4
Evolution and gravity

Seth MacFarlane, an atheist, responded to a Tweet from a follower that said something like “evolution is shaky ground,” to which he replied, “We understand evolution better than we understand gravity. Yet no one denies gravity.” I really hope all atheists aren’t as narrow-minded (yeah, I went there) as he revealed himself to be in that Tweet. Do most of you actually think that just because science has provided possible explanations for something, we should automatically take it more seriously than something else that is backed by less scientific proof? No one denies gravity because it’s constantly demonstrated to us as being real; it’s right in front of our faces every single day. Evolution may be supported by numerous scientific findings, but it is not demonstrated to us in our daily lives.

I hope I haven’t confused anyone. Would someone explain it to me if I’m simply not understanding what MacFarlane meant?

Posted: June 30th 2011

Eric_PK

Do most of you actually think that just because science has provided possible explanations for something, we should automatically take it more seriously than something else that is backed by less scientific proof?

Well, yeah.

To take the converse position – that you should take positions more seriously if they have less scientific proof – is pretty obviously an irrational approach.

As for what MacFarlane meant, my guess is that he’s referring to the question “how does work?”

For evolution, we understand the mechanics; we know how that organisms are coded in their DNA (though we’re still a long way from full understanding there), we know how the various processes (mutation, sexual reproduction) affect that DNA, and we understand how that leads to speciation over time.

The evidence before modern genomics was pretty good, and with genomics it’s overwhelming. That evolution has occured and the mechanics are a solved problem.

Gravity is a different beast. We know many of gravity’s effects but we don’t know why there is gravity (or even if that question can be answered), and our models aren’t great; there is still no good model that effectively unifies quantum mechanics and gravity.

Posted: July 6th 2011

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

donsevers www

it is not demonstrated to us in our daily lives.

Yes, it is. New flu vaccines come out regularly because the flu vaccine evolves. Evolution is routinely observed in petri dishes.

Dog breeders create new breeds. This is artificial selection. Why would species evolve only under pressure from humans and not from natural sources?

Researchers have seen the average length of beaks of finches get longer and shorter in response to rainfall variation. The seeds they eat get larger and smaller depending on how much rain there is.

Evolution has been observed. It is as much a fact as photosynthesis or pterodactyls.

Posted: July 6th 2011

See all questions answered by donsevers

Dave Hitt www

Do most of you actually think that just because science has provided possible explanations for something, we should automatically take it more seriously than something else that is backed by less scientific proof?

Of course. Does any other approach make sense?

And when it comes to evolution v. creationism we’re not talking less scientific proof, we’re talking mountains of scientific proof for evolution and absolutely no scientific proof, not the tiniest speck of it, for creationism. Creationist arguments boil down to “I can’t believe this, so creationism must be true” or “someone said god said it, so it must be true.” In other words, it’s based on emotions and feelings combined with the stories told by some violent goat headers six thousand years ago.

Posted: July 6th 2011

See all questions answered by Dave Hitt

SmartLX www

MacFarlane didn’t say there’s more evidence for evolution than there is for gravity. He said we understand evolution better than gravity, and he’s right.

It’s hard to find anything with more evidence for it than gravity, especially in light of astronomy, but we understand it very little. We know many things about it – that it creates force proportional to mass, that it’s consistent across all types of matter, that it even affects light – but we don’t know why it exists or what causes it. Einstein’s theory of relativity explains it one way, but quantum mechanics has no place for it and, in some aspects, contradicts relativity entirely. I’m honestly surprised that more Christians don’t credit God with gravity directly, since it’s about as omnipresent as He’s supposed to be and the competing theories are almost unintelligible to lay people.

By contrast, evolution by natural selection is very well understood because its underlying mechanism is really very simple: gene mutations between generations combined with selection pressure in the form of competitions for survival. The sheer amounts of time involved can be difficult to envision, but small changes over time add up to potentially limitless changes over enough time.

The evidence for unguided evolution isn’t in our faces every day (though of course several aspects of our faces are evidence) but when we do go looking for it, it’s there and it’s pretty straightforward. The majority of those who deny evolution have made no effort to understand it, and I know that because the most common arguments against evolution reveal deep mis-understandings. The clearest instance is that there are still many who ask why monkeys still exist if we evolved from them.

Posted: July 6th 2011

See all questions answered by SmartLX

 

Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum