How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

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How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby RoadieRich » Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:55 pm UTC

BBC Focus magazine, January 2009, featured an interview with Richard Dawkins, in which he explained "how to win an argument with a creationist". Unfortunatly, his entire argument against intelligent design was based around one question: 'Who designed the designer'. I'm going to attempt to show that that in an invalid counter point.

Imagine that you have a suitably advanced computer simulation, capable of simulating an entire biosphere from single-celled organisms up to self-aware, sentient virtual beings. These beings don't know that they're programs - you programmed them not to be able to realise.

You set it running, and come back. These 'beings' represent the non-creationist view. There is no evidence whatsoever for a creator.

The next time round, you have a goal in mind. You modify your simulation to give you fine control over every aspect of the simulation: environmental conditions, mutation rates, even over the specific mutations. Then, you set it running, one generation at a time. Each generation, you twerk the variables a little, maybe raising the temperature to kill off that mutation, makeing food supplies peak earlier to encourage that mutation, and causeing another mutation to happen to interact with one from fromn the previosu generation.

These beings, after repeating this process billions of times eventually becomes self aware.

They too, ask if they are the product of random chance, or whether they are designed. They decide they couldn't be, as who designed the designer.

A non-creationist believes we are not designed. According to Dawkin's argument, because we are not designed, the virtual beings we created cannot be designed, when, quite clearly they were.


Let the flambé commence.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Xanthir » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:12 pm UTC

Flambe? Please, you barely merit a candle.

The basic fallacy here is, who designed you? If it is possible for you to have come into existence without an all-seeing programmer twerking the variables, then it was possible for them to as well. As long as the laws of nature *appear* to be conserved, then, it is absolutely logical to argue that there is no designer.

Remember, Dawkins is specifically refuting the argument that life couldn't have arisen without a designer. This *is* an infinite regress. If our life requires a designer, the designer Himself must be even more complex, and thus is even *more* in need of a designer. There is no end to this question stack.

In fact, your post contains a refutation of your point directly. You first assume that life can arise within your simulation without any intervention. Thus, in the simulation where there *is* intervention, the idea of there not being a creator is at least a reasonable possibility.

You are trying to take Dawkins' argument as something like "If it is possible for life to have arisen without a designer, then it is certain that life arose without a designer" which is not what he is saying, and is obviously false.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Exotria » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:14 pm UTC

Doesn't that just set the problem down another level? Certainly, those programs were designed by a human, but then you can ask who designed the human? That would be any number of deities, according to various religions. And then you can ask who designed the god[s]. So really all you've done is add an additional step of 'who designed the designer?'.

Certainly, we may have been designed by aliens or something like that, and they might have been designed by other aliens, but somewhere up the line evolution or chance had to happen to make life arise. The question is how the being at the top of the design chain came about.

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Bluggo » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:18 pm UTC

If I am not mistaken, Dawkins used this argument to show that assuming the existence of a creator to explain the existence of the world does not really simplify matters - there is nothing to gain by switching an unexplained fact (the universe exists) with another (a God exists).
Thus, he considers it safer to avoid making an assumption which has no explanatory power, and which could well be false.

This was not meant to be a proof of the non-existence of a creator: Dawkins explicitly wrote that he does not believe such a proof or disproof to be possible.

(As a matter of fact, I do believe in the existence of a creator, but as this is the Science forum I will abstain from this discussion for now)

EDIT:
By the way, I really like the idea of transfinite chains of deities hinted at in the above posts: a religion which contained ZFC among its dogmas would be most awesome :)
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby skeptical scientist » Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:56 pm UTC

You are arguing that a designer doesn't need to be designed by assuming the existence of a designer. This is called "begging the question," and not a way to win an argument with anyone.

