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Are these misquotes or not?

Discussion in 'Creation & Evolution' started by npetreley, Jun 6, 2002.

  1. randman

    randman Active Member

    "I think that the quotes are valid if they are used to support the claim that the fossil record can at times appear problematic for evolution."

    Thanks, you would have had gained some respect had you taken this kind of reasoned line a long time ago.
  2. LiveFreeOrDie

    LiveFreeOrDie Science Officer

    Great. So I take it you understand the difference between these two statements:

    "The fossil record appears problematic"

    "The fossil record is problematic"
  3. randman

    randman Active Member

    yea, the first is your opinion, and second is fact (lol).
  4. RufusAtticus

    RufusAtticus PopGen Grad Student


    Can you explain to us where Archaeopteryx fits into God's plan?
  5. theyre here

    theyre here Supreme Skeptic

    Has anyone else noticed this:

    We have a creationist (or several creationists) picking and choosing seemingly contradictory statements (subtlety contradictive at best) about evolution, from a massively large body of work on the topic. The effort seems to be to find contradictions and/or variances of opinion to disprove evolutionary science, thus, in the hopes of eventually proving creation.

    Hmmm…. This seems oddly familiar. It smacks of what Christians would not have atheists do:

    We often see atheists picking and choosing seemingly contradictory verses about historical fact from a massively large body of work, the Bible. The effort of atheists seems to be to find contradictions and/or variances of fact to disprove the accuracy of the Bible, thus, questioning the accuracy of the entire body of work.

    Certainly I’m not suggesting that the literary efforts by the scientists of evolutionary science compare to the Bible, however, we’re seeing a tactic used by creationists they would like atheists to refrain from when analyzing the primary Christian literary effort.

  6. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    I've addressed this already. I am not calling scientists stupid or inept, and you know it. You are interpreting it that way, but that's in YOUR head, not mine.

    I've backed up everything I've said with quotes from the evolutionists themselves. For example, Lewontin pretty much comes right out and says that he feels it is necessary to examine the evidence with materialist blinders on. Just because you happen to think this is right doesn't mean it fails to substantiate my claim that scientists "filter" the evidence through their interpretive assumptions and a-priori positions.

    As for "imagination," what more do you need than the quote from Gould? Gould, for whom I have little respect, admits that "The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at their tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." He's saying two things here -- the conclusions aren't from the fossils themselves (the evidence tm) but the conclusions are instead based on "inference." "Inference" is just another way of saying "what we imagine to be true based on what we understand from what we see." He says the inference is reasonable, but that doesn't make it so. You may think it is reasonable. I do not. How can it be reasonable if your imagination is filtered through a-priori assumptions? But whether you think it's reasonable or not, it's still imagination, not facts.

    And before you flame me for dissing an evolutionist hero, let me offer yet another quote, this one by John Maynard Smith, a well-known British neo-Darwinist (from New York Review of Books, 1994):

    There you not only have a low opinion of Gould and his work, but a blatant admission that evolutionists hesitate to criticize poor research and bad ideas if by doing so it encourages creationists.

    What was that I heard someone say about how great science is because theories get peer review? Seems like the peer review is rather biased, to me. And that claim is substantiated right above.

    Finally, as far as I can recall, I never said anyone made up evidence. It has been done, and you know that, too, but it is infrequent and deliberate fraud, and therefore it really doesn't have anything to do with what I've been talking about. I'm talking about spiritual blindness and tunnel vision.

    If you still don't think I've backed up my claims, then obviously nothing will satisfy you.
  7. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    I can answer that. Satan created a bug that was messing up a garden in what is now known as North Dakota, so God created Archaeopteryx to eat it.

    It's not Biblical, but I assure you that's exactly why God did it. It is at least as reliable as the evolutionist's view of how Archaeopteryx fits into the scheme of things.
  8. Jerry Smith

    Jerry Smith Fish out of water

    It looks to me like you are taking it on faith that these few words uttered by two or three figures adequately represents what is being done in the science research universities around the world. You are certainly putting out a lot of bluster on such weak evidence...

    By the way, on the issue of "peer review": your interpretation of the suggestion that people should refrain from "publicly criticizing" Gould is antithetical to peer review is revealing.

    If you want to back up your allegations and accusations by quoting confessions, you are going to have to collect a lot more than three. If you want to limit your allegations and accusations to the scientists you can find a quoted confession from (and be sure the accusation matches the confession), that would be fine too.

    Jimmy Swaggart admitted to hiring a prostitute.. You don't see me in general apologetics ranting that all Christianity is is a prostitution ring!

    Furthermore, your quotes, and the way you choose to interpret them (and the interpretation you encourage others to make), do not support your opinions:

    Lewontin says that science is materialistic. Big surprise.. Which of your accusations is this support for?

    Gould says that phylogenetic trees in textbooks only have fossil data at the "tips"... so what? He says there is inference ("imagination") - of course there is inference. Science could not proceed without it: you claim that is all there is, there is ONLY "imagination". That is bunk. Back it up, this quote doesn't work.

