The Instigator
Darth_Grievous_42
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Con (against)
Winning
39 Points

Palaeontology Is the most Controversial Scientific Field

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,165 times Debate No: 1255
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (16)

 

Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

Palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. My agreement is that it is the most controversial field of study on the planet. How can I say this? Because it challenges every religion on Earth to its own validity. Faith rules the world, like it or not. The most prominent is Christianity, followed by Muslims, then Hindu, and Buddhists as the top four. The Christian and Hindu creation stories can be found here:

http://www.bibleontheweb.com...
http://www.painsley.org.uk...

The Muslim creation story in general is the same as the Christian with few exceptions. The Buddhist religion has no creation story, as the Buddha says to not concern ones self with unanswerable questions (a brilliant philosophy in a tremendous number of respects). Now then, what does any of this have to do with Palaeontology? Simple: there is absolutely no mention of any prehistoric life in the text. There are only examples of modern animals native to the area that each story originated from. What does prove? No knowledge of prehistoric life had been ascertained within the time periods the texts where written in. Should the religious books be the true to the start of the world then there should also be mention of animals resembling those of an Argentiosaurus, a Baryonyx, a Dunkleosteus, even a Quetzalcoatlus. However, the only references show snakes, lions, sheep, and eagles. The lack of evidence to show that there where creatures larger and more spectacular than the local flora and fauna is reason enough to doubt it's validity. Only recently, as prehistoric study continues, do the religious movements try and explain the new findings and incorporate it into their original beliefs system. Religion rules the world. Governments are run by it, laws are made in accordance to it, even days off are given to celebrate it. This science alone can show that the Bible, Koran, and others where all written by people in an attempt to explain something vast and mysterious, but only with the limited amount of knowledge at hand. Religions around the world would be found to be a lie and collapse. Palaeontology is thus, more controversial than gay rights, gun control, drug legalization, abortion, or any other topic. Religion has come into play somehow in all these subjects. Only Palaeontology has the ability to topple the only barrier between belief, and true logic.

Summary: This argument is not about whether religion is bad or not, but that Palaeontology is more controversial than better known subjects because of it potential to destroy religion, the worlds foremost superpower.
beem0r

Con

Palaeontology is NOT the most controversial scientific field.

Palaeontology is, as you say, capable of showing the existence of extinct types of life. In fact, that is largely the purpose of palaeontology. The existence of these different creatures could arguably disprove the creation stories of most religions. However, the reason Palaeontology is not the most controversial field of science is as follows:

People don't usually disagree on its findings. The _overwhelming_ majority of _all_ people agree that dinosaurs did in fact exist. Controversy is the extent to which there is disagreement on an issue, and Palaeontology just doesn't stack up to some other fields of science when it comes to disagreement. If you want to talk about proving creation stories wrong, astronomy (mostly surrounding the origin of the universe), biology (mostly surrounding evolution), anthropology, geology, etc. Some of these, especially astro and bio, are extremely controversial for the very reasons you say palaeontology is. The only problem is, palaeontology _isn't_ controversial.

Even creationists embrace the findings of Palaeontology. I'm sure you've heard of the creationist museum... it's got dinosaurs all over the place.

Palaeontology is not controversial for one very good reason - it's almost a direct observational field. You cannot easily disagree with such hard findings, and almost no one does.
Debate Round No. 1
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

(as I am not as well versed in the Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist history in regards to scientific discovery, I will now argue based only on the Christian views)

But here is where you are wrong. Palaeontology has spurred what could possibly be the most widely spread, heated, and longest lasting debate of our time: Evolution. Yes, Charles Darwin developed the idea, but palaeontology helped make it so, and continued to back it up with it's later findings. Creationism, when you think about it, is a submission to the power of this field, as the religious world has no way to refute this evidence. There was no such thing as creationism until Evolution started to gain ground. Before, it was just widely accepted that God made the Earth in 7 days, and that birds, fish, and animals all came from the same garden that the first two humans came from. But once evolution began to gain some credibility in the scientific community, and religion was not a science, the very broad scientific explanation of Creationism and Intelligent Design appeared. Its definition from Wikipedia is as follows:

Creationism is a religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created in their original form by a deity or deities (often the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam), whose existence is presupposed.