By the way, Dawkins says many times that there could be some beings which we would consider godlike who could have the power to design life; however, something similar to our own evolutionary process would have to begin the chain.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby chalmy » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:08 pm UTC

If we were designed, then whoever desinged us have left some pretty large and glaringly obvious flaws ( see http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/ ... 081107.pdf for a full list), which can not easily be explained in the creationist point of view (as they would make the creator either lazy, stupid or malicious and since this creator would have taken much time and thought to create us for the first two to be true, that leaves us with a malicious god who leaves obvious mistakes in our design that show all the trademarks of having arisen by chance, or no god at all).

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Bluggo » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:25 pm UTC

If we were designed, then whoever desinged us have left some pretty large and glaringly obvious flaws ( see http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/ ... 081107.pdf for a full list), which can not easily be explained in the creationist point of view (as they would make the creator either lazy, stupid or malicious and since this creator would have taken much time and thought to create us for the first two to be true, that leaves us with a malicious god who leaves obvious mistakes in our design that show all the trademarks of having arisen by chance, or no god at all).

Or maybe he did so for some unknown, ultimately benevolent motive; or maybe this is an unavoidable consequence of the Original Sin and of the flaws it brought upon Creation (The story of the Original Sin is clearly a metaphor: but, as Pratchett said, this does not mean it cannot be true, for some value of true :) ).

EDIT: I cannot believe I am defending creationism in a Science thread.
Just to avoid possible misunderstandings, let it be clear that I have absolutely no problems with the theory of evolution.
I happen to hold the philosophical belief that everything - included the laws of physics and probability upon which evolution hinges - are part of an unique, far-too-awesome-for-human-minds-to-grasp Plan, but the evidence that evolution was the mechanism which led to our existence is as incontrovertible as it gets.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby letterX » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

Bluggo wrote:By the way, I really like the idea of transfinite chains of deities hinted at in the above posts: a religion which contained ZFC among its dogmas would be most awesome :)


Actually, this idea of transfinite chains of creators invites a truly hilarious application of Zorn's lemma to show the existence of a maximal element (i.e. an original God). Of course, this is math, so the definition of God is a bit silly, but so it goes.

Anyways, the 'proof' is at http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/ap85/papers/MeyerProof.html. I suppose my post count is under 5, and thus I shouldn't be posting links, but:
a) Everyone wants to see an argument for the existence of God dependent on the Axiom of Choice.
b) Spammers who know about Zorn's Lemma would probably lead to something like: "All of your increasing chains of penis sizes bounded above by other men? Here's how to get the MAXIMAL ELEMENT!"

Dammit. Maybe I am a spammer.

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Bluggo » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:55 pm UTC

That's hilarious, thanks for sharing! :lol:

But yes, as the article says Premise 2 is way too strong; moreover, I also have issues with the

If x <= y and y <= x then x=y
('<=' here implies 'is a cause of')

I do not see why causal loops should be, in principle, impossible: in effect, I suppose one could formalize the doctrine of the Trinity as three entities x, y and z such that
x <= y,z
y <= x,z
z <= x,y

Further, as a strict mathematical Platonist I am duty-bound to observe that "everything that exists" is a proper class, which contradicts Premise 1 too ;-)
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Klotz » Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:31 pm UTC

I think you entirely missed the point of Dawkins' argument.

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Ratio » Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

Well, there's little to add to the "That's not what Dawkins' was saying" posts above me, although I disagree that that particular argument is the quickest/(most efficent) argument against creationism, heck it's probably not even valid from most creationists perspective.

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Solt » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:39 am UTC

RoadieRich wrote:They too, ask if they are the product of random chance, or whether they are designed. They decide they couldn't be, as who designed the designer.


That is not Dawkins' argument. He is saying that the "designer," if he exists, is not a diety. And in fact in your case he is not, but rather merely a human programmer. Should the life forms worship the programmer? Better yet, should they pretend they are intimately familiar with his motivations, that some of them have spoken to him and are in fact his offspring? Is that even what your programmer wants, to have a program that worships him?

Moreover, how should the inhabitants of the program distinguish between their reality and the infinite other possible explanations for their existence? What evidence is there to say they are in a computer program but not something else?

Keep in mind that religion claims to definitively answer all these questions.

