Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ron Paul Rejects The Theory of Evolution

 

US  Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul says, "It's a theory, the theory of evolution, and I don't accept it".  Sigh.  I am going to delve into this subject a lot more later.  Let me make two quick points.

First, the word theory is used differently in different contexts.  When you think of "theory", you may think of the phrase, "it's just a theory", which makes a "theory" sound like a flippant thing.  But when a scientist says, "The theory of X",  or "So-and-so's theory of X",  they mean, "the theoretical framework which convincingly explains X and has withstood many attempts at falsification".  An example is "Newton's theory of gravity", which has been well tested in the regime to which it applies (for strong fields, one needs general relativity).  Darwin's Theory of Evolution is at least as well tested.
 
Second, to say, "I don't accept the theory of evolution" is equivalent to saying, "I don't accept the fundamental basis of our understanding of biology".   It would mean, for example, invoking divine intervention to explain how drug-resistant bacteria arise.

If you reject the fundamental basis for biology and therefore most of modern medicine, I think you are unfit to be a world leader.  So, I hope at least some of Ron Paul's many net supporters condemn his stance on the The Theory of Evolution.

[If you are picky about grammar, see my note about punctuation and quotation marks here.]
[I got this video here.]

[confidence level: established, my qualifications: informed]

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are missing the point of Ron Paul's campaign

BibleIsFantasy said...

@anonymous

"you are missing the point of Ron Paul's campaign"

You're missing the point of this blog post.

What makes it extra tragic is that Ron Paul is a physician. You would hope that at some point during his education he would have learned *something* about biology.

eyesopen said...

Hi Anonymous. As the second commenter said, most of the post was about why rejecting the theory of evolution is bad, and not about Ron Paul. I was surprised about Ron Paul's position (back in December), but I felt my readers should be aware of it, hence the video.

The only other thing I know about Ron Paul, besides that he has many followers on the web, is that he is against the Iraq war. Does that means Ron Paul followers will not vote for McCain in the fall?

If you support Ron Paul because of his opposition to the Iraq war, please see Barack Obama's 2002 speech against the war (http://sciencesense-eyesopen.blogspot.com/2008/02/obamas-2002-speech-against-iraq-war.html) or Obama's speech on the five year anniversary of the war (http://sciencesense-eyesopen.blogspot.com/2008/03/obama-sets-forth-his-foreign-policy.html).

btw, I am amazed in the interest in this 3 month old post. I had more hits on my blog today than on any other day since I started.
-eyesopen

Bruno said...

That's because it's been reddited:
http://reddit.com/info/6cyn0/comments/

Anonymous said...

It was posted on Reddit, just so you know.

In any case, I'm a Ron Paul supporter. Of the candidates left I'll most likely vote for Barack Obama but it is a compromise vote, as I agree with Ron Paul that we need to figure out how to fix our own country rather than spend billions of dollars in foreign aid. We're hemorrhaging money and he wants to double foreign spending? I don't think that's wise considering what is going on in this country with the economy right now. I'm a left-leaning libertarian and I support a decent amount of Ron Paul's social policy (end prohibition, end the war) and I disagree with the man on abortion and evolution, but he's pretty much said if he's elected the status quo for abortion will stay the same. I'm also fond of his economic policy, which is actually the main reason I was voting for him, anyway.

If there was another true fiscal conservative running I would probably vote for him, but McCain is just a neocon.

Bluecommons said...

Regarding your arguments from Newton's "theory of gravity"; was it not this very theory that holds up only under limited circumstances as you alluded to (i.e. relativity)? Was it not this theory that lead to our modern understanding of general relativity, and quantum mechanics? Yet, much is not understood about gravitation. My point is only that evolution is itself an evolving science. It cannot be logically deduced that Mr. Paul's disbelief is not simply suspension of belief upon the understanding of our growing knowledge of the natural world without producing some additional testimony.

I'm not an expert, and do not pretend to be. I only pose the question for the sake of truth. May the truth prevail.

Thanks for your thoughts.

effigies said...

I'm a Ron Paul supporter. And I realize that he can at times act like an ignorant Christian. But the important thing about Ron Paul is that he is bound by his ideology to follow the constitution, regardless of his personal beliefs about specific issues. Whether or not he believes in evolution, he will follow the dictates of the constitution, and will work to prevent the federal government from overstepping those bounds. Scientific policy is a somewhat moot point when you support a candidate who thinks the president should not dictate scientific policy.

Incidentally, I will not be voting for McCain in the fall. If he ever had principles, he seems to have abandoned them for this campaign, and I cannot trust him to keep any campaign promise, even if he changed every position and followed a strict libertarian line.

Anonymous said...

Back to the questiion of evolution, I am always amazed at how people who are "true believers" in modern science can't seem to fathom that well educated people like Ron Paul (and myself I might add) don't "buy" the theory of evolution because it is too mechanistic, because it has enormously large holes in it, and because it excludes a creative force at the beginning.

