Re: [asa] (what's a fact?) Brilliant article by Dawkins

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Thu Aug 27 2009 - 15:16:45 EDT
It continues to be ...well ...truly artificial, this business of trying to make any meaningful and essential differentiation between micro and macro evolution. The essential mechanisms and consequence underlies both. The terms may be useful labels for some discussion, but at the end of the day, the two things being described are
            - short time, small changes (very well observed and beyond argument).
            - long time, large changes (simple extrapolation)

It seems as simple as that.
The key  problem seems to be in conceiving of (or being willing to entertain) a sense of what really LARGE changes might constitute. And those changes ARE certainly likely to be LARGE because the difference in time scales amounts to orders of magnitude, not simple multiples.
In light of this artificiality of the micro vs macro differentiation, the linchpin of the evolution counterargument would then seem to reduce to the time component. If time is sufficiently short, no large changes. But evidence seems to strongly support long times, ...very long times creature-wise.

JimA [Friend of ASA]

David Clounch wrote:
Its not just ancient history.  A scientific fact from not very long ago:

Emil Fischer, who invented organic chemistry, said "there are no carbon chains longer than 40".  That was scientific fact at the time. He didn't know about biochemistry and macromolecules.  [Ref: As I recall the reference is from  Wayne M. Becker's , World of the Cell]

My chem profs tell me a phenomena  isn't considered a scientific fact until it is observed.  That correlates 100% with what Moorad has been saying.

Contrast this with ordinary common facts (example:  GW Bush was president of the united states for all of 2004).  This latter is immutable, as are all common facts.  Scientific facts are tentative and change over time.

Historical facts could have been observations. But go back far enough and there are no recoreded observations. Those facts are inferences only.  But they still might be tentative. Which is why they are scientific. 

So the Cobb County  folks, who had a sticker that said evolution is a theory, not a fact, really just meant it is tentative, not immutable.  But the court would not allow that.   That is idiocy incarnate.   This is why it is important for you ASA folks to discuss macroevolution.  Has macroevolution been observed?   I'd say no.  To me it is tentative.  It is *not* a common fact and is *not* immutable.  That is all the Cobb County board was trying to say.  But because they are inept, well,  now its illegal to say it.   

Somehow I expect David Campbell to assert  macroevolution has been observed  (either in the lab or in the wild).  But gee, wouldn't that have been the real answer to give Cameron  instead of arguing that trying to observe a mechanism is  absurd?  (who argued that anyway?)  That latter is not a sufficient answer to Cameron.

On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 1:36 PM, Dehler, Bernie <> wrote:
Moorad said:
" Is there a difference between a scientific and a historical fact? When are they the same and when different?"

Facts are pieces of data to which you use to infer other facts or to form opinions.   A 'scientific fact' is based on science, and 'historical fact' is based on history.

A scientific fact from ancient history, now known to be wrong:

It is replaced with the modern scientific fact called heliocentricity.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Alexanian, Moorad
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:22 AM
To: Jack;
Subject: RE: [asa] Brilliant article by Dawkins

Is there a difference between a scientific and a historical fact? When are they the same and when different?

From: [] On Behalf Of Jack []
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 6:33 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Brilliant article by Dawkins

I dont know about it being brilliant.  He spends a lot of time talking about how evolution isnt a "theory" its a fact, when we all know that the word theory has more meanings than the sense that he is using it.

I also bristle a bit at his suggestions on what preachers should preach about.  This is disingenuous isnt it?  What he really wants is for there to be no church, no preachers, and no religion.  Perhaps he wants the preachers to say that the existence of Adam and Eve isnt factual just to create dissension, not to spread truth.  Since evolution does not necessarily negate the historicity of Adam he is straying to far from his area of expertise here.
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Roberts<>
To:<> ;<> ;<>
Sent: Monday, August 24, 2009 3:04 PM
Subject: [asa] Brilliant article by Dawkins

No, I am not joking. There was an absolutely brilliant article in The Times today on the menace of creationism. Excellent stuff, not one attack on Christianity. It does have a few necessary comments on bishops and clergy put in an understatement.

Ii is on


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