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Thread: Creationists and dinosaurs

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    Creationists and dinosaurs

    So what is it exactly with creationists and dinosaurs? They seem to have some kind of fixation with them. Kent Hovind called himself "Dr. Dino" and the Institute for Creation Research also seems quite fixiated with them. They also seem to think that finding a live (non-avian) dinosaur would disprove evolution. Is it some kind of tactic to ensnare kids or something?

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    My guess is that it is clever marketing, intentional or not. If anyone could disprove dinosaurs are not older than 6000 years of age, it would provide not only strong support for YEC but also have the coolness of dinosaurs surrounding them. Remember that they (YEC leaders) are trying to rationalize their specific religious interpretations by making pseudo science arguments to appease their acolytes. They know they can offset the very weak quality of their scientific arguments with the popularity of their literal interpretation (not mainstream interpretation) of the faith.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hieda no Akyuu View Post
    They also seem to think that finding a live (non-avian) dinosaur would disprove evolution.
    To this particular point.... there seems to be a belief among creationists that evolution is a one-way process of advancement only; that organisms only evolve from simple to complex. For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.

    Of course, evolution doesn't claim any of that (that it is a one-way process of advancement only, and that older species disappear upon the evolution of new species).
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    The TalkOrigins archive website is always a good resource. You might start here, the supposed man footprints among dinosaur prints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.
    This one drives me so nuts. It’s like saying how there can still be Greeks in Greece if my family are descended from Greeks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    To this particular point.... there seems to be a belief among creationists that evolution is a one-way process of advancement only; that organisms only evolve from simple to complex. For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.

    Of course, evolution doesn't claim any of that (that it is a one-way process of advancement only, and that older species disappear upon the evolution of new species).
    Modern scifi has a lot to answer for with regards to that too.

    Star Trek and Stargate franchises both butcher evolution horrendously and that contributes to the spread of misunderstanding.

    Ironically, that most maligned episode of Voyager, 'Threshold', did subvert a little of the pseudoscience by depicting evolution to a simpler form. Of course, it then butchered everything else. As SFDebris put it, "Individuals do not evolve! We are not Pokémon!"

    Still, you've got to laugh that scene from Futurama 'A Clockwork Origin' where Farnsworth argues with Professor Banjo about evolution. Banjo keeps asking where the missing link is and Farnsworth gives it. Then Banjo asks where the missing link is to the missing link and Farnsworth gives that. Rinse, repeat. Cut to hours later and 30 evolutionary steps given and then Farnsworth is stumped and Banjo claims victory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    To this particular point.... there seems to be a belief among creationists that evolution is a one-way process of advancement only; that organisms only evolve from simple to complex. For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.

    Of course, evolution doesn't claim any of that (that it is a one-way process of advancement only, and that older species disappear upon the evolution of new species).
    Yes. But I suspect they are regressing to the popular 19th century views when mainstream evolution argued for a positive advancement in variety and species production, which, of course, was another difficulty for Darwin. [Paley's "Natural Theology" (~ 1800) united theology and nature (this book was adored by Darwin) and was very influential then.]

    To borrow a phrase used from a book on the history of the Big Bang theory, they are "smuggling theology" into their interpretations of science, though they are also smuggling their cherry pickings of science into religion, which is worse. Both appear very disingenuous due to the degree of their "smuggling" efforts. I have no problem with anyone's religious, philosophical, or political views that may seem informative as long as they let science lead the science. [The book example was that Lemaitre likely didn't want it to appear that his theological view of a "beginning" (Gen. 1) was smuggled into his interpretation of GR; early on, even Eddington, who greatly supported Lemaitre's model, didn't like Lemaitre's beginning idea; Eddington thought it was "repugnant" (early 1931, IIRC). I suspect this is why Lemaitre was quick to stop the Pope in smuggling science (his theory) to fit theology.]
    Last edited by George; 2019-Aug-22 at 01:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    Modern scifi has a lot to answer for with regards to that too.

    Star Trek and Stargate franchises both butcher evolution horrendously and that contributes to the spread of misunderstanding.