You have to realize that Dawkins isn't arguing against you and your special interpretation of religion. It is likely that you have made dozens of intellectual compromises that mean you are nothing like a religious mainstreamer. In other words it is likely that if the inquisition ever comes you will also be executed with the rest of the non believers. Rather, Dawkins is arguing against the religious mainstream, and for that his arguments are very powerful.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby DanielCopelin » Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:20 pm UTC

One of Dawkins' main points is that once you allow yourself the intellectual compromise that some higher power exists, anything is permissible and nothing is refutable. This becomes possibly more insidious in religious moderates.

The OP's argument is, of course, circular logic.

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Yakk » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:22 pm UTC

So, there could be such a situation in which one could prove the existence of a designer.

The first trick would be to find a process that is simpler that could produce a designer. The second trick would be to prove that the generation of life-as-we-know-it via the 'laws of physics' is nigh impossible (which could include detecting the fingerprints of such a designer).

One can see a science fiction attempt at this in "Calculating God" by Sawyer. The existence of a "God" is proved via a physics model that proves that the universe comes into existence with chaotic constants, that our universe is extremely unlikely, and that there has been exactly 7 iterations. On top of this, it is demonstrated that a singular intelligent being is likely to occur in a singular, universe-spanning sense, with a probability that is far higher than a universe in which there are billions or more intelligent beings. And finally, methods to influence and control the laws of physics in the next universe are possible.

This generates the conclusion that a previous iteration of the universe 'created' our universe in order to have billions (actually far more than that) of intelligent beings, instead of one lonely being.

Further evidence of more 'local' intervention is found (on the planetary/solar scale).

It is also a notable book, because when the alien arrives on Earth, he comes out of his craft and says "take me to your palaeontologist".

Note, however, that this requires both of the above requirements. You must produce a simpler method to produce a designer, and you must demonstrate that life-as-we-know-it is inconsistent (or unlikely) with observed reality. To do this, one must make falsifiable claims and demonstrate that they produce unique and interesting predictions that aren't consistent with existing model's predictions, or other similarly strong evidence.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby mdyrud » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:05 am UTC

This seems like a good to place to bring up this topic without beginning a new thread. I remember reading an interview with Michael Behe, a well known creationist. In it, he mentioned that creationism is a more scientifically valid theory than evolution, because Intelligent Design is falsifiable and evolution is not. What opinion on this does the xkcd community hold?

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Talith » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:11 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:This seems like a good to place to bring up this topic without beginning a new thread. I remember reading an interview with Michael Behe, a well known creationist. In it, he mentioned that creationism is a more scientifically valid theory than evolution, because Intelligent Design is falsifiable and evolution is not. What opinion on this does the xkcd community hold?


:o I... don't like where this is going...

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:26 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:This seems like a good to place to bring up this topic without beginning a new thread. I remember reading an interview with Michael Behe, a well known creationist. In it, he mentioned that creationism is a more scientifically valid theory than evolution, because Intelligent Design is falsifiable and evolution is not. What opinion on this does the xkcd community hold?


Please explain to me how you falsify intelligent design. Because I can tell you how you do so with evolution, as Stephen Jay Gould* said, "Rabbits in the Precambrian". ID is basically "everything looks just like evolution but it really isn't!".
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Interactive Civilian » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:32 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:This seems like a good to place to bring up this topic without beginning a new thread. I remember reading an interview with Michael Behe, a well known creationist. In it, he mentioned that creationism is a more scientifically valid theory than evolution, because Intelligent Design is falsifiable and evolution is not. What opinion on this does the xkcd community hold?

While I don't speak for anyone else here, I can tell you that he has it exactly backwards. Evolution is easy to falsify. In fact, one of the common Creationist complaints and misconceptions is that we don't see large jumps in speciation, just "microevolution" (grrr... it hurts to type that word). Or, to paraphrase, we've never seen a fish give birth to a frog.

Interestingly, if such a thing WERE to occur, it would very handily disprove the current theory of evolution by natural selection and genetic drift.

