Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

msjones

Theory of Evolution -- do you avoid teaching it?

Recommended Posts

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.

 

Angela,

 

I have studied science. In fact, I have written several science books.

 

I disagree. Why would a theory be more accepted than a law. Why did Newtons Laws like all laws of science, begin as hypotheses, progress to theories, and finally to Laws, only to be shown to be inaccurate by the facts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the United States National Academy of Sciences,

 

Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time.

 

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Wikipedia:

 

According to the United States National Academy of Sciences:

 

"Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tell them it's a theory. It's in too many of our books. I tell them the Truth first and then show them what they'll have to face and counter when they go to college.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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:

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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'.

 

 

 

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:

 

 

 

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.

 

I disagree with the quotes that you have mentioned.

 

The first quote makes a somewhat artifical distinction between Laws and theories, as if Laws just popped up from out of no where. As the author admits, "(Laws) pertain to observational data" and "Theories are explanations of observations". A law, "such as An object tends to remain in its present state of motion unless acted upon by a force" is an explanation or description of nature. Is it not? By this definition it would be a thoery, no? It was, perhaps, first observed by Newton at which time he formulated an hypothesis or theory and proceeded to test it. When published, the scientific community then tested it. Or would you propose that he didn't need to test it because it came to him as a law? This is clearly a theory becoming a law. The author of the statement is incorrect.

 

There are many 'experts' in all fields. And within a field, they do not all agree. I have found that the average college professor of science, although perhaps an expert in his/her specialized area, is far from being an expert at basic science and they often understand it less well than my own students. I am not calling them dumb. I am simply saying that they sometimes are seen as experts on topics in which they are not. In this case, I would argue that your experts are making an artificial and incorrect distinction between Law and theory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
From Wikipedia:

 

According to the United States National Academy of Sciences:

 

"Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world."

 

This is very close to correct, and supports what I have stated. However, the last statement must be read carefully. "Reliable" here can only mean useful for manipulating and making predictions of nature. It would be incorrect to replace the word 'reliable' iwth the word "exact".

 

Remember also that thousands of theories have been falsified, including evolution, and thus had to be discarded or modified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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 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.

 

Thank you Dawn!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease.

 

Yes, it may be as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter, which as I have shown earlier, is not factual at all. Like all science, it is what many believe to be the best currently available paradigm of nature.

 

The same goes for "the germ theory of disease" except that, in my opinion, this has been a little better established.

 

I believe in evolution; I do not believe in creationism, but evolution is simply not fact. Science makes no such claim. Evolution is theory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jorsay, I agree with you on that point. Scientists rarely carelessly throw the concept of fact or "tested, proved, and done" around. The continual pursuit to refine knowledge is what makes them better scientists. But many "facts" are under the evolution theory, although I myself wouldn't want to word it as a fact, even though I believe in it 100%. Does that make sense?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

Evolution is a scientific description of nature. 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'.

Yes, it may be as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter, which as I have shown earlier, is not factual at all. Like all science, it is what many believe to be the best currently available paradigm of nature.

 

The same goes for "the germ theory of disease" except that, in my opinion, this has been a little better established.

 

I believe in evolution; I do not believe in creationism, but evolution is simply not fact. Science makes no such claim. Evolution is theory.

Thanks for these too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Satori, do you believe that a thorough study of evolution is going to cure mankind's woes? No more pollution, crime, poverty, illness, old age, or death?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No way! Where did you get that idea? Nothing can do that, that is shocking for me to read it!

 

... very dumbfounded that you would take that from anything I might have said... lol! I don't believe in magic here...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is an explanation of the difference in hypothesis, theory, and law, including this:

 

Theory

 

A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis.

 

Example: It is known that on June 30, 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, there was an explosion equivalent to the detonation of about 15 million tons of TNT. Many hypotheses have been proposed for what caused the explosion. It is theorized that the explosion was caused by a natural extraterrestrial phenomenon, and was not caused by man. Is this theory a fact? No. The event is a recorded fact. Is this this theory generally accepted to be true, based on evidence to-date? Yes. Can this theory be shown to be false and be discarded? Yes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please read closely:

 

According to the United States National Academy of Sciences,

 

Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them.

