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curiousprincegeorge
08-19-2011, 05:30 PM
Is it correct to say this statement:

Evolution is a fact, the theory of evolution is theory.

evolution has been proven with:(pick which is fact)
a) viruses
b)those lizards on that Mediterranean island
c)strawberries (someone once told me they used be smaller until 1800's until we intervened to make them bigger)
d)humans growing certain breeds of dogs
e)any other credible demonstratable verifiable options


And our scientific theory to describe the evolution is just a theory. We put together what we know to make a model of evolution. A model which may change.

In short:
evolution is fact. Our understanding may be a theory, But the facts are the facts, and evolution is a fact. As certain as gravity.

would i be wrong to assume the above?

Alka Seltzer
08-19-2011, 05:39 PM
TalkOrigins (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html) has a page about this.

In science "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent."

Today, nearly all biologists acknowledge that evolution is a fact. The term theory is no longer appropriate except when referring to the various models that attempt to explain how life evolves... it is important to understand that the current questions about how life evolves in no way implies any disagreement over the fact of evolution.

Chronos
08-19-2011, 05:40 PM
The phrase "just a theory" is never correct. A theory is the highest level of certainty in science. Saying that "evolution is just a theory" is comparable to saying "Obama is just the President of the United States".

Colibri
08-19-2011, 05:40 PM
Since this will necessarily get into discussion of what a scientific fact is, it's better suited to Great Debates than General Questions.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

barbitu8
08-19-2011, 05:46 PM
Evolution is a theory. To say "evolution is a fact," but "theory of evolution" is a theory (besides being a tautology) doesn't change anything. Evolution is as much a theory as gravity, which is also a theory and not a fact, the "Big Bang" theory, etc.

What opponents against the theory say is that although we can certainly show evolution at work, even in a petri dish, we cannot demonstrate that one species evolved into another species. This is false. Examples abound, but if you point out one, these "creationists" (fka "intelligent designers") say that those are not examples of different species. I've given up arguing with them on that point. There was a reason federal case wherein the judge upheld the theory of creationism is the same thing as the theory of intelligent design.

See http://www.scientificamerican.com/report.cfm?id=creationism-vs-evolution

Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation%E2%80%93evolution_controversy

XT
08-19-2011, 05:46 PM
Evolution is a fact, the theory of evolution is theory.

That species evolve is a fact. The exact mechanism by which we arrived at our present day species is subject to various theories, many of which intersect (i.e. there could be many ways that the various species evolved over time and got to where we are today).

-XT

The Other Waldo Pepper
08-19-2011, 05:52 PM
Evolution is a theory. To say "evolution is a fact," but "theory of evolution" is a theory (besides being a tautology) doesn't change anything. Evolution is as much a theory as gravity, which is also a theory and not a fact, the "Big Bang" theory, etc.

What opponents against the theory say is that although we can certainly show evolution at work, even in a petri dish, we cannot demonstrate that one species evolved into another species.

Wouldn't that mean evolution is a fact, and speciation is a theory?

Gary T
08-19-2011, 05:57 PM
That evolution has occurred (and does occur) is a fact, supported by a plethora of overwhelming evidence. Evolution is essentially proven.

Please don't say "just a theory." While we do use the word "theory" in everyday speech to describe hunch or conjecture, in the realm of science a Theory has been fashioned much more rigorously, and in many cases is all but proven. The term indicates a hypothesis or set of hypotheses that has been derived from evidence in conjunction with established knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. Theories are subject to scrutiny and are modified (fine-tuned, corrected, advanced) when new evidence or knowledge is introduced. While Theories defy absolute proof, they are widely accepted as true (within the limitations of what we can know) when they coherently explain what has happened and accurately predict what will happen. The Theory of Evolution, like the Theory of Gravity, holds up well in this regard.

Now that we've covered that, the Theory of Evolution addresses how evolution occurred.

Those who dispute evolution generally ignore the facts at hand, and seem to base their disbelief on a lack of knowledge and understanding of it, and/or a belief that the Bible accurately relates what happened. In essence, it appears they don't believe it because they don't want to believe it.

curiousprincegeorge
08-19-2011, 05:57 PM
That species evolve is a fact. The exact mechanism by which we arrived at our present day species is subject to various theories, many of which intersect (i.e. there could be many ways that the various species evolved over time and got to where we are today).

-XT

This what i meant. that species evolve is a fact. and our understanding of it as mechanism is theory.

My question was is that true. And I meant is it true in a factual kind of way as opposed to a debatable kind of way.

( I don't mind it being changed to great debates, as long as it is great debate.[I had previously thought of it as fact,is it actually still a great debate?])

Gary T
08-19-2011, 06:02 PM
Evolution is a theory. To say "evolution is a fact," but "theory of evolution" is a theory (besides being a tautology) doesn't change anything. Evolution is as much a theory as gravity, which is also a theory and not a fact, the "Big Bang" theory, etc.This isn't correct. Evolution is a fact -- it occurs. Gravity is a fact -- it occurs. There is also a Theory of Evolution, describing how evolution occurs, and a Theory of Gravity describing how gravity occurs. So you have the process of evolution (fact) hand in hand with the Theory of Evolution (scientific Theory), and the force of gravity (fact) hand in hand with the Theory of Gravity (scientific Theory).

Colibri
08-19-2011, 06:06 PM
( I don't mind it being changed to great debates, as long as it is great debate.[I had previously thought of it as fact,is it actually still a great debate?])

At least on this board, there won't be too much dispute that evolution has occurred. Where I think the debate lies in what degree of certainty allows something to be called a "fact."

Der Trihs
08-19-2011, 06:08 PM
Wouldn't that mean evolution is a fact, and speciation is a theory?No; it just means that the creationists are (again) denying reality. We have (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html) seen speciation.

Gary T
08-19-2011, 06:08 PM
For what it's worth: Creationism and Intelligent Design don't even begin to resemble scientific Theories. They're laughable concepts in that regard, at the level of "Human Babies are Brought by Storks Theory."

barbitu8
08-19-2011, 06:12 PM
This isn't correct. Evolution is a fact -- it occurs. Gravity is a fact -- it occurs. There is also a Theory of Evolution, describing how evolution occurs, and a Theory of Gravity describing how gravity occurs. So you have the process of evolution (fact) hand in hand with the Theory of Evolution (scientific Theory), and the force of gravity (fact) hand in hand with the Theory of Gravity (scientific Theory).

There has been recent discussion in the scientific world that the theory of gravity is wrong, or at least incomplete. Dark matter has been stated as a possibility to uphold the present theory of gravity, but it may be that the theory as we know it is not complete or correct.

As I stated before, we can demonstrate examples of evolution in the laboratory, but that, alone, does not prove the theory of evolution. All the evidence supports it, but it is possible that it is incomplete or incorrect. Those who object to the theory maintain that evolution into a new species has not been shown (although it has).

"Gravity is a fact -- it occurs"? That's a conclusion you have drawn from observed events. Those events fit the theory, but perhaps other theories are possible, and perhaps some events don't fit the theory, such as the slowing down of the big bang, which has involved the invoking of "dark matter" to make the theory fit.

Alka Seltzer
08-19-2011, 06:13 PM
For what it's worth: Creationism and Intelligent Design don't even begin to resemble scientific Theories. They're laughable concepts in that regard, at the level of "Human Babies are Brought by Storks Theory."