There are many scenarios one can come up with to hypothetically disprove evolution, hence it is clearly falsifiable, and the fact that it hasn't been falsified lends it great strength.

On the other hand ID, which is basically creationism in one form or another, cannot be falsified because there is ALWAYS the "God works in mysterious ways and is not bound by the laws of the universe" excuse.

Not trying to start a flamewar, but merely pointing out how and why Mr. Behe is exactly wrong.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby mdyrud » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:36 am UTC

His claim was mainly that no one has ever been able to show that a system is able to come about by chance without human intervention, which would prove that design is not needed. Out of curiosity, do you have any links to examples on how to falsify evolution?

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:45 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:His claim was mainly that no one has ever been able to show that a system is able to come about by chance without human intervention, which would prove that design is not needed. Out of curiosity, do you have any links to examples on how to falsify evolution?


Well, you've got genetic algorithms in computer science--essentially you take a computer program, make it simulate evolution as we understand it, and you get solutions out the other end. One lab ended up creating a radio on accident, when they weren't looking for one at all.

As for falsifications, let's try talk.orgins...

In the following list of evidences, 30 major predictions of the hypothesis of common descent are enumerated and discussed. Under each point is a demonstration of how the prediction fares against actual biological testing. Each point lists a few examples of evolutionary confirmations followed by potential falsifications. Since one fundamental concept generates all of these predictions, most of them are interrelated. So that the logic will be easy to follow, related predictions are grouped into five separate subdivisions. Each subdivision has a paragraph or two introducing the main idea that unites the various predictions in that section. There are many in-text references given for each point. As will be seen, universal common descent makes many specific predictions about what should and what should not be observed in the biological world, and it has fared very well against empirically-obtained observations from the past 140+ years of intense scientific investigation.


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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Interactive Civilian » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:54 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:His claim was mainly that no one has ever been able to show that a system is able to come about by chance without human intervention, which would prove that design is not needed. Out of curiosity, do you have any links to examples on how to falsify evolution?

Two obvious examples have already been posted in this thread:
- a fossil rabbit found in cambrian rock
- a fish giving birth to a frog

Both of these would handily falsify evolution. To give you more, or even link to more depends on your understanding of the theory of evolution by natural selection and genetic drift. It's basically, anything you can imagine that could occur and not fit with the theory of evolution (basic synopsis here).

Anyway, the two examples given are pretty much the main ideas of the two overall categories to falsify evolution. Most specific examples anyone comes up with will fit in these two categories:
- Find something so out of place in the fossil record that the theory of evolution is not sufficient to explain it
- Have something change so drastically and suddenly that the theory of evolution is not sufficient to explain it

I'm open to other categories of ideas to falsify evolution, as I'm having a hard time imagining any that don't fit into those two categories...
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby mdyrud » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:59 am UTC

I realize those would falsify the claims. What Behe was talking about was actual experiments that could be run.

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:01 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:I realize those would falsify the claims. What Behe was talking about was actual experiments that could be run.


Which is akin to saying that there's no evidence of supernovae existing, because we can't personally blow up a star.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Interactive Civilian » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:16 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:I realize those would falsify the claims. What Behe was talking about was actual experiments that could be run.

That makes no sense. Ok... how about the 20 year E. coli study? Had it shown a tree suddenly growing out of a petri dish, evolution would have been falsified. However, unfortunately for the experimenters trying to falsify evolution, that didn't happen, but rather the E. coli naturally evolved a mutation to give them the ability to metabolize citrate in aerobic conditions. ;)

Oh well, better luck next time. If they keep running the experiment long enough, maybe finally a tree will spontaneously grow out of the Petri dish. As soon as the Designer causes it to, I guess. (tongue in cheek)

This is why evolution hasn't been falsified. Reality hasn't provided the necessary scenario to do so, so for now, those scenarios can only exist in our minds. If reality does decide to cough up the goods, there will be a scientific revolution probably more extreme than Einstein's Relativity generally replacing Newton's Laws of Planetary Motion. But science will accept the reality and move on.

