How to best respond
Posted: 02 August 2006 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here is a paragraph from an ongoing debate I’m having on another forum.  Before I respond, I would like to get feedback from the group so that I can be coherent and persuasive.

Thanks.

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Posted: 02 August 2006 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Re: How to best respond

[quote author=“Jayhox”]Here is a paragraph from an ongoing debate I’m having on another forum.  Before I respond, I would like to get feedback from the group so that I can be coherent and persuasive.

Thanks.

:?:

Forget something, Jayhox? Love to help, but I’m at a loss to figure out how ...

:wink:

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Posted: 02 August 2006 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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(Jayhox licks his pencil tip:  “I’m putting Doug down as ‘Not Psychic.’”)

Ok, let’s try again…

From what I’ve seen, scientific principles can also be used to support intelligent design.  Some examples would include:  2nd Law of Thermodynamics, Phylogeny recapitulates Ontogeny, and our own Golden Proportions.  One can very easily debate either side.  Just like one cannot prove nor disprove the existence of an intelligent creator, evolution is not something that can be proven.  You mention that all you have to do is look at the fossil record.  To use the fossil record to prove evolution is completely off base.  One of the most noted anti-creationists, Steven J Gould, even confirms that the fossil record is inaccurate at best.

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Posted: 02 August 2006 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I will be interested to hear what others have to say on this point. There is a lot to say. But on a first approximation:

What does he mean that the second law of thermodynamics, phylogeny recapitulating ontogeny or so-called “golden proportions” support intelligent design?

The second law of thermodynamics just says that entropy will increase in a closed system. So what does it say about intelligent design? Nothing. Some people claim that the decrease in entropy we see in living things is evidence that they had to be created. But this is false. The ‘closed system’ of which living things are a part includes the sun and the heat at the center of the earth. The entropy of this whole system is increasing through time. And without the addition of heat (= entropy) from solar and geothermic sources, there would be no life.

Phylogeny recapitulating ontogeny has been widely discredited. What remains is the loose idea that the evolutionary history of an organism bears some vague resemblance to its embryonic development. So, for example, embryonic humans have tails. If anything, this would support the claim that humans have an evolutionary history.

What he is after with “golden proportions” is beyond me. If he means that humans look beautiful to other humans, that’s a real shocker. Of course they do! We are evolutionarily wired to like other humans for sex, companionship, etc.

His notions about S.J. Gould are almost certainly pulled out of a hat. To my knowledge, Gould never claimed that the fossil record was inaccurate. What he (and everyone else) claims is that the fossil record is incomplete, which is an entirely different thing. If it weren’t for the fossil record, we would have a much more complex task in teasing out the evolutionary history of living things.

(In fact, we can do so by tracking genetic similarities at the level of DNA . And lo and behold we find the same sorts of mappings we did with fossils!)

I think your opponent here wants to call reference to the fossil record “off base” because the evidence it provides is so conclusive. Clearly, the fossil record will never be complete, because not everything fossilizes , and fossil recovery will always be something of a matter of chance. But the vast amount of evidence it provides about the history of life on earth, and about the linkages between living things, is simply incontrovertible to any but the scientifically illiterate.

As for the notion of “proof”, science does not deal in “proof” in the same way that mathematics or logic does. Science deals in best explanations. The question the scientist asks is the same one Sherlock Holmes asked: what is the most likely explanation for this evidence I have before me? In the case of biological sciences, the evidence is from genetics, paleontology, et cetera.

I’ve posted more on this in the last couple of entries (up ‘till now) in this thread . Or you can look to the website of the very good National Center for Science Education .

More questions? Please let us know how it goes.

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Posted: 02 August 2006 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Doug,

Great response.  I had those notions swimming in my head, but couldn’t articulate them nearly as well as you.  I hereby acknowlege and admit that I will steal freely and without guilt from your post and use it as my own.  They will think I’m a genious, and I will take full credit for it. 

Unless they rip it to shreds, then I’ll say some sap named Doug made me write it.

Seriously though, thanks a lot.

Jayhox

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Posted: 02 August 2006 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Ha! Great. Hope it works.

BTW, I repeated the mistake in your opponent’s post: it’s “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, not the reverse.

“Ontogeny” = development from egg to maturity

Phylogeny ” = evolutionary history

So the idea is that fetal development is supposed to re-tell the evolutionary history of the organism. As a matter of fact, this theory has been discredited. (I said that, above). But it is nonetheless suggestive. Why else would human fetuses look so similar to others ?

BTW, I hope you’re drilling down into the websites I’ve linked to. There’s a huge amount of great info in all of them. They deserve the kudos ...

