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[P]
Arkansas committee recommends banning evolution in textbooks

By Khalad in News
Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:48:43 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

CNN reports that "a committee of the Arkansas state legislature has recommended banning the theory of evolution from textbooks in the latest challenge by state officials to the scientific view of how life develops.

"A committee of the state House approved the legislation and forwarded it to the full House, 20 years after the state legislature passed a similar bill later struck down in federal courts as unconstitutional. The measure advanced despite a warning from the American Civil Liberties Union that it could violate the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state."


In 1925 the Scopes "Monkey" trial brought the debate over Darwinism to the forefront of American consciousness. The evolutionist and anti-evolutionist sides were never better represented with two of the country's most famous orators -- Clarence Darrow, "America's most famous defense lawyer", and William Jennings Bryan, a many-time Presidential candidate.

Darrow charged that anti-evolution laws made the Bible "the yardstick to measure every man's intellect, to measure every man's intelligence, to measure every man's learning." Bryan's speeches were flustered and incompetent. One of his Dubya-isms: "I do not think about things I don't think about." The trial, eventually won on a technicality, was a moderate victory for the evolutionists.

85 years later, the debate has made no progress, though the anti-evolution argument made by Rep. Denny Altes shows the decreasing amount of rationalism used to defend anti-evolution laws:

"Would anybody here pretend that this isn't about religion?" Rita Sklar of the ACLU's Arkansas chapter asked the committee.

"Do you believe you were descended from a monkey?" Rep. Denny Altes shot back. "If we teach kids that they were descended from monkeys, don't you think they'll act like monkeys?"

The quality of discourse on both sides does not seem to have improved much in the last 80 years. Anti-evolutionists' arguments are neither as coherent nor as reasonable as their counterparts'--that's just being honest. So why are we still rehashing the same old debates? If this is the age of science and technology, why is it still an uphill battle to give evolution its proper place in our schools?

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Poll
Should we teach evolution in schools?
o Yes, science classes should teach scientific thinking. 73%
o No, it has not been proven to be true and is still being debated. 3%
o Yes, but to be fair we should also teach creationism. 6%
o No, the theory of evolution is anti-Christian. 0%
o Yes, children are nothing but little monkeys as it is. 14%
o No, I will not have my children behaving like monkeys! 1%

Votes: 241
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o reports
o Clarence Darrow
o Also by Khalad


Display: Sort:
Arkansas committee recommends banning evolution in textbooks | 385 comments (375 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
You would think... (3.66 / 12) (#2)
by enterfornone on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:16:23 AM EST

That if these people really believe in creationism they would have the faith that their beliefs would be able to stand up to scrutiny.

Schools should teach how to think, not to recite whatever beliefs others have without thinking about whether they are true or not.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Maybe... (4.00 / 7) (#27)
by elefantstn on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:50:18 PM EST

...but most of us wouldn't want evolution and creationism taught side-by-side in school so children can "decide," either, no matter how sure that evolutionism can stand up to scrutiny. The problem is that children are heavily influenced by their elders' beliefs, and the teacher's biases would undoubtedly be subtly apparent in the teaching.



[ Parent ]
But that's NOT what schools are there for! (3.00 / 1) (#293)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:32:41 AM EST

Schools should teach how to think, not to recite whatever beliefs others have without thinking about whether they are true or not.
But schools were designed to do the exact opposite. It's likely to be much easier to simply get rid of schools than to truly turn them around.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Poll Options (3.77 / 9) (#3)
by Tim C on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:21:55 AM EST

The fact that evolutionism is a theory, and that it hasn't been proved and still being debated, is no reason not to teach it.

An awful lot of science is theory, as it is very hard to prove things to be true; in general, reasonable-sounding theories are accepted until someone manages to disprove them. For example, Relativity is still "just" a theory, never having been proved to be true (although we have observed effects that it predicts, such as clocks in orbit running fractionally slower than otherwise identical ones on Earth)

Just felt like pointing that out :-)




Cheers,

Tim

Let them "prove" creationism, then (3.42 / 7) (#6)
by Da Unicorn on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:59:36 AM EST

Title says it all.

[ Parent ]
Evolution is a Fact and a Theory (3.85 / 7) (#10)
by thedward on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:13:52 AM EST

Please see the talk.orgins archive's commentary on the matter. It is expressed there far more eloquently than would ever be expressed by me.

[ Parent ]
All science is Theory (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by bgalehouse on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:30:22 PM EST

But the question isn't whether a theory is fact. The question is whether a theory is usefull. Newton's laws aren't fact, in the sense that both quantum mechanics and general relativity can be seen as small changes to them.

These changes only matter in certain circumstances. And so newtons laws are taught in school as absolutes.

Science doesn't care if evolution is true or false. Science cares that it lets biologists predict what will happen when ecosystems change. Science cares because it lets biologists analyse how related two species are.

The fact of the matter is, that most of science is, in a literal sense, wrong. Most 'laws' of nature that we can list today will be replaced over time with more precise laws. And so this whole fact versus theory debate doesn't mean anything to a scientist - only to religion.

[ Parent ]

Being debated? Where? (4.00 / 5) (#124)
by SIGFPE on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:59:24 PM EST

and that it hasn't been proved and still being debated
Er...it's only being debated in places like Arkansas. You might not have noticed but Arkansas, like Kansas, does not have a stunning reputation across the world for academic standards and what it debated in Arkansas says nothing about the 'theory' of evolution and says plenty about Arkansas.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
A response to Altes (4.53 / 13) (#5)
by DesiredUsername on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:55:19 AM EST

If Sklar had any sense of history (and comedy) she should have responded thusly:

"I would rather be descended from a monkey than from a man who, by virtue of his place in a legislative body, forces his ignorant beliefs on millions of innocent children."

(very loosely paraphrased from Thomas Huxley's response to Bishop Wilberforce)

Play 囲碁
Surely... (2.20 / 5) (#9)
by kaemaril on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:12:08 AM EST

Surely the correct response to the question "Do you believe you are descended from Monkeys" SHOULD be...

"No, but I believe you very well could be." :)


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
The only correct answer (2.50 / 2) (#251)
by jimhill on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:34:40 AM EST

If you are asked "Do you believe that you are descended from monkeys" then the only correct answer is "Yes, I do. That's why we're here trying to keep you from replacing science with superstition."

[ Parent ]
why stop at monkeys? (3.50 / 2) (#253)
by sevenpies on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 01:02:16 PM EST

To make a cheap dig (though he deserves it for his absurd monkey comment), you might as well extend Altes' "argument" back a few more steps in the evolutionary chain:

"If we teach kids that they were descended from unicellular organisms, don't you think they'll act like unicellular organisms?"

Reminds me of Michael Palin's "Dr. Fegg" book, with a man who claims to have traced his family tree back to a molecule of nitrogen in the atmosphere.

[ Parent ]

clarification for the legislature (3.72 / 11) (#7)
by Seumas on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:00:56 AM EST

I'd just like to suggest to the legislature of Arkansas that the fact that many people from their state have failed to evolve does not in and of itself indicate that evolution does not exist.

With people like this in your legislature, I'm not sure how anyone could trust any of the other judgements and decisions made by them and they should vote the whole lot out (if the committee is comprised of any elected officials). Further, that the legislators, who I'm sure very few have any educational or scientific degrees are declaring appropriate subject matter and lesson plans for accademia is most offensive.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

science doesn't matter in the US (3.57 / 7) (#8)
by Seumas on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:07:19 AM EST

The problem in the US is that 'belief' is more powerful than reality, likliehood or supported theory. The same reason that people can suggest "creationism" is a scientific probability without any more proof than I could offer to suggest that monkeys are made from cheese is the same reason that American's are so brainlessly against nuculear power. It isn't because of any realistically based fear, but simply because of the indoctrination by various sources which has lead them to believe things that simply are not true. And instead of thinking for themselves (weighing evidence) to find a likly theory, they grab one out of their asses.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
Ok. (3.00 / 4) (#32)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:07:43 PM EST

The problem in the US is that 'belief' is more powerful than reality, likliehood or supported theory.

Ok. So now it is incumbent upon you to somehow explain how our claimed "knowledge" about reality isn't, when you get down to it, belief.

--em
[ Parent ]

Putting words in his mouth... (2.33 / 3) (#75)
by Khalad on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:23:26 PM EST

I assume he meant "unsupported belief" in place of "belief," as contrasted to "reality, likelihood, or supported theory."


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
The real skinny (4.05 / 18) (#11)
by Ludwig on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:54:34 AM EST

Here's conclusive evidence that should once and for all debunk the myth of evolution.

As well the myth of the strong nuclear force.

I know I'm going to regret this... (3.71 / 7) (#12)
by FriedLinguini on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:05:57 AM EST

All that page shows is an author's ignorance of science. Nowhere does it 'debunk' evolution; it merely shows that much of the evidence is inconclusive.

I hope you don't actually believe that it debunks the strong nuclear force. If we reapply the same logic slightly differently:

"Sir, what is the binding force of the atom?"

"It's God's will!"

"Wrong sir! God is a made-up dream. No one has seen or even measured Him. He doesn't exist! It's a desparate theory to explain away truth!"

Science doesn't have all the answers. Well, duh. If it did, we wouldn't have research scientists. Evolution is a theory that seems to fit the facts, and it has useful predictive value (e.g., that overuse of antibiotics will lead to more resistant strains of bacteria). There are other theories that fit the data (creationism, it's all my imagination, etc.), but they have no predictive value, so they aren't addressed by science. I don't dispute that Creationism may hold true, only that Evolution seems to be a robust theory, and that it is useful for our children to know. The linked cartoon doesn't offer a shred of evidence that Creationism holds true, except to offer biblical references. Isn't that circular reasoning?

[ Parent ]

FYI... (3.50 / 6) (#25)
by Giant Space Hamster on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:34:28 PM EST

The previous post was (probably) sarcastic in nature. Chick is a well-known fundamentalist who uses these comics to convey his message.

Honestly, you should see his stuff on things like D&D. It's absolutely hilarious.

-------------------------------------------
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
-- Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

I was right (3.00 / 2) (#138)
by FriedLinguini on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 10:30:04 PM EST

I DO regret that comment. Forgive me for feeding a troll.

I agree. That D&D one is pretty hilarious.

[ Parent ]

Re: I know I'm going to regret this... (3.66 / 6) (#50)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:07:26 PM EST

There are other theories that fit the data (creationism, it's all my imagination, etc.), but they have no predictive value, so they aren't addressed by science.

That's correct. If you want your children to benefit from an education in science, teach them what scientists do, what scientists believe and why scientists believe in the things they do. Ie, keep creationism out of the science cirriculum, completely. It simply isnt science.

If you want your children to benefit from the lessons of creationism, send them to Sunday school.

You can do both, if you want. As a matter of public policy, however, do not fritter away _my_ child's scientific education on deus ex machinas.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

...but someone has to say it. (5.00 / 1) (#326)
by Atropos7 on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 05:54:49 AM EST

Science does not have all the facts. That's what bothers Creationists and any other type of ignorant person who insists on pushing their world view on others. Science is how people discern the mysteries of the universe on their own. Can you imagine a simple minded person admitting to himself that that no one knows everything? Religion is a creation of mankind to extend ones spirituality and faith to determine how people should live their lives. Not just through rituals and customs and what not, but also what they believe in. Their religions, ages old, already have the "answers," and for Creationists, its that God made things pop out of thin air only about a few thousand years ago, as 'revealed' by the Bible. Now comes along science, and 'discoveries'. We discover enough to begin to understand what makes things tick, instead of taking their existence for granted, our chalking it up to the deity of choice. That's a mind-numbing 'revelation' that people who believe literally in the teachings of their religions can't do anything but dennounce. Heaven forbid we know how God created the universe or living things just because that didn't get put in the Bible. I was raised Roman Catholic. Despite everything Creationists will regurgitate from the Bible, the fact that God is of infinite wisdom and creation seems to be lost on them. While they struggle to maintain the illusion that 'Creation' was nothing more than pulling a rabbit out of a hat, it would seem that God is capable of something much more complex. Not just more complex, but something that would not have holes in it big enough to drive oil tankers through. Given that mankind is not just intelligent but inquisitive, then naturally he expected us to question the physical universe, from beginning to end, inside (quantum physics) to out (astrophysics). How foolish any person would be to mock God's creation - us - as the Creationists do. The only hitch is that we're not of infinite wisdom or creation, but those Creationists sure do think they are perfect, at least when it comes to science!
[ Intentionally left blank ]
[ Parent ]
Hahaha! (2.00 / 4) (#81)
by VValdo on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:49:32 PM EST

That was sarcastic, right? W
This is my .sig. There are many like it but this one is mine.
[ Parent ]
On Jack T. Chick (2.33 / 3) (#128)
by Pseudonym on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:26:15 PM EST

Yes, it was sarcastic.

Chick is a well-known kook who is notorious for turning people off Christianity using little comic books which present material that everyone knows is crap. His opininons on textual criticism are particularly amusing.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
ha ha ha (2.33 / 3) (#129)
by YelM3 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:31:53 PM EST

Check out his ideas of Stalactite formations disproving all of science:
http://www.chick.com/bc/1999/stalactites.asp.

Some chick should really hijack chick.com from this nut.

[ Parent ]
Every time I read one of those... (3.00 / 2) (#175)
by guinsu on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 11:41:22 AM EST

My blood pressure goes sky high. It always pisses me off to think that so many people are being brain washed by those comics. I rememeber seeing one of his other evolution ones, he had the science he was "debunking" SO wrong, it wasn't even funny. So for a friend's art project, he and I took that comic and replaced all the words with facts explaining/supporting the big bang and evolution. That was rewarding.

[ Parent ]
This I would love to see. (3.00 / 2) (#274)
by crossetj on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:57:34 PM EST

You wouldn't happen to still have that project? Perhaps it could be scanned for viewing?

[ Parent ]
Equal Time (4.84 / 19) (#14)
by Global-Lightning on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:13:30 AM EST

The First amendment states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ..."

The Courts have set upon the concept of neutrality principle where government may neither advance nor inhibit religion. An arguement can be made that the Arkansas legislature may promote the teaching of creationism as long as it doesn't focus only on the Judeo-Christian version.

Thus, as a service to the lawmakers everywhere who are considering this kind of legislation, I'm providing alternative creation theories:

The Muslim account in Surah al-Baqarah
A Pagan creation myth
The Shinto creation of Heaven and Earth
Native American Myths
Chinese, more Native American, and Hindu versions
The Tao Te Ching, chapter 1
A Tibetan Buddhist creation
And last but not least, evolution itself as a basis for a reigion

Now if Arkansas schools include these and other versions of creation in their curriculum, that would satisfy the First Amendment. Wether on not the their lawmakers would want expose their children to anything other than Genesis would be interesting to see. After all, isn't the point of education to enlighten and broaden young minds?

I love your idea, but... (3.83 / 6) (#30)
by scruffyMark on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:01:52 PM EST

After all, isn't the point of education to enlighten and broaden young minds?

Surely the point of education is to prepare naturally flexible and broad young minds to deal with naturally calcified and narrow old ones. After all, what is the one thing that every single student learns in every school in the Western world? To sit still, shut up, and not ask uncomfortable questions...

[ Parent ]

What's the chance of that? (3.42 / 7) (#91)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:24:03 PM EST

I'm sure these committee members are Chistian, and would probably only promote the Judeo-Christian version or none at all.

In fact, I'd bet real money that they would fight the the teaching of creationism, that doesn't focus solely on the Judeo-Christian version, just as much, if not more, than the teaching of evolution by itself.

[ Parent ]

Excellent link, tanks (3.50 / 2) (#245)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:34:39 AM EST

I've bookmarked the evolution-as-religion link. Excellent concepts therein. (-:

The concept of the ``neutrality principle'' ignores some basic human nature. Doing as much as you like as long as it's neutral is kind of like saying that you can build a tank in your back yard, accept sponsorship from whomever you please, arm it - even with missiles and nukes - drive it around, fire practice rounds into the fence (if the practice round is a nuke, I guess the council fines you $500.00), whatever you like as long as you don't overtly pick on or particularly support one class of neighbour with it.

Would you feel safe next to such a neighbour? How about if said neighbour was being sponsored by a religious organisation traditionally in conflict with yours or a land developer whom you knew wanted your house?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

evolution != monkeys -> man (4.86 / 23) (#15)
by iGrrrl on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:13:35 AM EST

There are vast differences between the ideas to which the Arkansas legislature objects (popular mis-application of Darwinian evolutionary concepts) and the current theories of evolution (which should certainly be taught in science classes). Let me please indulge myself in a definition. I'll start infoplease.com's 10 definitions
evolution:

1. any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.
2. a product of such development; something evolved: The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research.
3. Biol.change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.
4. a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.
4. a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.
5. a motion incomplete in itself, but combining with coordinated motions to produce a single action, as in a machine.
an evolving or giving off of gas, heat, etc. 6. a pattern formed by or as if by a series of movements: the evolutions of a figure skater.
7. an evolving or giving off of gas, heat, etc.
8. Math.the extraction of a root from a quantity. Cf. involution (def. 8)
9. a movement or one of a series of movements of troops, ships, etc., as for disposition in order of battle or in line on parade.
10. any similar movement, esp. in close order drill.

Note the highlight of number 3.

When I get into these discussions I always hope to get across two important points. The first is that biological evolutionary theories hope to explain the observed changes in species through time. Genetic drift happens. It's been observed in bacteria within days. Genetic evolution is an observable phenomenon. The second point is that evolution does not mean that the things which evolve necessarily become more complex. Even secular people misunderstand this concept, and refer to humans as "the pinnacle of evolution." This reveals an anthropocentrism which limits understanding. Species change, but they do not have to become more complex to have evolvedin the biological sense.

Perhaps the confusion comes from a misapplication of definition 6, where a complex pattern can be left behind. Perhaps definition 1 starts the problem, as such things as languages and aircraft do tend to become more complex through time. But these definitions do not (or at least should not) underlie what a modern biologist means by the word.

Darwin wrote _The Origin of Species_ (a different book from _The Descent of Man_, which is much more speculation and personal theory), the book of keen observations which opened the door for the science of evolutionary biology. Is he the father of evolutionary theory? Yes. Do his writings define the modern scientific views of evolution? No. Do we look to Newton to explain quantum electrodynamics? No. In many ways, we no longer live in the world these men inhabited.

The base of knowledge (and of what is knowable) has changed and expanded dramatically since Darwin's day, and continues to do so. We begin to understand the language of genes. We begin to learn to manipulate the systems of molecular biology. We refine our thinking in light of these new tomes and tools.

Theological thinking has finally embraced the astrophysical science of cosmology, as shown by the Vatican's recent acceptance of Gallileo and Copernicus. There are many theologians who embrace the idea that Universe is not only God's creation, but also God's expression. They see in the hand of God in the discoveries of science.

Christian fundamentalists of today treat evolutionary biology the same way the Vatican treated Copernicus' conclusion that the earth was not the center of the universe. I can only hope it takes less time for the religious world to come around to the notion that species can and do change through time.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

I think you have some things wrong (1.96 / 28) (#18)
by Kiss the Blade on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 12:23:22 PM EST

The first is that biological evolutionary theories hope to explain the observed changes in species through time. Genetic drift happens. It's been observed in bacteria within days. Genetic evolution is an observable phenomenon.

I think you are mistaken here. Evolution is all about improvement - it is fundamental to the theory of evolution. Only a very advanced creature could deny that life has advanced.

If what you say is true, we would still be tadpoles in a swamp somewhere or something. It is perfectly clear to me that evolution is a value bound philosophy - it attempts to explain the uprising and appearance of our civilisation, and the ever marching progress of all life on Earth.

Genetic evolution is an observable phenomenon.

Eh? Evolution has never been observed. Sure, things like bacterium have been shown to change a little tiny bit, but they have never improved, which they would have to to truly evolve. For example, bacteria have become resistant to vaccines and so on. Is this truly evolution? No! They have got much worse - they have not progressed and evolved by any measurement.

In the end, evolution is just a theory like any other. There is surprisingly little actual evidence for it when one looks into it. For example, the fossil record is full of creatures that just dissappear and are completely replaced by a newer model. This shows that there is something very Lamarkian going on - creatures don't really evolve, they do it in fits and starts, very suddenly. This can be seen from the fossil record. Like with birds - one minute there are none in the record, the next they are all over the shop. Some hold Archaeopterix to be a middle form, but it isn't, and there is nothing between it and birds or between it and its predecessors, which evolution would lead one to expect.

I am not denying that species change through time, because it is obvious that they do so. However, it is not obvious that evolution is the cause. Biologists constantly say that evolution is not directional - but in that case, why do we exist at all? I don't hear them explaining this - it is obvious even to a dunce that the process that has produced us is directional, otherwise we wouldn't be here.

Given that, could it be that the evolutionists are trying to deny the hand of a force improving us? I fear it may be - they ignore the issues I have pointed out time and time again.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

Always ignore the argument while criticizing it (4.50 / 14) (#21)
by plastik55 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:05:07 PM EST

The theory of evolution has two components--genetic drift and natural selection. You can't ignore one while criticizing the other.

Genetic drift is non-directional. A random mutation probably isn't going to help you.

Natural selection IS directional. Some mutations will make you better- or worse-suited to the environment. If you are better suited to the environment, you have a better chance of reproducing successfully. If all your children have random mutations, the ones with advantageous mutations will have a better chance of reproducing--the ones with detrimental mutations will not. After a few thousand generations you start to notice that there are more people around whose ancestors had good mutations.

Thus random mutations (a non-directional process) cause improvement through selection (an inherently directional process.)

For example, bacteria have become resistant to vaccines and so on. Is this truly evolution? No! They have got much worse - they have not progressed and evolved by any measurement.

If bacteria become resistant to an antibiotic, they have a better chance of surviving and reproducing in an environment full of antibiotics. Therefore they have improved. What is your definition of "improved?"

For example, the fossil record is full of creatures that just dissappear and are completely replaced by a newer model. This shows that there is something very Lamarkian going on - creatures don't really evolve, they do it in fits and starts, very suddenly.

Any argument from the fossil record needs something else to back it up--the fossil record is sparse and full of holes. I think the record shows "fits and starts" because it's pretty hard to come up with a random mutation that's really benificial. So that only happens every once in a long while. If a really benificial mutation happens, then after few tens of thousands of generations of the organism (which is where you find the next fossil) the mutation has had plenty of time to become ubiquitous, and encourage all number of smaller subsidiary adaptations. That a big, benificial change results in very rapid evolution does not necessitate "Lamarckian" processes at all. If evolution were Lamarckian, why don't these big changes happen all the time?

A big problem in this debate is that there's not a whole lot of convincing physical evidence to back it up. We don't live long enough to see if animals work better after a thousand generations of evolution. The fossil record gives some clues, but it's full of holes. The vast majority of things simply aren't in the fossil record--only things that died in the mud are in the fossil record. So it's as difficult to use the fossil record to argue against evolution as it is to argu for evolution.
w00t!
[ Parent ]

But thats all theory (1.80 / 15) (#28)
by Kiss the Blade on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:56:48 PM EST

Yes, it is possible to show that some mutations do occur, and that life has changed in the past. But what you espouse appears to be a theory with very little to back it up. Why do people get so emotional about teaching children something up there is little evidence for? Why the emotionalism over schools in Arkansas teaching the children something for which there is little evidence? Surely this reveals an agenda.

It is clear to me that the evolutionists have deviated from the Popperist fundamentals of science, and have started to truly believe in evolution, which is very dangerous.

Anyway, your argument splits things into two parts, which is right and proper. The first part regarding genetic mutations I have no problem with. However, the second is where you are very shaky indeed. The fundamental fact is that there is little data to support your second assertion that 'natural selection' is the directional force here. So why get all flustered when it is not taught? Why teach something that has little grounding in proof to our children? It would be like teaching them the latest theories in fundamental physics and so on, which are unproven too. We should only teach the solid underpinnings in our schools, not theories.

Anyway, I have some difficulty with your claim that Natural Selection is directional. Order just doesn't appear in the natural world of its own accord - things that are ordered are designed by some process. How can something like Natural Selection, which is completely random, improve things?

Also, if Natural Selection is directional, then we should spend some time wondering about its ultimate destination. Just how advanced can things get? Surely not any more advanced than Humans are - which suggests that we are the pinnacle of natural selection.

Okay, that last was pure speculation on my part, but the idea that something abstract and blind can in the end produce E. D. Donahey of Fox news I find difficult to swallow.

Anyway, in the end I accept the mutations part, but not the Natural Selection pushing things onwards to a greater destiny part. I don't pretend to know what has produced us - maybe it was God, or Natural Selection, or some other external force that is unknowable, but I just don't see any convincing evidence one way or the other frankly, and I don't think any of it should be taught in schools.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

Advancement (3.40 / 5) (#36)
by flieghund on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:17:32 PM EST

I can't seem to find the origin of the quote, but ISTR it going something like this: "Everything is just as complex as it needs to be, but not more."

Natural Selection advances a species just as far as the species needs to go to succeed in its environment. It may very well be that human beings have reached the pinnacle of our natural selection because we have gotten to the point of not relying on our own humble bodies for success: we now have technology, and with that we can shape our environment, rather than having our environment shape us. But that doesn't mean that our pinnacle is even remotely related to the pinnacle of, say, a bird or a bacterium.



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
False. (2.80 / 5) (#37)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:20:36 PM EST

I can't seem to find the origin of the quote, but ISTR it going something like this: "Everything is just as complex as it needs to be, but not more."

Which, of course, is falsified by vestigial features.

--em
[ Parent ]

Ouch (3.60 / 5) (#46)
by flieghund on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:48:15 PM EST

I am so crushed. My argument -- no, my entire belief system -- has been utterly devastated by your stunningly thorough and insightful commentary. But before I hurry off and perform seppuku, I have a few questions:

What, exactly, has been "falsified by vestigial features"? The fact that I cannot find the origin of the quote? My recollection of the quote? The quote itself? (Assuming that the quote was actually made and has been presented in its original wording, how can you falsify a quote?) Or are you arguing that the basic idea behind the quote is "falsified by vestigial features"? Which vestigial features? Are you sure they're vestigial? What evidence do you have that those features are vestigial?

These are all honest questions, though I imagine you'll take them as a personal attack. Whatever, I am interested in your answers, if only to get a clearer picture of how you think.



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Don't get anal on me. (3.71 / 7) (#52)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:16:17 PM EST

You know perfectly well what I mean, and what my argument is, but are just trying to make it sound like I don't know what I'm talking about by suspending the usual rules for cooperative communicative exchange.

What, exactly, has been "falsified by vestigial features"? [...] Or are you arguing that the basic idea behind the quote is "falsified by vestigial features"?

You rhetorical trick (enumerate a bunch of alternatives to the point, with the point being the last one on the list, so as to maximize topic continuity) conclusively shows that you knew full well what I meant.

Which vestigial features? Are you sure they're vestigial? What evidence do you have that those features are vestigial?

I was talking, of course, about vestigial features in general. Actually, I don't even need to argue that features are vestigial-- any non-functional feature which increases the complexity of a species will do.

Your implicit demand that I provide specifics, of course, is ridiculous-- the existence of vestigial features by itself falsifies the idea you cited. And as to whether any given features are vestigial or not, well, biology itself claims that such features are widespread. I don't have to have any particular belief here-- I'm just citing what biologists claim, and showing the inconsistencies incurred.

These are all honest questions, though I imagine you'll take them as a personal attack.

Oldest trick in the book-- when you wish to make an attack, always claim that you aren't doing any such thing, so as to be able to act offended when your attack is pointed out.

--em
[ Parent ]

Um. (3.20 / 5) (#69)
by flieghund on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:11:32 PM EST

Actually, it wasn't intended as a personal attack. However, I'm not offended that you took it as one. Such is one of the difficulties of communication in a medium such as text. (I am reminded of the poison cup scene in The Princess Bride. "Knowing that you would take it as a personal attack, I said it wasn't an attack; but, knowing that you would know that I would know, I wouldn't want to say it, but I did anyway, which can only mean that I knew you would know that I would know that you would know...") Whatever. It was intended as a personal learning experience, not an attack.

As to my "rhetorical trick" of enumerating questions with the last one being the "real" one, thus "conclusively" showing I knew what you meant... I don't think it is that conclusive at all. You have the bad rhetorical habit of using Technical Polysyllabic Words in your comments (bafflegab?), and "vestigial features" certainly sounds like something you would mention in an argument regarding language. I was attempting to make sure that you were addressing the biological variety to avoid an arugment over semantics. (My English teacher called it "the supermarket parking lot test" -- if you write something that the average person in the parking lot of a supermarket wouldn't understand, then it's too complicated. KISS.)

You are also assuming my point was made by the last question; however, as it turns out, the last question I posted was not the last question in my line of reasoning -- there were originally about a dozen more, but I shortened the list for clarity. (There is no way you could have known this. Again, a problem with text-based communication.) While the break was an intentional selection in a "this looks like a good place to end this" kind of way, it was by no means intended as the final point in my argument. I'm rather disappointed in myself that it was taken that way. The list of questions was actually intended as an exercise to learn more about how you think, a fact that I mentioned in my post. You see, I used to feel fairly comfortable in my ability to use rhetoric, but your posts have made me realize that I am but a pitiful amateur; this was an attempt to discover how you approach a topic and develop arguments.



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Re: Advancement (3.20 / 5) (#39)
by hugorune on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:31:36 PM EST

I can't seem to find the origin of the quote, but ISTR it going something like this: "Everything is just as complex as it needs to be, but not more."

So why do men have nipples?
--
Phil Harrison
[ Parent ]

why do men have nipples? (3.40 / 5) (#58)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:46:03 PM EST

I dont know. Why do they need to be smarter than dogs? It took a while us to figure that one out, too.

(So they dont hump women's legs in public, of course.)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Just-so stories. (3.00 / 5) (#60)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:58:29 PM EST

I dont know. Why do they need to be smarter than dogs? It took a while us to figure that one out, too.

Your attitude shows all which is wrong with Darwinist theorists. "Oh, Darwinism is true, thus, male nipples must be an adaptation. I can't even begin to imagine how they might be functional, but someday somebody might show they are."

Of course, this is not even a just-so story, but a promissory note that somebody might give one in some unspecified moment the future. And then the Darwinist claims this supports his theory: "Our theory explains how male nipples may be functional, and thus is to be preferred to theories that don't do so." Which is, of course, ridiculous.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: Just-so stories. (3.40 / 5) (#65)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:09:50 PM EST

It was a joke. To make light of the fact that evolution has no future functional requirement for latter day appendages. You seem to have philosophical reservations about evolution which unfortunately do nothing to diminish its power to explain and derive new knowledge, and certaintly do nothing to contradict the fact that the process of evolution exists, verifiably so.

I'm not saying that a discussion about meta evolution isnt useful, I'm saying that if you propose to argue the merits of a science, use the language and techniques of science, not philosophy. It makes it that much easier to focus the discussion to the topic at hand.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Vestigal features (3.80 / 5) (#82)
by aonifer on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:50:58 PM EST

So why do men have nipples?

Because there is no evolutionary advantage to removing them. If nipple-less men had a much better chance of producing off-spring, then men would not have nipples. Maybe someday in the future, conditions will change such that nipple-less men will evolve. Maybe male nipples aren't as vestigal as we think and nipple-less men are actually less likely to produce off-spring.

[ Parent ]

Why do men have nipples? (2.50 / 4) (#85)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:07:43 PM EST

Because there is no evolutionary advantage to removing them.

And how do you know there is no evolutionary advantage to removing them?

--em
[ Parent ]

troll me, i'm game (2.75 / 4) (#104)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:22:55 PM EST

Well, they arent going to fall out on their own accord, you know. Find yourself a pair of pliers and start scientificating.

OT: Has streetlawyer and yourself ever been caught together in the same room, in two separate bodies? You seem to favor each other's sentence structures and vocabulary.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Re: Why do men have nipples? (3.60 / 5) (#136)
by aonifer on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 10:12:22 PM EST

And how do you know there is no evolutionary advantage to removing them?

I don't. I pretty much acknowledged that when I said that maybe someday men won't have nipples. My point is that natural selection "selects" based on survival advantage, not necessarily on usefulness of a given part. The question isn't, "Why do men have nipples?" It's, "Why shouldn't men have nipples?" Personally, I don't see any large survivability advantage to losing nipples. Can you?

[ Parent ]

Backpedaling, huh? (2.50 / 4) (#144)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:44:38 PM EST

And how do you know there is no evolutionary advantage to removing them [male nipples]?
I don't.

So, which were you being when you offered that as an explanation when the question was originally raised: inconsistent, or dishonest?

My point is that natural selection "selects" based on survival advantage, not necessarily on usefulness of a given part.

And what is the difference here?

The question isn't, "Why do men have nipples?" It's, "Why shouldn't men have nipples?"

Why shouldn't men have antlers, then?

Personally, I don't see any large survivability advantage to losing nipples. Can you?

So? What does follow from what you see or fail to see?

--em
[ Parent ]

It's rather obvious (3.00 / 2) (#161)
by Khalad on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:49:35 AM EST

"Why shouldn't men have nipples?"

Because if they didn't they'd look deformed and would have trouble getting laid, i.e., reproducing.

"Why shouldn't men have antlers, then?"

Same reason, times a thousand. Not looking like a fucking mutant is a strong survival advantage.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
male nipples, just-so stories, and OOG THE CAVEMAN (2.66 / 3) (#167)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:24:00 AM EST

"Why shouldn't men have nipples?"

Because if they didn't they'd look deformed and would have trouble getting laid, i.e., reproducing.

Funny indeed, but I think it's fundamentally misguided. This could be applied to any inheritable trait that has visible consequences. For example, white skin color:

[Setting: 50,000 BC

A bunch of neanderthals are gathered around a campfire. All, of course, are black.

Suddenly, though, a creature appears which looks every bit like them, except for one thing: it's skin is snow white, it's hair is golden like the sun, and it's eyes are blue like the clear sky.]

OOG the Caveman: A FREAK!!! TRIBE MUST ATTACK FREAK!!! TRIBE KILL FREAK!!!

[The black neanderthals kill the white one, and burn his corpse.]

Note, crucially, that the opposite story also sounds plausible:
[Setting: 50,000 BC

A bunch of neanderthals are gathered around a campfire. All, of course, are black.

Suddenly, though, a creature appears which looks every bit like them, except for one thing: it's skin is snow white, it's hair is golden like the sun, and it's eyes are blue like the clear sky.]

Oog the Caveman: A GOD!!! TRIBE MUST WORSHIP GOD!!! TRIBE BOW DOWN BEFORE GOD!!!

[The black neanderthals worship the white one, who exploits the situation to gain lifelong exclusive mating rights with all of the tribe's females.]

The point is that *any* outcome you can imagine is perfectly consistent with evolutionary theory. And the same applies to male nipples. Your story about "not looking deformed is good" is every bit as good as the story which says "looking deformed is good".

--em
[ Parent ]

Uh, no (4.00 / 2) (#178)
by aonifer on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 03:16:18 PM EST

I don't.

So, which were you being when you offered that as an explanation when the question was originally raised: inconsistent, or dishonest?

Neither. I was being a scientist. Scientists make hypotheses. My hypothesis for why men have nipples is that there is no survival advantage to losing them. My hypothesis does not prove the theory of evolution. It's not meant to. It's meant to show that existence of vestigial organs does not disprove evolution. I am not a paleontologist or biologist, so I lack the skills necessary to prove my hypothesis. If you have the skills necessary to disprove my hypothesis, then I'll be happy to read it.

Why shouldn't men have antlers, then?

My hypothesis is that our direct ancestry never had antlers and conditions never arose such that humans with antlers would have an advantage over humans without antlers. Once again, I lack the intimate knowledge of the fossil record to prove my hypothesis either way. Maybe you should ask a paleontologist these questions.

[ Parent ]

bah. (2.00 / 1) (#195)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:54:03 PM EST

My hypothesis for why men have nipples is that there is no survival advantage to losing them.

Ok, this is going in circles now. How do you propose to know whether there is no evolutionary advantage to losing them?

I am not a paleontologist or biologist, so I lack the skills necessary to prove my hypothesis.

It might have nothing to do with your skills. It might simply be unfalsifiable. It might not even count as a precise enough statement so as to be amenable to testing. Which is what pretty much all of evolutionary theory is.

My hypothesis is that our direct ancestry never had antlers and conditions never arose such that humans with antlers would have an advantage over humans without antlers.

Your "hypothesis" amounts to saying "people have never had antlers, for reasons which are lost in the mists of history". How am I supposed to be able to evaluate this?

--em
[ Parent ]

Einstein quote. (4.20 / 5) (#40)
by claudius on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:34:44 PM EST

FWIW, one related quote is, "Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler," and it is customarily attributed to Albert Einstein. While I've heard different versions of the Einstein quote, I've never heard it with "complex" in place of "simple" before.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (3.33 / 3) (#47)
by flieghund on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:51:19 PM EST

You know, that probably is the quote I was trying to think of. Damn, too, 'cause it doesn't seem to work as well. 8^)



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Re: But thats all theory (3.85 / 7) (#55)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:32:14 PM EST

Why the emotionalism over schools in Arkansas teaching the children something for which there is little evidence?

Because it is taught as if it were science when in fact it is unchallengable, unverifiable, _belief_. Creationism is simply the "science" of finding "holes" in evolution. Unfortunately it needs to do more than that. It needs to present a body of knowledge and a methodology that will enable it to derive NEW knowledge. It needs to answer questions, not merely cast doubt (at best) on another theory's answers.

Surely this reveals an agenda.

Yes, that science should teach the scientific method. You know, test tubes, measuring instruments, predictions, that kind of rot. The sort of thing evolution does, coincidentally enough.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Read up on genetic programming (3.83 / 6) (#59)
by bjrubble on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:52:08 PM EST

Evolution is a phenomenon resulting from genetic diversity and the resulting differential reproductive rates. Even the simplest simulation incorporating these principles will demonstrate improvement over time against whatever selection criteria you implement. I personally can't see how it could be otherwise -- the least fit disappear, the most fit continue, how could this process not lead to greater average fitness in subsequent generations?

Now, in genetic programming, the creator sets up the selection criteria, because the whole point is to produce algorithms that do what you want. So perhaps you can discern our "ultimate destination" in the criteria embodied by natural selection. But I think the evolutionary psychologists have already gone off the deep end of that pool. I don't see any teleology at work, and certainly none is required.

As for why evolution should be taught in school, it should be taught for the same reason any science is taught -- it works! The theory of evolution provides an enormous amount of explanatory power; if nothing else it is the basis for almost all modern medical science. We still teach Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian geometry, even though neither is "true." I don't see "truth" as the litmus test for an educational curriculum.

[ Parent ]
Slight problem. (2.40 / 5) (#63)
by Kiss the Blade on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:04:34 PM EST

This smacks of being a self fulfilling prophecy. Your argument appears to be as follows:

1)The theory of evolution depends on two principles.
2)When a simulated environment is created in which these two principles are the basis, lo and behold, evolution as it is thought to occur in the real world occurs.

The problem here is that a simulation has nothing to do with the real world. People can simulate away to their heart's content, and nothing will ever be proven.

We still teach Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian geometry, even though neither is "true." I don't see "truth" as the litmus test for an educational curriculum.

Are you saying that it is perfectly okay to teach things that are false, as long as they possess explanatory power? I beg to differ.

IMO, Newtonian mechanics should not be taught in schools. The world is full of physics undergraduates unable to understand the basics of Quantum Mechanics because they have been taught an outmoded belief system at school. Why teach falsehoods? Truth is the only determinant in any educational syllabus, or at least it should be.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

The "Truth" (3.83 / 6) (#71)
by Khalad on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:14:09 PM EST

Truth is, I'm glad you don't decide school curriculum. I would've died in high school physics if I had to jump straight into quantum mechanics.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
not really (4.16 / 6) (#93)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:26:01 PM EST

The problem here is that a simulation has nothing to do with the real world. People can simulate away to their heart's content, and nothing will ever be proven.

Actualy, that isn't true. It proves that the idea is legitimate, and posible. In other words, if evolution by programatic selection works, there is no reason to assume that natrual-selection couldn't work, as you seem to be doing.

IMO, Newtonian mechanics should not be taught in schools. The world is full of physics undergraduates unable to understand the basics of Quantum Mechanics because they have been taught an outmoded belief system at school.

Newtonian physics is an aproximation close enough to reality to calculate and create everything ever created by the human race other then atomic weapons and supercoliders. It is certanly good enough for general use.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Re: Slight problem. (4.00 / 4) (#94)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:28:34 PM EST

IMO, Newtonian mechanics should not be taught in schools. The world is full of physics undergraduates unable to understand the basics of Quantum Mechanics because they have been taught an outmoded belief system at school.

That is true. I have an undergraduate degree in physics and I only needed to pass a single course in quantum mechanics. Regardless, I managed to pick up the essential skills that science could teach me without having to specialize in a rather abstruse body of knowledge that is beyond the reach of most people without significant prepatory knowledge.

Why teach falsehoods?

Who teaches falsehoods? F=ma _is_ a truth, just not the complete story. You can derive Newtonian mechanics from quantum theory in the limiting case of visible objects and, apart from the lessons it teaches in scientific _thinking_, you almost certainly require newtonian mechanics as a prerequisite to understanding quantum mechanics. Not to mention that newton drives you to work every day. On balance, it belongs in the science curriculum. That you think otherwise displays your ignorance of what science is and of its value to us.

You seem to be under the impression that scientific theory should be equivalent to absolute fact. It isnt. Your example of Quantum mechanics might not be the whole story, either. Do you propose that we abandon the pursuit of science and pick at the lint in our navels until God strikes us with supreme knowledge about the world? I would be interested in knowing how knowledge of quantum mechanics would have been acquired without the invention of tools built on a foundation of newtonian electrodynamics.

Truth is the only determinant in any educational syllabus, or at least it should be.