I'll have you know that it has been proven both that an adult stork could easily carry a baby, and that their homing capabilities are easily up to the challenge of locating a single human family.

[/DembskiMode]

Alka Seltzer
08-19-2011, 06:18 PM
"Gravity is a fact -- it occurs"? That's a conclusion you have drawn from observed events. Those events fit the theory, but perhaps other theories are possible, and perhaps some events don't fit the theory, such as the slowing down of the big bang, which has involved the invoking of "dark matter" to make the theory fit.

But that is true of any theory, there are always other possibilities. Possibly the best approach is to find the simplest theory that matches the observed evidence. Also, there is a difference between a theory being incomplete and incorrect.

Btw, I'm fairly sure you are incorrect that dark matter was invoked to explain the big bang "slowing down". Quite the opposite, the expansion of the universe seems to be increasing, due to the even more mysterious dark energy. IIRC, dark matter was posited because it was noticed the rotation of gravities did not match the distribution of observable matter.

Gary T
08-19-2011, 06:23 PM
There has been recent discussion in the scientific world that the theory of gravity is wrong, or at least incomplete.That's how science works. Every Theory is subject to revision as warranted by new evidence.

"Gravity is a fact -- it occurs"? That's a conclusion you have drawn from observed events.It's observation of the consistent repetition of said events which makes it a fact. See "fact" in a dictionary.

Der Trihs
08-19-2011, 06:31 PM
IIRC, dark matter was posited because it was noticed the rotation of gravities did not match the distribution of observable matter.Galaxies, not gravities. :) But yes, that was one of the reasons for the postulation of dark matter.

griffin1977
08-19-2011, 06:43 PM
There is no great comittee of scientists that have a big meeting and decides that idea X has graduated from a theory to fact.

The idea that the earth goes round the sun is a theory (Copernican Theory)
The idea that disease is caused by microbes is a theory (Germ Theory)

Alka Seltzer
08-19-2011, 06:44 PM
Bleh, word failure. :smack:

Crown Prince of Irony
08-19-2011, 06:52 PM
If the question is "Is it a fact that species evolve?" then the answer should be yes, regardless of one's opinion - the fossil record clearly shows species adopting advantageous genetic traits over the course of many generations, and the process of genetic adaptation can be observed in a lab, and even in some moth species observed to adapt their coloration in response to changing environmental factors.

If the question is "Is the theory of evolution a fact, and does this disprove creationism or intelligent design?" - not so much. In my informed layman's opinon, yes. But the scientific method doesn't work that way, especially when the alternative "theory" isn't really a theory and cannot be tested in any meaningful way, such as with intelligent design and creationism.

This untestability means that no scientist worth their salt would offer any such affirmation in any official capacity - if it can't be tested, it simply can't be disproven scientifically. You may as well ask them to disprove that Superman exists, or that there are invisible gremlins inside your refrigerator that turn the light off when you close the door. They may offer an opinion that creationism/intelligent design are wrong, but they won't put it forth as scientific fact.

And unfortunately, that scientific and logical rigor, is one of the things that makes things so muddy for the masses who simply don't understand science at a fundamental level. Folks who, in my experience, largely tend to give "facts" more credence based on how loud and negative the person asserting the "fact" is. Some people love to be told "this is right and that is wrong", but they aren't so big on "this is proven, but we can't rule out other possibilities".


And before someone comes in and makes some analogy like I've seen here before: "Is the sky blue or red? If blue, then it can't be red. Thus if evolution is true, intelligent design is not"... Please don't pass your fallacies off as scientific methodology. I know that evolution is true, but I also know that science will never disprove the alternatives - science doesn't work that way.

John Mace
08-19-2011, 07:06 PM
Descent with modification is a fact. The fossil record is a fact. The relatedness of different species via DNA is a fact. Morphological similarities between different species is a fact. Etc.

Evolution by natural selection is the best (only) theory we have to explain those facts. Other hypotheses fail to explain the facts nor do they make predictions that can be tested. Thus they remain hypothesis, at best, and debunked "junk science" at worst.

thelabdude
08-19-2011, 07:48 PM
Selective breeding is a fact and has been proven over and over. What hasn't been demonstrated is that it leads to speciation. Yes look at all the breeds of dogs. We have had plenty of time. I have recently seen esitmates of the domestication of dogs ranging from 12,000 to 100,000 years. Yet they can still freely interbreed with wolves.

Also, how can anybody prove God didn't create the universe with the appearance of age? Who was there with their note book? What I think is a big joke are the creationists looking for a mistake to prove the world was created with age. If God chose to do that, he didn't make any mistakes.

Voyager
08-19-2011, 07:57 PM
If the question is "Is the theory of evolution a fact, and does this disprove creationism or intelligent design?" - not so much. In my informed layman's opinon, yes. But the scientific method doesn't work that way, especially when the alternative "theory" isn't really a theory and cannot be tested in any meaningful way, such as with intelligent design and creationism.

This untestability means that no scientist worth their salt would offer any such affirmation in any official capacity - if it can't be tested, it simply can't be disproven scientifically. You may as well ask them to disprove that Superman exists, or that there are invisible gremlins inside your refrigerator that turn the light off when you close the door. They may offer an opinion that creationism/intelligent design are wrong, but they won't put it forth as scientific fact.

First, hypotheses are by default incorrect, so until the intelligent design and creationist community can give some evidence, we don't have to disprove anything.

However, both these hypotheses make testable predictions. ID predict that there should be at least some features which cannot be explained by evolution, which is what Behe was all about. He at least knew what had to be done. None have been found. Creationism made a lot more testable predictions, all of which were falsified over 200 years ago. We are now on Creationism theory rev 1,875,234. All of them fail at making predictions, but get revised to account for unexpected data, and in an inelegant way.

Elegant creationism is Goddidit, but they can't pretend that is science which can be taught in schools.

Voyager
08-19-2011, 08:00 PM
Selective breeding is a fact and has been proven over and over. What hasn't been demonstrated is that it leads to speciation. Yes look at all the breeds of dogs. We have had plenty of time. I have recently seen esitmates of the domestication of dogs ranging from 12,000 to 100,000 years. Yet they can still freely interbreed with wolves.

While dogs haven't speciated yet (perhaps because we don't isolate breeds) lab rats from the same stock and sent to colonies on the West and East coasts have.

Meatros
08-19-2011, 08:01 PM
I would say: "common descent is a fact", evolution explains this fact (the theory of evolution; natural selection, genetic drift, sexual selection, etc).

Meatros
08-19-2011, 08:03 PM
Descent with modification is a fact. The fossil record is a fact. The relatedness of different species via DNA is a fact. Morphological similarities between different species is a fact. Etc.

Evolution by natural selection is the best (only) theory we have to explain those facts. Other hypotheses fail to explain the facts nor do they make predictions that can be tested. Thus they remain hypothesis, at best, and debunked "junk science" at worst.

+1 this is better than what I said. You could throw in something about refuted theories that competed with evolution (say lamarkianism, lysenkoism), and then point out that creationism is not a scientific theory.

Crown Prince of Irony
08-19-2011, 08:10 PM
First, hypotheses are by default incorrect, so until the intelligent design and creationist community can give some evidence, we don't have to disprove anything.

