2021-05-31 21:00:25 UTC
Even more generally, terms relating to the process and products of science itself, such as “theory” and “law”, are almost diametrically opposite in scientific vs vernacular settings. This has been a source of both honest confusion and intentional obfuscation in discussions of science, especially with regard to evolution—which has, with the full thrust of equivocation, been misleadingly labeled as “just a theory” by opponents for decades. The intent of this article is to clarify the general meaning of some central concepts in science and the terms used to describe them, and to differentiate these from the very different definitions of the same words in common usage. The specific application of these terms, as defined in science, to the topic of evolution will be discussed in some detail.
More specifically, if an observation does not conform to the expectations of a scientific law, then either (1) the observation was illusory or interpreted incorrectly, (2) the observed event took place outside the specified conditions to which the law applies, or (far less likely), (3) the law is inaccurately formulated. A prime example is provided by the chronically misunderstood Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that “the entropy of a closed system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.” In this case, the conditions are very clearly specified: if there is no external source of energy (“a closed system”), then there will be a net increase in disorder until the system reaches equilibrium. Local increases in order are not precluded (ornate snowflakes still form from water vapor), and of course, this does not apply to living things, which draw energy from their environments (and ultimately from the sun), and hence, represent open systems. Readers of this article establish this latter claim conclusively, having passed from a simple zygote to a complex organism composed of trillions of specialized cells. If the Second Law of Thermodynamics implied that all natural increases in order were impossible, then it would be incorrect. It does not and (so far as we know) is not. The broader point is that invoking the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an argument against evolution reveals a misunderstanding of both the scope of this particular law a...
There are no gods unless we create them.