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Evolution - and how we know it's right


ShadowTemplar
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You know, I actually wish Dawkins would tone down his displays of his own metaphysical beliefs or lack thereof and concentrate on the science. The two should not be mixed. I have a pretty strong ethical code (in my own not so humble opinion), but I don't go flaunt it in the same sentence that I talk about Lorentz contraction or Schrödinger's cat.

 

Hard-line, shortest-distance-between-two-points, propaganda has its time and place. But this day and age is not it. Worldwide we have a neo-religious movement that is gaining in momentum - mainly because our societies walked straight into that obvious ambush all fat, dumb, and happy. Now is the time for subtle propaganda. Guerillia information warfare, if you will. It is time for the telling of those stories that cast the clergy in a realistic light while still showcasing their dirty laundry.

 

Calling a priest a frothing-at-the-mouth, murderous, raping pedophile won't help - be it ever so true - because those who read it will think merely: Thank God that our priest isn't like that. No, this is a time for moderation. For chipping away at the enemy's armour before you rush in full bore.

 

One Danish short story stands out in particular in my mind. It is about a woman who goes to her priest to seek a divorce. The priest - of course - tells her that that's impossible. When pressed, the priest admits that adultery is a valid reason for divorce. Then the woman says that adultery is exactly the reason for her seeking divorce. The priest then tells her to her face that if a woman is unfaithful towards her husband, then he is right to seek divorce, but if a man is unfaithful towards his wife, then it is her moral duty to stay in the marriage and support him through what is obviously a hard time.

 

The genius of that story is that it doesn't really tell the reader anything he doesn't already know at some level. All it really does is compress the timescale to heavily that the hypocricy and goalpost-moving that the clergy is engaged in becomes widely visible and undeniable.

 

Nobody could accuse it of being 'hateful' or 'anti-christian,' because it faithfully represents the line of argument that the clergy employs - so if they try to attack it, they undermine their own position.

 

If you shine enlightenment on the clergy, people will see it for what it is and recoil from the hypocricy and deciet. The trick is to shine the light in such a way that it both faithfully illuminates the target and gets past the superficial trappings of morality and knee-jerk rejection of critisism that are so integral parts of religion.

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But is it? (just wondering, not saying)

 

It today's society you don't get heard with subtle. You don't get listened to with balanced arguments. You don't get elected if you admit some form of doubt or uncertainty.

Today's society likes to be told (in a very short soundbite) what to believe.

 

Thats why unsupported ideas like ID have gained so much ground over supported ideas like Evolution. Because scientists always try to be fair and balanced and mention any uncertainty... whereas their opponents just trot out soundbite theories that SOUND GOOD.

 

Maybe what is needed IS for people like Prof Dawkins to come out and start fighting back... because sometimes you have to shout to be heard. (As someone who knew a bit about the issues involved i did get a "he's being a bit unbalanced" feeling occasionally... but if everyone on the other side is being unbalanced...

And even given the provocative title he still gave a lot of time to opposing views (the scientist within?) that opponents wouldn't have done. )

 

Maybe if a few scientist had shouted louder when the idea of ID first came up it wouldn't have taken off the way it did.

 

PS/ Darn it, i think i missed the 2nd part of the show.

 

PPS/ Out of interest, would this sort of programme even get shown on US tv, cos the impression i'm getting these days of the US makes me think a programme that set out to attack religion would have no chance over there.

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I see your point. However, the neo-religious movement loves shouting match, because shouting matches convey only simplistic messages. Pro-sanity activists cannot rely on simplistic arguments, since that would be the very antithesis of sanity. Besides, the main battlefield is not the traditional political arena - we must fight the battle there as well, and there the Dawkins approach may be needed, but the main battlefront is the litterature. People read. If they don't read, then we need to get on BoEs and damn well teach them to read. People even read books that offer views that are tangential to their own beliefs if the main story is good enough. If we can get our people into the litterary mainstream and isolate the neo-barbs as wingnuts or paint them as ideolouges, we can gradually push the boundries of what is 'acceptable' in litterature and what is 'mainstream' in litterature. But it has to be subtle. People reject political creeds, but if you have a fictional country with a fictional political system that bears little resemblance to your own country and political system, you can use it to broach ideas such as institutional transparency and secularity.