However, both these hypotheses make testable predictions. ID predict that there should be at least some features which cannot be explained by evolution, which is what Behe was all about. He at least knew what had to be done. None have been found. Creationism made a lot more testable predictions, all of which were falsified over 200 years ago. We are now on Creationism theory rev 1,875,234. All of them fail at making predictions, but get revised to account for unexpected data, and in an inelegant way.

Elegant creationism is Goddidit, but they can't pretend that is science which can be taught in schools.

Clearly there are minds better versed than I in the intricacies of the scientific method working on this one. I'll be over here chewing on a size 10 Vans.

njtt
08-19-2011, 09:07 PM
Creationism made a lot more testable predictions, all of which were falsified over 200 years ago.

Yes indeed. Notably, creationism, coupled with the conditions (that tend to be rather important to religious people) that the creator be highly intelligent, knowledgeable, powerful, benevolent, and sane, leads to the prediction that similar environments will contain the same species (those species that are, by design, well adapted to that sort of environment), or, at least, similar and closely taxonomically related species. This is not in fact the case, as Darwin realized during his voyage around the world. In fact, from a creationist perspective, the way species and higher taxonomic groups are distributed in isolated environments, such as oceanic islands, makes sense only if God utterly insane. On the other hand, the distribution makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective. It was this realization that led Darwin to give up on creationism and to seek to discover a viable mechanism for evolution. Working out that mechanism (natural selection with variation) took him several more years of research and hard thinking, but he was motivated to do it because he already knew that creationism just could not be true.

Bryan Ekers
08-19-2011, 09:36 PM
I'll have you know that it has been proven both that an adult stork could easily carry a baby, and that their homing capabilities are easily up to the challenge of locating a single human family.

[/DembskiMode]

Sure, as long as they haven't been drinking.

barbitu8
08-19-2011, 09:38 PM
That's how science works. Every Theory is subject to revision as warranted by new evidence.

It's observation of the consistent repetition of said events which makes it a fact. See "fact" in a dictionary.

These two sentences are inconsistent. A theory must be consistent with the facts, as per your first sentence. If observable facts become inconsistent, the theory must be wrong or revised. So long as the observation of facts is consistent with a theory, then it is a good theory. The theory adequately explains the observation of the consistent repetition of events. The events are the facts. The explanation of them is the theory.

typoink
08-19-2011, 09:46 PM
Also, how can anybody prove God didn't create the universe with the appearance of age?

Nobody can, because that explanation is pat. "God created the universe to arbitrarily appear exactly as it is" isn't really debateable, but it's not particularly explanatory or elegant, and, as you point out, there's no way to provide evidenciary support either for or against it.

This argument is precisely what the "invisible unicorn" metaphor was created to address.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-19-2011, 09:58 PM
I'll have you know that it has been proven both that an adult stork could easily carry a baby, and that their homing capabilities are easily up to the challenge of locating a single human family.

[/DembskiMode]Not only that, but I challenge any sexual intercoursist to tell me who the father or mother of James Michener (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Michener) is. You can't do it. Ergo, storks.

magellan01
08-19-2011, 10:04 PM
I would say: "common descent is a fact", evolution explains this fact (the theory of evolution; natural selection, genetic drift, sexual selection, etc).

I don't think that's considered a fact. I agree with John Mace, that it is the best theory we have, but that's not that same as it being a fact. Unless I'm misunderstanding you, or Mr. Mace. I take it you mean that we all life shares a common origin. Is that right?

typoink
08-19-2011, 10:29 PM
I don't think that's considered a fact.

"Fact" is a really, really lousy term in a scientific context. Any time it's used, it's basically the wrong word. It's a term used to signify a certain level of acceptance / reliability, but it's so semantically loaded that it's almost always the wrong word to use.

Trying to differentiate between "fact" and "theory" and "evidence" and "law" is impossible not because the distinctions are fuzzy but because there's no sliding scale at all.

Theories don't "graduate" to being fact -- the best ones remain theories, simply ones with an increasing body of supportive evidence.

"Fact" essentially implies that something could not be wrong. The only ideas to which this ever accurately applies are nondisprovable, and nondisprovable concepts cannot be examined by science meaningfully.

Colibri
08-19-2011, 10:31 PM
I don't think that's considered a fact. I agree with John Mace, that it is the best theory we have, but that's not that same as it being a fact. Unless I'm misunderstanding you, or Mr. Mace. I take it you mean that we all life shares a common origin. Is that right?

It's about as close to a fact as we can get in science. All known life on Earth shares a common genetic code, in that the same DNA base triplets code for the same amino acids in every organism (with some minor exceptions). Since there is no necessary biochemical reason for this to be so besides common descent (and it would be astronomically unlikely for it to happen by chance) all life we know of must have a common origin.

Gary T
08-19-2011, 11:04 PM
These two sentences are inconsistent....They're not inconsistent at all. They're about two different things; the meaning of one has no bearing on the meaning of the other. I despair to explain, because it appears that while you know some stuff about science, you don't understand science. Believe what you will.

Whack-a-Mole
08-19-2011, 11:53 PM
"Fact" is a really, really lousy term in a scientific context. Any time it's used, it's basically the wrong word. It's a term used to signify a certain level of acceptance / reliability, but it's so semantically loaded that it's almost always the wrong word to use.

Trying to differentiate between "fact" and "theory" and "evidence" and "law" is impossible not because the distinctions are fuzzy but because there's no sliding scale at all.

Theories don't "graduate" to being fact -- the best ones remain theories, simply ones with an increasing body of supportive evidence.

"Fact" essentially implies that something could not be wrong. The only ideas to which this ever accurately applies are nondisprovable, and nondisprovable concepts cannot be examined by science meaningfully.

I think only mathematics could be said to be "fact".

2+2=4 is a fact. There is no way around it in any universe I can imagine.

Gravity is a bit lower on the scale but one I would still call a "fact". Grab a pen and drop it. It falls to the floor. Has happened the same way since, well, forever. That makes gravity a "fact" in any meaningful definition of "fact". The theory lies in us not knowing what mechanisms make the pen fall. We can talk about gravitons or the curvature of space but no one can say for certain how it works. They come up with excellent models that can predict its behavior but what is happening at the fundamental level remains a question mark. That said the models we have work great if you want to do something like orbit a satellite. We may not know precisely how gravity holds a satellite in orbit but we know gravity exists and we know with great precision how it works.

So too with Evolution.

Does it occur? Without a doubt. The evidence for it occurring is indisputable.

Again though, like gravity, the actual mechanisms of it remain in doubt. We know a lot and like gravity can construct models that give us great answers for the most part. It is an excellent theory of how living things grow/change/adapt but the fundamental mechanisms remain somewhat opaque.

Derleth
08-20-2011, 01:51 AM
2+2=4 is a fact. There is no way around it in any universe I can imagine.If you let me define the axiom system, I can make 2+2 equal anything you want. I can make it equal 0 quite easily, in fact. I'm not saying the resulting axiom system would be interesting or useful to you or anyone else, but I can do it, and the equality would be perfectly true within that axiom system.

My point is that axiom systems allow us to derive truths, but they are only true within the axiom system from which they are derived; they may be false or meaningless in other axiom systems, and are only relevant to the outside world as descriptions or models of physical relationships and processes. However, something that is true within an axiom system is always and absolutely true within that axiom system. That kind of absoluteness is not available to us in the physical world.

