Evidence in SciencePosted by KevinB on February 3, 2016 at 1:19 AM
I saw an article posted on my facebook page.
I had to comment. So I commented. I copied and pasted the comments below:
“Though many similarities may be cited between living apes and humans, the only historical evidence that could support the ape ancestry of man must come from fossils.”
Actually, no. Most of the compelling evidence for evolution comes from DNA:
In particular, the fusion of the 2nd chromosome one is rather interesting. Would appreciate any comments/thoughts.
Well, I got a response. I will not post the entire response. I commented back with the following (and quoted what I responded to):
Thanks for your sincere response and thoughts. I have no issue about you sincerely believing in God. So the only thing really to comment on is:
“No, compelling evidence is an opinion based on what you chose to believe.”
Hmm. This is my main issue. Please let me explain why I do not think this is the case. I think my point is best illustrated by examples:
Let’s talk about physics first. Quantum theory is very strange. Some of what it says is actually quite disturbing to almost everyone. Richard Feynman, one of the most brilliant physicists of his time, said “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” This is quite strange. Why do physicists even accept quantum theory when they are so disturbed by it? Why do they insist it is correct?
This is because, they have seen “compelling evidence” that forced them to accept these strange ideas. Quantum theory made predictions about reality that were so strange and bizarre that physicists found completely ridiculous that they thought the predictions were nonsense. The famous Schrodinger’s cat was originally meant to show how absurd quantum mechanics was (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat). Well physicists ran experiments and it turns out quantum theory got the predictions spot on. Physicists were forced to change what they believed about reality because of “compelling evidence.” Now we have computers and cell phones because of quantum mechanics. We believe it now because we rely on it. It works. Some details may need to be tweaked, but it has had amazing predictive power.
As another similar example, take the Large Hadron Collider (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider). This scientific instrument took a lot of time, money, and effort to build. It was built to specifically look for particles. Physicists didn’t just randomly have a “gut feeling” that there were more particles out there. They had *informed* opinions. Our theory of particles demanded that certain kinds of particles must exist for our theory to be an accurate model of reality. One of which is the Higgs Boson. After much time and effort and physicists insisting the Higgs existed, we found a Higgs Boson. Impressive, right?
Why do physicists trust their theories? It is because they *predict*. And these predictions can go terribly terribly wrong. If we’re off, it means our theories have a major flaw in them and physicists have to figure out how to readjust the current theory or rewrite a new theory entirely. This happened with classical physics. Classical physics made predictions that were not aligning with reality. Physicists had to rewrite their theories. Quantum mechanics and general relativity were soon born after physicists scrambled to develop new theories of nature. Now, these two giant theories have made amazing predictions in nature that we rely on today. The more a theory predicts correctly, the more we feel like it is an accurate model of reality. Theory guides experimentation. Experimentation confirms or denies the theory. If a theory is confirmed over and over again, that’s when scientists start being convinced that the theory is accurately describing reality. Each of these confirmed experiments is “compelling evidence” that the theory works. ANY experiment where the theory gets its predictions wrong, then that spells disaster for the theory. If a theory survives hundreds of tests, it had hundreds of chances to be discarded.
The predictive power of these theories in physics, give “compelling evidence” that these theories are at least close to how nature works. Maybe there’s some details that we didn’t get quite right. If so, they are only minor things. No major things can be wrong. There’s many awesome things that they predicted correctly. I can mention some if you are interested.
Veritasium has a great video illustrating this sort of thinking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKA4w2O61Xo
But with all that said, my question is: What if the theory of evolution made *predictions* that it got right? Just like quantum theory or general relativity? Maybe you do not think such “compelling evidence” exists. Okay. But if evolution had predicted many things about nature, and biologists then looked and then found out that evolution’s predictions were right, would you say that is at least impressive? (Maybe you wouldn’t be convinced, but would you have anything to say about that?)
I know this is a bit of a long comment, so thanks for reading if you did.