 

It has been done before. It can be done again.

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It would probably be more appropriate to re-classify humans to Pan sapiens sapiens rather than to re-classify Pan troglodytes or P. paniscus to the genus Homo.

 

Still, humanity is to anthropocentric to accept such a move. We still have those among our species that seek to remove populations within the species or cleanse them. We're also far to egocentric to accept the closeness with another animal to allow chimps/bonobos to be reclassified H. troglodytes and H. paniscus. And we're certainly too full of ourselves to allow our own genus to be renamed to P. sapiens sapiens.

 

The chimps and bonobos may be better off keeping their distance from the human species for the time being.

 

Still, there is little present in humanity that cannot be found in chimp culture: language, war, politics, sexual behaviors, friendships, altruism, family values, abstract thinking, etc, etc.

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This is all I have to say is I don't believe women crapp. There is a lot of scientific proof I just don't like the idea.

 

The thought of women crapping is really unattractive. So I believe that a fairy comes in the middle of the night and hits them on the stomach with a little magic wound. This makes their poop go away. :toilet1:

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Skin.. how about religion? They don't have religion, do they? Or philosophy, or art. They don't have Star Wars, those heathens...!

 

 

Another quick thought on some of the latter posts in this thread:

 

I think it's interesting to argue these things based on ideology. I think some people are doing that or referring to that, ie: people are not arguing it based on how the science or the theology plays out, but rather saying "I'm right, because my world view is more MORAL than your's" or "I'm right because I'm a better person."

 

So you have religious people saying we can't believe in evolution or it'll turn us all into eugenicists and relativists who kill and rape each other. And we have non-religious people saying we have to teach evolution because otherwise we'll turn into hateful evil religious fundamentalists, etc. Neither approach is particularly useful except for back-patting and cheerleading I think. But it is commonly used in popular rhetoric, so it's a fair point to bring up. Good show. It's almost as if some folks don't want fundamentalists to give up creationism. Because if they do, then they have a more reasonable claim on the world at large in terms of ideology. If we see them wrong about science we can more easily dismiss them and say "oh well see, I don't need to listen to anything you have to say because you dismiss something so obviously true like evolution." In that sense, the boogey-man of fundamentalism is perhaps more useful for propaganda purposes, just like somebody like Fred Phelps is useful to gay rights activists who can then say "and look how bad religious nuts are for opposing gay rights, like this guy."

 

And you hear it commonly argued by certain Christian (evangelical?) apologists. Well, see what atheistic (this or that) is doing to America/the world? Once you get rid of God, then you get (bad things, bad whatever effects)? So therefore we need to keep/increase religious influence in (whatever). The moral-ideological approach has its limitations, and risks dodging the important issue of facts, in favor of feelings and subjective observations.

 

PS: That ashermenuitica article is interesting. Of course it looks to be as editable as wikipedia, so some caution is warranted, but the information presented there seems a fairly concise summary of what I've read elsewhere regarding the Vatican and evolution. One quirk in the article is the phrase referring to "neo-darwinism" as "perjorative." I was not aware that it was any way perjorative. Then again, such a thing is quite subjective as well. Some people use the term "liberal" as an insult, whereas others use it as a proper self definition and others merely as a descriptive term. Neo-Darwinism as I understand it is merely the body of Darwinian evolutionary theory, amended to include the knowledge of modern genetics. It is contrasted with the parts of Darwin that we know to be incorrect or incomplete (since theories are modified in light of new evidence to better conform to the world as we learn more). You could use the term "Darwinism" itself as perjorative ("ism" to some people implies a false system), but most people don't use it that way, so I take issue with that language. Anyway, just another random thought. ;)