Oh, I dont think it appropriate to strike creationism entirely from the written record.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Between black and white there is a sea of colours. (3.60 / 5) (#110)
by inpHilltr8r on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:17:15 PM EST

> IMO, Newtonian mechanics should not be taught in schools.

What a load of crap. Newtonian mechanics describes the world adequately for everyday purposes. The extremes of Relativity / Quantum physics are more detail than is useful or indeed useable in practical circumstances. Cities are built, and spaceships fly on the fundamental principles of newtonian mechanics.

> Why teach falsehoods?

What a colourfull image of the world you must have. Black and white, true and false, right and wrong.

Hem, you teach newtonian mechanics because, to a certain measurable degree of accuracy, and within certain limits, it works. If you want to work outside those limits, we have the tools to do that as well, but they're a lot more unwieldy.

Fundamentally, newtonian mechanics is neither 'false' nor 'true', but it adequately describes, and predicts, much of the observable world, and is therefore, useful.

l8rpHile
KMA

[ Parent ]
Oh no. (2.80 / 5) (#113)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:45:31 PM EST

Fundamentally, newtonian mechanics is neither 'false' nor 'true', but it adequately describes, and predicts, much of the observable world, and is therefore, useful.

God, my philosophy professors would have eaten you alive if you had said this in their presence.

Newtonian mechanics *is* false. It happens to make a lot of true predictions, but the theory is demonstrably false.

--em
[ Parent ]

I eat armchair philosophers for breakfast. (2.75 / 4) (#117)
by inpHilltr8r on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:09:47 PM EST

Yeah, well as far as useable predictions go, I'd rather fly Newton, than listen to so much specious and largely useless philosophical waffle.


[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 4) (#119)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:16:37 PM EST

Then explain how you are going to do science without assuming a concept of "true statement".

--em
[ Parent ]

Only... (3.00 / 4) (#123)
by inpHilltr8r on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:55:07 PM EST

if you explain how to fly without newtonion mechanics.

l8rpHile


[ Parent ]
"Explanatory power" (3.00 / 4) (#72)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:19:42 PM EST

The concept of explanatory power is highly overrated. Let's put it simply-- theories shouldn't be judged on their explanatory power, but on their predictive power.

Let's put it simply. Evolutionary theory has no more explanatory power than creationism, since everything evolutionary theory may "explain" creationism can also explain. In fact, creationism may have more explanatory power than evolution. By your logic, then, we should be creationists.

The theory of evolution provides an enormous amount of explanatory power

Doesn't matter. The key questions are the following:

  1. Is it clear which statements form part of the theory, and which don't?
  2. Is it clear which observations are predicted by the theory, which aren't predicted, and which are predicted not to occur?
Frankly, evolutionary theory fails in both of these criteria, and, above all, in the second.

--em
[ Parent ]

Explanatory vs predictive (3.50 / 4) (#187)
by bjrubble on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:43:42 PM EST

Okay, I'm satisfied to let evolution rest on its predictive laurels, then.

Here's a prediction for you. When the next tree frog is discovered in the rainforest, compare its DNA to those of its closest genetic cousins. Call the new frog X, and the two cousins Y and Z. I predict that X, Y and Z will share many common characteristics, and X and Y will share further traits not held by Z. But very rarely will X and Z share common traits not held by Y.

This prediction stems from the evolutionary model of shared ancestry, that X and Y branched from Z before speciating themselves.

--------- Z
    \---- Y
        \--- X

Please explain how creationism predicts this. Also bear in mind that I'm not a biologist and I pulled this out of my ass -- it's far more than I could do for quantum mechanics, which I've yet to hear anybody dispute as "bad science."

[ Parent ]
This is how they explain it... (2.50 / 2) (#190)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:02:42 PM EST

God did it, duh.

[ Parent ]
Simple. (3.50 / 2) (#194)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:43:38 PM EST

Here's a prediction for you. When the next tree frog is discovered in the rainforest, compare its DNA to those of its closest genetic cousins.

"Cousins" is loaded vocabulary.

Call the new frog X, and the two cousins Y and Z. I predict that X, Y and Z will share many common characteristics, and X and Y will share further traits not held by Z. But very rarely will X and Z share common traits not held by Y. This prediction stems from the evolutionary model of shared ancestry, that X and Y branched from Z before speciating themselves.

Please explain how creationism predicts this.

Bah, I don't even have to invoke creationism to explain that. Creatures with similar genotypes will have similar phenotypes, and vice-versa. If X and Y are genetically more similar to each other than they are to Z, their phenotypes will also be more similar.

In fact, loaded claims of "relatedness" on an evolutionary "family tree" are commonly substantiated nowadays by DNA similarity indices. But, the DNA similarity by itself explains the similarity and dissimilarity of the organisms, without any need to invoke evolution at all.

--em
[ Parent ]

whatever (3.40 / 5) (#77)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:36:52 PM EST

Anyway, I have some difficulty with your claim that Natural Selection is directional. Order just doesn't appear in the natural world of its own accord - things that are ordered are designed by some process. How can something like Natural Selection, which is completely random, improve things?

Do you have any proof of that statement? I dobut it, beacuse it's false.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
troll.... (3.80 / 5) (#78)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:39:52 PM EST

Also, if Natural Selection is directional, then we should spend some time wondering about its ultimate destination. Just how advanced can things get? Surely not any more advanced than Humans are - which suggests that we are the pinnacle of natural selection.

are you saying that the human race is 'perfict'?

My theory? You're a troll.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Let's agree to always misunderstand each other (4.50 / 8) (#80)
by plastik55 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:49:11 PM EST

Let me start off by saying that evolution is a theory with very little to back it up. On the scale of things, it's less well verified than, say, relativity, but has a stronger backing than, say, Gestalt psychology. However, most flamefests about evolution consist not of productive criticism but of people talking past each other and failing to hear what the other side is trying to say. Therefore I apologize if I misinterpret something you say.

Also, the next few paragraphs are intended to address what I think are your problems with the interpretation of evolutionary theory, and not whether it's true ir not.

Also, if Natural Selection is directional, then we should spend some time wondering about its ultimate destination. Just how advanced can things get? Surely not any more advanced than Humans are - which suggests that we are the pinnacle of natural selection.

I think you and I are meaning different things by "directional." You're confusing evolution with "advancement" in the artistic sense. An organism which is sucessful is an organism that tends to thrive and reproduce--and that's all. It doesn't matter whether you have opposable thumbs, or written language, or anything else--if World War III happens and the only things which survive are cockroaches, well, then the cockroaches are more "advanced" than people.

To refer to people as "highly evolved," or to say that people are "more advanced" than cockroaches, whcih are in turn "more advanced" than bacterium, or to use the word "improved" in anything close to the meaning that you give it -- This is not what the theory of evolution says. Natural selection is not an artist and does not have artistic sensibility. Its only rule is that things which survive and reproduce well, will have more decendants than things which don't. That's where the "direction" of natural selection comes from.

Anyway, I have some difficulty with your claim that Natural Selection is directional. Order just doesn't appear in the natural world of its own accord - things that are ordered are designed by some process. How can something like Natural Selection, which is completely random, improve things?

If I play a game where I flip a coin, and every time it comes up heads you give me a dollar, and every time it comes up tails I give you 99 cents, then after a while I'll probably be ahead, despite the process being "completely random."

In the same way, a creature which is (at random) better able to survive and reproduce than another (random) creature, then after a while there will be more descendents of the first creature than of the second.

Anyway, in the end I accept the mutations part, but not the Natural Selection pushing things onwards to a greater destiny part. I don't pretend to know what has produced us - maybe it was God, or Natural Selection, or some other external force that is unknowable, but I just don't see any convincing evidence one way or the other frankly, and I don't think any of it should be taught in schools.

I think I've addressed what I think of phrases like "greater destiny" when applied to evolution. And I think that the thought that there's anything "special" about humanity is a philosophical mistake--that's my own opinion. But regardless of the truth that may or may not be inherent to evolutionary theory I think it would be a crying shame if a specific theory were banned from the teaching of science. To do so would represent a tragic misunderstanding of the scientific method. It's just as much the fault of the teachers who teach evolution as if it were fact, as it is of the legislators who reason that if it's not known to be true, you shouldn't teach it. You might as well do away with all science teaching.

A fundamental problem is that science is taught as fact when it should be taught as science. I think students should have to have a solid grounding in science philosophy before they are taught any science. This is a challenge to science educators, particularly at the high school level, where most teachers don't quite get the distinction, or are unable to express it well.
w00t!
[ Parent ]

*sigh* (2.00 / 6) (#84)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:05:20 PM EST

An organism which is sucessful is an organism that tends to thrive and reproduce--and that's all.

What's this "tends" business? Either an organism thrives or reproduces, or it doesn't.

Natural selection is not an artist and does not have artistic sensibility. Its only rule is that things which survive and reproduce well, will have more decendants than things which don't.

That is a tautology. The conclusion then is that natural selection is unfalsifiable, and whatever the facts may be, it will be be able to "explain" them (in the evolutionist's nonsense sense of "explain").

--em
[ Parent ]

stop *sighing*, its getting in the way of clue (4.28 / 7) (#98)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:40:55 PM EST

What's this "tends" business? Either an organism thrives or reproduces, or it doesn't.

Fine. A sucessful organism is one that thrives to reproduce.

You know, for a linguist, your ability to forgive the imperfections of natural language arent much better than Eliza's.

That is a tautology.

Rad this this. In fact, read the entire site.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Don't dodge the issue. (2.33 / 6) (#109)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:15:31 PM EST

Read this. In fact, read the entire site.

I've read the site before, and I even believed that stuff once upon a time. But now I now better.

First, note that the argument there doesn't apply to what I was replying to. I pointed out that the following statement is a tautology:

Things which survive and reproduce well, will have more decendants than things which don't.
The statement the site criticices is the following:
Natural selection is the survival of the fittest. The fittest are those that survive. Therefore, evolution by natural selection is a tautology (a circular definition).
These are obviously different things, and I didn't claim anything about the one the site attacks.

The site goes on to say this:

'Fitness' to Darwin meant not those that survive, but those that could be expected to survive because of their adaptations and functional efficiency, when compared to others in the population. This is not a tautology, or, if it is, then so is the Newtonian equation F=ma [Sober 1984, chapter 2], which is the basis for a lot of ordinary physical explanation.
But this argument is wrong, and the theory is indeed tautological. The relation between the premise (some organisms are functionally better adapted to survive) and the conclusion (those organisms leave more offspring) is one of necessity, not of contingency.

How could it be false that, given the laws of probability (which are mathematically true), those organisms that are more likely to survive and leave offspring (because of whatever reason) will in average leave more offspring? This is an unfalsifiable statement of mathematics, not an empirical statement about the real world.

Stop taking at face value the pronunciations and distortions of those who have a vested interest in their own theory. And, *read* what you are replying to.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: Don't dodge the issue. (4.00 / 5) (#120)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:24:14 PM EST

Stop taking at face value the pronunciations and distortions of those who have a vested interest in their own theory. And, *read* what you are replying to.

Ok, lets try that.

The relation between the premise (some organisms are functionally better adapted to survive) and the conclusion (those organisms leave more offspring) is one of necessity, not of contingency.

is answered begining (and continuing beyond) with:

The answer to this version of the argument is the same as to the simplistic version - adaptation is not just defined in terms of what survives. There needs to be a causal story available to make sense of adaptation (which is why mimicry in butterflies was such a focal debate in the teens and twenties). Adaptation is a functional notion, not a logical or semantic a priori definition

The current understanding of fitness is dispositional . That is to say, fitness is a disposition of a trait to reproduce better than competitors. It is not deterministic. If two twins are identical genetically, and therefore are equally fit, there is no guarantee that they will both survive to have equal numbers of offspring. Fitness is a statistical property. What 'owns' the fitness isn't the organism, but the genes. They will tend to be more often transmitted so far as what they deliver is better 'engineered' to the needs of the organisms in the environment in which they live. And you can determine that, within limits, by 'reverse engineering' the traits to see how they work

To which you counter, sort of, with

How could it be false that, given the laws of probability (which are mathematically true), those organisms that are more likely to survive and leave offspring (because of whatever reason) will in average leave more offspring?

It isnt false. Unfortunately for you, a statement of probability is most emphatically not a tautology, either.

This is an unfalsifiable statement of mathematics, not an empirical statement about the real world.

No, it is empirical statement about the real world which the abstract formal theory of probability models well. Furthermore, merely testing a theory is an attempt to falsify it. Example: the hypothesis that there is a one in two chance of transmitting Huntington's disease from parent to child. You can falsify this statement by observing the actual incidence of transmission in the real world. It turns out be 1/2. Where is the tautology?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

slight elaboration (3.25 / 4) (#121)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:33:58 PM EST

I should qualify

It turns out be 1/2.

by adding that the 1/2 figure is scientific knowledge whose statistical truth is derived and supported by formal mathematical tests conforming to "unfalsifiable statements of mathematics," in your words. It actually goes further back than that, with formal systems (there exist more than one) modeling the very concept of counting. One gene, two genes, three genes, four.

Again, no tautology. Statement of mathematics are all contingent on other statements, all the way back to elemental axioms and definitions.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Nope, I'm still right. (2.16 / 6) (#122)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:50:20 PM EST

Unfortunately for you, a statement of probability is most emphatically not a tautology, either.

I was not referring to statements of the sort "the probability of X happening is p", which are indeed contingent. I was referring to the following statement (which *is* the definition of Natural Selection):

Given the laws of probability (which are mathematically true), those organisms that are more likely to survive and leave offspring (because of whatever reason) will in average leave more offspring.
This is not a statement about the probability of any specific event. This is like saying "given that in any die roll, an outcome which is not 1 is more likely than an outcome of 1, over series of dice rolls, in average, more results which are not 1 will show up than results of 1".

Note I make no reference to particular probabilities of anything. If we assume that the probability of rolling a 1 is, say, 1/3, *that* is an actual empirical statement, and it can be supported or not by observation[*]. However, if we correctly note that the claim of a 1/3 probability is not borne out by the observations, we don't conclude that the statement relating probabilities of outcomes to averages is false-- we conclude that our assumption about probabilities was false.

[*] Note, however, that statements about probability are not falsifiable; you can always answer "Well, that means you didn't roll the die enough times".

Example: the hypothesis that there is a one in two chance of transmitting Huntington's disease from parent to child. You can falsify this statement by observing the actual incidence of transmission in the real world. It turns out be 1/2. Where is the tautology?

Given what I show above, we can see how you are misguided here. The real question is: were observation to reveal that the number of children that inherit Huntington's disease from their parent carriers not be around half, would you really abandon Natural Selection (which *is* a tautology, and amounts to abandoning the theory of probability itself), or the assumption that the chance of transmission is 1/2?

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: Nope, I'm still right. (3.50 / 4) (#134)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:56:35 PM EST

First of all, your definition of natural selection is substantially less than rigorous. Natural selection means something very specific.
natural selection: differential survival and/or reproduction of individuals carrying alternative inherited traits
See also, this reference regarding good and bad definitions when discussing evolution.

The real question is: were observation to reveal that the number of children that inherit Huntington's disease from their parent carriers not be around half, would you really abandon Natural Selection (which *is* a tautology, and amounts to abandoning the theory of probability itself), or the assumption that the chance of transmission is 1/2?

Well, I wouldnt abandon natural selection just then but, sure, if the incidence was not 1/2, I would abandon the hypothesis "there is a one in two chance of transmitting Huntington's disease from parent to child." I'd look for a different explanation.

You can formulate a biological theory of natural selection in abstract mathematical language which is completely self-consistent, mathematically, but whose predictions do not match the empirical evidence. At that point, you drop the biological theory without fear of a crisis in mathematics. That hasnt happened in the biological theory of natural selection using the mathematical theory of probability.

I'm sorry, I do not see where you are coming from. How does describing natural selection in terms of probability make a tautology of either? Probability is merely an abstraction that is useful for describing many empirical situations including biology, gases, casinos, lineups at the bank, etc.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

You don't give up, huh? (2.60 / 5) (#142)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:27:58 PM EST

natural selection: differential survival and/or reproduction of individuals carrying alternative inherited traits

That's just a domain-specific elaboration of what I said. It boils down to the probability of certain traits passing from one generation to the next being realized in the makeup of the succeeding generations with regards to that trait.

Which is another argument to why natural selection is a tautology, and not a biological theory-- there's really nothing biology specific to it.

See also, this reference regarding good and bad definitions when discussing evolution.

The page for the most part talks about evolution, not natural selection.

Anyway, this person's page about tautology is a far inferior version of what you gave before. Rebuttal #3 is particularly bad; there is no necessary relationship between tautology and "obviousness". If there were, mathematicians would be out of work.

I wouldnt abandon natural selection just then but, sure, if the incidence was not 1/2, I would abandon the hypothesis "there is a one in two chance of transmitting Huntington's disease from parent to child." I'd look for a different explanation.

And my point is that you can repeat this as much as you like, and never abandon natural selection.

You can formulate a biological theory of natural selection in abstract mathematical language which is completely self-consistent, mathematically, but whose predictions do not match the empirical evidence.

Natural selection makes no empirical predictions whatsoever. It merely says that the hereditary traits whose carriers (for whatever reason) leave more offspring will increase in frequency in the next generation.

Let's take another angle, and try to see what it would take to disprove natural selection. Try to imagine that we had a case where we consistently observed among several generations of some population that some inheritable trait which makes its carriers more likely to leave offspring, is diminishing in frequency each generation. This would mean either that (a) the trait is not being received by the offspring, which contradicts our assumption that it is inheritable, or (b) the individuals most likely to leave offspring aren't leaving offspring, which given our assumptions about the relationship between mathematics and the world, contradicts the theory of probability, which is *mathematically* true.

Probability is merely an abstraction that is useful for describing many empirical situations including biology, gases, casinos, lineups at the bank, etc.

Nope, probability and statistics are central to all actual scientific work. And given that any statement about probabilities is unfalsifiable (Tom: "I tried it 2 million times, and the average was .6, not .5;" Mary: "You haven't tried it enough times, if you keep on it will eventually come out at .5"), this shows that all so-called "science" is also unfalsifiable, contrary to the received Popperian wisdom shared by most scientists.

Actually, though scientists will never admit it, the belief that mathematical knowledge can be used to acquire empirical knowledge, central to science, is a *huge* leap of faith, every bit as large as believing in a deity.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: You don't give up, huh? (4.50 / 2) (#148)
by eLuddite on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:01:50 AM EST

That's just a domain-specific elaboration of what I said. It boils down to the probability of certain traits passing from one generation to the next being realized in the makeup of the succeeding generations with regards to that trait.

I dont know that is true. I dont have the sophisticated knowledge of natural selection to check your reasoning, step by step, from definition to tautology, for unwarranted assumptions or fallacies. You have not provided any step by step reduction. Given that evolutionists disagree with you and given that I have no reason to believe your grasp of logic is superior to theirs, and given that I do have reason to doubt your knowledge of biology relative to theirs, I have to side against you.

So far, you have proposed one definition of natural selection which _was_ a tautology, but also uniquely your definition, alone:

Given the laws of probability (which are mathematically true), those organisms that are more likely to survive and leave offspring (because of whatever reason) will in average leave more offspring.

I submitted an alternate definition which you claim is a "domain specific elaboration" of your first (incorrect) definition. If I'm not prepared to accept your original simple definition, why would I accept its equivalence by virtue of being a "domain specific elaboration?" That isnt biology. Moreover, even if (great big huge if) the definition of natural selection is suspect, what of it? Natural selection itself can exist independently of our mere knowledge of it, knowledge which will undoubtedly improve as biologists refine their understanding.

Which is another argument to why natural selection is a tautology, and not a biological theory-- there's really nothing biology specific to it.

Natural selection is fairly abstract; except for what constitutes alleles, what more biologically specificity do you require?

Try to imagine that we had a case where we consistently observed among several generations of some population that some inheritable trait which makes its carriers more likely to leave offspring, is diminishing in frequency each generation. This would mean either that (a) the trait is not being received by the offspring, which contradicts our assumption that it is inheritable, or (b) the individuals most likely to leave offspring aren't leaving offspring, which given our assumptions about the relationship between mathematics and the world, contradicts the theory of probability, which is *mathematically* true.

(c) the "inheritable trait which makes its carriers more likely to leave offspring" does not, in fact, make its carriers more likely to leave offspring. Maybe the trait was nipples in men.

Actually, though scientists will never admit it, the belief that mathematical knowledge can be used to acquire empirical knowledge, central to science, is a *huge* leap of faith, every bit as large as believing in a deity.

That may very well be but knowledge as to the nature of knowledge or number is simply not required to do _science_. Science isnt epistemology. Science isnt ontology. Science describes the world in concrete physical terms, it doesnt explain it in circuitous metaphysical meanderings. If you want an explanation, look to god. Bottom line: until you can demonstrate that natural selection is an unfalsifiable tautology, the conventional wisdom owns you. You have demonstrated (1) an incorrect definition of natural selction, (2) an undemonstrated belief that a correct definition of natural selection is reducible to (1).

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

and the fun goes on (2.00 / 2) (#168)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:43:02 AM EST

So far, you have proposed one definition of natural selection which _was_ a tautology, but also uniquely your definition, alone: [...]

I also sneaked in another one:

[Natural selection] says that the hereditary traits whose carriers (for whatever reason) leave more offspring will increase in frequency in the next generation.
This one, as far as I can see, is equivalent to the ones you've mentioned. It mentions frequency of inheritable traits and generations explicitly. It's still a tautology.

(c) the "inheritable trait which makes its carriers more likely to leave offspring" does not, in fact, make its carriers more likely to leave offspring.

This I was holding fixed. My goal was to show how that natural selection is unfalsifiable. The potential falsifying case requires the trait in questionto be inheritable. If the trait were not inheritable, natural selection would say nothing about it.

So we have the case that if a trait is inheritable, and that it confers a higher likelyhood to leave offspring than other traits, it follows *logically* that it will tend to increase in frequence among the population. This because dropping the other possible premises leads to inconsistency. There is nothing empirical to look into it; observation to the contrary would contradict mathematics. (Which you *could* abandon, but along with it, you must abandon essentially *all* of modern science.)

Bottom line: until you can demonstrate that natural selection is an unfalsifiable tautology, the conventional wisdom owns you. You have demonstrated (1) an incorrect definition of natural selction, (2) an undemonstrated belief that a correct definition of natural selection is reducible to (1).

First, you must evaluate the definition I sneaked in in the previous post.

Second, the definition I claimed underlies natural selection in the domain of biology is not one I made up. It is one I take from people like Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. They believe natural selection is just a case of a logical principle, that stable forms, by definition, predominate over non-stable forms. If you object to my characterization, then you must object to a major school of mainstream Darwinist thought.

That may very well be but knowledge as to the nature of knowledge or number is simply not required to do _science_.

But it *is* required to explain the epistemological status of the statements that you produce by applying the scientific method. Which is what is in question here-- the epistemoligcal status of a body of knowledge, namely, the "science" of Evolution.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: and the fun goes on (4.00 / 1) (#196)
by eLuddite on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:54:19 PM EST

I also sneaked in another one:

Apart from the fact that you write so densely that one needs more mind reading than comprehension skills, you do a _lot_ of sneaking in. I dont think of myself as a stupid man but I've really had a hard time following the shifts and pitfalls in your reasoning as one post has blurred into the next. You are a very difficult person to argue with :-) And I'm still not convinced that's because you know, without dispute, the subject matter.

For example, I still dont accept your definition and telling me that its a good one, "as far as [you] can see," isnt helping. Am I holding you to unreasonable standards of proof? Well, are you making outrageous claims against the established thinking of professional biologists? Of course you are.

Another example:

This I was holding fixed.

Wha?

if a trait is inheritable, and that it confers a higher likelyhood to leave offspring than other traits, it follows *logically* that it will tend to increase in frequence among the population. This because dropping the other possible premises leads to inconsistency.

See, this is the kind of thing you do. You cant apply natural selection as if it were a proposition in a syllogism. You need to apply it to a situation, to relate it to genuine traits and populations, to talk to me in terms of a history of a species, generations of gene tracking. On its own, natural selection is just a definition for how evolution works. The fact that it's equivalent to "a logical principle, that stable forms, by definition, predominate over non-stable forms" is not problematic, its quite comforting, actually.

In order to do biology, you need to apply your abstraction to actual life. You need to get down and dirty with innumerable constraints and unknown variables. Mechanics has a history of philosophical difficulties as well. Every science has them. You are just another skeptic (capital s) in a history of skeptical thought. That's cool, but buildings still stand and cars still roll.

We are still back at square one. Nothing you have said (as far as I can hope to understand you) has contradicted this link. You are simply running amok, trampling all over evolution, armed with a single _philosophical_ reservation: that it is (I disagree, in the _biological_ sense) a tautology.

You've piqued my interest. I'm going to go out and I'm going to buy Dawkins, an author I have ignored on principle because of his psuedo scientific theory of memes. I'm going to read him. So help me, if he says anything different than you have about _biology_, I will let you know in your diary.

In particular, he better not say something like "the philosophical basis for evolution, though it be as certain as that of mathematics, that is to say, not at all, is only as interesting as it is irrelevant to the study of natural selection in the field ..."

I think what I'm trying to say is: a little philosophy is a dangerous thing :-)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

There's no such thing as philosophy-free science, (2.00 / 2) (#199)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 07:24:22 PM EST

...only science which hasn't examined it's philosophical committments.

For example, I still dont accept your definition and telling me that its a good one, "as far as [you] can see," isnt helping.

Why do you disagree with it? I am convinced I can amend it further and make you happy, and *still* show natural selection is a tautology.

Well, are you making outrageous claims against the established thinking of professional biologists? Of course you are.

Argument from authority.

And, were I to reply likewise, I could just point out that many philosophers of science (not just Popper) have said that natural selection is a tautology. It would all reduce to a dick-size contest between philosophers and biologists.

See, this is the kind of thing you do. You cant apply natural selection as if it were a proposition in a syllogism.

Of course you need to. Otherwise, nothing follows from the statements that constitute the theory, and you can't make *any* predictions.

Nothing you have said (as far as I can hope to understand you) has contradicted this link. You are simply running amok, trampling all over evolution, armed with a single _philosophical_ reservation: that it is (I disagree, in the _biological_ sense) a tautology.

Heh. I'd like to know what is the "biological sense" of the term tautology. I'm sure hundreds of logicians would love to hear it.

Anyway, if I haven't been able to show you that natural selection is a tautology, it is certainly not my fault, because I've spelled it out with all clarity. Perhaps you need to study a basic course in mathematical logic (and one in the philosophy of science, while you're at it)?

I think what I'm trying to say is: a little philosophy is a dangerous thing :-)

Nope. Philosophy is essential. You can't understand the big picture of what scientists do, and what they produce, by merely being part of the scientific community. You have to stand back, and look at what they do, and form your conclusions from that.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: there's no such thing as philosophy-free scien (4.00 / 1) (#203)
by eLuddite on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:24:48 PM EST

Argument from authority.

Is no less suspect than amphiboly, argumentum ad nauseam, audiatur et altera pars, and irrelevant conclusions.

Of course you need to. Otherwise, nothing follows from the statements that constitute the theory, and you can't make *any* predictions.

If you're going to study farming, at some point you'll need to stop assuming the existence of a perfectly round cow even if it has great predictive power in your textbook. The biological sense that you question is the understanding that life is not an abstraction, that natural selection does not apply in a vacuum. In order to make sense of natural selection, you have to examine it in the context of a biological situation. This is what biologists do. You are merely working increasingly backwards from an abstraction until you hit a wall of axioms and definitions, none of them on any firmer ground than the theory of anything.

I'm suggesting that you cannot decompose scientific knowledge to such an extent without running into some kind of contradiction or paradox. If you understood as much about the philosophy of science as you purport, you would realize this. This is nothing new.

Nope. Philosophy is essential. You can't understand the big picture of what scientists do, and what they produce, by merely being part of the scientific community.

Of course you cant. But nor is there any requirement that you do so in order to send a man to the moon or engineer a new tomato. The foundations of science are irrelevant to its pursuit. It's as simple as that.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

If I paste in Mozilla it formats the HTML as ASCII (3.75 / 4) (#125)
by plastik55 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:08:40 PM EST

  • *sigh*
  • Yes, the statement is a tautology. That's what I was trying to get across. The person I was replying to saw my agreement with the statement that "genetic drift" was random, and then quickly claimed that, no, it was "natural selection" that was completely random. Which is not true.
  • The aforementioned statement is a tautology, but as I was saying earlier, there are two parts to the theory of evolution, and neither part stands alone. Genetic drift, the rate of mutation, the frequency at which mutations turn out benificial, whether a particular adaptation is benificial at all, the predicted rates at which an adaptation occurs--all of these are falsifiable. You don't go around criticising physics because f=ma depends on multiplication, an "unfalsifiable" feature of mathematics. Natural selection (that is to say, the tautological statement I made) is never invoked solely to explain an adaptation. You always have to combine it with a hypothesis (i.e. that peacocks seek out mates with elaborate plumage, that the elaborateness of plumage is hereditable, and so forth) in order to explain the observation (peacocks tend to have elaborate plumage.)
  • I'm a neuroscientist, not an evoutionary biologist. My "vested interest" in evolution is pretty low. It wouldn't affect my work one bit if evolution turned out to be bunk.

w00t!
[ Parent ]
observation and natural selection (3.00 / 2) (#173)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 11:20:19 AM EST

Yes, the statement is a tautology. That's what I was trying to get across.

Good, finally a voice of reason.

You are aware that evolutionists are engaged in a mass campaign of distortion to obscure that fact, right?

Natural selection (that is to say, the tautological statement I made) is never invoked solely to explain an adaptation. You always have to combine it with a hypothesis (i.e. that peacocks seek out mates with elaborate plumage, that the elaborateness of plumage is hereditable, and so forth) in order to explain the observation (peacocks tend to have elaborate plumage.)

Good, I'm happy somebody with an understanding of how this actually works is participating.

Yes, you can have actual hypotheses about the adaptive value of traits in organisms (peacocks' plumage, color in moths) and their inheritability, and invoke natural selection to get from the hypotheses to observations (peacocks have long plumages, the number of dark moths was observed to increase in a locality). These hypotheses are falsifiable, and you can go out and test them; for the classic moths experiment, this testing was done successfully, and the hypothesis was confirmed, contrary to people's expectations at the time. (What about the peacocks? Has anybody studied the actual mating success of peacocks relative to plumage size?)

However, this is a standard that huge bodies of evolutionary theorizing don't reach. Especially when it comes to knowledge of a historical nature, about traits of species that don't live anymore. This kind of theorizing relies on hypotheses which you just can't falsify, because the object of study simply does not presently exist. At best, people extrapolate from existing organisms; at wors, they just pull hypotheses out of their ass, and proclaim they have "explained" the observations.

The latter happens with *alarming* frequency, and even more alarmingly, not only with extinct species, but with existing ones. Cutting edge applications of evolutionary theory (e.g., "Evolutionary Psychology") are no more than pseudo-science, for that reason.

I'm a neuroscientist, not an evoutionary biologist. My "vested interest" in evolution is pretty low. It wouldn't affect my work one bit if evolution turned out to be bunk.

I'm curious then as to your reaction to evolutionists who constantly proclaim that nothing in biology makes any sense save in the light of natural selection.

I'm used to similar pronouncements in my field (linguistics). Here they have to do with the Chomskian program of linguistics, and its pronouncement that the goal of linguistics is to explain how children acquire language, and that any approach to linguistics which doesn't put this as the central goal doesn't make sense. However, their day-to-day work typically is of the same nature as mine-- coming up with ways to formally describe the grammar of natural languages, without thinking about acquisition. I find this terribly annoying; thus, I can easily imagine biologists feeling similarly annoyed at evolutionists coming along and telling them that their work is meanignless except when seen from *their* point of view.

--em
[ Parent ]

Order this (3.66 / 3) (#108)
by inpHilltr8r on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:06:20 PM EST

> Order just doesn't appear in the natural world of its own accord

Oh yes it does, well sort of...

There's an enormous power source getting simpler and simpler by the second, about 1AU from here. It provides more than enough energy to encourage other things in its immediate vicinity to get more complex, and more ordered.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. I reccomend "The Collapse of Chaos" by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, which covers the whole order / chaos thing quite nicely.

> How can something like Natural Selection, which is completely random, improve things?

Well "improve" is such a loaded, and subjective word in this context. However, if we take it to read as "improves their chances of surviving, and multiplying", then things improve because one of a million random changes improved the odds of that variation surviving and reproducing. Next generation, the "improved" variant makes up a larger proportion of the population. Repeat over a large number of generations until "improved" variant is the population, save for a small number of "improved improved" variants. Any mutation that actually decreses the chance of survival dies out due to dwindling numbers.

In short, natural selection does not in and of itself have direction, the enviroment a species lives in determines the vectors that produce viable species.

Context is all, oh, and time. Lots of time.

l8rpHile
KMA

[ Parent ]

Don't refer to pop science books. (2.00 / 5) (#114)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:48:23 PM EST

I reccomend "The Collapse of Chaos" by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, which covers the whole order / chaos thing quite nicely.

Eh, quoting a pop science book does not an argument make.

Pop science books are famous among the clueful for being a soapbox for people to push their agenda among people who don't have enough of a clue to evaluate it.

--em
[ Parent ]

I'll refer to whatever the fuck I like. (3.66 / 3) (#118)
by inpHilltr8r on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:13:13 PM EST

>Eh, quoting a pop science book does not an argument make.

No, but the line above it did.

Besides, it was only a reccomendation, and what do you have against a little reading?

[ Parent ]
theory my ass (3.75 / 4) (#126)
by YelM3 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:10:31 PM EST

Order just doesn't appear in the natural world of its own accord - things that are ordered are designed by some process. How can something like Natural Selection, which is completely random, improve things?

Your question clearly shows your ignorance on the subject. If it were asked by someone genuinely trying to learn about the subject, (as opposed to someone trying to discredit it with hypotheticals) it would be a valid question. The answer: Natural selection is not random. Genetic mutations are random, and the process of natural selection IS the order and the process you speak of.

Natural Selection is simple. You have two organisms competing to survive and pass on their genes. These organisms are identical, except one was born with a mutation that makes it just a little bit better than the other (say faster, stronger, more attractive to the opposite sex -- whatever.) The mutated organism is slightly more likely to produce offspring than it's non-mutated sibling, so it has 6 offspring and the non-mutated one has only 5. Now, there are 6 organisms with an advantage over the 5. It's mating season again, and the next generation yields 36 advantaged offspring and 25 disadvantaged ones. Next round, 216 versus 125. Then 1296 vs 625. 7776 vs. 3125. 46656 vs. 15625. It's easy to see where this is going. Even in this incredibly simple example, the disadvantaged offspring will soon be so tiny compared to the advantaged ones that their genes will not make a splash in the pool.

So of course Natural Selection "improves" things - in fact, that's it's very purpose - that's all it does! If something "improved" pops up, then chances are that before long (well, maybe a few million years) everyone will have this new and improved feature.

Just how advanced can things get? Surely not any more advanced than Humans are - which suggests that we are the pinnacle of natural selection.

Others have already made good responses to this. Let me just add that the only reason humans appear to be so advanced is because we have no reason to advance further. It is just as likely for a tubby progammer to have kids as it is for a supermodel - most of our genetic traits have little to do with our survival these days, give or take the most extreme ones.

[ Parent ]
dissecting your post (4.50 / 2) (#164)
by yannick on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:20:26 AM EST

Why do people get so emotional about teaching children something up there is little evidence for? Why the emotionalism over schools in Arkansas teaching the children something for which there is little evidence? Surely this reveals an agenda.

Perhaps we get emotional because a full, literal interpretation of the passages of the Bible that serve as the foundation for Creationism suggests that the entire universe was created in 7 days -- a proposition that has been proven false by the considerable evidence accumulated by scientists. We get emotional because, judging from the veracity of the the creationist view of the origins of the universe, the creationist view of the origins of human beings can´t be too accurate. But yes, there is an agenda. I was told this, in confidence, by one of Them, but I think the time is right for me to reveal it: the ultimate goal here is to produce well-educated, rational, thoughtful individuals who are well-equipped to approach Life.

"The fundamental fact is that there is little data to support your second assertion that 'natural selection' is the directional force here."

Not true at all... there is plenty of evidence to support natural selection. I only had to crack open my bio textbook (something I haven't done in a loooong while, even though I'm supposed to be doing it nightly ;-) to find two pieces of evidence for natural selection. The first is a study conducted by Peter and Rosemary Grant, researchers at Princeton, on the relationship between the beak length of ground finches (Geospiza fortis) and the type of food available (this varies depending on the weather. The second deals with Work done by Michael Singer and Camille Parmesan from the University of Texas on the Edith's checkerspot (Edith editha). A Google search on either of these should yield more details about these.

"So why get all flustered when it is not taught? Why teach something that has little grounding in proof to our children? It would be like teaching them the latest theories in fundamental physics and so on, which are unproven too."

I'm curious about which theories you're thinking of here... Relativity? Gravity? Both have been verified by experimentation, and you can prove the latter theory quite easily. And, last I checked, many of the latest theories in fundamental physics are being taught students. The only reason quantum mechanics isn´t being taught is because it´s a little too advanced for 12-18 year olds.

"We should only teach the solid underpinnings in our schools, not theories."

I urge you to consider the implications of this statement. Are you suggesting that we no longer teach basic scientific facts in school? According to this, you wouldn't teach students that the speed of light, for example, travels at 186 000 mi/sec. What kind of society is this going to produce?! And what, exactly, are the "solid underpinnings" you're referring to?

"Okay, that last was pure speculation on my part, but the idea that something abstract and blind can in the end produce E. D. Donahey of Fox news I find difficult to swallow. "

Oh come on, man. You could have come up with a better example ;-) Anyway, you're confusing natural selection (which you are trying to argue is unsubstantiated) and evolution (which, like gravity, is a fact of life). But, a quick example of why you should really try to come to terms with all this: there is a lot of random, blind chance involved in fertilisation. That´s why you and I and everyone you see are neither direct clone of one of our parents, nor are exactly 50% like one parent and 50% like the other. This is a proven fact, not a theory.

"Anyway, in the end I accept the mutations part, but not the Natural Selection pushing things onwards to a greater destiny part. I don't pretend to know what has produced us - maybe it was God, or Natural Selection, or some other external force that is unknowable, but I just don't see any convincing evidence one way or the other frankly, and I don't think any of it should be taught in schools."

Why is it that so many people find the existence of God and the existence of natural selection mutually exclusive? Why does God have to intervene in the day-to-day operations of His creation!?

Also... evolution is no more of a theory than gravity. While the fossil record might contain gaps, comparative anatomy and, more significantly, microbiology provide unassailable evidence for it. Plastik55 and the others who are trying to suggest otherwise need to re-familiarise themselves with the developments that have taken place over the last 10-20 years in Biology.

Cheers, Yannick
------
"Myself when young did eagerly frequent / Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument / About it and about: but evermore / Came out by the same Door as in I went." -- Omar Khayyam
[ Parent ]

Fossil record (4.28 / 7) (#31)
by flieghund on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:04:15 PM EST

For example, the fossil record is full of creatures that just dissappear and are completely replaced by a newer model.
Amazingly enough, the (human) historical record is full of civilizations that "just disappear" and are completely replaced by a newer model. That does not necessarily mean that the cultures disappeared overnight; usually there was a process of domination and/or absorption that could last for decades. However, the compressed nature of the historical record (ie, the ability to review several centuries of data in the span of a few sentences) creates a false impression of speed. When you realize that there are only a few thousand years of recorded human history, it's difficult to truly comprehend what it means for a creature to change over the span of several million years. There is simply no comparable timespan in recorded history. It should not come as a surprise that we haven't seen dramatic evolutionary changes in the last 4000 years -- most evolutionary changes take several orders of magnitude longer to appear! When you see that "one minute there are [no birds in the fossil record], and the next they are all over the shop," what you are really seeing is that in one chunk of time roughly equivalent to a few million years, there were no birds, yet a few million years later they were everywhere. So? The time frames involved would seem to support the theory evolution...

Some comments on Archaeopteryx... The skeletal form of Archaeopteryx is so close to that of Compsognathus (a small dinosaur that predates Archaeopteryx) that several early finds of Archaeopteryx were misidentified as Compsognathus. Though this is at best circumstantial evidence of a predecessor species, it does not eliminate the possibility that Archaeopteryx itself was the predecessor for later species, or that it could simply be a "dead-end" step. Other specimens of "proto-birds" exist, such as Rahonavis, which appeared in the late Cretaceous and exhibits striking "middle-ground" features between Dromaeosaurids and modern birds. Of course, the striking similarity between ancient creatures and modern birds may simply be that -- a striking similarity -- as shown by the Avimimids, a group of small, bird-like dinosaurs that appeared after the first modern birds.

As to the scarcity of the fossil record itself, I think you're trying to apply modern human rationale to ancient natural phenomenon. First, for the most part the vast majority of the fossil record is still deep underground. We could probably go searching for caches of fossils, except for my second point, which is that for the most part, animals tend to remain wherever they happen to be when they die. Unlike humans, the dead carcasses are not transported to a specific location for mass internment. There are concentrated pockets of fossils. However, two important issues govern their existence: 1) these are mostly associated with breeding grounds and locations close to a natural disaster; and 2) these are mostly associated with areas of "modern" erosion and/or seismic events, such that the fossils have been exposed to the surface. And this line of reasoning doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the probability of a fossil being formed in the first place -- several important environmental factors must have existed when an ancient creature died for its body to form a fossil. It was not a guaranteed thing.



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Fallacy. (2.40 / 5) (#38)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:28:06 PM EST

A rationale for the non-existence of evidence does not count as support for the theory.

Let's face it: Evolution is the "best" theory we have on the sole grounds that all of our theories suck when it comes to evidence. The zeal with which people defend it is a telling symptom that we have the positivist mind at work, with its unhealthy drive to classify, explain and dominate all of nature. Which is of course part of bourgeoise ideology-- the exploitation of nature for the profit of a privileged few.

