Saturday, November 20, 2004

The definition of "theory" as in "theory of evolution"


The terms "theory" and "fact" have very precise and rigid definitions in philosophy of science. That is why scientists tend not to talk about Fact of Evolution, but instead of Theory of Evolution. The common non-technical understanding of the word "theory" misleads people to think that there is something unproven about it.

There are millions of technical papers in biology, tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of technical books in biology - every one of them contributes to understanding of evolution, and not a single one of them makes any sense except in the context of evolution. NOTHING in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

Theory of Evolution of all Life on Earth from a Single Common Ancestor (as opposed to being designed) is as strong as Theory that Earth is Round (as opposed to flat), or Theory of Heliocentrism that posits that Earth revolves around the Sun (and not vice versa), or Theory that Sun is not the Center of the Universe.

Theory of Evolution is STRONGER than The Big Bang Theory, or General Theory of Relativity, or Plate Tectonics Theory, or Theory that DNA Replication is the Mechanism of Inheritance. And it is MUCH stronger than Theory of Superstrings, or anything that Freud came up with.

Why are the USA and the Middle East the only places on the planet that still have problems with this? Is it horrendous state of education? Strong religiosity? When are we going to join the 20th century, not to even mention the 21st?

The question "Do you believe in evolution?" drives me crazy, as it assumes that evolution is something one can have an option to believe in or not, as if this is a matter of personal preference. It is an empirical truth and you either accept empiricism or you prefer to live your life in fairy tales.

I wish there was a mandatory course on Religion in public schools: one that will compare main (and some minor) world religions from various angles: philosophy, ethics, logic, sociology, anthropology, history, psychology, neurobiology, evolutionary theory, economics and political science.

Intelligent Design IS Creationism, reworded to eliminate explicit references to God and Bible in order to bypass old court decisions, fool the uneduacted public and place religion in science classes. Do not be fooled by the new rhetoric! It is a Trojan Horse. Read Pennock's "Tower of Babel" and dig through these blogs for more info:

Chris Mooney http://www.chriscmooney.com/blog.asp
EvolutionBlog http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/
Pharyngula http://pharyngula.org/
The Pandas Thumb http://www.pandasthumb.org/

Actually, the theory of evolution is one of THE strongest and best supported (by evidence) theory of all science. Evolution is, for all practical purposes, a fact. Of course, WITHIN evolutionary theory there are bickerings about details, e.g., importance of group selection, fine points of sexual selection, power of cladistics, etc.

ID is just a wolf in sheep's clothing. The proponents of ID are the same old Creationists, gathering in their "institutes" and praying to Jesus together, yet they became savvy enough to eliminate references to religion whenever they publish for the "outside" audience. Their "inside" documents are full of Adam and Eve, Noah's Flood etc. just like in the good ole' days. They lost court cases when they were explicit about God, now they prey on the general miseducation of the publuc, and play on the general love of fairness, the same one that brought us "fair and balanced" media reporting.

There is nothing scientific about ID, there is nothing predictive about their so-called theory: what do you think is the "Intelligence" that "designed" the species? God is their starting point that in a circular fashion, leads to the conclusion that the designer is God.

There are NO HOLES to be poked in evolution any more, and no efforts of ID-ers are ever going to make any.

The old Creationists lost all their court battles. The way for them to try again is to reformulate their thesis, purge their public writings of God, and try to persuade the naive public that they are different from old Creationists. It is a dirty ploy. The only difference between old Creationism and ID is language. Please go and dig through the archives of the four blogs I linked to above.

Additional resources:

http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/nhmag.html
http://skepdic.com/intelligentdesign.html
http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-09/design.html
http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/printer_13598.shtml


Update:

Thanks to Joshua at Orchard of Synaptic Arbors (http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~jadelman/blog ) for the link, as well as these excellent links (which I used to have bookmarked on an old computer):

The Flageullum Unspun: The Collapse of "Irreducible Complexity http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html

Answering the Biochemical Argument from Design
http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design1/article.html

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