    Ironically, that most maligned episode of Voyager, 'Threshold', did subvert a little of the pseudoscience by depicting evolution to a simpler form. Of course, it then butchered everything else. As SFDebris put it, "Individuals do not evolve! We are not Pokémon!"
    Not sure how many hard line Creationists are fans of Stargate or Trek.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    This one drives me so nuts. It’s like saying how there can still be Greeks in Greece if my family are descended from Greeks.
    My favorite response is, "if dogs are domesticated wolves, why are there still wolves?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    Ironically, that most maligned episode of Voyager, 'Threshold', did subvert a little of the pseudoscience by depicting evolution to a simpler form. Of course, it then butchered everything else. As SFDebris put it, "Individuals do not evolve! We are not Pokémon!"
    I think Pokémon, as much as I love it, has also added to confusion by using the word "evolution" for the changes they undergo as individuals when it's really more like "metamorphosis" from caterpillar to butterfly or tadpole to frog.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hieda no Akyuu View Post
    Kent Hovind called himself "Dr. Dino"
    There is something else going on.

    Creationism has itself evolved.

    To start with, old timer creationists didn't give a crap about dinos, space, or anything else. These unpleasent men were "Jesus only--go burn your D&D manuals."

    The young creationists grew up on pop culture like many of us did, and thawed a bit as the old hard-liners died off.

    They fell in with crypto-believers, saucer-nuts and other people who want Saturday morning cartoons to be more real than they are.

    So now, Thor was real--but he's a Nephilim see? And Loch Ness monsters are plesiosaurs that only had to survive for 6,000 years, not 65 million or so.....and..and...the electric universe theory.

    Bless their hearts, they want to explore the universe more than their unimaginative fathers.

    But they will have to un-learn things. That can be tough.

    Their Dads?--hopeless basket cases of folks who didn't even care enough about science to botch it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hieda no Akyuu View Post
    So what is it exactly with creationists and dinosaurs?
    Broadly defined, creationists simply believe the universe was created (as opposed to a random happenstance). That cannot be proven or disproven, so I don't see why the word "creationism" should be used so derisively. Some creationists also believe the science that says the Earth is over 5 billion years old, and the universe is over 13 billion years old, etc. Some creationists accept the research suggesting that modern lifeforms evolved from earlier lifeforms. Those are all different arenas, and they are not mutually exclusive. So maybe a more accurate title for this thread would be "Young Earthers and Dinosaurs".

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    Quote Originally Posted by mapguy View Post
    Broadly defined, creationists simply believe the universe was created (as opposed to a random happenstance). That cannot be proven or disproven, so I don't see why the word "creationism" should be used so derisively. Some creationists also believe the science that says the Earth is over 5 billion years old, and the universe is over 13 billion years old, etc. Some creationists accept the research suggesting that modern lifeforms evolved from earlier lifeforms. Those are all different arenas, and they are not mutually exclusive. So maybe a more accurate title for this thread would be "Young Earthers and Dinosaurs".
    Yes. Wiki lists five different types of creationists. I'm a creationists, using your definition, yet not in any of those five.

    It's implied, in this forum especially, that creationism (ism) refers to YE creationists due to the powerful contrary affect science has in the overlap with their religious tenets. [IIRC, I think there was a time when YEC argued that they coined the term creationism.] When an abundance of objective evidence is dismissed or falsely represented, it's only reasonable that it be criticized by those who do respect the weight of science upon the few areas it affects philosophies or religions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    <snip>
    It's implied, in this forum especially, that creationism (ism) refers to YE creationists due to the powerful contrary affect science has in the overlap with their religious tenets. [IIRC, I think there was a time when YEC argued that they coined the term creationism.] When an abundance of objective evidence is dismissed or falsely represented, it's only reasonable that it be criticized by those who do respect the weight of science upon the few areas it affects philosophies or religions.
    What George said.

