Watch this paleoanthropologist answer a creationist's question about evolution being "just a theory"

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“fact-based answer” That fucks them up every time.

"You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat earthers. Science is not there for you to cherry-pick.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson


Part of the problem with the average lay person is the misunterstanding and misuse of basic scientific terms like Theory, Law and Hypothesis. And also their misunderstanding/lack of information on how the scientific process works or why it works vs how it compares to belief systems.

Honestly i have no problem with a person being religious and thinking that the universe works a certain way. But science works, and the conversation about religion and science is like comparing oranges to… an apple computer. If someone wants to claim that science is wrong then you might as well become amish because ever facet of our lives is directly related to our current understanding of science and the laws of nature. Medicine, computing, the internet, cars, planes, everything we have is thanks to all the scientific advances we’ve made. There is no “religious advancement” that exists today that compares. So the religion vs science thing is a moot point to debate because they’re arguing vastly different concepts.


I like the way he paused and treaded (trod?) very carefully when he really wanted to just call out religion as totally not fact-based…


I’m torn between being happy that the question was answered reasonably and intelligently and being depressed that a student at the college level needs to have what a theory is explained to them.

And I’m having flashbacks both to one of my high school science teachers who spent an entire class on how utterly absurd the theory of evolution is and the midwestern college I went to where it was a running joke that to find people who accepted evolutionary theory you had to go to the religion department.


I give the requester the benefit of the doubt. I think it’s possible she just wanted to hear his take on that common question, not that she was trying to argue a point.


I thought so too. That she was in some way playing devil’s advocate and posed the question to see what the professor’s take on it was. I do have a sneaking suspicion that might not be the case, but i don’t think it matters. The question was answered thoroughly and elegantly, I can only hope that anyone with any doubts to the scientific method will have gained some useful knowledge from it.


Face it, lady. You thought you were smarter than you were and had your hubris rewarded with evidence, cause that’s how science rolls.


I notice in the wide shot that NDT pulls his face back an inch or so as the ball swings away, physics is great, but safety margin is better!


I actually don’t think it was intentional, it’s really hard to stay perfectly still when you’re moving a part of your body, and he let his arm down. I do absolutely believe that he did the first few takes with his eyes open and then realized that all the conviction in the world will not keep your primate brain from flinching.


How can you listen to that, when it’s just music theory?


Or you base your life on the Theory that God directed the writing of the Bible.

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Wait wait wait. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact!

How do I know? By faith of course!

You see, if I believe something, it’s a fact. If you believe something, it’s a theory. Any questions?


Yep, it’s not all that safe. One of our college physics professors once broke his nose that way.

“Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed.
Faith is the denial of observation, so that belief can be preserved.”

—Tim Minchin


Faith is not scientific. It’s like a debate with the debaters speaking two completely different languages…

That’s not a debate; that’s a verbal/theoretical thumping

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I propose a soft spongy ball with a small iron core for weight, that you daub with something that you really would not want smeared and mashed into your face (jam? ink?). Thus it’s safe if you mess up and it hits you in the face, but the stakes are still high and the suspense maintained :smile:


anyone who asks that question does so out of willful ignorance and laziness or is a troll and agitator with a foregone conclusion as part of an agenda.

theory play
noun the·o·ry \ˈthē-ə-rē, ˈthir-ē
Simple Definition of theory
Popularity: Top 1% of lookups

: an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events

i believe the theory of evolution is a fact supported by overwhelming evidence and has become the basis for all life sciences. i believe there may be many specific details which evolutionary theory need to address but the theory itself is unquestionable fact.


I have faith in this too.

I can easily think of a scenario in which a person with a founding in science would ask that question. (For one thing, I think someone of science should be open to asking any question.) There she is, going to college and attending lectures like … well this one, for instance. She goes back home for the holidays and gets bombarded with “God’s Word,” scripture, and family members throwing the question she asked at her. From her classes, she’s learned a good grounding of evolution, biology, and the like, but how does she learn what to say in those situations?

Not that I think it’ll help, mind you, but especially in light of the answer, I’m not going to try to pinpoint her belief without evidence.

Edit: changed with to without - very important difference!