¶ Should we teach creationism?

Have recently finished reading Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Yes, I did find the language rather quaint but I was very impressed by the thoroughness of this work. Darwin seemed to anticipate all the arguments which might be used against his theory of development of species by natural selection and dealt honestly with each of them. Modern proponents of creationism should refer back to Darwin’s book where they would find answers disproving most of their arguments.

The work is also a great example of how scientific knowledge evolves by throwing out old theories when they can no longer explain new evidence and developing new theories which explain the evidence – a very important aspect which gives so much power to the scientific method. Darwin wrote the book at a time when the independent creation of species was commonly believed but yet these ideas were clearly out of touch with the accumulating evidence of the age of the earth, the fossil record, distribution of species around the earth, existence of relic organs, etc. The creation theory had been discredited, although still being strongly promoted for religious reasons. Darwin’s theory was able to accommodate this new knowledge and has provided a base for a wealth of new research up to the present.

I especially enjoyed Darwin’s question of creationists – did theyreally believe that at innumerable periods in the earth’s history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissue?” This reflects back on to the modern creationists who attempt to discredit evolution by using a ridiculous argument which has more to do with their own ideas.

Anyway, putting evolution into this historical context shows how silly (and dishonest) it is to advocate teaching creationism (or intelligent design) as an equal alternative to evolution in science classes. Creationism should be taught, but only as a failed theory which was replaced (for very good reasons) be evolution. We should teach creationism in the same way we teach about phlogiston (an obsolete theory which tried to explain oxidation and discredited by Lavoisier in the 18th century) in chemistry classes.

What do you think – should we teach creation theory, but only as a failed theory?

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135 responses to “¶ Should we teach creationism?

  1. I think it would be grand to have biology books include some of the classic refutations of creationism from the 19th century. Such a book would have no chance of adoption in Texas, however.

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  2. I’m not sure at the elementary school level (evolution seems to get little time as it is), but it would be great if history and philosophy courses covered the “evolution” of scientific thought and the systematic refutation of creationism, especially from 1600 through the present. Even in science class, some more history would be great; saying Darwin wrote “On the Origin of Species” and nothing more isn’t enough to convey the history of the idea.

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  3. “Teach creationism” is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron.

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  4. I think creationism should be taught as an alternative to evolution in the context of the history of ideas, perhaps in a critical thinking class. It should not be taught in the science class, as the ID proponents wish. If creationism was taught in the science class it would only mislead the unwitting into thinking creationism is scientific.

    If we protect any theory from competing ideas, no matter how fallacious they are, then all we end up with is dead dogmas and the assumption of infallibility. The challenge from other ideas helps to keep the debate alive, and thereby improve understanding.

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  5. Thanks for your comments Adam.
    I can see your point. Actually, ID is not really a scientific theory but a political movement – it targets scientific methodology (and to that extent is an issue for scientist to counter), but also expressly targets the whole of society, including modern religions. It would be good if it was presented, taught and discussed in that sense – very difficult to do with concurrent ideologies. But, I agree, certainly not in a science class.
    I don’t see this as a matter of protecting scientific theory from competing ideas. Science develops from testing its theories against objective reality – that’s what keeps it alive (and sure, genuine differences ins scientific theory are involved and get resolved in the process). At each stage old discredited theories get left behind – there is no requirement to test against these all the time (that would be stultifying for science), although of course old ideas may be revitalized by new empirical evidence.

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  6. Remeber…its just a “theory”.
    I’m no Christian, but I don’t buy into the evolution “guess”.

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  7. Personally, I’m suspicious about the gravity “guess.”

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  8. Personally, I’m suspicious about people who say they aren’t Christians (perhaps a Muslim?) but claim evolution is just a theory and a guess. I don’t think such a person exists.

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  9. Idontknow – go & check out the meaning of the word ‘theory’ as it’s used in science.

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  10. But, Idontknow, the alternatives to evolutionary science are just a belief. Scientific theory trumps belief every time.

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  11. WOw, I done whacked the militant Darwinist hive.

    1. AV – your just an idiot

    2. Damian – You are paranoid. I have no religious affiliation, but I don’t claim to be an atheist either. I am currently “seeking” answers.
    What I’ve found so far is: You can’t find the truth from apologists or atheists.

    3. Alison, science isn’t using the word “theory” in it’s scientific definition when it comes to evolution. If they were then it would be case closed, proven, thats all folks. But it’s not.
    They are using the more general use of the term to mean:
    In common usage, the word theory is often used to signify a conjecture, an opinion, a speculation, or a hypothesis. In this usage, a theory is not necessarily based on facts; in other words, it is not required to be consistent with true descriptions of reality. True descriptions of reality are more reflectively understood as statements which would be true independently of what people think about them.

    4. Ken – Your response was the most sane, thanks. I’m just am not sold on evolution as carved in stone. To me it seems as much a belief as ID does.

    I’m not here to ruffle any feathers or what have you. I am just looking for the truth, or what seems more plausible. Humans coming from apes just sounds retarded to me. But hey, like my name says, I don’t know.

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  12. Idontknow, you should take a look at the strong case that the Discovery Institute makes for alternative explanations to the development of life on Earth. I think you’ll find their evidence quite compelling.

    Good luck with your search for the truth!

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  13. Oh come on, idontknow! A theory in science is NEVER ‘case closed, proven’. There is always the potential for it to be disproved. It’s a testable, predictive explanation for a large body of observations (data)e.g. the germ theory of disease, or the theory of gravity. And the theory of evolution.

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  14. What case is made by Discovery Institute for alternatives to evolution? You’re joking, right? Even the Discovery Institute says, officially, before public bodies where truthful statements are generally required, that they don’t have an alternative to evolution.

    I think I find their case compelling against their hopes. They hope evolution isn’t accurate, God knows why. I suppose they hope a cure for cancer can never be found, though evolution has provided a few. I suppose they hope the Green Revolution can’t happen so billions will starve, though application of evolution theory has allowed human population totals to swell well beyond what anyone thought possible just 30 years ago.

    But a case against evolution? Not in DI’s site. Especially, no alternative case.

    You were joking, Damian, yes?

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  15. Ed, Idontknow’s approach to finding the truth is perfectly suited for an organisation like the DI. I think that everyone would benefit from such a partnership.

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  16. I’ll check out DI even though it sounds like they might be one sided, thanks Damian and Ed.

    Alison, your mind is obviously made up. What evidence did you see that helped you make up your mind? I think lumping the theory of evolution in with germ theory od disease and gravity is a BIG stretch. Theres obviously some debate there, I don’t think too many people are having problems accepting gravity or germ thoeries. Why? Because there not as rediculous as the theory of evolution. Some of evolution’s claims are as hard to swallow as some of the bible’s claims. They both seem to be out there in make believe land.

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  17. Man, I need to start proof reading my posts. Sorry about the typos.
    Ah, I’m just an evolutionary failure.

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  18. Byebye and good luck.

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  19. Idontknow, this “I’m just am not sold on evolution as carved in stone. To me it seems as much a belief as ID does” suggests you haven’t considered the evidence. You have a preconceived belief which is getting in the way.

    Evolutionary science is a science. It includes facts (eg. fossils, molecular evidence), theory (natural selection, genetic drift) and speculative ideas (eg. much of evolutionary psychology). Just like any other science.

    Evolutionary science is extremely rich, and very dynamic. New evidence is arising all the time. Theories are continually being modified/developed.

    To say ” . . its just a “theory”. . . I don’t buy into the evolution “guess”. is really just showing that you haven’t really considered the whole area.

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  20. //I think lumping the theory of evolution in with germ theory od disease and gravity is a BIG stretch.//

    You may choose to think so, but they are all equally valid scientific theories. (Remember, 300 years ago ‘people’ had a great deal of difficulty accepting the germ theory of disease. Some still do today.) You seem to be changing the meaning of the word ‘theory’ to suit yourself.

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  21. Taken from nationalgeographic.com “The nearest ancestors of Earth’s largest-ever animals were tiny deerlike creatures that jumped into rivers to flee prehistoric predators, a new study suggests.
    Thats their theory on where whales came from? That has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Like I said, that’s about as believable as some of the bible. I guess yours is “the gospel according to darwin”.

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  22. And some evolution primer videos on google video say that the “sinonyx” a wolflike creature evolved into the whale. It says “perhaps its descendants found the water a source of abundant food and a haven from competition”.
    So their theory is that because it hung out near the water so much it evolved into a whale? And you think this is believable?
    I have to tell you, I tried reading the bible(ok actually I downloaded the audio version for free because I’m lazy, thank you evolution) and after listening to just the first book of Matthew, I gave up. Too hard to believe! But I tell you what, evolutionists or darwinists, whatever you call yourself, you have ALOT more faith in what you believe than any Christian does in what they believe. That or your all nuts.
    FYI, I believe in evolution within species, but not cross species.

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  23. I rather think you’d find, if you did a bit of reading, that our understanding of evolution has moved on since Darwin’s day. (After all, it’s the old gentlemans 200th birthday next February.)

    As far as whales are concerned, convergence of data from both palaeontology & molecular biology indicates that whales’ closest relatives are artiodactyls (a group that includes the modern hippo). ‘Thewissen’s whale lab’ website has some interesting stuff from one of the leading researchers in the field. His work is likely to be more reliable than ‘some evolution primer’ found by a google search.