--em
[ Parent ]

Thanks. One fallacy though I think. (2.83 / 6) (#42)
by Kiss the Blade on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:37:00 PM EST

Amazingly enough, the (human) historical record is full of civilizations that "just disappear" and are completely replaced by a newer model.

There is a problem with this analogy IMO. Civilisations are conscious. The process of advancement of civilisations is explained by the Hegelian Dialectic - two civilisations have a contradictory worldview, and after a clash, a new synthesis is produced free of the contradicitions of the former. Eventually we reach a state free of the contradicitions of all previous civilisations - the modern Liberal Democracy.

The difference here is that the Hegelian Dialectic is driven by consciousness, whereas the process of Natural Selection is not. So the analogy between the two seems quite fraudulent to me.

Of course, the difference with Natural Selection is that it occurs over a much longer period of time. But I fail to see how it can be directional without having any conscious base, and if we look around we do see that it is directional - things get more advanced all the time. My basic problem is with the lack of evidence.

Oh, and thanks for the information regarding Archaeopteryx. It is very fascinating, it is just that it seems any sort of wild theory could be said to be supported by the fossil record.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

Fair 'nuff (4.00 / 4) (#49)
by flieghund on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:06:31 PM EST

I have to admit that I know more about dinosauria than the history of civilization, though both are studies that I have not kept up with. While your argument rings true, I'm pretty sure there have been civilizations which were completely replaced. Off the top of my head, the Ancient Egyptian period of Akenaten (sp?) was very nearly eliminated from the historical record. (Were it not for a few chance discoveries of artifacts missed by later rulers, it's likely we would never know about it.) However, I'll admit that one half-remembered case does not evidence make.

As far as wild theories from the fossil record: you're right on there, and that has been on of the biggest problems with paleontology. The limited existence of fossils, combined with the rarity of finding a complete specimen, leads to all kinds of mix-ups, misidentification, and (especially when money is on the line) outright fabrication. As an example of the latter, the "evolution" of Iguanondon from a lumbering bear-like creature with a horn on its nose to a relatively lithe herbivore with spiked thumbs is a very interesting case study.



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
advanced? (3.33 / 3) (#76)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:30:19 PM EST

There is a problem with this analogy IMO. Civilisations are conscious. The process of advancement of civilisations is explained by the Hegelian Dialectic - two civilisations have a contradictory worldview, and after a clash, a new synthesis is produced free of the contradicitions of the former. Eventually we reach a state free of the contradicitions of all previous civilisations - the modern Liberal Democracy.

That is an extremly arrogant statement.

Of course, the difference with Natural Selection is that it occurs over a much longer period of time. But I fail to see how it can be directional without having any conscious base, and if we look around we do see that it is directional - things get more advanced all the time. My basic problem is with the lack of evidence.

Things get more complex over time, but 'advanced' is only a human concept for dealing with human things in human minds. It has no barring on reality
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Arrogant? I fail to see why. (3.25 / 4) (#79)
by Kiss the Blade on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:47:01 PM EST

That is an extremly arrogant statement.

I completely fail to see why that is the case. You provide no criticism. As far as I am concerned, the statement is factual and to the point. The modern Liberal Democracy is the final form of government. Our civilisation is not perfect by any means, but the principles that our civilisation is presently based on certainly are - they shall never be replaced.

Things get more complex over time, but 'advanced' is only a human concept for dealing with human things in human minds. It has no barring on reality

You could say the same thing about the term complexity. I am sure we could get as solipsical as you like here - so what if 'advanced' is a human term? So is every description of the world. Do you have some magic process that allows you to attain total objectivity?

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

advanced, complex, whatever (4.20 / 5) (#86)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:08:22 PM EST

How is a liberal democracy the 'final' form of government? Are you saying that there are no problems with it? Are you saying that there are no other, viable, forms of government in the world?

The largest country in the world by far, is not a liberal democracy, or any kind of democracy. Yet, their nation is experiencing tremendous economic growth. Outside of pretentious 'moral' arguments, your statement is false. And, almost certainly doesn't allow for new ideas, the idea of a liberal democracy was almost unheard of before, IIRC, the Romantic/enlightenment era. I'm sure there were people running around saying that constitutional monarchies were the 'final' form of government back then to.

There is a lot of problems with our current iteration of representative democracy, look at the results of the last election, at our choice between dumb and dubya. It would be as foolish to claim that liberal democracy perfect as it would be to say that humanity is the pinnacle of evolution.

You could say the same thing about the term complexity.

Actually, I almost did. Doing so only strengthens my argument. Almost everything we talk about is a human concept we use to simplify statements. 'complexity' as a human concept is much more 'low-level' then 'advanced' is. In fact, while most people would agree about complexity, you wouldn't find the same consensus about what is 'advanced'. PCs are more complex (slightly) them Macintoshes, for example, but saying that they are more advanced is a sure way to incite a flamewar
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Yes (4.28 / 7) (#100)
by Kiss the Blade on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:45:27 PM EST

This is about validity. The vast majority of the world is now ruled by Liberal Democracies. The fundamental principle of democracy, that the people govern themselves, and that all be enfranchised, is the final conclusion of a process that we have been through for the last several thousand years - since the discovery of civilisation itself.The concept of equal rights shall never be replaced.

As for your claim that other valid forms of government exist, I would be very interested to hear what they are. Validity of a ruler or a ruling class is determined by those they have power over - they must be recognised as valid rulers by either the people, or by the army that holds them in power. Do you call the government of China a valid alternative that challenges Liberal Democracy? I don't. I see a state that started off with despotism under Mao (just like the Soviet Union had under Stalin) and then after his death became considerably more liberal, in the sense that it stopped massacaring everyone who dissented even slightly (like the Soviet Union did under Kruschev, with the so called secret speech) and since then has been gradually adopting, one by one, more an more principles of the Liberal Democractic system. Of course, it is still a horrible place to live - witness the incident in 1989, but it is inching towards democracy, just like the Soviet Union started too with the death of Stalin.

But all this is besides the point. The point is that the concept of equality of Mankind and democracy is the final set of guiding ideals. Of course, technologies and our society will change and evolve, and our current stage of development leaves much to be desired, but there is no real possible improvement over the ideals of Liberal Democracy. You can mention Gore and Bush and the recent fracas in your country if you like - all it means is that your country is clearly not practising the ideals upon which it was founded perfectly.

In the days of the Enlightenment people were running around developing the ideals that we hold dear today. Developed in a small clique in Western Europe and North America, they have since been proven to be the desired ideals of all peoples everywhere - whether it be the Russians in 1989, or the students of Tianamen Square or the counterrevolutionaries of Spain in the 1970's. All these 3 groups of people were thought to have no interest in democracy - some people claimed it was racist to expect such foriegn people to desire democracy. Surely, they thought, democracy is a Western Ethnocentric set of ideals? Of course, time and time again people who claim this have been proven wrong. The only people who claim that Human Rights and Democracy are the tools of Western cultural Imperialism tend to be Eastern Dictators, such as the clever chap at the helm of Singapore. They claim that their people are somehow unique and don't need democracy. Of course, such claims are ultimately claims for authority on their part - they are claiming that they have a right to rule because of this, which really proves the point.

In the end, once democracy has been discovered, as it has been, it cannot be brushed under the carpet again or forgotten. Now lots of people in the world are aware of this system, and of these ideals. Short of a total international meltdown, such as that caused by a holocaust, democracy and equal rights will not be forgotten. If you like, the cat is out of the bag. How can the concept of equal rights be superceded? Or of democracy? You either have them, or you don't. It is better to have them than not. Therefore they cannot be superceded. QED'complexity' as a human concept is much more 'low-level' then 'advanced' is.

I fail to see this. I don't see how it is any more 'low level'.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

Sir, you are very good at this (5.00 / 3) (#132)
by kaatunut on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:48:07 PM EST

That name, Kiss The Blade, ang a bell. Yes, it was a name from the site Geekizoid, which is apparently a home and breeding ground of trolls.

Your post against evolution was very succesful troll, approximately 2/3 of posts on this story were under that thread, if I remember correctly. Your post, and the follow-ups, contained the finest false arguments that look right, probably straight from the Creationist Guide To Fooling Laymen With Convincing-sounding Arguments.

But, sir, did you get desperate for more success? Tried a bit too much? Even knowing you Americans and your illusions about your country and your form of government, I find it unplausible someone would seriously go proclaiming that "liberal democracy is final form of government [because I say so, and it's your job to disprove a claim I made, not my job to prove my own claim]", and then proceed to say "liberal democracy will last forever".

Even if democracy was the most moral form of government (which I doubt - tyranny of majority), it does not mean democracy is

1) the most suitable form of govenment for humans - freedom is not the only value. Other forms of government may provide nations with higher quality of life, better economy, social conditions, security, stability, efficiency - you name it.

2) the most likely government to be in use tomorrow - Asimov's psychohistory (sp?) was really on something. Our society advances generally towards the direction that is most likely to be reached from the previous state, and this next state may or may not be "better". Even if it seemed like better at first, it could turn out to be worse. Whatever.

But my point is, your trolling was very efficient, and if more people just had gotten it, it would've been an excellent attack against that idiocy known as Creationism (which I refuse to prefix with Scientific).

-Kaatunut

--
there's hole up in the sky from where the angels fall to sire children that grow up too tall, there's hole down in the ground where all the dead men go down purgatory's highways that gun their souls
[ Parent ]

Argh, I am not insincere, Sir. (3.00 / 2) (#193)
by Kiss the Blade on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:39:57 PM EST

And even more importantly, I am not, I repeat, not, an American. Okay, I have already made one post defending my views on this subject, which I encourage you to read below. Regarding your points:

1) the most suitable form of govenment for humans - freedom is not the only value. Other forms of government may provide nations with higher quality of life, better economy, social conditions, security, stability, efficiency - you name it.

I think you have a different idea of the relative importance of these values. Most people would agree that Freedom is the fundamentally most important value - 'Live Free or Die', as the New Hampshireites say. I think you do a great disservice to the millions of people who have died in the wars of this centiry and others protecting that right, which is the single most important right we have. The great majority would rather live free, than be rich slaves. You seem to think that it is a good idea to compromise freedom for the sake of material gain. I do not, and history bears me out on this.

2) the most likely government to be in use tomorrow - Asimov's psychohistory (sp?) was really on something. Our society advances generally towards the direction that is most likely to be reached from the previous state, and this next state may or may not be "better". Even if it seemed like better at first, it could turn out to be worse. Whatever.

Er, are you aware that Asimov's psychohistory appeared in a Science Fiction book, and furthermore that it has been completely discredited? What you say here is trivially true, but it is also useless, for it is impossible to predict ahead of time what the next most likely state is. Whole reams of science, from chaos theory onwards, have proven psychohistory to be essentially worthless. Besides, my point is that the principle of our government will never be superceded. Just like the wheel cannot be improved upon conceptually, and is just as valid today as it ever was. The principles of equality and democracy are fundamental. We have been struggling towards them for thousands of years. What could they possibly be replaced by? There is nothing. Only inequality and non-democracy, which would be a backward step.

But my point is, your trolling was very efficient, and if more people just had gotten it, it would've been an excellent attack against that idiocy known as Creationism (which I refuse to prefix with Scientific).

I do not troll on kuro5hin, that is just low. This is a site for discussion - the reason I troll slashdot is because it is impossible for me to state my honest thoughts on most subjects without being -1'ed and hounded out of town. Here on kuro5hin I find a community that takes things seriously, and I only ever state my honest beliefs here.

I have to say I am enjoying this argument though :)

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

please (4.00 / 1) (#258)
by Wah on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:11:00 PM EST

I do not troll on kuro5hin, that is just low.

Then this proves the statement: Q: What is the difference between a troll and a sufficiently ignorant poster? A: Nothing.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

not ignorant (2.50 / 2) (#272)
by speek on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:26:49 PM EST

Kiss the Blade is not ignorant. He's stupid. There's an important difference, and you do disservice to all the fine ignorant folks out there.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

You're not a troll? Terribly sorry, sir. (4.00 / 1) (#264)
by kaatunut on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 04:03:42 PM EST

Most people would agree that Freedom is the fundamentally most important value - 'Live Free or Die'

I disagree. I doubt most people would really choose liberty over life, or even liberty over decent life. What's liberty? A concept. I'm no psychologist so I won't try to dissect people's minds to see what is causing this, but rationally, I don't see why liberty should be priority number one. In moderation, of course; I'm not for fascism in the meaning the word today carries.

You seem to think that it is a good idea to compromise freedom for the sake of material gain.

Depends on what you mean by 'material gain'. If you mean material gain as opposed to 'values', no. I'm not a creationist kook, um, sorry, creative thinker, so as far as I'm concerned, everything is material, including your brains and thus any "spiritual" or other mental values.

Er, are you aware that Asimov's psychohistory appeared in a Science Fiction book,

No, I studied it in psychohistory class.

Of course I know it's science fiction! What kind of idiot do you think I am? Note the italics.

and furthermore that it has been completely discredited?

Whole reams of science, from chaos theory onwards, have proven psychohistory to be essentially worthless. it is impossible to predict ahead of time what the next most likely state is.

Not the point. You can't know the next state, and true enough, the rules for calculating the next state may well be too complicated to be performed on any machine possible with our current technology, but I believe there's one rule that will hold:

The society will not be static.

Just like the wheel cannot be improved upon conceptually,

The principles of equality and democracy are fundamental.

What could they possibly be replaced by? There is nothing.

That's a nice bunch of statements with little or no proof. How is democracy 'perfect'? Do you claim that liberty is the primary value, one worth more than any other? If so, why don't you do anarchy? Do you claim that it is totally impossible for there to be another form of government that would be better than democracy, and how did you gain this divine knowledge?

Besides, that's not the point. The points is, like I said above, that society is not static. It will evolve. It could evolve into direction that we don't like, or it could evolve into direction that seems good but turns out to be shit after all. I doubt the majority of germans 70 or so years ago really decided "we want to kill all the jews and conquer the europe". They just did what seemed best at the time. And that is the point. That even if democracy is what everybody wants and what is good, it is not absolutely certain that society will evolve in that direction.

And the burden of proof is on you. You say that democracy will stay forever, I say it won't. I have the chaos on my side, what forces do you have that will bind our society to democracy forever?

-Kaatunut

--
there's hole up in the sky from where the angels fall to sire children that grow up too tall, there's hole down in the ground where all the dead men go down purgatory's highways that gun their souls
[ Parent ]

Liberal Democracy (3.00 / 1) (#259)
by dice on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:24:27 PM EST

Is great. Except for one thing.

Gives the majority the power to sacrifice any given individual or any minority group for their own profit.

This is a bad thing.

[ Parent ]
An amazing dodge (3.66 / 3) (#95)
by weirdling on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:29:17 PM EST

But what you're essentially talking about is the concept of societal evolution. Complexity theory insists that larger, more complex entities are made up of smaller, autonomous entities which are functioning with their own best interest in mind. Now, apply that to a society, and it becomes obvious that when two different societies have a disagreement over philosophy, they can be considered two different entities and as such analysed by the rules of evolution. So, the one that won the struggle, whatever the rules were, often benefits and the other disappears, just like the fossil record. That there is consciousness involved is immaterial to the analysation of the system.
Of course, the idea that man is somehow a vastly superior evolutionary end than animal simply because of consciousness is absurd to an evolutionist. Also absurd is the concept that a liberal democracy is somehow the end of cultural evolution. There is no such thing as perfection in evolution. Some evolved solutions are more optimal than others, but evolution, in all its forms, has a bad habit of destroying successful solutions randomly simply because the whole thing is random, and no matter how successful something is, its number will eventually come up, and, generally, over time, a more optimal and longer-lasting solution will emerge. Republican democracy is one of these highly-optimized solutions, but is, by no means, the acme of civilization, as it has only been around for a short time compared to monarchy.
It is a tendency of man to aggrandize himself and his current situation; hence the 'men are the acme of evolution', 'men can't be evolved from apes', 'liberal democracy is the acme of cultural evolution', 'the United Federation of planets is the best government ever', ad nauseum.
Every statement that has been brought out about the success of modern political systems was inevitably used in Roman times, the one exception being slavery.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
iGrrrl (3.83 / 6) (#68)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:10:36 PM EST

I think you are mistaken here. Evolution is all about improvement - it is fundamental to the theory of evolution. Only a very advanced creature could deny that life has advanced.

Igrrrl is a professional biologist. So, if one of you is wrong about the definition of biology, it's probably you.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Appeals to authority are pathetic. (4.00 / 2) (#206)
by Kiss the Blade on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:41:35 PM EST

I don't care if she is the president of the Royal Academy of Science - she still has to argue her points like anyone else. Are you saying that because she is a professional biologist she is right? That is treating her as a High Priestess.

She should be treated no differently to everyone else.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

priestess? (none / 0) (#298)
by iGrrrl on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:26:42 AM EST

...she still has to argue her points like anyone else. Are you saying that because she is a professional biologist she is right?
I'd like to think he's saying that because I have a great deal of education in the field, I'm more likely to be closer to correct than someone with little to no academic education in the field. A lot of very smart people have spent a good deal of time thinking about these things, doing experiments, reading other people's experiments, and thinking some more. They wrote books, which we had to read for class, and gave lectures. The substance of the reading and talking appeared on exams which I had to pass. Some people think that years of such effort carry more weight than simply having read one or more popular science books.

As for arguing my points: I do not generally argue for sport -- I get quite enough intellectual challenge in my working life. Also, there comes a threshold when the effort needed to rebut in this sort of forum every straw man (or statement made without knowledge or experience of the field) would take time which I cannot afford to spend. Like many other people here, for me K5 serves as a hobby, and I have a life.

Besides, I'm just a humble Reverend of the Universal Life Church. Perhaps I should pony up the fee for the High Priestess certificate?

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

a few more things... (4.28 / 7) (#74)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:22:45 PM EST

Hrm, I guess I shouldn't have replied until I read your whole post. Oh well. Eh? Evolution has never been observed. Sure, things like bacterium have been shown to change a little tiny bit, but they have never improved,
Ok, first of all, you're the one claiming that evolution leads to 'improvement' not iGrrrl. So, while you think that evolution as you defined it hasn't happened, you'd be wrong about what the scientific community considers 'evolution'

And your wrong anyway, Talk.origen's web page has examples of hundreds of 'speciation' events that have been recorded by humans. Including the spontaneous conversion from a single celled organism to a multicellular one.

In the end, evolution is just a theory like any other. There is surprisingly little actual evidence for it when one looks into it. For example, the fossil record is full of creatures that just disappear and are completely replaced by a newer model. This shows that there is something very Lamarkian going on - creatures don't really evolve, they do it in fits and starts, very suddenly.

This is called punctuated equilibrium, and it is very much a part of modern evolutionary theory. I learned this in high school biology class, and I wasn't even taking the 'honors' one, maybe you should have paid more attention in school.

I am not denying that species change through time, because it is obvious that they do so. However, it is not obvious that evolution is the cause. Biologists constantly say that evolution is not directional - but in that case, why do we exist at all? I don't hear them explaining this - it is obvious even to a dunce that the process that has produced us is directional, otherwise we wouldn't be here.

Is there something special about us, that we 'must' exist? Anyway. If some random event has already happened then the chances if it having happened are 100%, probability only relates to future events, not ones in the past.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Re: Probability (2.00 / 3) (#92)
by Canthros on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:24:09 PM EST

If some random event has already happened then the chances if it having happened are 100%, probability only relates to future events, not ones in the past.
Probability relates to events, period. The chance of x happening doesn't change the because x happens (you're talking about conditional probability: the chance of x having occurred, given that x occurred).

More importantly: when x did happen, the chance of x happening was some value y. The fact that x happens does not change the value of y. So, if y is very small (indicating that the chance of x happening was very small) you either have an exceptional occurrence (look, a bad data point!) or your value for y was incorrect in the first place.

Please take a course in probability and statistics. It'll do you some good.



--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
[ Parent ]
Bacteria (4.00 / 6) (#107)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:40:46 PM EST

IMHO anitbiotic resistance in bacteris is "true" evolution, they progessed to a point were they can survive in an environment that was one lethal to them. It may be a little teeny tiny step, but it gives the bacteria greater abilities.

he fossil record is full of creatures that just dissappear and are completely replaced by a newer model

The thing is, we don't have access to the entire fossil record, and the fissil record itself is incomplete. A very small percentage of animals get fossilized. Personally, I don't think that the fossil record can be used to prove or disprove evolution, it just isn't a record of every sepecies that ever lived.

I would like to hear a little more detailed reason why Archaeopterix is not some kind of middle form between dinosours and birds. It's got feathers, IIRC it's bones are hollow like a bird's, it may have been able to fly or glide, and it has several small-preditory-dinosour-like features.

As for this "directional evolution" stuff, I think what the biologists mean is that sometimes it's advantageous to be simple and other times more complex. At some point in the future, having a smaller brain might be an advantage, and at that time people with smaller, simpler brians will be more likely to survive.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, but... (3.40 / 5) (#112)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:31:17 PM EST

IMHO anitbiotic resistance in bacteris is "true" evolution, they progessed to a point were they can survive in an environment that was one lethal to them. It may be a little teeny tiny step, but it gives the bacteria greater abilities.

Yeah, but, is it speciation?

Even creationists accept such short-term effects of natural selection, you know.

--em
[ Parent ]

Speciation (3.50 / 2) (#157)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 03:05:07 AM EST

I can if you want it to be.

Bacteria (as far as I know) only reproduce nonsexually, and the last definition of a species that I was given was, "A living thing which cannot interbreed with another species and produce fertile offspring."

IMHO if creationists accept such short term effects of natural selection, then they more or less have accepted evolution by natural selection. It is basically what you get when you add a few million years of those changes up.

[ Parent ]

micro- vs. macro-evolution (4.00 / 3) (#166)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:04:09 AM EST

IMHO if creationists accept such short term effects of natural selection, then they more or less have accepted evolution by natural selection. It is basically what you get when you add a few million years of those changes up.

No they haven't. Some creationists accept that natural selection results in small changes to species over time, but that it cannot cause speciation, no matter how much time is given. This is the difference between what they call "micro-evolution" and "macro-evolution".

--em
[ Parent ]

I have a question. (3.50 / 2) (#189)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:56:20 PM EST

No they haven't. Some creationists accept that natural selection results in small changes to species over time, but that it cannot cause speciation, no matter how much time is given. This is the difference between what they call "micro-evolution" and "macro-evolution".

What reason do they give to explain why small changes in a species can never add up, over time, and cause speciation?

This seems to me like they're almost saying, "You can flick a marble and move it a few inches, but no matter how long and how many times you flick the marble you can never move it a mile, ever."

[ Parent ]

well... (3.66 / 3) (#192)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:34:41 PM EST

What reason do they give to explain why small changes in a species can never add up, over time, and cause speciation?

Do they really have to provide such an explanation?

This seems to me like they're almost saying, "You can flick a marble and move it a few inches, but no matter how long and how many times you flick the marble you can never move it a mile, ever."

They have a simple answer to that: the distance you flick a marble is a quantitative thing. A difference between species is a qualitative one. natural selection can make changes to species, but it can't create new ones.

--em
[ Parent ]

reply (4.00 / 2) (#215)
by Anonymous 6522 on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 12:59:09 AM EST

Do they really have to provide such an explanation?

Yes, they do. They should at least try to explain their claim that natural selection cannot cause speciation. I would be statisfied with a, "Well, God makes sure that it doesn't happen."

Differences between species could be considered quantitative on the genetic level. Species A has X genes that are different from species B's genes. How different are humans and chimpanzees on the genetic level? How long would it take a small, totally isolated, group of humans, in a strange environment, to become just as genetically different from the main human population? Why can't this group of humans be called a new species, or why can't they become significantly different from the main population?

[ Parent ]

On speciation (3.66 / 3) (#269)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:40:16 PM EST

They should at least try to explain their claim that natural selection cannot cause speciation. I would be statisfied with a, "Well, God makes sure that it doesn't happen."

Well, first of all, the term "species" needs to be defined. And here we run into fundamental problems.

Evolutionists are swift to claim that speciation has been observed many times. However, if one digs more deeply (well, if one actually *reads* the page I link carefully), one notices the cracks in the argument:

What a biologist will consider as a speciation event is, in part, dependent on which species definition that biologist accepts. [...] When we examine putative speciation events, we need to ask the question, which species definition is the most reasonable for this group of organisms?
The page then proceeds to list two definitions of species, cite research that suggests that they are "highly incompatible", and cite observed cases where something happens that meets one definition or other of speciation. The mainstream one is Mayr's

But there is something extremely fishy about then offering these cases as evidence for speciation. Not only there's the business about agreeing what a species is, after all, but the definitions of "species" are enormously more lenient than the so-called "folk concept of species", which they just mention without elaboration. Assuming that the creationists use some concept of "folk species", then the evolutionist's examples of speciation just vanish.

The failure to discuss the "folk concept" (and the use of the term "folk", which in the scientific vocabulary is a term of derision) is the fundamental failure of the evolutionists. Can the "folk" concept be the successful basis for a definition of "species", under which the claimed cases of speciation fail to be such?

So far, I realize, this has avoided your questions. But it has raised a very relevant and important point: the fact that somebody calls something "speciation" doesn't mean much. You have to examine the concept involved.

So with the stage set, now the questions become: What phenomenon would creationists call "speciation"? Are the evolutionists' claims that they have shown that this thing not only has happened, but has happened billions of times, and explains many facts about organisms, really supported by the evidence? And finally, to fully address your question, is the creationist's concept of "species" such that natural selection can't achieve speciation?

I really think the last question, the one which addresses your point most directly, is not really all that interesting. One needs to work with specific definitions in order to evaluate it. But I think the second question, the question of what have the evolutionists *really* shown, is the central one.

Evolutionists have shown that natural selection can make changes to species. They have shown that these changes can result in 2 populations, descended from one original population, which can't interbreed. And they just happen to call this "speciation". But this is merely a terminological thing. Have they *really* satisfactorily supported the claim that all living creatures are descended from a common ancestor, and that the differences are explained primarily by natural selection? Have they considered alternatives to this claim seriously? My claim is that no, they haven't given any compelling support for their claims, and that a good deal many theories can explain the data just as well.

--em
[ Parent ]

yes (5.00 / 1) (#280)
by Anonymous 6522 on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:01:34 PM EST

First off, I have another question. What other theories, besides evolution and the various forms of creationism, claim to explain the data? I've only heard of the two.

This whole speciation thing, to me, seems irrelevant. It's just saying that organism X has has changed enough for it to become a new species under your favorite definition. It's arbitrary, it's not a real event.

Personally, I think we should go find some primeval-earth-like planets, drop some bacteria there, wait, and see what happens. That might, just might, settle this argument once and for all.

[ Parent ]

Several points (4.71 / 7) (#137)
by iGrrrl on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 10:21:20 PM EST

1) As has been noted, you define evolution as improvement. As a biologist speaking on a biological subject, I do not. You addressed my post as if your definition were correct and mine wrong. This makes your arguments difficult to address, as we seem to be talking about different things.

2) As to this: Evolution has never been observed. Sure, things like bacterium have been shown to change a little tiny bit, but they have never improved, which they would have to to truly evolve. The tiny changes you disparage are the increments of evolution. Additionally, it has actually been shown that bacteria can evolve within weeks, and that they make adaptive changes which improve their survival in the environment in which the experimenter has placed them.* I'm not in my office where I can provide chapter and verse, but there are reems of published academic papers to this effect. I believe your statement that evolution has never been observed would be argued against with by people with quite a bit of expertise and experience.

3) I made no attempt to address the fossil record in this sort of discussion, nor have I the desire to do so. My expertise is in biology, and so I leave antique bones to the paleontologists. Fossil records also have no bearing on the original point of my post.

4) I am not denying that species change through time, because it is obvious that they do so. However, it is not obvious that evolution is the cause. Oh dear. By my biologist's training, I tend to define evolution as the change in species through time. No wonder we can't understand each other.

5) ...in that case, why do we exist at all? I don't hear them explaining this - it is obvious even to a dunce that the process that has produced us is directional, otherwise we wouldn't be here. I leave the questions of why to religion and philosophy. I engage in these sports on occasion, but not when speaking as a biologist. Also, sometimes direction can be percieved in retrospect. I don't try to explain how the upright-walking, opposible-thumb, language-using primates we call Homo sapiens came to be. I wasn'there to watch the process, and therefore have no hard data. I do hope that doesn't make me a dunce, and if it does, please don't tell the people giving me my Ph. D.

*Science magazine has a subscription-only website, but I can refer you to a well-written summary article which appeared in 1999. A quick trip to any university library should allow you to pull this up.

Test Tube Evolution Catches Time in a Bottle
Tim Appenzeller
Science 1999 June 25; 284: 2108 (in News)
I also recommend Stephen Jay Gould's book Full House for a popularly written book which addresses what evolutionary biologists mean by evolution. Gould contends that bacteria are the highest evolved life forms on the planet.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Meant to include this (4.50 / 6) (#139)
by iGrrrl on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 10:33:14 PM EST

I should add:

For example, bacteria have become resistant to vaccines and so on.

Bacteria do not become resistant to vaccines. A vaccine is used to make the body's immune system able to recognize the bacteria should it be present. Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, which directly challenge their survival. They can also sometimes change their cell surface antigens sufficiently to fool an immune system, though this is more commonly seen in virii like HIV.

Is this truly evolution? No! They have got much worse - they have not progressed and evolved by any measurement.

If we take this in the more correct situation -- that the bacteria have become resistant to an antibiotic -- I entirely fail to see how a mutation which enhances the survival of the bacterial species makes the species "much worse."

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

A Counterblast (1.42 / 7) (#198)
by Kiss the Blade on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 07:10:39 PM EST

1) As has been noted, you define evolution as improvement. As a biologist speaking on a biological subject, I do not. You addressed my post as if your definition were correct and mine wrong. This makes your arguments difficult to address, as we seem to be talking about different things.

This is a cunning attempt to sidestep my arguments - biology these days is a hotbed of feminist radicalism, and I detect in your post the malign influence of what has become a female dominated discipline. I do not think we are talking about different things at all - we are talking about exactly the same thing, evolution. I realise that feminism now disparages the very masculine model of Darwinism espoused by Dawkins and his ilk at Oxford, preferring to state that evolution is a feminine process of cooperation - hence the late emphasis on altruism and cooperation, and the resurgance of the Gaia theory. These theories are worse than Scientology or Psychohistory - they have no evidence to back them up, but the lack of discipline in our modern universities that is being helped by the influx of females to the subject means that these theories, and evolution as a theory generally, are not recieving the criticism they once did.

2) As to this: Evolution has never been observed. Sure, things like bacterium have been shown to change a little tiny bit, but they have never improved, which they would have to to truly evolve. The tiny changes you disparage are the increments of evolution. Additionally, it has actually been shown that bacteria can evolve within weeks, and that they make adaptive changes which improve their survival in the environment in which the experimenter has placed them.* I'm not in my office where I can provide chapter and verse, but there are reems of published academic papers to this effect. I believe your statement that evolution has never been observed would be argued against with by people with quite a bit of expertise and experience.

But is the change fundamental? I change to my environment every day. I grow older, I learn new skills - my body reacts to the environment. Is there any evidence that these bacteria are doing anything different? They could just be exactly the same bacteria, but bacteria that have adapted, without evolving at all, to their environment.

I am not denying that species change through time, because it is obvious that they do so. However, it is not obvious that evolution is the cause. Oh dear. By my biologist's training, I tend to define evolution as the change in species through time. No wonder we can't understand each other.

But evolution is a value bound criterion. If I smash my cup, has it evolved? If I design a new house to replace the one I have, has my house evolved? Evolution is not just change, it is how change and why they change. This is the nub of the argument.

5) ...in that case, why do we exist at all? I don't hear them explaining this - it is obvious even to a dunce that the process that has produced us is directional, otherwise we wouldn't be here. I leave the questions of why to religion and philosophy. I engage in these sports on occasion, but not when speaking as a biologist. Also, sometimes direction can be percieved in retrospect. I don't try to explain how the upright-walking, opposible-thumb, language-using primates we call Homo sapiens came to be. I wasn'there to watch the process, and therefore have no hard data. I do hope that doesn't make me a dunce, and if it does, please don't tell the people giving me my Ph. D.

So what does evolution explain then? I see this as an astonishing climb down. You seem to be saying that evolution doesn't explain anything at all. First you stated that evolution is just the process of animals changing, and then you state that it doesn't explain anything. What is the point of evolution then?

Regarding the links and so on, thanks very much - I shall peruse them, I do enjoy reading scientific literature on this subject, as long as it is using the scientific method, something that biology seems to be retreating from these days :/

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

Chum in the waters -- not biting (5.00 / 4) (#207)
by iGrrrl on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:48:38 PM EST

You have got to be kidding me.

You can have your ignorance and your rhetorical devices. I'm going to bed.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

A question for you (4.00 / 1) (#257)
by mattw on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:10:40 PM EST

I've been enjoying reading your posts. I have a neutral question to pose: Are you aware of any proven instances of actual genetic drift done in a laboratory? I noticed you mention the Scientist article, but I don't want to dig it up if its only adaptation.

First of all, I'm not a biologist, so I'll beg your forgiveness if I step on my own feet. As far as I know, there is a difference between a range of possible manifestations for an existing genepool, and the mutation into another form by the changing of the genetic code. For example, I don't understand the contention that Biston betularia, the infamous industrial revolution moth that became a hallmark of evolution, is evolving. It has both a light and a dark variety. Based on whether the white lichens normally covering the tree it frequented were intact or not, the camouflaged variety seemed to flourish, according to observations. This is cited as evolution by natural selection. The problem I have with it is that it does not show a genetic mutation at all. We have bred faster horses and beefier cows and so on, as well, but that doesn't mean we've evolved them. If humans suddenly decided to kill all blue-eyed children, it doesn't make having brown eyes an evolutionary adaptation, because they were already there. In other words, the theory of evolution comes in two halves: the "survival of the fittest" half, where some species are eliminated in favor or others, which seems to be an obvious fact of reality. Then there's the "beneficial mutation" half, which seems to be where there's not a plethora of evidence.

Anyhow, I'd be interested in some concrete example(s) I could read about actual genetic beneficial mutations occurring, and I'd assume in a petri dish is the likely place, as it were.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
References and responses (4.00 / 1) (#279)
by iGrrrl on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 08:05:02 PM EST

Really, the Appenzeller article I mentioned in the parent comment to yours may be your best bet. He's a very good science writer and it is readable. If you are not a biologist, the primary literature is very, very jargon-dense. It happens. I'm a trained molecular molecular and cellular biologist with an emphasis in neuroscience, including systems-level studies. Even so, the primary literature outside my fields can be eye-crossing. Abbreviations and acronyms abound. Even so, if you want to chase some of it down I made a list for you of recent papers by Paul Rainey, who is cited extensively in Appenzeller's article in Science.

Your second question is rather perceptive. There is a difference between genetic drift and selective pressure. The moth example is one of natural selection for a trait already present in the species. Genetic drift is what puts the traits there. A point mutation -- a single change in one DNA base -- can lead to all kinds of changes in the protein for which the gene codes. One change may produce an enzyme which no longer works. Another may make an enzyme lose the ability to be regulated. In the moth example, sometime there must have been a mutation in one individual which either made what should have been a dark moth light or a light moth dark (probably the latter, IRL).

Evolution, to my biologist's head, implies a change in species. There are arguments about what makes a species but generally the working definitions (before the era of easy DNA analysis, and even before the discovery of DNA) have centered around viable reproduction. If the light moths survive only on pale bushes and the dark moths only on sooty trees -- each where can find best find camouflage -- they're likely to mostly find mates like themselves. Some genetic drift will probably occur. Eventually the light moths on the bushes could become sufficiently different enough from the dark moths on the trees that even should they find each other, they could not successfully mate. Speciation, in this case, would have happened.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Changing the definition of evolution? (5.00 / 3) (#216)
by phliar on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:01:17 AM EST

The first is that biological evolutionary theories hope to explain the observed changes in species through time. Genetic drift happens. It's been observed in bacteria within days. Genetic evolution is an observable phenomenon.

I think you are mistaken here. Evolution is all about improvement - it is fundamental to the theory of evolution. Only a very advanced creature could deny that life has advanced.

You are so far off track it's scary. Evolution (as used in life sciences) does not imply improvement.

"Fundamental to the theory of evolution" - this is a phrase that is so rich with misapprehension I don't know where to begin.

If all you remember is one thing, it should be this: Evolution of species is an observed and reproducible fact. If you don't like bacteria, look up Biston betularia in any text. The theory (or theories) of evolution are about finding mechanisms that drive these changes. And the support for natural selection and sexual selection as the driving forces for evolution is just about overwhelming. Nothing else even comes close.

Certainly, in the scientific community debates rage hotly; but they are about refinements of these selection mechanisms. For instance, how does the change proceed - do populations change more or less steadily, or are there periods of high rates of change followed by times when not much changes.

In the end, evolution is just a theory like any other. There is surprisingly little actual evidence for it when one looks into it. For example, the fossil record is full of creatures that just dissappear and are completely replaced by a newer model.

Totally false. Fossilisation is a rare thing - conditions have to be just perfect. It's not surprising that at any particular site there are gaps in the fossils. (Aside: read "The Dechronization of Sam Magruder" by George Gaylord Simpson. Excellent book - everyone should read it!)

I am not denying that species change through time, because it is obvious that they do so. However, it is not obvious that evolution is the cause.

This makes no sense. Evolution is the change over time of the genetic makeup of a population. This the definition of evolution.

could it be that the evolutionists are trying to deny the hand of a force improving us?

Bah! Any time someone uses the term "evolutionist" you know they're just crazed superstitious fools desperately looking for a crutch so they don't have to face the realities of life.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Oh, dear (none / 0) (#328)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 07:19:35 AM EST

Goodness, what a mess of misconception. I suspect you of trolling, but I'm going to bite anyway, since there's so much nonsense talked about this topic letting any more go unscathed would be foolhardy.

Evolution is not about improvement, because "good" and "bad" are not concepts we can put rigorous definitions on, so they're no good in defining a scientific theory. All that is claimed in modern evolutionary theory is that organisms get better at reproducing over time, as there is a positive feedback loop meaning that those who are better at reproducing become more numerous and tend to outcompete those who are less good. The person to whom you are replying has confused neutral genetic change with evolutonary, adpative change, but thats no excuse to jump to the other extreme and confuse reproductive success with subjective value.

Saying "bacteria have got worse" by adapting to vaccines is so obtuse that this is the reason I suspect you of trolling (badly). Bacteria adapt to improve their reproductive success. That makes them worse for humans, but thats irrelevant.

On the Philosophy of Science: evolution is "just a theory", but we can never get anything better than a verified (or non-falsified, as you prefer) theory in science. Absolute truth only happens in religions.

As to the fossil record: its very patchy. Relatively few animals are fossilised, and speciation events seem to involve periods of rapid evolution in small isolated groups (this is the theory of punctuated equilibrium, and explanation of how the fossil record is consistent with gradual evolutionary change). This is nothing to do with Lamarckism, a theory that those parts of an organism that are useful get bigger, which has long been discredited.




Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
minor quibble/factoid (3.33 / 3) (#29)
by scruffyMark on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:56:59 PM EST

such things as languages and aircraft do tend to become more complex through time

WRT language, the opposite is often true. Languages that are spoken by a small population tend to have much more complex grammar, and far more exceptions to every grammatical rule, than ones with wide spoken bases.

The (theorized) reason is that when only a small number of people speak a language

  • only a small number of people have to learn it, so they can learn all the exceptions (if indeed they are ever formally taught the rules).
  • exceptional grammatical forms only have to be adopted by a small group to become "officially" part of the language.
Whereas when a language is spoken by a large number of people
  • a large number of people need to learn it, so standardizing rules are needed to make this learning possible
  • when exceptional grammatical forms are adopted by a small group, this is a "regional variation" and is left out of formal/"correct" speech.

As I said, a minor factoid...

[ Parent ]

What does you claim mean? (3.50 / 4) (#33)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:11:44 PM EST

Your argument makes no sense unless you explain what you mean when you use the word "language".

If you take the common definition in generative linguistics and cognitive science (language == Chomskian "competence"), all which you have said is utterly false.

I suspect you are implicitly using a concept of "language" which is, in the end, either incoherent or unfalsifiable.

--em
[ Parent ]

what? (3.33 / 3) (#64)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:05:24 PM EST

Why would a definition need to be falsifiable? I mean, if I were to say "Winamp is a software mp3 player"? how is that falsifiable? I could just take any software mp3 player and call it 'winamp'. Does that make it any less true?

I think that if definitions needed to be falsifiable, we would all be pretty fucked.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
aaargh (3.60 / 5) (#66)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:10:02 PM EST

Note i nowhere say directly or strictly imply that a "definition" is falsifiable (in the relevant bit I use "concept"), but still, you're right that this is quite confusing.

So let me make it clearer. I suspect the poster is making use of a concept of language which is either incoherent, or makes claims of the type "X is a language" unfalsifiable.

--em
[ Parent ]

minor quibble (3.75 / 4) (#130)
by iGrrrl on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:35:25 PM EST

Mr. Martinez has already adressed the question of the propriety of the language example. I have no desire to address the issue. I pushed a button, apparently, and would rather stick to the point of my argument.

I would like to note however, the possible misapplication of the word "factoid." Something which is ovoid is generally oval in shape, but the word rarely gets used to describe a geometrical oval. Similarly, a factoid could be thought of as something which looks like a fact, but isn't quite.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Language becomes "more complex"? (2.75 / 4) (#35)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:16:25 PM EST

such things as languages [...] do tend to become more complex through time

Please provide a single shred of evidence for this claim. (Oh, yeah, first you have to define what you mean by "language", and devise a non-arbitrary complexity measure for language...)

