Darwin on Trial
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28-11-2014, 02:55 PM
Darwin on Trial
I borrowed a book from my parents called "Darwin on Trial" by Phillip E. Johnson. Every time I visit it is prominently placed on a shelf of many Creationist books and it always draws my interest. Finally yesterday, I asked to borrow it.

As a skeptic and an amateur thinker who would like to understand more about science, I want to read books that disagree with my positions, not only those that agree. Therefore, I intend to read this book and post questions and comments here.

My understanding of accepted theories like Evolution is shallow and unsatisfying for me. I cannot give a basic coherent explanation of the theory while also explaining how it is that I know any of that, or how scientists do either. If there is anyone here who can answer my questions, I will appreciate and benefit from your answers greatly.

Chapter One: The Legal Setting

As of now I am only a few pages in and already finding it difficult to avoid rolling my eyes. Mr. Johnson is using the term "Evolutionist". Does anyone know what that is supposed to mean? I have only ever heard Creationists and others who do not accept the science of Evolution use this term. I have also noticed that it seems to denote their view that Evolution is not a traditional scientific theory, or model of observable nature, but is rather a faith based religion or philosophy.

I am concerned that Mr. Johnson is a Lawyer, not a scientist. Why should I not assume that Mr. Johnson is not entirely out of his depth? Why should I take the argument of someone who doesn't even participate in the scientific process?

Within the first few pages Mr. Johnson displays and understanding of the objections to "Creation Science" by mainstream scientists. He takes issue with a definition of Science that excludes supernatural explanations, which to me is fundamentally backwards. As far as I understand the method, it requires the ability to measure the evidence, to predict things in nature, and to have falsifiable hypothesis. What then is to be considered of the supernatural? There is nothing to measure, nothing to predict, to prove or disprove. Does anyone know what he is talking about?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

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28-11-2014, 03:17 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
(28-11-2014 02:55 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  As of now I am only a few pages in and already finding it difficult to avoid rolling my eyes. Mr. Johnson is using the term "Evolutionist". Does anyone know what that is supposed to mean? I have only ever heard Creationists and others who do not accept the science of Evolution use this term. I have also noticed that it seems to denote their view that Evolution is not a traditional scientific theory, or model of observable nature, but is rather a faith based religion or philosophy.

From what I can tell, they are working from the view that there are Baptists who all believe X and Methodists who all believe Y and Calvinists who all believe Z so everybody who accepts evolution must be an "Evolutionist" (or worse, a Darwinist, :shudder: ). When your whole world view is based on faith I can understand that you have to assume everybody else's is as well so from a religious perspective it makes sense. The problem is that they assume that we are absolutely dedicated to evolution being TRUTH because we reject the idea of god and not because we think it actually makes sense. I try to ignore it because it is just a symptom of projection of their skewed view of thinking.

Quote:I am concerned that Mr. Johnson is a Lawyer, not a scientist. Why should I not assume that Mr. Johnson is not entirely out of his depth? Why should I take the argument of someone who doesn't even participate in the scientific process?

His being a lawyer and not a scientist is a red flag but he could be self-educated to the point where he understands the theory well enough to write about it. It'll be pretty obvious immediately if he has no clue what he is talking about and at that point it doesn't matter what his vocation is. If he actually makes any reasonable arguments then those also shouldn't be ignored because of his vocation.

Quote:Within the first few pages Mr. Johnson displays and understanding of the objections to "Creation Science" by mainstream scientists. He takes issue with a definition of Science that excludes supernatural explanations, which to me is fundamentally backwards. As far as I understand the method, it requires the ability to measure the evidence, to predict things in nature, and to have falsifiable hypothesis. What then is to be considered of the supernatural? There is nothing to measure, nothing to predict, to prove or disprove. Does anyone know what he is talking about?

As soon as he is advocating for any solution that is not falsifiable or not based on verifiable evidence you can safely ignore his argument. Even if he turned out to be right there'd be no way to know until somebody else provided valid reasoning.

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02-12-2014, 05:41 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
(28-11-2014 02:55 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I borrowed a book from my parents called "Darwin on Trial" by Phillip E. Johnson. Every time I visit it is prominently placed on a shelf of many Creationist books and it always draws my interest. Finally yesterday, I asked to borrow it.

As a skeptic and an amateur thinker who would like to understand more about science, I want to read books that disagree with my positions, not only those that agree. Therefore, I intend to read this book and post questions and comments here.

My understanding of accepted theories like Evolution is shallow and unsatisfying for me. I cannot give a basic coherent explanation of the theory while also explaining how it is that I know any of that, or how scientists do either. If there is anyone here who can answer my questions, I will appreciate and benefit from your answers greatly.

Chapter One: The Legal Setting

As of now I am only a few pages in and already finding it difficult to avoid rolling my eyes. Mr. Johnson is using the term "Evolutionist". Does anyone know what that is supposed to mean? I have only ever heard Creationists and others who do not accept the science of Evolution use this term. I have also noticed that it seems to denote their view that Evolution is not a traditional scientific theory, or model of observable nature, but is rather a faith based religion or philosophy.

I am concerned that Mr. Johnson is a Lawyer, not a scientist. Why should I not assume that Mr. Johnson is not entirely out of his depth? Why should I take the argument of someone who doesn't even participate in the scientific process?

Within the first few pages Mr. Johnson displays and understanding of the objections to "Creation Science" by mainstream scientists. He takes issue with a definition of Science that excludes supernatural explanations, which to me is fundamentally backwards. As far as I understand the method, it requires the ability to measure the evidence, to predict things in nature, and to have falsifiable hypothesis. What then is to be considered of the supernatural? There is nothing to measure, nothing to predict, to prove or disprove. Does anyone know what he is talking about?

I'll happily answer any questions you might have. I'm no scientician, but I do know some things.

Anyway; Evolutionist.
The term 'evolutionist' is little more than an attempt to make those who support evolutionary theory appear as 'less than'. It's an attempt to draw a conceptual border between them and what the writer wants the audience to see as 'legitimate scientists'.
In the real world of science it is not a real term; no more so than using 'gravityist' to describe scientists who accept gravity.

As for the writer being a lawyer:
This is a common trend in creationist (Read: ID) material; they frequently get totally totally irrelevant "PhDs" to write books or attend speeches because it gives them a form of credibility with the rest of the... not necessarily scientific world. As far as I am aware, they've not a single working biologist. Got plenty of dentists though and lawyers though...
I think that to some extent, you should take the argument of people who don't participate in science seriously; but that's mostly because if you rejected non-expert opinions I'd have no right to speak on the matter. Just always remember to take it (especially ID stuff which is designed to obfuscate) with a metric ton of salt and try to verify the claims yourself.

If Johnson want's to take issue with how science is, than that's his problem. You are right; science requires testability, and with it falsifiability, to function. If you cannot question a claim, you cannot test to ensure that it is indeed correct or incorrect; it has no place in science.
If Johnson wants the supernatural to be included into scientific models, than he has to figure out a way in which the supernatural can be tested and verified. Otherwise it's just an unnecessary and unevidenced assumption.

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02-12-2014, 05:46 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
Not Guilty.

Drinking Beverage

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02-12-2014, 05:49 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
I am watching Richard III.

Throw that shit away and give that a try.

"Conscience is but a word that cowards use, devised at first to keep the strong in awe". - (Act V, Scene III).

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02-12-2014, 05:52 PM (This post was last modified: 02-12-2014 06:27 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Darwin on Trial
There is absolutely no point in writing such a piece of garbage. The Theory of Evolution in 2014 no longer rests on (except that he started the ball rolling along with a couple others, who almost beat him to it, or maybe did) ANYTHING that Darwin said or did. It has been verified millions of times, in millions of ways, including DNA. Darwin was wrong, (or incomplete) about a few things. Evolution no longer is reliant on anything he said or did. It stands on it's own, because it has been verified by scientific research. There is not one mainline academic science department in the entire world that thinks it's not essentially the most useful theory we have. New things about the ways it works are discovered all the time, and are no threat to its essential veracity.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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02-12-2014, 06:09 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
(02-12-2014 05:52 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There is absolutely no point in writing such a piece of garbage. The Theory of Evolution in 2014 no longer rests on (except that he started the ball rolling along with a couple others, who almost beat him to it, or maybe did) ANYTHING that Darwin said or did. It has been verified millions of times, in millions of ways, including DNA. Darwin was wrong, (or incomplete) about a few things. Evolution no longer is reliant onl anything he said or did. It stands on it's own, because it has been verified by scientific research. There is not one mainline academic science department in the entire world that thinks it's not essentially the most useful theory we have. New things about the ways it works are discovered all the time, and are no threat to its essential veracity.

I'm going to dispute that. What Darwin discovered was the algorithm on which everything else is built.
That the knowledge of genetics and biochemistry was still a century in the future only makes his accomplishment the greater.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-12-2014, 06:29 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
(02-12-2014 06:09 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(02-12-2014 05:52 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There is absolutely no point in writing such a piece of garbage. The Theory of Evolution in 2014 no longer rests on (except that he started the ball rolling along with a couple others, who almost beat him to it, or maybe did) ANYTHING that Darwin said or did. It has been verified millions of times, in millions of ways, including DNA. Darwin was wrong, (or incomplete) about a few things. Evolution no longer is reliant onl anything he said or did. It stands on it's own, because it has been verified by scientific research. There is not one mainline academic science department in the entire world that thinks it's not essentially the most useful theory we have. New things about the ways it works are discovered all the time, and are no threat to its essential veracity.

I'm going to dispute that. What Darwin discovered was the algorithm on which everything else is built.
That the knowledge of genetics and biochemistry was still a century in the future only makes his accomplishment the greater.

He elucidated the essential insight. It has never been seriously threatened.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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03-12-2014, 07:11 AM
RE: Darwin on Trial
For the hard-of-reading...




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03-12-2014, 04:27 PM
RE: Darwin on Trial
(03-12-2014 07:11 AM)DLJ Wrote:  For the hard-of-reading...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ozxKMbHAQ

I tried to get through that. I really did. I just can't do it. Now I've got to find something science-based to wash the brain clean of the stain it left.

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