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Henry Stein October 17th, 2009 12:42 PM

Evolution: Fact, Theory, Dogma, or Fiction
Nicholas Wade's review of "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution," by Richard Dawkins, counterpoints the opposing dogmatic views of evolution as either fact or theory. An interesting alternative, would be to consider evolution as a useful scientific fiction, in the spirit of Hans Vaihinger, author of "The Philosphy of "As If"".

George Neeson November 13th, 2009 07:43 PM

Re: Evolution: Fact, Theory, Dogma, or Fiction
In view of the fact that the theory of evolution, although very useful is not fully testable for its "truth", the notion of a "useful fiction" is not only proper, but is also in keeping with the genuine humility shown in good science. I like this idea.

George Neeson December 26th, 2009 09:31 AM

Re: Evolution: Fact, Theory, Dogma, or Fiction
Evolution, like the grand theories in astro-physics, is "generally accepted", not on the basis of provability, but rather on the basis of beauty and elegance. It is on this basis that Dr. Stein has made his comment. To have an opinion about the "truth" of things like "Grand Unification Theory", or physic's Holy Grail, TOE, (Theory of Everything), is not possible. It is in that sense that these ideas are what Adler would refer to as "convenient fictions" in that they help us to organize information and even make some possible predictions. They remain, however, untestable for truth by current scientific technologies. Henry is not advancing any notion of a bias, but rather urging us to think more clearly about what we "think we know".

Victor Wilson January 20th, 2010 09:23 PM

Re: Evolution: Fact, Theory, Dogma, or Fiction
Ok im not a christian, but i find evolution to be utterly stupid. They say they have facts, but you need as much faith, if not more than religion to belive in evolution.

Here's some things that raise some questions, and these are just the tip of the iceberg, i really don't have enough time or space here to write everything.

Richard Dawkins one of the most celebrated evoluntionists of our time speculates "In the beginning Earth had a atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide, water, amonia, and methane. Through energy supplied by sunlight, and perhaps by lightning and exploding volcanoes, these simple compounds were broken apart and then they reforrmed into amino acids. A variety of these gradually accummulated in the sea and combined into proteinlike compounds. Ultimatley, he says, the ocean became an "organic soup," But still lifeless.
Then according to Dawkins description, "a particlularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident" - a molecule that had the ability to reproduce itself. Though admitting that such an accident was exceedingly improbable, he maintains that it must have nevertheless happened. Similar molecules clustered together, and then, again by an exceedingly improbable accident, they wrapped a protective barrier of other protein molecules around themselves as a membrane. Thus it is claimed, the first living cell generated itself.

Ok, so even compared to humans and other living things, a cell is a amazingly complex organism. Fossil residues of ancient life forms do not show a simple the evolutionary theory lacks a proper foundation. And as information increases, it becomes harder to explain how microscopic life forms arose by chance.

The principle steps enroute to the origin of life as envisioned by evolutionary theory, are

1. The existence of the right primitive atmosphere
2 a concetration in the ocneans of an organic soup of "simple" molecules necassary for life
3 From these come proteins and nucleotides (complex chemical compounds)
4 They combine and aqquire a membrane
5 they develop a gentic code and start making copies of themselves.

In 1953 Stanely Miller passed an electric spark through an "atmosphere" of hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water vapor. This produced some of the many amino acids that exist and are the building blocks of protien. However, he got just 4 of the 20 amino acids needed for life to exist. More than 30 years later, scientists were still unable to produce all the 20 neccasarry amino acids under conditions that could be consider plausible.

Miller assumed the earths's primitive atmosphere was similiar to the one in his experimental flask. Why? Because he and a co-worker later said "the synthesis of compounds of biological intrest takes place only under reducing (no free oxygen in the atmosphere) condtions" Yet other evolutionists theorize that oxygen was present. The dilemma this creates for evolution is expressed by some: "With oxygen in the air, the first amino acid would never have gotten started; without oxygen it would have been wiped out by cosmic rays."

The fact is any, any attempt to establish the nature of earths primitive atmosphere and the beginnings of life can only be based on guesswork or assumption.

George Neeson June 27th, 2010 07:52 AM

Re: Evolution: Fact, Theory, Dogma, or Fiction
Hi Victor,
Took me a long time to notice your posting but Dawkins books and comments seem to have a feeling that is very similar to some of the TV "evangelists" I see. He seems to step outside of the testable into the arena of the religious zealots. It seems that religious convictions can exist on both sides of untestable notions. Both sides look rather silly. One could choose to be annoyed by these people, but I suspect that our energies can be directed to more useful endeavours toward the benefit of our communities and even toward unfolding more of Adler's useful fictions.

Henry Stein June 28th, 2010 09:11 PM

Re: Evolution: Fact, Theory, Dogma, or Fiction
To stir up the conceptual pot a little, it is interesting to read the work of Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief), who was somewhat influenced by Lamark's theory of organic evolution. Lipton's vivid descriptions of cell structure and purpose, in a dynamic relationship with the environment, are compelling.

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