Now, in reverse, I challenge Mr. Behe, or you for that matter, to even suggest a scenario to falsify the "hypothesis" of Intelligent design. I'm not asking for actual experiments, because, as I've alluded in this post, that is nonsensical. No, simply an imaginary scenario that would disprove ID. Pardon me for not holding my breath. ;)

[NINJA EDIT]
Sorry... wanted to respond to this bit as well:
mdyrud wrote:His claim was mainly that no one has ever been able to show that a system is able to come about by chance without human intervention, which would prove that design is not needed.

No one has ever run an experiment for 800 million years, either. No, that number is not random, but a fair estimate of the time from the formation of the earth to the appearance of free living single-celled life. And besides, when talking about a system coming about, that's not about evolution but abiogenesis. They are different things. However, science has (as that link shows) some reasonable explanations for that as well, and they are backed up by experimental evidence and the fossil and geological record.

So, when talking about something that took nature 800 million years to do, isn't it a bit unreasonable to suggest that man, who has been around for a couple of million years only, should be able to experimentally reproduce the whole thing?
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Yakk » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:52 am UTC

mdyrud wrote:His claim was mainly that no one has ever been able to show that a system is able to come about by chance without human intervention, which would prove that design is not needed. Out of curiosity, do you have any links to examples on how to falsify evolution?

That is the theory that "intelligence design is some magic thing that infects everything it touches, and corrupts it, and makes it behave fundamentally differently than what it would if intelligence hadn't brushed against it", right?

And "if you generate a theory, produce predictions about what the universe would look like if your theory is true, then go and observe the universe without manipulating it, and find that the predictions pan out" isn't an example of checking a theory?

The thing is, Evolution predicted a huge assload of things that we now call "modern biology". Even recently, when we do studies of DNA, we end up with what results that where not known before, and are consistent with the century-old predictions of the theory of Evolution. And there are lots of results that could have come out of DNA research that could have disproved the theory of Evolution. Heck -- a structure or molecule that could self-replicate and could encode genes was predicted by the theory of Evolution long before it was found.

Know what you call a hypothesis that produces surprising and interesting predictions that pan out over multiple centuries of testing? A Theory.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Xanthir » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:34 pm UTC

To put it in a slightly different way, a theory can be both falsified (by a single event) and supported (by large numbers of events).

The general theory of evolution has never, so far, been falsified. It *could* be falsified, certainly, if nature popped out a result that was totally against evolution, and we found a new mechanism that not only explained that result, but also explained everything that evolution has *successfully* predicted since then (sort of like how relativity explains the precession of Mercury better than Newtonian mechanics, but *also* explains normal things that Newtonian mechanics gets right).

*Specific* theories of evolution *have* been disproved, however. For an easy example, Lamarckian evolution was proven false. It made predictions, these predictions did not turn out to be true.

General evolution *has* been confirmed, over and over and over and over and over again. Most of the examples you'll see are in biology, but hell, *computer science* has confirmed evolution as a real force capable of generating new things.

ID, on the other hand, can't ever be falsified. As someone else in this thread put it, it's a "theory" that everything looks exactly like how it would if evolution were true, except when it doesn't (but don't look too closely!). Every new discovery in evolution requires ID to retreat another step, yielding that, sure, while *that* might be explainable by something like evolution, there's still these *other* things that it has trouble explaining.

The problem is, of course, that the majority of things it claims evolution has trouble explaining are lies.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby wisnij » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:50 pm UTC

It's also important to draw the distinction (which creationists tend to gloss over, often deliberately) between the phenomenon of evolution, i.e. changes in the gene pool of a population of organisms over time, and the current theory of evolution which describes the mechanisms by which it might occur. Even if we were to discover that current theory had some kind of previously undiscovered flaw, the real physical process would continue anyway. And any alternative theory, to be meaningful, would have to account for it.

In principle, any scientific theory can be overturned by a discovery that falsifies it. In practice, this tends to get increasingly unlikely as the theory matures; as Xanthir said, any completely new theory would still have to be consistent with an enormous amount of empirical data. What's more likely is either for one aspect of the theory to need polishing, or (as happened with relativity over Newtonian mechanics) for a more general theory to be created to accommodate both the original predictions and the new phenomenon.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby meat.paste » Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:33 pm UTC

Bluggo wrote:I cannot believe I am defending creationism in a Science thread.


I can't either...

Besides, who created the FSM? His noodly appendages are everywhere.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby defaultusername » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:11 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:To put it in a slightly different way, a theory can be both falsified (by a single event) and supported (by large numbers of events).

The general theory of evolution has never, so far, been falsified. It *could* be falsified, certainly, if nature popped out a result that was totally against evolution, and we found a new mechanism that not only explained that result, but also explained everything that evolution has *successfully* predicted since then (sort of like how relativity explains the precession of Mercury better than Newtonian mechanics, but *also* explains normal things that Newtonian mechanics gets right).

*Specific* theories of evolution *have* been disproved, however. For an easy example, Lamarckian evolution was proven false. It made predictions, these predictions did not turn out to be true.

General evolution *has* been confirmed, over and over and over and over and over again. Most of the examples you'll see are in biology, but hell, *computer science* has confirmed evolution as a real force capable of generating new things.

ID, on the other hand, can't ever be falsified. As someone else in this thread put it, it's a "theory" that everything looks exactly like how it would if evolution were true, except when it doesn't (but don't look too closely!). Every new discovery in evolution requires ID to retreat another step, yielding that, sure, while *that* might be explainable by something like evolution, there's still these *other* things that it has trouble explaining.

The problem is, of course, that the majority of things it claims evolution has trouble explaining are lies.

For the sake of the argument, I'm going to turn this around on you.
You concede that certain parts of tToE* have been falsified, and use that to argue that tToE is clearly falsifiable as a whole. On the other hand, you complain that ID can never be falsified because whenever something that doesn't quite hold with it is discovered, "ID retreats another step". See what I'm getting at here? I could similarly argue that parts of ID have been falsified, but tToE systematicly retreats whenever ID make a new discovery.

*The Theory of Evolution. I refrain from writing simply evolution, since this is an observable phenomena, as a previous poster has already pointed out.

P.S. Why does everyone seem to get the urge to defend ID and creationism today?
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Mathmagic » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:39 pm UTC

defaultusername wrote:I could similarly argue that parts of ID have been falsified, but tToE systematicly retreats whenever ID make a new discovery.

Except there's no such thing as a "discovery" in ID, because it's not doing science. Unless by "discovery" you mean them saying "Oh look! This thing is so fantabulous that it COULDN'T have evolved! Chalk another one up for ID!".
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Habz » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:45 pm UTC

defaultusername wrote:You concede that certain parts of tToE* have been falsified, and use that to argue that tToE is clearly falsifiable as a whole. On the other hand, you complain that ID can never be falsified because whenever something that doesn't quite hold with it is discovered, "ID retreats another step".

It doesn't really work that way. There's simply nothing that doesn't hold with ID. It pretty much states that every occurrence in nature is 'designed' to happen in the exact way it happens, right? Everything that doesn't seem to fit in is brushed off by saying that the intelligent non-observable magician is doing it's tricks, incomprehensible to us puny humans. How do you top that? :D

defaultusername wrote:whenever ID make a new discovery.

How's that even possible...?

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby defaultusername » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:04 pm UTC

Mathmagic wrote:
defaultusername wrote:I could similarly argue that parts of ID have been falsified, but tToE systematicly retreats whenever ID make a new discovery.

Except there's no such thing as a "discovery" in ID, because it's not doing science. Unless by "discovery" you mean them saying "Oh look! This thing is so fantabulous that it COULDN'T have evolved! Chalk another one up for ID!".