    As to why I accept evolution – ‘accept’, not ‘believe’ – it’s because after a great deal of reading in that field I find the modern theory of evolution a far more convincing explanation for the development of life’s diversity than the ‘goddidit’ alternative (which offers no mechanism and no possibility of disproof).

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  24. According to nationalgeographic.com, Hippos don’t appear in the fossil record until about 35 million years after whales. The fossils show distinct features that suggest the ancient ungulates, or hoofed mammals, are the long-sought “missing links” in the evolution of whales.

    Like I said, you believe this? Hoofed animal to whale? That is a miracle!

    I think the basic moral of the story from national geographic is they are pretty much still trying to figure it out, more or less. BIG SURPRISE.

    Just as an aside: How does evolution explain the Archer Fish or the Pistol Shrimp?
    Look them up, pretty weird.

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  25. Idontknow:

    Firstly, I have to say that I think your “name” “Idontknow” is honest: you don’t seem to know much! 😉 More seriously given that, don’t you think its better to also been honest and say that you can’t draw conclusions without knowing about things you don’t know? There’s a cliché I like: you can’t criticise what you don’t understand. If you don’t understand or know about evolution you can’t really make judgements about it either.

    Alison didn’t say that whales evolved from hippos. She wrote that modern-day descendents of the artiodactyls include hippos.

    Scientists aren’t “trying to figure out” if evolution occurred: its long been shown that evolution occurred (and occurs). People are still working out details of how evolution occurs, and how it occurred–quite different to that it occurred.

    Think of a murder case: early in the piece you figure out that that someone was murdered, figuring out the details of how and who did it come later. Science is well past the equivalent of the “this is a murder”: we know that evolution occurred (and occurs). Scientist still work on the details of “how”.

    How it occurs includes the fine detail of what particular changes take place. For example, a lot of recent molecular genetics work has focused on that much of the differences between species are in the portions of DNA that control genes (regulatory DNA), rather than in the portion coding for the product of the gene (the mRNA, and hence the protein made).

    How it occurred, includes the question of what were the ancestors of particular modern-day species. I would guess its this that the National Geographic article is referring to, not “that evolution occurs”, but “how it occurred” (for particular species).

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  26. I know eneough to know you dont have any answers Heraclides. I know what I’ve seen so far is that no definite conclusions can be made. I can have an opinion, can’t I? You know eveyone has one, just like all you have is an opinion. And at least I can admit I don’t have the answers, which is why the name is: idontknow. Unlike someone like you or an atheist or an apologist, you can’t admit your way of thinking can possibly be wrong.

    I know what Alison said about the group “including” the hippo. It’s just funny how hippos are always mentioned when artiodactyls and whales are mentioned. Although out of all the artiodactyls the hippo’s dna is closer to that of the whale than the other artiodactyls. Maybe that’s why I see it mentioned, although the 35 million year difference isn’t always.

    I dont doubt micro-evolution. I do seriously doubt macro-evolution, which is where the “details” you mention scientists are still working on.

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  27. I think lumping the theory of evolution in with germ theory od disease and gravity is a BIG stretch.

    Germ theory of disease is an adjunct to evolution, of course. Trying lump germ theory OUT of evolution is quite a stretch.

    And, really, it is a stretch to try to say we know as much about gravity as we do about evolution. Evolution is much better understood than gravity, and much better detailed. For example, we know that evolution is essentially carried on genes, and in fact we know so much about it we can manipulate it. The discovery of gravitons as the particles that carry gravity is much more recent, and generally not known. We’ve never been able to measure gravity directly, only indirectly by its effects. The testing of the speed of gravity is in the last decade. No one’s ever detected a gravity wave, though not for lack of trying.

    You’re right: It’s a stretch to compare gravity theory to evolution theory; evolution theory is much more solid.

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  28. Whale evolution:

    The issue with hippos is that the molecular guys predicted that whales and hippos are related, on the basis of DNA (one of those corroborating chunks of science). Paleontologists didn’t believe it; they understood that whales’ last land dwelling ancestors were carnivores.

    Then a skeleton was discovered in Pakistan that had a tell-tale ankle bone, found only in even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls). (Did you even know some whales have ankle bones?) So the predictions of the molecular guys were borne out. Hippos and whales share a distant ancestor.

    You’ll want to check out the facts; see this article by my old friend, super paleontologist Ray Sutera:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/

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  29. You’re so full of darwin crap Ed. I dont think anyone is arguing gravity, oh wait, lets ask…yea, this just in, everyone is still not arguing about the LAW of gravity.

    I read the same article you did on the ankle bone…so what? If you want to believe an ungulate became a whale, go ahead.

    I guess it happened something like this…ungulates near water, eventually just a specific species from these ungulates was like ” I’ve been spending alot of time in the water here dudes, my hooves have turned into flippers I’m headin’ out to sea. Later bitches!!

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  30. Idontknow:

    The first point of my post was that you can’t make judgements on something that you don’t understand. The reason I made that point is that, as someone who understands this area, your posts show a lack of understanding, which your latest post re-enforces.

    Your trying to say after-the-fact that you understood Alison’s meaning doesn’t makes sense. Its obvious you didn’t understand, or you wouldn’t have written what you did 😉

    Of course you can have opinions: I never said otherwise. But trying imply that my words are opinions isn’t right. Only my first sentence is an opinion: the rest aren’t. But, hey, I’ve seen a ploy before, eh? 😉 Imply that statements are “opinions” in order to compare them to “opinions” based on nothing much. Sorry, but this one is too familiar to me… 🙂

    So why not try this: why not present what your “opinions” are based on? — bearing in mind it’ll have to be positive evidence for your argument or it’ll have no weight.

    “which is where the “details” you mention scientists are still working on” — I didn’t write that and you’re wrong about what I was referring to. The ‘details’ I was referring to actually refer to both macro and micro evolution. As an example, if you read my post you would have seen that my example referred to “differences between species”, which by definition is NOT about micro-evolution… 😉

    I don’t think you really understand much of this to be honest. People who are genuinely trying to learn ask for the meaning of terms or lines of argument, not try to use them without really understanding them. Your “arguments” are identical to those from creationists who deliberately play a game of pretending to be open-minded (seen that one too many times, too…) Your last sentence, for example, is an obvious give-away, as is the back-peddling, etc.

    “Unlike someone like you […], you can’t admit your way of thinking can possibly be wrong” — This is out-and-out putting words in my mouth. I’ve seen this pathetic line so many times and what amazes me about it is that the people who put it out don’t seem to realise that it reflects far more on themselves than those who they direct it to.

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  31. (My post crosses some of the more recent ones.)

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  32. You’re so full of darwin crap Ed. I dont think anyone is arguing gravity, oh wait, lets ask…yea, this just in, everyone is still not arguing about the LAW of gravity.

    And then you have the gall to claim that I am “full of crap,” when it is you who is arguing that science theories much better established than gravity theory is, um, not established at all?

    You got the comparison, you’ve missed the point. That’s the problem with science deniers in all categories of science: They can look at any evidence and deny it’s there at all.

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  33. See Ed? Don’t you think my solution was a good one? There are some people who are just plain antagonisers or irredeemably ignorant and there’s really nothing you can do except waste time with them. The DI can have them.

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  34. Oh, but Damian! Creationists just muck with our schools. You ought to see what happens when you try to climate change denialists to admit air pollution exists, or that its harmful, or that all that carbon mining we do with fossil fuels might have an effect on the Earth — they make creationists look like pikers.

    See this thread: http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/skeptics-win-one-noaa-pulls-the-ccsp-report/

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  35. You can read through the typos. Apologies.

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  36. Yeah, it’s a bit of a dilemma. There’s got to be some kind of balance between addressing people’s genuine lack of understanding and engaging a vocal minority (who won’t be convinced by evidence) which risks giving them apparent credibility. I really don’t know what the best approach is on this.

    It seems that humans are inherently prone to magical or conspiratorial thinking and I hold the pessimistic view that we’re going to be stuck with dividing lines like this for a long time yet. I guess we just need to find a balance between throwing resources into dispelling wrong thinking and getting on with the job of science. When I see a brilliant evolutionary biologist like Dawkins spending all of his time fighting religious fires I have to wonder if the balance is a bit off. But, like I say, I don’t really have a solution and he’s doing a good job of raising public awareness and forcing a conversation that needs to be had.

    But with regard to people like Idontknow, I really think any form of conversation is a complete waste of time.

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  37. I sometimes wonder if supporters of science fall into a trap arguing with evolution deniers. Because the real issues are not the details of evolution or the theories and ideas in evolutionary science. They are the underlying (and very often undeclared/denied) beliefs and attitudes held by the denier. Often these beliefs/attitudes/wordviews cause the denier to misunderstand/misrepresent/distort science – attempt to change reality to fit preconceived ideas/prejudices/etc. (I hope this isn’t confusing – I seem to have picked up this bad habit of replacing words with lists from someone).

    We are never going to resolve discussion with these people because the discussion doesn’t deal with the real underlying issues. (And lets face it, the real substance of evolution is being discussed, debated and resolved by those actually doing the scientific work – not here). Perhaps it would be better to discuss the underlying issues.

    We certainly know the anti-evolution attitude of Idontknow. But could he/she tell us what part of his own worldview actually leads him/her to this positions. Does he feel the scientific story conflicts with his religious beliefs? Does he think that science is incapable of investigating and understanding these issues? Does he have a story/theory/belief which explains things better (and if so could he share it)? Or is he/she just like injecting ridicule into serious discussion?

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  38. Damian:

    Yeah, it’s a bit of a dilemma. There’s got to be some kind of balance between addressing people’s genuine lack of understanding and engaging a vocal minority (who won’t be convinced by evidence) which risks giving them apparent credibility. I really don’t know what the best approach is on this.

    I think I used to be better at this that I am now! I used to try take a line that if people wanted to ask questions about something that they didn’t understand, fine; if they wanted to make assertions without backing them in a way the “hinted” of an agenda, I’d just ask that they back them up (and try gently point out that if they don’t they’re not really saying anything of substance). Occasionally, I would take the liberty of rephrasing their words (“I think you really mean…”) into something more focused if I thought it warranted, but try take care to do it in a way that wasn’t putting words in their mouths.

    I find it hard to continually be reasonably polite in the face of barely veiled rudeness that seems to often come from these people, in the hope that you’ll reach the lurkers.

    Sometimes I think it helps to write to the lurkers, not the person being a pest. Apart from addressing an audience that might actually benefit, it shifts focus from the poster (and any rudeness, etc. coming from them) and helps focus on what might be a useful thing to say. For me it does, anyway!

    It seems that humans are inherently prone to magical or conspiratorial thinking and I hold the pessimistic view that we’re going to be stuck with dividing lines like this for a long time yet. I guess we just need to find a balance between throwing resources into dispelling wrong thinking and getting on with the job of science. When I see a brilliant evolutionary biologist like Dawkins spending all of his time fighting religious fires I have to wonder if the balance is a bit off. But, like I say, I don’t really have a solution and he’s doing a good job of raising public awareness and forcing a conversation that needs to be had.

    I’m not sure the first point is inherently true. I think it is true, if people aren’t educated thought

    And likewise, I think there is some evidence that our brains appear to be wired to construct “evidence” from “experience”, which leads to anecdotal “proofs” with all their faults if the conclusions are not inspected critically. (That’s part of what a scientific approach can overcome, of course.)

    After all, we have scientists who obviously don’t think that way…! 🙂

    I think there are several other “human” things in the mix. Some people seem to have a need to have a leader to follow. Some people seem to have a tendency to get swept up by peer pressure. Or have an overdose of plain old gullibility. Religions seem good at leveraging these things, esp. the right-leaning sort.

    Almost all research scientists I know spend very little, if any, time addressing creationist, anti-vaccine, HIV denial, etc. views (I don’t either really, its a tiny fraction of my time.) As a practical matter, most are very busy with what they already do and with their minds on that, this creationist (etc.) fuss is largely a case of out of sight and out of mind.

    The “blogosphere” is a little different in that a small number of these people have an unequal impact in on the blogosphere compared to elsewhere. I think that most scientists aren’t aware of it until they hang out in the blogs and then it become painfully obvious from a loud-mouthed few!

    Tara Smith and Steven Novella’s paper on HIV denial says words to similar effect (ref: PLoS Med. 4(8)e256 2007). (TS is the author of the Aetiology blog and SN the author of Neurologica blog and I gather contributes to other blogs.)

    I think that Dawkins and a few others are exceptions in that they have (intentionally) moved over to “science communication” as a large part of, or even the majority of, their work. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Dawkins has done research science as his main line of work for a while now and that he’s very much a science communicator these days. Nothing wrong with that, its just your phrasing of it could be made out as meaning that he is distracted from research work to deal with this, etc., when the impression I get is that he chose to move to sci. comm.

    But with regard to people like Idontknow, I really think any form of conversation is a complete waste of time.

    Well, yes 🙂 When I’m in a better mood, I try use posts from people like IDK to write to the lurkers, and not worry much about the IDKs of this world.

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  39. What I belive in Ed is…neither. I’m looking for answers. What I’ve found out is: micro-evolution is a no brainer. Macro: is a different story. Wheres the proof? I’ve been searching. Maybe you geniuses can help me out.
    Quit being condescending pricks and show me where I can find the proof at. Maybe my google is broken?

    I see no one has an answer for the Pistol Shrimp or the Archer Fish. I’m looking for answers here. How can evolution explain this? How about an answer to that?

    Heraclides, who gives a crap what you think. You obiously didn’t understand my response.
    I’ll say it again, this time s-l-o-w-e-r so you can keep up.
    (remember, this whoooooole time I uderstood that Alison used the hippo as an example of an artiodactyl)
    My point was that although scientists say whales came from an artiodactyl, they always say “a group which includes the hippo”. Why do they always use the hippo as an example from that group when it wasn’t even on the scene for 35 million years? Why don’t they say a pig or a hooved wolf(sinonyx) or something else? Maybe because if someone doesn’t know they might think “oh yea, I can see a whale coming from a hippo” It was more of an observation. I just thought it was a little odd. Was that clear eneough for you? Maybe english is your second language or something?

    Quit being a bunch of a-holes and lets see the proof. Thats all I’m looking for.

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  40. Dear Darwin’s Diary:

    1831-Oh boy, today we reached the Galapagos and blah, blah, blah. Finches blah, blah. Beaks, blah.
    I have some theories.

    1882-Dear diary, I am dead. Crap!

    P.S.”if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  41. Ken:

    I know what you mean about discussing the underlying issues. One reason I think its hard to address is because you have to simplify and condense to reach a wider audience and in doing that, unless you’re one of those rare people that can do it very well, the (necessary) simplifications provide opportunities for the ID/creationist/etc crowd.

    A more sophisticated treatment, which might better address the details, flies over the heads of most, so its only a solution to those who have taken the trouble to learn more than the very basics.

    I think its a fair criticism to say that all but a rare few that come in with an agenda are genuinely interested in learning the background to understand the thing properly: most of these people really just want to re-enforce their current mindset. Some of these people, when you do give them more details “protest” that you’re deliberately trying to confuse or whatnot. (Overlooking that their unwillingness to learn might have a say in that!)

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  42. IDK, it’s a bit rich to accuse others here of rudeness & condescension when your whole last post reeks of it.

    As for your ‘PS’ from The Origin of Species – why don’t you read the whole thing instead of being so selective in your quote-mining? Darwin quite deliberately identified ‘problems’ with his theory – & then gave examples of how these could be overcome. For example, he said of the complex camera eye: “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree” (1859, “On the origin of species”).

    But he then went on to say that ‘if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations can be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modifcation in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable to our imagination, can hardly be considered real” (1859, “On the origin of species”).

    The eye is a structure that can: detect the difference between light & dark (& in many cases colour, as well); determine the direction that the light’s coming from; and focus the light to get a sharp image (for people with 20:20 vision, anyway). In other words, it’s a structure that helps us to gather information about our environment. And natural selection can favour an improved ability to gather this information, even in tiny increments, in comparison with other alternatives available at that point in time.

    For example, a very basic eye would consist of a few light-sensitive cells, allowing the animal to distinguish light from dark. An individual with a slightly curved ‘eye’, rather than a flat one, could gain some selective advantage as it would be able to tell what direction the light was coming from. Such functional intermediates do exist in nature: there is a complete series in molluscs, from a flat light-sensitive surface to the complex camera eye of cephalopods. What’s more, eyes have evolved independently in at least 5 other phyla. The lens proteins are the same as, or similar to, existing proteins with other functions, but have been co-opted for another function. (In other words, a key structure in the eye did not have to evolve ‘from scratch’.)

    And how long would this take? In a 1994 paper, Nilsson & Pelger modelled the eye’s evolution through the continuous small improvements that would be expected, if possession of even the simplest light-sensing organ had a selective advantage. Their most pessimistic estimate for the time it would take to move from a light-sensitive patch to a focused lens? Less than half a million years. A camera-type eye is indeed an impressively complex structure – but its complexity is certainly not irreducible.

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  43. IDK:

    You wrote “Hippos don’t appear in the fossil record until about 35 million years after whales.” in response to Alison mentioning hippos. This point that you wrote is irrelevant if modern hippos are descendants from that group, as you should have been able to figure out from my emphasising this point to you. Thus, my point stands: you are making excuses and you did put forward an argument that shows you don’t understand. Furthermore, you can’t seem to link the point I made into the argument either without assistance, which re-enforces my point that you don’t understand the issues as you claim to.

    Get annoyed at me if you like: I deliberately didn’t spell it out, to see if you would fall into the simple trap of overstating from your wish for it some how to be evidence of inconsistency. Instead your own argument is inconsistent.

    The reason the documentaries, etc. use hippos is very easy to guess, even without looking anything up. But given your abusive language I’ll leave you wondering. Hint: the first sentence of this paragraph has a clue. I’m a tease, huh? 🙂 And I’ll leave it that way if you continue to treat me as you do 😉

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  44. Whoops,

    My post crossed with Alison’s.

    I always think of Paramecium when I think of simple light-responsive organisms. They’re neat little things.

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  45. Why won’t any of you kool-aid drinkers give me an answer to the Pistol Shrimp or the Archer Fish. I actually never heard of either one of these until I saw them on science channel or something last night. But was wondering how evolution can explain them? Seriously. Any ideas?
    You people don’t seem to want to help. I’m looking for answers and its like a little darwin clique here.

    ”if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    Im going to quote this in every one of my posts just to piss you off Alison.

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  46. The reason I haven’t even begun to address the pistol shrimp/archer fish thing is that – going by the tone of your posts – when I’d done so you’d just move on to demand that we explain something else. It’s called shifting the goalposts.

    Sorry, but you won’t piss me off. All you’re doing is showing your complete lack of interest in actually engaging with anything any of us says that doesn’t mesh with your belief system. That, plus your tendency to abuse people (‘a-holes’, ‘kool-aid drinkers’ & the rest) suggests you’re not genuinely looking for answers but simply trolling. And if you’re going down that route I, like Heraclides, just can’t be bothered with continuing to try & meet you halfway.

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  47. And since we’ve talked about theories – how about this? (It’s from the court transcript of Dover vs Kitzmiller; Kevin Padian is answering: http://www.sciohost.org/ncse/kvd/Padian/Padian_transcript.html)

    Now, does something become science or accepted in science because it’s published in a book?

    A. Well, it depends on the book. When books are published, they may have a seminal influence, but simply because something is published in a book doesn’t mean that it’s science. I think that that’s a question of its reception by the scientific community.

    If somebody writes a book and nobody reads it, is it influential? And the answer would be no. And if somebody writes a book but claims it’s science and it’s not cited by scientists, it doesn’t stimulate scientific research and the ideas in it are never brought to peer review, then the answer is probably not much, because we depend on peer-review discussion of ideas and research results in order to further the progress of science.

    Q. So anybody can write a book and proclaim that they have a new scientific theory, but the test really is whether it’s ultimately accepted by a large part of the scientific community?

    A. Yes. And here I think the term “theory,” again, has to be looked at the way scientists consider it. A theory is not just something that we think of in the middle of the night after too much coffee and not enough sleep. That’s an idea. And if you have a hypothesis, it’s something that’s a testable proposition, you can actually find some evidence that will help you to weigh it one way or the other.

    A. A theory, in science, as maybe it’s been pointed out in court, I don’t know, in science means a very large body of information that’s withstood a lot of testing. It probably consists of a number of different hypotheses, many different lines of evidence. And it’s something that is very difficult to slay with an ugly fact, as Huxley once put it, because it’s just a complex body of work that’s been worked on through time.

    Gravitation is a theory that’s unlikely to be falsified even if we saw something fall up. It would make us wonder, but we’d try to figure out what was going on there rather than just immediately dismiss gravitation.

    Q. Is the same true for evolution?

    A. Oh, yes. Evolution has a great number of different kinds of lines of evidence that support it from, of course, the fossil record, the geologic record, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, systematic, that is, classification work, molecular phylogenies, all of these independent lines of evidence.

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  48. I think I did something wrong with my html code again

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  49. Ok. So. Micro or macro? I am with you on micro, as I’m sure most people are. How about macro? That’s where this whole theory seems to be lacking. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places. So give me some info, that’s all I’m asking.
    From what I’ve read, and there’s alot to read out there, I by no means have covered it all. But from what I have seen I am hearing alot of noise about transitional fossils lacking(macro). What I am hearing is there should be thousands of these transitional forms, but there’s not. If you have any info, let me know. Save the “oh I guess you dont know” and “oooh look at me, I’m so smart” and “I pretend I know everything but I don’t have any answers”.
    Not directed at anyone specifically, just everyone in general.

    btw-nice cop out on the pistol shrimp and archer fish.

    ”if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  50. Oh OK. There are in fact quite a lot of transitional fossils available. I don’t think it’s fair to say there should be thousands of forms just waiting to be found, as fossilisation is a relatively rare process (you have to die in the right place & avoid being chomped up by scavengers, for a start); if the sediments bearing your fossil are subducted then they & your remains will be melted down & gone forever; & if they are raised up to the surface, like as not you’ll be destroyed by erosion before someone happens along to find you.

    But anyway… for the reptile-mammal transition, there’s a list of some of the key transitional forms at talkorigins (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC215.html) with an accompanying diagram of the details of jaw changes (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/images/jaws1.gif).

    Whales were mentioned earlier. Indohyus represents an early stage in the transition from terrestrial to marine mammal – Brian Switek has written a very good review of the paper describing Indohyus (http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2007/12/shaking_the_cetacean_evolution.php), or you may be able to access the original peer-reviewed article at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v450/n7173/abs/nature06343.html;jsessionid=A6564E8C2B6B98C278827D5059121316 . For a very good non-technical overview of cetacean evolution there’s always Carl Zimmer’s book “At the water’s edge” (which also covers amphibian evolution).

    And the unequivocal presence of feathers on dinosaurs (http://www.amnh.org/museum/press/breaking/feathered.html) adds to other physical evidence of the evolutionary relationship between maniraptor dinosaurs & birds.

    All of these represent solid evidence of ‘macroevolution’ – transitions between higher-order taxa. There’s also a review paper that shows that what people like to call macroevolution is simply the result of accumulated microevolutionary change (I just don’t have the reference on this computer).

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  51. My point was that although scientists say whales came from an artiodactyl, they always say “a group which includes the hippo”. Why do they always use the hippo as an example from that group when it wasn’t even on the scene for 35 million years? Why don’t they say a pig or a hooved wolf(sinonyx) or something else?

    [aside to Ken: You’re right: We can never reason someone out of a position they didn’t get to by reason.]

    IDK, scientists say that because that’s what all the evidence shows. Hippos and whales share a common ancestor, though the ancestor probably predates the move whales made from the edge of the sea to the oceans. Artiodactyls on land, today, include only vegetarians so far as we know. Whales, on the other hand, are descended from carnivores. The diversity of life continues to astound, and at least in your case, confuse.

    Hippos are descended from a long line of relatives, many of whose fossils are known (but not all); so are whales.

    Did you read Ray Sutera’s article? He wrote that in late 2000, it was published in 2001. The only thing that we know different from then is that there are a whole bunch more ancestors added to the family bush, confirming whale evolution much more concretely. Of course, to those who won’t read it, it’s a confirmation of ships passing in the night.

    Archer fish? Do you have Google?

    First, archer fish use no new organ to do what they do. They spit. All fish spit. Interestingly (to me), the archer fish’s stuff appears to be at least partly cultural:
    http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/watch-and-learn

    The evolutionary path is at least in part dictated by the physical constraints of such hunting, and the physics of the hunting process itself — but these factors affect all animals equally:
    http://www.physorg.com/news79619118.html

    IDK, maybe you can answer a question about creationists for me: Why is it that the simplest stuff confounds creationists? This fish spits at insects out of the water when it can’t leap to catch them (archer fish prefer to leap to grab the prey, generally). Why is it that creationists think spitting, even with accuracy, is such a fantastic adaptation, when nearly everything with a gut spits? Can you name any species of animal that does not spit? And finally, why don’t creationists themselves recognize how silly these things sound to scientists? (I’m thinking here also of Duane Gish’s bizarre claim that woodpeckers couldn’t have evolved because they had to wait for the magical sticky stuff on their tongues for bugs to stick to; the “magical sticky stuff” is, of course, saliva.)

    The interesting question is the brain evolution that appears to make a predisposition to learn this behavior. This is quite exciting, really — and you need take insult here only to the point that insult is applicable — if the archer fish can learn this stuff, there is hope for creationists.

    Pistol shrimp? “How does a crustacean evolve to snap its claws?” is the question you are asking. There is a variety of shrimp called pistol shrimp that do cool things with their dominant (and non-dominant) claws. It’s a small step from any one of their behaviors to another, so the evolution of one to another is very much a given (fits into your “microevolution” foggery).

    Take a look here, for the mantis shrimp:
    http://www.biomechanics.bio.uci.edu/_html/nh_biomech/stomatopunch/puncher.htm
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040421233921.htm
    http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~patek/shrimpMechanics/Pateketal2004Nature.pdf
    http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~patek/shrimpMechanics/index.htm

    The extent of mantis shrimp speciation, hinted at:
    http://www.blueboard.com/mantis/reference/class.htm

    A much more interesting question: How do mantis shrimp see so much more than humans:
    http://www.blueboard.com/mantis/bio/vision.htm

    Serious scientists who study the evolution of pistol shrimp understand how common it is for crustaceans to snap their claws — this isn’t an area of great research. What is more interesting to scientists is the general life of a stomatopod — shedding the exoskeleton, for example, which is a much tougher proposition than developing an ability to snap a claw. Here’s a lay-level description of such studies:
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/mantisshrimp_01

    Look here, too:
    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/aquarius/evolution.html

    I’m sure those sites won’t explain it to your satisfaction, since you’re looking for evidence of magic, and evolution doesn’t involve magic. You’re looking for absolute, 100% certain evidence, but if we offered you the DNA evidence (which is 100% certain), you’d reject it. You’re asking for basic evolution information, which is available in college texts and research journals, neither of which you’ll find on the internet. You’re offering silly internet rebuttals, which are ungrounded in science, reason, and theology, but instead consist of “wow – that’s amazing, therefore could not have evolved” sorts of statements, which often miss the most amazing stuff (a pistol shrimp’s moulting process is much more evolutionarily bedeviling that its claw clicks).

    But in the off chance that reason might penetrate your own hard, chitonous shell, I’ve listed sites to begin with.

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  52. Quoting Charles Darwin:

    ”if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    But with all of natural history, and about 150 years to find a single example to disprove Darwin’s theory, creationists have failed to find any. Darwin’s work is pretty robust, eh?

    I find it interesting that you cut Darwin’s quote up, to make it almost appear he said something other than what he said. Here’s the quote, with a bit more (I stole it from Project Gutenberg, where the entirety of Origin of Species can be downloaded)(let me apologize in advance for the excess line breaks):

    If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case. No doubt many organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, more especially if we look to much-isolated species, around which, according to the theory, there has been much extinction. Or again, if we take an organ common to all the members of a class, for in this latter case the organ must have been originally formed at a remote period, since which all the many members of the class have been developed; and in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient ancestral forms, long since become
    extinct.

    We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind. Numerous cases could be given among the lower animals of the same organ performing at the same time wholly distinct functions; thus in the larva of the dragon-fly and in the fish Cobites the alimentary canal respires, digests, and excretes. In the Hydra, the animal may be turned inside out, and the exterior surface
    will then digest and the stomach respire. In such cases natural selection might specialise, if any advantage were thus gained, the whole or part of an organ, which had previously performed two functions, for one function alone, and thus by insensible steps greatly change its nature. Many plants are known which regularly produce at the same time differently constructed flowers; and if such plants were to produce one kind alone, a great change would be effected with comparative suddenness in the character of the
    species. It is, however, probable that the two sorts of flowers borne by the same plant were originally differentiated by finely graduated steps, which may still be followed in some few cases.

    Again, two distinct organs, or the same organ under two very different forms, may simultaneously perform in the same individual the same function, and this is an extremely important means of transition: to give one instance–there are fish with gills or branchiae that breathe the air dissolved in the water, at the same time that they breathe free air in their swim-bladders, this latter organ being divided by highly vascular partitions and having a ductus pneumaticus for the supply of air. To give
    another instance from the vegetable kingdom: plants climb by three distinct means, by spirally twining, by clasping a support with their sensitive tendrils, and by the emission of aerial rootlets; these three means are usually found in distinct groups, but some few species exhibit two of the means, or even all three, combined in the same individual. In all such cases one of the two organs might readily be modified and perfected so as to perform all the work, being aided during the progress of modification by the other organ; and then this other organ might be modified for some other and quite distinct purpose, or be wholly obliterated.

    The illustration of the swim-bladder in fishes is a good one, because it shows us clearly the highly important fact that an organ originally constructed for one purpose, namely flotation, may be converted into one for a widely different purpose, namely respiration. The swim-bladder has, also, been worked in as an accessory to the auditory organs of certain fishes. All physiologists admit that the swim-bladder is homologous, or
    “ideally similar” in position and structure with the lungs of the higher vertebrate animals: hence there is no reason to doubt that the swim-bladder has actually been converted into lungs, or an organ used exclusively for respiration.

    According to this view it may be inferred that all vertebrate animals with true lungs are descended by ordinary generation from an ancient and unknown prototype which was furnished with a floating apparatus or swim-bladder. We can thus, as I infer from Professor Owen’s interesting description of these parts, understand the strange fact that every particle of food and drink which we swallow has to pass over the orifice of the trachea, with some risk of falling into the lungs, notwithstanding the beautiful
    contrivance by which the glottis is closed. In the higher Vertebrata the branchiae have wholly disappeared–but in the embryo the slits on the sides of the neck and the loop-like course of the arteries still mark their former position. But it is conceivable that the now utterly lost branchiae might have been gradually worked in by natural selection for some distinct purpose: for instance, Landois has shown that the wings of insects are developed from the trachea; it is therefore highly probable that in this great class organs which once served for respiration have been actually converted into organs for flight.

    The truth is there, if you don’t edit it out for other, more nefarious purposes.

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  53. If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.

    Ok, what about the pistol shrimp or archer fish?

    How do you explain them?

    There are more.

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  54. IDK:

    Repeating that quote makes you look sillier and sillier.

    I find it hilarious: you clearly don’t understand what that quote is asking you to do and repeating only emphasises that you don’t understand it.

    The quote is asking you to demonstrate that a particular complex organ “could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications”.

    But you don’t seem to be able to.

    Its not asking that others “disprove” or “explain” anything and you seem to think. Its asking that you come up with a demonstration that… etc. The work to do is yours, not theirs.

    (A little friendly advice: learn what ‘demonstrate’ means in this context before you mess up on that one too. I have a strong feeling you don’t understand that either.)

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  55. High five, Ed & Heraclides 🙂

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  56. If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.

    Your Swiss Cheese Theory of Evolution doesnt seem to hold any water.

    I dont think I have to disprove anything, Herpesaclides. Nature has already done that. And so have you by not having any intelligent answers.

    Snapping shrimp
    Pistol shrimp- fires a blast of bubbles from its claw, when the bubble collapses it momentarily reaches the temperature of the sun. Used for stunning prey.
    Mantis shrimp- club like arm hits with the force of a shotgun
    The bacterial flagellar motor.

    Hey, maybe this website could evolve into something useful? Then I might believe you.

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  57. Herpesaclides, thats like an apologist saying they don’t have to prove the bible, I have to disprove it

    If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.

    sounds strangely similar to:

    1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

    Like I said, you can’t get an honest answer from athiests or apologists.

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  58. IDK – your claim to “believe in”/accept micro-evolution. Prove it. Where is the evidence.? Should we just accept your assertion – or will you produce the evidence? Or are you just accepting micro-evolution because one of your heroes/religious leaders supports it?

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  59. IDK, given that you seem to have completely ignored any of the material in Ed’s post on shrimps & archer fish, or mine on transitional forms, I can only assume that you don’t really intend to engage with what we’re saying. I wrote in a genuine attempt to answer some of your queries, assuming (foolishly, it seems) that you were genuinely interested in the answers. But it seems your only intention here is to do your best to flaunt your ignorance.

    And following on from Ed – yes, in science if you disagree with a theory or an hypothesis then you do have to attempt to disprove it. Scientifically. The argument from personal incredulity isn’t sufficient.

    Don’t you have a nice dungeon somewhere, Ken?

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  60. So, somewhere in between pathetic language and inverting the meaning of what others have written, you give two examples of animals using properties of physics to their advantage.

    No demonstration of an organ that could not possibly have formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications.

    (I find it funny that the examples you gave are nice examples of a part of evolution: exploiting opportunities. But whatever…)

    “thats like an apologist saying they don’t have to prove the bible, I have to disprove it” No, and its not what was written to you: in rephrasing differently you’re trying to walk around what was asked of you.

    What was said was “if you want to say that the theory of evolution is wrong, you have to back your that claim up”, a quite different thing.

    Its meaningless to claim something is wrong without backing it up. And you certainly don’t “prove” something wrong by pathetic language and putting up random examples you think might, just, possibly show its wrong. You show something is wrong by demonstrating it is wrong. And if you can’t demonstrate its wrong, then your claim its wrong is empty-handed.

    And so far your claims are empty-handed. Its up to you to change that.

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  61. My post seem cross everyone else’s…! 🙂 Nice to see we’ve all essentially made the same point independently.

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  62. Ed, prove I believe micro evolution? Ok. I was born without wisdom teeth.
    Kind of hard to deny. Living proof.
    Macro- thats where you lose me.

    (Heroes/religious leaders?)

    How could an archer fish evolve that skill?
    Why would it if it could just eat bugs from the water?
    The ability to shoot a jet of water 6 feet and be able to compensate for the angle of light change from water to air. It presses its tongue against this groove to form a narrow channel, then contracts its gill covers to force a powerful jet of water through the channel.
    You think that evolved?

    I’m sorry. Evolution isn’t the answer to everything. I’m not saying it’s ID either.

    How about the bacterial flagellar motor?

    Swiss cheese?

    If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.

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  63. You still haven’t demonstrated anything.

    Until you do your claims remain “mere words”, i.e. they carry no weight and mean little.

    Demonstrate that archer fish couldn’t have evolved their ability to shoot water jets at prey.

    Demonstrate that the bacterial flagellar motor couldn’t have evolved from simpler components. (Hint: this was tried and failed at the Dover trial that someone already point you to earlier. Incidentally, that its made of simpler parts has been demonstrated (and there’s that word again.))

    You haven’t demonstrated anything yet. Its up to you to back up your claims. Until you do, they’re hollow claims.

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  64. Nice copout Whineyaclides.

    I don’t have to do anything. I dont make any claims.

    I just don’t drink the evolution kool-aid like you …too swiss cheesy.

    I figured since this is a “Heil Darwin” site that I could get some answers here. Apparently not.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.”

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  65. If you made no claims, then you also have nothing you can show against the theory of evolution. OK, fine.

    But, if that’s really the case, tell us how you can claim to doubt something with no basis to doubt it with?

    Also, tell us how you can imply that a number of things as being problematic for evolutionary theory, without presenting anything as to why they are supposed to be problematic?

    Several people here have invited you to give substance your claims. You can certainly leave them without substance if you want. But if that’s the case, then, by definition, your objections have nothing of substance to them.