    If this is the best you can do to back up your allegations, you need to quit making them. Doing so is tantamount to slander, since you obviously have no real basis for them.

    If you want to make accusations from this, then accuse Lewontin - of being a materialist. Accuse Gould, of not telling the whole story of evolution in every sentence. Accuse John M Smith - of being cautious about letting the public get word of the controversy over Gould's theories, as he is one of the few willing to go out and fight the never-ending battles against the creationists.
  9. DonaldW112

    DonaldW112 New Member

    I like how you changed from "examine the evidence with materialist blinders" to "scientists 'filter' the evidence". These are two very different things. Scientists look at the evidence (all the evidence) and look for materialistics interpretations. And guess what -- IT WORKS. Discoveries are made, science moves forward, technology gets developed. Back when supernatural explainations were allowed this was not the case.

    So what is your point with this quote. I think we have beaten this one to death.
  10. Jerry Smith

    Jerry Smith Fish out of water

    The only a-priori assumption that this "imagination" (or inference) is filtered through is the assumption that, if we look, an answer or explanation might be found that is natural. Not a bad assumption. It has been born out often in science.

    What the inferences ARE filtered through are the data that they predict. Without evidence, the inferences are empty. Reasonable, but empty.

    Your views about what inference mean seem to be badly skewed, and are obviously are the result of misunderstanding the words of one or two scientists. That's not surprising - that is probably what the creationists who put those scientists' words on their web-site intended to happen. Nevertheless, instead of repeatedly making the accusations until someone gets you to admit what they are based on (something you never made clear, except in the case of the Lewontin quote) is no way to learn.. If I were in your position, I might have asked...

    "Hey guys.. Lewontin says so&so an Gould says so & so.. JM Smith says so & so.... Are their opinions on these points characterstic of the overall community? Is that how science is done, or is there more to it? If there is more to it, could you explain what? Can I make any broad generalizations about science in general or evolution in particular from these quotes?"

    It is clearly obvious that you did not already know the answer to those questions. It would have been better to ask them than to continue to be combatative and insulting until someone gives you the answers, and does it rudely because they have already run out of patience with you.
  11. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    Blinders and filters are the same thing. Blinders "filter out" things on the periphery.

    What is my point? It's a modification of what you said:

    Scientists look at the evidence (all of the AVAILABLE evidence they THINK is relevant) and look for materialistics explanations. And guess what -- they hypothesize materialistic explanations! They don't consider the possibility of supernatural explanations. And guess what -- they don't hypothesize any supernatural explanations!

    Well, fancy that.

    You'll no doubt say that since science does not study the supernatural, the above is perfectly logical. Fine, but if the supernatural is true, it is also a wild goose chase. As I've said time and time again, if the supernatural is true, scientists will never find out it is true because they look at everything with materialist blinders on. They will never find out that they've been wasting all their time concocting fantasy materialistic explanations, because they never even consider the possibility that anything other than material causes were at work. (Well not NEVER...they WILL find out eventually.)

    Also, your tired comparison between technology and evolution is ridiculous. The technology that produces things like computers is based on what we can test today. Evolution is based on how we interpret things that we assume happened long ago, and cannot go back in time to confirm.
  12. Jerry Smith

    Jerry Smith Fish out of water

    The point is they wouldn't find out if anything other than material causes were at work ANYWAY, EVEN IF THEY WERE HYPOTHESIZING SUCH, because science is not equipped to test such hypotheses.... Why waste time on idle speculation? If naturalistic science leads to a blind alley, so be it.
  13. LiveFreeOrDie

    LiveFreeOrDie Science Officer

    Unfortunately you have failed to show why this committment to materialism is a problem for science. You haven't provided any examples of useful knowledge about the world that a non-materialistic methodology would help us discover. You haven't given us any examples of how we distinguish between valid and useful non-material hypotheses and invalid and useless ones.

    For all your carping about science's committment to material explanations, you've done precious little to show why this is a problem for understanding the material world.

    If your a-priori assumptions are reasonable, then it follows that your inferences will also be reasonable. Science assumes that the world is material in nature and operates according to natural laws. The overwhelming success of the scientific endeavour is a strong indicator that there is some validity to the scientific assumptions.

    And then you talk about imagination like it's a dirty word. In fact isn't it our imagination that separates us from the rest of creation? Without imagination, without the ability to infer and extrapolate, the world would seem like a bunch of disconnected random events. Our ability to imagine causes and processes behind the events we observe is what allows us to make sense of the world.

    The whole goal of science is to separate out those imaginary ideas that are useful in describing nature from those that aren't. That's why we take an antibiotic when we have an infection instead of visiting a shaman. The imaginary concept of "germs" proved to be a useful and accurate model for the cause of real diseases. The scientific method allowed us to test and refine our idea and to imagine new extensions to the germ theory and to test them, too. All of our scientific theories, every one, started out as a flicker of human imagination.

    Evolution, too is a product of human imagination. But it has been tested and confirmed to such an extent that it remains by far the best explanation for the origin of species. Can you imagine another theory that explains the data better?

