29th November 2011

“Creationist critics often charge that evolution cannot be tested, and therefore cannot be viewed as a properly scientific subject at all. This claim is rhetorical nonsense.”

Stephen Jay Gould1941 – 2002

8 Responses to “29th November 2011”

  1. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    It is at least comedy that “no doctrinal conflict exists between evolution and Catholic faith” at the Vatican. Comedy in that here in the US we have madmen like Ken Ham running around claiming there is such a conflict.

    The Catholic church does move, albeit at a snails pace, on science.

    Gould, a Jewish agnostic, campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two distinct fields, or “magisteria”, whose authorities do not overlap.

    As Richard Dawkins has said and I agree “few religions exist without miracles impinging on the scientific magisterium”

  2. captainzero Says:

    I have to say I disagree with Dawkins. No miracle as EVER impinged upon the scientific magisterium, at least successfully. I know I know. He wasn’t conceding a successful challenge by the forces of woo. 🙂

    Pertaining to the quote, anyone making the claim that evolution, as a scientific theory, hasn’t been tested is disqualified from the argument for sheer stupidity. What theory has withstood a more determined attack and had it’s predictions proven and reinforced time and again? Not tested? Hell, we’ve witnessed it, for christ’s sake.

    In my limited experience with creationists, the ones that disbelieve the theory:
    a. Don’t know what ‘theory’ means in a scientific context.
    b. Have never taken a college level biology course.
    c. Have been purposely misinformed by religious zealots.
    d. All of the above.

    Sadly, d is the most common right answer.

  3. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Well Cap’n I’d suggest that “walking on water” as described in the bible would have a negative effect or impact upon what science tells us about the surface tension of water if people were expected to believe he did.

    My answer to your quiz question is “d”. In terms of actually upsetting scientific theory I agree with you, no miracle has ever been proven to have even happened, much less been studied. That isn’t what Dawkins is saying though.

    Stephen Jay Gould, perhaps to avoid a zealots backlash, doesn’t discount religion out of hand. He showed a scientific respect or tolerance toward religion by identifying it as a distinct field that didn’t overlap its authority one upon another.

    That is a cute way of avoiding what Dawkins quite often embraces. I think Dawkins is saying “you can’t have it both ways”, if one says a man walked on water, that violates what we know to be true in the other. No one ever walked on water.

  4. Jeff Says:

    Sorry to be contrary, Sinjin, but I’ve seen non-Newtonian liquids in action, and water, with the addition of enough cornstarch, becomes such. The following clip from season 7 of Mythbusters demonstrates:


    Of course, it took 1 lb of cornstarch per gallon of water to get the effect, and since JC didn’t have corn available…

    As to the quote, and Cap’n’s quiz, you are quite correct to choose D, and to borrow from an SF author whose name is eluding me in an early Alzheimer’s moment, “Think of it as evolution in action”.

  5. NatureofReality Says:

    Creationists claim that evolution can not be tested, as if they are supporting a hypothesis that can be tested, What The F&*K? I’d call that a lie and double standards.


    More proof: IGNORANCE = GOD, always has, always will.

  6. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Yes Jeff I was thinking of water as just that water, or at least water as it exists without massive amounts of cornstarch being added to it. Streams, brooks, lakes and ponds, the ocean and such.

    I don’t think it is reliable to believe JC was strolling across the water as we commonly think of water in nature.

    Still Capn’s objection was “No miracle as EVER impinged upon the scientific magisterium” adding the mythbusters cornstarch to the mix wasn’t mentioned in the bible and would if it were support the scientific view more than qualify a religous miracle.

    Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven

  7. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for the help with the Alzheimer’s moment, sir. One of my favorite replies to rampant displays of IQDS (IQ Deficit Syndrom). Particularly those involving the awards named for Mr. Darwin.

  8. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Hey folks! Check this link http://blogs.psychcentral.com/always-learning/2011/11/my-fathers-reassuring-atheism/#comment-1740

    Very nice article.