Critical thinking is learning to question what you are told before you decide to believe it. It is not memorization of facts; it is a different approach to learning. An example: if creationist or the ID gang are using critical thinking why don't they question the bible story that (the sun stood still)? They do question the integrity of science. They also dispute the study of life and human origins (genetics is finding cures for diseases) their pseudoscience is mythology, belief, claiming to be science. It has produced nothing. Never cured a disease! The real reason they attack science is to slow the inevitable growing skepticism of religion by the masses. In order to protect certain interests. We are not empty vessels just waiting to be filled up with rubbish. An assumption is not proof; apply what you already know, and then what you can find out from other sources before deciding what is true. Something is proven to be a fact by confirming the information that has been given on that subject from a variety of sources. There are many facts or concepts on any given subject, which is why people read more than one book before they decide what is true. Some people do want us to believe things without any theory or evidence that can be tested, and this is suspicious. Because they have no convincing arguments for creationism they attack any unknown component of science while they mislead some people that the bible has all the answers. However, the Creationists do not raise any legitimate doubts. A "theory" does not become a "theory" until it has been tested for every possible way it could fail. The reason it is not called a fact is that science will still try to come up with a better theory, or continue to improve on the theory. That is exactly what has happened with evolution - the theory is stronger today than it was when it was introduce. Those who denounce or criticize the theory of evolution have not shown that their theory can account for any of the data evolution accounts for, and they have not provided any reason for believing that their theory even has the potential to produce anything useful to science. There are all sorts of findings and experiments that could have falsified evolution. In the century-and-a-half since Darwin published his theory, not one has. If something is science, hypotheses or theory it makes predictions that could be wrong. If so it will be possible to falsify these ideas. What is found the progression over time seen in the millions of fossils unearthed around the world is exactly what evolutionary theory predicts. Unicellular organisms appear before multicellular ones. Jawless fish precede jawed fish. Lunged fish precede amphibians. Amphibians precede reptiles. Reptiles with scales precede mammals and birds with modified scales (fur and feathers). Apes precede humans. All it would take is one or two exceptions to seriously challenge the theory. No such exceptions have ever been found anywhere. There have been a few claims to this effect, of course, but even most creationists admit that these claims are fraudulent.
A rebuttal is a credible argument written through an analysis of that subject pro/con and then coming to a conclusion. To find the validity something you look at all the research (where is the ID research?) Many times you will find corroboration of a point by looking at many sources. But nobody should decide that anything is a fact without finding facts based on study or research that backs up what you think is true. An assumption is not proof of anything.
Proponents of intelligent design (ID) assert that certain complex biological systems could not emerge from a gradual evolutionary process. They argue instead that such structures are best explained via the deliberate action of an unspecified intelligent designer. Few scientists endorse this conclusion, and they have good reasons for being skeptical. They understand that the prolonged action of natural selection can be expected to leave traces behind in the structure of modern organisms. And when scientists go looking for those traces they invariably find them in droves. Natural selection operates by preserving small, favorable variations that occur naturally in any population of organisms. Over time these variations accumulate to the point that large-scale change is the result. This implies that natural selection works by modifying structures already present in the organism. It does not craft new complex systems from scratch. This observation is crucial in distinguishing between those systems that could have been crafted by selection and those that could not have been. If we find that a particular organism possesses a complex system made from parts wholly distinct from anything to be found in the organism's closest evolutionary cousins it will be difficult to explain that system via selection. But if we find that the system appears to be cobbled together from parts that were readily available, then natural selection remains a strong candidate. Charles Darwin employed this principle in his studies of the complex systems used by orchids to attract pollinating insects. He discovered that these contrivances, as he called them, were indeed fashioned out of modified versions of parts present in closely related flowers.
Using the skills of critical thinking allows you to doubt things. Don't accept things at face value; think them through. Become self-educated (nearly all of what we are told is crap) you have to find the truth. Most things operate in secrecy; we deal with deception, disinformation, and misinformation all the time. Many things that are believed are misinformation, and some things have been forced on society through reward, punishment, and fear tactics. Just because most people believe something doesn't make it true. Nicolaus Copernicus discovered (through observation not hearsay) that the sun was the center of the solar system and not the earth, and he was regarded as a heretic. Today we know that the earth is not the center of the solar system or flat, but it is still almost impossible to challenge the prevailing views on subjects that are not all that different.
The idea that claims without any validation is information is baloney. A claim should not evade scrutiny; nobody has to believe anything that is not provable. It is easier just to be told what is true, but far more difficult to know what is truth. A one-sided story will not hold up under investigation on any subject. Look for the facts of the matter, and read a lot of material before deciding that you have the answers. If you read and do research on a subject in a critical manner you won't take anything at face value. A critical thinker won't always believe everything that they hear or read. Thoroughly testing the logic is required before something is known to be true. Beliefs that can not be confirmed are of no value in fact finding. Beliefs should be evaluated with the opinions of scholars, scientists etc. Any belief should be evaluated side by side with competent expert's opinions. Science can tell you the age of the universe; life and interpret ancient writings. Their opinion is of value in determining what the truth is. You have to look at everything before you can give an educated opinion.
ID proponents dispute speciation: when new species arise from existing species, you have speciation. Here's how it works: Two different populations of the same species evolve in different ways. They become progressively more different until they are so different that they are no longer able to interbreed. Through the existence of ring species, scientists can say with certainty that small differences can accumulate in nature to the point that two populations of the same species can become reproductively isolated. They can actually go out and see it. Has anyone proven that a complex 'god' that came from nothing exist?
ID proponents dispute the Theory of Negentropy: we are composed of the same molecules also found in non-living matter. Just as with everything else, these molecules must comply with the laws of the Universe. Creationist try to prove science wrong because scientific findings have proven that creation as described in Genesis is impossible, and that the universe and all life was not created within six days, 6 to 10 thousand years ago. The creationist credibility depends on disproving Evolution or the Big Bang theory or any (scientific theory.) Scientists know that nobody can prove anything about god. Creationist claim that a complex system can only arise out of something with high intelligence. Although complexity is difficult to define, we can reasonably expect a highly intelligent entity to be highly complex. So, it can only have arisen out of something even more intelligent and complex. It's Intelligent Design all the way down. We know from both everyday experience and highly structured scientific observations; complex systems develop from simpler systems all the time in nature (without even low intelligence required.) Life can evolve from bacteria.
There is a definite agreement in the scientific community that intelligent design is not science. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has stated that "intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life" are not science because they cannot be tested by experiment, do not generate any predictions, and propose no new hypotheses of their own. Finding the facts on any subject necessitates comparing many facts against your own common sense. One considers something to be "possible" based on requirements, or criteria. They use their own best judgment (not hearsay which provides no proof or good evidence of anything.) If your disagreement is backed up by facts it is acceptable, but if your argument is not fact based than there is no basis for a disagreement.
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The ACA Lecture Series returns Sunday, March 9th with Vic Cornell giving us an update on ACLU activities. The lecture starts at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon.
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