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Thread: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories

  1. #1 Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
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    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?

    Must a non-scientist believe that all of it is true, or just some? Or, is all of it fact, or just some?

    Must a non-scientist believe that all scientific theories currently accepted by the majority of scientists are true?

    Does lacking the belief in any scientific theory currently accepted by the majority of scientists make a person anti-science?

    I want serious answers only please. Moderators, please do not block me from commenting on my own post. Thank you.


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  3. #2 Re: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?
    Why is it important for you to believe that the Earth is a globe and not flat? Perhaps it isn't, but plenty of people are interested in knowing where the world came from, where life came from and similar such information. Since the evidence says that life evolved, that is what ought to be taught to people who ask about it or who take biology courses.

    That said, in your day to day life it's probably irrelevant but it's not a good habit to reach conclusions without evidence. So teaching more intuitive theories such as evolution can also be a useful way to demonstrate how the scientific method works so that people can learn to make evidence-based decisions in every day life. Would you drive a car because all of the people involved in designing and building it assumed that it is safe without actually looking for evidence? Or better yet, because a book citing no external sources made that assertion? Aside from the very obvious risk element added to my analogy, we have to ask why our decision-making process should be any different for the big questions in life. Why assume when we can look?

    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Must a non-scientist believe that all of it is true, or just some? Or, is all of it fact, or just some?
    A person, any person, should believe verifiable, reproducible evidence and be sceptical of everything else. That's just sensible. As to what theories the general public should accept, again that's a matter for them to decide based on their assessment of the evidence. Of course it's not easy for people not trained in physics to understand the evidence pertinent to the Standard Model, but they can make a sort of informed argument from authority by looking at the scientific method and accepting that generally the scientific majority are close to the mark most of the time. The evidence of that being that the theories they hold to produce tangible results such as medicines, agricultural improvements, spacecraft, iPods and the wonder that is the PlayStation 3 Slim.

    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Must a non-scientist believe that all scientific theories currently accepted by the majority of scientists are true?
    Many of them would either be irrelevant to day-to-day life or incomprehensible to the non-specialist, or both. Even things like Newtonian gravity are irrelevant unless you want to know how gravity works in a broader sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Does lacking the belief in any scientific theory currently accepted by the majority of scientists make a person anti-science?
    Lacking belief does not mean anything, that could be due to indifference or ignorance. Actively disbelieving on the basis of contradictory empirical evidence, in consideration of evidence already established, is scientific. Actively disbelieving on the basis of prior assumption, or on the basis of cherry-picked evidence, is very much anti-science.


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  4. #3 Re: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?
    The problem is that non-scientists feel compelled to attack evolution and present what is generally considered pseudoscience by scientists in schools. Since this movement has substantially more followers than there are scientists the only way to oppose it is by promoting public understanding of evolution. So yes, to a scientist, it is important that you believe in evolution, as it limits the effects of the other side. With a stalemate on the public side scientists could once again go about their business without worrying about creationism in schools.

    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Must a non-scientist believe that all of it is true, or just some? Or, is all of it fact, or just some?
    Before I answer your question I'd like to say this: It's best for a non-scientist to first and foremost not politicize science. What is getting scientists riled up is politicians trying to fight 'leftist' evolution. Science is based on facts, E=mc^2 if you're liberal or conservative. Politicizing science threatens to throw away the facts and leave relativism.

    Okay, to your question...

    First of all I wouldn't say 'must'. You might annoy some of your scientist friends if you're a creationist, but you still have the right to believe what you want.

    Second I'd say be informed, science is about testing everything, including evolution. Scientists test it every day (sometimes the research could potentially weaken the theory, sometimes it could do more damage), obviously this is not what's annoying them. What annoys them is that creationists don't seem willing to test anything, including evolution. They find a little bit of research to support their views, then just stop. Indeed Behe suggests that other scientists stop doing research into the origins of complex biochemical systems as he's sure it will lead to dead ends (assuming, without testing, that he can't be wrong), that's not science. But don't worry, scientists kept doing the research (with results).

    I think that's the best way to look at it since much of evolution is well supported by evidence (common ancestory, the ability of natural selection to create complexity). But there are still debates (what was the exact pathway by which the eye evolved, did human brain power arise by natural or sexual selection), we don't have evidence for everything (not enough fossils usually) so speculation does occur among evolutionists and asserting some statements as facts when they are only speculations only strengthens creationism. So you might have to seperate speculation from evidence by testing claims.

    Overall I'd say the main ideas of evolution are well supported: natural selection, common ancestory, etc. But you'd have to decide for yourself.

    I think a good book that addresses your questions much better than I have (if you have the time) is Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul by Kenneth Miller. It also presents evidence for evolution, is fairly short, and written (in my opinion) by a great teacher.
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  5. #4 Re: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?
    The problem is that non-scientists feel compelled to attack evolution and present what is generally considered pseudoscience by scientists in schools. Since this movement has substantially more followers than there are scientists the only way to oppose it is by promoting public understanding of evolution.
    Not sure of the worldwide prevalence of creationism, but of the western nations creationists only outnumber those who accept evolution in the USA. In most European nations, acceptance of evolution is about 80% with the remaining 20% split between various kinds of creationists and a good chunk of "unsure". Looking at just the scientifically-qualified population, acceptance of creationism is somewhere down below 0.1%.

    The problem is less numbers than it is tactics. Science is complicated. In its raw form it is often hard for lay people to understand. Scientists tend not to be great communicators, at least not outside of scientific circles. Creationists are vocal, well-funded, media-friendly and dedicated. Scientists express doubt, creationists do not. Scientists spend their funds on research and specialist publication, creationists spend their funds primarily on glossy, shallow publications aimed at the mainstream. They know that the scientific debate was lost a long time ago, but the more important debate is in the public arena, where unqualified opinions hold greater weight. The public ultimately decide where the money goes, and the creationists want it.
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  6. #5 Re: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
    Forum Senior Booms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?

