I hit environmentalists yesterday, it’s only fair to get a few punches into the other side today.
So the idiot known as Rick Perry (In case you’re wondering I do believe in the 11th Commandment, I just don’t think it applies to RINOS) has brought the stupid argument of “evolution is only a theory” up again (or at least I’ve heard it over and over again over the last few weeks). Thank you moron for once again showing how nobody understands science. At least Bachmann consistently says her religious beliefs are not her top priorities right now and then hammers away on the economy, foreign policy, and strict constructivist interpretation of the Constitution. But no, not Perry. Let’s talk creationism. Even, let’s say you agree with Perry, you have to admit, making such a statement clearly lacks a certain sense of common sense and priorities. It horrifies me that this man is currently in the lead. (Yes I do like that he called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, although it is unfair to Ponzi schemes as those you joined voluntarily, Social Security just steals my money).
So let’s deal with what the word theory means in science. It means we have an idea that seems to explain everything about what we’re looking at, but we can’t quite come up with an experiment to test the falsifiability of that idea. That’s it. It means we can’t engineer an experiment to prove it right or wrong. Now in a million years after we’ve written volumes of history and documented changes in almost all the species in the world we’ll be able to demonstrate that evolution does in fact exist…but until then it’s a theory. But let’s look at some other theories to show you what a theory is and why you should trust in some theories (the ones with, you know, proof) and ignore others (possibly the ones that require you to deny basic facts of existence).
Gravity. The dripping pipe
Gravity is a theory…or more accurately exactly what gravity is is a theory. Right now the theory states that mass curves space-time around it creating depressions in reality that other mass falls into. This replaced Newton’s idea that mass attracts mass. This replaced Aristotle’s idea that heavy stuff falls down and lighter stuff constantly tries to rise and only through the acts of the gods does it not just completely separate like oil and water in a glass (I love Aristotle, and will defend his philosophy any day, and while some of his science now sounds silly all I will say to that idea is that did anyone in 500 B.C. have a better idea? No. Don’t knock him when he was centuries ahead of anyone else…and it took two millennia to come up with something better). However back to what the theory is now—the curve in space-time. This seems to work for now. Although Newton seemed to work pretty well when he came up with it, and Aristotle’s was effective enough that no one needed to rewrite it for 2,000 years. But we can prove that light bends around really big objects, the curving space thing makes sense for now. For now which is why it’s only a theory. It is all kind of dependent on things actually having mass, which those bright guys at CERN seem to be having trouble proving. (Yes that’s right they can’t find the particle which is supposed to give things mass, which means either our understanding of quantum particles is bunk, or they need to do more experiments. Let’s hope they come up with something because most of my actions every day are based on the idea that things have mass…I’d hate to be proven wrong.)
I put this one in here because no denies that gravity exists. It’s a theory because we don’t understand WHY or HOW it works, even if we know it works. Thus you have to understand that lots of things in science can be called theories even if their existence is a fact. As theories go gravity is like a loose pipe (the kind that you get a drop out of every couple of days)—it’s perfectly functional, you don’t notice the problems unless you really know what to look for and you probably will never have to replace it.
Evolution however is a theory that leaks like a sieve.
And to deny this is foolish. There are a lot of holes in evolution. We all know this. There lots of gaps in the evolutionary record for just about every single species. What do you expect? We’re relying on a process of turning bone into stone for our records. It’s not an exact process with a high rate of success.
Further there are obvious problems with modern evolutionary theory. Even though I believe in it, punctuated equilibrium just has the slight taste of duct tape and bailing wire on the theory. And there are those gaping holes called how did life start? And how exactly did a highly evolved chimp suddenly become sentient?
However for all these holes that have yet to be plugged with proof, evolution is the only theory that satisfactorily describes evidence in genetics, geology, the fossil record, carbon dating, biology, and have half dozen other fields. We have gas in the fossil record, yes, but strangely we have species Y in the fossil record, and it looks like a halfway point between species X and species Z and low and behold the carbon dating says that it existed right in between the times that those other two species existed. And we have thousands of examples of this! You don’t have to be a Nobel laureate to put one and one together and get two.
Oh, and at the bacterial level where a generation lasts about 30 minutes, we actually can document and prove that species will evolve into new species. It would just be madness to think that if it works in single cell asexual reproduction to think that the more chaotic, more changeable, sexual reproduction of larger species would lead to similar changes.
Do we understand how every mechanism in evolution works? Hell no. Does it fill in all the gaps in the fossil record? Nope. Can you tell me the exact decent of chimp to man and all the sub species it was in between and at what time it existed? Nope, and I don’t have to. I’m sure the timeline will be rewritten a thousand times over the next thousand years, and species we thought evolved from one species will be found to have actually evolved from another species. But to say that evolution isn’t a fact is preposterous. The only other explanation for the evidence at present is that God is just a prick and wanted to screw with us. If that’s the case I really hate God and refuse to follow, obey, or even listen to such an asshole. But since I have a pretty reasonable justification for God not being a sociopath…well that just leaves evolution.
Now I will however say that at present the theory does have some gaping holes. As I said it doesn’t explain how random chemicals suddenly became self-replicating DNA. It doesn’t explain how sentience came about. It doesn’t explain the platypus (there is no way in hell that thing wasn’t intentionally designed as a joke).
Evolution with Intelligent Design, back to the leaky pipe.
Let me begin by saying that the term “Intelligent Design” has been applied to two different theories. One I will call Rational Intelligent Design and one I will call the Idiot’s Intelligent Design. (Can you guess which side I’m on?)
