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The Mudcat Cafesj

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Steve Shaw BS: The Pope in America (1751* d) RE: BS: The Pope in America 01 Nov 15

"Not sure how you see the difference between evolution, and the theory thereof, except that with the theory the details have to be moved around or deleted when new data arises , which gives you the liberty to claim that though the theory is continually revised, evolution itself is true. Which brings us back to the question, how do you know it is true ? . And as you say , Steve, anyone who says something is true without evidence should be sacked.   I am glad to hear that you allowed some lea way for doubt in your teaching days , but you seem very sure now. Can you tell us why it is true, without falling back on the numbers of academics who agree with you as the being the reason ?"

You are rather confused, I fear. There is a world of difference between a phenomenon, not a scientific principle, and the theory that explains it, a scientific principle. Let's try a simple example. It's been a lovely, sunshiny day today in Bude, better than most days we've had all summer. As I type this, there is a beautiful last-quarter moon ascending in the south-eastern sky. Now that moon is definitely there, unless I'm hallucinating (I checked with Mrs Steve, and yes, she could see it too). The moon is true, and only a demented fool would deny it (though you never know on Mudcat). The moon is not a scientific principle, any more than the fact that I possess two testicles is a scientific principle (don't ask me to prove it). Ancient people looked at the moon and must have wondered what it was, and probably came up with plausible but (to us) off-beam ideas. Later, early astronomers worked out a pattern in the moon's phases and timings over long periods, put two and two together, and came up with better ideas about how far away it was, how big it was and how its apparent motion could be explained. Then telescopes were invented, and we got to see features on the moon that we needed to try to explain. Some of those explanations were probably wrong (Patrick Moore was convinced that the moon's craters were mostly volcanic, for example). Then men walked on the moon (though my dad thinks it was all staged in Nevada, but hey ho). They brought back samples that enabled us to discover more about the moon's structure and history, though probably not really enough. There are lots of other ways of finding out stuff about the moon, such as studying closely its orbit with sophisticated modern instruments and viewing it during eclipses. We can bounce laser beams off the moon and obtain extremely accurate measurements of its various properties. A big picture eventually builds up that enables us to draw up theories about the moon's structure and origin. In spite of all this, there is still an extremely remote possibility that the moon is made of green cheese. Good, honest science can't help that, and holds up its hands and admits that proof can't be possible. At that point, the superb human qualities of evidence-seeking and reason kick in, at least if you're a scientist. Every time, we find that the best explanations (the ones that already have all the evidence needed to do all the explanatory heavy lifting) are more convincing, more rational, more imaginative, more inspiring and more wonderful than any of the wacky, mind-limiting alternatives. So it is, in precisely the same way, with evolution. Evolution is not a scientific principle, as much as you'd like to turn it into one in the cause of your nefarious and dishonest arguments. Evolution is true. It happens. Only demented fools deny that. Not even Joe Offer and popes deny it, though they get it lamentably wrong in their valiant but misguided efforts to reconcile it with their religion. But the explanation of evolution, the theory that Darwin delivered, is just that, an explanation. Those with open minds can't avoid seeing that there is far too much evidence for evolution for it to be lightly dismissed in favour of creationism. Now I'm trying very hard to accommodate your problems with science. In my head, I call it "doing a Bill D". Within the next four or five posts to this thread, I'm almost certainly going to wonder why I bloody bothered. But, for the second time, hey ho.

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