    Its like gossips passing judgement on an infamous murder case, but not being able to back their words with anything of substance. The lack of substance backing gossip–that’s definition of gossip after all–is why (sensible!) people don’t give gossip much credit… 😉

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  66. 1 word: GAPS

    Lots and lots of gaps. You deny it?
    Thats all I’m saying. It’s not hard to understand really.
    (I even used small words so you could understand) 😉

    When the gaps get filled in then I’m on your side.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  67. But IDK – “I was born without wisdom teeth” proves nothing. What has wisdom teeth got to do with evolution? You are just pulling this out of thin air to justify a belief – not a scientific theory. That is your belief is not based on evidence.

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  68. Sure. Yea. Right. OK. What? Huh? Oh, yea. Yes. No. Maybe.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  69. *Looks at post 66* No demonstration of how gaps are supposed to matter. *Thinks* “Empty statement” **Wanders off**

    You’re like a gossip at the local bar. No-one minds them prattling on about their ideas about this, that and the other. Well, up to a point… 😉 But, seeing they never substantiate their ideas, everyone with sense knows they what they say is just empty gossip. Since they can’t substantiate their claims, their words are empty and no-one takes them seriously. Good for a laugh, perhaps, but that’s about it.

    Moral: No-one will take anything you say seriously, if you don’t substantiate them.

    Its up to you to substantiate your claims or they’ll have no more weight than empty gossip. Unless you’re happy for them to be insubstantial, of course.

    By the way, continuing to repeat that phrase, is a little like an idiot putting a sign on the back of their T-shift saying “I’m an idiot”, honestly thinking that it refers to the people reading it, parading around with it on, and then wondering why everyone thinks that they are an idiot…

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  70. Feeling a bit like chopped liver here.

    Sure. Yea. Right. OK. What? Huh? Oh, yea. Yes. No. Maybe.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    Look again at post #51.

    If it could be demonstrated that any evidence existed which could not possibly be ignored by a blind, hard-shell creationist, Darwin’s theory would be easier for students to understand. But for the fog put out by ignoramuses who refuse to listen to reason of any stripe, students wouldn’t be so confused.

    Now I’m pondering: Should I just kick the dust from my sandals, or try to kick IDK in the butt hard enough to push the dust out of his brain?

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  71. Lots and lots of gaps. You deny it?

    Gaps in fossils are nothing compared to the gaps in reasoning offered by creationists. Do you have any better answer than evolution, which rather brilliantly explains the presence of more than 10,000 different dinosaur species, and another 100,000 species of ancient plants and animals.

    Might there be a 100,001st species? Sure. In fact, it’s certain. But as Gould and Myers note, we can make predictions about that find: It will reify evolution theory precisely.

    Now, is there anything we can do about the gaps between creationist synapses, which seem too large for normal signalling to span?

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  72. IDK – your example of variation (wisdom teeth), and only variation, to support your belief in evolution shows you don’t understand what evolution is. That is you claim a belief in something you don’t understand. Why?

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  73. Lots of gaps filled with conjecture and guesswork.

    THE ACCIDENTAL CREATIONIST
    Why Stephen Jay Gould is bad for evolution.
    The eminent British biologist John Maynard Smith has observed, “Gould occupies a rather curious position, particularly on his side of the Atlantic. Because of the excellence of his essays, he has come to be seen by nonbiologists as the preeminent evolutionary theorist. In contrast, the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists.”
    (Gould huh? Doesn’t seem like evolutionists are so crazy about him because of his admitting the GAPS!!)

    Evolutionists often have come forth and admitted their own and their colleagues’ extreme degree of bias in this matter. Some have admitted that their approach has not been scientific or objective at all. Many admit to the severe lack of evidence for evolution and that they have accepted their conclusions only because they are unwilling to accept that evolution never occurred. (And other final considerations.)

    There are no transitional links and intermediate forms in either the fossil record or the modern world. Therefore, there is no actual evidence that evolution has occurred either in the past or the present.

    Natural selection (the supposed evolution mechanism, along with mutations) is incapable of advancing an organism to a “higher-order”.

    Although evolutionists state that life resulted from non-life, matter resulted from nothing, and humans resulted from animals, each of these is an impossibility of science and the natural world.

    The supposed hominids (creatures in-between ape and human that evolutionists believe used to exist) bones and skull record used by evolutionists often consists of `finds’ which are thoroughly unrevealing and inconsistent. They are neither clear nor conclusive even though evolutionists present them as if they were.

    Nine of the twelve popularly supposed hominids are actually extinct apes/ monkeys and not part human at all.

    The final three supposed hominids put forth by evolutionists are actually modern human beings and not part monkey/ ape at all. Therefore, all twelve of the supposed hominids can be explained as being either fully monkey/ ape or fully modern human but not as something in between.
    Natural selection can be seen to have insurmountable social and practical inconsistencies.

    Natural selection has severe logical inconsistencies.

    The rock strata finds (layers of buried fossils) are better explained by a universal flood than by evolution.

    The manner in which the evolution of flightless birds or eyeless, cave-dwelling animals might have come about was a problem that Charles Darwin considered; his answer was that disuse would lead to the progressive reduction, or degeneration, of organs over time. We do not believe this is correct anymore, but many share Darwin’s confusion, even today.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  74. My goodness! Have you been visiting Uncommon Descent again? I’m hard-pressed to think of any other source that could come up with doozies like this : The final three supposed hominids put forth by evolutionists are actually modern human beings and not part monkey/ ape at all. Therefore, all twelve of the supposed hominids can be explained as being either fully monkey/ ape or fully modern human but not as something in between (unless it’s Answers in Genesis!).

    No-one actually working in palaeoanthropology, & thus familiar with the fossils concerned, would agree that ‘the final three supposed hominids’ are all modern humans. Since you’ve named no names I’m assuming your source is referring to sapiens, neandertalensis and erectus. sapiens yes, of course it’s modern, it’s us. neandertalensis – both fossil & DNA evidence show that this is a separate species, closely-related but quite distinct. erectus – anyone who thinks that’s a modern human hasn’t looked closely at the cranium.

    Similarly, There are no transitional links and intermediate forms in either the fossil record or the modern world. Come on – I answered that one several posts ago. You’ve obviously got no intention of actually engaging with anything that any of us might say. (Although I suppose that at least your last post shows, despite previous claims, that you really do subscribe to young-Earth creationism.)

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  75. Gould has a few issues, one is simply trying so hard to be erudite, that he confuses his messages with the elaborate wording he insists on using.

    Gaps, are “nothings”–they’re empty in terms of argument: they provide nothing for or against. It follows that your attempt to use them as a basis, is also empty. You argue for or against something with nothing… 😉

    You’d have seen that if you try to demonstrate your claim… but you still won’t…

    Care to demonstrate any of your claims?

    Go on–tell us why you can’t demonstrate any of your claims.

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  76. AV – your just an idiot

    In one fell swoop we have a spelling mistake that you’d take an ESL student to task for committing, and an attempt to evade the point by means of abusive ad hominem. Do you know what you’ve just done. You’ve just demonstrated to the Internet how manifestly unqualified you are to deliberate upon who is and who isn’t an idiot.

    Firstly, I have to say that I think your “name” “Idontknow” is honest: you don’t seem to know much!

    And on the basis of the contributions we’ve had from that quarter thus far—arguments from personal incredulity (I can’t believe x happened that way therefore it must be wrong), strawmen (the “you Darwinists have more faith than the Christians” canard), abusive ad hominem spiced with persecution mania (“You’re so full of darwin crap Ed,” “condescending pricks,” “a-holes,” “kool-aid drinkers,” “Darwin clique”) and argument by repetition (“Im going to quote this in every one of my posts just to piss you off Alison”)—Idontknow appears to take a certain pride in not knowing much.

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  77. My bad AV. You’re just an idiot. Better?

    …Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?… But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?… But in the intermediate region, having intermediate conditions of life, why do we not now find closely-linking intermediate varieties? This difficulty for a long time quite confounded me. ~Darwin

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  78. An evolutionist paleontologist, Gerald T. Todd, admits a similar fact in an article titled “Evolution of the Lung and the Origin of Bony Fishes”:

    All three subdivisions of bony fishes first appear in the fossil record at approximately the same time. They are already widely divergent morphologically, and are heavily armored. How did they originate? What allowed them to diverge so widely? How did they all come to have heavy armour? And why is there no trace of earlier, intermediate forms

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  79. Two evolutionist paleontologists, Colbert and Morales, comment on the three basic classes of amphibians-frogs, salamanders, and caecilians:

    There is no evidence of any Paleozoic amphibians combining the characteristics that would be expected in a single common ancestor. The oldest known frogs, salamanders, and caecilians are very similar to their living descendants.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  80. Darwin’s notion of “unlimited variation” is best seen in the following sentence from The Origin of Species:

    I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Real men of genius.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  81. Ah ha! I’ve finally found the site where you are dredging this tripe from: http://www.evolutiondeceit.com. It appears that every line you post that is devoid of spelling and grammatical errors has been copied and pasted from here.

    Are you a Muslim then?

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  82. IDK, call your physician, see if you can get a prescription for acyclovir. Sometimes a 10-day regimen of that will take care of these nasty, repeatedly erupting viruses, like the one that seems to be affecting you now. In particular, watch out for headaches that might suggest your creationola simplex III has progressed to meningitis.

    Here is one danger of letting such things go unchecked:
    http://anthropology.si.edu/humanorigins/ha/cromagnon.html

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  83. Sorry about that — I forgot to plug in the “close” code, /satire.

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  84. I did wonder if IDK was a Poe, but no, has to be for real 🙂

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  85. @ Damian:

    It’s getting pretty desperate when one has to rely on Harun Yahya’s books.

    Mind you, IDK’s approach (spurting out irrelevant quotes and statements without responding sensibly) seems to be very common for fundamentalists Islamic opponents of scientific knowledge. Christian creationists tend to interact more with the partners in dialogue.

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  86. Muslim? I’m offended.

    What’s wrong with copy and paste? (like you dont do it) It’s a real easy way to annoy the hell out of everybody here. And why does it matter where I get a quote from? It’s still a quote from your god. I notice no one had anything to say about about them, guess it’s kind of hard to type through the tears. I understand.

    Before I got hear no one had posted anything on this lame ass site for a year.

    You should be thanking me….no…WORSHIPING ME.

    Well, this is getting boring. Maybe if you beg me I will keep annoying you. Come on…say pretty please.:)

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  87. What’s wrong with stupidity, IDK? What’s wrong with falsehoods? What’s wrong with distortions of religion and lies about science?

    I know a brain surgeon who prescribes according to Harun Yahya. He’d like to give you an exam — he’s pretty sure lobotomy cures a whole raft of diseases. Can we make an appointment?

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  88. Sounds like IDK is getting under your guys’ skin.

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  89. You guys ever seen Lost in Space, the series? Remember the “Bloop”? Man that Bloop was cool. What do you think it evolved from?

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  90. Ken,

    If a post has the same icon, does that mean its from the same person (IP) as previous posts with that icon, regardless of the name the person has chosen to use?

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  91. Bloop/HAHA/IDK (Ken’s system makes it clear you’re all one & the same) – you have got to be one of the most pathetic trolls I’ve seen (& I’ve seen quite a few): no real evidence of wit, imagination, or understanding.

    And – not for you because I’m sure the information’s wasted on you, but for anyone else who might be following this thread – yes, we cut & paste comments/references from time to time. And if you’d read them properly you’d see that we also cite the source of that information. This is because (unlike you) we want to avoid plagiarism: presenting other people’s ideas & words as our own. Plagiarism could be viewed as intellectual theft. Which I suppose makes you not just a troll, but a dishonest one as well.

    And Ken – I agree, it is something of a bottomless-pit trap to argue with deniers like this. But there are also the people who might not enter into the ‘discussion’ but who may still gain from hearing the scientific viewpoint (not to mention, seeing how silly the other side can make themselves look).

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  92. @ Heraclides:

    Yes, both HAHA & Bloop can be tracked back to the Methodist Hospital of Indiana ISP. IDK is presumably the same person but with a different ISP.

    Although this person may have some religious or personality motivation somehow related to creationism they are clearly not a serious contributer. He/She has ended up looking silly.

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  93. Actually it was a couple people I work with who think you all are lame, alot like this site.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  94. “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  95. It’s damnably scary to think such information vacuums might actually work in medicine, where almost every major advance over the last century uses applied evolution theory.

    Let’s hope they’re just sweeping the floors, though janitorial staff in health institutions really are at the front lines of prevention for infectious disease, where evolution is fast and vicious.

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  96. No such luck loser.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  97. I have just read Lee Strobel’s book “The case for a Creator” – I recommend it to anyone who still has enough faith to believe in macroevolution.

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  98. @ Eric Green:

    What is your specific point, Eric?
    I understand that Strobel’s book is basically about Christian apologetics. Why, specifically, should I read it?
    There is a long list of reliable books discussing evolutionary science which can help readers appreciate what the evidence is, what the theories are and what speculation and discussions are going on. Does Strobel’s book add anything to this?
    Why, specifically, should I put this book at the top of my “to read” list?

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  99. Like most people I was brought up in a system which treats evolution as established scientific fact. Unlike most people, my mind was not closed to the concept of an Intelligent Designer as so many evolutionists are. Lee’s book tells of his journey from committed atheism and total acceptance of Darwinism to a place where he interviews eminent scientists in many fields of science and finds that far from being in conflict with modern scientific discoveries and knowledge, it points unerringly to an intelligent designer that he calls God . . . and so do I!!

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  100. Lee’s book tells of his journey from committed atheism and total acceptance of Darwinism to a place where he interviews eminent scientists in many fields of science and finds that far from being in conflict with modern scientific discoveries and knowledge, it points unerringly to an intelligent designer that he calls God

    Well, the obvious first question is, whose god?

    The second is, what’s this it that points to the designer? If you/Strobel mean ‘intelligent design’ – some of ID’s own adherents admit that it’s not a viable scientific explanation for life’s diversity, so I’m not sure of your point here.

    As for the eminent scientists & their viewpoints: I would hesitate to comment on the validity of many areas of physics, for example, because I simply lack the level of content knowledge to allow me to do so in any meaningful way. A significant proportion of the scientists who are offered up as examples of those who doubt evolutionary theory are non-biologists and (I would respectfully submit) are as ill-qualified to weigh in on the details of evolutionary biology as I am in their specialist fields.

    (NB the term “Darwinism” tends to be used by those who’d like to give the impression that our understanding of evolution hasn’t moved on since Darwin’s day. Which is not the case.)

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  101. Just don’t shut your mind to other possibilities. I understand form the credentials given in Lee Strobel’s book, that they do have the full and accredited knowledge in their chosen fields. Like you, I am not a qualified scientist but can understand what they say.

    I have met so many Darwinists (and of course I accept that evolutionary conjecture didn’t start with Darwin and had moved on a great deal since Darwin – mostly to modify previous thinking in the light of new findings) who simply refuse to accept the possibility of a supernatural being.

    There is a wealth of writing on evolution and similarly lots and lots arguing for ID. I don’t plan to “convert” anyone via this blog I simply hope that just as I read evolutionary writings please search out material which argues cogently against evolution. Lee Strobel’s book is just one example!

    Whose God? That is not at all the point. If you are open to God, you will find him – that’s what the Bible teaches (and it doesn’t keep changing to keep pace with new discoveries – these always support the Bible)

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  102. Lee’s book tells of his journey from committed atheism and total acceptance of Darwinism to a place where he interviews eminent scientists in many fields of science and finds that far from being in conflict with modern scientific discoveries and knowledge, it points unerringly to an intelligent designer that he calls God . . . and so do I!!

    I’ll take Strobel’s word that he was a “committed atheist” though he would be more like a lapsed Protestant if we check his work and actions. It makes a more dramatic story if he comes from atheism, and Strobel is all about drama.

    I found Strobel’s book astoundingly dishonest in claims it makes about science and scientists. For example, while he interviews a tiny handful of scientists who suggest they believe in intelligent design contrary to almost all Christian sects in America, not one of them works in a field where evolution is a key paradigm. None of these scientists has ever conducted research that calls any part of evolution into question, none of them has published a paper suggesting any problem with any part of evolution theory, and most pointedly, none of them has ever published a paper suggesting a scientific alternative to evolution.

    In short, Strobel’s book is all drama, no data.

    As a Christian, as a long-time practicing journalist, as a devotee of science, and as a Scouter who subscribes to the first point of the Scout Law, I had to put Strobel’s book down. I don’t know from what well he draws his inspiration, but it’s not science, it’s not fact, it’s not history, and it’s not Christianity.

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  103. @ Eric Green:

    Eric – I think you are confusing belief in a god with acceptance of scientific knowledge.

    Many scientists have a religious belief, but they don’t confuse that with their science. Scientific knowledge is not about belief – its about facts, accumulation of knowledge and development of hypotheses and theories. And about testing these against reality. For science the test is how well one’s theories map against reality.

    Scientists are continually having to change their minds, abandoning previous explanations and theories, as they test these and gain new information. Scientists can’t do their job if they shut their mind to other possibilities. So I take your comment in the same spirit as the question “When are you going to stop beating your wife.”

    Eric, if you are open to evidence have a read of Ken Miller’s new book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul. Miller is a Christian who certainly knows the evidence and presents it very effectively. He is also extremely easy to read.

    Also, Eric. What has belief in God got to do with scientific knowledge? Most New Zealand Christians believe in God and yet still accept evolutionary science (only about 40% reject it).

    If you want to discuss the evidence for God that is one question. But if you want to discuss evolutionary science that is a completely separate question.

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  104. I understand all that you guys say . . . but I do have a couple of comments.
    First, to me evolution and science are not words that go easily together as evolution is a ‘religion’ that demands huge amounts of faith as it cannot be tested as it all happened in the past and what we dig up is the present. I simply do not have enough faith to believe that so many things we see today happened by entirely natural means – second whoever says that the majority is right? Christians have every right to believe or disbelieve in evolution – it doesn’t affect their salvation but I have problems with their acceptance of the Bible. If someone can choose which bits to accept and reject, the Bible becomes meaningless.

    Let me end with a personal testimony. I believe that God speaks to us in His Word – it is reliable, has never been proved wrong and gives us a real basis for our lives here and in the life beyond.