--em
[ Parent ]

wow (1.00 / 3) (#62)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:59:13 PM EST

I was actualy able to read your sig without altavista. Not the link though, but Yoruba suck ass anyway.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Language becomes more complex (3.33 / 3) (#88)
by weirdling on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:14:56 PM EST

I think a better term would be richer, ala 1984 and the concept that language often limits thinking. In other words, modern language, specifically English, has a vastly broader spectrum of representable ideas, not necessarily more complexity of representation.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Really? (3.50 / 4) (#90)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:21:14 PM EST

I think a better term would be richer, ala 1984 and the concept that language often limits thinking.

Which linguists, psychologists and anthropologists by and large don't believe, or at least not in any strong form.

In other words, modern language, specifically English, has a vastly broader spectrum of representable ideas, not necessarily more complexity of representation.

How is this claim of a "broader spectrum" (a) a claim about languages, and not about cultures, equivalently (b) translate itself into actual claims about language?

--em
[ Parent ]

Ok, a definition (3.75 / 4) (#99)
by weirdling on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:45:19 PM EST

The term 'language', as I'm referring to, is specifically defined as 'that facility by which people communicate an idea, command, information, or emotion'. As such, it could be just about anything. English is a spoken and written language. As an example, English has most definately increased the number of words available to it. Computer science alone has added an enormous amount of words or symbols to be used in the framework of the English language. The language has definately increased its ability to express ideas.
As to 1984, I agree that a language doesn't necessarily limit one's thought processes as put forward in that book, but imagine how many new terms Niklaus Wirth, for example, would have had to invent in order to express his concepts on the Pascal language.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Still unclear (3.40 / 5) (#111)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:27:08 PM EST

The language has definately increased its ability to express ideas.

How do you distinguish this from "the language was capable all along of expressing all those new ideas, but people didn't do it"?

--em
[ Parent ]

Simple (5.00 / 3) (#151)
by weirdling on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:36:11 AM EST

The lack of defined terms. The defined terms grew up with the language itself and the collective metaphor that people use to view their world in a given society. In other words, in computer science, as many people have pointed out, the concept of a graphical user interface was simply not thought of back in the early days. The words can be strung together, but they didn't mean anything in the language until the concept existed. Thus, the term, or placeholder for an idea, didn't technically exist until the arrival of the idea.
Languages grow with their users. In 14th century Europe, for example, you'd have to define a whole bunch of new terms to even converse decently on modern political science. That the language of the time *could* express it is not in doubt, but the combinations of words that one would use to express it would be essentially meaningless because the term, or meme as some have called it, is not in the vernacular, and therefore the indigents will be incapable of comprehending them, regardless of whether you can express them or not.
Most of language barriers are on the part of the receiver. The combinations of ideas that make up the concept that one wishes to convey can only be conveyed if the target has a similar enough background to grasp them. This is hard to believe these days, when young people are trained early on to deal with language most abstractly, and thus are able to recognise a new concept out of the influx, but that, itself, is demonstration that the language system in use is more complex. That people have trouble believing in a situation where language would be so low-abstract as to make it difficult to convey the meaning of gravity, which Newton and others had a devil of a time with, is a demonstration of the fact that the shared meme is non-existent. However, discuss it with someone who has studied foreign languages, and he will tell you that the essence of a culture is often embodied in the common use, the vernacular, of a language, and as such, it isn't the language necessarily that limits, but the common culture.
Languages and cultures do not constrict, but they do slow down and direct. For instance, the ancient asians had a handy concept of nothingness long before it showed up anywhere else. This concept inevitably led to the zero. In early times, in certain parts of the world, you could talk yourself out of air trying to explain a zero, whereas in modern times, most areas are fully aware of zero and its meaning. It is not that their language cannot convey the meaning; it is that to them, the meaning doesn't exist, and any discussion of language must, in the end, include the entire communication model, both originator and receiver, if one is to be successful in analysing it.
So, yes, the physical words can convey a meaning in the manner you intend, but those words strung together in that way will be non-sensical to the receiver if that person is not cognizant of the prerequisites to the discussion. Essentially, I'm saying that whether it is the language that is failing or the people that are failing is a moot question because the two are inseparable.


I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Languages _do_ become more irregular (3.33 / 3) (#127)
by Pseudonym on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:16:24 PM EST

Just like biological evolution, language change can make a language more or less "complex" in the sense of genders, cases and so on. English is descended from languages with gendered nouns, for example. We don't have them, so you could argue that English is therefore "less complex".

But the trade-off for the language simplifying in this way is that it gets complex in a more insidious way: we get irregularities. Just look at forming plurals in English (goose -> geese, fish -> fish etc). All of these made sense at one point, but as bits dropped out of the language we were left with these vestigal forms.

It's even worse in spoken French, where they don't pronounce half the words.

I think that a regularly formed language (e.g. Old Germanic) is easier to learn than an irregularly formed language (e.g. Modern English). So in that sense, languages get more complex.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Nope. (3.25 / 4) (#143)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:36:23 PM EST

But the trade-off for the language simplifying in this way is that it gets complex in a more insidious way: we get irregularities.

Bah. Show me a complexity measure for languages which is not absolutely arbitrary, and then we can talk.

Language learners in general have to learn massess of idiosyncratic information for each word in their language. Why should just one more bit of information make any significant difference?

It's even worse in spoken French, where they don't pronounce half the words.

You have a wrong definition of "word", then. Probably the layperson definition, "the stuff that occurs between spaces". Which no linguist uses, of course.

French is a particularly bad example of a mismatch between the structure of the spoken language and the orthography.

I think that a regularly formed language (e.g. Old Germanic) is easier to learn than an irregularly formed language (e.g. Modern English). So in that sense, languages get more complex.

The above applies. When you get down to it, it all boils down to learning yet another factoid about a word.

--em
[ Parent ]

I agree, with reservations (4.50 / 2) (#153)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:54:32 AM EST

Show me a complexity measure for languages which is not absolutely arbitrary, and then we can talk.

For the record, I agree. I deliberately didn't argue the original poster's line that languages get more "complex" precisely because I don't know what "complexity" in a language means.

I think that languages do get harder to learn as they get older, though. So if you think that's a useful measure of "complexity", you can interpret that as languages getting more complex.

Language learners in general have to learn massess of idiosyncratic information for each word in their language. Why should just one more bit of information make any significant difference?

Well that's true. Semantics are particularly bad in this regard. When acquiring a second language as an adult, you often run across the problem that words generally don't have a one-to-one mapping across languages.

However, most of the time it doesn't matter too much. The German flasche may not map exactly to the English glass (a device used for holding liquids for the purpose of drinking said liquids), but it's close enough to be able to start using it under most circumstances.

Genders on nouns certainly are a complication, but if it's declined regularly, it's not insurmountable. Incidentally, Esperanto, which is supposed to be easily learnable, has a related problem in that stems have a default part of speech which need to be remembered. For example, *sxovel- is a verbal root which means "to shovel". Because it's verbal, making it the noun sxovelo does not refer to a shovel, but rather to the noun of the verb (i.e. the act of shovelling).

Irregularities and exceptions, on the other hand, IMO are quite different. If you learn most European languages, you have to learn the gender of a noun along with the noun. Exceptions, however, only apply to some words, and then only in some cases. Plus, you need to know them before you can use them.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
..depends, really... (3.00 / 1) (#246)
by chopper on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:39:57 AM EST

...as well, on how you define "complex". Thing is, in a language, there is complexity of form, and complexity of function. Bichakjian et al, for example, believe that "linguistic features have consistently decreased their material complexity, while increasing their functionality."

So, in a way, yes, language has gotten more complex in ways, but not on the whole.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Hmm, interesting link (none / 0) (#278)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 07:51:43 PM EST

I'll have to read that. Thank you!

--em
[ Parent ]

The irrelevance of truth (3.76 / 21) (#16)
by quantum pixie on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:30:39 AM EST

Beyond questions of truth or falsehood, a more important issue is raised by the evolution debate. Whether or not man evolved from apes or was created by a deity is of no material concern. However, the question of which view should be popularly believed is wholly separate from any matters of veracity.

As Rep. Denny Altes so bluntly said, "If we teach kids that they were descended from monkeys, don't you think they'll act like monkeys?" While he may not have known it, he was flirting with a very important idea.

As a society, we operate under a collective delusion. We believe that some acts are right and others are wrong. We believe that it makes sense to state that one should not kill one's classmates, and we believe that our sense of outrage when it does occur is justified. All of this is of course false, but these beliefs are valuable nonetheless.

Without the moral fiction, civilization would be impossible and mankind would suffer a great loss of utility. For while `right' and `wrong' are nonsensical concepts, the adherence to such standards allows for the emergence of cooperation and shared endeavors. Lacking these fabricated standards, mankind would be locked in a perpetual state of bloody individual competition.

The difficulty, however, is that many individuals cannot be convinced to adhere to the necessary standards simply on the grounds of utility. Thus it is necessary to fabricate myths and religions so that all humanity will act in a way conducive to progress and society. The danger of evolutionary teaching is that it undermines one of the great propagators of moral fiction, Christianity, and does nothing to fill the resulting moral void.

We are left, then, with individuals who are convinced that they are nothing more than clever animals and should feel no obligation to anyone except themselves. Indeed, they are perhaps correct, but this matters little. Allowing the clever animals to see themselves as what they are can lead only to bloody anarchy and a great downfall for mankind.

So, we are left with a choice. Will we have `truth' or civilization? Only a fool would choose the former.

---------
Free qpt!
Religion does not have a monopoly on morality. (4.81 / 11) (#22)
by hugorune on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 01:14:27 PM EST

This is perhaps the strangest argument against scientific research that I have seen. We should hide the truth from people because we might not be able to manipulate them as well?

Unfortunately, many christians seem to be of the opinion that the only reason that people behave ethically is a fear of eternal damnation. It's no different than telling children that Santa won't bring them any presents if they don't behave.

In reality, there are many reasons for people to choose to behave in an ethical way. Clearly, behaving in a way that is beneficial to the community is also of benefit to an individual. A communitiy based on co-operation is more likely to thrive than a individuals acting in a purely selfish way. Co-operation and ethical behaviour would give a community an evolutionary advantage over purely selfish behaviour.

See http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/charles_watts/why_do_right.html
--
Phil Harrison
[ Parent ]

Wrong. (3.14 / 7) (#43)
by quantum pixie on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:37:04 PM EST

Clearly, behaving in a way that is beneficial to the community is also of benefit to an individual.

This is obviously not always true. Take war, for example. It is beneficial to the community that the young men go and defend its interests, but it would be absurd to say that going to war is beneficial for any single young man, when viewed as an individual.

You seem to be completely missing the point of moral fiction. It is not necessary to encourage people to act in their own self-interest. They will already do that without any prodding whatsoever. What is needed is a way to pressure individuals into acting for the common good when such action is very clearly not contributory to the individual's good.

As for your assertion that cooperation is an evolutionarily advantageous trait, that is neither here nor there. You are correct, it seems reasonable to suppose it is, but cooperation will not come about simply by virtue of that fact. If you are claiming that given enough time, humanity will change to be naturally cooperative, then I would encourage you to give more attention to current situations.

Today's situations are what we must deal with and today's humanity is what we have as our tools. As matters stand, people will not generally cooperate in the absence of coercion. Either we can implement messy and expensive external coercion, in the form of police and prisons, or we can foster ethical myths to encourage the development of an internally coercive morality.

My original point was simply that it is extremely difficult to provide a cohesive account of why people should do anything against their individual interest if one is working from the presupposition that mankind is merely a species of animal.

---------
Free qpt!
[ Parent ]
Re: Wrong (4.16 / 6) (#48)
by hugorune on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:55:02 PM EST

Take war, for example. It is beneficial to the community that the young men go and defend its interests, but it would be absurd to say that going to war is beneficial for any single young man, when viewed as an individual.

If by "defending one's interests" you mean defending a community from outside attack, then it clearly is in the interest of the individual to participate. If you mean going to war for financial gain, I think you need to be more specific about how you define moral behaviour.

You seem to be completely missing the point of moral fiction. It is not necessary to encourage people to act in their own self-interest. They will already do that without any prodding whatsoever. What is needed is a way to pressure individuals into acting for the common good when such action is very clearly not contributory to the individual's good.

Don't forget that individuals will also naturally behave in ways that benefit their offspring or memebrs of their family too. Surely most people would want their children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, etc. to live in a safe and healthy society without the need to invent fictional threats in order to manipulate them.
--
Phil Harrison
[ Parent ]

You're all goofed up (3.00 / 6) (#54)
by quantum pixie on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:29:32 PM EST

Think carefully about the war example. It is apparent that it is in my best interest that everyone else defends the community. As an individual, I will not make any difference in the outcome of the war and I might get killed. Obviously, then, it would be best for me if I just staid home. However, if everyone stays home, the community will suffer.

Do you see the tension, now? There are many other examples of behaviors that are beneficial to an individual if everyone else does them. However, the behaviors are necessary for the community to function. Encouraging these behaviors is the role of moral standards.

Think of the basic rules of "right" and "wrong" that children are taught. For example, they are taught that stealing is wrong. However, an individual would benefit if they stole and nobody else did. This is why coercion is necessary, like I mentioned in my previous post. Acting in one's own self interest will often not lead to behavior that is compatible with the community's good.

Your family examples are irrelevant, as most of one's community is well outside familial boundaries.

---------
Free qpt!
[ Parent ]
OT: Tragedy of the Commons (4.00 / 8) (#67)
by Khalad on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:10:09 PM EST

This is a well-known ethical problem: the tragedy of the commons. It is rational for an individual to maximize his own gain, but if everybody does it's usually at the expense of global loss.

An example:

The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.

As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, "What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?" This utility has one negative and one positive component.

  1. The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly +1.
  2. The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision­making herdsman is only a fraction of -1.
Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another.... But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit—in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.

War is a tragedy of the commons, but it is readily solved by government intervention. It is in every individual's best interest not to fight; the tragedy is that if every individual were thusly rational there would be no national defense, and everybody would be in a worse position than if they had fought and risked their lives.

The tragedy of the commons is the reason why I am not a libertarian. Unencumbered capitalism will fail since every individual will attempt to maximize his personal gain at the expense of others'. There is no guarantee that unjust situations will work themselves out in the long run, and even if they do, how long are we supposed to suffer in the meantime?

It's something to think about. Capitalist propaganda of unhindered individualism doesn't really equate to communal good. We're selfish, and the government needs to tell us when enough is enough. How many people will have developed a strong, personal code of ethics to guide them? Without an external moral code it's tough to rely on everybody just "knowing better."

Which is why iGrrrl's post is so troubling.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Not iGrrrl's post (3.00 / 3) (#73)
by Khalad on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:20:30 PM EST

I meant quantum_pixie's post. The root of this thread.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Family, Friends, etc. (3.60 / 5) (#101)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:56:17 PM EST

His family examples are *highly* relevant. People will go to war to protect their family from harm. They will also go to war to protect their friends, neighbors, etc.

If there is an invasion, and the people who I care about are in danger of being killed if too few people will join the Army, I will join the Army. I don't need some religion telling me that it's the right thing to do. I will go simply because I don't want to see the people I care about die. If there isn't a chance that they could be killed, then I will stay home.

Stealing is not always beneficial to the individual. What happens if he/she gets caught. In the absence of government or religion, he might get beat up or killed by the person he steals from. That is not a benefit. Also, if you steal from your friends, chances are they won't be your friends for very much longer, and what benefit is that?

[ Parent ]

I don't think you have thought this through. (3.00 / 1) (#275)
by hugorune on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:57:55 PM EST

You are forgetting that an individual will need to consider their relationship with other members of the community after behaving in a selfish manner. If you stay home when everyone else goes to war, you will be treated as a pariah when the war is over.

Look at some of the old war time recruitment posters. Very few of them use religion to persuade people to sign up. The classic Uncle Sam poster (or the equivalent Kitchener poster in the UK) played on the individual's sense of duty, as did this one. The "Men of Britain" poster certainly plays on an individual's sense of responsibility to the community, and the "Daddy, What Did You Do" poster played on an individual's concern about how his children would view him if he was not involved in the action.

Of course, all this is still a form of coercion, but it is clear that great social pressure can be placed without involving religious beliefs.
--
Phil Harrison
[ Parent ]

A cohesive account why... (3.00 / 4) (#102)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:06:48 PM EST

Lets say we have a village that is getting attacked by another village, why would the villagers "go to war" and protect their village? For what reason are they fighting?

Because if they don't, the attackers will come and kill them and kill their families. Sure, they could die defending the village, but if they are successful their families will still survive them and thus their genes.

People don't need some religious fiction to get them to defend their community. The threat of having their families killed is reason enough.

[ Parent ]

Santa Claus and moral artifices. (4.00 / 7) (#34)
by claudius on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 02:14:04 PM EST

The difficulty, however, is that many individuals cannot be convinced to adhere to the necessary standards simply on the grounds of utility. Thus it is necessary to fabricate myths and religions so that all humanity will act in a way conducive to progress and society.... We are left, then, with individuals who are convinced that they are nothing more than clever animals and should feel no obligation to anyone except themselves.

Yours is a most interesting proposition--allow me to play Devil's advocate, if I may. The need for constructing moral fictions to enforce moral codes of behavior does not necessarily follow from the mere existence of sociopaths. You first have to demonstrate that: (a) In the absence of a moral fiction enough sociopaths are formed as to destroy social units, (b) With such moral fictions one has fewer sociopaths and a stable society, and (c) Societies based on mass delusion are superior to the alternative.

In opposition to (c), we note that a simple secular remedy to the sociopath problem is merely to ostracize "problem children." Lock them in prison, kick them out of town, execute them. Problem solved--stable society, and with no mass delusion. It is not self-evident (to me, at least) that basing a society on mass-delusion and mass-acceptance of a moral fiction is any more "defensible" (an ill-defined concept in a vacuum of values) than the society I just described.

In reference to (a) and (b), I would propose that the kiddies can learn to be "good" and act in a manner consistent with forming a stable human society without the artifice of a Santa Claus figure to enforce a specific moral code. Even animals that are not so clever as humans, e.g. the much-maligned apes, have been observed to organize themselves into stable social groups, with many of their actions (e.g. sharing of food or shelter resources) not specifically designed to further the actions of themselves alone, but rather the social unit. Certainly the monkeys have no convenient moral fiction to guide them, but rather natural selection and the "survival instinct" drive such behavior on some level. Is it not possible for human societies, if humans are indeed derived from animal stock, to also inherit such a survival instinct that compells man to act as a social beast?

It is no accident that the "Golden Rule" appears in virtually every religious code of behavior. It forms the basis of social responsibility, in that it establishes the importance of recognizing other entities in a society as being, on some level, of equivalent value to oneself. One could propose that natural selection has programmed this impetus at a visceral level, that it is hardwired into the grey matter of beasties, like humans, who have survived as a result of forming social units. Religion could well be an artifact of this genetic social programming, rather than a root cause.

[ Parent ]
I hate to get drawn into a flame war (3.00 / 3) (#103)
by ZanThrax on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:18:57 PM EST

but I feel that someone should point out that quantum pixie's point does not neccessarily require a vengeful god or santa, merely social ostracism. The abscence of a religious code of behaviour does not change the nature of morality. It is still a belief system, regardless of its basis. My morality (as an agnostic) is just as much a "moral fiction" as a fundemantalist christians is. I believe that all quantum pixie was trying to say is that the science isn't the only thing that matters, that we must also ensure that our children are taught the same "moral fiction" as the rest of our society, in order to ensure that there will still be a society.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

what? (1.00 / 11) (#56)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:34:18 PM EST

That is one of the most retarded things I've ever heard.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Re: what? (2.50 / 2) (#57)
by quantum pixie on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:45:11 PM EST

Do you have a specific refutation or concern to raise, or are you just going to moderate me down because you do not like the way my posts sound?

---------
Free qpt!
[ Parent ]
Re: what? (2.25 / 4) (#61)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:59:05 PM EST

How about the fact that your moral philosophy has nothing to do with the fact or fiction of evolution as science? If you're so interested in thwarting the moral decay of western civilization, have George Bush tape a few after school specials about the moral decay concomitant with cocaine abuse. I mean, so long as we're straying wildly off topic.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

I hear this a lot (3.25 / 4) (#87)
by weirdling on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:11:18 PM EST

Being a rabid agnostic, I often hear that simply the act of not believing in a God will cause me to head down the path of moral ruin. I doubt it very much.
See, *people* make the rules that religions use, by your hypothesis, so they are not any better than if the people had simply done what they should have in the first place. It is a well-known aphorism that people will do whatever they want. For the most part, people do not do the entirety of their religion because they do not think of the religion at all times; they merely do what they would have and defend it on religious grounds later. Laws and societal pressure have never really been particularly effective. If a person is only a little bit from the position you want him, a law may provide sufficient pressure to make him change, but if the person is far enough away, no amount of pressure will make him change.
So, once again, correlation does not imply causality; that people behave in a way common to religion is just as possibly because the religion is amenable to them as that they are coerced by it. In my mind, from my observations of humanity and my own experience, it is far more the former than the latter.
So, arguing that removing religion would or would not result in mass chaos is hard to do. It is easy to say, however, that many religionists do not follow their religion, so your point about religion being effective is moot.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Stupidity of this country (3.62 / 8) (#19)
by strlen on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 12:42:41 PM EST

Aie.. time to go on another rant about the stupidity of this country. Why are the states even allowed to decide on such an issue? Everyone has a right to learn about evolution, everyone has a right to a state separated from the church. State's rights is no excuse to deny any rights to people.

And why do we still have religious right idiots who don't even understand the bible? Many religious leaders will tell you that <supreme being> can work in more then one way. One good example is a story about a man who was drowing in a flood. A car drove by and offered to pick him up when the streets began to be crowded. He refused, saying that he will rely on god. Then a truck with national guard drove by, as the level of water climbed to the porch. He refused help on the same argument. Later, he was on the roof and a boat came by.. he refused.. then a helicopter etc.. So when he drowned, and came to the heavens. He asked god why had betrayed him. God said that he hadn't: he sent all kinds of help, and the man refused.

I guess the ACLU is the only way to save this country. Time to look for an airline with good rates to Canada.

</rant>

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
ranting hurts (3.00 / 2) (#83)
by alprazolam on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:53:58 PM EST

I agree with your feelings, maybe your disillusionment. But ranting, calling people stupid, so on, isn't really going to help, even though it feels good. The best you can do is understand both sides of the argument (for the people really having a debate, not the most vehement people of both sides, who tend to be uninformed). You can't suddenly expect all the bible-thumpers of the world to open up their eyes, but you can maybe get one person at a time to accept parts of the whole theory of evolution over time. You don't have people railing against DNA nowadays, but maybe you used to.

[ Parent ]
Because textbook selection is a local decision (3.00 / 3) (#115)
by rjh on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:49:44 PM EST

States are allowed to select textbooks. Some states pick the textbooks for the entire states. Other states leave textbook selection to the cities and towns. But it is entirely reasonable to set priorities on what material goes into the textbooks. This makes it reasonable for decisions like this to be made at the state level. Arkansas is not prohibiting the learning, studying, or teaching of evolution (yet). These nitwits just want to leave it out of the textbooks.

But this evolution idiocy is just the beginning of the problems with textbooks. For the past several decades the textbooks in the US have been of dreadful quality, and they get worse and worse with each new year. If I were given the alternatives: "Fix the grossly incorrect contents, but leave out evolution" or "Put in evolution", I would not hesitate to fix the gross errors in current textbooks. This may be extreme, but take a look at the dreck that is delivered in current texts.

[ Parent ]
Teaching to think (3.81 / 11) (#51)
by jesterzog on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:15:14 PM EST

Apart from currently being an evolution believer myself, I would have thought the real scientific view would be that we can probably never know for certain, and that ideas and evidence changes all the time. If children are going to be forced to learn anything, it should be that.

Everyone seems to want to be filled up with facts and leave it at that, whether they're verifiable and correct or not. Has it occurred to anyone to teach children to think for themselves?

There are a lot of children who never get to college or university. Maybe that's why thinking for themselves is something that lots of people aren't very good at.


jesterzog Fight the light


Is is possible? (3.40 / 5) (#70)
by bjrubble on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:12:40 PM EST

I think this applies to far more than just science. I'm sure US schools still teach that "the Civil War was caused by slavery" and other such simplifications. In the end, probably, students don't care -- and teachers have little motivation to teach them -- that the world is a pretty messy place and there are very few cut-and-dried answers. Easier to decide on a few "facts" to memorize and let them sort out the details when they get older.

[ Parent ]
Fine, but which facts? (3.33 / 3) (#96)
by peeping_Thomist on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:36:08 PM EST

Easier to decide on a few "facts" to memorize and let them sort out the details when they get older.

Fine. But why is it important that high school students be taught a simplified version of these particular facts?

How does memorizing a crude caricature of the theory of evolution help equip a high school student to live well?

Why not just have evolution be taught in college, where it can be presented by someone who might actually understand it?

[ Parent ]
Leave it to the experts (3.00 / 1) (#162)
by mikael_j on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:59:31 AM EST

Why not just have evolution be taught in college, where it can be presented by someone who might actually understand it?
Because the world would quickly fill up with people who had no clue about these things what so ever?
And we all know what happens when people with no knowledge on the subject want to make decisions to...

/Mikael Jacobson
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
And the problem with that is? (3.00 / 1) (#165)
by peeping_Thomist on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:59:15 AM EST

Because the world would quickly fill up with people who had no clue about these things what so ever?

The world is already full of people who have no clue about various aspects of modern science.

How will feeding them propaganda in high school help matters?

Wouldn't it be better to focus on teaching people in high school how to read, write, and do basic math, so that when (many of them) go on to college, they can be taught scientific theories by people who actually understand those theories?

Tell me how a person who is functionally illiterate (which about a third of high school students are) is benefitted by being "taught" evolution by someone who teaches high school science (which means they most likely barely passed their own college science courses).

[ Parent ]
You have to teach them something (2.00 / 2) (#188)
by bjrubble on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:53:06 PM EST

I think my point was that nothing is simple enough to teach in full detail to kids. If you're not going to teach them simplifications, you're not going to teach them anything.

I would love to see more critical thinking taught in schools, but I think it's difficult to teach, difficult to learn, and difficult to test, so I don't consider it realistic. I'd be happy with just more explicit acknowledgement by teachers that what is being taught is radically simplified.

[ Parent ]
Must we? (none / 0) (#291)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 04:47:58 AM EST

You have to teach them something
If what little they learn is not useful, and if the education racket is probably going to fumble the job of teaching even that, is there any point in teaching it at all?
I think my point was that nothing is simple enough to teach in full detail to kids. If you're not going to teach them simplifications, you're not going to teach them anything.
And if it's too simple, it's wrong. Do they really need yet another thing to unlearn?
I would love to see more critical thinking taught in schools, but I think it's difficult to teach, difficult to learn, and difficult to test, so I don't consider it realistic.
Given that what you actually do in a school is sit up (in formation), shut up, line up and only be critical of your fellow students - not the curriculum - I don't think you'd get very far. That's like taking people to Death Valley to give them swimming lessons. Schools are basically preprocessors for the military, factory floors or prisons.
I'd be happy with just more explicit acknowledgement by teachers that what is being taught is radically simplified.
Getting that past the schoolteachers' union would be near as big a miracle as abiogenesis.

Better to let them find out themselves when they're ready. Better to do everything that way.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Good point (2.66 / 3) (#105)
by ZanThrax on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:24:04 PM EST

One that I was wondering why no one had mentioned. Several posters are making noise about not having 'unproven' scientific theories taught in schools, saying that genetic drift is ok, but evolution as a whole is not. I have to ask, what is left if theories can not be taught in science class? All of science is theory. That's the point, nothing can ever be known for absolute certain, everything is just the best theory available given the evidence. If one is to teach science at all, one must teach currently accepted theories.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Why Christians hate evolution (3.45 / 33) (#89)
by pmk on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:16:20 PM EST

You would, too, if it had done so little for you.

Reply to Rep. Denny Altes (4.21 / 19) (#97)
by Rhamadanth on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 05:39:43 PM EST

Do you believe you were descended from a sinner? If we teach kids that they were descended from sinners, don't you think they'll act like sinners?


-- The /bin/truth is out there.
Rep. Danny Altes' Response (3.16 / 6) (#106)
by Malicose on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:34:04 PM EST

Of course they'll act like sinners, everyone who has ever lived is a sinner with the exception of Jesus Christ.

[ Parent ]
Provided... (4.00 / 3) (#152)
by Rhamadanth on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:44:21 AM EST

...of course, that you believe in the concept of sin at all. Since I'm an athiest, I don't believe that things that I do can get me sent to hell (or heaven). However, I wouldn't want my child acting like a 'sinner'. That is, I wouldn't want my child acting like someone that does bad things.

It's clear that *he* doesn't believe in the theory that links our ancestry to a common ancestor of other primates...if he did, he wouldn't have said such a thing. So, my statement makes at least as much sense as his. :)

-- The /bin/truth is out there.
[ Parent ]
Re: Provided... (3.00 / 2) (#172)
by Malicose on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 11:11:28 AM EST

Touché (rating updated).

[ Parent ]
Or to put it another way... (4.33 / 3) (#154)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 02:08:49 AM EST

"Talk about a preachy book! Everyone's a sinner! Except that guy..."
- Homer J. Simpson

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Actually the Romans do teach this... (none / 0) (#292)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:19:46 AM EST

...and a lot of others follow it, often unwittingly.

The doctrine is called ``Original Sin'' and it's slightly wrong. The effects of faith in it are grotesquely wrong. Think about indulgences, Mariolatry, Purgatory, the holy biscuit... all artefects of this one doctrine.

At once stage (I forget the year, maybe a century or so ago when they still recorded such things), 87% of the crimes in the City of Manchester were committed by the 10% of the population who thought they could buy their way out of guilt which was inevitable anyway...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

history hasn't amounted to this. (3.25 / 4) (#116)
by thenewbeat on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 07:49:49 PM EST

personally, i can't believe that our civilization thinks we are the be all end all of human life on this planet. we have this notion that every event has amounted to the learning process of what we know now, and that's all we need. we think what we have built is the greatest thing that could ever be. this is NOT true. we are also living in a myth of beliefs, just like Global-lightning pointed out in his post, myths of other civilizations. evolution is one, christianity is also one. also, we have to take into account that both are wrong. i took part in a chritianity debate once, and my good friend playing the moderator said "ok, with jesus, we have a working theory". that struck me as very odd because he almost admits that there are other possiblities. we as humans feel we have to know everything, and we think we already do, but believe me, we don't, and won't. personally, i think there are bigger fish to fry than finding out where we came from. time to look forward and keep our demise from happening.

for some different views on how things came to be the way they are, read ishmael, my ishmael, the story of B, and beyond civilization. all by daniel quinn. nothing insane like "magic chickens from different planets", but he talks about gods and evolution. the books are amazing, by far my favorite author.

-------
"the world isn't going to change by old minds with new programs, its going to change by new minds with no programs" - daniel quinn

Theory of Evolution (4.00 / 1) (#146)
by entropist on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 12:12:14 AM EST

AFAIK

Evolution does not teach that human beings are the sum total or goal of the process of evolution. And it never has taught so in the past. Evolution does not put human beings in any hierarchy of being or moral pecking order. Evolution has no goals, evolution has no plans. Neither for our species nor any other. If Evolution is mistaken for a real "thing" at all, an actual biological process, then it is a process that has no purpose. A process without an overseeing agency that says, there that's enough - the process is completed. What kind of process is that that never completes?

I don't think we have a very good word, at least in English, for the kind of process Evolution is. The word "process" itself is too laden with concrete and teleological associations to do very well.

Evolution is a 100% abstract term that applies to the undirected mutation that happens to species in response to the pressure of their surroundings. Environmental conditions change, some individuals survive to reproduce, some don't, some species appear from within the ranks of others responding to local conditions and becoming separated genetically from their kin, some carry on as before changing little, others change a lot, some diminish in number, some disappear altogether. Over time the genetic and functional characteristics of the species changes. Evolution is the name for the observable change that occurs in "what's left over". That is all. Any other garbage appended to that which you may have picked up is a traduction of the theory - perhaps tacked on by people who didn't understand it except as translated into the terms of their culture's religious cosmology. This millennia's human beings are not "better" for having arrived later in time than the human beings of 100,000 BCE. The brook trout I fish for are not "superior" to their Artic Char ancestors. The brookies survive where their ancestors could not - and they would die off soon if thrust into the most of the habitats where Artic Char are now native.

The species class that is "superior" and "evolved" this year could all be gone next year -down to the last individual- if environmental conditions change rapidly enough. And a "primitive" species living underfoot of the "evolved" one could survive. Would that make the survivor species better or would it reveal them to be the "true" sum total or "real" goal of evolution? Of course not. Likewise within species themselves, what is a successful adaptation for an individual this year could be fatal next. Did the survivor individuals "deserve" to prevail and surpass their contemporaries? No. The theory of Evolution is a value-judgement-free area of concern, and people who have spoken of it in any other way do not grasp it at all, I believe, but are using it as an ideological standard to march under. Because maybe their old one is not working anymore.

Don't let them poison your mind against the idea - for one thing it's not going away anytime soon. (Not saying Ishmael is an example of the poisoning)

[ Parent ]
ok (3.00 / 1) (#197)
by thenewbeat on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:58:18 PM EST

i understand what you are saying what evolution is all about and im not arguing that, nor am i gonna argue christianity or any other religion. just the point i was trying to get across was that "the world was created for us and we are here to rule it" is entirely false in my opinion. humans think that they have to find answers in such things as religion and evolution because we have advanced thought (compared to?). i think we can make things a little better by fixing the future instead of finding out what happened 5 billion years ago or whenever according to whatever myth you read about.

The species class that is "superior" and "evolved" this year could all be gone next year -down to the last individual- if environmental conditions change rapidly enough.

something i totally agree with, as i think we have seen already with ancient civilizations. we are all part of a working whole...and in the past 10000 years, we have been the primary destructor of this planet, but what can i say...we are humans. either that or politians. one thing one of those books has discussed is what you are saying about a primitive species living under our foot that could survive longer than us

that goes back to my point of this world is our world and we were made to rule it. just because what we have now is great doesn't mean that what is to come isn't better.

damn, im not a big fan of these message boards, this is the only one i have ever gone to. i feel i never get my point across the way i want to. i can't stand sending thoughts as a bunch to people then wait a day or so. so if you would like to hop on aim and talk to sakb0y (that's a zero), feel free. id like to talk more in real time if you would like, being you are the only person who responded to my message. im all about learning experiences :D.

by the way, i love your name! talk to you later, hopefully.

"someday i'll take a small child down to the last grass covered hill in my town and say 'the whole world was once like this and more' but words and photographs won't make them understand" - the broadways

[ Parent ]
re: ok (none / 0) (#316)
by entropist on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:22:02 PM EST

OK seems like I misinterpreted your complaint somewhat. I was a little confused about whether you thought the theory of evolution was intended to portray Man's reign over the earth as justified by a ladder of 'development' with us on the top rung.

Sorry to reply late, but I check kuro5hin only sporadically. (And I don't AIM) I read Ishmael, but I would have to say I didn't read it slow enough - I think I found myself in initial agreement with the attitude coming from the early chapt.s and probably stopped paying close attention, so my memory of the book is pretty weak.

[ Parent ]
:D (none / 0) (#321)
by thenewbeat on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:16:13 PM EST

yeah, in the book, most of the deep talking takes place in the end (of course), but ill be the first to say that its not the greatest book ever. i would never say such a thing, nor would i say what daniel quinn says is right. its just good to get turned onto new things and take the unbeaten path sometimes. it may change somebody's life. it did mine.

-----
"someday i'll take a small child down to the last grass covered hill in my town and say 'the whole world was once like this and more' but words and photographs won't make them understand" - the broadways


[ Parent ]
Bravo. (3.00 / 1) (#218)
by kitten on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:23:37 AM EST

Interesting that you should mention Ishmael, as I recently finished reading it, and to date it's the only book I've read that makes a serious attempt at reconciling science with Christianity, and it does a damn fine job, too.

Unfortunately, it would not appease Fundamentalists, who would choose to take the Bible literally who do not allow for metaphor nor interpretation.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Evolution doesn't challenge Christianity... (4.25 / 8) (#131)
by Pseudonym on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:45:36 PM EST

Rather, it challenges people who can't take a challenge.

First off, very few Christians believe in a literal 6-day creation. Pretty much everyone, except a vocal minority, particularly vocal in the US, understand the creation story as mythological, symbolic and theological in nature rather than historical and scientific. As one popular cliche goes, the creation story says "who" created the Universe and "why", rather than "how" and "when". I could go on about this at some length. The Biblical story appears to be tailor made to distinguish itself from other culture's creation stories in several important areas, the most significant of which is monotheism. But I digress. Evolution does not challenge the beliefs of pretty much any Christian that I personally know.

But the latter point is more important. Insecure people need to invent an enemy to protect themselves from what's really wrong with their lives. Rather than deal with their own problems, they construct a straw man and have at that instead. It might be "the scientific conspiracy", or "the satanic conspiracy to take God away from America". One I see here often is "Microsoft's evil conspiracy to destroy Linux".

Rep. Danny Altes' response is typically symptomatic, assuming that he actually believed what he said. Personally I suspect that someone's feeding him lines, and he's repeating them... uhm... like a trained monkey, I guess.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
How and when, with chapter and verse (2.00 / 1) (#242)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:06:03 AM EST

As one popular cliche goes, the creation story says "who" created the Universe and "why", rather than "how" and "when".
Odd that it should then supply enough geneaologies to convincingly tie it down to much less than 10ka then, isn't it?

WRT the how, consider Psalm 33:9 (and many other texts): ``For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.'' Is there anything ambiguous about that? Read the preceding verses and tell me what you think.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

For I Have Tasted The Fruit (3.00 / 2) (#133)
by kaatunut on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 09:52:15 PM EST

Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist.

Apologizes for the redundant post. I just really love that quote.

-Kaatunut

--
there's hole up in the sky from where the angels fall to sire children that grow up too tall, there's hole down in the ground where all the dead men go down purgatory's highways that gun their souls

Reality of the matter (2.16 / 6) (#135)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 10:09:52 PM EST

The reality of the matter is that both evolution and creationism are both theories - there is no way to definately prove either one, since both have similar amounts of 'supporting evidence' according to the various methods that are used. In the same respect, there's no way to know which methods are better, since that would require us to know which belief is true.

What truely needs to happen is for evolution and creationism to be taught in parallel - being that these are mere theories in the eyes of science and these are public schools - with each given equal time and equal weight in importance. As it stands now, evolution always gets the 'this is what happened' attitude, while, creation gets the 'some other fringe scientists foolishly think this' - this is not American. Each of these beliefs need equality, so that the students can make a judgement on the matter for themselves, with as little biased input as possible. People tend to believe what they are told without questioning - at least children do, that's their nature. Then, in the future, said children, more often than not, will blindly support this belief, whatever it may be, since they have been taught facts, and not how to think. This is sad.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Hold on there, pardner (5.00 / 10) (#140)
by gbd on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 10:50:26 PM EST

"Creationism" is not a theory, at least not in the scientific sense of the word. Scientific theories are formulated based on observed evidence. They make predictions that can be tested through observation. Biological evolution and its derived results (natural selection, common descent, etc.) fall under this umbrella. "Creationism", however, does not. Creationism, depending on whose brand you're selling, is a story. It says "a long time ago, God did this and this and this and that's the way it went." Biological evolution says that the gene pool of a population changes over time. That's it. It is a simple, testable, falsifiable statement. To say that these evolution and creationism are on equal footing in the whole "theory" arena is inaccurate.

The major problem with "teaching Creationism" is whose creationism do you teach? I am always puzzled by people who espouse the teaching of "both sides" of the issue. "Both" implies two .. but the last time I checked, there were tons of creation stories! Hell, even the book of Genesis in the Christian Bible has two conflicting accounts of creation. And even the people that subscribe to one (or both) of those accounts can't seem to agree on all of the details. Is the Universe billions of years old, or six thousand years old? Did dinosaurs really exist, or are they a trick planted by Satan to test the faithful?

Call me nutty, but with so many different religious creation stories with so many different variants, it should be the jobs of parents and/or churches to teach their children whatever they see fit. It is ridiculous to suggest that high school biology (!) teachers teach course material from the book of Genesis (or from the Qu'ran or any other religious text.) It's biology class, for Chrissakes. If you want your kids to learn a specific religious creation story, then teach it to them yourself! If it's that important to you, then handing this duty off to some anonymous schoolteacher is just plain Bad Parenting. And if parents really and truly want to forcibly prevent their children from being taught anything about evolution, it is always their option to take their kids out of the class for that time period.

You're right when you say that evolution hasn't been proven, but only partially. Natural sciences are not in the business of proof. If it's proof you want, try mathematics. If I were to throw a ball up in the air in the presence of a physicist, (s)he would not say "I shall prove this ball will come back down again." Rather, (s)he would say "Based on our current theories, I predict this ball will come back down again." Because that's the name of the game .. observations and predictions. You can't "prove" evolutionary common descent any more than you can "prove" special and general relativity or "prove" the various theories related to electromagnetism. The threshold that a theory has to pass before being taught in schools is not one of "proof" .. it is a question of whether or not there exists sufficient evidence such that not teaching it would be scientifically, ethically, and morally repugnant.

Biological evolution is taught because it is the only scientific theory that explains the biodiversity of life on Earth, and despite the hemming and hawing of a vocal minority of religious fundamentalists, it does an admirable job and is not in any particular danger. The recent hysteria that has surrounded it has been interesting from a social perspective, and in many ways it has made a laughingstock out of the American South, but this too shall pass.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

A little reminder from the ACLU (3.25 / 4) (#149)
by RHnateDogg on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:30:49 AM EST

I forget the exact quote (and I'm sorry about that... It's too late for me to go dig through my bookshelf to find it), but waaay back in 1925, the ACLU said something along the lines of:

It is the height of bigotry that we continue to teach only one theory (creationism) in our schools.