Xenocrates
08-20-2011, 04:55 AM
The interesting part about this question does not actually regard the evidence for evolution (which is overwhelming). The issue is what a fact is. People seem to have a lot of different views on this but I agree with the others who argue that "fact" is not really a scientific term so it is difficult to apply it to a scientific theory. But what IS a fact? Is it fact or opinion that Michael Jordan was the best basketball player ever? If forced to pick I'd probably say opinion but what about the notion that Bill Gates is not the best basketball player ever? Looks like a fact.

The Other Waldo Pepper
08-20-2011, 08:10 AM
But what IS a fact? Is it fact or opinion that Michael Jordan was the best basketball player ever?

Or that Michael Jordan played basketball? Or that Michael Jordan exists?

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 08:53 AM
If you let me define the axiom system, I can make 2+2 equal anything you want. I can make it equal 0 quite easily, in fact. I'm not saying the resulting axiom system would be interesting or useful to you or anyone else, but I can do it, and the equality would be perfectly true within that axiom system.

My point is that axiom systems allow us to derive truths, but they are only true within the axiom system from which they are derived; they may be false or meaningless in other axiom systems, and are only relevant to the outside world as descriptions or models of physical relationships and processes. However, something that is true within an axiom system is always and absolutely true within that axiom system. That kind of absoluteness is not available to us in the physical world.

I think you lost me.

I have two apples. You give me two more apples. I now have four apples.

In what system would you be able to say I now have zero apples (assuming you are not just playing with the arbitrary words we use to represent it)?

razncain
08-20-2011, 09:27 AM
I cringe when I hear people say “evolution is just a theory.” So is the theory of an atom, but I don’t see anybody volunteering for ground zero when nations test their atomic bombs, and telling us, “it’s only a theory.”

Scientific theories are considerably different when based on the empirical method. Some scientific theories are better than others. The theory of evolution has mountains of scientific data that support it, and it’s not going anywhere. Each new fossil discovery can either add to the credibility of it, but also has the potential to make it falsifiable if certain fossils were to start being found at different layers. It hasn’t happened. The theory of evolution is testable, falisifiable, it has all the great attributes that any good scientific theory has.

Nobody said it better than the late great Gould concerning how evolution was both fact and theory. The second post by Alka Seltker that supplies the link has one of the most often quoted pieces by Gould concerning this matter.

Bryan Ekers
08-20-2011, 09:29 AM
I think you lost me.

I have two apples. You give me two more apples. I now have four apples.

In what system would you be able to say I now have zero apples (assuming you are not just playing with the arbitrary words we use to represent it)?

Stop thinking so three-dimensionally!

Der Trihs
08-20-2011, 09:33 AM
I cringe when I hear people say “evolution is just a theory.” So is the theory of an atom, but I don’t see anybody volunteering for ground zero when nations test their atomic bombs, and telling us, “it’s only a theory.”
"Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov.

SmartAlecCat
08-20-2011, 10:07 AM
"Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov.

"To those who are trained in science, creationism seems like a bad dream, a sudden reliving of a nightmare, a renewed march of an army of the night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment." - Isaac Asimov

Asympotically fat
08-20-2011, 10:40 AM
I think you lost me.

I have two apples. You give me two more apples. I now have four apples.

In what system would you be able to say I now have zero apples (assuming you are not just playing with the arbitrary words we use to represent it)?

Modular artimetic, 4 ≡ 0 (mod 4)

Asympotically fat
08-20-2011, 10:58 AM
I don'tlike saying evolution is a fact, it's a scientific theory and like any scientific theory it shouldn't be treated like a golden calf and should always be open to falsification.

That said, imo, evolution should be regarded as the greatest theory in the natural sciences, it's applications go even beyond biology (e.g. evolutionary algorithms).

Though you woudl have to question, given the reams of independent data supporting evolution, if were possible that a theory of the origin of the species outside the evoltuionary paradigm could explain that data better than evolutionary theory. IMO any 'fact' or theory is disputable, but there are some that are so well-supported it would seem like a fool's errand to do so (without a compellign reason). The evolutionary pardigm would be one of these theories.

Derleth
08-20-2011, 11:34 AM
I think you lost me.

I have two apples. You give me two more apples. I now have four apples.This is useful assuming you're using numbers to represent apples. Use them to represent positions on a circular gauge, something like a clock, with the positions 0, 1, 2, 3 on it. If you add 1 to 0 you get to 1, but if you add 1 to 3 you loop back to 0. In that world, 2 plus 2 gets you to 0.

In what system would you be able to say I now have zero apples (assuming you are not just playing with the arbitrary words we use to represent it)?Math is all about playing with arbitrary words! That's how it works!

fumster
08-20-2011, 11:35 AM
evolution has been proven with:(pick which is fact)
a) viruses
b)those lizards on that Mediterranean island
c)strawberries (someone once told me they used be smaller until 1800's until we intervened to make them bigger)
d)humans growing certain breeds of dogs
e)any other credible demonstratable verifiable optionsThose are really weak examples. The fact of evolution is so pervasive it can be hard to know where to start. We have an extensive fossil record that shows the chronology of the appearance of species. The simplest ones emerged first, and the more complex ones later. The later ones are variations of the earlier ones. Species often have vestigial features from their ancestors (e.g., tiny tail bones in humans). You can see that most changes, even dramatic ones, are simply variations of existing parts; e.g., zebras have the same number of neck bones as a tiny shrew and birds' wings are modified arms.

Evolution was pretty much a given before Darwin, he "just" provided a mechanism

All of this was know before modern knowledge of DNA and genes, but now we have a huge number of other facts that further back up the idea that complex things evolved from simpler things over time.

If someone wants to say that God is behind the whole thing and pooh pooh Darwin's mechanism that is fine, but the facts remain that species emerged over time and were made by modifying earlier stuff rather than creating each from scratch.

fumster
08-20-2011, 11:43 AM
While dogs haven't speciated yet (perhaps because we don't isolate breeds) lab rats from the same stock and sent to colonies on the West and East coasts have.But that's just because we have changed the definition of species to apply to groups that do not interbreed to create fertile offspring as opposed to can not. It's pretty weak sauce to use that as an example of speciation.

John Mace
08-20-2011, 12:01 PM
But that's just because we have changed the definition of species to apply to groups that do not interbreed to create fertile offspring as opposed to can not. It's pretty weak sauce to use that as an example of speciation.

Not to mention that fact that the BSC (Biological Species Concept) isn't really geared toward dealing with organism that don't occur in the wild. We just define domesticated populations to be the same species as their wild ancestors.

So I would question the original statement that those populations are considered distinct species.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 04:52 PM
Modular artimetic, 4 ≡ 0 (mod 4)

Sorry but that does not help my admittedly math challenged brain. Not your fault though. I'm just not educated enough to know what the hell you are talking about.


This is useful assuming you're using numbers to represent apples. Use them to represent positions on a circular gauge, something like a clock, with the positions 0, 1, 2, 3 on it. If you add 1 to 0 you get to 1, but if you add 1 to 3 you loop back to 0. In that world, 2 plus 2 gets you to 0.

I do not want to hijack this thread further but it is interesting enough I am considering another thread to talk about it. IMO you are pulling a fast one on me here. While mathematically viable (I think) you have taken an infinite number line and snipped it to only allow a few number then curved the line into a circle.

Maybe in math there are reasons for this but in the physical world 2+2=4 (unless I have two apples and you give me two antimatter apples in which case we would indeed be left with zero apples...and no me or you either if we are anywhere near that ;) ).