 

Why do they use the word likely? Perhaps to provide for the circumstance where new evidence (i.e. facts) can and does alter them. No? Why didn't they say "no new evidance can alter them"? Is it because a new fact may alter a theory? Wouldn't that mean that a fact carries more weight than a theory?

 

The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time.

 

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world.

 

Does anyone think this says "a theory is a fact" or "a theory holds more weight than a fact." Does this imply that a new fact that contradicts a theory would be ignored in favor of the theory? Or does it imply that should a fact be discovered that contradicts a theory, the theory may be changed? If the latter, doesn't that mean that a fact carries more weight than a theory?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay. I just thought that maybe that was why it was so important to you.

 

S/O comment from what I read in another thread:

 

I completely understand people losing their faith in religion. The hypocrisy in religion and the suffering in the world is hard to understand. But religion holds out hope for curing all of these ills. The problem is that it is hard to discern the true God and his plan through all of the misinformation that abounds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Religion has its faults too and is not the cure of all evils, without it, Manhattan would still have the same skyline...

 

Jorsay, if you'll read one of my other posts, you'll see I said I don't like to throw around the term "fact" loosely, as do any other scientists. People should always refine and search for answers, building upon theories, or in case of evidence, starting over. I'm not arguing with you there. Evolution is already thoroughly supported by evidence, so I doubt scientists will throw the whole evolution theory out. Do we agree on that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Religion has its faults too and is not the cure of all evils, without it, Manhattan would still have the same skyline...

That just shows your ignorance of the truth. (No offense, it is a common misconception, and one that many of us struggle with even as we await a later hope.) The ills are not being cured yet, and the majority of religion is in fact, not a force for good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It wasn't your religion that caused that event, but it was a religion who firmly believed in something. And I really don't want to follow on that branch you're starting, let's stick to the topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I disagree with the quotes that you have mentioned.

 

The first quote makes a somewhat artifical distinction between Laws and theories, as if Laws just popped up from out of no where. As the author admits, "(Laws) pertain to observational data" and "Theories are explanations of observations". A law, "such as An object tends to remain in its present state of motion unless acted upon by a force" is an explanation or description of nature. Is it not? By this definition it would be a thoery, no?

 

No.

 

An object tends to remain in its present state of motion unless acted upon by a force

 

That's simply a description of the observation. That in no way explains the why or how of the matter.

 

The Law of of Gravity is that objects of mass attract one another and we know that because of observational data. The Theory of Gravity, well, we don't even have a really good one yet or rather we have a few and no real consensus has emerged over which one is likely the right one. We're not exactly sure how it works, we just know it does work. But stating it works does not a explain or describe how it works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I doubt scientists will throw the whole evolution theory out. Do we agree on that?
I can agree to that. Adaptation is readily evident and does not ask us to believe that things happen by highly improbable chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Religion has its faults too and is not the cure of all evils, without it, Manhattan would still have the same skyline...

 

Jorsay, if you'll read one of my other posts, you'll see I said I don't like to throw around the term "fact" loosely, as do any other scientists. People should always refine and search for answers, building upon theories, or in case of evidence, starting over. I'm not arguing with you there. Evolution is already thoroughly supported by evidence, so I doubt scientists will throw the whole evolution theory out. Do we agree on that?

 

We agree. But it should be noted that it has been substantially modified since Darwin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As I stated previously, no theory about what happened in the past is either provable or falsifiable. Period.

 

Totally, 100% completely false.

 

A theoretical model about the past predicts where evidence can be found. If evidence that contradicts the model is found, it can be falsified.

 

Specifically, the theory of human evolution predicted that if you looked in rock of a certain age, you should find remains of the ancestors of humans who were much more similar to other hominids of the time.

 

People looked in the rock and found Lucy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, and I'm sure it will continually change and be modified!

 

The more we learn about genetics, DNA, find fossils, experiment with medicine/crops, make new discoveries, then the more we learn about evolution ( which is a very, very big topic, too small to fit in a tiny box). I'm all for that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is very close to correct, and supports what I have stated.

 

I can understand that you disagree with me, but it's difficult to have a coherent discussion with people who disagree with themselves. If you think that your statements are supported by the words of the National Academy, maybe you should reread your posts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What is all this about Lucy? I thought this was disproven a long time ago!