    I'd say the greatest arguments, both on this forum and broadly (at least within the United States) have been with Young Earth Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates. The big battles in the US with have been when such groups have tried to get their ideas taught as science, either instead of, or in addition to, the scientific explanations for cosmology and evolution.
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    People who accept the findings of the origin sciences (cosmology, evolution) but invoke a deity solely as the "causeless first cause" of the Universe are technically called deists rather than creationists. Martin Gardner, of Mathematical Puzzles And Diversions fame, self-identified as a deist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    My favorite response is, "if dogs are domesticated wolves, why are there still wolves?"
    But beware, that can backfire: dog breeds were intelligently designed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    People who accept the findings of the origin sciences (cosmology, evolution) but invoke a deity solely as the "causeless first cause" of the Universe are technically called deists rather than creationists. Martin Gardner, of Mathematical Puzzles And Diversions fame, self-identified as a deist.
    And the crucial aspect of that is it is completely orthogonal to science and thus presents no contradictions to science, as long as it is recognized that it has no overlap with science and informs or limits science in no way. A large part of the YEC problem, in my view, is that people are often presented with a kind of devil's bargain, that if they wish to believe in a supreme being then they have to go with YEC because science denies the existence of a supreme being as a first cause. It shows such a complete lack of understanding of what science is to hold that, which is why I bridle whenever I hear scientists buying off on that perspective. So bully for Martin Gardner for having the courage to draw that distinction! If it was merely presented that YEC people are selling a flawed version of the role of a supreme being, it would be much easier to put it in its proper place (junk science, and junk religion because it tries to be science).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And the crucial aspect of that is it is completely orthogonal to science and thus presents no contradictions to science, as long as it is recognized that it has no overlap with science and informs or limits science in no way.
    It is indeed the overlap where the conflict happens, and it is extremely prominent for YEC who are stuck on a 6k years model for the age of the universe.

    A large part of the YEC problem, in my view, is that people are often presented with a kind of devil's bargain, that if they wish to believe in a supreme being then they have to go with YEC because science denies the existence of a supreme being as a first cause.
    In the overlap, their view declares science subordinate to truth (their truth, of course). It's important to see that their foundation isn't found in science but in their interpretation of a few scriptures, so the only way they will self-correct is for them to appreciate the wonders science brings to the table and then tweak their interpretation. This isn't without precedent, of course. In 1992, the pope apologized for not doing this very thing regarding Galileo. The ~ 360 years it took for this to officially take place shows just how tough it is when dogma (i.e. Aristotle/Ptolemy/Thomist + Council of Trent) becomes too entrenched.

    What should happen is that more and more YE creationists will open one eye to the abundance of objective evidence (God is not malicious) and another to a more respectable interpretation; being blind to both is detrimental to their faith because it makes them look..... silly. I say this with some sadness because the YE people that I know are usually wonderful, caring individuals, largely due to their main humane religious beliefs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    People who accept the findings of the origin sciences (cosmology, evolution) but invoke a deity solely as the "causeless first cause" of the Universe are technically called deists rather than creationists. Martin Gardner, of Mathematical Puzzles And Diversions fame, self-identified as a deist.

    Grant Hutchison
    Then I am a deist as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Then I am a deist as well.
    Gardner divided deists into two groups:
    1) Those who believe they have a rational argument for their position, usually something along the lines of Paley's "the watch needs a watchmaker".
    2) Those who believe their position does not require, and is not amenable to, rational argument.
    Gardner fell into the latter group, and he coined the portmanteau word fideist for that position (by tacking Latin fides, "faith", on to the start of deism). Unfortunately, fideism already had a rather more general meaning in philosophy, more or less unrelated to deism, so he created a bit of (I presume) unwitting confusion.

    Anyway - the relevant point for this thread is that deists do believe in a creative god, don't generally style themselves as creationists, and have no problem with dinosaurs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    It's important to see that their foundation isn't found in science but in their interpretation of a few scriptures, so the only way they will self-correct is for them to appreciate the wonders science brings to the table and then tweak their interpretation.
    And that's why a dogmatic approach isn't really "overlap" with science at all, it has left the building of science completely because it commits the cardinal sin of placing the preconception above the experimental outcome.

    I say this with some sadness because the YE people that I know are usually wonderful, caring individuals, largely due to their main humane religious beliefs.
    And that's exactly why we should eliminate the false dichotomy between science+atheism versus YEC+faith. The deist position gives a completely satisfactory combination science+faith, it's all about understanding their different roles, or as Gould put it, their "non-overlapping magisteria." Doing so teaches us something important about science, but it also teaches us something important about faith, and I think it is a lesson that neither scientists, nor YECs, are enthusiastic about learning-- they seem to prefer the illusion of complete knowledge over genuine knowledge, which understands its own incompleteness and that can be a bitter pill for some on both sides of that aisle. Hence the false dichotomy.