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Talking about the evolution: If you want a proof here it is. More or less 5000000000 years ago the atmosfere of the Hearth was reductive. But suddenly some bacteries started doing the photosyntesis. And as it´s very efficient to provide energy the atmosfere became oxidant, filled with oxygen. Did bacteries die? No, they evolved, they underwent a process to be able to use oxygen to provide them energy. Of course lots of them died because they didn´t acomodate well. That´s evolution, the most capable to survive eats more, thus reproduces more, thus filles all the space avaliable. Then, the protoeucayotic cell happeared, and integrated inside a oxigen user bacteria. So it could reproduce more, it evolved. that happened 3000000000 years ago, then it took quite little time to develop the multicellular creature, and then, the mammals.

 

So, that´s evolution. Those integrated bacterias are the mithocondrion. You can read about in any book on microbiology: endosimbiant theory. proposed by Lynn Margulis. Other examples are the presence of non producer dna in the genome, some genes were switched off because they weren´t need.

 

Because of this and lots of other facts the serious cientific community accepts the evolution theory: the most able to adapt himself to a place will prevail over the others.

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Another bit of evolution filled in:

 

Scientists have made one of the most important fossil finds in history: a missing link between fish and land animals, showing how creatures first walked out of the water and on to dry land more than 375m years ago.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1748005,00.html

 

For the past 100 years or so scientists have made 100s of independent discoveries in different fields of science, in different areas of nature and in different parts of the world. Each of these has filled in another blank in the theory of evolution. None of these have disproved the theory of evolution or supported another theory.

 

Its like a gigantic picture that is slowly being decoded before our eyes... we can see the big picture now, but each subsequent discovery sharpens a part of the image in a small way.

 

The recent discoveries of the creation of new species, the evolution of eyes and the transition from water to land have pretty much filled in any remaining areas that had been unclear and the recent development of genetic techniques is likely to bring the whole picture into even sharper focus.

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One question I have for people who believe in, say, intelligent design or creationism or whatever outside of evolution, is how does your theory deal with the several mass extinctions the Earth has gone through?

 

I understand that while the most recent mass extinction 65 mya that brought about the death of the dinosaurs as well as 75% of all the other species on the planet was most likely caused by meteorite impact, (perhaps meteorites are outside of the skills of the intelligent designer?) many of the other mass extinctions are thought to be brought about by natural processes. In particular, the mass extinction at the end of the permian period where as much as 96% of life on the Earth died out is thought to have been brought about by climate change.

 

There are at least 4 other well known mass extinctions, and how does this fit into the scope of intelligent design? Is the designer just not that intelligent? Made a planet-full of species and then decided that they really weren't that good? Scrap it and make a new batch?

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Well, I don't believe in 'Intelligent Design', but I could imagine that mass extinctions might not necessarily fit into a "Intelligent Designer's" plan. Accidents so to say. An arbortive experiment maybe. Simply things that happen to scientists all over the world.

 

I mean it's Intelligent Design not Omnipotent Design. :p

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There are at least 4 other well known mass extinctions, and how does this fit into the scope of intelligent design? Is the designer just not that intelligent? Made a planet-full of species and then decided that they really weren't that good? Scrap it and make a new batch?
I think you're mixing up intelligent design with supernatural design. I know that intelligent design exists and it's easily demonstrable, but I sure don't believe that trying to find a supernatural cause for design is useful for anything besides metaphysics.
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Intelligent design exists when the term is applied to those things that are designed by humanity. Until such time as we can demonstrate that other worlds exist, this is all we can mean when we refer to "intelligent" design.

 

But the creationist nutters are referring to the design by a god. This has no evidential support and the entire premise is pseudoscience.

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The creation explanation can be immediately disgarded, since there are many hundreds of variations of these and none are testable.

Just because it isn't testable, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Also, you are leaving out of this "debate" a very large majority of the world's population with that statement.

 

I make the distinction because in nearly every evolution argument I've been in, within a few posts the opponent to the fact of evolution will bring up the beginning of the universe.