    You make it seem like your claim is proven, but the real picture is rather more complicated. First of all, Smith is referring to public criticism of Gould, not to professional peer review of his publications. Sort of like the difference between giving someone a one-on-one performance review vs. a public reprimand.
    Second, you haven't shown that the bias is anything other than a Smith/Gould personal thing. You need to show that the bias is systematic and broad-based.

    If this explanation had any validity, then why are there any religious people at all who accept evolutionary theory as largely correct? Are they just dupes?
  14. LewisWildermuth

    LewisWildermuth Senior Veteran

    Npetreley, I think you are haveing a problem with the definition used in this thread of a misquote. In this case the person being quoted may have said those exact things but what is often left out is the context that gives the meaning to what is said.

    for example I could say:

    "Limestone is a sedimentary rock that takes thousands of of years to build up to any decent depth"

    and if you quote me as saying "Sedimentary rock that takes thousands of years to form"

    You have not technacly misquoted me until you then try to use that in an argument that fosilized trees could not exist if the sedimentary rock they are in takes so long to form. For I was talking about limestone and not the kind of rock that pertrified trees are found in.

    Does that help?
  15. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    Yes, but I think we were already talking about the same thing.
  16. LiveFreeOrDie

    LiveFreeOrDie Science Officer

    Not necessarily true. If supernatural forces were involved in setting up the universe and its natural laws and then left it to run its course, then the scientific method is still perfectly valid.

    That's OK with me, because in the mean time they are curing the sick, feeding the hungry, and working to eliminate drudgery and toil from our lives. I hardly consider all of these positive benefits to be time wasted, do you?

    Christianity is based on how we interpret things that we assume happened long ago, and cannot go back in time to confirm. I guess that means it's invalid then, eh?
  17. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    Um, because it might be true?

    Well, if in the interest of being a faithful follower of The Material Cause you don't mind spending your life on a wild goose chase, then enjoy.

    See "blind alley."

    And if your a-priori assumptions are wrong, then it follows that your inferences are likely to be wrong.

    You're off topic. We're not talking about the nature of the world as it is today, we're talking about speculation on how it got here and how we humans came to be.

    They are perfectly valid for studying "how natural things work today." They are not necessarily valid for studying "how these natural things came to be."

    No I don't. Imagination is wonderful. What I find reprehensible is when scientists use their imagination and then call it fact based on evidence.

    Creation. We disagree. So what? If we stick with just this one exchange (starting with "Evolution, too, is a product..." then I have no problem with this conversation whatsoever. I don't mind that you disagree, and I hope you don't mind that I do. It's when you start calling evolution a fact that I start to get testy.

    I would be shocked if you would really say that you don't see the bias in his statement. That's my point. It is possible, but extremely difficult to separate one's bias out of one facet of your work and not another. So while I would not go so far as to say that Smith would let his personal bias interfere with a peer review (he may be good at keeping it out at the appropriate times), I would definitly say that this demonstrates there is an "acceptable" bias in the scientific community against creationism, and therefore it is reasonable to suspect that the bias DOES interfere with peer review. To what extent is something I could not say, but IMO it clearly does interfere.

    Why are there scientists who believe in creation? Are they just dupes?

    What difference does it make? Did I miss the day when truth suddenly became determined by popularity polls?
  18. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    When did I ever say that the scientific method is invalid?

    ROFL!!! First of all, God is responsible for providing food in the first place so you ain't feedin' nobody without His help. Second, I don't know what YOU do for a living, but most people I know work more hours per week now than their parents did. So that part about "eliminating toil" is questionable, although IMO it is mostly a social problem.

    Is science producing wonderful things? Sure! We're also using it to invent: new viral and bacterial plagues! bigger and better nuclear weapons! ways to force farmers to pay for wheat every year (thanks to cross-pollination and Monsanto, the "Microsoft" of genetic engineers)! and so on.

    So what's your point? Whether science produces nothing but joy in our lives or nothing but pain, how does that make evolution any more likely to be true or false?

    So who is arguing about that? Science may be in denial about the consequences of evolution being false, but Christianity is certainly not in denial about the consequences of Christianity being false. It's right there in the Bible. See 1 Corinthians 15:17-19

  19. Jerry Smith

    Jerry Smith Fish out of water

    And it will still "might be true" after we have idled away our years speculating about it. Science can't find out if it is true, because science cannot test the hypothesis. It is beyond the scope of science. So again, why should a scientists take time away from his work for idle speculation about the supernatural?

    There is no "Material Cause", but there are often material causes - and science is awfully good at ferretting them out, when the scientists aren't too distracted by their idle speculations about topics beyond the scope of their discipline. There is a search for understanding of nature. The wild goose chase has already produced fabulous results.. I'll take that kind of wild goose chase over idle speculation any day.
  20. npetreley

    npetreley pumpkin sailor

    Um, because it might be true?

    You keep saying stuff like this but it's not only false, it's one of the silliest arguments I've ever heard. Regardless of what good or bad science has produced, science is not equal to evolution. Why do you seem to think that if you stop believing in evolution you'll miraculously lose the all the knowledge and ability required to invent a better digital watch?