Intelligent design is the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."[

Never directly saying that the Christian god is the creator or designer in question, but it is implied. Ever since the Evolution vs. Creation debate has been fought. Evolution vs Christianity was fought wildly directly after Darwin presented his theory. Laws have been passed in regard to Teaching ID along with Evolution, and in some cases more so. Palaeontology helped make it all happen. So yes, while the field itself may have never directly been challenged, it certainly has been in other ways. If there was some way to disprove the prehistoric bones, then the religious world would jump on that in an instant. However, there is no way to argue against such hard evidence, as you yourself admitted, so they can't and don't. Rather, the idea's that spring from it are attacked. Controversy.
beem0r

Con

You have conceded that it is not in fact Palaeontology that is the most controversial field, but rather a field to which Palaeontology contributes. To be more specific, you think the Theory of Evolution is the biggest controversy in science, though it could also be the Big Bang Theory. The Theory of Evolution is a biological theory, which makes biological predictions. It is not in any way part of the field of Palaeontology.

Therefore, the topic of debate, "Palaeontology Is the most Controversial Scientific Field" is wrong by your standards and mine. Since I'm the only one who's supposed to be arguing that it's wrong, it would seem that I've already won. However, I'll add a little something before I go.

Palaeontology doesn't even _contribute_ the most to controversy, which seems to be what you were debating last round. The majority of Evolution's evidence comes solely from biological sources. These would be genetics, phenotypes, observed instances of evolution, etc. All that Palaeontology's sources give us is fossils. While fossils are needed to predict how extinct animals evolved, they do not nearly represent the bulk of the evidence for Evolution as a theory. Therefore, Palaeontology doesn't even contribute the most to controversy, Biology or Astronomy does.

Concede defeat or make something up. This is a premise on which you cannot win.
Debate Round No. 2
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

I did not concede that palaeontology is not the most controversial field, but that any controversy being fought within it is by way of evolution. I still stand that Palaeontology is more controversial because of the potential threat it holds to the largest society runner in the world: religion. Yes, no one argues about Palaeontology because they cannot touch it. It is, as you said, an observational field. All the pieces are there but no one wants to put them together, because if they did it would lead to the greatest world wide revolution in the history of the planet. Rather, it has been tossed aside by most people's thoughts into a scientific field that tickles one's imagination. But if the true spectrum of this field were to be realized it would hold religion by it's throat.

You mistake what contributes to the evolutionary theory. They all have and equal pylon that holds it up. Modern findings of evolution are those of the gene's, phenotypes, observed instances, etc. However, without the fossil record evolution would be nothing. Without evidence from the past that there were ancestors which made the modern species what they are today there would be no "theory of Evolution". Palaeontology was the foundation that the rest of this theory was built up from. Today, the observations of macro and micro evolution is observed and more prominent in the Evolutionary debates, but without the evidence from the past all the findings are practically void. The luster has been lost, but there was a time when Palaeontology was one of the most fought over fields in all of science.

Te Big Bang theory is a very fought over field, yes, but casts no shadow next to the Theory of Evolution. It is impossible to know how the Universe started, and is at the moment, a battle of beliefs. But as you yourself concede, Palaeontology's evidence is all right there. More and more evidence is being found in relation to the past, almost to the point of the very beginning of life. That is the truly earth shaking question. More and more proof is showing that we were made through a happy accident, not a divine creation. As more proof is found it will shake the religious world. Right now, the religious community cannot touch this field because of its factual nature, so they ignore it, only acknowledging it when they can't turn their shoulder anymore. I'm very surprised all the pickets signs say "God Hates Gays" and "Save the Babies Life" rather than "Jack Horner's the Devil" and "Patagonia needs to GOnia". As this area grows the religious one will shrink. As I said in the beginning, it is that power that makes it controversial, not the subject itself. Darth_Grievous_42 out.
beem0r

Con

I don't know what part of palaeontology you're talking about, saying that "if the true spectrum of this field were to be realized it would hold religion by it's throat." There is no part of palaeontology that's just tossed aside. Unless you have startling new information, which you've drastically failed to present, palaeontology does not have anything of any significant controversy.

Also, palaeontology is not the foundation of evolution. It did not start evolutionary theory nor is it the strongest evidence in support of it. There is no valid criteria where palaeontology is "the foundation" for evolution.

>>The luster has been lost, but there was a time when Palaeontology was one of the most fought over fields in all of science.<<

You admitting defeat. We're debating what IS the most controversial, not what used to be. Even though it probably wasn't then.

Palaeontology is not controversial. It's definitely not the most controversial, either.
Debate Round No. 3
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