Suddenly, we are crazy people who are incapable of logic.... perhaps, you are the duped ones. Theory is not the same as law, regardless of how it is used. Evolution is doomed to forever be a theory because it can never be proved as a law.

Where are the transitional fossils? Where are the examples of a creature without eyes "evolving" eyes? You can't give them to me because they don't exist.

Ryan said...

I like Ron Paul and most of his positions, but I would have trouble voting for anyone that throws away years of scientific research on his own religious bias. Evolution does not address the origin, so no, it does not exclude a creative force at the beginning. And no, we do not know everything that has ever happened so there are still some mysteries but that is no reason to throw away a scientific theory that has been supported and proven over and over again. If someone says they do not 'believe' in evolution, they better have good SCIENTIFIC reasons, or they are not acting logical.

eyesopen said...

Bluecommons: This is a good question. Our best understanding of gravity is Einstein's theory of General Relativity. But unless you are dealing with something like a black hole, or incredibly precise measurements, General Relativity and Newtonian gravity predict the same things. So Newtonian gravity is not wrong--it correctly explains everything about gravity you or I are likely to ever encounter, and only needs to be generalized if one goes outside the context for which it was originally intended.

Similarly, Darwin's Theory of Evolution explains what is observed in biology. Now it may be that if one goes beyond biology, for example to include the interactions of animals in social groups, or even the evolution of ideas (memes), that one has to generalize Evolution beyond the principle of Natural Selection. But that does not have any bearing on the validity of Darwinian Evolution in biology.

Further, as you say, we have to keep testing Evolution. For example, while Natural Selection (Darwin's theory) has been shown to have a dominant role in Evolution, it is always possible that there is some component of Lamarckian evolution. At least the latter can be falsified.

THAT is the real problem with "Intelligent Design" and other versions of creationism: they don't make predictions which would allow them to be falsified. They are not science. "Creationism Science" is an oxymoron.

----

Anonymous "Back to the question": First, I think if a particular spiritual belief gets you through the day, that's fine. The problem is bringing that into the sphere of policy decisions, and especially in confrontation with science. If one is making a decision on what to teach our children in public school, or what kind of research to pursue, I think it is crucial one uses an evidence-based approach.

Transitional fossils are being found every day. There have been fossils with feathers used for warmth and gliding, fins that acted as primitive legs, and light sensitive organs which may have been the precursors to eyes.

There is absolutely no difference between an established theory and a law. As I said at the beginning of this now rather long comment, the "Law of Gravity", as Newton wrote it, applies in our solar system, but needs generalization if you are dealing with black holes. Electromagnetic Theory is easily as tested as any "Law".

The word "prove" must be used with care. Anything established through empirical evidence can be modified by obtaining further evidence. But at some point one concludes that the "theory" or "law" is overwhelmingly likely--as in you would trust our understanding of physics enough to board an airplane or metal ship, or trust our understanding of biology enough to take some drug.

Stuart said...

You're missing the point of this blog post but i do favour of Ron Paul .It's difficult to accept the theory of evolution.

Stuart
Drug Intervention Mississippi

eyesopen said...

Hi Stuart: Have a look at my latest post:
http://sciencesense-eyesopen.blogspot.com/2009/02/evolution-in-nutshell.html

I hope it makes it the theory seem plausible to you. Of course different religions have different creation stories, but in the context of science, evolution by natural selection is the accepted theory. I have no problem discussing creation stories, just not in science class. Science has to be testable. That's not how religion tends to work.

Greg Gauthier said...

"...If you reject the fundamental basis for biology and therefore most of modern medicine, I think you are unfit to be a world leader...."

On the contrary, eyesopen, rejecting reason and evidence as a means of understanding the world, makes you an IDEAL candidate for 'world leader'. Politics is entirely about using force and the threat of force to impose a personal preference onto those whom you couldn't (or choose not to) convince through reason and evidence. Politicians, like priests, do not make arguments. They make assertions, claims, and proclamations, that they hope will strum an emotional string in the listener, only because that will allow them to keep the gun behind their back hidden, for a little while longer. The more Ron Paul says things like this, the more I am convinced he's exactly the cut of cloth that makes a politician.

Terry Hulsey said...

You're not going to find the philosopher king in Ron Paul. And while we're at it, note that his high, reedy voice subtracts from every truth it utters, that his bearing is more meek than stately, that a passage in his book End the Fed manages to praise Mormonism, the most bewildering farrago of nonsense ever grafted onto the vine of Christianity. But taken in all, he would be one of the best presidents we've ever had.

eyesopen said...

Thanks Greg. By 'unfit' I did not mean 'unelectable' I meant 'should not be elected'. Actually, the persuasive talents which allow someone to be elected and to convince the public on specific issues, is almost unrelated to the ability to govern well.

Terry, the main problem I have with Ron Paul is that he seems like an ideologue--someone who almost always takes positions on principle, regardless of the reality on the ground. Such people are useful in a democracy, but not at the helm. The world is not black and white.