John Mace
08-20-2011, 04:56 PM
Mathematics is a system of logic, where relationships like you guys are discussing are either true or false, depending on the assumption (axioms) you start with. I wouldn't call mathematical statements "facts".

Facts are simply observations that we make about the real world. Hypothesis are speculations we make about why the facts are what they are. Theories are hypothesis that stand the test of scrutiny and make predictions about the real world that, when tested, turn out to be true.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 05:00 PM
(unless I have two apples and you give me two antimatter apples in which case we would indeed be left with zero apples...and no me or you either if we are anywhere near that ;) ).

Missed the edit:

Actually, written out, I guess that is really 2+(-2) = 0 so not the same thing.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 05:01 PM
Mathematics is a system of logic, where relationships like you guys are discussing are either true or false, depending on the assumption (axioms) you start with. I wouldn't call mathematical statements "facts".

Facts are simply observations that we make about the real world. Hypothesis are speculations we make about why the facts are what they are. Theories are hypothesis that stand the test of scrutiny and make predictions about the real world that, when tested, turn out to be true.

Makes sense and works for me.

You should email a few politicians with that one.

Asympotically fat
08-20-2011, 05:02 PM
Sorry but that does not help my admittedly math challenged brain. Not your fault though. I'm just not educated enough to know what the hell you are talking about.

Derleth in the post below pretty much explains what modular aritmetic is.

John Mace
08-20-2011, 05:04 PM
Makes sense and works for me.

You should email a few politicians with that one.

I assume that in at least one of the GOP debates, they will be asked who "believes" in evolution. Are any of the current crop of GOP candidates not creationists? I would suspect Ron Paul and maybe Romney, but I really don't know. John McCain was one of the few who raised his hand in the 2008 debate.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 05:08 PM
I assume that in at least one of the GOP debates, they will be asked who "believes" in evolution. Are any of the current crop of GOP candidates not creationists? I would suspect Ron Paul and maybe Romney, but I really don't know. John McCain was one of the few who raised his hand in the 2008 debate.

Talking to my GF yesterday she mentioned John Huntsman is cool with evolution.

I have not checked myself but I trust my GF got it right.

I doubt Huntsman has a prayer of winning the nomination though.

John Mace
08-20-2011, 05:11 PM
Not to be too pedantic about it, I suppose that there is nothing wrong with calling evolution a "fact", if you are using that term in the colloquial sense. A scientist shouldn't use it that way, but for everyday conversation, I think it's fine.

For the purposes of debates on this MB, my personal preference would be to stick to the term of art usage that scientists would use.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 05:15 PM
Not to be too pedantic about it, I suppose that there is nothing wrong with calling evolution a "fact", if you are using that term in the colloquial sense. A scientist shouldn't use it that way, but for everyday conversation, I think it's fine.

For the purposes of debates on this MB, my personal preference would be to stick to the term of art usage that scientists would use.

Well, I think the rub is in being explicit about what you are talking about.

As I mentioned before I think even a scientist would say gravity is a "fact". It is clearly there. Can't miss it really.

That said the description of what gravity is would be the theory.

So too with evolution. It is a "fact" in that we observe it. It exists. The fiddly details of its mechanisms are the theory.

This goes directly to what you said in your last post more succinctly:

"Facts are simply observations that we make about the real world. Hypothesis are speculations we make about why the facts are what they are. Theories are hypothesis that stand the test of scrutiny and make predictions about the real world that, when tested, turn out to be true."

Gary T
08-20-2011, 06:35 PM
There are also components of number and agreement in determining a fact, as opposed to any old observation someone makes. That the sun rises in the East is a fact. That you saw a ghost last night is not.

Triskadecamus
08-20-2011, 06:46 PM
Evolution is an observed fact.

Natural selection is a theory.

Creationism is not.

That is the critical difference.

A theory invites examination and argument. That is what theories are for. They require testing, and evidence, and retesting, and continual comparison to new evidence. Theories can be disproven. Creationism meets none of these requirements.

Tris

cmyk
08-20-2011, 07:19 PM
Facts are simply observations that we make about the real world. Hypothesis are speculations we make about why the facts are what they are. Theories are hypothesis that stand the test of scrutiny and make predictions about the real world that, when tested, turn out to be true.

+1

If I had to add anything, it would be that a "fact" in a scientific context is a word which should be used judiciously, and only as the axioms (i.e. Self-evident) upon which an hypothesis is based.

It's the seed that brings forth a theory, not the other way around.

Der Trihs
08-20-2011, 07:34 PM
Talking to my GF yesterday she mentioned John Huntsman is cool with evolution.

I have not checked myself but I trust my GF got it right.

I doubt Huntsman has a prayer of winning the nomination though.There's a thread about it here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=620900).

barbitu8
08-20-2011, 08:31 PM
Well, I think the rub is in being explicit about what you are talking about.

As I mentioned before I think even a scientist would say gravity is a "fact". It is clearly there. Can't miss it really.

That said the description of what gravity is would be the theory.

So too with evolution. It is a "fact" in that we observe it. It exists. The fiddly details of its mechanisms are the theory.

This goes directly to what you said in your last post more succinctly:

"Facts are simply observations that we make about the real world. Hypothesis are speculations we make about why the facts are what they are. Theories are hypothesis that stand the test of scrutiny and make predictions about the real world that, when tested, turn out to be true."

I don't think any scientist would say that either gravity or evolution is a fact. We note that we are drawn to the Earth and therefore do not fly off. We note that the planets stay in orbit. We note that a dropped object falls to the earth, unless a gust of wind carries it off. Those are observations which conform to reality as you see it. You can call those "facts," but they are actually observations. You may claim a theory supporting those observations. You may call it "Theory 42," if you wish. But now a dropped object does not fall as a gust of wind blows it up. Now you note that the universe is expanding faster than it would applying your math to your theory. You may defend your theory by intervening forces, but then again your theory may be insufficient or incorrect.

You may see microscopic beings change into different forms in the Petri dish. You may call it "General Theory of Evolution." But the only "fact" you know is that you observed a living form change into another living form. Maybe it metamorphorized. You can see a caterpillar form a chrysalis and emerge as another life form: a butterfly. Is that evolution? All you can say is what you observed. It could be a general theory of evolution, a special theory of evolution, or metamorphorism.

Then, again, what is "reality"? Does reality exist in the objective world or only in your world? That's a philosophical question and not material to this thread.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 08:47 PM
I don't think any scientist would say that either gravity or evolution is a fact. We note that we are drawn to the Earth and therefore do not fly off. We note that the planets stay in orbit. We note that a dropped object falls to the earth, unless a gust of wind carries it off. Those are observations which conform to reality as you see it. You can call those "facts," but they are actually observations. You may claim a theory supporting those observations. You may call it "Theory 42," if you wish. But now a dropped object does not fall as a gust of wind blows it up. Now you note that the universe is expanding faster than it would applying your math to your theory. You may defend your theory by intervening forces, but then again your theory may be insufficient or incorrect.

You may see microscopic beings change into different forms in the Petri dish. You may call it "General Theory of Evolution." But the only "fact" you know is that you observed a living form change into another living form. Maybe it metamorphorized. You can see a caterpillar form a chrysalis and emerge as another life form: a butterfly. Is that evolution? All you can say is what you observed. It could be a general theory of evolution, a special theory of evolution, or metamorphorism.

