Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's Just A Theory Mind You, Just A Theory

Lately I been hearing people jawing about what they know fer a fact and what they say is “Just a Theory.” Well I got a theory I would like to share with y’all, and by share I mean cram it down your throat and make you gag on it. Now mind you it is “Just a Theory,” so feel free to treat it as such; kind of like Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is a just a Theory of gravity. If you don’t understand that joke then just stop here and I will have someone turn off the gravity and fling you off the planet into outerspace where you will be less of a danger to others.

I say...I say I don't give a rats tookus in January just exactly how mixed up you all a wanna go through life; but when it comes to the basic principles of good science, well I ain't a gonna... I say, I ain't a gonna let you all git yer facts and fiction all jumbled together like a barnyard dawgs breakfast. The truth of the matter is that a lot of your so called common knowledge of scientific principles seems to get a little more blurred with each retelling over time and these days it seems many people are fine going through life in the state of confusion. Well let me tell you the state of confusion is a great place to visit, some very nice people live there. The only problem is that trying to explain any thing to the people of the fine state, is like trying to ride your sow to church in your Sunday best. You end up looking the fool and the sow… well she goes on about her day. The only purpose living in such a state serves is to block full understanding from getting inside your head. Now that's a joke. Get It? BLOCK...HEAD... BLOCKHEAD. Is any of this seeping inside that wooden noggin' of yers.

Just why do you suppose; I say just why do u suppose that so many people can have the wool pulled over there eyes; scientifically speaking of course. In a nutshell, it's because we can manage to live our entire life just fine without eva understandin’ anythin’ scientific at all. A case in point is that most of us are oblivious to the fact that organic chemistry is the chemistry of molecules containing carbon and hydrogen. A carbon atom bonded to 4 hydrogen atoms (CH4) makes methane gas; it's the main smelly ingredient in cow farts. If we combine those same two atoms in a slightly different way we get C4H10 or butane; which allows us to light up a big ceegar after dinner and sit on the front porch whilst a pondering upon the deplorable state of our so called EDUKASHUNAL SYSTEM. We can even take that same carbon and hydrogen and jumble it around some more and make something just a bit more complicated. C8H18 also know as octane. That tharr is what makes yer car a go fast. But the unwashed masses see; they don’t need to know anything about all that to drive their car down a country road, while smoking a ceegar and rolling down the window to smell all them cows in the field farting up a storm.

Now as I’ve so aptly demonstrated here, science touches every single thing you do in life, yet the fact remains a good number of us choose not to understand much about it simply because the world around us let's us live our life like that. Completely oblivious; like an ostrich with it’s a head in a hole. I don’t know what goes on in those holes but the ostrich; well they sure find it interesting. Well I'ma here to tell you that you should have some basic understanding of science; it’s the only way to tell the difference between shit and shinola. It's what enables those of us that live our life outside the state of confusion to tell the flat earth society that their oil ain’t a reaching their dipstick; iffin you catch my drift.

In order to have a basic understanding of science I’m first going to have to dispel one of the most annoying myths of science that many of us have come to believe as factual. Many people suffer from the delusion that a scientific hypothesis will become a theory and then a law. The general belief is that as evidence and data increase scientific hypotheses will become scientific theories; and then when the empirical evidence and data accumulate to the point where they are irrefutable, the scientific theory will become a law. If this is what you believe then you've been hornswoggled, because nothing could be further from the truth. Now you shouldn't feel bad about being led down the garden path of utter tripe; after all you have some very illustrious company with you including former President Ronald Reagan - who in his 1980 presidential campaign stated that he wasn't troubled by the idea of evolution because it was just a scientific theory. Misstatements of this kind continue to propagate the myth that an idea is not worthy of any real consideration until so called "Lawness" has been bestowed upon it by the scientific community. Then in 2005 President George W. Bush told a group of newspaper reporters that he believes that intelligent design should be taught along side evolution as competing theories; thus proving that one's skull can actually be thick enough so as to be totally impervious to the effects of a Harvard and Yale education. Any REAL scientist such as a biologist or a particle physicist will confirm that intelligent design is not scientific at all, but that is indeed an unsubstantiated ideological religious viewpoint with no scientific merit whatsoever; in spite of the continued outcries of all the intelligent design proponents.

The intelligent design community has been to court many times and has never won a single case. They lost the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, U.S. Supreme Court, Edwards versus Aguilard in 1987, and Kitzmiller versus The Dover School District in 2005. It’s high time they quit trying to advocate their creationist dogma as science. They like to site evolution as “Just a Theory” and as such it’s not proven and up for debate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is a geometric theory of gravity, but you don’t see people running around saying they "We don't believe in gravity it’s 'Just a Theory,' we believe that the earth just sucks”. Within the scientific community there is no debate on evolution. It exists just like gravity exists despite the fact that both are now, and ever will be, so called "Just Theories."

