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By the skin of my teeth

Posted by ESC on February 27, 2009 at 14:00

In Reply to: By the skin of my teeth posted by Graham Cambray on February 26, 2009 at 16:53:

: : : : : : : : : : : : : Regarding the phrase "by the skin of my teeth" as Job stated, and your phrase description does not acknowledge as being literal, may I direct you to the book by Dr. Cuozzo, an orthodontist, who wrote "Buried Alive" about Neandertal man and about how true scientific evidence is being suppressed by the predominant evolutionists in power all over the world. We do have skin on our teeth, although it is not identical to the body's skin. It also served a purpose of healing, producing a chemical that would heal, so that when Job spit on his sores they healed. Satan kept inflicting him with more, but that does not negate the efficacy of God's provision.

: : : : : : : : : : : : --------

: : : : : : : : : : : : Thank you, Tatiana. I must say, it's always a pleasure to receive an objective and well thought out contribution to the forum. If Satan unexpectly inflicts me with sores, I shall certainly spit on them. (GC) [Typo: should read "unexpectedly"]

: : : : : : : : : : Tatiana, are you aware that "evolutionist" is a word made up by creationists? No scientists call themselves evolutionists. Scientists include geologists, physicists, paleontologists, biologists . . .

: : : : : : : : : : Talking about "evolutionists" is like calling me a gravitationist because I believe that dropped objects fall downward. ~rb

: : : : : : : : : Speaking of Neanderthal man, I believe that I'm correct in saying that even as we speak they are trying to reproduce Neanderthal DNA. I am surprised that the remains so far found include teeth in such good condition as to permit the identification of something so fragile as a thin tissue covering the teett.
: : : : : : : : : SS, a self-confessed gravitationist.

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: : : : : : : : A digression, for which I apologise in advance. Some years ago, in the UK newspaper The Guardian, there was a discussion about the Creation in the letters column. Someone had pointed out that the Earth was traditionally created on the twenty-third of October, 4004 B.C., at nine o'clock in the morning. [The so-called Ussher/Lightfoot chronology, which there are various web articles about]. Another reader wrote in, saying that there was clearly an error of a few hours in the calculation, as it failed to account for God stopping the sun in the sky during the Battle of Jericho. (GC).

: : : : : : : You can look at some (possibly most) of the book using Amazons "search inside" function. I read the 2 pages on this topic. His reasoning is based on interpreting Job 7:19 "... till I swallow down my spittle?" as "until I stop spitting on my wounds?" and making several other dubious connections to other parts of the book to support the argument he started out to prove. One of the reviewers points out that he ignores the Biblical scholarship that says Job was written a long time after he supposes the Neanderthals to have existed (just after the flood).

: : : : : : Technically evolution is a scientific theory and gravity is a law. Until somebody invents a time machine I suppose evolution will have to remain officially a theory no matter how many adherents it has. And I hope I can happily go along calling myself an "evolutionist", because I'm not a scientist!

: : : : : [I have observed that small finger-cuts heal quickly if I lick them at once - of course, I've never applied a test-control such as cutting two fingers and licking only one. I lack the spirit of scientific inquiry; or else I'm just squeamish. - Bac.]

: : : : [Yes, all sorts of good stuff in saliva: lysozyme and histidine-rich polypeptides among them. Produced mainly by the parotid salivary gland rather than the teeth. - GC]

: : : Technically, I'm afraid the "law of gravity" is also a theory.

: : -----------

: : I have a feeling I may get told off for entering this last discussion. Nor can I do it in three lines. But here goes:

: : Scientific laws don't necessarily add to our understanding of "What's going on". Laws are quanti tative descriptions of relationships, and can sometimes just be empirical - based on observed relationships - with no theory or understanding behind them at all. So laws don't "trump" theories - they're not "better" than theories. And they don't even have to be "right" to be useful. Newton's theory of universal gravitation is still used today, even though we know it's wrong in certain respects. It remains good enough to get a spacecraft to the moon, but it was known over a hundred years ago that it gave the wrong answer for Mercury's orbit - it tool Einstein's General Relativity to give correct predictions. And Einstein's theories also contain various useful laws (such as E = mc^2). Today we know that Einstein's theories are also deficient - particularly when we need to try and apply them together with quantum physics (we can't), and so people are turning to outwardly arcane superstring and "M" theories to seek a better explanation. Quantum physics essentially started off as laws without theories. We'd better not start discussing the difference between laws and hypotheses!

: : Evolution is a theory - or more properly there are a number of evolutionary theories which differ in detail. In part because we are now talking biology and not physics, the theories are not quantitative in the same way, and don't naturally give rise to laws. There are laws of heredity, and empirical relationships which describe mutation rates which could be called laws (except they keep on being fine-tuned), but no "laws of evolution" as such.

: : Importantly, though, Darwins theory of evolution makes testable predictions, and especially in recent decades, supporting evidence has been queueing up at the door, so to speak. But Darwin made a fairly good case when he published. Scientific theories must be testable - see Karl Popper's writings to take this further. You can never really "prove" a theory - however many "tests" it has survived, it still takes only one inconvenient fact to bring any theory down in ruins.

: : So Evolution qualifies as a theory (or a family of theories). And Creationism is the opposite, right? No, wrong. Creationism is not a scintific theory - because it is not testable - not disprovable. It has to do with faith, not science. Inconvenient fossils in the rocks? - put there by God 6000 years ago, so as to test the faithful. And so on. There are no facts you could put up to "knock down" Creationism. Does that mean it's wrong? No. We probably all "believe" things that aren't scientifically "proven" (whatever that means). What it does mean is that Creationism is not science or anything close to it.

: : Creationist have taken a lot of their tracts and re-written them to support what they now choose to call "Intelligent Design". I don't have a problem with people preaching Creationism or Intelligent Design. If someone knocks on my door to convert me to something or other, I'm always polite (to start with, anyway). But to my mind it's sneaky, underhand and dishonest to represent these beliefs as science. If they're taught in schools, thet should be taught as part of Religious Studies - but not as science.

: : I suppose the current push to teach ID as science is close to an admission of defeat - acknowledging a need to justify something under somebody else's terms. It would be better to realise that these are not "either or" alternatives, and for religion to fight on its own terms, not somebody else's.

: : Which brings us back to Tatiana, Dr Cuozzo, and others. The attempt to use science to try and bolster Creationism is doomed to failure because Creationism and ID fail to meet the basic criterion of a scientific theory - testability. It was considerations of this kind that led Wolfgang Pauli to say to one of his students: "That theory is worthless. It isn't even wrong!". (GC)

: [Typo: Newton's *Theory* of Universal Gravitation - b ut more importantly the concise mathematical *Law* of the same name. And a few words where I've clearly had finger trouble (but d ecipherable, I hope). Sorry.]

Bringing it back to words. This discussion calls to mind a conversation I had a few days ago. The other person pointed out that it isn't accurate to say evolution is "just" a theory. That a theory isn't speculation, it has weight. Merriam Webster says, a theory is "a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena." It also reminds me of a book I paged through a few months back. Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul by Edward Humes (Paperback - Feb 19, 2008). It explained why evolution has become such a central issue to religious conservatives/fundamentalists. And that's all I have to say about that.