Then, again, what is "reality"? Does reality exist in the objective world or only in your world? That's a philosophical question and not material to this thread.

This route leads to the "nothing can be proven" philosophy. Maybe we are in the Matrix and all we see is an illusion.

I think that route leads to no useful results.

Can someone suppose we are in a computer generated fantasy land? Sure. But I think the base assumption has to be the world is as we perceive it.

I could claim you and your post are a product of my imagination. I think, therefore I am. But I am not in your head so as far as I know you are a figment of my imagination (and of course you could say the same thing back to me).

While that is fun stuff for a philosophical bull session I think the presumption has to be the world is real and abides by certain rules.

Drop an object and it falls. Gravity.

Newton did a great job in describing the rules of gravity but even Newton himself knew he had no idea of the mechanisms of gravity.

Einstein came along and gave an explanation (curved space) so better.

But why? How?

Questions remain.

We know gravity exists because we are stuck to this planet and the planet is stuck orbiting the sun and so on. Gravity is a FACT (yeah caps).

The details of how/why we are glued to objects is theory.

Triskadecamus
08-20-2011, 09:05 PM
Ok, correction to above.

Evolution is an observed phenomenon, not an observed fact. There is stuff alive now that was not alive before, and things alive before no longer live.

Sorry.

Tris

OneMissedPost
08-20-2011, 09:09 PM
I think evolution is the best answer we have to explain our existence. It's a far better answer than creationism. Evolution is definitely the best answer we have without having a philosophical debate.

If we were having a philosophical debate, I could really only prove that I exist (as Whack-a-Mole stated). Whack-a-Mole, please correct me if I misinterpreted your post because that happens sometimes.

Let us just say that we have a higher probability of having evolved from apes than from appearing out of thin air. Maybe, somewhere along the line, someone will have a different answer that might have a higher probability of being true than the "evolution-answer." It is definitely possible that someone might have a different interpretation and might come up with more proof to back it up. Considering what options are available to believe, I'll say that I believe that we simply evolved.

dropzone
08-20-2011, 09:44 PM
Sure, as long as they haven't been drinking.Is there any thread in which we can make a Warner Brothers Cartoon reference and it won't be appropriate? No? Didn't think so. :D With big Bugs Bunny teeth.

Jragon
08-20-2011, 09:50 PM
If we were having a philosophical debate, I could really only prove that I exist (as Whack-a-Mole stated).

I actually half-remember from a recent philosophy class that if you can prove you exist (a la Descartes), you (and by you, I mean Descartes) can somehow derive a proof from that fact that shows everything else exists, although I can't remember the details I found the proof a bit half-assed... to be fair.

Gary T
08-20-2011, 10:16 PM
I don't think any scientist would say that either gravity or evolution is a fact.You don't talk to many scientists, I'd wager.

Evolution is an observed phenomenon, not an observed fact.And both of you would benefit from learning the definition of "fact."

The Other Waldo Pepper
08-20-2011, 10:26 PM
I actually half-remember from a recent philosophy class that if you can prove you exist (a la Descartes), you (and by you, I mean Descartes) can somehow derive a proof from that fact that shows everything else exists, although I can't remember the details I found the proof a bit half-assed... to be fair.

Once you get past "I think, therefore I am," you think of a perfect deity: benevolent and wise, all-knowing and all-powerful. As fallible and imperfect as you are, could you think up something that flawless? No, you must have gotten it from someone else -- but not from me, since I'm also fallible and imperfect. Why, the only entity perfect enough to create that idea must be that perfect deity, who must therefore exist -- and who isn't out to play evil deceiver, but rather to largely align our perceptions with reality, since, y'know, all that wisdom and benevolence means His power is working on our behalf, right?

Horrible argument, taken apart by any number of philosophers since -- some of whom figure it was so bad that Descartes was doing it solely to help spark doubts about God, laying out bad arguments like a straight-faced Stephen Colbert.

Gorsnak
08-21-2011, 01:14 AM
I actually half-remember from a recent philosophy class that if you can prove you exist (a la Descartes), you (and by you, I mean Descartes) can somehow derive a proof from that fact that shows everything else exists, although I can't remember the details I found the proof a bit half-assed... to be fair.

It's worse than half-assed. Descartes "proves" the existence of a benevolent God, and then argues that that entails we aren't deceived about the nature of reality.

Alka Seltzer
08-21-2011, 05:25 AM
Not only that, but I challenge any sexual intercoursist to tell me who the father or mother of James Michener (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Michener) is. You can't do it. Ergo, storks.

Looking at him, I'd guess he's the offspring of Woody Allen and Benjamin Button. Out of curiosity, do you storkists use "stork off" as a profanity?

This route leads to the "nothing can be proven" philosophy. Maybe we are in the Matrix and all we see is an illusion.

I think that route leads to no useful results.

That's how I see it. Philosophising can sometimes be interesting, but ultimately an idea must pass some sort of practicality test.

We know gravity exists because we are stuck to this planet and the planet is stuck orbiting the sun and so on. Gravity is a FACT (yeah caps).

The details of how/why we are glued to objects is theory.

Semantically, I think that is a useful distinction.

Sailboat
08-22-2011, 10:08 AM
It's worth noting that the "natural philosophers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy)" who were alive at the same time Darwin wrote all, as far as I know, believed that evolution occurred, because they observed evidence for it. These men were mostly religious in the Victorian sense, but they took evolution as a given and tried to explain why they saw what they saw.

The question of the day was what mechanism caused it or drove it. Darwin's answer was "natural selection" (I am simplifying, of course).

As far as I know, except for some religious reactionaries, everyone since that time (and for at least some time before then) accepts that evolution, in the sense of change over time, occurs.

And the Bible per se doesn't mention evolution positively or negatively. IMHO it's almost entirely people who feel offended at the thought they're descended from monkeys who drive the whole Creationist movement, whether you spell it old style ("Creationism") or new style ("Intelligent Design").

Meatros
08-22-2011, 10:19 AM
I don't think that's considered a fact. I agree with John Mace, that it is the best theory we have, but that's not that same as it being a fact. Unless I'm misunderstanding you, or Mr. Mace. I take it you mean that we all life shares a common origin. Is that right?

All life sharing a common origin is a fact - it is a statement that requires an explanation (ie, how is this possible?). The theory of evolution explains this fact.

It should be noted that 'fact' is not the same thing as philosophical certainty. Facts are open to future revision if the data point that way.

Latro
08-22-2011, 11:29 AM
This is useful assuming you're using numbers to represent apples. Use them to represent positions on a circular gauge, something like a clock, with the positions 0, 1, 2, 3 on it. If you add 1 to 0 you get to 1, but if you add 1 to 3 you loop back to 0. In that world, 2 plus 2 gets you to 0.



This is worse than an arbitrary wordplay.
It's arbitrary concept play.

a gauge or X o'clock is not a measure to be added, or mathed with in another way.
2 o'clock plus 3 o'clock is not 5 o'clock.
It is just a gauge, it isn't the same as 2 hours plus 3 hours.

Voyager
08-22-2011, 12:49 PM
It's worth noting that the "natural philosophers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy)" who were alive at the same time Darwin wrote all, as far as I know, believed that evolution occurred, because they observed evidence for it. These men were mostly religious in the Victorian sense, but they took evolution as a given and tried to explain why they saw what they saw.

The question of the day was what mechanism caused it or drove it. Darwin's answer was "natural selection" (I am simplifying, of course).