Science explains the world as it is observed, using naturalistic mechanisms which can be tested and verified by independent observation and experimentation. Although the existence of God is not necessarily denied by science, supernatural explanations which are based upon the unseen actions of any God are excluded from science as a matter of necessity. As biologist J.B.S. Haldane pointed out, science is dependent upon the assumption that the world is real and operates according to regular and predictable laws, which are not changed from moment to moment at the whim of supernatural forces: "My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course." (cited in Montagu, 1984, p. 241) Geologist and theologian Dr. James Skehan also notes, "I undertake my scientific research with the confident assumption that the earth follows the laws of nature. . . . My studies are performed with the confidence that God will not capriciously confound scientific results by 'slipping in' a miracle!" (Strahler, 1987, pp. 40-41) I can just about hear some of you saying “Now hold on, that Haldane guy said science is based on the assumption the world is real and if science is based on what amounts to a mere assumption the how good can it be?” Well, my answer to you is this. Let’s ASSUME I have a baseball bat and I commence to beating you all about the noggin with it. If the world ain’t real then there’s a no reason for me to stop now is there? I rest my case. Science is how we separate the shit from the shinola. Our lack of understanding when it comes to scientific principles is why things like so called intelligent design have people that truly believe it, and the population of the state of confusion continues to rise at such an alarming rate.

There is of course a relationship between scientific laws and theories but a theory does not simply become a law, not matter how much data and evidence is amassed. Simply put Laws are generalizations, principles or patterns observed in nature and Thoeories are the explanations of those generalizations. For example Newton’s inverse square Law of gravity published in Principia Mathematica in 1687 gives us the mathematical tools we need to calculate the gravitational attraction between two objects based on their mass and distance apart. But it was not until 1915 when Alert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity after ten years of deep thinking the world was given its first theory of gravity. Now before I go running off at the mouth about general relativity; the point I want to make is that the relationship between laws and theories allows us to use scientific laws without understanding the theories that underline the reasons behind those same laws. Interestingly, Newton himself addressed the distinction between law and theory. Even though he had discovered the Law of Gravity, Newton refrained from publically speculating about its cause. In Principal he states "...I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypothesis…” “…it is enough that gravity does really exist, and according to the laws which we have explained…” (Newton, 1720/1946, p 547).

In 1998 NASA was able to hurl a satellite out in to space to send back pictures of the surface of Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. NASA launched the Cassini satellite towards Venus and it used gravity to build up speed and it head right back at the earth gaining more speed as it passed. It then made a second pass around Venus nearly doubling its speed and then it headed straight for Saturn. Cassini used gravity again to navigate its way through the rings of Saturn and then into orbit around Titan in 2005. A probe was sent to the surface of Titan and that probe took pictures for 180 minutes before it succumbed to the extreme cold. But for those 180 minutes it tool pictures of the most earth like heavenly body in our solar system. All of this was only possible because of our scientific understanding of Newton's Laws' of Gravity and Motion the scientists behind Cassini didn’t need to understand Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, String or M-theory, or even the existence of gravitons and gravitational waves (as of yet those have not been observed in the universe, although the evidence for them is quite compelling). Is any of this getting inside that wooden noggin of yours? In a nutshell, no theory will ever become a law.

The next time you hear someone blathering on about how Darwin’s theory of evolution is “Just a Theory” you will know that these people have driven so far into the state of confusion they ain’t a never gonna find the border; not even with GPS. Evolutionary biology has gone way beyond Darwin’s “On Origin Of Species” published in 1859. It has many, many scientific Laws that support it; such as Mendel’s Law of Segregation, and Law of Independent Assortment. These laws work and are verifiable. The massive amount of evidence in support of evolutionary processes is abundant and it continues to happen right before our eyes; although the young earth creationists would have us all believe that evolution is “Just a Theory”.
The creationist idea that God divinely created the universe may or may not be true, but, by postulating a supernatural event which occurs outside of the natural laws of the universe, such an idea places itself firmly outside the realm of science. There is simply no experiment which can verify any of its assertions and no predictions of future data that can be drawn from this hypothesis, and those who hold such conclusions can do so only on the basis of faith. This is fine for a religious outlook or an ideology, but it has nothing at all in common with science. Just as no person is permitted to argue in a US court that they are not responsible for a crime because Satan was in control of them, or that such and such a crime happened because it was the will of God. The only way to plea that in court is to plea insanity; now what does that tell you. Similarly, the actions of supernatural entities are also excluded from the scientific arena. Neither system denies the existence of God, but both exclude God as an explanatory mechanism.
One of the tenets of good science is that is must be falsifiable. That is there must be a way to prove that what ever ideas are put forth we must be able to design experiments which could ultimately produce data that proved a certain theory wrong. The discovery that it was impossible for mutations to occur in DNA and for those mutations to be passed down to subsequent generations would falsify the theory of evolution. If you are a young earth creationist feel free to hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Some young earth creationists like to use the argument that since it cannot be disproved that divine creation or intelligent design did not happen, it must then be assumed that it did happen. This is an error in logic when “insert god here” is used where a more proper explanation of “we don’t know yet” should be. The fill the gap logic of young earth creationists creates a false dichotomy where any gap in evolutionary science therefore becomes evidence of creation or intelligent design. This is a load of cow pies and simply precludes intelligent design from being considered science in any way shape or form. Now, it’s Just a Theory, mind you, Just a Theory but if you are a young earth creationist you’ve either been hornswoggled into that belief or you are delusional; but that my friends is “Just a Theory.”