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Tags trial , evolution , intelligent design , dover id trial

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Old 23rd November 2005, 09:12 PM   #761
delphi_ote
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Originally Posted by Melendwyr View Post
That definition is from the context of biology! The field excludes everything non-living.
That's the only field (to my knowledge) that has defined the term. That's what the word means.

Gravity brings two things together. Addition brings two things together. Gravity is addition. QED.

You can't just apply a technical word anywhere you want because you've found a loose analogy between two concepts.
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Old 23rd November 2005, 11:22 PM   #762
Eos of the Eons
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For example, I don't think any scientist believes that mutations arising at random at some sort of background frequency are sufficient to explain the rise of life on Earth at its current level of diversity. Such mutations occur, of course, but the true picture is much more complicated than that. There appear to be significant interactions among genes, including catalytic reactions at the biochemical level, and these greatly increase the probability of certain types of change. This does not require intelligent design, any more than the assembly of the highly ordered structure of a crystal.

Modern evolution, both fact and theory, is not "Darwinism", because, of course, Darwin knew nothing about genes. It is the cumulative result of tens of thousands of pieces of research carried out since Darwin's time, and represents the current state of a continuously developing body of theory and observation. Those who wish to refute it have a vast amount of material to rebut.

Further, as far as history is concerned, the reference to Lamarck was surely not intended to suggest that he was "suppressed" by Darwin or anyone else. Evolution as an idea had been around for many years before either Darwin or Lamarck came up with it; even Darwin's grandfather published his own version of it. Lamarck and Darwin, unlike earlier writers, came up with mechanisms for how evolution could work. Lamarck's ideas, however, simply did not match the evidence and were rapidly disproved. Darwin's, on the other hand, were supported by a vast amount of evidence, much of it assembled by Darwin himself (though Darwin's own work represents but a minute fraction of the amount of evidence in support of evolution by natural selection available today). If anyone was "shoveled under" by Darwin's fame, it was Alfred Russell Wallace, who came up with practically the same basic theory as Darwin almost simultaneously with him, but failed to support it with the detailed evidence that the extremely meticulous Darwin had assembled before publishing (hardly a criticism of Wallace, who was ill with fever in the East Indies at the time!).

For an excellent and very readable short history of the development of evolutionary theory, may I recommend "Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory" by Edward J. Larson (Modern Library 2004). For a very clear explanation of the state of things today, with lots of pictures (!), read "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea" by Carl Zimmer (HarperCollins 2001).

And, of course, there is nothing to prevent anyone from believing that there is an intelligence behind anything in our universe, but establishing this belief as a scientific theory (as opposed to a philosophical or religious conviction) will require something better than simply stating that you cannot imagine how it could be otherwise. The universe is not limited by the scope of human imagination.
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Old 24th November 2005, 06:06 AM   #763
Melendwyr
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Originally Posted by delphi_ote View Post
You can't just apply a technical word anywhere you want because you've found a loose analogy between two concepts.
What about a strong analogy? What about cases where concepts are exactly alike except for some very minor differences?
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Old 24th November 2005, 07:38 AM   #764
chipmunk stew
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Originally Posted by Melendwyr View Post
What about a strong analogy? What about cases where concepts are exactly alike except for some very minor differences?
Life vs. not-life is a very minor difference? I think you'd have trouble showing anyone (not just those of us on JREF) that pebbles exhibit "natural selection" in any technical sense. This about sums up your argument for me:
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Old 24th November 2005, 08:42 AM   #765
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Evolution is just a term to coin an advanced subdivision of the natural 'order or randomness' (interchangeable here, or order caused by randomness) caused or determined by natural laws. With enough comprehensive or God-like knowledge of every intricate detail, all could in theory be predicted. Free-will could be another term within this field if you accept that this has ultimnately developed (or evolved) from atoms.

Is there any great reason that evolution cannot be applied to inorganic things, given that we apply the term to man made objects, eras etc. and life came/evolved from inorganic things? We even hear, 'the universe evolved..." So maybe it's not strictly true (o is it?) but we could really talk about evolution from the big bang couldn't we?

And I'm a theist!
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Old 24th November 2005, 08:46 AM   #766
delphi_ote
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Originally Posted by Melendwyr View Post
What about a strong analogy? What about cases where concepts are exactly alike except for some very minor differences?
Then you'd have something like Mercutio's example. His analogy was strong because it incorporated all aspects of the definition including reproduction. You'd have to come up with some way of explaining how your stars and pebbles reproduce and pass on characteristics of themselves to their offspring. It is critical to the concept at hand. Otherwise, "natural selection" just means "change over time."
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Old 24th November 2005, 09:36 AM   #767
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
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Originally Posted by Teacher
Is there any great reason that evolution cannot be applied to inorganic things, given that we apply the term to man made objects, eras etc. and life came/evolved from inorganic things? We even hear, 'the universe evolved..." So maybe it's not strictly true (o is it?) but we could really talk about evolution from the big bang couldn't we?
The reason not to call these other things "evolution," without any qualifiers, is because it is misleading. The Creationists are already misleading people; there is every reason to try not to follow suit.

Also, as Delphi noted, just because two disciplines use the term foo does not imply that they mean the same thing by the term. All the more reason to be careful.

~~ Paul
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