

 

Imagine a hydrogen atom: a spherical ball with a positive charge called a proton with a much smaller particle spinning haphazardly around it. No reputable chemist or physicist would argue that, if we had a powerful enough microscope, that's what we would see. Afterall, an electron is as much a wave as a particle and it jumps instantaneously from one energy level (distance from the proton) to another. This is like magic! It is unexplanable and incomprehensible with classical mechanics, and only unerstood mathematically. It cannot be represented with a diagram. And what does positive charge mean? Any good textbook will tell you that charge is an undefined term.

 

Yet, this model, despite being inaccurate, is quite useful in making predictions about how hydrogen will behave.

 

This is why it is so important to understand that evolution is science and creationism is religion. The two are not even mutually exclusive. Evolution is a tool. It is a scientific description of nature, and like any scientific description of nature, it is inaccurate to some degree. However, as science, it is also valuable for making predictions for the future and manipulating nature. Creationism is a story. Unlike Evolution, Creationism does not hold any value as a tool for making predictions or manipulating nature. It is not science. However, like evolution, creationism is a description and explanation of what happened in the past. It may be more or less accurate than evolution as a description. Science does not claim to be the 'truth'.

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How do you know all this? A meteor? Really?

 

Who recorded this historic event? And how do you know they got the facts right?

 

"Branched out" What does that mean?

 

I know this because of the hard evidence. A 6 mile wide meteor hit near Mexico, and caused many volcanos to erupt. We can see both the meteor crater evidence, as well as the layer of volcano ash all around the world. It is this that separates the Cretaceous from the Tertiary periods, and is the most likely cause for the relatively abrupt mass extinction that occurred at that time, after which we have no fossil record of many animals at that time. So nature has recorded this event, and scientists from all fields around the world get to study the event. I may not be a hard-core scientist now, but I did love geology in the university, and found all this fascinating.

 

Branched out means creatures adapting to their environments, and evolving to survive in them. Branching out refers to different species evolving from past ancestors.

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