So I have been browsing conservapedia for a while, trying to find some hint of a scientific process in all the mumbo-jumbo, but I finally had to give up. But let's assume for a minute that some especially gifted and enthusiastic creationist does perform some real science in the field, and actually manages to falsify some other part of tToE. There would then be at least some basis to the argument I made, and the fundies would get a wagonload of water on their wheel. How would one respond?
The reason I'm interested in this is that both sides of the debate (if it could be called such) seem to dismiss the other side's arguments out of hand, and the scientific community isn't going to persuade anyone that way.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby achan1058 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

defaultusername wrote:So I have been browsing conservapedia for a while, trying to find some hint of a scientific process in all the mumbo-jumbo, but I finally had to give up. But let's assume for a minute that some especially gifted and enthusiastic creationist does perform some real science in the field, and actually manages to falsify some other part of tToE. There would then be at least some basis to the argument I made, and the fundies would get a wagonload of water on their wheel. How would one respond?
I suppose it depends on the type of discovery. If it is some minor branch, it will probably get repaired, or that branch rejected. If it is something truly major......, then I honestly don't know. I don't want to imagine that. I mean, it's like waking up one day you suddenly find that mass/energy is not conserved. Whole theories will be trashed, and the scientific community will be in chaos. It will be much worse than when Godel came up with his incompleteness proof for mathematics. (since at least, the existing theorems are still true, just that it put a big limitation on what can be done) Regardless though, as long as cancer exists, I think we are relatively immune from such discovery.


defaultusername wrote:The reason I'm interested in this is that both sides of the debate (if it could be called such) seem to dismiss the other side's arguments out of hand, and the scientific community isn't going to persuade anyone that way.
They are persuading people, just not hard-core Christians. I mean, how many games/movies/TV shows nowadays are based on "unnatural" evolution? How many back then?

As for why people are defending creationism? My guess is that the church is losing power, and is trying to make a come-back. I guess there is also the fact that more people are getting educated, so more people are being exposed to evolution, as opposed to the old days, so statistically more people are going to cry out against it. Also, there were no pikachu's and greymon's back then. (referring to pokemon and digimon, for those who don't know)

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Mathmagic » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:03 am UTC

defaultusername wrote:So I have been browsing conservapedia for a while, trying to find some hint of a scientific process in all the mumbo-jumbo, but I finally had to give up. But let's assume for a minute that some especially gifted and enthusiastic creationist does perform some real science in the field, and actually manages to falsify some other part of tToE. There would then be at least some basis to the argument I made, and the fundies would get a wagonload of water on their wheel. How would one respond?
As achan mentioned, the part of the theory that was challenged would be looked at, and further investigation would take place. That's just how science works.
defaultusername wrote:The reason I'm interested in this is that both sides of the debate (if it could be called such) seem to dismiss the other side's arguments out of hand, and the scientific community isn't going to persuade anyone that way.
Because as you discovered for yourself, ID isn't science. It has no place in a scientific discussion. If you find that the ID/Creationist arguments are being dismissed "out of hand" (whatever that means), it's because all the ID/Creationist arguments are the same old, recycled retorts that they've been spewing since the beginning of their modern movement. Every single one of their arguments have been shot down and rebutted handily, and any other attempts to argue their point is frankly quite pointless and tiresome.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Yakk » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:31 am UTC

Or to put it another way... Every opinion is not equal. ID arguments are dismissed out of hand because the source, and the kind of argument, has been demonstrated in the past to be not worth arguing over.

For your opinion to have the 'standing' to challenge, say, the theory of evolution, you'd have to go about demonstrating that your theory produces predictions that are contrary to the theory of evolution's predictions. Or at least make any predictions that don't line up with already existing observations.

Note that the theory of evolution did this, in the past. The fact that the theory predicted what is are now past observations is evidence that it is a strong theory. Building a theory that simply replicates predictions in hindsight is not strong evidence of a strong theory, because that tends to be quite trivial. Building a theory that claims to contradict another theory that produces no tested observations that disagree with that other theory ... is dismissed out of hand.

Having a movement that is more about pushing for changes in school curriculum than it is about producing predictions is even more evidence that the theory is not a matter of science, but rather of politics.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby doogly » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:23 am UTC

defaultusername wrote:...and the scientific community isn't going to persuade anyone that way.