That's because in the creation theory, the origin of species and the origin of the universe usually go hand-in-hand.

 

To me, this thread doesn't seem like a debate. It seems more like an excuse to tell each other how great the evolution theory is. Because you said that you disregarded creation because it can't be tested. And you have already stated that evolution is the only theory that is a demonstrable mechanism to explain our existence. Therefore you will disregard anyone who believes anything other than evolution. Therefore this thread is pointless.

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Just because it isn't testable, doesn't mean it isn't there.

 

Alright, but, it must be fair to say then that even though you can't test that the sun is made of cheese, doesn't mean it's not made of cheese.

 

Also, you are leaving out of this "debate" a very large majority of the world's population with that statement.

 

If there's anything we've learned throughout history, it's that being in the majority doesn't make you right.

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I know that intelligent design exists and it's easily demonstrable,
Are you discussing intelligent design in the matter of the creation of all life on this planet? Because if so...I'd love to see that demonstration.

 

Generally when discussing "Intelligent Design" it's being applied to the belief that the creation of life on this planet was at least guided by some "designer". If this is the case, why did the designer decide to eradicate so much of it's work? For it to be a viable theory it MUST be able to explain why those happened.

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Alright, but, it must be fair to say then that even though you can't test that the sun is made of cheese, doesn't mean it's not made of cheese.

That's different. Because that's disprovable. There just... aren't enough cows. :p

Point is, creation isn't really disprovable. And you must remember that there is some basis for creation. It's not just something people believe out of spite. And not all creationists are just delusional.

 

If there's anything we've learned throughout history, it's that being in the majority doesn't make you right.

That might be true in some cases, but not always. Besides, that wasn't really my point. I wasn't saying being in the majority makes me right, I was saying that if you're looking for debating opponets who don't believe in creation or evolution. Well... that's a rather small opposition.

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One question I have for people who believe in, say, intelligent design or creationism or whatever outside of evolution, is how does your theory deal with the several mass extinctions the Earth has gone through?

 

I understand that while the most recent mass extinction 65 mya that brought about the death of the dinosaurs as well as 75% of all the other species on the planet was most likely caused by meteorite impact, (perhaps meteorites are outside of the skills of the intelligent designer?) many of the other mass extinctions are thought to be brought about by natural processes. In particular, the mass extinction at the end of the permian period where as much as 96% of life on the Earth died out is thought to have been brought about by climate change.

 

There are at least 4 other well known mass extinctions, and how does this fit into the scope of intelligent design? Is the designer just not that intelligent? Made a planet-full of species and then decided that they really weren't that good? Scrap it and make a new batch?

 

No matter what theory you believe in, whether we came from the sea or God made us as described in genesis. Both would have had to survive mass extinction's.

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No matter what theory you believe in, whether we came from the sea or God made us as described in genesis. Both would have had to survive mass extinction's.
That's kind of the point. Most things didn't survive the mass extinctions...that's why they're called mass extinctions.
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Evolution has an explanation for maxx extinction. Creatures die out due to changing conditions that they are incapable of adapting to. (Or in the case of the K-T extinction, they get vaporized by a giant meteor)

 

But if you don't believe in the survival of the fittest model, then why did everything die? I'm not saying that they DON'T explain it, I'm just asking what the explanation IS.

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Are you discussing intelligent design in the matter of the creation of all life on this planet? Because if so...I'd love to see that demonstration.

 

Generally when discussing "Intelligent Design" it's being applied to the belief that the creation of life on this planet was at least guided by some "designer". If this is the case, why did the designer decide to eradicate so much of it's work? For it to be a viable theory it MUST be able to explain why those happened.

No, I was meaning pretty much what Skinwalker said. Using the supernatural in intelligent design is kind of like dividing by infinity. It doesn't come up with a meaningful answer, because you can't define God.

 

Your second point- the designer doesn't exactly need to watch what the things it created are doing, nor does it have to care about them. Whether or not they get smacked by an asteroid is kind of irrelevant to whether they were designed or not.

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