Where are you now, ACLU? I become more and more convinced every day that ACLU stands for the Anti Christian Liberals Union...

Which brings up another point. There is evidence out there that supports the theory of creation. There is also evidence that supports the theory of evolution. In many cases, it's the SAME evidence, and it only matters what your point of view is going in. I'll give an example:

We're very similar to basically every other form of life on the planet at the genetic level. Much more similar than would seem to happen if we all were just sort of "magically" created. Clearly, there are 2 ways to look at this:

We have arisen from simpler forms of life, and so inherit some of their genetic junk.

We were intelligently designed by "someone" who believed in code re-use.

I've looked at the facts that are out there, and I choose to believe in creationism. I was a creationist long before I was a christian (oh, no, I said the "C" word) but I don't believe in pressing either of those beliefs on anyone. I think that everyone should have the same opportunity that I did - to look at the FACTS and arrive at a decision.

Now as soon as someone can find me some bias-free elementary school teachers, we'll get to work :)

[ Parent ]
What is the "theory of creation?" (5.00 / 3) (#156)
by gbd on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 02:17:55 AM EST

You people keep talking about "the theory of creation." What, pray tell, is this theory? What observations is derived from and what predictions does it make? Is it internally consistent and falsifiable? More to the point, is the Earth six thousand years old, as some creationists say, or is it billions of years old? Do distant galaxies actually exist, or are they illusions? Did Mankind and dinosaurs co-exist, or are dinosaur fossils an elaborate fraud perpetrated by Communists and Hollywood leftists?

The problems with creationism are many. The most fundamental problem is that no two creationists seem to agree on what "creation" actually is. I've heard all of the above arguments put forth by creationists; some of them are prepared to accept that the Universe is billions of years old, others are unwilling to accept anything that portrays it as older than a few thousand, and so on, and so forth. It seems to me that people who are screaming about having a "theory of creation" taught in schools should at least be able to produce the theory! We're on pins and needles here .. what is it?

I would certainly hate to have the job of the person whose responsibility it would be to gather information about the creation myths of various religions. Scientologists, as you probably know, believe that human life on Earth was the result of alien intervention 75 million years ago. Is this the sort of education that you had in mind? Native American culture is filled with examples of creation stories, all of which would be excellent material for high school biology class. It would be a formidable chore indeed to consolidate all of the creation stories of every religion and culture known to man into one, single, Grand Unified Theory of Creation!

The reason that biological evolution and common descent is taught in schools across the world is because it is the only scientific theory for the biodiversity of life on Earth. There is no scientific "theory of creation", and in fact there cannot be one. I would revert to my previous suggestion: if you want your children taught a specific religious creation story, do it yourself. That pesky First Amendment prevents any one religion from hijacking public schools, using them as pulpets, and pronouncing themselves to be The Truth. (The notion that Christian children will reach high school biology class without ever having been told the Genesis story is preposterous, anyway.)

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

A quick note... (2.00 / 2) (#170)
by theboz on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 10:02:33 AM EST

You people keep talking about "the theory of creation." What, pray tell, is this theory? What observations is derived from and what predictions does it make? Is it internally consistent and falsifiable? More to the point, is the Earth six thousand years old, as some creationists say, or is it billions of years old? Do distant galaxies actually exist, or are they illusions? Did Mankind and dinosaurs co-exist, or are dinosaur fossils an elaborate fraud perpetrated by Communists and Hollywood leftists?

First, I know people like you enjoy flaming those they don't agree with, and give examples of some of the nutcases that claim the earth is only 6000 years old and such. I would say that the majority of creationists know as much about what they support as you do about evolution. As far as I am concerned, macro evolution has been proven as much as creation has. I'm not saying that evolution is not necessarily logical, but creation could be logical from another perspective as well. I don't think it's good to bash someone else's beliefs just because you don't like them, especially when you don't understand your own as well.

And, something I found out in a past life (not literally, but many years ago when I studied religion) is that in the greek text of Genesis, it says in the first or second verse that "the earth became without form and void" rather than "the earth was without form and void." From that, I'd say that it implies the Earth was around before humans, but something cataclysmic happened before humans arose on this planet. So with that in mind, it shows that the people that say the earth is 6,000 years old haven't been doing their homework either. I say live and let live. Those of you that ridicule and try to force your beliefs on christians and other religious groups are no better than skinheads trying to force everyone to believe that jews are inferior. Really, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. If you want to believe in macro evolution despite the lack of evidence, you shouldn't be hounded by christians, and you shouldn't bother them either.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

There is no such thing as "macroevolution.&qu (4.75 / 4) (#176)
by gbd on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 12:58:48 PM EST

"Microevolution" and "macroevolution" are purely artifical and undefined terms that have been invented by creationists who 1) have realized that they can no longer reasonably deny that biological evolution occurs but 2) cannot allow it to be the explanation for the Earth's biodiversity. The difference between what creationists call "macro" and "micro" can be summed up with one word: time. Biological evolution is change in the population of a gene pool over time. There are no separate processes for "macro" and "micro" evolution. If I stand at one end of my living room and take tiny steps, I will eventually arrive at the other end a couple of minutes later. The same idea applies if I start at Los Angeles and head in the direction of New York. I'll get there eventually, and I'll get there by the same process, but it'll just take a helluva lot longer.

On its face, the idea that "microevolution" happens and is allowed but "macroevolution" does not is absurd. It implies that nature has some sort of Gene Pool Review Board that independently checks every mutation for Scriptural purity. "All right, we'll allow this mutation," the Board says, "but this one might set this species off on a road that millions of years from now will result in a different creature that violates the Scriptural definition of 'kind'. Therefore it is disallowed." I know this is flippant, but it simply astounds me that so many people take this "macroevolution" idea seriously.

In closing, the teaching of biological evolution does not constitute "forcing opinion" on Christians or any other religionists. As I've said many times, biological evolution is the only scientific theory for the biodiversity of life on Earth. It is a process, and it is religion neutral. It says nothing whatsoever about the instigator of the process or the purpose behind it. That's not the job of science. The overwhelming majority of all Christians on this planet have no problems with biological evolution. The ones that do have problems with it, by and large, are doing their faith a grave disservice.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Wow... (2.00 / 2) (#184)
by RHnateDogg on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:22:47 PM EST

I can't say anything in reply to this other than: You really, really missed the point.

The fact of the matter is that I don't want people pressing the religion of evolution on me any more than I want them to press the religion of whathaveyou on me.

Yes, I said religion of evolution - if you saying that there is no theory of creation makes it so, then I reserve the right to assert that your belief in evolution is more similar to a religion than to anything that resembles science. Unfair? Probably.

And did you read my post, or did you simply read to the point where I said "creation" and then start frothing at the mouth? Are you, in fact, member of some militant group, or just a very good actor?

[ Parent ]
Make some history! (5.00 / 2) (#204)
by gbd on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:42:26 PM EST

I do not say "there is no scientific theory of creation" as a value judgement or as an attempt to falsify (or prove) it. I simply state it as a matter of fact. I do not wish to belabor this point, but for the sake of clarity: a scientific theory makes predictions based on observations, is falsifiable, and builds on itself in a logically and internally consistent manner. Creation myths do not do this. They say "(This) is what happened", where "(This)" varies between (and within!) individual religions. For this reason, it is by definition that creation myths are not scientific theories. It is also for this reason that they do not belong in science classes.

Now, you can change this if you like. You can make history and become the first creationist to actually explain what the Theory of Creation is. Say you're a high school biology teacher in front of a group of 11th grade biology students. What is it that you teach them? What are the course materials? What observations does the theory attempt to explain, and what predictions does it make? Be specific. This is science, after all, and specificity is espoused over vagueness.

Your portrayal of evolution as religion is, of course, your own opinion .. and you are welcome to it. You are likely to find disagreement from many, however .. not the least of which is the overwhelming majority of Christians who have no trouble accepting evolutionary common descent as the "how", not the "why" and "who." And I can assure you that I am neither frothing nor militant; I'm actually pretty harmless. :-)

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

What do you teach them... (3.00 / 1) (#214)
by RHnateDogg on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 12:57:18 AM EST

If you're a high school biology teacher, you teach the students the same thing that my teacher taught me - the facts.

I don't see what's so hard about this. You don't have to teach the facts in the context of a particular theory. Sure, you can state the theories, and state why they arrived at the various conclusions that they did. The problem comes when you have teachers like the ones that I had until that one class (I think it was 10th grade, actually), who say, basically, this:

"You all evolved from monkeys. Those monkeys evolved from some sort of dog. Those dogs evolved from some sort of fish. Those fish evolved from some sort of slime. Now let's look at some pretty fossils."

This is NOT a good thing. Yes, I agree with you. Scientific theories must satisfy a few simple requirements. They must be derived from some facts. They must be able to be proven reasonably false. I'm certainly not saying that we should teach things that are not even valid theories, I'm just saying that the facts should be presented as the facts, and maybe they suggest some things, depending on your bias and your assumptions. No class should be taught as a theory that is true that happens to have some facts lying around somewhere. As to the scientific theory of creation, I misspoke. You're right. In no way can I come up with something that will satisfy you as being a "scientific theory of creation". I choose to belive in creation because the RAW FACTS, in my interpretation, fail to support evolution in such a way that I feel is sufficient, and I think that creation requires alot less faith than evolution does to belive in. If Evolution works for you, go with it. This is not an Evolution vs Creation debate. I just want to see the facts taught.

That being said, I just have to bring up some more controversy...

First off, I do not make any statements about how creation happens, who did it, or anything else. That is something that has to be solved by faith - there's no way to argue that science can prove the existince of God... it can't.

There's a few observations that I've made that I just can't explain through evolution, and which I find nearly impossible to explain as anything other than intelligent design (And I'm not just going to rehash the teleological argument... this is science, not philosophy)

First of all, let's talk protein. I know that everyone likes to talk about how easy it is, given some goo and some electricity, for chemicals to get together and make amino acids, and, from there, for those amino acids to have a little bonding party and make some protein. Unfortunately, this has never, every been demonstrated in a laboratory. What has been shown is that any attempt to get said amino acids to hook up and have a little party results in the various acids competing with each other, and destroying any attempt on the part of the other acids to link up. Any time two acids connect, a third acid will come along and knock them out. So, how did life get started? No, I don't have a link to throw in here, and I don't feel like digging up a source. I'm just gonna state it like quite a few people do on the other side of things, and if you're really curious, do some digging around. I know that there's the "life in a test tube" experiment from way back when that everyone likes to discuss. They made some amino acids, which promptly destroyed themselves in an orgy of O-Chem violence. No life there.

It's the million monkeys example - Imagine that you put a million monkeys in a room, with a million typewriters. A million monkeys are going to destroy those million typewriters long before they turn out anything resembling shakespeare, the bible, or anything else.

Here's another thing that disturbs me - and I'm about to mangle the spelling, and, lo and behold, this word isn't in my spellchecker - archeoptryx. You know, that bird-lizard, that provides "proof" that birds evolved from reptiles (and dinosaurs). If this is proof of that, why are there fully developed birds in the fossil record way BEFORE the bird-lizard appears? Interesting.

One more thing that disturbs me on a more meta-scale is the way that the theory of evolution changes. Back in the 1970's, Gould came up with something called the "Hopeful Monster" theory. It's really quite rediculous, I think that it's latest reincarnation is the theory of "Punctuated Equilibrium". It's the worst bit of psuedo-science that I've ever heard.

Here's another thing that bothers me - I actually had a teacher tell us in a simple genetics section of a class that it must have taken millions of years for all the various races to evolve, and that that's why there was so much difference between the various strains of people. Racist connotations aside (no, I'm not trying to say that evolutionists are racists, this is merely an example, not to be taken that far out of context), but it's actually pretty easy to demonstrate, given what we know about genetics, that two people with the right genetic material, and assuming that they were willing to knock boots fairly frequently, would be able to produce the entire range of human diversity in a SINGLE GENERATION.

I'm not asking our kids to be indoctrinated with any religion. I'm not going to stand up here and defend a scientific theory of creation because, that's not the point, and I really can't. No matter what I say, there will always be someone saying "well, what evidence is there for X?" or "how does this prove that there is a God". I've looked at the facts and drawn one conclusion. Shouldn't everyone have a chance to do the same thing?

I think that this sums up the sort of thing that disgusts me about evolutionists in general better than anything that I could say:

`We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.'

Richard Lewontin, `Billions and billions of demons', The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31.

If you'd like to read a little bit more, www.answersingenesis.com has quite a bit of information... they do, obviously, have a very clear religous bias to what they're saying. But I put up with it for 15 years of school... I think that you'll find alot of your questions will be answered there, although probably not to your satisfaction.

I think we both want the same thing... we're just too afraid of each other to reach an agreement.



[ Parent ]
Birds before Archaaeopterix. (3.00 / 1) (#219)
by i on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:42:11 AM EST

Do you mean Chinese fossils or Protoavis? Both are highly dubious. Something else?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 1) (#231)
by RHnateDogg on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 08:28:02 AM EST

No more dubious than Archeo... archeo... why can't I spell the damned bird's name?

[ Parent ]
Pray tell me why. (3.00 / 1) (#238)
by i on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:45:34 AM EST

Evidence for Archaeopteryx exists. Evidence for those earlier birds, to put it bluntly, doesn't. Maybe you have some that escaped the scientific community so far?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Perhaps this will float your boat... (3.00 / 1) (#249)
by RHnateDogg on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:06:21 AM EST

Again, this was not meant to spark an evolution debate. I'm simply asking that everyone be given a chance to evaluate the facts. If you're going to expect a one-word comment to drive me to a huge response... your expectations are simply too high. I'm as lazy as the next guy.

But since you asked, here you go:

"Evolutionists sometimes claim that the fossil creature Archaeopteryx is the link between reptiles and birds.

In Eichstátt, Germany, in 1984 there was a major meeting of scientists who specialize in bird evolution, the International Archaeopteryx Conference. They disagreed on just about anything that was covered there on this creature, but there was very broad agreement on the belief that Archaeopteryx was a true bird. Only a tiny minority thought that it was actually one of the small, lightly built coelurosaurian dinosaurs [small lightly framed dinosaurs]."

Dr. David Menton
Published in Creation Ex Nihilo 16(4):16-19,
June-August 1994

So, there's one example of an early bird... I know, you wanted something from before Archaeopteryx, but I think that this should suffice.

There's another article that's way too long to post, and too complicated to quote, but if you'd like to read it, here it is:

http://trueorigin.org/birdevo.htm

Once again, like I keep saying, this is not a debate over whether evolution is right or creation is right. We will never, ever prove or disprove either one to anyone's satisfaction. The point is that people, especially young people, need to be shown the facts, without the biases present in magazines like Nature, National Geographic, (yes, I'll throw one of mine in here) or Creation ex Nihilo.

Whatever happened to a concern for the facts?



[ Parent ]
The conference, and trueorigin[s]. (none / 0) (#294)
by i on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 06:09:17 AM EST

I'm not near a major library, so I did a web search on "International Archaeopteryx Conference". The results? A lot of statements on creationists' web sites that "the conference declared that Archaeopteryx was a true bird" (right next to claims that it's feathers are forgery -- make up your mind please). No single supporting quotation from actual conference proceedings. I'll read them when I have the time -- 30 years from now, maybe :)

As for trueorigins paper... well, I'm not a paleontologist and not in a position to write a rebuttal, but I already see some opinions presented as if they were facts. Doesn't look very credible to me

.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
The burden of evidence (5.00 / 1) (#295)
by RHnateDogg on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:49:12 AM EST

And yet, I see similar things happen all the time, that are accepted by the evolution community. A new news story comes out a few times every year proclaiming that a "new missing link" has been found, with little or no evidence, and the evidence seems to evaporate under scrutiny. This is my last comment on this thread, because it is clear to me that you have no desire to discuss the first comment or the post.

This is supposed to be a discussion about what to teach in schools. It is not a debate over evolution. If you read that paper and decide that it's more biased than you care for, that's your business. I feel the same way about every textbook I've ever picked up.

Nathan D Acuff
--------------
'... I cannot avoid the conclusion that no inherent tendency to progressive development exists.'

-Charles Darwin

[ Parent ]
Birdosaurii and dear old obsolete Archie (none / 0) (#302)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:57:39 AM EST

I did a web search [...] The results? A lot of statements on creationists' web sites [...]
You evidently didn't look to hard. The first two references on Google were evolutionary sites, and the next was a Creationist site going into great detail to explain that Archie's fossils were almost certainly not forgeries!

The next site is also Creationist and explains that British Museum xrays showed that Archie fossils were indeed faked! It's interesting that two significant references in that article were to F Hoyle and N Wickramasinghe, famous for their book advocating a panspermian theory of origins... and another reference is to the British Museum later retracting their statement (but for reasons that don't add up) and refusing to allow further testing!

The conference itself won't be on a website because they can sell copies of the proceedings for far too much.

It's a pity that it makes no difference anyway, since feathers or not, Archie was structurally very similar to a hoatzin with teeth. You can go and see hoatzins flapping around in he South American jungles today if you like, but I can't guarantee any similarities in plumage... (-:

To further drive the point home, ``modern'' birds were subsequently found in much older strata (see: Nature 322:677, Science 253:35, Phliosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 332:277; go ahead, challenge those references!)
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Misunderstanding. (none / 0) (#325)
by i on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 03:03:57 AM EST

I didn't say there are no references to I.A.C on the Web, only that there are no references to the supposed consensus on that A. was a 100% true bird, except those found on Creationist web sites. I cannot imagine such consensus. A. exhibits way too many reptilian characteristics.

Uh-oh. Some creationists claim A. is a forgery, other creationists claim it is not. I don't know whom to believe. Evolutionists, perhaps?

So it is similar to a hoatzin, and it is a Compsognathus with added feathers at the same time. Weird, isn't it?

Ah, good old Protoavis. It is extremely controversial, to say the least.



and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
If you want to nitpick (none / 0) (#332)
by RHnateDogg on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 02:43:39 PM EST

Hey, some evolutionists claim that Punctuated Equilibrium is the way to go, others claim in slower, gradual development. Interesting, no?

[ Parent ]
not really (none / 0) (#339)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 05:31:54 AM EST

no
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Heads I win, tails (feathers?) you lose (none / 0) (#363)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:24:23 AM EST

So it is similar to a hoatzin, and it is a Compsognathus with added feathers at the same time.

It shouldn't actually matter to you.

There is some evidence that the feathers were added. The putative forger may have been accidentally doing the right thing: protoavis with feathers is practically indistinguishable from a modern Hoatzin. A featherless Hoatzin would be a totally useless animal from a survival POV.

This leaves us with two choices: either it was a Hoatzin, or close enough to make no difference - in which case it is a bird, or it is a Hoatzin but had no feathers - in which case there is still no mechanism for adding feathers, and still no dinosaur-wards ancestor (what survival value have featherless wings?).
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Facts (5.00 / 1) (#254)
by gbd on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 01:13:46 PM EST

First of all, if you had a teacher that seriously suggested that common descent teaches that man evolved from monkeys, who evolved from dogs, who evolved from fish, etc., then it's no wonder that your perception of evolutionary common descent is so skewed! I hope you were exaggerating; if not, such a teacher deserves to be fired. Nobody but the creationists claim that "man evolved from monkey" or "man evolved from ape", and nobody claims that "monkey evolved from dog!"

With regards to teaching facts, it must be said that biological evolution is indeed a fact. Recall that biological evolution is nothing more than change in the gene pool of a population over time. That is all it is. Even the most vociferous of creationists have been forced to admit that there is no question that this happens; genetic drift is a well-established and well-documented biological phenomenon. The theories that logically follow from the fact of biological evolution (natural selection and common descent) are typically what people are attacking when they refer to "evolution."

You suggest that we should teach the facts and be careful about exposing children to theories that are not proven. Using this as a guideline, we may as well teach children what mass and acceleration are, but withhold from them Newton's Second Law (force = mass times acceleration) since it is the prediction of a theory that has not been proven true .. and, in fact, has been demonstrated to be false by our friend Albert Einstein! This, of course, is nonsense; Newton's Second "Law" is taught to schoolchildren despite its incorrectness (in the grand scheme of things) because it accurately models our local environment and is far easier to work with than relativistic equations (I cannot fathom teaching eighth-graders about Lorentz transformations.)

In a previous post, I claimed that it is not possible to "prove" a natural science theory such as evolutionary common descent or Newtonian mechanics. Therefore "proof" cannot be the standard that decides what children are taught and what they are not. The standard ought to be that a theory is worth propogating if there exists sufficient evidence such that it would be scientifically, ethically, and morally repugnant to withhold instruction. Evolutionary common descent and Newtonian mechanics fall under this category. Now, this does not mean that mankind understands everything there is to understand about common descent! There are holes in our understanding of it, any anybody who claims otherwise is a baldfaced liar. That doesn't mean that we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, however.

Finally, with regard to your "disgust" about how scientific theories change, well .. I don't know what to say here other than that's how science works. Maybe the creationist misunderstanding of this is because their frame of reference involves a story that absolutely is not allowed to change for any reason whatsoever. That's not the way that science works. Newtonian mechanics was used to describe the interactions in the Universe until it was discovered that there were small variations in the orbit of Mercury that Newton's "laws" failed to predict. When it was demonstrated that General Relativity's predictions were in accordance with observations, we came to the realization that Sir Isaac was wrong (at least, on a universal scale.) And so the theory changed (at least, on a universal scale.)

So there is plenty of room for fine-tuning the theory of evolutionary common descent. But its basic principles are sound. If it was fundamentally flawed, we would be seeing world-wide dissent from countless disciplines; botanists, zoologists, paleontologists, biologists, etc. would be coming out of the woodwork in opposition to it. Instead, what we see are a vocal minority, largely consisting of religious fundamentalists from the United States South. Do you ever wonder why that is?

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Re: Facts (3.00 / 1) (#268)
by RHnateDogg on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:34:32 PM EST

Well, this is certainly getting interesting.

First of all, yes, I was exaggerating, attempting to say that the theory of common descent was taught in a vacuum of any supporting evidence, rather than give a concrete example of the specifics that I was taught. And that teacher should be fired.

You're right, biological evolution and genetic drift are both established as theories as near to fact as any natural law that comes to mind. None of this is in dispute in any way. You use the example of Newton's second "law". Newton's second law is, for all practical purposes to elementary school kids, true. My difficulty with this is that Newton's second law is very near the truth - it is a very good approximation for the actual way that things behave under most of the conditions that children (or anyone, for that matter), will be encountering.

So, yes, it is near fact, much in the same way that genetic drift is near enough fact that it can be taught as a "law". I certianly have no problems with this.

About common descent - I would contend that there are enough holes in the theory of common descent (or "macroevolution", for those who prefer) to justify it NOT being taught as law. It can be taught, and I would say SHOULD be taught, but as a theory, and it should not be put in place of the facts - a solid education about the theory of common descent should, at the very least, attempt to expose some of the problems with it. Currently, no public cirriculum that I'm aware of attempts to do this (but it has been a year or two since I was immersed in such a cirriculum).

<snip>
Finally, with regard to your "disgust" about how scientific theories change, well .. I don't know what to say here other than that's how science works.
</snip>

First of all, "disgust" is YOUR word in this case, not mine. I said "disturbs" in this context. I said disgust in context of a particular quote, and what disgusts me is the attitude that the theory of common descent must be preserved in spite of all contradictions, in spite of all facts, that it must continue to exists just because it IS.

And my point here is not that I'm not disturbed with the fact that scientific theories change. I think that it's very good that theories change over time. (Obviously) anything that wishes to qualify as science must include some mechanism for changing as new facts come to light.

What I take issue with is the WAY that the theory of common descent has changed. When some new piece of evidence becomes apparent, or some crucial lack of evidence is brought to light, the theory is changed just enough to fit the facts, in SPITE of what the evidence says. Whatever must be done to preserve the essentials of the theory of common descent, is done. This is not science.

As to your saying that the creationist cannot allow for change in his method... I suppose I can't argue with that. Religious creation (and I can certainly not concieve of another kind of creation existing) is not very subject to change. The full story of creation is not scientific in any way shape or form. There is evidence out there that supports creation in a scientific manner, but you are right in saying that the full-blown theory of creation is not subject to change.

That being said, I think that something that I said earlier needs to be revisited. I said that I became a creationist before I became a christian. This would seem to conflict with my above statement, but let me elaborate. I believed in the theory of common descent for a long time (Because I was told I had to), but when I began researching it a little bit, I exposed a few loopholes. My stepfather (a devoted evolutionist, athiest, and all around anti-religious zealot) encouraged me to research the matter further - what I found suprised me. I found enough holes to convince me that the modern world could not have arisen as evolution suggests. I came to understand that believing in common descent requires no small amount of faith. I decided that there had to be a designer behind the world... and the search for that designer lasted quite some time, and, in a way, is still ongoing.

I don't know if that last paragraph is pertinent at all to the discussion, but I wanted you to have an idea of where I'm coming from.

[ Parent ]
I don't have any major issues with this, but .. (none / 0) (#281)
by gbd on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:16:02 PM EST

.. I must take issue with your apparent implication with regards to the Lewontin quote. If I were to take a quote from the Reverend Fred Phelps and say "See how hate-filled these Christians are?", you would think me dreadfully unfair (and you would be right.) But this is exactly what you are doing to scientists when you say that the quote digusts you about "evolutionists in general."

As I've said, the majority of all people who "believe" in evolutionary common descent have no problem letting a "Divine Foot" in the door, because a majority of them are religious! Those of them (such as myself) who are not religious do not operate under the assumption that a Divine Foot is not allowed .. we operate under the assumption that it is not required. If this venerable Divine Foot were to present clear evidence of itself, you might be surprised; I would have no problem "allowing" it into my body of knowledge. Until then, however, I can see no defensible reason to stop searching for answers to mankind's questions simply because somebody else claims to have the answers.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Why can't we all just get along? (3.00 / 4) (#141)
by bigbigbison on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:04:28 PM EST

I've always had a hard time understanding why evolution should be at odds with creationism. Unless you read the story of Genesis literaly, there is no reason why you can't beleive the in the Bible creation story AND evolution. After all, science is only trying to describe what happened and how it happened. There is nothing to say that, if you beleive in a creator, that the creator could not be the force that set the ball in motion.
When I was in high school, my science teacher compared the big bang theory and the theory of evolution to the Genesis creation story and there are many similarities. So if you just look at the Genesis story as metaphorical then we have no problem, do we?

Disturbing lack of logic (4.50 / 8) (#145)
by Delirium on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 11:55:54 PM EST

That exchange between the ACLU representative and Rep. Denny Altes is quite disturbing. Apart from his response being a non sequitur attacking evolution rather than responding to the question about church/state separation, it doesn't even make any sense.

I'm assuming Rep. Altes's position is that evolution is incorrect, and hence should not be taught. However, his argument about kids acting like monkeys if they're taught that they're descended from monkeys is not an argument either against evolution or for creationism at all. It's merely an argument that attempts to show a negative effect of teaching evolution, whether or not it is correct. Unless Rep. Altes's position is that evolution should not be taught even if it's correct due to possible negative societal effects that teaching might have, his argument makes no logical sense. (And it seems very unlikely that his position really is opposition to teaching evolution even if it's true, though then he'd at least be logically coherent, only a bit fascist instead).

Falsifiability and Science (4.83 / 6) (#147)
by TuxNugget on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 12:48:26 AM EST

Science, in definining itself, evaluates theories both on their utility and whether they can be proven false.

Newton's mechanics, F=ma, etc., is false -- it does not predict what has been observed in accelerators as particles approach the speed of light and it does not predict quantum mechanical phenomenon -- yet we still use it because it is sufficiently accurate at low speeds, and with "big" everyday objects. It is the basis of most modern civil engineering.

Newton's mechanics is a scientific theory because it can -- conceptually - be proven false. We can know the limits of applicability to the theory by looking at special cases, such as experiments, field data, etc. We know it doesn't apply in the cases that later were explained by relativity or quantum mechanics. It is possible that more exceptions may be found in the future, either to simple mechanics or to these more sophisticated theories.

The belief in a god or gods is a matter of faith. Although it would be cool if there were a prayer or words that would cause lighting to strike, these gods do not perform parlor tricks on demand. This makes experiment pretty much impossible. Believers in various religions often profess that keeping faith, even at long odds, is rewarded. Blessed are they that never see, and yet still believe, etc.

In contrast, science has a different attitude towards blind faith and suggests that as the odds become long, the community must consider that the old theories do not work and evaluate new theories. Although some scientists may react in a religious way, clinging to their favorite theories and refusing to accept falsifying evidence, so far the community of science has done a pretty good job of evaluating theories.

And Natural Selection is a tautology. (1.00 / 3) (#169)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:51:29 AM EST

Yes, that's right. And its most prominent proponents agree, even though they make an effort not to emphasize it too much. Read Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, the bit where he discusses what Natural Selection is, and its being a specific instance of the predominance of stable forms. Read the humongous thread further down for elaboration.

Newton's mechanics is a scientific theory because it can -- conceptually - be proven false.

Nope, that's not true. Any real-world observations involve error. The tool scientists use to deal with error is statistics, which is deeply tied in with probability. Probabilistic statements are unfalsifiable (no sample size can falsify a statement like "the probability of X is .4377"). Thus, science as it is actually practiced is unfalsifiable. Only in the fantasy world where observations are an exact match to reality are scientific theories falsifiable.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: And Natural Selection is a tautology. (3.50 / 2) (#256)
by aonifer on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 01:53:54 PM EST

I won't go into your fundamental lack of understanding of the nature and purpose of science, or how statistics can be used to falsify a theory, or even why evolution is not a tautology. I will point out that a bunch of armchair biologists discussing their opinions on evolution is no more an idictment of evolution than those same people playing armchair lawyer and discussing the DMCA is an indictment of the DMCA.

[ Parent ]
Stop spouting dogma. (1.50 / 2) (#262)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:40:53 PM EST

I won't go into your fundamental lack of understanding of the nature and purpose of science, or how statistics can be used to falsify a theory, or even why evolution is not a tautology.

My, those were some loaded existential presuppositions.

So, pray tell, how can statistics falsify any statements at all, apart from absolute ones (100%/0% statements)?

I'll save you the trouble. Statistics can't prove any statements at all, and can only falsify statements about absolute probabilities, simply because no matter what your sample size, you can only fail to support hypotheses with a given sample.

As for the tautological status of natural selection, I've already discussed that in answer to the very same site you link, and have even found some agreement from people in the biological sciences.

Why is it that nobody has been able to provide an answer any better than to point to the same doctrinaire and utterly mistaken FAQ?

I will point out that a bunch of armchair biologists discussing their opinions on evolution is no more an idictment of evolution than those same people playing armchair lawyer and discussing the DMCA is an indictment of the DMCA.

I'm not an "armchair biologist". I'm somebody who has studied logic and philosophy of science at a graduate level (though I'm not a philosopher), and applying that knowledge to the issue.

--em
[ Parent ]

What your missing (4.00 / 1) (#338)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 05:17:39 AM EST

Is that you can prove something within a margin of error. If someone can prove that x is 100 - 4.6*10^-4000, then that's good enough for me. 1/100% consepts are completly useless in the real world
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
not, not quite. (none / 0) (#346)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 02:53:54 PM EST

[...] you can prove something within a margin of error. If someone can prove that x is 100 - 4.6*10^-4000, then that's good enough for me. 1/100% consepts are completly useless in the real world

Proof is proof, and that does not count a proof. Period.

The problem is simple-- by and large, people are defending science with a Popperian model which is completely inadequate. Scientists never falsify a theory-- they fail to find statistical support for it, or even better, find support for another conflicting theory. But going with "falsification" is as much of a mistake as going with "proof".

--em
[ Parent ]

How about reading Einstein on this (3.83 / 12) (#150)
by mami on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:35:44 AM EST

Science and religion are intertwined.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
--- (1940, From "Science, Philosophy, and Religion" a contribution to a symposium held in New York in 1940)

The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events... He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible for the motions it undergoes....A man's ethical behavior should be based effectively on sympathy, education, and social relationships; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
--- (From "Religion and Science", in the New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930)

Everything is determined...by forces over which we have no control. It is dertermined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust- we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.
--- (1929, Oct. 26th, In the Saturday Evening Post)

Scientific research, through the fostering of causative thinking and evaluation, can repudiate superstition. For sure, a conviction in the reasonableness and comprehensibility of the world, in kinship with religious feelings, is at the basis of all the most elegant scientific work.
--- (in answer to the question, Can scientific discovery enhance religious belief and repudiate superstition, since religious feelings can give impetus to scientific discovery ?)

In every true searcher of Nature there is a kind of religious reverence, for he finds it impossible to imagine that he is the first to have thought out the exceedingly delicate threads that connect his perception.
--- (1920, In Moszkowski, Conversations with Einstein)

I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details.
--- (1920, Salaman, A Talk with Einstein)

I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me that can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as science can reveal it.
--- (1954, quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side)



Appeal to authority; invalid logic reigns supreme. (none / 0) (#343)
by core on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:33:54 AM EST

Your argument is of the form: 1) Einstein was a brilliant scientist (i.e. an "authority" all science-folks should believe without question) 2) Einstein believed in god (well, this is perhaps a weak premise since all you offer are quotes _about_ god, not about Einstein's beliefs) 3) Therefore, you science types should believe in god and "be like Einstein" You may even throw in, "How can you believe the other things that Einstein says but not that god exists" Regardless, your argument is based on flawed logic and is therefore not worth the bits it is stored and displayed with. This is an "appeal to authority" fallacy. Just because Einstein believes X, does not make X true. Additionally, Einstein is revered for his _scientific_ works which are _observable_ and _based on FACTS and EVIDENCE_. Just because the theories he came up with are sound does not mean that we _have_ to or _should_ take everything else he says as gospel truth (pardon the pun). This is not a rational argument. -core

[ Parent ]
Shortsighted. (3.25 / 4) (#155)
by fink on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 02:09:51 AM EST

Okay. First of all, IANA. Second of all, this is intended as comment, not flamebait or troll. Third, I am non-religious, insofar as I don't follow any religion at all (but I have been known to observe a few for academic purposes). Thought I'd better make that clear. :)

The idea of a blanket "ban" of the teaching of evolution from the classroom is as shortsighted as blanket-banning the study of religion from the classroom - maybe even more shortsighted in today's day and age. A smarter option, IMHO, would be to make both optional; those who don't want to learn about religion should be able to opt out, and likewise, those who don't want to be exposed to evolution should be able to opt out.

In Queensland, primary and secondary (public school) schoolkids are required to take religious studies - one hour per week of religion. All religions are catered for by the respective local place-of-worship. Schools are required (at least when I went through) to offer a "study class" - for those who don't want to attend.
Likewise, schools in Queensland offer Biology (which has at least 1 semester out of four on the theories of evolution, both past and present) as an elective subject for senior students. Students who do not want to learn about evolution, are invited to not take the subject. It's almost right, in my opinion, maybe could be improved by offering biology-without-evolution to those who want it.

My answer to the policy makers is: "get your act together". Neither evolution nor religion is the "right" answer for everyone - and to make it so is taking us back to the dark ages.
What next? The Inquisition making a comeback?


----

Not trying to flame you but ... (4.60 / 5) (#158)
by dvNull on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:00:02 AM EST

>>A smarter option, IMHO, would be to make both optional; those who don't want to learn about religion should be able to opt out, and likewise, those who don't want to be exposed to evolution should be able to opt out. <<

I think that it be better that evolution, a scientific theory be taught in schools, but creationism can be taught if desired at home or Sunday school or something. The moment we get into creationism, then we are being taught the 'good christian wa'. Sorry, but quite a few of us arent christian nor do we wish to be ;)

Now do we have the resources to teach about all creationism theories from all religeons? No .. so just teach the scientific stuff in school and the religeous stuff somewhere else.




If you can see this, then the .sig fell off.
[ Parent ]
Re: Not trying to flame you but ... (4.00 / 2) (#160)
by fink on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:47:08 AM EST

I wholeheartedly agree with you. In my opinion (which I was desparately trying to suppress), creationism is not based in scientific method, and as such does not "deserve" the same treatment as true scientific reason.
Hey, noone said that people had to believe everything that any scientist says... which is the start of an argument I've used before in such a situation with respect to evolution vs. creation.

However, I've been through a public school in a very conservative (one would say, backward) area of Far North Queensland. It's about 40 years behind the rest of Queensland - which says it all, really.

I'm used to religious zealots, and I'm (now) used to scientific zealots (I am one, in some cases ~grin~). Basically, I was trying to be the middle ground - if they want creationism, then fine, as long as it's taught as no more than a competing theory to evolution. I just didn't do a very good job.

Otherwise, home and church are the right places to be forcing religion down like "bad" medicine.

Cheers,
  Iain


----
[ Parent ]

This is the subject line. (4.33 / 3) (#220)
by kitten on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:48:15 AM EST

IMHO, would be to make both optional; those who don't want to learn about religion should be able to opt out, and likewise, those who don't want to be exposed to evolution should be able to opt out.

Quite frankly, I didn't want to learn about algebra in high school. Didn't stop them from forcing it down my throat long enough for me to pass the tests. After that I was permitted to forget about it forever.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
VCE (4.75 / 4) (#229)
by Robert Gormley on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 07:29:10 AM EST

Victorian Certificate of Education level Biology also teaches evolution. Knowing that some of the students in my class were religious, our teacher said the following:

"I'm going to teach you about evolution. I'm not asking you to believe it, but I'm asking you to learn about it."

[ Parent ]

Nobody expects... (4.66 / 3) (#240)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:51:55 AM EST

What next? The Inquisition making a comeback?
Uh, ``never was a truer word spoken in jest.''
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
The facts. (3.50 / 14) (#159)
by lazerus on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:58:57 AM EST

Both sides are wrong. I will present the facts below.

When the world was young, there were three intelligent species: Humans, Elves and Dwarves. They lived in peace and harmony and there were only minor squabbles between them, magic, spirituality and physical laws were at peace with one another.

However, the lifespans of the three races varied. Humans only lived to around 70 or 80 in most cases, whereas Dwarves lived to around 500 and Elves to around 1000. The humans therefore, had more drive to "prove" themselves - to create things that would outlive them and make sure that the memory of the person who invented them would live on.

Therefore, when the new religion "Science" swept the land, humans were the most taken with it. They believed that it would eventually lead to their immortality. So humans started concentrating on physical laws and dismissing spiritual and magical laws.

The Elves, a peace-loving race who refused to stop believing in magic, were persecuted, killed and otherwise driven from the land. Dwarves, who were good at things mechanical, offered to work with the Humans. But the Humans didn't want partners, they wanted slaves - but the Dwarves refused to be slaves to the Humans - so they were also persecuted, killed and otherwise driven from the land.

After a while the Humans forgot about these other races, and the balance between magic, spirituality and physical laws has been disrupted. It's due to this that all bad things are happening in the world today. This imbalance has a negative effect on the karma and mana of the world.

And if you thought THAT was funny, you should check out the Creationists' Theories! :-)



ah-ha!!! (3.00 / 2) (#208)
by ODiV on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 10:02:26 PM EST

"But the Humans didn't want partners, they wanted slaves - but the Dwarves refused to be slaves to the Humans - so they were also persecuted, killed and otherwise driven from the land."

This sentence, as such, is grammatically incorrect therefore your whole argument is wrong. Ha!


--
[ odiv.net ]
[ Parent ]
The facts. (2.50 / 2) (#270)
by Haglund on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:42:17 PM EST

That was a good one... really :)

[ Parent ]
Evolutionary Fairytales (none / 0) (#372)
by Goldhammer on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 06:43:26 AM EST

And if you thought THAT was funny, you should check out the Creationists' Theories! :-)

Why? Darwinian fantasies can be just as funny. Even more so in some cases:

"In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale."[On the Origin of Species (1859), original edition, 184.]



[ Parent ]

Evolution or Creaton (3.50 / 2) (#163)
by Wouter Coene on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:10:36 AM EST

So where does the Creation Theory exclude the possibility of the Evolution Theory? Or, in other words, who are we mere humans to say how the christian god created life? It might as well be trough evolution.

Not that I'm actually religions, but as far as I'm concerned, there's no definitive proof that there is no god, nor that life on this planet wasn't started by some godly and/or supernatural action.

7 days (3.00 / 1) (#186)
by chill633 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:38:22 PM EST

Read Genesis again. 7 days is a bit short for the evolutionary process -- and that was the entire universe. Plants, animals and humans only took a day or so -- all few million species of them.

[ Parent ]
Re: 7 days (3.00 / 1) (#210)
by thomas on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 10:39:42 PM EST

First of all I'd like to say that I'm agnostic... I don't know whether or not there is a supreme being, however I firmly believe that if there is, then He/She/It will be nothing like "He" is described by christianity. I tend more to believing in evolution, and away from creation.

However, i would like to point out that your "7 days" idea doesn't hold much water... as many of my Christian friends have pointed out to me when i've gotten into arguments with them, these "days" don't necessarily have to mean a day as we perceive it (ie, 24 hours). "day" could mean just an arbitrary block of time.

For that matter, who's to say that each "day" must be the same length? The first "day" might have been a billion years... the second might have been two hundred thousand...

It could just be a mistranslation in the bible... it wouldn't be the first.

War never determines who is right; only who is left.
[ Parent ]

Days is a mistranslation (3.50 / 2) (#223)
by Anonymous 6522 on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:07:36 AM EST

I don't remember where I heard this, and my memory is not infallible, but IIRC in the Hebrew word that was translated into "days" in most Bibles would be more correctly translated into "Periods of time."

I repeat, my half asleep mind may not be remembering this correctly.

[ Parent ]

``The evening was, and the morning was: day N'' (4.50 / 2) (#239)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:47:55 AM EST

IIRC in the Hebrew word that was translated into "days" in most Bibles would be more correctly translated into "Periods of time."
The word is yom and the only time it doesn't mean day is when it's used in obvious forms like ``in the days of King David.''

However, ``day'' is the correct translation here. At the end of each period so described, a phrase appears, which is transliterated ``The evening was, and the morning was: day [1-6].'' How would you translate that? (-:

The New Testament (ie in Koine Greek or Aramaic) uses hemera (day) when referring to these events (e.g. in Hebrews 4:4).
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

The whole story is odd... (3.00 / 1) (#261)
by chill633 on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:36:29 PM EST

Actaully, according to the KJV God created Light & Darkness (calling one "day" and the other "night") on "day" one (evening & morning).

All this was before he created the sun & moon (day 4), so it implies that "days" has absolutely nothing to do with Earth time.

Besides, all the plants were created BEFORE the sun (day 3) -- sort of in cold storage.

* * *

Just remember that the entire Bible is written in terms of what was known 2,000+ years ago -- many abstract concepts were well beyond the authors. Plantlife (photosynthesis) without the sun (the "photo" part) made perfect sense.

[ Parent ]
wait a minute there... (4.33 / 3) (#205)
by lucid on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 09:35:02 PM EST

You can try to shoehorn scientific theories into the things not said by religious texts, but why bother? Generally, you'll have to break things to get both to fit. One of the interesting things about the Bible is that there are two creation stories present which contradict each other. Some Bible versions (that I have seen) cover up the second one in such a way that you don't really notice it, but mine actually designates it as 'The First Creation Story' and 'The Second Creation Story.'

The first one is the familiar one with God creating everything in days. Light, darkness, the earth, and the universe in the first day, etc. In this story, plants and animals come before Man. However, the second one, apparently older than the first, has the earth as essentially a big, dry, lifeless ball of dirt. A spring breaks the ground, and water pours out. God breathes life into some of the wet clay and forms Man. This is a problem. Assume Genesis is an unimpeachable, reliable text. If God makes man on the sixth day of one story, after creating birds, cattle, dinosaurs and cockroaches, and whatall else, and after the fourth day of making plants and other fauna, why does this second story have man formed on a ball of dirt, out of clay, on a lifeless ball of mud? You can't have plants there and not have plants there. The creation stories exclude each other.

Creationism isn't a theory. It has one piece of 'evidence' which, as I just showed you, is self-contradicting. Its' proponents don't do research because the story itself defeats any purpose to research. Someone asks "How did I get here," and the Creationist answers "God did it." Ask about animals, and God did that too, and plants also, and everything else. The purpose of studying what we see around us is to discover the principles that make the universe 'go.' To a Creationist, however, there aren't any such principles, only Divine Whim. God created pigs and cows and chickens and Komodo Dragons, but only because He felt like it. Rules only apply on Sunday when God is sleeping, and there's no point in studying someone else's Divine Fancy.

The other thing I thought was funny about your post is "there's no definitive proof that there is no god." Really, proving a negative without qualification is such a bitch that I wouldn't bother trying. In fact, it is impossible. There's no definitive proof that the air on some planet turns into Welch's Sparkling Grape Soda at high noon. Maybe not, all we can say is that it doesn't happen here. There is proof that it doesn't happen here. You should try to prove there is a God. That is an example of a positive proof. Look for signs of a God. Find out what the characteristics and properties of a God would be. Hike through the woods looking for Godly footprints, or perhaps, if applicable, Godly scat. There's a question for you. Does a god shit in the woods? I bet it doesn't make a sound, what with no one being around to hear it.

Anyhow, I hope I set you to rights on that.

[ Parent ]
Two Stories (3.00 / 1) (#209)
by Kyobu on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 10:17:07 PM EST

Can you provide a Biblical citation (book, chapter & verse) for the second creation story? I'd be interested to see it (I'm not religious, but I've never heard of this and it seems interesting).

[ Parent ]
ok.. (4.66 / 3) (#212)
by lucid on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 11:36:59 PM EST

Genesis 2:4 would be the second story.
Genesis 1:1 would be the first story.

[ Parent ]
Can't Find It (1.25 / 4) (#171)
by the Epopt on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 10:40:39 AM EST

Could someone please tell me precisely where the Constitution mandates a "separation of church and state"? I can't find it.
--  
Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.

K5_Arguing_HOWTO
Re: Can't Find It (4.66 / 3) (#174)
by Malicose on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 11:20:48 AM EST

I'm not sure if this was intended as a sarcastic remark or not, but I'll bite. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ." is the only constitutional (Amendment I) basis of this mantra.

I believe the actual phrase "separation of church and state" comes from a Thomas Jefferson quote mentioning the intended "wall of separation between Church and State." The major debate now--as always--is concerning how "high" this wall should be.

[ Parent ]

Separation of Church and State (4.50 / 2) (#185)
by chill633 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:28:45 PM EST

This is a "policy" and not stated as such in the Constitution. The First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The Supreme Court (and many others) has been interpreting this to be a "separation" between the church and the state. The argument is that by a gov't entity (such as a public school) giving preference to one religion/religious doctrine over antoher they are in effect endorsing that religion and thus establishing a state sponsored religion. This viewpoint has been supported by numerous court rulings.

[ Parent ]
Just banning one religion in favor of another. (3.14 / 7) (#177)
by shimatta1 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 01:36:30 PM EST

What has always annoyed me about the Creationism vs. Evolution debate is that both sides are treated as fact when both sides have to be taken on faith.

Okay, Creationism needs to be taken with a larger grain of salt. The evidence for it is that a book that claims to be written by a guy claiming to write for God says so. The method (spontaneous generation of something out of nothing), regrettably, leaves little physical evidence to confirm or deny such a happening.

Evolution, on the other hand, still has to be taken with a grain of salt, albeit a smaller one. The evidence supporting the theory is that there "should be" a large number of missing links, a consistant geological column from oldest at the bottom to youngest at the top, and many other pieces of evidence. The missing links, alas, are still missing, and, I've read, the geological column is notorious for being more disorganized than...than...er...well, many things very disorganized. Also, when the Theory of Evolution was originally proposed, scientific integrity was more-or-less lacking. The history of evolutionary evidence is littered (in its beginning) with numerous hoaxes and mistakes, because people said "this theory ought to be correct," and then perverted the evidence to fit the theory. During the early days of chemical dating (hey there Miss Carbon, care to take in a movie with me?), the estimated time for life to evolve was much shorter than it was now, and the chemical dating evidence "supported" that belief. Now, scientists "know" that it took much longer to evolve, and, it's funny, but those same chemical dating techniques now provide dates in line with the new timeline instead of the old.

Evolutionary science, I feel, should perform a purge on its old evidence and test it again. Given the flawed beginnings of the science, I think that they really need to re-examine everything that the science is based off of, to ensure that further discoveries are not misperceived because one forgotten con-man was successful.

I favor teaching evolution in school; however, I feel that it needs to be presented as a theory, not fact. There's a number of issues with the current theory that must be dealt with before it can truly be accepted as fact, and even then, it could be wrong. There may be another theory put forward by some creative genius, and that theory may provide a better interpretation of all evidence that we currently have. The odds of that happening, however, are reduced when something is taught as though it "must be true". Like Creationism...or Evolution.

Likewise, I feel Creationism should be taught in schools, but under Social Studies. I think all major religions (especially Quakerism and Discordianism ^_~ ) should be taught about in schools. They just shouldn't be taught _as_fact_. If we are ever to understand one another, we need to realize that some people believe any number of things, good, bad, or irrational. I think that a teacher should be allowed to say "Christianity is one of the prevalent religions in the world. It is based on the belief that wrongdoing (sins) are punished by a supreme overbeing (God), but by faith and contrition, that punishment can be avoided." If some parent doesn't like that, well tough tater tots to them. If some church doesn't like that interpretation, tough tater tots to them too; they can go after the parents and try to get them to drag the kids into church for indoctrination.

Personally, I'm half Quaker, half Discordian, and half Pagan (I'm very large), so I have a hard time crediting any one religion with _all_ the answers. Science, at least, (usually) admits that it doesn't know everything.

I was reading last night that current cloning techniques introduce random genetic errors that cause severe health problems (and usually fatalities) in cloned animals. Now, evolution would have us believe that random genetic errors like these are responsible for all varieties of life that ever appeared; despite that, none of these mutants have jumped the species barrier, much less genus, family, order, class, phylum, or kingdom barriers. This would suggest that if evolution has occurred, then it would have required deliberate manipulations by someone with a great deal of know-how.

So, maybe our mysterious manipulator is an enigmatic, undefinable overbeing known as "God", or maybe its just Bob Ixfmmlford of the Intergalactic Kosher Deli over in the Saggitarius Arm who likes to go muck with primitive species on weekends. We have a means of evolution that doesn't contradict the laws of thermodynamics. We have an external entity that more or less matches the description of God. It solves a great many issues that confront both evolution and creation. So. There's a theory that fits the facts _and_ could potentially satisfy both Creationists and Evolutionists. Who's to say I'm wrong?

Basically, I'm of the opinion that, until somebody produces a live, unimpeachable witness that can tell us what actually happened, it doesn't make a difference to one way or another _what_ I believe. If anything happens in my lifetime, it won't be evolution, it'll be mutation. ("Timmy! How many times have I told you not to sprout tentacles on the couch!")

Oh, as for separation of Church and State, I think we should quit teaching atheism as fact in schools.

I'm going back to being sick now.

^_^

x_x

Jon "Shimatta" Baxter, waitin' for lunch.

Evolution "theory" and the missing link (5.00 / 4) (#191)
by skazzel on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 06:11:42 PM EST

First of all, evolution is an established fact (as much as anything can ever truly be proven). We know animals do evolve and physically adapt to their environment. In fact, evolution is not the least bit surprising - animals who are better suited to their environments reproduce more than those who are not. Genetic aberrations (mutations) which turn out to be positive in the given environment are passed on. Negative mutations are quickly removed from the gene pool. We're getting close to natural selection here, so...

The theory part is natural selection - did all biological organisims evolve from common ancestors (the good old "did we evolve from monkeys" thing). This is a theory, though there is quite a bit of evidence to support it, including several fossilized pre-humans that show traits of both primates and humans (so-called missing links - hello lucy!). Many people claim that natural selection must be false since there are so many "missing links". The problem with this is three-fold. First of all, we *have* found several fossils which represent evolutionary steps between species. We also must consider that fossilization (and the preservation of those fossils over millions of years) is a relatively rare event and thus it is not the least bit surprising that we have not found fossil evidence of each tiny evolutionary step. Finally, no matter how many fossils you find, people can always say "well what about the evolutionary steps between those two? It's a missing link!".

You can't teach religion in schools (as a social studies / religious studies class as you suggested) because religous people won't let you! When people say they think religion should be taught in public schools, what they really mean is they think *their* religion should be taught in schools. Futhermore, religious people often don't want their children exposed to other religions in the first place (many devout christians (I hesitate to use the term "born-again") believe other religions to be somehow related to evil, or satan).

Before anyone flames me, let me make my personal feelings clear. Do I think religion should be taught in schools? Absolutely - all students should have to take mandatory religion classes covering all major religions (buddhism, christianity, judaism (which isn't "major" in terms of the number of practitioners, but since christianity is derived from it, it's necessary for a full understanding of religious history), hinduism, paganism, etc). These classes should also teach kids how to be respectful of the diverse belief systems practiced on this planet. Do I think evolution and natural selection should be taught in schools? Definately, evolution is clearly true, and there is good evidence supporting natural selection. The facts should be taught, not the conclusions.

Now, as for your comments:

What has always annoyed me about the Creationism vs. Evolution debate is that both sides are treated as fact when both sides have to be taken on faith.
There is evidence supporting evolution. There is none supporting creationism. You will never hear a scientist defending his conclusions say "well, you just have to have faith!".

The history of evolutionary evidence is littered (in its beginning) with numerous hoaxes and mistakes, because people said "this theory ought to be correct," and then perverted the evidence to fit the theory.
Hmm...well, that sounds nice, but without any references it's hard to tell if you're just making this up. There have been hoaxes reguarding the finding of pre-human fossils, but this is not evidence for the falsehood of evolution.

During the early days of chemical dating (hey there Miss Carbon, care to take in a movie with me?), the estimated time for life to evolve was much shorter than it was now, and the chemical dating evidence "supported" that belief. Now, scientists "know" that it took much longer to evolve, and, it's funny, but those same chemical dating techniques now provide dates in line with the new timeline instead of the old.
Again, this sounds nice, but these are pretty big claims to make without any references or evidence. Besides, I don't see what carbon dating has to do with "the estimated time for life to evolve". Carbon dating tells you how long something has been dead, not how long it took to evolve. Also, carbon dating has gotten *much* more accurate, so possibly that accounts for your claimed discrepancy?

Evolutionary science, I feel, should perform a purge on its old evidence and test it again. Given the flawed beginnings of the science, I think that they really need to re-examine everything that the science is based off of, to ensure that further discoveries are not misperceived because one forgotten con-man was successful.
Mathematical science, I feel should perform a purge on it's old evidence and test again. After all, we must ensure that future calculations are not incorrect because one past mathematician made a mistake in his calculations. I mean, come on man :) The faked fossil evidence (which only occured twice afaik) was never believed by scientists. The media, yes - scientists, no. As for all of this flawed beginnings stuff - you have not even presented any claims, much less evidence for it.

Likewise, I feel Creationism should be taught in schools...
Well, I think religion should be taught in schools, not "Creationism", but we more or less agree on this point.



[ Parent ]
My turn! My turn! ^_^ (3.00 / 1) (#211)
by shimatta1 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 10:50:40 PM EST

>>First of all, evolution is an established fact (as much as anything can ever truly be proven). We know animals do evolve and physically adapt to their environment.<<

Actually, what you've described is adaptation, not evolution. Evolution involves changing from simple to complex, not just changing. Also, such adaptation has not produced new species, an event that occured many, many times for life to reach its current diversity.

Adaptation occurs within a species; evolution transcends the species. Adaptation has produced numerous breeds of dog, but they're still the same species.

I agree with the concept of natural selection a.k.a. "Survival of the Fittest." It is simply the expression of entropy within an ecosystem; those best able to resist that entropy get the most opportunities to procreate and perpetuate. A stable environment would mean that only random mutations would provide any diversity to the gene pool; a mutant would appear and then attempt to adapt itself into a viable species. Of course, this would be extremely improbable in species dependant on sexual reproduction; you'd need two mutants, opposite genders, non-sterile, non-hostile, and in the same location. The mutations must be benign (evolving flippers in the Sahara isn't the greatest idea). If the mutation isn't significant enough to generate a new species, then the offspring will probably simply mate back into the species type, which will, while gaining a tiny amount of added genetic diversity, probably not be changed much, if at all. If the mutations _do_ create a new species (one that cannot breed with the old), the offspring must breed with one another. With next to nothing in genetic diversity, the new species quickly becomes inbred and fails. If, somehow, the new species manages to somehow avoid or bypass _all_ of these problems, then congrats. You got a new species.

Evolutionists will argue that this happened in spite of all of the many difficulties against it happening. Given an infinite number of monkeys on typewriters, one of them will eventually evolve into Shakespeare.

The problem is that this improbable series of events must occur an improbable number of for all the current species to exist.

>>Hmm...well, that sounds nice, but without any references it's hard to tell if you're just making this up. There have been hoaxes reguarding the finding of pre-human fossils, but this is not evidence for the falsehood of evolution.<<

Unfortunately, I haven't studied this sort of thing since I graduated. I no longer have access to the books or bibliographies where I found these things. The only specific hoax I can think of off-hand is "Piltdown Man". There had been other mistakes, however, such as the femur of Java Man coming from a different animal (that one was caught afterwards by dating the parts of the fossils).

>>Again, this sounds nice, but these are pretty big claims to make without any references or evidence. Besides, I don't see what carbon dating has to do with "the estimated time for life to evolve". Carbon dating tells you how long something has been dead, not how long it took to evolve. Also, carbon dating has gotten *much* more accurate, so possibly that accounts for your claimed discrepancy?<<

Again, no access to the original references, but the dates, IIRC, originally ran between 100K-1M years before, whereas now they're in the billions. That's not, IMNSHO, explainable as "refining the technique".

Oh, and as for your quip 'bout the need for a mathematics purge, where d'ya think that Pentium bug came from? ^_~

Anyhoo, like I said. Ain't no practical purpose to it all, so's there's not much point in arguing 'bout it.

Jon "Shimatta" Baxter, nobody expects the Spanish Intermission!

[ Parent ]
Wanna create some new species? (3.00 / 1) (#217)
by i on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:23:37 AM EST

You can do it at home. Look here. Howto and other documentation :)

BTW carbon dating can be carried back for no more than 50,000 years. Half life of C14 is 5,730 years. You can't do much better than nine or ten half lives because after that there's too little radioactive material left.



and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Show me! Show me! (3.00 / 3) (#236)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:22:34 AM EST

First of all, evolution is an established fact (as much as anything can ever truly be proven).
Oh, goodie... that means you can show me a proto-turtle, explain how macro-bats share vision systems with men and octopi but not micro-bats (with whom they share wing structure and precious little else), explain the modern human remains found near Lucy but in strata older then her, and tell me how the ``primitive'' natives in Sacsahuaman managed to loft a single 35 kilotonne shaped rock from a quarry sme tens of km away over a river gorge and two mountain ranges to their city. Starting now. (-: After that, I have more questions :-)
We know animals do evolve and physically adapt to their environment.
We know that animals are capable of varying their expression of existing genes and that unless their population shrinks enough to lose the genes concerned, they will express right back to where they started if they're returned to their original environments (e.g. peppered moths). The problem here for evolution is twofold: (1) no new information; and (2) it happens waaaay too fast.

WRT new information, expecting mutations to supply that is like shooting at Lego figures and expecting the results to be new, more useful Lego figures.

Hmm...well, that sounds nice, but without any references it's hard to tell if you're just making this up.
He's not. For a really recent example, trot down to your local Uni and borrow the October 2000 issue of National Geographic Magazine. For a change, the retraction is not buried in a five-line addendum.

For older examples, look up Piltdown Man, Java Man, Peking Man...

The faked fossil evidence (which only occured twice afaik) was never believed by scientists.
So they said afterwards... but at the time it was quite a different story. And as for only twice, well, that's quite a giggle! Brontosaurus, for example, doesn't actually exist: it's the head from one lizard on the body or another... found several kilometers apart...

Oh, and let's not stick to fossils! Let's whip out dear old Earnst Haeckel and his fakes: foetuses doctored with a scalpel and then deliberately drawn to look similar when the actual physical differences in scale and features are enormous. Upon this particular lie is built the false rationale that a fish or something is excised during an abortion - not a living, growing human being like you as is actually the case.

Well, I think religion should be taught in schools, not "Creationism"
A nice, harmless, defanged, safe, potted religion is OK, just not something with the potential to disturb your current belief set?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Heh (4.50 / 2) (#213)
by gbd on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 12:07:32 AM EST

Please provide a single example of "atheism being taught as fact in schools."

While you participate in this exercise, it may be helpful to remain mindful of the fact that an overwhelming majority of religious people have no problem whatsoever with evolutionary common descent.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Did you get on at all well with your father? (none / 0) (#296)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:12:14 AM EST

This is really OT, more in the line of personal research. Just wondering if this thesis would score a hit with you. I would be interested to see a census in replies to this (yes/no in title line).
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Yes (1.00 / 1) (#331)
by Khalad on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 01:33:10 PM EST

Present tense.

You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Thanks! (none / 0) (#361)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:07:27 AM EST

...for a reply instead of a rant. Pity your example wasn't followed by others. )-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#349)
by hstink on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 01:02:12 AM EST

I get on extremely well with my father. And believe it or not, my opposition to religions (deism excluded) is based on reason and logic, not "the Oedipal desire to kill the father and replace him with oneself." Both my parents are actually preachers in local churches, I just have too much respect for them to point out the problems with the bible. They're happy the way things are, believing that an invisible man talked to a few people thousands of years ago.

[ Parent ]
Invisible man, invisible monkey, what's the diff? (none / 0) (#362)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:11:48 AM EST

They're happy the way things are, believing that an invisible man talked to a few people thousands of years ago.

...and I guess you're happy believing that some millions of invisible (no fossils) monkeys gradually and completely accidentally mutated through endless generations to form your g'[*N]'g'great grandparents a few million years ago?

BTW, thanks for the vote.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Personal choice (none / 0) (#364)
by hstink on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 07:00:25 PM EST

...and I guess you're happy believing that some millions of invisible (no fossils) monkeys gradually and completely accidentally mutated through endless generations to form your g'[*N]'g'great grandparents a few million years ago?

Given the choice - I would prefer a theory that is bound to the physical laws we're able to perceive, than a boogey man messing with the planet's gene pool but deciding not to contact us directly.

Being agnostic there's not much point worrying either way - evolution will always be an unfalsifiable theory, and creationism the school of 'ignorance by choice,' chalking things we don't understand up to The Big Guy.

I'm just not a fan of all the bogus religions floating around, Christianity in particular (Council of Nicea, no authentic evidence of Jesus until some 'suddenly' appeared after 325 A.D., etc.). I'd be extremely disappointed in a public school concentrating on a specific religion's creation mythology, however I do think "it's possible that some unknowable deity has done everything" would be a quick & dirty way to gloss over the topic in a science class.

[ Parent ]

Evolution falsifiable, ``ignorance by choice'' (none / 0) (#378)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:03:09 AM EST

Given the choice - I would prefer a theory that is bound to the physical laws we're able to perceive

Which, incidentally, evolution does not give you.

evolution will always be an unfalsifiable theory

No, it's been falsified countless times. The chemical stage been an obvoious weak point.

Even if it hadn't been falsified - or you refused to accept some very simple and clear mathematrics - I'm interested in seeing any proof-in-reasoning from anyone that evolution will never be falsifiable (again).

ignorance by choice [is] chalking things we don't understand up to The Big Guy

True. However, Creationism is not about saying ``I don't understand it so God must have done it.'' Creationism is about saying ``God's explanation fits the available physical evidence better, for example here, here and here.''
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

again (none / 0) (#381)
by hstink on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 06:51:47 AM EST

Which, incidentally, evolution does not give you.

By your reading, perhaps. Until god rearranges the stars in the heavens to spell out 'go creationism,' there is little reason to doubt that evolution is compatible with natural laws. Presenting currently unexplainable evidence doesn't prove or disprove anything in this debate, it's simply a leap of faith with no absolute logical basis.

No, it's been falsified countless times. The chemical stage been an obvoious weak point. Even if it hadn't been falsified - or you refused to accept some very simple and clear mathematrics - I'm interested in seeing any proof-in-reasoning from anyone that evolution will never be falsifiable (again).

Again, this isn't a logically sound position. Nothing you've presented in any of your links 'falsifies' evolution, because by its nature it simply incorporates any bizarre observation as 'erratum' or 'can be explained with missing evidence,' that's what makes it unfalsifiable. We aren't capable of testing or quantifying evolution, it's just beyond our current abilities.

True. However, Creationism is not about saying ``I don't understand it so God must have done it.'' Creationism is about saying ``God's explanation fits the available physical evidence better, for example here, here and here.''

From the links you supplied it seems to be precisely about appealing from ignorance.

"Now consider an even more egregious and absurd assertion - that an eye, an egg, and the earth, each in its vast complexity, are merely functions of random chance."

"Like an egg or an eye, the earth is a masterpiece of precision and design that could not have come into existence by chance."

'I look inside my PC and see neither gears nor pulleys - it is surely the work of the devil!!' Creationism and evolution are the domain of assertions, speculation and conjecture, simply by their unfalsifiable nature. It is ludicrous to believe you can 'prove' one or the other - they are, and I dare say always will be, beyond the realm of experimentation and scientific analysis.

There was something I found absolutely stunning in those links, however - that creationism somehow affirms Christianity. The strength of the creationist argument serves only the religion of Deism, not the story books assigned to the plethora of revealed religions. I think it will always be a mystery to me that people can make such pains to research, study and deride evolution, yet repeatedly ignore the immense body of evidence against their own faith.

My mind will never change on a basic concept - the leap from "here is evidence we can't currently explain" to "a mystical being who ignores our pleas for communication must therefore be responsible" is simply too irrational and presupposed to even consider as a possibility, much less the foundation for a logical argument.

As for the substance of your links, there is more than enough equally questionable and unfalsifiable 'evidence' to counter them at the Talk.Origins site. I don't understand why people haven't seen how futile this debate is - trying to counter ignorance with fundamentally baseless arguments achieves nothing. The fact remains that creationism is dismissive while evolution is predictive, and it is that quality of evolution which justifies its teaching.

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#350)
by gbd on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 03:34:19 AM EST

I'd been avoiding this because it's so off-topic, but what the hell.

The question isn't even right. It should be "do you get on at all well with your father", because "did" implies that my father is no longer around, which is not the case. I "get on" extremely well with my father, and for you to suggest otherwise is completely hateful and (unfortunately) typical fundamentalist behavior. The article you linked was rather funny, particularly the portion that suggested that atheists do not believe in the christian god because they have "deep, disturbing problems."

Xian: Do you believe in the Hebrew wind demon Yahweh, and do you believe that it will butcher and slaugter you if you refuse to accept its illegitimate son as your personal savior?

Me: Uhh .. no.

Xian: Boy, you have got some problems!

Uh huh. Next, please.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

I didn't suggest, I asked (none / 0) (#360)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:06:22 AM EST

I ``get on'' extremely well with my father, and for you to suggest otherwise is completely hateful and (unfortunately) typical fundamentalist behavior.

I didn't suggest anything, I asked. And made it clear that I was asking. Now, get back in your box.

More replies would be useful, there are only 3 so far.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Missing Links (none / 0) (#303)
by Happy Monkey on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:05:25 AM EST

Evolution, on the other hand, still has to be taken with a grain of salt, albeit a smaller one. The evidence supporting the theory is that there "should be" a large number of missing links, a consistant geological column from oldest at the bottom to youngest at the top, and many other pieces of evidence. The missing links, alas, are still missing...

Well, if we found them, they wouldn't be missing, now would they? A 'missing link' is whatever goes between two species (A and E) we have found. If we find a link between them (C), we now have two more missing links, B and D. Unless hundreds of generations of a particular bloodline all happened to be fossilized, there will always be 'missing links.' I'm just not sure how interesting they are in their 'missingness', to coin a word.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]

I don't take evolution on faith (none / 0) (#314)
by error 404 on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 07:40:27 PM EST

I read the theory and examine the evidence. And should contradictory evidence come along, may well change my mind.

Now, I suppose you could consider the idea that reading theories and examining evidence is a path to truth a matter of faith. But I would consider that to be a dishonest redefinition of terms.
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Can a USian tell my why? (2.33 / 3) (#179)
by B'voYpenburg on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 03:16:30 PM EST

Can a USian tell me why this happens in the US? It seems as if free speech is more a symbol then reality?! True, or false??

Second thing is that it seems that states - in a random fashion - accept the most weird laws. Why is there no uniformity in these important things?

Well... (3.00 / 2) (#202)
by br284 on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:18:18 PM EST

Well, I don't know what a Usian technically is, but it sounds like your question was directed to an American, so as an American, I will answer...

This issue is not a free speech issue. It really is not an issue of religion. Here's how this could happen, and why states are not so uniform with respect to these things.

First of all, uniformity. With respect to eduction, there is no overarching federal authority that deals with education. Education is not a power that was delegated to the federal government, and as a result it by default goes to the states. Now, while there is a Department of Education, and Bush has been trying to make education the focus point of his political career, the Washington folks have little real authority about what goes on with how education is conducted in the states. The only tool the federal government has is giving out monies to the states. The federal gov't may say that it will not give the state highway money unless it does X with the education system, and the states will usually do it, but they are not bound in any way. So, you have about 50 little countries doing their own things, and this results in a lack of uniformity.

Now, why is this not a free speech issue? No one's speech is being restricted. Well, maybe the teachers as part of their job, but that is it. No one is outlawing speaking about evolution, they are just reshaping their curriculum to favor creationism over evolution. This happens all the time. A teacher may be instructed to teach creationism, but it is more a matter of her following the curriculum, and not restricting her speech.

As far as weird laws -- welcome to the states. Strange people make strange laws that apparently made sense at the time.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Why it happens (3.00 / 1) (#266)
by rossz on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:20:13 PM EST

Because in the U.S. you don't have to prove you have a brain to be elected to office. From my understanding of Arkansas, the lack of a brain is a big election booster.


Rossz


[ Parent ]
a simple-minded non USian thinks ... (none / 0) (#306)
by mami on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:53:30 AM EST

It happens because USians take freedom so serious that they can't handle the fact that the very freedom they worship gives them the choice to eliminate it, an option which is freely and often chosen.

They are constantly loosing their freedom trying to defend it so passionately. It's like a hate-love affair, they love it so much that they end up hating what they got with it.

I kind of love them for that, but then, it's a very sad love story, one which doesn't make you happy. That's why you have so much depression going on here.

Ah, well, why do you think they have such great music and so wonderful art ? That's were you find the real soul of the Americans, blues, soul, jazz, country straight out from the heart. You just gotta love that !

Actually the songs and music in their churches is the only thing I like about the zillions of religions here. Strangely enough despite their diversity they all sound very similar when singing. Don't listen to the lyrics, just listen to the sound and you'll understand and stop wondering.

Walk in their shoes and feel where they hurt. Then go home to your own country and you wonder why people can't sing the songs of life anymore. And stop bashing.

A uniformity of laws ? It's all because of their constitution. They defend it like the bible, religiously. And as we know, that can be a problem. The constitution makes uniformity an oxymoron in the name of the freedom of each of their states. (basically, I think).

Ironically, I started reading /. and k5, because I thought that's something I need to do in my intent to learn something about the issues concerning the technologically minded experts. Now I end up wanting to study American history and constitutional law. It's all k5's and /.'s fault. Those nerdy geeks...and they still wonder why women geeks end up in law schools. It's still code though...

[ Parent ]
It needs to be said (4.54 / 11) (#180)
by Moneo on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 03:48:35 PM EST

Biological evolution is a fact. Not a hypothesis, not a theory, not a law. Evolution is an actual fact -- ie, an observation or group of observations. Living things have changed over time and can be shown to do so in the laboratory. There is no more reason to doubt this than that two objects of different masses but similiar air resistances will accelerate towards the Earth at the same rate. Both are merely data -- observations of the real world. This shouldn't be about facts -- facts can be confirmed by anybody with the patience and the resources. This is about interpretations of facts.

Natural selection (or descent with modification), on the other hand, is a theory, one which attempts to explain the fact of evolution. As a theoretical model, it has done quite well -- I don't know of any serious scientific challenges to it. Aspects of it are argued about (often quite vociferously) -- is evolutionary change a gradual or punctuated process; is the fundamental replicator a gene, organism or species -- but the underlying framework of natural selection has come to be accepted.

Creationism is not a theory. It can be an interpretation of evolution, but that does not make it a 'theory'. 'Theory' (as I am using it here) implies supporting evidence and reproducible experimental confirmation. Creationism satisfies neither requirement.

Some people claim we should teach the creationist viewpoint alongside the scientific one. The question that must then be addressed is: Which one? There are literally dozens of different stories covering the subject matter, each of which can be read in a variety of ways. On what basis do we decide which ones are taught and which ones aren't?

Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky

Macro vs Micro (4.66 / 3) (#230)
by finkployd on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 07:29:28 AM EST

Well, to nit pick, MICROevolution is a observed fact, MACROevolution is still an unobserved theory. The difference being that micro refers to natural adaption occuring within a species, where macro refers to a species evolving into a completly different species (which is both unique and sexually incompatible with it's origional species).

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
What is a species? (3.50 / 2) (#265)
by Moneo on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 04:19:56 PM EST

A nit fairly picked. I don't really make that distinction, though, because I've never been very comfortable with the concept of 'species' -- I've never seen a satisfactory definition of it. 'Species' seems to be a highly confusing, poorly defined human construction.

For example, there are birds in England (I've forgotten their name) who can mate successfully with birds just east of them...who can, in turn, mate with birds east of them, and so forth. By the time you've made it around the globe, though, you've got birds that can't mate with the original English ones. Where do you draw the species line then (according to your definition)? (These are called 'ring species', IIRC).

Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky
[ Parent ]

Macroevolution is a bogus term (none / 0) (#324)
by jonabbey on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 01:43:14 AM EST

Or at least, the artificial distinction between microevolution and macroevolution that creationists like to draw is. In the real world, species need have no firm boundaries. Horses and donkeys can cross-breed to produce (sterile) mules, but horses and donkeys are not thought to be the same species. The definition of species in the Webster's New World Dictionary simply stipulates that species are a naturally occuring population of similar organisms that tend to interbreed only among themselves. Both 'similar' and 'tend' are qualifiers, here. Species do tend to stabilize as a common breeding pool over time, but only if the organism is so well tuned to its environmental niche that any significant departure from the type would result in a weakened ability to compete. If the environment changes, either through a change in location, a change in climate, or a change in predation or parasitism, then the pressure changes from one of consolidation to one of renewed variation, and hybrids and the odd mutant that otherwise would have been culled through competition instead lead the way to new stable types, and thus to new species.

Creationists who claim that macroevolution does not occur have an impossible time of supporting their claim, because they can't even define their terms ("species", "variety") concretely enough to be able to identify whether it has or has not happened in any given case. The boundaries of species change before our eyes, to quote Steve Jones' marvelous book, "Almost Like A Whale" (published in the United States as Darwin's Ghost).

To quote further:
Even for the heroes of the birding world, evolution raises its vexatious head. Take the yellow-legged gull, admitted as a 'tick' after much vacillation about its status (confirmed when it spread to northern Europe in the 1970s and lived alongside its cousins but did not breed with them). The UK400 guide has it that 'this species is distinct from Herring Gull. In fact, it is more related to the Lesser Black-backed Gull, with which it sometimes hybridises. The races atlantis, michahellis, cachinnans, barabensis and mongolicus are included within this complex, whilst Armenian Gull armenicus is considered by some to be a further species. This isolated form breeds on the Armenian Lakes, Turkey, and Iran and winters in northern Israel. The Arctice races heuglini and taimyrensis are best treated as Siberian races of Lesser Black-backed Gull, whilst the race vegae is best lumped with Herring Gull or treated as a separate species.'

That statement, in its petulant tone, contains within itself the theory of evolution: that differences blend into one another in an insensible series, and a series impresses the mind with the idea of an actual passage.
It is easy to view the world in the simplified terms that we are taught in elementary school. If those simplified terms were really accurate, then yes, macroevolution might be a really distinct thing that could be looked at in isolation from microevolution. That's not what we see when we look at nature, however. The real world is far more subtle, gradated, and challenging. Just the sort of thing that gives many doctrinal religions a very hard time of it.

Ganymede, a GPL'ed metadirectory for UNIX and friends.
[ Parent ]
no (none / 0) (#337)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:42:24 AM EST

Well, to nit pick, MICROevolution is a observed fact, MACROevolution

Well, a nit to pick, "Micro" and "macro" evolution are bullshit terms thought up by creationists so that they might have some semblance of sanity in their discussions.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
remarking books (4.50 / 4) (#181)
by Barbarian on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 04:32:46 PM EST

In books already on hand, the bill would require teachers to instruct students to mark "false evidence" or "theory" in the margins next to references to evolution and the carbon dating of fossils.

So do the students have to mark "myth" or "doctine" next to references to creationism?



I learned about evolution (2.66 / 3) (#182)
by rebelcool on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 04:41:52 PM EST

And I would like a banana now, thank you.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Ook! (2.00 / 1) (#233)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 08:41:57 AM EST

Of course, you're probably not the Unseen University Librarian...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
i have this craving for bananas... (2.00 / 1) (#244)
by rebelcool on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:29:44 AM EST

ever since my high school biology class. Weird.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

High school biology drives you bananas (none / 0) (#290)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 04:11:44 AM EST

ever since my high school biology class
The lass [I presume] you were admiring during that class probably brought bananas in her lunchbox on a regular basis, and whenever you think of her, by association you think of bananas.

The situation could easily enter a positive-feedback loop, seek therapy quickly! (-: Alternatively, maybe she likes bananas for a reason and is your therapy? :-)
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

I think that... (4.62 / 8) (#183)
by rograndom on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:17:02 PM EST

Teaching adults that they evolved from children makes them act like children. oh wait...

Reason wins -- but not by much! (4.75 / 8) (#200)
by grutz on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 07:37:13 PM EST

The proposal was shot down by a very slim margin. It needed 51 favorable votes and only obtained 49. Very sad, if you ask me (and you didn't).

What's kinda surprising is the break out of yeas vs. nays vs. not voting:

  • 45 Yea - 21 Democrats, 24 Republicans
  • 36 Nay - All Democrats
  • 7 Not Voting - 5 Democrats, 2 Republicans
As a former Texan, I don't remember most southern democrats being so backasswards. Maybe it's just that I've been away for too long.

For the rest of the story and some local editorial speak:

Evolution proposal shot down in House

What's next, backward masking?

March Madness Please, not another Monkey Trial

Next time, Gadget, we'll get you next time...! (3.00 / 2) (#225)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:54:54 AM EST

The proposal was shot down by a very slim margin. It needed 51 favorable votes and only obtained 49. Very sad, if you ask me (and you didn't).
It won't be next time. Dubyah will see to it that this is shoved through sooner or later, and on religious grounds.

I'm a Christian and a Creationist (yes, unusual here, but there are many firm reasons for my position) and I believe that Dubyah's approach is a Very Bad Thing.

Christians are called upon to carry out God's mandates for themselves (consequently are obliged to strive for the freedom to so do), and to encourage others to do the same. Christians are not to decide things for God, and not to drag unbelievers kicking and screaming along with them.

The phrase ``buried alive'' is used for the travesty of an unbeliever ``baptised'' either against their will or willingly and with an unconverted heart, and it applies just as well to any other form of ecclesiastical bullying. Christ would not do it, ergo it is not Christian, no matter what it is labelled.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

I find it funny (2.66 / 3) (#250)
by retinaburn on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:31:04 AM EST

That people argue that 'evolution' should not be taught because its 'not definitely proved'. Yet they believe in miracles because of 'faith'.

Prove to me you existed yesterday, that you were not created from mud a millisecond ago. That all your memories are not constructed by God and all those who supposedly know you did not have theirs altered.

Why has God not created any new creatures ?

Why have we changed over time ? We are taller, have shorter baby toes. Are bodies have changed in 100 years yet it is incomprehensible for you to think that this can extrapolate further in time.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Funny? I find it downright hilarious! (-: (2.00 / 1) (#289)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:55:43 AM EST

Why has God not created any new creatures?
Not one to second-guess omnipotent diety, but I'd say it's because we're not treating the results of his first round with any respect.
We are taller, have shorter baby toes. Are [Our?] bodies have changed in 100 years yet it is incomprehensible for you to think that this can extrapolate further in time.
Far from it. Bones of our ancestors from a few thousand years back occasionally demonstrate sizes of around double what we have now. Goliath of Gath was nothing special. The Japanese people (Nipponese) are also getting taller as their diet and environment changes to be more Western. Change those inputs back, and the physique follows within a very few generations. Just a longer-term form of our wonderful cellular and systematic homeostatic tendencies.

Which is all waaay too fast for the comfort of a serious evolutionist but exactly what you would expect from created adaptibility within species.

Which in turn makes any conclusion you may wish to draw from my answers, er, moot (adj.). (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

monkey trial (3.00 / 4) (#201)
by kpeerless on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:17:25 PM EST

I prefer to think that Man ASCENDED from the lower primates, except in the case of the Arkansas Legislature where DESCENDED is probably more appropriate. Perhaps now is the time to remind those idiots that there are already schools available to teach creationism. They're called Sunday Schools, and if you wish to cram your children's heads with that particular brand of tomfoolery then the church school is the appropriate venue. We're not immune to this kind of simplistic drivel here in Canada either, as the leader of our federal opposition party believes that the Flintstones is a documentary. I love it! Maybe some of the more laughable wingnut theorists, Scientology comes to mind, will ask for equal time. And speaking of time... it's time to start building the Great Wall of Canada. Keep the Barbarians south of the 49th. Support the NRA. It encourages the silly buggers to thin themselves out. This legislation is proof positive of Peerless's Double Reverse theory which states that for every step sane people advance, the idiots attempt to drag them back two.

Yes, appropriate venue (2.00 / 1) (#234)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 08:56:56 AM EST

Perhaps now is the time to remind those idiots that there are already schools available to teach creationism. They're called Sunday Schools, and if you wish to cram your children's heads with that particular brand of tomfoolery then the church school is the appropriate venue.
Absolutely true. Why should the children of Humanists/Atheists have to sit through that?

The natural consequence would be that atheism and evolution would have to be taught in the Church of Humanism's schools on weekends as well. Why should the children of Christians have to sit through that?

What I would like to see, since the children are sentenced to sit in them for 10 to 12 years anyway, is the schools introducing the students to a little of everything, and regularly letting them loose in a decent non-atheist-filtered non-religious-right-stacked library, each to update their own worldview document. This document would contain several mandatory sections (religion, culture, technology, a few others) with a few mandatory subsections (say, a subhead for four major religions: atheism, buddhism, christianity, islam, optionally more, another for origins, and so on).

The downside is that in being marked on this they would be exposed to pressure from above and alongside. The upside is that they could think more or less freely on some mandatory topics plus any optional topics that took their fancy. The ever-growing document would be marked each year or semester for literary qualities, artistic qualities, depth of content, consistency etc.

The mandatory topics ensure that some basics are in place, the optionals keep it interesting for the student.

Of course, that's not what schools are for, is it? )-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Did we evolve `from` monkeys? (1.66 / 3) (#221)
by pallex on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 04:26:37 AM EST

I would have thought we evolved from single celled organisms, slowly up through fish, then *much* laters monkeys etc. So if you want to be a lawyer about it, the idiots are right! :)

I'll be a monkey's uncle (none / 0) (#313)
by error 404 on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 07:30:12 PM EST

We didn't evolve from monkeys. We, and monkeys, evolved from a now-extinct primate.