    Put succinctly, in a science class, teaching atheism makes the same error as teaching creationism. There is what science tells us, and there is what science doesn't tell us and it is up to us to decide for ourselves, and we don't need to "teach the controversy," we need to teach that difference.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Aug-28 at 10:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    ........but it also teaches us something important about faith, and I think it is a lesson that neither scientists, nor YECs, are enthusiastic about learning-- they seem to prefer the illusion of complete knowledge over genuine knowledge,....
    I take issue with you lumping scientists in with YEC on this mental state. I can't name a single scientist that would claim they have complete knowledge, and in fact humility in regards to their knowledge is one of the hallmarks of a professional scientist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave241 View Post
    I take issue with you lumping scientists in with YEC on this mental state.
    I don't need to "lump together" classes of human beings, they are already lumped together by their biology. Nor did anything I say claim they are exactly the same. I said only that they can both show a tendency to overestimate their own level of certainty (the faithful may evince a certainty that a supreme being is responsible, the atheist may evince a similar certainty that they are not).
    I can't name a single scientist that would claim they have complete knowledge, and in fact humility in regards to their knowledge is one of the hallmarks of a professional scientist.
    Then the scientists to which you refer are not the ones to which I refer. I am referring to the tendency for scientists to do things like look at, say, "Newton's laws", and conclude, "aha, this means the past determines the future." That is no less than a failure to understand the first thing about science, and certainly does not exhibit the kind of humility to which you refer.

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    I certainly know many scientists who exhibit an unexamined core of faith-based certainty - I see it both in high profile scientists and science communicators and in people I used to work with.
    The structure of scientific enquiry encourages a certain amount of "formal doubt" - hypotheses and theories and statistical methods and "more research required" sort of stuff. But under all that one does frequently runs up against a solid core of unexamined philosophical stances, combined with a denial that such unexamined philosophical stances even exist.
    I think it's human nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And that's why a dogmatic approach isn't really "overlap" with science at all, it has left the building of science completely because it commits the cardinal sin of placing the preconception above the experimental outcome.
    Well, it depends on which model of dogmatic approaches one adopts. Even Geocentrism (cap. for absoluteness) was dethroned with a problematic "dogmatic approach" that came tumbling upon them thanks to Galileo (more so by far than by Copernicus) due to the overlap. The key point I like to emphasize is the need for a special dimensional term... silly. If their is a conflict due to an overlap, the question that must get honest scrutiny is whether or not the belief looks silly. St. Augustine emphasized this and warned religious leaders of the consequences of holding to any doctrine that becomes "laughable", which, of course, is one of the worst circumstances for any primarily subjective-based magesteria. That's the real challenge for philosophies and religions.

    And that's exactly why we should eliminate the false dichotomy between science+atheism versus YEC+faith.
    Yep, good point; YEC is not YES (Young Earth Scientists).

    The deist position gives a completely satisfactory combination science+faith, it's all about understanding their different roles, or as Gould put it, their "non-overlapping magisteria."
    IIRC, he was making prominent an important general viewpoint. I don't think he disagreed that there exists occasional overlaps.

    Doing so teaches us something important about science, but it also teaches us something important about faith, and I think it is a lesson that neither scientists, nor YECs, are enthusiastic about learning-- they seem to prefer the illusion of complete knowledge over genuine knowledge, which understands its own incompleteness and that can be a bitter pill for some on both sides of that aisle. Hence the false dichotomy.
    Yep, kinda silly, huh?

    Put succinctly, in a science class, teaching atheism makes the same error as teaching creationism. There is what science tells us, and there is what science doesn't tell us and it is up to us to decide for ourselves, and we don't need to "teach the controversy," we need to teach that difference.
    Yes! Not realizing this difference means one doesn't really understand the SM.
    Last edited by George; 2019-Aug-29 at 03:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I certainly know many scientists who exhibit an unexamined core of faith-based certainty - I see it both in high profile scientists and science communicators and in people I used to work with.
    Given the personal and subjective nature of faiths, this isn't surprising. Some (few scientists, admittedly) lose their jobs for excessive exhibitions.

