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Universal laws vs general trends

January 10, 2014

F=ma

A reader worries that evolution isn’t the stopping point for creationists:

Once a person willingly carves out exceptions and changes evolution to simply an opinion then there is nothing stopping that person from challenging anything else in science as an opinion.
I usually respond to such arguments by questioning the evidence. I’ll take a different approach this time. I would criticize that argument even if we had supporting data. That’s because even if such statements were true, they would not be universal laws along the lines of F = ma. Clearly some creationists don’t reject all of science. And thus anything we say about them will inevitably be statistical and probabilistic. We might be able to say creationists as a group share certain dispositions and tendencies. But that’s it. Even with evidence, we’re left with a general trend rather than a universal law. And it’s far from obvious how we should use and think about any general trend, much less this one. I’ll address that point in a future post shortly.
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor permalink
    January 10, 2014 9:48 am

    My head is spinning. 🙂

  2. November 4, 2014 4:00 pm

    F = ma is not a universal law. It fails at the subatomic scale. It fails at the astronomical scale. It fails as v –> c. Such failures cannot be reconciled with a universal law, by definition.

    You may say that I’m quibbling. But if we are concerned about precision of language, then it makes sense to quibble here, especially since we talking about scientific ideas.

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