It is rather rare for a new species to evolve and the older one stick around.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Aimless ramblings. (4.71 / 7) (#222)
by kitten on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 04:28:33 AM EST

There's a few practical issues that need to be dealt with by both sides, if either wants their ideas taught.

On the side of the evolutionists, I've got to say that when evolution is even bothered with in public school, it's done in such an abjectly slipshod, misinformed manner that I honestly don't blame students for having doubts about it. My sophomore year science teacher, to her credit, made an attempt at explaining the history of the universe as science understands it, starting with the Big Bang. Unfortunately, she had such a poor understanding of the theories she was discussing that most of the students thought she sounded like a crackpot. Indeed, she is not alone in her lack of comprehension; even textbooks fail to adequately explain their ideas. Evolutionary science text, in high school at any rate, is laden down with "somehow" and "suddenly", which makes it sound ridiculous.
As it happened, I made a huge racket about this and was invited to lecture the class myself, which I did. I can't say I convinced anyone who wasn't already convinced, but at the very least, I presented the theories in a more coherent and articulate manner than the teacher did, and what's more, even the Christians seemed to enjoy the discussion - even if they didn't necessarily agree.
If evolution is to be taught in public class, then it must be ensured that the theories are thoroughly covered and explained in a manner which does not make them seem absurd. Thus far, high school textbooks and teachers utterly fail to do this, and then they wonder why Creationists don't take them as seriously as they would like.

On the other side, we have the Creationists. (It's important to note, and no doubt others already have, that in the US, this means Genesis and no other doctrine.) My problem here is twofold:
a. The entirety of Christian faith is just that: faith. Faith, to me, means "belief in the absence of proof". As many Christians themselves have pointed out, if there were proof of God, this would leave no room for faith.
Why, then, do Creationists insist upon having this faith taught as "fact"?
b. Which chapter of Genesis shall we teach? According to the first chapter, man was created before the beasts and fowl, but according to the second chapter, after.

Moreover, it seems to me that a Creationist class would be a very short one. "This is what the Bible says, so that's how it happened. Class dismissed." Evolution, on the other hand, can be studied in depth for years.

I also think that the arguments presented by both sides give too much credit to public education. Let's face it, most schools do not require students to think, or to believe. They merely require that a student is able to memorize something long enough to pass a test, at which point they are permitted to erase it from memory forever, if they so choose.
If the schools were honest about it, teachings on evolution could be prefaced thus:
"We don't care if you believe this, any more than we care if you believe any of the other things we teach. We're going to present you with some facts and bits of data, and you're going to write them down on a test in a few weeks. After that, you can believe whatever you want to believe - but we think it's a good idea to at least expose you to the secular concepts of our origin. If you want to learn religious doctrines, you're more than welcome to go to a local place of worship.. and you can decide for yourself."

I leave now with a closing quote:
"Beyond the universe there is nothing, and within the universe, the supernatural does not and cannot exist. Of all deceivers who have plagued mankind, none are so deeply ruinous to human happiness as those impostors who pretend to lead by a light above nature. Science has never killed or persecuted a single person for doubting or denying its teachings, and most of these teachings have been true; but religion has murdered millions for doubting or denying her dogmas, and most of these dogmas have been false."
-- Unknown

And one more, just to be frivolous:
"Fucking punk-ass Creationists, trying to set scientific thought back by four hundred years. Fuck that. If them superstitious motherfuckers want to have that kind of party, I'm going to put my dick in the mashed potatoes."
-- MC Hawking
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Not the conclusions! (1.71 / 7) (#224)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:43:51 AM EST

Both theories have a few problems. One in common is that no humans were there to watch it happen. Another in common is that each side tends to be bigoted and lose valuable insight by dissing stuff which seems to support ``the other side.''

A classic example if this was the trashing of geologist J Harlan Bretz's career and life for thirty years until evolutionary science finally gave up trying to ignore or stare down the facts (favourite quote from the above, non-axe-grinding article: ``Like many of those who disputed Bretz, he had never before visited the Channeled Scablands'').

Evolutionary textbooks are stuffed with ``somehow'' because they don't know how many of the various miracles which are required at every stage in evolution took place. ``Somehow'' is the right thing to say. There are hypotheses, but often these are far too wacky to put in a textbook with a straight face. Not that this always keeps bizarre ideas out, mind you...

Creationist books are also sparse simply because creationists themselves are relatively sparse, so can't sponsor more than a few percent of the publications that evolutionists do. Creationist literature should generally say ``somehow'' more often than it does.

Faith, to me, means "belief in the absence of proof".
Faith to the dictionary is quite a different thing. You only score part marks, and showed no working out. )-:

As many Christians themselves have pointed out, if there were proof of God, this would leave no room for faith.
Odd Christians, and probably not paying much attention to the rest of their Book either. God repeatedly asks people to prove Him. He also lists a number of achievements to Job which are unique to Him, ie, evidence of His divinity. There is also ``Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.'' - not that we will discover everything but here we have an imperative to try.

Which chapter of Genesis shall we teach? According to the first chapter, man was created before the beasts and fowl, but according to the second chapter, after.
Do you actually read before you post, kitten? The first chapter teaches ``beasts first'' (actually, ``beasts on same day''). The second chapter has the beasts which had been made (which you assert were here ``created after'') being paraded before Adam for naming. And this is standard Hebrew literary form, they like to have several goes at a subject.

I can't imagine why you had trouble convincing anyone... (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Interesting... (3.00 / 1) (#228)
by Robert Gormley on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 07:16:27 AM EST

... that you leave out the comment about creationists insisting on teaching a theory as fact, whilst all the while berating evolution as those it was a commonly accepted fact that it had been discredited.

Neither has been absolutely, and (most likely) never will be. You're tarred with your own brush, that of "both sides trying to discredit each other".

[ Parent ]

What is this, Family Court? (2.00 / 2) (#232)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 08:40:15 AM EST

...where you have to say something nice about the other team, even if you make it up?

Robert, I was answering the original post, not trying to present a balabnced view. Do you think the original post was balanced?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Argh (4.50 / 2) (#235)
by hstink on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:14:20 AM EST

I can't help it. I've tried to be tolerant of organised religions, but seeing something as patently ludicrous (and plagarised) as the Genesis account of creation trotted out again seems to have pushed one too many of my buttons.

Anyone who feels confident in their faith should read The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine. It proves, far more eloquently than I ever could, that the foundations of *all* organised religions (that is, second, third or fourth hand 'revelations') are inherently flawed, corruptible, and therefore cannot possibly be the 'Word of God'. Mr. Paine then proceeds to show the old and new testaments as being second-rate forgeries and, among other things, that the book of Job was simply translated into Hebrew from an older Gentile myth.

As for the Genesis tale, Mr. Paine's Reply to the Bishop Llandaff shows Genesis as the fraudulent work it is, simply having been adapted from a Persian myth the Jewish people became familiarised with during their Babylonian captivity. It was then tacked onto the start of the old testament as some form of preface, which is fair enough, given the fact that the tales told in genesis were written *after* the rest of the old testament.

Although some of his Deistic reasoning clearly reflects the limited scientific knowledge of his time, the principle holds true. That being, any work purporting to be the Word of God is inherently not what it claims, and as such, any organised religion is simply an exercise in spreading ignorance and falsehoods.

I can't help but differ with some of his claims, however. There is no greater impediment to scientific development than a God figure, even in the pure Deism sense; it is the war cry of ignorance, and nothing more. Injecting God into the course of reasoning only proves that we don't or can't understand the subject well enough.

It is for that reason that I couldn't possibly endorse the teaching of creation myths with an emphasis greater than or equal to evolutionary science. At least as a theory, its shortfalls can be studied and improved upon. On the other hand, *all* creation myths involving any 'higher power' are equal in their explanatory power, equally flawed, and equally repugnant to the logical mind.

Apologies for sounding angry, bitter and frustrated, but, well, I guess that's just my way.

[ Parent ]

Your history (3.00 / 1) (#237)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:36:30 AM EST

Mr. Paine then proceeds to show [...] among other things, that the book of Job was simply translated into Hebrew from an older Gentile myth.
Since Mr Paine walked the earth, archaeology has shown the reverse to be true. For all of the cases mentioned here. Thomas probably also believed that the Hittites and Nineveh didn't exist. I think you'll find that he was simply working from the same set of prejudices as you are now.
any work purporting to be the Word of God is inherently not what it claims, and as such, any organised religion is simply an exercise in spreading ignorance and falsehoods.
Oddly enough, I'm in partial agreement with you here. I tend to distrust ``organised'' religion bigger than congregationlism. As with any organisation, it tends to become both subverted to the wrong ends, and autonomous, in that the real primary purpose of the organisation tends towards self-preservation. However, the Bible does have a staggeringly good and constantly improving record as true history, and several significant hits in the prophecy department.
Injecting God into the course of reasoning only proves that we don't or can't understand the subject well enough.
Using God as a ``handwave'' trump card certainly does that. In a very limited number of circumstances, the action is justified - but in by far the most, well, if God did not exist another scapegoat would have to be found.
all creation myths involving any `higher power' are equal in their explanatory power, equally flawed, and equally repugnant to the logical mind.
Now I'm confused: you dismiss systems requiring teleology (a drive towards a higher power or purpose), yet you support evolution, which would require some form of teleology in order to be even slightly feasible?
Apologies for sounding angry, bitter and frustrated, but, well, I guess that's just my way.
Actually, you sounded more frustrated. Perhaps the reason that it all doesn't seem to make sense is because you're missing some vital pieces of the jigsaw?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Evolution and teleology (3.00 / 1) (#247)
by Bernie Fsckinner on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:50:35 AM EST

How does the concept of 'survival of the fittest' require teleology? Survival in the face of changing conditions is what drives evolution.

[ Parent ]
The road to nowhere (none / 0) (#287)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:44:23 AM EST

Survival in the face of changing conditions is what drives evolution.
Is it? So that's how a dud theory survives for so long... mutation (inherited human creativity) and natural selection (two-word oxymoron) (subsection of theory abandoned when error has been blatantly obvious for decades).

OK, OK, I'm being deliberately obtuse... no, survival of the fittest (something that worries conservationists no end, when (most being evolutionists at heart) they should be rejoicing to see evolution in action) controls evolution, in theory. Mutations drive evolution, also in theory. But relying on mutation for improvement is conceptually like unto putting a full clip through your quad ThunderBird system in the hope of rearranging it into something with better survival value. And it will: nobody would bother stealing it after you're finished! (think about sickle-cell anaemia)

How does the concept of 'survival of the fittest' require teleology?
[sarcasm] The peacock is an obvious example of teleology-free evolution: the acme of ``the fittest'' to survive, isn't it? [/sarcasm] (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
As to the weight of evidence a religion requires (4.00 / 1) (#248)
by hstink on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:05:44 AM EST

Since Mr Paine walked the earth, archaeology has shown the reverse to be true. For all of the cases mentioned here. Thomas probably also believed that the Hittites and Nineveh didn't exist. I think you'll find that he was simply working from the same set of prejudices as you are now.

Any proof of that?

Oddly enough, I'm in partial agreement with you here. I tend to distrust ``organised'' religion bigger than congregationlism. As with any organisation, it tends to become both subverted to the wrong ends, and autonomous, in that the real primary purpose of the organisation tends towards self-preservation. However, the Bible does have a staggeringly good and constantly improving record as true history, and several significant hits in the prophecy department.

I somehow doubt you've read Mr. Paine's reasoning on this issue. The logic was that God's 'Official' Word, by its divine nature, could not be represented by any means available to humanity. In order to prove its divinity, it must be unalterable, above refute and, most importantly, a body of work which could not have been created by a power-hungry priesthood. The fact that the bible is internally inconsistent debunks this immediately, not to mention the petty, insecure, fallable God it represents.

"Sorry about the whole wiping humanity out with a big flood.. guess I was having a bad day. I promise I won't do it again."

Is this the deity one would entrust eternity to? I won't even get into a debate about how dehumanising the promise of 'eternal bliss' would be. As my initial post said, The Age of Reason does a far better job of dismantling the myths of the bible than I ever could.

Using God as a ``handwave'' trump card certainly does that. In a very limited number of circumstances, the action is justified - but in by far the most, well, if God did not exist another scapegoat would have to be found.

Be it religion, the supernatural, or any other *unobservable* phenomena, the underlying scapegoat would be something deliberately outside the scope of our comprehension. Ignorance by any other name, it is still indicative of some party being unwilling or incapable of rational thinking.

Now I'm confused: you dismiss systems requiring teleology (a drive towards a higher power or purpose), yet you support evolution, which would require some form of teleology in order to be even slightly feasible?

I'm not too familiar with the term, but it would appear to misrepresent my opinion. My reservation is with ascribing something we don't understand to a deity or power *deliberately* outside our sphere of influence, observation or contemplation. The process of evolution, that is, mutate-reproduce-mutate ad nauseum, does no such thing.

Actually, you sounded more frustrated. Perhaps the reason that it all doesn't seem to make sense is because you're missing some vital pieces of the jigsaw?

Would it not be ludicrous to suggest otherwise? I never claimed that I was, nor had the potential to become, omniscient.

To return to the topic at hand, how many falsehoods and contradictions would you tolerate before abandoning Christianity as a faith? I used to be a practising Christian, but logic beared down on me with no remorse. I could no longer believe in a vengeful, spiteful deity, any more than I could believe in the vile history of rape, destruction and torment that is the bible.

It wasn't until I read Paine's work that I realised how futile and utterly ridiculous it is to presume that mankind could capture and represent the will of a deity, in a form that would avoid an amazingly corrupt priesthood altering the scriptures to suit their needs. To each their own I guess.

[ Parent ]

Where some of it comes together... (3.00 / 1) (#255)
by Wah on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 01:25:34 PM EST

I won't even get into a debate about how dehumanising the promise of 'eternal bliss' would be.

If you can concede that ignorance is bliss, then one who holds to what you consider to be ignorant beliefs could be considered to have achieved it. If they hold steadfastly to their belief throughout their life, then by your definition of "eternal" (which I'm assuming forgoes an afterlife) would be that life and they would have achieved "eternal bliss". As far as dehumazing goes, I disagree mostly because I have seen many people quite happy with such an arangement.

Be it religion, the supernatural, or any other *unobservable* phenomena, the underlying scapegoat would be something deliberately outside the scope of our comprehension.

I'm sure you are aware of some of the limits of science in this regard. Heisenberg and Godel, for the basics. We do have limits, especially regarding evolution.

My biggest question for evolution would be explaining how consciousness developed. What caused that special change that has set us apart from every other species as we know it? What made us special? This is the limit of the system, mainly because of Godel. How can we explain ourselves? This is where the leap of faith comes in. You can believe that "somehow" evolution explains it, you can believe that "God" did it, or you bypass the whole discussion as useless. But anyway you slice it, the whole puzzle isn't there and by its very nature, most likely will never be.

Make your time.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Neat (none / 0) (#277)
by hstink on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 07:29:16 PM EST

If you can concede that ignorance is bliss, then one who holds to what you consider to be ignorant beliefs could be considered to have achieved it. If they hold steadfastly to their belief throughout their life, then by your definition of "eternal" (which I'm assuming forgoes an afterlife) would be that life and they would have achieved "eternal bliss". As far as dehumazing goes, I disagree mostly because I have seen many people quite happy with such an arangement.

Indeed this is true, but it doesn't change how depressing the concept seems to me. If I wanted eternal bliss, as far as it is provable, I'd hook myself up to a morphine drip and die smiling.

I guess my biggest difficulty is with the concept of bliss itself, and that it's completely opposed to how I would prefer to spend a day of my life, let alone eternity. Oh well, I guess I have more reading to do.

I'm sure you are aware of some of the limits of science in this regard. Heisenberg and Godel, for the basics. We do have limits, especially regarding evolution.

Of course - I have no issue with declaring that certain fundamental subjects are out of our reach (as far as our current understanding goes). I just get frustrated when a process is affixed to 'God's will', which by the nature of the statement bars any further investigation. How many civilisations looked skywards, assigned the motion of the heavens to 'God's will', and promptly forced their ignorance onto all following generations? I realise I'm placing scientific knowledge above numerous other of mankind's goals, but history does tend to favour a learned people.

My biggest question for evolution would be explaining how consciousness developed. What caused that special change that has set us apart from every other species as we know it? What made us special? This is the limit of the system, mainly because of Godel. How can we explain ourselves? This is where the leap of faith comes in. You can believe that "somehow" evolution explains it, you can believe that "God" did it, or you bypass the whole discussion as useless. But anyway you slice it, the whole puzzle isn't there and by its very nature, most likely will never be.

Agreed - here it becomes a debate based on values. As I place more value in a fairly predictive system (as evolution has appeared to be) than a dismissive one such as creationism, I will naturally favour an explanation that appears compatible with the natural laws we've been able to perceive.

As for consciousness, I'm not a cognitive scientist ;) I have seen a number of recent studies that showed the brain in a remarkably computer-like fashion however - in one, an epilepsy sufferer who had his left and right hemispheres surgically separated was unable to describe or recall a noun that was flashed before him, but was able to draw a picture of it when given a pen! Furthermore, while he was drawing it he couldn't communicate what was forming before him, and had to guess at what the final product was! I guess the point behind this rambling is that consciousness is a topic worthy of more study, as opposed to ruling it 'Godly' and abandoning the pursuit of knowledge.

Interesting points you had. However, I have had a number of pets who seemed to exhibit conscious behaviour - I think a more interesting philosophical debate would be the origin of sentient thought. My dog never queried me on the nature of his existence, and I assume he didn't discuss it with the neighbour's hound either =)

[ Parent ]

This is the subject line. (3.00 / 1) (#276)
by kitten on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 07:05:02 PM EST

Do you actually read before you post, kitten? The first chapter teaches ``beasts first'' (actually, ``beasts on same day''). The second chapter has the beasts which had been made (which you assert were here ``created after'') being paraded before Adam for naming.

Yes, I've read it. Numerous times. In various iterations and translations and editions. Which brings me to another point: Which version of the Bible would the Creationists like to be taught?
At any rate, here is the information you seek:

1:20 God said, "Let the water swarm with swarms41 of living creatures and let birds fly42 above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 1:21 God created the great sea creatures43 and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good...
1:26 Then God said, "Let us make47 mankind48 in our image, after our likeness,49 so they may rule50 over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth,51 and over all the creatures that move52 on the earth."

That's excerpted from Chapter One of Genesis, whored from here. As you can see, God created the animals before he created man. Incidentially, this chapter of Genesis also states that God created a man and a woman simultaneously.

Chapter two states:
Now13 no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field14 had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.15

Whoa, wait, I'm sorry. Did that just say that there were no plants before man? Odd.

2:7 The Lord God formed20 the man from the soil of the ground21 and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,22 and the man became a living being.23
2:18 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.55 I will make a companion56 for him who corresponds to him."57 2:19 The Lord God formed58 out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would59 name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 2:20 So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam60 no companion who corresponded to him was found.

Looks to me like Adam was present before the animals were, according to this account.

I can't imagine why you had trouble convincing anyone...

I can't imagine why Christianity has followers when it provides accounts like this.

mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
You're still out of sync, & the headline was wrong (none / 0) (#286)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:28:27 AM EST

From your response: As you can see, God created the animals before he created man.

From your original post: According to the first chapter, man was created before the beasts and fowl

Ummm... err... well, on to the next gem of clarity...
Did that just say that there were no plants before man?
``And there was no man to cultivate the ground'' - uhh... no, it doesn't... and your point is...?
according to the second chapter, after
``He brought them to the man to see what he would name them'' - no. First off, man and ``beasts'' were created on the same day. Although beasts are mentioned first, we are not told in which order, so it doesn't really matter. However there seems to be a progression in Genesis 1 which would imply that man was made second. Genesis 2 mentions that he animals were made, and mentions that they were brought before Adam to be named (not to be created!). All in one day? Perhaps not. Certainly, no timespan is mentioned in chapter 2.

So where is the confusion? Over to you...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Sorry? (none / 0) (#307)
by kitten on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 12:17:44 PM EST

Okay.
From your original post: According to the first chapter, man was created before the beasts and fowl

Thank you for pointing that out. This was, of course, an inexcusable error on my part, when I meant to say "after", not "before". I hadn't noticed my mistake until you pointed it out.
Now I stand by what I meant to say in the first place: The first chapter clearly specifies beasts before man.

But the second chapter specifies man before beasts:

2:18 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.55 I will make a companion56 for him who corresponds to him."57 2:19 The Lord God formed58 out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would59 name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

I say again: Man was already there, but alone. God made the beasts for Adam's companionship.

As for the plants:
2:5 Now13 no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field14 had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.

Good so far..

2:7 The Lord God formed20 the man from the soil of the ground21 and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,22 and the man became a living being.23

Now we've got man, but plants are still absent. They don't appear for another two verses:

2:9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil,28 every tree that was pleasing to look at29 and good for food.

The reason I point this out is because it goes at odds with chapter one of Genesis, which insists that plants and animals were created before man.

Now, you may sit here and argue that the chronology here isn't self-contradictory, but to me, that's merely an aside to the issue at hand, which is that I find this to be a wholly unsatisfactory explanation of the formation of the universe, Earth, and life. Evolution, disappointing and ego-busting as it may be ("monkeys in our family tree? good heavens!"), is still the best and most rational explanation we have to date, given the data.
Yes, it is incomplete. Yes, there are gaping holes in evolutionary theory. Creationists love to point these holes out and say that evolution is wrong; rather than seeking to fill the holes in, they turn their minds off and say "God did it".
I, on the other hand, point to the ongoing progress of evolutionary science as a Good Thing. Yes, it's incomplete and there is much we don't understand. Evolutionists are willing to admit that, which is why it continues to be studied.
We seek answers. We may never find all the answers, but that is not an excuse to stop trying.

I'm also rather tired of the disgusting display of political correctness here. Science has been held back for centuries because it has had to tiptoe around religious sensibilities; enough already.
If the Church had its way, we'd still be teaching that the universe revolves around the Earth.
I have a lot of sympathy for Galileo and what he must have been up against.

mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Ayuh (none / 0) (#320)
by regeya on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:43:04 PM EST

...issue at hand, which is that I find this to be a wholly unsatisfactory explanation of the formation of the universe, Earth, and life. Evolution, disappointing and ego-busting as it may be ("monkeys in our family tree? good heavens!"), is still the best and most rational explanation we have to date, given the data.

The possibility an infinite number of universes were created when a mass of something may have exploded forming the universe that we reside in, while the possibility that the star and planets we call the Solar System may have formed from a possible supernova aftermath, and with something happening to cause the cycle of life to start on Earth, is much more plausible.

:-P

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

huh. (none / 0) (#323)
by kitten on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 01:23:34 AM EST

The possibility an infinite number of universes were created when a mass of something may have exploded forming the universe that we reside in, while the possibility that the star and planets we call the Solar System may have formed from a possible supernova aftermath, and with something happening to cause the cycle of life to start on Earth, is much more plausible.

And that's the real problem, isn't it? This is how most people understand the concepts that you are mocking here.
I freely admit that when you put it that way, it sounds somewhat ridiculous and improbable; this is one reason I feel that evolution (and the Big Bang, et al) should be taught in school, so that people can at least argue it from an educated standpoint, rather than shrugging and saying "Doesn't make sense to me."
Fortunately for the issue at hand, what you have described isn't even a tiny fraction of the actual theory.
God is where humans sweep any intellectual challenge under the rug, and it's time this practice stops.

Religion has been stomping on science long enough. Science is self-correcting; religion is not. How long must we endure dogma and quietly skirt around the evidence for fear of offending religious sensibilities?
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Agreed, but... (none / 0) (#345)
by regeya on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 02:08:09 AM EST

Religion has been stomping on science long enough.

Sure, but "scientific-minded" folks have been stomping on religion long enough.

Look, I don't know about other religions, but most of Christianity has stopped believing that science is the Devil's work. Sure, you'll find the occasional loony who doesn't think so, but (and I can't stress this enough) if you give me an example of such a loony, I could find you 100 real, live people who don't. Heck, I believe in Darwinism, believe it or not, and I believe in a God-created universe. How crazy is that?

So I get offended at both the walking alpha with the name Darwin in it, and equally offended at the mocking stickers with a bigger fish with the word "Truth" in it. I don't see it as a mutually-exclusive relationship. I don't see saying "Science != Religion" (in other words, no room for religion in science) as any better than some bellowing Baptist preacher trying to convince the congregation that evolution is a load of crap.

Sure, there's little evidence to support Christian (and other) beliefs...but evidence is all you've got, too. Damn good evidence, but it's still just evidence. :-)

BTW, I think it's kinda cute how you throw everyone into one category. Reminds me of my ignorant Baptist preacher unkle.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Ridiculously implausible, break out a calculator (none / 0) (#377)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 10:38:24 AM EST

with something happening to cause the cycle of life to start on Earth, is much more plausible

Postulate amino acids that never decay, and interact a trillion times a second. Postulate a universe 30 billion years old, made entirely of such aminos (10^81 of them) - and only the correct ones - instead of mostly hydrogen. Ignore the effects of spatial separation (ie distance between molecules). Assume that every interaction results in a successful attachment at the right place on the molecule. Ignore the effects of topology and the need for folding. Ignore any environmental requirements. Is it clear that the given circumstances are stupidly favourable?

Press the GO button, stand clear.

Aminos required to make a single protein (like haemologbin) not a whole lifeform: 574 (573 connections).

Odds of getting the right amino at each interaction: 1 / 22

Gives average number of interactions required: 22 ^ 573 == 1.62E771

Number of interactions available: 1E81 * 1E18s == 1E99

Interactions shortfall: 1.62E771

Gives approx average number of 30Ga universe lifetimes to make haemoglobin accidentally: 1E672

If you use Unix, you probably have a tool to hand called bc which will handle numbers this large with a pointless amount of precision. You can verify them all for yourself.

Chemical evolution as a cause for life is clearly waaaay beyond impossible.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Oh... nothing... (none / 0) (#358)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:44:22 AM EST

The possibility an infinite number of universes were created when a mass of something may have exploded forming the universe that we reside in, while the possibility that the star and planets we call the Solar System may have formed from a possible supernova aftermath, and with something happening to cause the cycle of life to start on Earth, is much more plausible.

Start adding up them zeroes, boy, you gonna be at it for a while...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

``Kitten Chronology'', Galileo, parables (none / 0) (#359)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:01:11 AM EST

I say again: Man was already there, but alone. God made the beasts for Adam's companionship.

Alone in the sense of not having ``an help meet for him'' - namely Eve - certainly. Alone in the sense of no land animals, not. The animals which God had already made were brought before Adam after Adam was created. This is the normal interpretation of the ancient Hebrew literary structure found herein.

The reason I point this out is because it goes at odds with chapter one of Genesis, which insists that plants and animals were created before man.

This is not at odds. Again, the literary structure. However, even if you were to ignore the literary cues, you should be paying attention to the phrase ``of the field.'' It is singling out the types of plants intended for cultivation. Next, read what it says about them: they had not yet sprouted and says why. It says this in clear contrast to the consistent use of the word ``made'' elsewhere in this chapter.

If you'd only read what it actually says, instead of reading your prejudices into the text, most of your problems with the text would go away.

If the Church had its way, we'd still be teaching that the universe revolves around the Earth. I have a lot of sympathy for Galileo and what he must have been up against.

As well you may. (-: Galileio's main problem was not his science - most of the Medievel Church agreed with him - but shooting his mouth off and offending people. :-)

You also fail to distinguish between the Medievel Church, a political organisation, and christianity, a set of beliefs. Be aware that the map is not the territory, the label is not the product. Someone saying that they're an atheist does not make them an atheist, so why does claiming to be a christian, in your eyes, make a person or organisation christian? There are plenty of Christ's parables explaining that you should judge people by what they do, not what they claim. And where else would you turn for a better definition of christianity than Christ's own?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

geology != evolution (none / 0) (#336)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:30:35 AM EST

A classic example if this was the trashing of geologist J Harlan Bretz's career and life for thirty years until evolutionary science finally gave up trying to ignore or stare down the facts

What the fuck are you talking about? None of the scientists involved in this were biologists, this has nothing do with evolution one bit
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Missing poll option (2.00 / 12) (#226)
by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:19:36 AM EST

``Evolution should be taught even though it has been thoroughly falsified, because it is vital for an understanding of our culture.''

The number of falsifications is truly staggering, given the limited resources available in creation's support.

Evolution, with over 250,000 fossil species unearthed so far, still has to show one proto-turtle, one proto-bird (oh, didn't you know? all of the headlined candidates are gone now, fakes or true birds), one pre-human (modern human fossils were found beneath Lucy - who is neither ape nor proto-human)... and so on. It is indeed a monster. Hopeful, yes, but still a monster.

Maybe a thousand, but certainly hundreds of little trinkets like the Salzberg cube have been unearthed, any one of which unquestionably falsifies many basic evolutionary principles - punctuated and Darwinian - evolution is most certainly not a fact by scientific definition. Even invoking visiting aliens is little help with many of them, and where is your orthodox credibility if you ``stoop that low''?

But to fail to teach one or the other theory because ``it's wrong'' involves inflicting a value judgement on one or more groups of people. It's also a pretty thick thing to do.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee

Wrong article for this comment! Try ... (3.00 / 1) (#241)
by ehayes on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 09:59:05 AM EST

here.

Nice bridge, BTW. =)

ehayes

[ Parent ]

You are just plain wrong (4.75 / 4) (#243)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:21:32 AM EST

I followed three of your links ("limited" and "resources", and "in" chosen pretty much at random). The first was 404, the second was very long but didn't really say anything. Much was made of the "mathematicalness" of the argument, but no actual math (or even logical reasoning) was used. The third argument depended on an assertion that the speed of light is decreasing over time. "See Figure 1" it says, but there is no Figure 1, nor links given, nor proof offered, nor relevance explained.

As for "no protos"--you are kidding, right? The "proto-animals" just aren't well-known to the general public--and why should they be, since those animals aren't around anymore. Nonetheless, there are plenty of protos out there, Eohippus ("dawn horse") springs to mind.

But that's beside the point--there's no fossil evidence that I used to live in Washington state, either. But there is plenty of other evidence (mailing labels, apartment records, driver's licenses, library cards, tax information, etc) that I lived there. Should we reject the hypothesis simply because I left nothing physical at the site? There is plenty of biological (molecular, anatomical, etc) evidence for evolution, unavailability of previous models would be disappointing but not devastating.

A search on google for "salzberg cube" failed to reveal anything, maybe you could give a link to more information?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Welcome to the new century, brother! (none / 0) (#285)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:04:08 AM EST

Here you will find ancient myths exploded...
Nonetheless, there are plenty of protos out there, Eohippus ("dawn horse") springs to mind.
Eohippus is not a proto-horse. The Scopes trial is but one example of its misuse. There are no clearly transitional fossils.
The first was 404
Oh, great... EarthLink bought their ISP... try one of the other links.
Should we reject the hypothesis simply because I left nothing physical at the site?
False analogy. If we found fossils of all of your forebears, all of your friends, all of your neighbours and all of your descendents but not of you, we might conclude that you didn't exist. It would still be argument from silence, but we would have a good case.

Mankind have unearthed many millions of fossils fitting into over 250,000 species, so the case of the missing transitionals is looking very much closed. In non-general-public reality it was closed more than 15 years ago.

There is plenty of biological (molecular, anatomical, etc) evidence for evolution
Is there? Look again. Much of what is touted as ``evidence of evolution'' is only tautology, the stone in stone soup.

Biology is actually one of the best places to look for evidence of creation. Did you know that Eukaryotic cells have just been awarded another billion birthdays? See how many protein species you need to spontaneously form to make a hypothetical smallest living cell at the moment of abiogenesis! See how great a faith one needs, to believe in evolution!
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Abiogenesis (3.50 / 2) (#317)
by puzzlingevidence on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:31:16 PM EST

Abiogenesis <> evolution. Arguing that the odds of scientific abiogenesis are remote says nothing about the theory or fact of evolution.

Evolution has been shown to occur. Abiogenesis is known to have occurred at some point, because life exists (duh!).

And all fossils are transitional fossils, just as all species are transitional species.

---
A man may build a throne of bayonets, but he can not sit on it. --Inge
[ Parent ]

We all live in a yellow submarine? (1.00 / 1) (#357)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:40:19 AM EST

Abiogenesis <> evolution.

Wrong. Abiogenesis == chemical evolution.

Evolution has been shown to occur.

Really? Who by? When? Where?

Abiogenesis is known to have occurred at some point, because life exists (duh!)

``Duh!'' is indeed right, good sir. What you have given us here is a tautology, and possibly worse than that, a non sequitur (ghasp!).

In short, you have said, ``we exist because we exist'' or ``it must have worked because there is no alternative.'' You haven't actually said anything. Would you like to try again?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Utterly wrong. (3.50 / 4) (#365)
by puzzlingevidence on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:37:12 PM EST

Wrong. Abiogenesis == chemical evolution.

I think you need to do some research. Looking in a dictionary woul dbe good for starters, but reading the talk.origins FAQ would be a good second step.

Really? Who by? When? Where?

Read the talk.origins FAQ. Evolution has been shown to occur over as little as thirty years. Look at the daphnia species in Lake Constance. Look at the mosquito populations in the London Underground. Look at the punctuated speciation of brid species across the US. There are literally hundreds of examples of evolution that have been witnessed by humans over the course of human lifetimes without the need for fossil evidence (or even dead creatures!).

``Duh!'' is indeed right, good sir. What you have given us here is a tautology, and possibly worse than that, a non sequitur (ghasp!).

Wrong.

Abiogenesis is the production of life from an unliving source. Either life occurred spontaneously from chance chemical interactions or it was created from dead chemicals by a creator. Either one is abiogenesis. The former is "scientific abiogenesis"; the latter is "created abiogenesis". One or the other is required for life to exist. Both are abiogenesis.

By definition, abiogenesis has occurred because we are here. That is not a tautology; it is a definition.

I also believe in the anthropic principle, just so's you know.

Abiogenesis does not necessarily interact with evolution. There are many pro-creation evolutionists, for example.

---
A man may build a throne of bayonets, but he can not sit on it. --Inge
[ Parent ]

Abiogenesis unnecessary / those aren't examples (none / 0) (#376)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 10:10:27 AM EST

Abiogenesis is the production of life from an unliving source. Either life occurred spontaneously from chance chemical interactions or it was created from dead chemicals by a creator

...or life was created ex nihilo (from nothing, not from dead chemicals) by a living creator (most things); or

...or life was added to (in contrast to ``made from'') non-living chemicals (mankind) by a living creator.

Doubtless there are other examples, those are the ones that count for me.

Look at the daphnia species in Lake Constance. Look at the mosquito populations in the London Underground. Look at the punctuated speciation of brid species across the US. There are literally hundreds of examples of evolution that have been witnessed by humans over the course of human lifetimes without the need for fossil evidence (or even dead creatures!).

You'd better look again. Those examples are all reversible, and more importantly no new information has arisen - which is a critical and necessary component of evolution.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

transitional numbers (none / 0) (#335)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:17:38 AM EST

Creationist: "Numeric evolution theory is wrong because there are no transitional numbers."

Evolutionist: "What the hell are you talking about? Numeric evolution!?!?"

Creationist: "The idea that one comes after two and so in, it's ridicules!"

Evolutionist: "how so?"

Creationist: "There are no transitional numbers"

Evolutionist: "What do you mean?"

Creationist: "Well, no true 'in-between' numbers have been found. Just regular numbers."

Evolutionist: "Well, what about 1.5?"

Creationist: "That's just a regular number."

Evolutionist: "Um, well, what about 1.25, that's between 1.5 and 1, right?"

Creationist: "that's just a regular number as well."

Evolutionist: "um... OK" eyes creationist suspiciously "what about 1.125"

Creationist: "that's just another number."

long pause

Evolutionist: "Go fuck yourself."
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Missing links (none / 0) (#356)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:22:51 AM EST

Well, no true 'in-between' numbers have been found. Just regular numbers.

Thank you for your strawman. By it, are you claiming that species are integral? That lizard becomes turtle in one step, nothing in between? I hope so, because I haven't had a good belly laugh in... oh... minutes, now.

If lizard became turtle in a number of small steps, there should be some record of those small steps. In 250,000 species, there should be something that is like a turtle, but not quite a turtle. Even something halfway between lizard and turtle would help your case a little, but finding a fossil proto-turtle would earn you instant world fame. Did I mention that turtle shells fossilise exceptionally well? Happy hunting.

Missing links are called missing links because they would link species together, and because they're, well, missing...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Oh, please... (5.00 / 2) (#305)
by B'Trey on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:39:35 AM EST

I'm not sure if this post is serious or is an extremely well written troll. If the latter, my hats off to you. If the former, you have my utmost sympathy. The rest of this post assumes that you're serious.

I'll start plainly and simply. Hogwash. Pure and utter balderdash. There is NO legitimate scientific evidence that opposes the theory of evolution. To address each and every argument at every site you linked would require a couple of volumes. The so-called evidence, however, is a mixture of outright lies, half-truths, misconceptions and nonsense.

"The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved in 50 Arguments", for example, was written in 1928. The theory it supposedly debunks is quite different from modern evolutionary theory, just as our modern, relativistic thoery of gravity is quite different from Newton's laws. Still, let's look at a the types of arguments posted there:

The population of the world, based upon the Berlin census reports of 1922, was found to be 1,804,187,000. The human race must double itself 30.75 times to make this number. This result may be approximately ascertained by the following computations:

At the beginning of the first period of doubling there would just be two human beings; the second, 4; the third, 8; the fourth, 16; the tenth, 1024; the twentieth 1,048,576, the thirtieth, 1,073,741,824; and the thirty-first, 2,147,483,648. In other words, if we raise two to the thirtieth power, we have 1,073,741,824; or to the thirty-first power, 2,147,483,648 Therefore, it is evident even to the school boy, that, to have the present population of the globe, the net population must be doubled more than thirty times and less than thirty-one times. By logarithms, we find it to be 30.75 times. After all allowances are made for natural deaths, wars, catastrophes, and losses of all kinds, if the human race would double its numbers 30.75 times, we would have the present population of the globe.

Now, according to the chronology of Hales, based on the Septuagint text, 5077 years have elapsed since the flood, and 5177 years since the ancestors of mankind numbered only two, Noah and his wife. By dividing 5177 by 30.75, we find it requires an average of 168.3 years for the human race to double its numbers, in order to make the present population. This is a reasonable average length of time.

First, the math is simply nonsense. Human populations do not expand by doubling regularly. A great many things affect population growth both positively and negatively. There is simply no way to extrapolate how long a given population has been in existence merely by looking at the census.

Next, we have a "scientific proof" which draws upon the Septuagint text to determine the length of time since the flood and the presence of Noah and his wife. Do I really need to expound upon this? Surely even you can see that this is utterly ludicrous as a scientific argument.

I have no problem with anyone's personal religious or philisophical beliefs. If you want to believe that the earth is flat and the moon is made of green cheese, feel free to do so. But don't attempt to bring the kind of poppycock that you linked as "evidence" into the classroom and teach it as science. It isn't even close.

[ Parent ]

eh (none / 0) (#348)
by hstink on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 12:26:51 AM EST

The number of falsifications is truly staggering, given the limited resources available in creation's support.

No more staggering than the falsifications of the bible I guess. If you're going to attribute something to an invisible man, who has decided to avoid direct contact with us while meddling unrelentingly with the gene pool, you can chalk up pretty much anything you want to him.

Evolution, with over 250,000 fossil species unearthed so far, still has to show one proto-turtle, one proto-bird (oh, didn't you know? all of the headlined candidates are gone now, fakes or true birds), one pre-human (modern human fossils were found beneath Lucy - who is neither ape nor proto-human)... and so on. It is indeed a monster. Hopeful, yes, but still a monster.

So, from the (presumably) 200 million years of history the fossil record claims to reflect, you're outraged that in the sample range of 250,000 none have been found? That's an average of 1 species for every 800 years or so, covering a great many generations for any animal. And that's not taking into account the number of species themselves - we're at around 13.6 million currently inhabiting the earth, so given your numbers I'm not surprised that there are gaping holes all over the record.

But oh well, it benefits your position so I guess anything goes.

But to fail to teach one or the other theory because ``it's wrong'' involves inflicting a value judgement on one or more groups of people. It's also a pretty thick thing to do.

Obviously, so long as they're taught responsibly. Something like, "Evolution is a theory that attempts to bind biodiversity to scientific methodology. Creationism is the belief that a supreme power created our species and all other species periodically through history, but has decided not to contact us directly for verification."

I guess the biggest problem is course matter - creationism wouildn't really have much to cover, not much more than "God did it, pencils down." I guess you could rattle through the various creation myths, but that seems more fitting in social studies.

[ Parent ]

Negative Results Don't Disprove Something. (none / 0) (#380)
by krmt on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 04:48:59 AM EST

The problem with your argument is it's full of negatives. There are no pre-humans, birds, or turtles. Well, just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not there. You have no evidence at all to support your theory. Negative evidence does not disprove a hypothesis, you need positives.

Meanwhile, you can compare the genomes of a chimp and a human and find that they only differ in less than 1% of their genes. We're not going to need to rely on fossils in the modern age of genomics, because, as my molecular bio prof was fond of saying, it's in the genome (he said it like it was in bold too :-) Genomics will provide a huge amount of weight to evolutionary theory in the coming years, just wait.

"I may not have morals, but I have standards."

[ Parent ]
Do we teach enough religion? (4.00 / 5) (#227)
by 0xA on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:22:10 AM EST

When I was in junior high I went to a catholic boarding school. I had a really good religion teacher, Father John. He believed that the story put forth in the book of genesis is a metaphor, along with other parts of the bible. This is completely at odds with the People that are sponsoring this bill much as the theory or evolution is. Of course, according to these people he is complete dumbass but its' not really his fault, he's catholic you see.