    The structure of scientific enquiry encourages a certain amount of "formal doubt" - hypotheses and theories and statistical methods and "more research required" sort of stuff.
    Yes, nicely put, though I offer "formal scrutiny" as a substitute for "formal doubt" since doubt is anathema to faith, and scrutiny not so much.
    But under all that one does frequently runs up against a solid core of unexamined philosophical stances, combined with a denial that such unexamined philosophical stances even exist. I think it's human nature.
    But are they really unexamined to an unreasonable degree? It can be very difficult to examine their level of self-examination given the personal and subjective nature of the topics. No doubt there are many who eschew self-examination of a faith; we all tend to believe what we want to believe, though scientists, and most here, know this fact and are less susceptible to its unfavorable consequences.
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    This dialog reminds me of two old saws:

    "Who are we to tell God how He should create His Universe?" - Speaking to human hubris.

    And the following, which is a sort of extension of a scripture (and seen on numerous car bumpers):

    "With God all things are possible...even evolution."

    Both would seem to fall under a deist point of view and even allow for old Earths and ancient lifeforms.

    I had a few more observations/opinions but in hindsight they were too far afield of the thread topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Given the personal and subjective nature of faiths, this isn't surprising. Some (few scientists, admittedly) lose their jobs for excessive exhibitions.
    I think we're using the word "faith" in different ways. It's increasingly used to designate a set of religious beliefs, especially in US English, but I was using it in the sense that's implicit in the phrase "blind faith" - a confidence unjustified by any evidence. The scientific method requires the judicious exercise of doubt and uncertainty, but many scientists of my acquaintance have an unwavering (and often unexamined and unacknowledged) certainty about what the scientific method tells us about the world.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I think it's human nature.
    I agree that's the key element we must all recognize, just because someone has good science training does not automatically exempt them from the same race as people who take a more faith-based perspective.
    The scientific method requires the judicious exercise of doubt and uncertainty, but many scientists of my acquaintance have an unwavering (and often unexamined and unacknowledged) certainty about what the scientific method tells us about the world.
    And this is the part that really puzzles me. No religion in my knowledge has ever undergone the upheavals that science has. By that I mean, I've never heard a religious leader say "we used to think X was the truth, but now we think Y." Indeed, if I hear that, I'll likely fall out of my chair. But scientists have to say that all the time. So you'd think it would lead to the natural conclusion, "we used to think X, now we think Y, and we must allow that someday we'll think Z." It's that last bit that I don't hear scientists saying, even though it seems to follow from the same basic premise as the first part, the part scientists are (rightly) so proud of!

    Indeed, I regard science as having to grapple with several "science paradoxes:"
    1) being right in science requires another scientist to be wrong, which also requires allowing that you could be in those same shoes someday
    2) science attempts to arrive at objective truths, but these truths are often used to teach us various lessons, the nature of which are generally quite subjective
    3) if science ever discovers a "theory of everything" (and this is sometimes framed as a legitimate and possible goal), it will probably not alter how you take out your garbage
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Aug-29 at 06:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    ...I've never heard a religious leader say "we used to think X was the truth, but now we think Y." Indeed, if I hear that, I'll likely fall out of my chair. But scientists have to say that all the time.
    :like:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    So you'd think it would lead to the natural conclusion, "we used to think X, now we think Y, and we must allow that someday we'll think Z." It's that last bit that I don't hear scientists saying, even though it seems to follow from the same basic premise as the first part, the part scientists are (rightly) so proud of!
    I think they say that, it's just that no one wants to hear it. No one is going to report a story where scientists say "eating red meat is bad for you, but we will probably flip on that ten years hence."

    And it's kind of moot really - essentially second-guessing ourselves. When we state what we currently think is 'X', then that is what we currently think. There is little to be gained by saying 'but next year it will be Y'.


    On the other hand, there are cases where we say 'we don't know': 1] how to reconcile QM and GR, 2] what happens at the singularity of a black hole. These are things that we know we don't know (like Rumsfeld's "known unknowns").

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