What is a theory? Evidence for some theories...

renewed

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Continued from this thread jack...

Based on what I've seen, my theory is that republicans are better for this country then democrats. Based on what I've seen, God exists. Based on what I've seen, the world was created through creationism.
What is a theory? According to Merriam-Webster it is:

1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : speculation
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>
4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn> b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>
5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>
6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : conjecture c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>
For the sake of today's discussion let's look at the last two.

5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>
6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : conjecture c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>

I'm sure many of you can agree on this. But what is an acceptable general principle? Is there one? Let's check out a little thing called demarcation...

The boundaries are commonly drawn between science and non-science, between science and pseudoscience, between science and philosophy and between science and religion.[2] A form of this problem, known as the generalized problem of demarcation subsumes all three cases.
After over a century of dialogue among philosophers of science and scientists in varied fields, and despite broad agreement on the basics of scientific method,[3] the boundaries between science and non-science continue to be debated.[4]
Okay so we can conclude that true theory based on a general principle can be hard to come by, right? However, most of us can agree on the Scientific Method... what is that?

Ask a Question
Do Background Research
Construct a Hypothesis
Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Communicate Your Results
Let's try this out real quick on something most of us can agree on...

Do some birds eat bird seed?
From research it seems some birds do eat small seeds.
I bet if I put out birdseed, some birds will eat it.
I set out bird seed to see if they will eat it.
It was seen that some birds did eat the bird seed
Birds were seen eating the bird seed that I set out. My conclusion is some birds eat bird seed.

This a fairly simple and rather hard to argue example of the Scientific Method. If everything was this easy then of course it would show that it holds true. Now let's try something a little more difficult.

I see an ant on my counter.

Why is this ant here?
Ant's like food. Sometimes they hunt for it.
The ant is looking for food.
I set out a sugar cube to see if the ant takes it.
The ant did not take it so the ant wasn't looking for food.
I conclude the ant had another purpose.

This can't be proven. Just because the ant did not take the sugar cube, does not mean it was not looking for food. This is an experimental fallacy.

The same holds true about religion. "I have not seen God, therefore he does not exist." This cannot be proven or disproven. So does that mean this is not science? One would argue that God is the basis for all science, without Him we would not exist. Others would argue that science itself disproves God because he cannot be proven via the Scientific Method. This is the point of demarcation.

The short conclusion to this is that, yes some science is based on opinion. My opinion is that God does exist and some others is that He doesn't.

Let's take something else. There is a lot of proof for Darwin's theory of evolution in the creation of humans, and a lot of evidence against it. Both are theories. An opinion must come to rest for someone to take either side. Why is it an opinion? Because neither can be proven with 100% certainty.
 

Queso

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Science looks for evidence to back up its hypotheses. Religion says "this is the answer, so ****". No comparison.
 

renewed

macrumors 68040
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Can you name any of this so called evidence against Darwin's theory? Without using your bible, please.
I actually believe in some evolution. It's the chimps to humans that I do not. I'll shoot a quick question for you... if chimps evolved into our now present day humans... why didn't they all evolve? Surely evolution is based on evolving for survival... if becoming human was best for the species, why did some stay back and how did they survive?

And your point is... ? That in your opinion there is a god?
That science is full of opinion... which was being argued against in another thread. Started this one as to leave that thread alone out of respect of the OP.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
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Hold on. Is the issue now just theories or what constitute a scientific theory and what it takes to become classified as one in the scientific field? The latter is what I was getting at in the last thread.
 

renewed

macrumors 68040
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Bemalte Blumen duften nicht.
Hold on. Is the issue now just theories or what constitute a scientific theory and what it takes to become classified as one in the scientific field? The latter is what I was getting at in the last thread.
If you read my post you will see that the scientific theory is used as an example. Check out demarcation, which is solely based on the scientific theory or better yet the scientific method used to derive such theories.
 

leekohler

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Hold on. Is the issue now just theories or what constitute a scientific theory and what it takes to become classified as one in the scientific field? The latter is what I was getting at in the last thread.
Exactly- we were discussing scientific theory. I still have seen no scientific method proving there is a "God".
 

Mac'nCheese

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I actually believe in some evolution. It's the chimps to humans that I do not. I'll shoot a quick question for you... if chimps evolved into our now present day humans... why didn't they all evolve? Surely evolution is based on evolving for survival... if becoming human was best for the species, why did some stay back and how did they survive?
That's the question people have been using for decades and here is the simple answer: no one knows. We may never know. That does not disprove evolution at all. Here's my problem with religion and arguements like you are making (and I say this with all due respect, I enjoy a could go-around with religious people and don't mean to demean you or your religion; I just disagree with it, anyway...); Mankind has always wanted to know where they came from, how the world was created, how the universe works, etc. A long time ago, people had no idea about the things we take for granted now and made up what is now seen as ridiculous reasons for how the unvierse works. That giant fire ball in the sky? Must be a firey chariot being dragged across the sky by giant horses. They believed that as much as people believe in Jesus, Moses, etc today. We now know better, of course. I can't put myself in their shoes, so to speak, but I find it silly to think Well, I don't know how something works, so it must be gods or magic. I can't give you a blow by blow on exactlly how evolution worked. Maybe noone ever will. But to then have to say, well, since I can't figure it out, it must be god! I mean, its so silly to think we came from apes to some people but the magic man in the sky makes sense? I honestly don't get it. I can sit down with religious people and show all the mistakes in the bible and they will come up with any reason to still have to believe in it. It says the Earth is a few thousands years old. We know, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that this is wrong but NOPE! Its the word of god, has to be true. Yet I can't show you a video of how evolution works down to every last detail so we throw that theory right out the window. Forget the fossils just found, forget all the scientific evidence...nope! Magic man in the sky! He did it all because science can't answer your questions 100%. I. Just. Don't. Get. It.
 

djellison

macrumors 68020
Feb 2, 2007
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A scientific theory...