 

Lucy? What do you mean by disproved??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What is all this about Lucy? I thought this was disproven a long time ago!
:confused:

 

I haven't heard that. Do you have more information?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No.

 

That's simply a description of the observation. That in no way explains the why or how of the matter.

 

Question: "Why doesn't the earth stop spinning?"

Answer: "Because an object will remain in its present state of motion unless acted upon by a force."

 

Question: "How can the earth's motion be changed?"

Answer: "By having a force act upon it."

 

I guess it does explain the why and how. :)

 

The Law of of Gravity is that objects of mass attract one another and we know that because of observational data. The Theory of Gravity, well, we don't even have a really good one yet or rather we have a few and no real consensus has emerged over which one is likely the right one. We're not exactly sure how it works, we just know it does work. But stating it works does not a explain or describe how it works.

 

I disagree. We understand gravity quite well. The law tells us a lot more than that objects attract each other. The theory or law tells us 'how' they attract each other. i.e. the force is attractive, not repulsive, the force is inversely related to the square of the distance between the objects, the force is proportional to the mass. The force is universal throughout nature, the force cannot be screened or blocked like other forces, etc...

 

Actually, General Relativity makes the theory of gravity and it's laws completely obsolete. Simply speaking: According to general relativity, objects move along a straight path as defined by curved space. Mass curves space creating an apparent change in the object's motion. In fact, without this theory, we could not make our cell phones work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Okay. I just thought that maybe that was why it was so important to you.

 

 

I stated why I was doing this in a thread this morning. Here it is again, summarized:

 

"I don't care what beliefs a person has. I simply want the best education for our children. I want some of our homeschooling kids to pursue science and work to better the world."

 

Lovedtodeath, you have learned sooo much by participating and reading in this thread, by both sides! Isn't that a wonderful thing? Continual learning and knowledge are values I hold very highly.

 

And I've taught my daughter that some people believe in different gods. Her grandparents believe in God. When we made our universe timeline, I told her that some people think it was all made in less than 7 days, by God, the same God that her grandparents believe in. I already know the creation side, have researched the ID side, considered it, and now want to know more science on the evolution side. I'll still continue to teach my daughter creation myths though, as well as science.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever it comes up, we always stress that lots of different people believe lots of different things. "You're daddy and I believe..."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can understand that you disagree with me, but it's difficult to have a coherent discussion with people who disagree with themselves. If you think that your statements are supported by the words of the National Academy, maybe you should reread your posts.

 

You'll have to explain more closely. I still think my statements agree with the statement you posted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am hoping for a "relatively" simple answer to something I have always wondered.

 

To me, evolution/universe origin theories are there to try to explain why the things that exist now are here. Where did these things come from?

 

With religion it appears that believing in a God/designer you answer that question, but then create another one. Where did God come from?

 

At some point does everyone believe that something (God, universe, whatever) just existed?

 

I hope this makes a bit of sense.

 

Christina

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jorsay, I have enjoyed your contributions, as it seems to me that they are balanced rather than driving an agenda.

 

Thank you. I like these discussions, but I am always a little concerned that I may convince someone of something important like a religious belief. That would be bad, since I have learned that I am wrong about things (not typically science things though) about 50% of the time.:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can understand that you disagree with me, but it's difficult to have a coherent discussion with people who disagree with themselves. If you think that your statements are supported by the words of the National Academy, maybe you should reread your posts.

see post #265

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I stated why I was doing this in a thread this morning. Here it is again, summarized:

 

"I don't care what beliefs a person has. I simply want the best education for our children. I want some of our homeschooling kids to pursue science and work to better the world."

That is where I got it from. The majority of homeschoolers here are teaching about evolution. Do you think that we should all pursue evolution at the college level? That isn't realistic even for evolution-believing atheists. But most of us cover the basics. I went to PS. They teacjh evolution there, but I am still told ever so sweetly that I need to read up on the subject. It happens to be of interest to me, but there are many people who do not feel the need to learn more than High School level information on a variety of topics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry... my information on Lucy is a vague recollection of a magazine article. I was hoping someone else had something.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------How does evolution explain the freezing of mammoths in blocks of ice? Those with fresh vegetation in their mouths and flesh with no signs of decay, in fact, edible?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting about Lucy...

 

One of the most striking characteristics possessed by Lucy was a valgus knee, which indicated that she normally moved by walking upright. Her femoral head was small and her femoral neck was short, both primitive characteristics.

 

 

The Bonobo walks upright approximately 25% of the time during ground locomotion.

 

http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/faithdog.asp (dog who walks upright)

 

It is all about interpetation isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How does evolution explain the freezing of mammoths in blocks of ice? Those with fresh vegetation in their mouths and flesh with no signs of decay, in fact, edible?

Freezing is an excellent method of preservation. Beyond that, I'm not sure what is confusing you. What exactly needs to be explained? How is evolution involved?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Freezing is an excellent method of preservation. Beyond that, I'm not sure what is confusing you. What exactly needs to be explained? How is evolution involved?
How/why did the animals freeze to death in a block of ice while eating fresh vegetation? If they had first died, then froze then surely they would not be so well preserved, or have vegetation in their mouths that was likewise preserved. How did this come about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am hoping for a "relatively" simple answer to something I have always wondered.

 

To me, evolution/universe origin theories are there to try to explain why the things that exist now are here. Where did these things come from?

 

With religion it appears that believing in a God/designer you answer that question, but then create another one. Where did God come from?

 

At some point does everyone believe that something (God, universe, whatever) just existed?

 

I hope this makes a bit of sense.

 

Christina

 

Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed and then ask yourself if you think evolution is "just science".

 

Even Richard Dawkins will allow Intelligent Design as long as it is a done by a Designer other than the God of the Bible: http://expelledthemovie.com/videos.php click on "Dawkins Space Alien Theory"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have I been terribly offensive? I think I am done with this thread. I have people whom I thought I was on friendly terms with who are not responding to my PMs. I was under the impression that we could disagree and still be on friendly terms. I am afraid I was wrong. I thought Christians were the ones who are intolerant...

 

I will go back and read over some of the links. Promise! Thanks for the enlightening discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How/why did the animals freeze to death in a block of ice while eating fresh vegetation? If they had first died, then froze then surely they would not be so well preserved, or have vegetation in their mouths that was likewise preserved. How did this come about?

 

To date, thirty-nine preserved bodies have been found, but only four of them are complete. In most cases the flesh shows signs of decay before its freezing and later desiccation. Stories abound about frozen mammoth carcasses that were still edible once defrosted, but the original sources indicate that the carcasses were in fact terribly decayed, and the stench so unbearable that only the dogs accompanying the finders showed any interest in the flesh.

 

Quote from Wikipedia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To date, thirty-nine preserved bodies have been found, but only four of them are complete. In most cases the flesh shows signs of decay before its freezing and later desiccation. Stories abound about frozen mammoth carcasses that were still edible once defrosted, but the original sources indicate that the carcasses were in fact terribly decayed, and the stench so unbearable that only the dogs accompanying the finders showed any interest in the flesh.

 

Quote from Wikipedia.

Thanks! I'll check my sources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How/why did the animals freeze to death in a block of ice while eating fresh vegetation? If they had first died, then froze then surely they would not be so well preserved, or have vegetation in their mouths that was likewise preserved. How did this come about?

As far as I know, the vegetation in their mouths was seeds found stuck between teeth, not vegetable matter. So mammoths didn't floss.

 

I don't have the answers to your question. But what do the mysterious circumstances of their deaths have to do with the theory of evolution? :confused:

 

The fact that it isn't clear what happened to these mammoths doesn't really have anything at all to do with evolution, does it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As far as I know, the vegetation in their mouths was seeds found stuck between teeth, not vegetable matter. So mammoths didn't floss.

 

I don't have the answers to your question. But what do the mysterious circumstances of their deaths have to do with the theory of evolution? :confused:

 

The fact that it isn't clear what happened to these mammoths doesn't really have anything at all to do with evolution, does it?

I thought maybe there was an explanation similar to the meteorite ending with the destruction of dinosaurs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I thought maybe there was an explanation similar to the meteorite ending with the destruction of dinosaurs.

If a meteorologic event caused mass deaths of mammoths, how would that be relevant to the ToE? Unfortunately, extinction happens. But how would an understanding of a mass death and/or extinction of mammoths inform our understanding of how new species appear?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Have I been terribly offensive? I think I am done with this thread.

 

Not at all. You've been very polite. I'm enjoying reading this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...