    Must a non-scientist believe that all of it is true, or just some? Or, is all of it fact, or just some?
    no one must do anything, people should know it's true (and I emphasise the know) because it's LOGICAL! take away the religeous propaganda and extremism and look at the two most basic theories from an unbiased, logical point of view
    on one hand you have Creationism, A giant, Undectecable insanely powerful entity created everything, in fact, it's so powerful it existed before creation itself, and then this being of such power it can remake reality as it wishes, decides to make all creatures. all of this is completely unproveable and gives rise to the term belief, theres no need for proof because you belive and therefore it's true (sadly my belief that I will be a trillionaire doesn't work as well )
    on the other hand, we have the logical version (dubbed scientific) instead of being randomly made by a thing matter is created in a big bang, this is the only inexplicable thing, but WE HAVE PROOF, things like background radiation and red-shifting give irrevocable proof a collossal explosion happened at roughly the time estimated for a bb, life was created purely by chance, the right atoms in the right spot at the right time, heck it had 11billion years to get it, but chance, yet another thing we have proof for, chance can even be demonstrated right in front of you by tossing a coin!, and then we come to evolution, that as mutations occur in organisms, the mutations that don't hamper the organism stick and are passed down through offspring, and as these mutations build up they lead to huge changes in the organisms giving rise to 'evolution'

    now you tell me why people should know (believing in something is knowing without proof) the 'scientific' theory is correct, you have undismissable proof for everything, compared to an authority figure telling you whats true (and we know how much authority can lie when it suits it)








    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    must a non-scientist believe that all scientific theories currently accepted by the majority of scientists are true?
    of course not, scientific theories change nigh on constantly as new evidence and proof comes to light, plus the majority of scientists are often wrong because so many are just as biased as their religious counterparts if we always accepted what is said is true as true we would still be afraid to sail too far west for fear of falling off the world



    Quote Originally Posted by "ufcarazy
    Does lacking the belief in any scientific theory currently accepted by the majority of scientists make a person anti-science?
    again no, refusing any scientific evidence and theories in favour of beliefs and unprovable opinions makes one anti-science
    It's not how many questions you ask, but the answers you get - Booms

    This is the Acadamy of Science! we don't need to 'prove' anything!
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  7. #6  
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    Thank you everyone for your responses thus far.
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  8. #7 Re: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?
    It isn't. If you want to be ignorant you can be.

    Just don't expect sympathy.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  9. #8  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Thank you everyone for your responses thus far.
    Feels like I'm taking part in a survey here. Better start engaging with us a bit here or we're not going to answer your questions any more.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista

    Feels like I'm taking part in a survey here. Better start engaging with us a bit here or we're not going to answer your questions any more.
    I think it's a huge mistake to deny someone knowledge when they ask for it. Thank you for the knowledge you have shared thus far. I hope you continue to help me when I need your assistance.
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  11. #10 Re: Importance of the theory of evolution and other theories 
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Why is it important for a non-scientist to believe that the theory of evolution is true?

    Must a non-scientist believe that all of it is true, or just some? Or, is all of it fact, or just some?

    Must a non-scientist believe that all scientific theories currently accepted by the majority of scientists are true?

    Does lacking the belief in any scientific theory currently accepted by the majority of scientists make a person anti-science?

    I want serious answers only please. Moderators, please do not block me from commenting on my own post. Thank you.
    Whether you believe it or not, you need to know science. (And it helps if you believe it.) This is just as true for science that has no direct application to your life right now as it is for science that does have an application..

    The reason is simple: You don't know which field of science will spearhead a technological advance tomorrow that will make its knowledge into a necessary job skill. Just as a person can't learn Calculus Math, if they don't first know Algebra Math, you probably won't be able to learn tomorrow's new technology if you haven't first learned the science behind it.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    I think it's a huge mistake to deny someone knowledge when they ask for it.
    I agree with you completely.

    So, why are you asking all these questions?
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  13. #12  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    I only agree completely if it is based on the same understanding of underlying principles.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  14. #13  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    I only agree completely if it is based on the same understanding of underlying principles.
    I only do it when springing a trap.
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  15. #14  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    I can't believe i fell for that one.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  16. #15  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista

    Feels like I'm taking part in a survey here. Better start engaging with us a bit here or we're not going to answer your questions any more.
    I think it's a huge mistake to deny someone knowledge when they ask for it.
    I think it's a bigger mistake to continue to give information to someone when it cannot be verified that the information has been understood. If the recipient does not ask questions or seek clarification, more information which does not address possible misapprehensions may in fact be damaging as it will be understood in an incorrect context. This is why dialogue is important.

    Add to that, this is a discussion forum, not a sample set for you to collect data from. I expect discussion to happen here.

    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Thank you for the knowledge you have shared thus far. I hope you continue to help me when I need your assistance.
    You're welcome. But I'm suspicious of your motives and cannot tell if you're understanding me. So I'm probably not going to help you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    I think it's a huge mistake to deny someone knowledge when they ask for it.
    I agree with you completely.

    So, why are you asking all these questions?
    Sometimes I like asking questions that I think people take for granted. If we are going to encourage scientific literacy then we must understand what our reasons are so that we can more effectively achieve our goal; we must know what it is that we seek lest we lose focus.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista

    I think it's a bigger mistake to continue to give information to someone when it cannot be verified that the information has been understood... But I'm suspicious of your motives and cannot tell if you're understanding me. So I'm probably not going to help you.
    I understood your response. It was very well phrased. You have helped me. Thank you.
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