As far as I know, except for some religious reactionaries, everyone since that time (and for at least some time before then) accepts that evolution, in the sense of change over time, occurs.

And the Bible per se doesn't mention evolution positively or negatively. IMHO it's almost entirely people who feel offended at the thought they're descended from monkeys who drive the whole Creationist movement, whether you spell it old style ("Creationism") or new style ("Intelligent Design").

What upset the religious was not evolution per se, but the evolution of man. That attacked the fundamental belief that we were created in God's image. If it was found that all animals but ourselves evolved, all but the most fundamentalist religions would have been fine with it. After all, Darwin spent a lot of time discussing the "intelligent design" of plants and animals through selective breeding.

JKellyMap
08-22-2011, 12:51 PM
If the question is "Is it a fact that species evolve?" then the answer should be yes, regardless of one's opinion - the fossil record clearly shows species adopting advantageous genetic traits over the course of many generations, and the process of genetic adaptation can be observed in a lab, and even in some moth species observed to adapt their coloration in response to changing environmental factors.

If the question is "Is the theory of evolution a fact, and does this disprove creationism or intelligent design?" - not so much. In my informed layman's opinon, yes. But the scientific method doesn't work that way, especially when the alternative "theory" isn't really a theory and cannot be tested in any meaningful way, such as with intelligent design and creationism.

This untestability means that no scientist worth their salt would offer any such affirmation in any official capacity - if it can't be tested, it simply can't be disproven scientifically. You may as well ask them to disprove that Superman exists, or that there are invisible gremlins inside your refrigerator that turn the light off when you close the door. They may offer an opinion that creationism/intelligent design are wrong, but they won't put it forth as scientific fact.

And unfortunately, that scientific and logical rigor, is one of the things that makes things so muddy for the masses who simply don't understand science at a fundamental level. Folks who, in my experience, largely tend to give "facts" more credence based on how loud and negative the person asserting the "fact" is. Some people love to be told "this is right and that is wrong", but they aren't so big on "this is proven, but we can't rule out other possibilities".


And before someone comes in and makes some analogy like I've seen here before: "Is the sky blue or red? If blue, then it can't be red. Thus if evolution is true, intelligent design is not"... Please don't pass your fallacies off as scientific methodology. I know that evolution is true, but I also know that science will never disprove the alternatives - science doesn't work that way.

Excellent post! How interesting that science's great strength (one of them, anyway) is often used "against" it (imprecisely, by those with an agenda), as if it were some sort of weakness.

Derleth
08-22-2011, 04:14 PM
This is worse than an arbitrary wordplay.
It's arbitrary concept play.That's what math is, except the 'arbitrary' part is constrained by the fact it has to be rigorously logically consistent in ways nothing else in life does (because if anything is as logically consistent as math, it is math).

a gauge or X o'clock is not a measure to be added, or mathed with in another way.
2 o'clock plus 3 o'clock is not 5 o'clock.
It is just a gauge, it isn't the same as 2 hours plus 3 hours.You can say that. You aren't saying anything interesting, but people say dull things all the time. The rest of us will be over here, playing and doing useful things with modular arithmetic, which is what I described in that post.

JKellyMap
08-22-2011, 04:31 PM
That's what math is, except the 'arbitrary' part is constrained by the fact it has to be rigorously logically consistent in ways nothing else in life does (because if anything is as logically consistent as math, it is math).

You can say that. You aren't saying anything interesting, but people say dull things all the time. The rest of us will be over here, playing and doing useful things with modular arithmetic, which is what I described in that post.

Well rebutted, Derleth. I was going to say much the same thing, but you said it better. The "clock" analogy for explaining arithmetic modulos (and thus, indirectly, for exposing the arbitrariness of base-10 and, even less directly, the aribitrariness of lots of things...but therefeore the heightened rigor of wahetever's left) works quite well for math dunces like myself. Most of us understand that such analogies only work so far, and don't need to have it spelled out for us what the approximate domain of appropriateness is.

Latro
08-22-2011, 04:38 PM
You can say that. You aren't saying anything interesting, but people say dull things all the time. The rest of us will be over here, playing and doing useful things with modular arithmetic, which is what I described in that post.

Instead of getting your knickers in a twist, why don't you enlighten us to what is so useful about that thingy you're playing with?

Telemark
08-22-2011, 05:10 PM
Instead of getting your knickers in a twist, why don't you enlighten us to what is so useful about that thingy you're playing with?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modular_arithmetic#Applications

Asympotically fat
08-22-2011, 05:51 PM
Instead of getting your knickers in a twist, why don't you enlighten us to what is so useful about that thingy you're playing with?

Maths is not really about utility. In order to find a use for an area of mathematics that area has to exist beforehand.

Why pick on modular aritmetic though, it's actually a fairly simple idea that been around for centuries in maths and it has plenty of "real-world" applications.

And to anyone who says it's arbitary relabelling, i'd say:

1) a lot of maths is about relabelling as maths is about abstraction and abstarction is pretty much about relabelling in order to capture ideas in their full generality to give them the widest possible application.

2) This relabelling isn't arbitary, the "arthimetics" (or to give them their proper mathematical name - rings) formed by congruence classes are different artimetics ) to the arithmetic of the integers (i.e. they are not isomorphic in the catergory of rings except in the degenerate case).

barbitu8
08-22-2011, 05:54 PM
If the question is "Is it a fact that species evolve?" then the answer should be yes, regardless of one's opinion - the fossil record clearly shows species adopting advantageous genetic traits over the course of many generations, and the process of genetic adaptation can be observed in a lab, and even in some moth species observed to adapt their coloration in response to changing environmental factors.

If the question is "Is the theory of evolution a fact, and does this disprove creationism or intelligent design?" - not so much. In my informed layman's opinon, yes. But the scientific method doesn't work that way, especially when the alternative "theory" isn't really a theory and cannot be tested in any meaningful way, such as with intelligent design and creationism.

Not to belabor the point, but ID proponents admit that species evolve. Hard for them to ignore all the empirical evidence. They maintain, however, that one species cannot evolve into another species (although there is plenty of evidence for that, too). They refuse to admit that we evolved from lower forms of primates. I once pointed this out in a letter to the editor, and I received an anonymous letter (no return address, of course) that I may have evolved from a monkey, but that he most certainly did not.

Raygun99
08-22-2011, 05:56 PM
Well, he can always hope for his descendants to get there.

Derleth
08-22-2011, 06:02 PM
Instead of getting your knickers in a twist, why don't you enlighten us to what is so useful about that thingy you're playing with?Practically all computer arithmetic on integers is modular arithmetic: You only have n bits to represent the value you're doing math on, so all of your math is done modulo 2n. For example, if you're writing integer code for a 32-bit system, your integers are 32 bits wide, which means if you have a value one less than 4294967296, adding one to it gets you back to zero. This is equivalent to saying 232 ≡ 0 (mod 232). (All arithmetic is unsigned; assuming the more common wraparound semantics as opposed to, say, a DSP with saturation semantics.)

(You can use software to get values larger than what you can represent with machine words but, ultimately, you have a finite amount of storage so all computer arithmetic is modular. If the modulus is large enough, you simply stop caring.)

Also, These are my own pants makes wonderful points and, were I a different kind of mathematician, I would mock you quite scornfully for being so artless and ignorant as to imply math should have practical applications.