The problem is that most people don't have enough background in Christian history to understand the difference. I would love to get a bunch of high school kids in a room and ask them some questions.

1) Who was Martin Luther?
2) What was the "schism"?
3) What was the Spanish Inquisition? Why did it happen?
etc.

I honestly don't see how anyone can really understand the last 500 years of European history or the establishment of the new world with out an understanding of Christian religions. I really think history classes should be changed to go into a lot more depth in this area. Do most people actually understand the "Literal Word of God / Interpretation Required" debate?

My religious education has allowed me to feel I am making an informed opinion when I decide to dismiss Christian dogma as bunk but how many people can really say that?

Strangely appropriate sticker I bough at a headshop in Victoria:
"Jesus, protect me from your followers"

The problem? A problem, certainly... (2.50 / 2) (#252)
by pallex on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 12:15:21 PM EST

"The problem is that most people don't have enough background in Christian history to understand the difference"

The only thing i want a Christian to tell me `what do i have to do to make you shut up and leave me alone?`.

"Most people" already know that the bible isnt the word of anyone in particular - its a bunch of contradictory mumblings of no interest to anyone with an ability to think for themselves.

"My religious education has allowed me to feel I am making an informed opinion when I decide to dismiss Christian dogma as bunk but how many people can really say that? "

Not many - get `em young and they`ll believe it for life. As has been pointed out many times, people dont generally change their minds when confronted with evidence that a given paradigm is wrong - they just get old and die, and the younger ones grow up only learning the new one - thats how things change.

Whether its banning pokemon :

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1243000/1243307.stm

,cultural vandalism:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_1242000/1242856.stm

, tedious real-estate disputes that go on and on :

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1234000/1234343.stm

sexism, homophobia, animal abuse, or any number of other forms of `negative progression` etc etc you can guarantee that you`ll get a laugh out of religion. Or not. Depending on how you look at it.

"Yes! We`re all individuals!" - Monty Python.


[ Parent ]
amen, [brother|sister] (none / 0) (#301)
by partingshot on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:47:13 AM EST

Religion and philosophy need to be taught
in schools.

When most people say 'religion' though,
they don't mean they want kids to be taught
religious theory, what they want is for
their kids to be indoctrinated.

When I was a kid, my Methodist preacher told
me not to ask questions. To accept things
on 'faith'. That was the beginning of the
end. It was only after I studied philosophy
in college, and buddhism on my own afterwards,
that I began to appreciate the religious
tradition.


[ Parent ]
that should be part of the history curriculum (none / 0) (#304)
by mami on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:55:33 AM EST

The three questions you ask belong into a class about the history of religions, which is part of history and not comparable to teaching a specific sort of interpretation of a holy text. It is quite a difference to listen to priest, reverend or rabbi and learn their interpretation of a holy text or to learn about the different religions and their role in society.


[ Parent ]
Thoughts from a Creationist (4.00 / 3) (#260)
by MrAcheson on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:26:17 PM EST

This bill is a bad, bad idea. Evolution is science though I disagree with it and should be taught as such. It should be taught in schools. To fail to teach evolution is to leave a big hole in the students understanding of modern biological theory.

A law I think Arkansas should consider is one which states that biology teachers need to teach modern evolutionary theory. Many high school students are still being taught Darwinian Gradualism, ape men, and that fetal development follows evolutionary development. The truth is that none of these are part of modern theory. All of them have been disproven for a very long time, but they are still in most biology texts as fact. How many of us were actually taught punctuated equilibrium in HS?

I would also like to see teachers required to distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is the observed fact of species adaptation through genetic drift. Macroevolution is the theory of formation of new species through natural selection etc. They are different and that difference is important to the creationist/evolutionist debate. To use microevolutionary evidence to support macroevolution is inappropriate and people need to understand why. No one disputes microevolution, not even staunch creationists.

In short I am sick of having to explain the basic tenets of modern evolutionary theory before I can explain their shortcomings. Evolution needs to be taught better.

As an aside it would be a nice thing to require the teaching of the short comings of evolution as well (like the lack of an abiogenetic mechanism and the irreducible complexity of cellular structures). I am a realist though so I know this isn't going to happen any time soon.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


Know what I'm sick of? (5.00 / 4) (#310)
by kitten on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:51:51 PM EST

In short I am sick of having to explain the basic tenets of modern evolutionary theory before I can explain their shortcomings.

I'm sick of Creationists pointing to holes in the evolutionary theory and claiming that because the model is incomplete, the entire concept is incorrect.
Science freely admits that there are problems with the theory; that's why there's evolutionary scientists who continue the study.

I'm sick of Creationists who always want to play the victim, forcing everyone around them to kowtow before them. I'm sick of the fact that science has been held back for centuries - quite literally - by having to tiptoe around religious sensibilities and inane dogma. Enough already.

I may have said this in an earlier post, but I'll say it again: If the Church had its way, we'd still be teaching that the Sun revolves around the Earth.
When I see holy rollers gripe about evolutionary theory, I have a lot of sympathy for Galileo.

No, evolution isn't complete, but it's the best we've got so far - and I say, if getting that information out to children means offending religion, so be it. We've taken this politically-correct garbage way too far.

I'm sick of our legislation being forced to go through this nonsense, rearranging the curriculum and sacrificing the education of our children every time someone has a doctrinal axe to grind.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Know what I'M sick of? (1.00 / 2) (#319)
by regeya on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:25:26 PM EST

I'm sick of people overgeneralizing creationists as tanked-up blowhard Southern Baptists. Jeeze, people, just because someone has a belief in a Creationist beginning to the universe doesn't mean they're against science, doesn't mean that they hate it. The thing is, when I was in school, I was taught evolution as 100% bona-fide FACT. Yup, I said FACT. I don't see something that still has holes, still has potential flaws, as FACT, yet I was told to accept it as FACT. And you know what? We actually had Scripture in our school. Know how they got away with it? It was billed as MYTHOLOGY.

So there you have it. On Sundays, I was taken to church and told that there was a God, that he was real, that he loved me, etc. The rest of the week, I was taught that Christianity's teachings were MYTHOLOGY, and that THEORIES on the formation of life on Earth and theories on evolution were CONCRETE FACT.

Is that preferable to allowing people to believe in Creationism? Apparently so.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Let me think... (none / 0) (#329)
by davidmb on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 10:32:25 AM EST

Yes, even when you make your POINT in CAPITALS.
־‮־
[ Parent ]
and something else... (2.00 / 1) (#344)
by regeya on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 01:56:08 AM EST

I'm sick of seeing flamebait that happens to agree with the party line get rated up, yet an equally passionate comment that disagrees (such as mine) getting rated down. I suppose that says something about how much k5'ers like to think. Or how open-minded they are.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Theory never will be complete (none / 0) (#355)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:13:17 AM EST

I'm sick of Creationists pointing to holes in the evolutionary theory and claiming that because the model is incomplete, the entire concept is incorrect.

Strawman detected. Creationists point to non-holes in evolutionary theory and show how often the theory is flat-out wrong, and no amount of adjusting will fix it.

The schisms between neo-catastrophists, traditional darwinists and all of the other flavours of evolution (many of them mutually exclusive) demonstrate that many scientists are at least subconsciously aware that all is not well with evolutionary theory.

What you really mean by ``complete'' is ``able to explain everything in a naturalistic manner'' - in other words, you have presupposed a strictly mechanistic view of the Universe and reject any theory (or observation) which does not match the presupposition (AKA prejudice). What this means in practice is that evolutionary theory will never be complete, because the tweaking needed to make something fit in one area, unfits something else in another area. The floggings will continue until morale improves. (-:

Until you abandon your strictly mechanistic prejudice, you will never be able to comprehend - let alone truly refute - a creationist viewpoint.

I know, because I used to be where you are. Does that scare you? It should... (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

whatever (none / 0) (#334)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:56:46 AM EST

I would also like to see teachers required to distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is the observed fact of species adaptation through genetic drift. Macroevolution is the theory of formation of new species through natural selection etc.

Actualy, macroeveolution has been observed. New species have formed in the lab and in the wild. They have a huge-ass document over at the talk.origins website.

Not that it matters, I mean, the whole idea of 'macroevolution vs. microevolution' the only people who ever talk about macro- and micro- evolution are creationists anyway. I guess they realized that they can't deny evolution happens, and crated this false dichotomy so that they could avoid admitting to 'all' of it.

Micro and macro evolution are not part of modern biological theory, and if you want evolution taught correctly, then you wouldn't really want those terms brought up.

And yeh, I was taught punctuated equilibrium in Highschool
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Evolutionary Theories and Science (none / 0) (#373)
by Goldhammer on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 10:02:20 AM EST

Evolution is science though I disagree with it and should be taught as such.

To what extent there is science in evolution is a debatable matter. Certainly, those bits which are in fact science, can be taught as science. But there is a considerable amount of non-scientific bullshit saturating the theory: memetics, evolutionary psychology, materialistic naturalism, etc. These should not be taught as science, because they are not science. It is a subtle and difficult matter to separate the science from the metaphysics and pseudoscience which infests the theory of evolution. Do I want my kids being taught rubbish from Dennett? I think not. Do I want my kids taught garbage like Dawkins's theories of flight-evolution? I think not. Do I want my kids taught that ontogeny mimics evolution? I think not. Do I want my kids to be taught Darwin's 'Decent of Man' as if it were science? I think not. Do I trust educators will be prudent in discerning the science from the crapola? I think not.



[ Parent ]

What's the problem? (2.33 / 6) (#263)
by maarken on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:31:12 PM EST

I don't understand what the big problem with banning evolution in textbooks is. It's not like you can *use* it in a book.

You're really much better off just grabbing it here (tarball is recommended) and building it yourself.

Personally I still prefer Outlook to evolution, but I guess it's a personal preference thing

--Maarken


Flip the symbols in my email.
This makes me so upset (3.75 / 4) (#267)
by Haglund on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:33:00 PM EST

No offense, but what's wrong with USA? Really? My country is not really perfect either, and there are many countries far far worse than both yours and mine, but...

I mean the latest scientific facts/theories should be taught in school. Otherwise we would still be at a stone age level, a level which some people obviously dream to get us all back to.

Don't they understand how sad they must appear to the rest of the world? Do the people responsible actually want to make a fool out of themselves, or is it unintentionally?

One question I want to ask people, religious people that is... is "Why is the truth and the search for the truth so dangerous?". I am not saying that the theory of evolution is the final truth. I only mean that the theory of evolution is the best theory as of yet, that describes how life evolved. Therefor, it should be taught in school. How do you think that your future scientists will work, how do you think they will search for the answers, if they are not being taught about evolution?

There are no words to say how upset I am. Science obviously still have to fight for scientific thinking, for scientific methods of finding answers... Just as science always had been forced to. We all know about Galileo Galilei, who was foolish enough to present new information about the solar system, that the planets were orbiting the sun and not vice versa. The church got quite mad at this and forced him to take it back. AND WE STILL HAVE NOT LEARNED!

Science is the foundation of our society. Without science, we wouldn't live like we do, work like we do, get entertained the way we do, etc. We would still live in caves and simple huts and believe that the rain and thunder is the gods anger. We would still believe that earth is flat. We would not know what the sun really was. We would not know anything about universe. We would be able to use simple tools and fire, but we wouldn't understand how they really work.

Religion, on the other hand, has never been interested in the search for the truth. Sure, there are a lot of myths and stories that are here to explain everything around us. But think about it, please. What are these stories based upon? What evidence and observations are there to back them up? The answer is clear: NOTHING. These stories and explanations, such as how the universe came to be, how life was created etc., were all made up, because at that time, we did not know!

The good thing is that some of us have always been curious and been exploring and observing with a sceptic mind. That is how it should be. Search for answers. Don't make them up.

Science is the foundation of our society???? (3.00 / 2) (#271)
by madgeo on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:05:08 PM EST

I find that incredibly optimistic, and I'm an optimist. I wish I knew what country you are from so we could discuss the level of scientific literacy, amongst other things. But let me say this, Religion AND science are both searches for the truth. Your version of the truth is obviously different (presumably scientific), but that does not diminish the fact that theologians search for truth. Scientists have faith mixed in with their systematic view, don't deceive yourself about that.

Let me give you a quote, "Scientific reasoning depends upon the deeply held conviction -- the passion of the scientist -- that the world is rational and knowable and that truth is worth pursuing. This is not 'faith' in the strictly religious and certainly not in the Christian sense," he observes, "But it is a commitment in the sense that it is a personal act of acceptance and affirmation of an ultimate in one's life" (Gilkey 1970, 50). http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/dbsr/Resource/PETERS.htm

Science is not exactly great when it comes to addressing ethics, morality, or the comforting aspects of existence.

Science and technology are very cold mistresses.



[ Parent ]
Maybe not, but still important (none / 0) (#288)
by Haglund on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:52:11 AM EST

Ok, perhaps it is not THE foundation, but can you deny that it is an extremely important part, at the very least?

My country is Sweden, and yes I am well aware that USA is ahead of us when it comes to science and technology, but then again Sweden is much smaller and the population is about 9 million.
Recently there were a separation of the church and the state over here, actually it happened in year 2000. I think this is really a good thing.

I see what you're saying, but I can't really agree that religion is searching for the truth - in that case they would have actually tried. Have they? No, their so called "theories" have not changed at all, no matter what religion we look at. How are theologians searching for the truth? How are they working to find answers to our questions?

[ Parent ]

Nowhere near skeptical enough (1.00 / 1) (#284)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:21:39 AM EST

Your skepticism is highly selective, or in other words, your blind prejudice is showing.
What evidence and observations are there to back them up? The answer is clear: NOTHING.
Follow the dozens of links from three articles down, ``Missing poll option.'' They represent a small cross-section of what has been distilled down for the Web.
These stories and explanations, such as how the universe came to be, how life was created etc., were all made up, because at that time, we did not know!
Paraphrasing: ``These stories and explanations, such as how the universe exploded, how the miracle of abiogenesis took place etc., are all made up because at this time we don't want to know!'' We certainly weren't there to watch and take notes.
Search for answers. Don't make them up.
Prove you're better than those you slag off: practice what you preach.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Thou shalt read Thomas Kuhn (none / 0) (#300)
by partingshot on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:41:26 AM EST

Science isn't any closer to truth than religion.
And probably not any more useful.


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226458083/o/qid=985704432/sr=8-1/ref=aps_sr_b_1_1/103-8757499-6900610

[ Parent ]
Yeah, but it does build faster computers (none / 0) (#330)
by error 404 on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 11:53:55 AM EST

Science isn't all that great for Ultimate Truth, but it sure is handy for answering the little questions.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

what? (none / 0) (#333)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:46:15 AM EST

And probably not any more useful.

What?

Are you saying that we would have been able to make it to the moon by praying? Would we have been able to cure diseases, to feed 6 or 7 billion people? Would we have been able to build the Internet by saying hail marries? Would we have plastic or automobiles, or movies or electric lights or even electricity without science?

The only use of religion is to keep the sheep in line, and that could easily be accomplished by non-religious philosophies, and teaching them to think and reason for themselves (look at the eastern philosophy like confusism(sic) and Zen, they don't really fit what we would consider 'religions' )
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
here's why: (none / 0) (#340)
by partingshot on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 12:06:09 PM EST

It sounds to me like we have different concepts
of religion. I would include what you call
eastern 'philosophy' as religion. Most people
tend to think of religion as fundamentalist
christianity. It isn't. Simply put, anything
that provides an answer to man's search for
meaning could be called 'religion'.

Also, what good is all of that technology?
Does it bring happiness? Does it bring
suffering?

Would you rather be poor and happy or rich
and miserable? Those are questions no amount
of technology can answer. Religion can.






[ Parent ]
Yeh, right (none / 0) (#341)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 01:29:03 PM EST

Would you rather be poor and happy or rich and miserable? Those are questions no amount of technology can answer. Religion can.

How can religion tell me what I would rather be? Or maybe you meant to ask if I would be happyer rich or poor.

Well science does have answer, to that question. And it is: the same a rich person will be just as happy as a poor person, overall. When good or bad things happen to a person, they'll feel depressed or elated. But, after a while, their happiness levels will, well, level off. So, whether you win the lotto or your mom dies, eventually, you'll feel about the same as you do now.

Or did you mean something else. The fact is science can answer just about any question you might have, as long as you ask someone in the right field
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
subject (none / 0) (#342)
by partingshot on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:47:50 PM EST

Your missing the point.
The question was 'which do you value, and why?'

Although Kuhn asserts that science deals with
values subconsciously, no one would assert
that science deals with values directly.

Religion does.

How can science answer the questions about
the meaning of life? How will that ever
be measurable in a lab?



[ Parent ]
Science and religion (5.00 / 1) (#347)
by Office Girl the Magnificent on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:36:38 PM EST

Truth be told, science and religion are indivisible. Religion is the belief that somethng works; science is the understanding of how it works. Religion is the creator and His creation; science is the created struggling to understand themselves. Science discovers natural laws...religion describes what -- or who -- established them.

I am not a scientist, nor am I a theologan. But I know enough about each to understand that the two ideas are not diametrically opposite, as so many people seem to believe. But a good textbook will neither seek to offend religious readers nor to convert scientific students. It will provide facts and theorums and ideas, and let the learner make as much sense out of the debate as possible. Learning is rooted in understanding, not in the blind acceptance of so-called natural law.


"If you stay, Infinite might try to kill you. If you leave, the FBI definitely will. And if you keep yelling, I might do it myself."
[ Parent ]

File everything under ``W'' (none / 0) (#354)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:00:52 AM EST

I didn't lose it...I filed it!

Try filing everything under ``W'', which you can do using very little imagination. It helps people to understand your filing system: at least to this extent: ``I have no hope of finding anything in here. I'd better leave it alone.'' (-:

I know enough about each to understand that the two ideas are not diametrically opposite, as so many people seem to believe.

I liked your post. I think one of the proposed changes in Arkansas was to replace ``natural'' with ``logical'' in many places, and of that small item I most heartily approve.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Yet another school dilemma, easily solved with ... (3.80 / 5) (#273)
by Robert Hutchinson on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:29:36 PM EST

... the separation of school and state.

I am deeply saddened that any person would seek to keep children from learning important scientific theory, but the problem is not that they wish to exercise that power. The problem is that they are capable of exercising that power. Public schools require government to dole out that power.

I know I'll never convince anyone who's already decided that education is a right, but just allow for a moment of imagination. There would be no arguments about prayer in school. There would be no arguments about free speech in school. There would be no arguments about dress codes in school, or zero-tolerance in school, or about most anything in school.

If you've given me a moment of imagination, I'll now ask for a moment of extrapolation. Why is it that public schools are the only place where there's a dilemma over handing out condoms? The only place where standardized tests are debated? The only place where people get into trouble for not saying the Pledge?

It is because public schooling requires forced morals.

It is because public schooling requires stifling uniformity.

It is because public schooling eliminates choice.

It is because public schooling requires unanimous agreement on how to raise children ... unanimous agreement that will never be found, no matter how many initiatives or programs or standards or teachers or classrooms or textbooks are added, subtracted, or changed.

I am not proud to live in a country where I have more freedom to buy a soft drink than I do to educate my offspring. I hope to see the day when the only effective school reform comes about ... the privatization of every last drop of it.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

...and why stop there? (none / 0) (#283)
by leonbrooks on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:11:47 AM EST

You do have the right to educate your own children, you know? And it works much, much better than factory-teaching them, regardless of whether the factory is State-owned or private. No experience necessary, no qualifications necessary.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
You have not reasoned your arguments (none / 0) (#299)
by partingshot on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:38:26 AM EST

You have merely stated conjectures.

Private schools have issues too.
You just don't here about them. It is
hard for a debate going on in sandusky
boy's academy to make it on the news.
Not so when the debate involves the entire
school district of a city.

You still have freedom too. Don't send
your kids to public school. Send them
to private or home school.

Don't give me that crap about you can't
afford it because of taxes either.

All of us who don't have kids are helping to
subsidize those who do. That has to make it
cheaper.

Plus, I don't mind being taxed to support
the schools. Consider the alternative.
You are truly living in a fantasy world if
you think all parents would see to it
that their children were well educated.
Or that all parents could afford to have
their children educated.

And finally, if you really crave this freedom
of privatization so much, there are plenty of
countries where you could live. Mexico comes
to mind.





[ Parent ]
This is reason?! (none / 0) (#308)
by Robert Hutchinson on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 12:51:54 PM EST

You have merely stated conjectures.

Private schools have issues too. You just don't here about them.

And that's not a conjecture? I hear about them to some degree. But most of those issues are not bitterly divisive. If you don't like a private school's dress code, or speech code, or condom dispenser, and an agreement cannot be reached, you have a clear and obvious choice--find another school.
You still have freedom too. Don't send your kids to public school. Send them to private or home school.

Don't give me that crap about you can't afford it because of taxes either.

All of us who don't have kids are helping to subsidize those who do. That has to make it cheaper.

Taxes are not wrong because they are not affordable, they are wrong because they are theft. Will you support me in my plot to steal $1,000 from every millionaire in the United States? Don't give me that crap about how they can't afford it. The victims of theft will actually be helping to subsidize my needs.
Plus, I don't mind being taxed to support the schools.
A few of the millionaires I rob won't mind it, either. Does that make the anger of the other 99% foolish for some reason?
You are truly living in a fantasy world if you think all parents would see to it that their children were well educated. Or that all parents could afford to have their children educated.
A child not loved by his parents is in a dilemma no public school system can solve. And the reason parents can't afford to have their children privately educated is that "affordable" taxation you were fawning over earlier.

I'd bring up the literacy rates and average test materials in the U.S. in the 19th century, before public schooling obtained a chokehold on American children, but I would think the decline of literacy and challenging thought would be evident in any discussion about taxes being an affordable subsidy.

And finally, if you really crave this freedom of privatization so much, there are plenty of countries where you could live. Mexico comes to mind.
So I should respond to the illegitimacy of government's education mandates by pretending that government's land-owning mandates are not as illegitimate?

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

here ya go (none / 0) (#311)
by partingshot on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 04:29:23 PM EST

> you have a clear and obvious choice--find another school.

ditto. you don't like public schools, don't
send your kids to them.

> they are wrong because they are theft

if you benefit from society, you should
be expected to pay some back.
Or are you one of those people that creates
wealth in a vaccum?

> A child not loved by his parents is in a dilemma no public school system can solve.

true. but we can make sure that child
receives an education.

[ Parent ]
State school does *NOT* educate children (none / 0) (#353)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 08:55:15 AM EST

At least, not in the normal sense of the word. What Robert was saying about literacy rates is relevant: 98% in the USA before State schooling (at gunpoint, in some places), never less than four times the illiteracy since. The exceptions are notable, home educated children being the most obvious. Children taught to do things and take responsibility (e.g. Montessori) also do well, as do those with a consistent and supportive environment (e.g. Steiner).

State schools are there to ``socialise'' children, to turn them into moronic factory workers and robot-like soldiers for the State. It does reasonably well at that, but the little rotters will insist on using imagination and common sense occasionally, despite the system's best efforts.

The erosion of individuality consequential to the elimination of creation-based religious ideas from school fits in well with the moronic-factory-worker programme. As does the forced (not from the heart) teaching of religion (any religion, including atheism) or teaching of a religious system in place of religion itself.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Freedom to impose religion on to children (1.00 / 2) (#282)
by mami on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 01:06:45 AM EST

I just think that there is so much hypocricy about freedom in this country.

When I went to school in the fifties and sixties the only subject the parents had the right to ask the school administration to have their children excused from was religion. They could be taught two hours a week of either Lutheran Protestantism or Roman Catholicims and if the student (with permission from the parents) didn't want to be taught either of them, he were allowed to withdraw and not participate at all. A very simply solution to allow religious freedom and to implement separation of state and church in the educational system. It worked and was never a problem.



You can have all of the religious freedom you want (none / 0) (#297)
by partingshot on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:25:27 AM EST

... away from the public schools.

[ Parent ]
Antireligion, too, if that energises your dongle (none / 0) (#352)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 08:36:47 AM EST

I know this will annoy a lot of hard-working and enthusiastic State school teachers, but choosing the State education system is basically choosing to eliminate choices. Most staff and parents inside this system can't understand or believe that - but the children can. Unless you had an unusually successful school career, and sometimes even then, you might even be able to think back to some of the reasons yourself.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Priorities (none / 0) (#379)
by krmt on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 04:27:24 AM EST

While I agree that State education does eliminate some choices, I don't think that it eliminates any more than private education systems. I can't go to a Catholic school and get an education about Hinduism, any more than I can go to a public school and get an education in the Eucharist. It's just a question of priorities. In my public high school, instead of six hours or so of Religion a week, I had advanced Biology, European History, or Marketing in its place. It's just emphasis, rather than the elimination of choice.

"I may not have morals, but I have standards."

[ Parent ]
Hypocricy? (none / 0) (#309)
by B'Trey on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:30:31 PM EST

So, I take it you would have no objections if your local public school started teaching classes in Wica and satanism, so long as the students were allowed to withdraw with parents permission?

[ Parent ]
no, I would have objections (none / 0) (#312)
by mami on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 06:46:15 PM EST

to teach any kind of religion on tax payers' money in public schools. Germany has two main religions, officially supported by taxpayers' money. Historically we had just Lutheran protestant and Roman catholics. If you are or want to be a member of either of these churches, you have to pay "church" taxes. If you don't want, you don't have to, but you loose your right to be buried on church owned land. Therefore it is also legitimate that public schools (as it is mandatory to go to school) hire teachers on taxpayers' money to teach these religions in public schools.

Nobody forces you to be member of a church and to pay church taxes. Nobody forces you to accept the public school's religious educational offer. If you belong to another church or religion, your child has the time free to pursue classes in his own religion, as long as parents can provide the teachers for their children.

Now you ask, why are there only two official religions in Germany ? If we hadn't had "The Third Reich" and the discrimination of the Jewish population which ended in the holocaust, we would have teachers coming into the public school system to teach the jewish kids. Next time I will ask my now 82 year old mother how it was handled in the 1925-1933. Her elementary and secondary school were over 60 percent jewish. 1933 sharp from one day of the other her class was 1/3 empty. All the jewish girls had left Germany over night with their parents. But that's another story. I never asked how the jewish population was taught their own religion in the public German school system before Hitler came to power. Big mistake of mine.

With regards to the other problem of why not teach ALL religions at public schools, I can only think of the following. That would mean the population would have democratically to vote on what counts as religion and what not, as well as to vote if those religions should be supported by tax payers' money or not.

AFAIK, as long as there are no signs that churches or sects are are abusing human rights of their members, religions of all walks of life are tolerated. Now, if you would ask me to pay a "church tax" in the U.S. so that all religions could be taught in U.S. public schools, then I ask you, how would you decide which percentage of my church tax dollars would go towards the support of which religion ? Because I have definitely my own opinions about which church or relgion to support and which one not to support. And I deny anyone the right to make that decision for me.

Anyone can go to his church and Sunday schools or whatever to learn all about it. They just don't receive tax payers' money. And therefore you don't allow public schools to pay teachers for those.

Teach your kids what you want on your own expenses in your free time in your privacy of your churches or homes. Nobody takes that away from you. If my friend wants to do his satanic rituals in his home or church buildings and slaughter whatever as sacrifices, he is welcome to do so. He can't force anyone to participate, nor can he ask his beliefs and ritiuals to be taught in public schools on all of the U.S taxpayers' money.

[ Parent ]
What is an Evolutionist??? (5.00 / 4) (#315)
by AzTex on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:59:41 PM EST

phliar said:

Bah! Any time someone uses the term "evolutionist" you know they're just crazed superstitious fools desperately looking for a crutch so they don't have to face the realities of life.

What is an "Evolutionist" anyway?  Critics of the Theory of Natural Selection seem to apply it to a person who thinks that the evolution phenomenon occurs?  Hmmm...   I guess you got me, people.  I'm an "Evolutionist".  Yikes!

I am also a person whose understanding of diodes, transistors and a few other interesting devices and materials are based on Quantum Theory.  Does this make me a ... <gasp> ... "Quantist" too???

If you ask me, I'll tell you that Earth and the other planets revolve about the sun as described by the Heliocentric Theory.  I guess I cannot deny it any longer.  I'm a ... <shudder> ... "Heliocentrist"!!!   Oh, it's so good to finally come out of the closet.  But please, oh, please don't tell my grandmother.   If she knew it would just crush her.

A while back I paid cash to a attractive young woman so that she would engage in a bizarre ritual which involved the plunging of a sharpened object into my flesh containing a solution of mold and so-called deactivated virii.  And this transaction occurred in a public place where children could see.  But I don't care for I adhere to the Germ Theory of Disease!   So lock up your daughters and hide the sheep, people!   There are "Germists" living in your neighborhood and they are practicing their craft right out on the streets!!!

Seriously, I mainly hear the term "Evolutionist" from people criticizing the basis for our understanding of modern biology.   And they usually say it with the same derogotory sneer that they reserve for words like "atheist", "secular humanist", "wiccan", "Catholic", ... not that I am any of those.

I guess my point is that I sorta agree with phliar (but not in so many words) and we can assume people using the word "Evolutionist" are mearly jealous guardians of their own belief system trying to instill bigotry in others to smear anything in their path.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

Along those same lines .. (none / 0) (#318)
by gbd on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:36:19 PM EST

An ethical person who believes in Einstein's greatest theory is known as a "moral relativist."

:-)

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Its worse than that (none / 0) (#327)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 06:54:10 AM EST

Young Earth Creationists (the objectionable, anti-scientific kind), use "Evolution" as a shorthand for the entire naturalistic view of the past and "Evolutionist" as a lable for anyone who believes in it. Their position brings them into conflict not only with the theory of evolution, but with scientific geology, astronomy and archaeology, requiring that they challenge even the hardest physical evidence regarding radiological dates and rock formation. That this position is at all believable depends entirely on a desire to believe the universe is meaningful in itself, and the scientific ignorance of most of the general public.

In order to conceal the magnitude of their opposition to empirical evidence, they use "Evolution" to cover all the fields and theories they find objectionable. Creationist pamphlets tend to go as far as to list different sub-theories of evolution, which include not the ones a scientist would recognise (common descent, genetic change through mutation and sex, natural selection as the only necessary and sufficient cause of "progress"), but "geological evolution", "astronomical evolution", and so on.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
The legal approach.. (none / 0) (#383)
by ajduk on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 11:11:42 AM EST

I find a lot of the arguments are the sort of thing a lawer might ask in court - creationists seek to induce 'reasonable doubt' amongst laypeople, rather than trying to find evidence for their own case.

Interestingly, since Evolution was first proposed, it has been attacked repeatedly, from every possable angle, by far more people than any other scientific theory ever proposed. Anyone with a scientific repudation of evolution (i.e. an alternative that better fitted observations) stands to make a fortune.

And it's still there.





[ Parent ]
Is the Real Problem in Biology Class or... ? (4.00 / 2) (#322)
by AzTex on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:25:55 PM EST

Khalad wrote:

why is it still an uphill battle to give evolution its proper place in our schools?

Well, I say that people don't seem to want their kids to know about evolution because they are ignorant of the Theory of Natural Selection (as evidenced by the content of many of the posts to this article).  And they are ignorant of it because they were never taught about it in Biology class themselves.  I guess ignorant people tend to prefer ignorant kids.

But the real problem is over in English class.  Seems that a lot of people pass English without knowing what a metaphor is!  And when someone reads religious dogma without knowing what a metaphor is, they start trying to pass it off as science.  And that's not good.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

Ignorance is bliss: are we having fun yet? (none / 0) (#351)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 08:30:52 AM EST

I guess ignorant people tend to prefer ignorant kids.

Truly, the greatest and most embarrassing form of ignorance is the ignorance of one's own ignorance. (-:

Tex, natural selection is not in dispute. ``Natural'' (more or less) selection is driving species to destruction daily, and has been doing so for a while now. with or without human ``help''.

What is in dispute is where new species come from.

We have many millions of fossils, representing 250,000 different species. Zero of these species can be forced to act as a predecessor for a turtle, platypus, horse (refer to Eohippus and I'll laugh at you, you have been warned) or bird, amongst many other things. Turtles are a particular embarrassment, because those big solid shells fossilise so very well. Must we dig up the whole planet in a fruitless search for one?

We have a theory that says only useful mutations survive. Tell that to the next peacock you meet.

We have overturned rock layers many tens of kilometers wide, with an infinitesimal record of friction below them. Wouldn't it have been spectacular to see a slab of rock hundreds of kilometers long sticking 30 majestic kilometers out into space as it flipped - and landed without shattering?

We also have hairpin folds and z-shaped layers, which clearly tell us that the rocks have limited respect for our ideas of how they formed.

We have examples of small Grand-Canyon-like formations appearing in hours at Mt St Helens, of tens of thousands of square kilometers of extremely rough terrain forming in a few days at the Grand Coulee, of thousands of sediment layers deposited in minutes by turbidites, of huge stalagmites and stalactites forming in decades in caves around the world. All of these things happened swiftly, so why do we insist that everything else took millions and billions of years?

There's probably a lot of other observations that your parents were ignorant of...

BTW, ignorant people - where they think that there is a real hope - are generally more interested in getting a good education for their children than ``enightened'' parents. Which is sad, because State education systems will almost universally betray that ambition.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Questions (none / 0) (#367)
by ajduk on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 10:59:48 AM EST

A few questions:


a) Radiometric dating. Why does this give precise ages for rocks back to 3.8 billion years?:


b) Explain how we can see light from galaxies up to 10 billion light years away.:


c) Eohippus. Why not? I'm interested.:


d) You say: 'overturned rock layers many tens of kilometers wide'. I assume you mean 'several hundred square kilometers'. Give examples.:


e) If new species do not arise through evolution, then what natural process does generate new species, and when has it been seen in action?:




[ Parent ]
Five questions, six answers (none / 0) (#375)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 10:00:32 AM EST

Radiometric dating. Why does this give precise ages for rocks back to 3.8 billion years?

It doesn't give either precise (consistent) or accurate (believable) ages. See this example. And you're an evolutionary heretic: life supposedly goes back about that far now, rocks supposedly to 4.5Ga.

Explain how we can see light from galaxies up to 10 billion light years away.

Firstly, there is some disagreement about these distances. Secondly, the galaxies may not have been that far away 6000 local years ago. Thirdly, conventional theories often give lower ages for the universe than they do for some stars. Many of the explanations begin with ``Of course...'', ``Naturally...'' or ``Obviously...'' - all leadins which ring alarm bells for me. (-:

Eohippus. Why not?

Theoreticians quit horsing around with this long ago when they discovered that even if they, um, adjusted the dates to make one set of characteristics line up (ie ``development'' of a horse-like foot), many other characteristics (e.g. rib count) went completely haywire.

You say: 'overturned rock layers many tens of kilometers wide'. I assume you mean 'several hundred square kilometers'. Give examples.

Thousands of km2, off the top of my head. The Lewis Overthrust is the most obvious (~500km*30km=>15,000km2) but see discussion here.

If new species do not arise through evolution, then what natural process does generate new species

Evolution is not a magic wand that makes new species, even in theory. Mutations supposedly generate new information (in much the same way that shooting a Lego(tm) model produces new arrangements of the blocks) and natural selection supposedly trims off the non-starters.

A lot depends on how you define ``species'' since natural variation described as ``speciation'' often takes place and is reversed or undone very quickly (e.g. peppered moths) - much too quickly to be ``evolution'' in action.

Natural selection has certainly been observed trimming off both starter and non-starter groups, but no new information has ever been found to be created either in modern times or in the fossil record (at 250,000 species and counting).

The sixth answer is: save yourself a lot of time and to-and-fro. See here, here, and here, then perhaps walk through some directories.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

What Answers? (none / 0) (#382)
by ajduk on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 10:13:43 AM EST

>Radiometric dating. Why does this give precise >ages for rocks back to 3.8 billion years?

>It doesn't give either precise (consistent) or >accurate (believable) ages. See this example. >And you're an evolutionary heretic: life >supposedly goes back about that far now, rocks >supposedly to 4.5Ga.

Your link is irrelevant to modern radiometric data. The latest techniques would not be affected by this (in fact, even onder techniques such as K-Ar would not). The dates are consistant to within the margin of error, and believeable, unless you are a religeous fanatic. Rocks on earth do not go back 4.5Ga; individual zircons go back to around 4.2Ga but that's it.

I like your answers to the cosmological distances problem. 'christiananswers.net' is probably not the most open minded site on the internet...

Do you actually understand the principles of evolution? It seems that you, as well as most other creationists, seem to think that evolution is a) gradual and b) directional, neither of which are reflected in current thinking.

Had a good laugh when I saw your 'overturned rocks' example - that's where I did my undergraduate field work.. there are no overturned rocks there. There is an overthrust, but that's not the same as overturning a large volume of rock. As for the examples cited.. this was in the 60s. That's virtually prehistoric on modern geology.

Information can arise from randomness in the presence of a filter. Since you admit that a filter exists (Natural Selection) you also imply that information can arise from random mutations over time. The fossil record has plenty of evidence of this .

Most (indeed, all) of the sites you reference end up going back to the bible, which can hardly be counted as a reliable source.









[ Parent ]
good book on the history of creationism (none / 0) (#366)
by danny on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 01:54:02 AM EST

A really good history of creationism is Ronald Number's The Creationists - it's dense but readable, and not at all polemical.

There are some things that many people don't realise. For example, the day age theory espoused by Bryan in the Scopes trial was orthodox back then - the dominance of "creationism" by young-earth advocates is a very recent phenomenon.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]

what if... (none / 0) (#368)
by clockwise on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 11:55:54 AM EST

I don't think that teaching or not teaching the theory of evolution is related to religion. What if evolution were disproven someday? Would you automatically go out and join a church? No you'd start looking for another way. We all know the big-bang didn't happen, and you wouln't be likely to find a college professor that would teach it. My little brothers and sisters are learning that it is a "fact" in elementary shcool. It will take a while for the new theory to trickle down into the lower education system.

Why only in the US ? (none / 0) (#369)
by Fred_A on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:22:46 AM EST

What I don't understand, is that this kind of debate only occurs in the US. What's wrong with those people that they still hold to this sterile thing when it has been resolved a century ago by the rest of the planet.

Every day, the US seems to be getting closer to a christian version of Saudi Arabia. Seen from the outside, it is sad and frightening.




Fred in Paris

The Ten Commandments (3.00 / 1) (#370)
by rajadaja on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 07:59:33 PM EST

When the movie the Ten Commandments came out, the movie company gave out free signs to municipalities all over the U.S. Only a Jew or a Christian would accept these as being Holy Law, and yet thousands of cities accepted and displayed these plaques. Even today they still exist, despite the fact that our constitution guarantees us freedom from religious persecution. When someone writes a book and pronounces it the Word of God, and says my religion is not, this is irritating. When they tell me I'll go to Hell, and deprive me of my rights, it's contrary to the spirit that established this country. I for one don't look in a book to see whether something is immoral. I consider who is affected and how, in order to determine whether an action is right. Personally, I think God the Creator is too busy to bother with us, and I don't think that He created us to be just like him. If He did, He's really screwed up!

Ironic, really (none / 0) (#374)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 08:56:09 AM EST

the movie company gave out free signs to municipalities all over the U.S. Only a Jew or a Christian would accept these as being Holy Law

It's ironic that most Christians don't actually obey them. Consider Exodus chapter 20. Roman Catholics delete the second commandment (no graven images) and split the tenth (don't covet - to make up the numbers?) in their catechisms. You will note a difference between Jewish and most Christian interpretations of the fourth - Judaism is closer to correct on this point - and this is a creation issue. Many Christian authorities (and the Catholics are again infamous for this) heavily qualify the sixth (don't kill - Jesuits are required to kill heretics if they can) and ninth (don't lie - same conditions). RTFM badly needed here.

I think God the Creator is too busy to bother with us

More likely to be the other way around.

I don't think that He created us to be just like him.

You're right. He created us ``in His image'' rather than as clones. And that image has been tarnished somewhat by some millennia of abuse.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

The real issue (1.00 / 1) (#371)
by Goldhammer on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 02:51:53 AM EST

I don't think there would be much of an issue if educators didn't use the pretext of "science" as a platform for crapping on people's religous beliefs, as is the case with evolution in the curriculum. If it was taught as...

"here's the theory, we evolved from unicellular life, and here's the evidence for the theory..."

rather than:

"we evolved from unicellular life, if you don't buy it, you're either insane or simply stupid, oh, and by the way, there is no God."



Evolution does not refute the existence of God (none / 0) (#385)
by John Milton on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 05:38:36 PM EST

When I was younger I was a confirmed existentialist. Now that I've had time to reflect on my life, I believe that there has to be something that binds everything together. I just have a gut feeling about that. Besides, I've seen too many things that just strike me as too coincidental.

Do you know of the stone heads on Easter Island? When the explorer's first saw those, they knew right away that they were the work of an intelligent creator. No one sat around and proposed that wind and erosion over time had carved out those elaborate sculptures. If you find a watch on the street, do you believe that all of the parts fell together by chance or do you surmise that there was a builder? I'm not advocating creationism per se. I'm just against evolution.

The theory has more holes than most biologist are willing to admit. It annoys me because when it is taught in school it is taught as if it is just un-refutable. Have you ever looked at what the shear probability is of self-replicating gene coming together in the primordial soup? Pretty damn unlikely. Take a look at a chart of the biological interactions that take place inside the human body. I don't chalk that all up to lucky chance. If the bonding angle of H2O were one billionth of an inch shorter or longer, life wouldn't be possible on the earth.

It's a half-assed theory. Unfortunately, scientists and religious zealots have chose it as their battle ground. I don't think that we should be able to teach creation in schools. I just think that we should allow children to see the arguments for and against. Isn't it odd that scientists are forcing other people to swallow their theory. If it's true, I think it could stand on its own merits.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Arkansas committee recommends banning evolution in textbooks | 385 comments (375 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
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