The business of science is not persuasion.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby defaultusername » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:53 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Or to put it another way... Every opinion is not equal. ID arguments are dismissed out of hand because the source, and the kind of argument, has been demonstrated in the past to be not worth arguing over.

For your opinion to have the 'standing' to challenge, say, the theory of evolution, you'd have to go about demonstrating that your theory produces predictions that are contrary to the theory of evolution's predictions. Or at least make any predictions that don't line up with already existing observations.

Note that the theory of evolution did this, in the past. The fact that the theory predicted what is are now past observations is evidence that it is a strong theory. Building a theory that simply replicates predictions in hindsight is not strong evidence of a strong theory, because that tends to be quite trivial. Building a theory that claims to contradict another theory that produces no tested observations that disagree with that other theory ... is dismissed out of hand.

Having a movement that is more about pushing for changes in school curriculum than it is about producing predictions is even more evidence that the theory is not a matter of science, but rather of politics.

But is that really the only way to challange the currently dominating theory? It should be, on that I believe we agree, but is it? A breathtakingly large part of the American population doubt evolution, both as a theory and as a concept. This survey is a few years old, but I reckon the numbers havn't changed significantly. IF the fundies used this to make a push to get ID/creatonism into the school curriculum, and IF they succeded (both of them fairly large ifs, one hopes) it would spell disaster.
I believe most of the people behind ID/creationism movement realize that they will never be able to challange the theory of evolution the usual way, and are therefore trying to circumvent this by using politics, as unfortunatly not even science is immune to that.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby achan1058 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

doogly wrote:The business of science is not persuasion.
I disagree. The reason why there is so much science bashing is because people do not truly understand it. If they do understand it, they will not hate it or fear it. If you think that shouldn't/couldn't be done, then I would say it is a supreme form of elitism, as some mathematicians have successfully explained what they do to layman before, even if not in detail.

defaultusername wrote:I believe most of the people behind ID/creationism movement realize that they will never be able to challange the theory of evolution the usual way, and are therefore trying to circumvent this by using politics, as unfortunatly not even science is immune to that.
Well, there are still the people in Asia. I am sure a lot more of them are fanatic about science as opposed to the people in US. If Americans steps back, someone will take their place as world leader.

P.S. After digging for some more polls, it seems that 59% of Canadians believe in evolution. Look at just how much is changed by 1 border. Hurray for us!

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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby Mathmagic » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:50 pm UTC

Before we start abusing terms, you can't "believe" in evolution any more than you can "believe" in gravity.
defaultusername wrote:I believe most of the people behind ID/creationism movement realize that they will never be able to challange the theory of evolution the usual way, and are therefore trying to circumvent this by using politics, as unfortunatly not even science is immune to that
I don't know where YOU'VE been the last 84 years or so, but that's exactly what the ID/Creationist proponents have been doing, and in some cases, they've been succeeding. It's an ongoing battle with small wins for either side in multiple smaller cases. Honestly, I don't think it's EVER going to be "over", and no one side is ever going to "win". We just have to keep beating them back for as long as we can until something gives.
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Re: How to win an arguement with an anti-creationist.

Postby doogly » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:57 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:
doogly wrote:The business of science is not persuasion.
I disagree. The reason why there is so much science bashing is because people do not truly understand it. If they do understand it, they will not hate it or fear it. If you think that shouldn't/couldn't be done, then I would say it is a supreme form of elitism, as some mathematicians have successfully explained what they do to layman before, even if not in detail.


The goal isn't to have a theory that is accepted, but to have one that is correct. I'm not saying it wouldn't be awesome if everyone understood science, but science does not advance via diplomacy. I was specifically responding to default's talking about how the science side isn't being particularly persuasive. Our country is democratic (mostly), the scientific community is democratic (mostly), but nature is despotic (absolutely).

Also I'm not sure what the mathematicians have to do with this. I say they need to go marginalize some people's fairy tales before I give them equal street cred.
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