Whack-a-Mole
08-23-2011, 02:17 AM
That's what math is, except the 'arbitrary' part is constrained by the fact it has to be rigorously logically consistent in ways nothing else in life does (because if anything is as logically consistent as math, it is math).

You can say that. You aren't saying anything interesting, but people say dull things all the time. The rest of us will be over here, playing and doing useful things with modular arithmetic, which is what I described in that post.

See, this is where you lose me.

I have no doubt modulo arithmetic has some really fantastic uses.

But when describing reality (i.e. in the universe we live in) we are not restricted to modulo math. We have an infinitely long number line and not a truncated subset of that turned into a circle.

Again, I have two apples and you give me two more apples I have four apples. How does your modulo math get away with saying I have zero apples in that case?

It can't.

2+2=4

Seems to me even in your example of making it zero there are still four "ticks" or "movements" or "steps" (whatever is it properly called) around your circle. You may land on zero but there were still four iterations to move around that circle that got you there.

Derleth
08-23-2011, 02:53 AM
But when describing reality (i.e. in the universe we live in) we are not restricted to modulo math.Who says math is about describing reality? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's interesting either way, and being interesting is what math is about.

Latro
08-23-2011, 03:19 AM
Who says math is about describing reality? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's interesting either way, and being interesting is what math is about.

It was you that, trying to be smug, started on the whole usefulness road.
Now, binary arithmatic I can grok, also that there might be others and that it can be a 'fun' exercise.

I readily admit to be largely ignorant on the matter but my skeptic mind simply had problems with that gauge example.

Whack-a-Mole
08-23-2011, 09:33 AM
Who says math is about describing reality? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's interesting either way, and being interesting is what math is about.

Always seemed to me that math was the language of the universe.

When prying into the fundamental reality of things the bottom line for doing so is math.

I have been told by physicists (one of my brothers is a physicist) that at the end of the day words fail them when explaining certain concepts and if I really want to understand what is happening I need to understand the math.

Hell, I think that gold record we sent on Voyager to "talk" to aliens if they found it used math to communicate. Obviously an alien will not know English but presumably math is universal and they'd understand that.

Love Rhombus
08-23-2011, 09:39 AM
Math is all about playing with arbitrary words! That's how it works!


Math is WORDS now? Then with my English degree I could be the next Stephen Hawking!

John Mace
08-23-2011, 10:23 AM
Always seemed to me that math was the language of the universe.

When prying into the fundamental reality of things the bottom line for doing so is math.
Math is the language we use to describe the universe. The universe doesn't "care" about math. It's a human construct.

I have been told by physicists (one of my brothers is a physicist) that at the end of the day words fail them when explaining certain concepts and if I really want to understand what is happening I need to understand the math.
I studied physics, and I agree. But does that say anything fundamental about the universe itself, or our ability to understand it?

Hell, I think that gold record we sent on Voyager to "talk" to aliens if they found it used math to communicate. Obviously an alien will not know English but presumably math is universal and they'd understand that.
Only in the sense that sentient beings should understand this. Again, the universe just is. It doesn't "need" math.

Whack-a-Mole
08-23-2011, 10:56 AM
Math is the language we use to describe the universe. The universe doesn't "care" about math. It's a human construct.


I find this interesting but rather than continue what amounts to a hijack (one I started) here I started a new thread to explore this here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=621511).

Derleth
08-23-2011, 04:43 PM
It was you that, trying to be smug, started on the whole usefulness road.What? I was not trying to be smug. If I were, I wouldn't merely have tried: I'd have succeeded.

Always seemed to me that math was the language of the universe.The universe doesn't have a language. Humans create language.

When prying into the fundamental reality of things the bottom line for doing so is math.True, in that math is the only language we have without 'common sense', which is the bias inherent in any language evolved or designed for normal human interactions with things like humans and mangoes. 'Common sense' is a hindrance when trying to describe photons in a useful fashion, because nothing in our common human experience acts like a photon really acts.

This is also the trait that makes math universal: If you want to describe rocks, you need some language that counts rocks, and arithmetic is the formalized version of that. If you want to describe moving rocks, the calculus is what you must end up with, assuming Newtonian physics works everywhere. And so on.

gonzomax
08-26-2011, 10:12 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/attention-governor-perry-evolution-is-a-fact/2011/08/23/gIQAuIFUYJ_blog.html
This Dawkin's article was put in the Elections Threads. It should be here too. Evolution is in line with historical evidence and can be used to predict. It is a fact.

Blaster Master
08-26-2011, 11:24 AM
Facts are simply observations that we make about the real world. Hypothesis are speculations we make about why the facts are what they are. Theories are hypothesis that stand the test of scrutiny and make predictions about the real world that, when tested, turn out to be true.

Pretty much this. Describing Evolution as a fact or saying that it's "just a theory" is conflating how we use the words "fact" and "theory" everyday with how those words are used in science. We use the word "theory" commonly to express something that we think might explain a set of circumstances or might solve a problem, but that concept is much closer to the scientific usage of "hypothesis" than the scientific usage of "theory". Instead, in science, "theory" is a level much stronger than that and refers to such an explanation that has withstood significant scrutiny and many attempts at falsifying it's predictions. Similarly, "facts" in science are observations or measurements.


As such, saying evolution is just a theory implies a degree of uncertainty based on common usage that just isn't there. That it's a theory doesn't imply that it the absolute truth, as future observations or circumstances may arise that result in some modifications or a new theory entirely, but there is by no means any uncertainty that the theory is the best explanation we have that best fits the observations.

Similarly, saying evolution is a fact or, for that matter, that gravity or any other widely accepted theory is a fact is nonsensical. The theory predicts what will happen under a certain set of cirumstances, such that when I hold something up and let it go it will fall. When I actually do that and observe it, that is a fact, and it is whether or not it is consistent with the prediction of the theory that adds further confirmation or potentially falsifies its predictions.


So, to answer the OP, in the scientific sense, no evolution is not a fact. But in the way we commonly use the term, then yes.

Bitt
08-30-2011, 04:26 PM
Nothing in science is ever really proven. Things can be supported, refined or disproven, but not completely proven.

Ptolemy had an effective solar system model by which he could predict planet locations, but it was still based on an erroneous, geocentric paradigm. It is my conviction that evolutionary theory is also based on a false paradigm. I used to accept the possibility of theistic evolution, but now reject it after much study.

The origin of viruses is unknown, apparently by evolutionists or creationists (such as myself), but there is speculation by both sides. They are not considered living, but DO carry nucleic acid information. My speculation is that they served a good purpose once in gene transferrence.

fumster
08-30-2011, 07:44 PM
Similarly, saying evolution is a fact or, for that matter, that gravity or any other widely accepted theory is a fact is nonsensical. The theory predicts what will happen under a certain set of cirumstances, such that when I hold something up and let it go it will fall. When I actually do that and observe it, that is a fact, and it is whether or not it is consistent with the prediction of the theory that adds further confirmation or potentially falsifies its predictions.


So, to answer the OP, in the scientific sense, no evolution is not a fact. But in the way we commonly use the term, then yes.You are conflating evolution with natural selection. Evolution is a fact. We see simpler life in older strata and more complex ones in newer ones. We can look at the genetic information in plants and animals and it corresponds to what we see in the fossil record.

Maybe God was involved in every single new species being created, but life is all made from the same stuff and it is clear that new species appeared over time based on changes to the existing species.