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Posted: 06 August 2006 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I guess there’s no need for me to hang around Doug - when is your next vacation?
As usual superb responses.
Jim

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Jimmie Keyes
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http://secularhumanism.meetup.com/1/
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 06 August 2006 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hey Jim, thanks, but don’t be shy now! I’m sure there’s lots more to say ...

:wink:

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Posted: 06 August 2006 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I began my reply by saying “Oh yeah, your mother’s ugly! Who designed that dirtbag?!?”

It got worse from there.

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Posted: 06 August 2006 04:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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:shock:

I hope very sincerely that you’re joking ...

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Posted: 07 August 2006 03:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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So do I - And even if he is its a very bad joke. I looked back on Jay’s posts and he must mean the response he is working on in the other discussion. It’s gotta be a joke. I see this kind of give and take in the sports forums but it isn’t acceptable here by any stretch.
Jim

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Jimmie Keyes
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http://secularhumanism.meetup.com/1/
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 07 August 2006 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The “Golden Proportions” that the creationist is talking about is better known as the Golden Ratio.

For a creationist viewpoint, see here .

“The Golden Proportion is a constant ratio derived from a geometric relationship which, like p (pi) and other constants of this type, is ‘irrational’ in numerical term. I have therefore tried to avoid initially presenting the Golden Proportion as a numerical quantity, i.e. f phi = 1.6180339”, or f = ( 5+1)/2, but instead have demonstrated that it is first and foremost a proportion, not a number, a proportion upon which the experience of knowledge (logos) is found.

In a sense the Golden Proportion can be considered as supra rational or transcendent. It is actually the first issue of Oneness, The only possible creative duality within Unity. It is the most intimate relationship, one might say, that proportional existence, the universe, can have with Unity, the primal or first division of One. For this reason the ancients called it ‘golden’, the perfect division, and the Christians have related this proportional symbol to the Son of God.

I first learned about this golden ratio from my wife, who was reading “The DaVinci Code” at the time. Apparently, DaVinci used this ratio when he painted. There are several of these golden ratios to be found within his famous Mona Lisa painting. Of course, a great painting does not make a ratio divine. But, the Greeks also apparently used this ratio when designing things, such as the Parthenon. It is also claimed that this ratio is found throughout nature. How does it go? If you take the ratio of your arm to your forearm, you get the golden ratio. Something like that.

From my perspective, the main problem is that people are all different. Although, the average of everyone’s arm:forearm ratio will be close to this golden ratio, it will not be exact. And every individual’s will be slightly different from everyone else’s.

For more on False sightings of the golden ratio and other info, I always check Wikipedia.

HTH.  smile

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Posted: 07 August 2006 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Right, yes, well put Stillwaters. The problem with the Golden Ratio, the Golden Rectangle, Golden Proportions or Golden what-have-you is that there is nothing obviously good or perfect about it except that it looks pretty to us.

Now, I have nothing whatever against pretty proportions, but let’s not make a theology out of them.

The brain evolved to find certain things pretty and others not ... much useful speculation about these things finds that they are generally markers of fitness or health. So, for example, throughout evolutionary time, the female peacock found progressively longer tail feathers to be particularly gorgeous in the male. Thus it happened that males with longer, prettier tails were better able to reproduce. Also, sick or underfed males wouldn’t have had the biological wherewithal to create a big tail or keep it looking nice.

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Posted: 10 August 2006 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Of course I was joking…

It’s interesting, because I have been having discussions with Christians for many years, and for some reason I think I’m going to say something that makes them take pause and reconsider.

Albert Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well, I must be insane.

However, I do find value in the exercise, because it is fun and it just continues to reconfirm the solid ground on which my arguement stands.  Moreover, when we have these discussions, we may be planting a seed that doesn’t take root for months or even years.

Thanks for all your help.

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Posted: 12 August 2006 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Good points all, Jayhox. I think we all have the same feeling of hitting our heads against the wall with certain people. However, sometimes people do change their minds down the road, once the information has sunk in and (perhaps) they have heard similar arguments from other people, or gotten additional evidence from other sources.

Also, even if you aren’t convincing your target, if the argument goes on in public, you may sway some bystanders who are sitting on the fence.

But in general it can be very, very difficult to persuade by rational argument. Frustrating but true.

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Posted: 14 August 2006 02:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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[quote author=“stillwaters”]I first learned about this golden ratio from my wife, who was reading “The DaVinci Code” at the time. ... It is also claimed that this ratio is found throughout nature. How does it go? If you take the ratio of your arm to your forearm, you get the golden ratio. Something like that.

And the ratio of your height to your belly button, and so on.  I read the DaVinci Code, too, and when I got to the point where he said, “try it yourself”, I did.  My proportions turned out to be slightly different.  Am I an alien, or what?  smile

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