  • Explains a natural phenomenon.
  • Predicts future occurrences or observations of the same kind.
  • Can be tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation.
  • Is Supported by a vast body of reliable knowledge.

I see nothing that would support creationism or the existence of a god under any of those .

if chimps evolved into our now present day humans.
They didn't.

Read these - then get back to us.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primate#Evolution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominidae

Next question.
 

Lord Blackadder

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On the contrary, renewed, you should have focused on definitions 2 and 4a, since those more closely relate to the context in which the word "theory" is use din your original quote.

renewed said:
The short conclusion to this is that, yes some science is based on opinion. My opinion is that God does exist and some others is that He doesn't.
Nope. Religion cannot be disproved through science. It's like trying to drive a slotted screw with a Philips driver. Incompatible tools. You can't scientifically validate religion.
 

Mac'nCheese

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. Religion cannot be disproved through science.
I kind of disagree . Take Christianity. The bible is the word of god, correct? Can't be wrong if you are god, right? However, how much of the bible has been proved wrong? Is the Earth a few thousand years old? Nope. Can't be the word of god if its wrong, right? And if the word of god is wrong, isn't the whole darn thing just made up?
 

renewed

macrumors 68040
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I kind of disagree . Take Christianity. The bible is the word of god, correct? Can't be wrong if you are god, right? However, how much of the bible has been proved wrong? Is the Earth a few thousand years old? Nope. Can't be the word of god if its wrong, right? And if the word of god is wrong, isn't the whole darn thing just made up?
What proof do you have that the world is "x" amount of years old? I'd like to hear your theory on it (or how you agree with someone else's).
 

Mac'nCheese

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What proof do you have that the world is "x" amount of years old? I'd like to hear your theory on it (or how you agree with someone else's).
Do we really need to argue over how old the world is? You'd like to hear my theory as if I am the first person to tell you that the world is millions of years old and not a few thousand. Please tell me you are joking.
 

djellison

macrumors 68020
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What proof do you have that the world is "x" amount of years old? I'd like to hear your theory on it (or how you agree with someone else's).
Please review these - then come back to us with any questions you may have.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V61-473FKPB-5R&_user=10&_coverDate=05/31/1980&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=bfa23e4a306a270dbbc70af2b51b549c



If, at any point, you are going to suggest that any and all evidence that has directed us toward these findings is somehow 'planted' by your God, can you say so now and save us all the bother of attempting to engage in a debate with someone who's clearly not interested in an actual debate.
 

renewed

macrumors 68040
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Ok.. hominids... the idea is just so ridiculous I assumed "chimps" would do the trick. But if we must be technical then yes, you are correct.



Do we really need to argue over how old the world is? You'd like to hear my theory as if I am the first person to tell you that the world is millions of years old and not a few thousand. Please tell me you are joking.
Hopefully you are not basing this on carbon-dating alone.
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
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The scientific method relies on repeatable experimental results to prove or disprove things. Religion, on the other hand, constitutes the belief in supernatural entities or phenomena held to be of an ultimately unfathomable character.

Science is the result of critical, systematic evaluation. Religion is founded on faith. I am not placing a value judgement on either, but they cannot be evaluated in terms of the other. Science cannot prove the existence of the supernatural; it can only say that no scientific evidence for the supernatural has ever been found. This is not a pronouncment that "God does not exist", merely that science is not equipped to deal in such matters. No "theory" in science can be constructed to test the existence of God. Conversely, theological methods can't be used by doctors to determine drug doses, or by biologists to explain how diseases jump species, or by engineers to predict stress loads in buildings, or by astronomers to describe the composition of the solar system.

As to the age of the earth, and the origin of Homo Sapiens, the scientific evidence does not contradict any but the most fundamentalist of Judeo-Christian sects. People who think otherwise generally do so from an ignorance of Darwinian and geological principles as well as an ignorance current theology.
 

djellison

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Ok.. hominids... the idea is just so ridiculous I assumed "chimps" would do the trick. But if we must be technical then yes, you are correct. .
We're talking about you questioning a well known, well documented scientific theory. YET we must be technical. That's how it works.

What, explicitly, do you find 'ridiculous' about it.

Incidentally - you certainly didn't have time to read the material I supplied in full before describing it as ridiculous. I go to the trouble of finding you some documented, cited material so that you can educate yourself - and you've clearly not bothered reading it.

Are you here to troll, or are you here to have an interesting debate?
 

Queso

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Ok.. hominids... the idea is just so ridiculous I assumed "chimps" would do the trick. But if we must be technical then yes, you are correct.
Humans are simply apes who at some point in the past became cognitively aware. Even without the increasing amount of evidence from the fossil record and DNA research this should be clear. Why do you think so many of us have problems with our lower backs if it's not that our spines were originally designed for four-limbed movement? Why do we have an appendix if we didn't use to eat far more leaf matter? Even our behaviour is influenced and mirrored by our ape cousins. The only reason this is even still being discussed is down to religious nonsense. We are apes, albeit incredibly talented ones. I mean, we can even imagine deities and other pretend figures such as Santa Claus.
 

yellow

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I'm curious how much ****ing would have to go on to get from 2 people to an estimated 6,813,600,000 people in just a little over 5000 years? And why does everyone look different?