Idiot’s Intelligent Design is probably what you think of when you hear Intelligent Design. It’s preposterous pseudo-Creationist argument that God personally caused every single change in every single species over history. Not gently nudged here or there. Every change was because God said so. And it was all designed with creating a world for humans in mind. What the people who argue in favor of this don’t realize is that this makes God just a shitty planner. What was that whole side track with the dinosaurs for if God had his hand in everything? What the hell was the purpose of creating spiders! And cockroaches! No sane deity would ever create those for the fun of it.
Now rational Intelligent Design simply states that you need God at about 4 places. 1. Jump starting the big bang. 2. Turning those random amino acids into self replicating DNA. 3. Designing the platypus as the universe’s greatest joke. 4. Sentience comes to a highly evolved chimp. It boils down to the idea that God said “Let there be evolution!” and then you had the big bang…and then he added souls to the first sufficiently evolved creature. It’s basically what Deists were arguing a couple hundred years ago. There is a God, but he set up a bunch of rules for the universe to run itself. Probably because he’s more concerned with our souls than the specifics of how the classroom our souls exist in came about. This rational version of intelligent design simply plugs up some of the biggest holes in the theory of evolution…you know the few parts where science has yet to come up with a satisfactory answer. Don’t like it? Come up with a better answer. (And not Richard Dawkins’ crappy “aliens” could have created life on Earth…which begs the question, “What created the aliens?”…I get the feeling for an idiot like Dawkins it’s turtles all the way down.)
The Big Bang…a little leakier than evolution.
There is nothing that adequately explains red shift and background radiation like the Big Bang theory. However there are a lot of unanswered questions even when you use the theory. Again, until something better comes along, this is actually a good theory…but it is intellectual dishonesty to say that it’s a strong theory given on what shaky premises it’s based on. That doesn’t make it wrong; it just makes it a weak theory. It’s got a lot of problems. For instance Einstein first believed it required something called the cosmological constant (trust me you would get bored if I fully explained it), then he thought that was a stupid idea…but now it’s coming back into style. It’s actually a really big piece of explaining the mystery that is the universe and science can’t figure out if it exists or doesn’t. There are some holes in this theory. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just means it’s got a ways to go.
And here is the turning point…here is where theories start going from this is based in science and seems to fit 99% of the data to wer’re just making this stuff up as we go.
Then you have the myth of Global Warming.
Actually global warming is a fact as it happens every year around May here in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m talking about the theory that man’s advancement and burning of fossil fuels has caused the earth to get really warmer, I mean really colder, I mean that weather has gotten really weird…even though it actually looks like what weather has always looked like. But ignore those facts. Ignore that in the past, long before Industrialization, it got hotter and colder than our records in the last hundred years all without the help of man-made green house gases, thus scientifically we didn’t need to add anything. Ignore the sun. Ignore that some glaciers are still getting bigger. Ignore that the current trends that do exists started long before the industrial boom of this century, ignore that the sea levels are not rising, ignore everything that contradicts blind faith in this religion—err, I mean this scientific theory. As holes in scientific theories go, Man Made Climate Change is like taking a McDonald’s coffee cup, tearing out the bottom of the cup, putting the cup on your lap and pouring a freshly brewed pot of coffee into your cup. And then demanding someone else pay for whatever medical bills your idiocy brought about.
And finally we have Rick Perry’s favorite theory….
The theory of creationism. The idea that we should treat the Bible as scientific evidence, that the Earth is only a little over 6,000 years old, that the dinosaurs were wiped out by Noah’s flood and that all species were not only created in a single day by a divine creator, but that Noah was able to get all those species on his boat. (Given the millions upon millions of species in the world, you can see why there was no room for the unicorns). As scientific theories go, and yes there are people who seem to treat this as a scientific theory, Rick Perry among them, this thing has holes in it that I could drive an aircraft carrier fleet through. You have to ignore carbon dating (in other words basic chemistry), the millions of years it took the light from certain stars to reach us (in other words basic physics), the numerous levels of fossils and soil deposits (in other words basic geology), and the numerous similarities between species and that evolution at the single cell level for bacteria and viruses isn’t a theory it’s a provable fact (in other words basic biology)…in other words I’m not quite sure that there is any hard science you don’t have to ignore to believe in creationism. Now you are more than free to believe all those sciences are wrong, and that God has a really sick sense of humor in trying to fool you with all that hard data that contradicts the Biblical interpretation (oh I should mention this is not just Judeo-Christians, I know a Hindu who devoutly believes their religion’s creation myths without questions) but don’t expect me to respect your intellect at any level. And certainly don’t expect me to vote for an idiot like you if you are actually going to brag about having this claptrap taught in the schools. I’m sorry but Johnny Cochran had a stronger case than the case against evolution. Just because the minutia of theory hasn’t been worked out, much like there is minutia in gravity that doesn’t fit our exact theory of what it is, doesn’t mean that the broad strokes aren’t correct. On the one side you have a pile of evidence from numerous branches of science and personal experience that even if there is a God (which there is) he doesn’t get involved in gigantic ways, on the other side you have a book, a contradictory, heavily rewritten over the course of time, primarily allegorical book. Hmm… tough call on which one is a stronger scientific theory. God gave me reason, I think he expected me to use it. I have no problem teaching the holes in the theory of evolution, but teaching fables other than just mentioning the fact, some people disregard all scientific evidence and believe whatever they believe, fine….but teaching Creationism? I don’t think Intelligent Design (which I believe in) should be taught at the high school level, because it deals with complexities that are usually beyond the scope of a high school classroom—to bring it up would waste time that should be spent studying species taxonomy and cell biology and how organ systems work.
I’m trying to think of a theory more preposterous…and the only thing I can think of is Keynesian Economics…but that’s social science not the hard sciences, so we’ll save that for another day.