    If the Bible is not reliable what basis does anyone have for their ethics, morals . . . other than their own opinion. either God created me and so makes the rules . . . or I am a random, accidental collection of particles that originated who knows where or how . . . and I make my own rules for life . . . just as people like Geoffrey Darmer did and so many others.

    This discussion can never have a “winner”as I mentioned in an earlier post. I have made my position clear – feel free to differ or agree. It is your free choice (incidentally, where did free choice come from if I am an accident of evolution?)

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  105. @ Eric Green:

    Eric, your statement that “evolution is a ‘religion’’ shows you don’t understand what evolutionary science is.

    The fact is that, like any other science, evolutionary science is changing all the time. It is an extremely rich area of research. New facts keep coming to light. Theories are continually being tested against reality and rejected, modified or confirmed as appropriate.

    Importantly, there is no faith involved. If there were it would not be a science. Faith would prevent the development of the knowledge. Science insists that old ideas and theories must be dropped when they are shown not to accord with reality.
    A lot of science involves investigation of the past – it is completely incorrect to say that something that happened in the past cannot be tested. Science involves a lot more than simple laboratory experiments. Nature does these experiments for us. We are able to test theories by looking for the predictions they make in nature – both the present and historically.

    Eric, clearly what is motivating you are your religious beliefs. That’s OK. But if these are forcing you to reject modern scientific understanding, or even to reject parts of reality, that is a problem for you.

    Just don’t expect me, or any one else, to reject the evidence of reality, and humanity’s successful endeavours to understand this, because of your beliefs. What will influence me is the actual discussion of evidence – not personal beliefs. They are only beliefs and, by themselves, have no real significance for others.

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  106. What evidence? No intermediate fossils, heaps and heaps of fakes, no explanations of how something started from nothing etc., etc. In Lee’s words, he says he’d have to believe that:
    • Nothing produces everything
    • Non-life produces life
    • Randomness produces fine-tuning
    • Chaos produces information
    • Unconsciousness produces consciousness
    • Non-reason produces reason

    Of course evolution is a religion or if that’s too hard a word, a belief system, simply because you weren’t there to see it happen and cannot reproduce it.

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  107. Mama Darrell always said it’s stupid to try to teach a pig to sing. You can’t do it any way that’s ever been shown under God’s sun; if you could the pig wouldn’t sound like much, and would have lousy selections of music; and it makes the pig mad.

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  108. I wonder if you could teach an Ed Darrell to sing? Probably not…just shoot it.

    So evolution can’t explain how life came from non-life but EVERYTHING since?

    So how did it originate? Who cares about the rest. Explain step 1 before you finish the story.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  109. Dawkins feather faith quote:
    “It doesn’t happen like that. Er, there’s got to be a series of advantages all the way in the feather. If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem not”¦not, not natural selection’s problem. Natural selection um”¦err”¦well, I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my part since the theory is so coherent and so, and so powerful.”

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  110. Sounds like evolution requires faith to me.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”~Real men of genius.

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  111. I have changed my setting to require email and name from commenters. Just trying to achieve some authenticity. I hope this doesn’t restrict anyone – that’s the last thing I would want.

    Please let me know if you feel that this changes inhibits discussion in any way (i.e does it make the process more difficult).

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  112. @ Eric Green:

    Your comments indicate that Lee Strobel’s book has given you a bum steer. It’s sad when people have to reject evidence with “heaps and heaps of fakes.” That certainly shows a closed mind.

    There is plenty of fossil evidence showing transitional forms. One book worth you reading is Carl Zimmer’s At the Water’s Edge : Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea. This covers (in quite a lot of detail) the fossil and other evidence showing the evolutionary steps involved in moving from fish to tetrapods and in moving from land mammals to whales.

    Your quote of Strobel’s list just displays the knee-jerk reaction that creationists have to science – a list of mantras. And none of the points on the list actually have anything to do with evolutionary science! They just display an unwillingness to accept scientific knowledge in general. A desire to stick with a backward, magical, interpretation of religion. An interpretation most modern Christians seem to have rejected. (Yes, Christianity has evolved too).

    To quote from your earlier comment: “Just don’t shut your mind to other possibilities.” Have a read of authors like Zimmer and Miller (and many, many others with genuine scientific credentials).

    Eric, the fact is that evolution has been, and is being, observed with organisms in our lifetime (considers the AIDS virus, evolution of nylon hydrolases, etc., etc.). And we can see the results today of evolutionary processes which occurred over millions of years. Molecular biology is revealing (from the DNA of todays organisms) the evolutionary history of todays species.

    Now, Eric, you may wish to ignore all this by labelling the evidence as fake. (I am not so gullible). However, consider this. Given the evidence we have from fossil records and from molecular biology – what theoretical system can you (or Strobel) propose that provides a rational explanation? What theory are you proposing to replace that accepted by the scientific community?

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  113. Hi IDK,
    That was the Darwin quote I was looking for – many thanks. As for teaching a pig to sing . . . no chance

    Yes, evolution demands far more faith than I possess. Many thanks

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

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  114. “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    Except that neither you nor IDK have done any demonstrating of any sort, never mind present a demonstration that can be upheld.

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  115. I don’t think it’s us that needs to do the demonstrating. Why do you keep saying that? Convince me. Demonstrate something to me, other than evolution is full of gaps and faith.

    You can find as many articles supporting whale and bird evolution as you can refuting said claims. Evolution can’t explain how certain migratory birds travel thousands of miles, non-stop, overseas, to a particular place and then return back to their starting place, from birth, never having learned that. Can you demonstrate that?
    I’m not making the fantastical claims, what do I have to demonstrate?
    It’s just shows weakness in your “theory” to try and put the burden of proof on us.

    Life from non-life-why don’t you demonstrate that?
    Because you , or no one, can or ever will.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    btw-requiring an email is a waste of time, heres the email addy I used- thisisafakeemail@thisisafakeemail.com
    Whats the point?

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  116. “I’m not making the fantastical claims, what do I have to demonstrate?”

    If you’re making claims, but can’t (or won’t) demonstrate them, then they are fantastical 😉

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  117. @ IDK & Eric Green:

    Clearly neither of you are able to respond with alternative ideas and obviously don’t wish to engage in proper dialogue. That’s OK – just don’t expect others to waste time with you or encourage your childishness.

    Requiring an email is not aimed at preventing comments (but it has its uses). There are ways of doing that and you can see it working on a daily basis at the ID site Uncommon Descent where Bill Dembski just removes comments and prevents individuals from commenting. I am excluded from commenting there – but that’s Bill Dembski’s loss, not mine.

    Childish comments obviously don’t enable proper dialogue. But they do have two results:
    1: They drive more traffic to the blog (as a whole) and the specific post (this particular one is 16 months old – you have revived it! I invite you to check out some of my other postings – I would like them revived). They probably also help improve the blog’s ratings on search engines.
    2: They provide examples of the inability of ID ‘theory’ to provide explanations of empirical evidence. They show the poverty of creationist approaches as well as the childishness of many of its adherents.

    So, keep it up. Check out my other posts on creationism and intelligent design. I’ll only remove comments or filter you out if you descend below a reasonable level of decency.

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  118. As far as alternative ideas…I don’t have any.

    I just think:
    1.evolution explains alot, but still leaves the big questions (origins, marcro-evo)
    2.ID/Creationism – definately not science, but has to make one wonder, I mean, where did it really all start, and the complexity of it all? (Come on, you never thought…what if?)

    Should it be taught in school? Probably not. But I think it might be worth mentioning, maybe a small paragraph at the end of the chapter. Perhaps one question on a test.
    But at the same time I think evolutionists need to be more honest. It’s ok to say “I don’t know”. (Hey! that’s my name! OMG. I’m famous!)

    ALternatives…who the hell knows.
    Well, just think, everyone who has died in history up until this very moment has died not knowing. As will we, probably.

    All I’m saying is I’m not sold all the way on evolution and as far as religion…I must be agnostic. I’m not convinced there is or isn’t a “God”, but if there is, he/she/it doesn’t seem to care. Of course, if there was a God so powerful as to create everything, what would he want to do with us anyway? It would be like us saying “hey, let’s go hang out with some retards”.

    I think some question never get answered.

    And…you’re welcome.

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  119. That’s just the thing though; the theory of evolution by natural selection doesn’t explain everything (we don’t even know all the questions) but so far it’s been by far the best explanation we’ve got.

    The creationist movement have been trying their hardest to misrepresent the claims of evolution in an attempt to discredit it solely because it conflicts with their preconceived concepts of a god and the story of how this god made the world. A fine example of this is the issue of the “bacterial flagellum” you brought up in a previous comment. When this tiny rotary motor was found evolutionary biologists were blown away by how seemingly intricate it was. This kind of thing happens all the time. Creationists pounced on this as a perfect example of an irreducibly complex organ (which, if true, would have been a real issue for gradual, incremental evolutionary theory).

    So, rather than throwing their hands in the air and assuming that God must have made the bacterial flagellum in one hit, the scientists spent a lot of time looking at it and seeing if, as you remove various components, each stage would have been of benefit. And guess what? They did find that every step along the way each stage was functional and of benefit to the organism.

    There are thousands of other conundrums just like this that are waiting to be investigated but the intelligent design solution wasn’t a solution at all. It turns out that evolution is a perfect explanation for the bacterial flagellum. But you’ll notice that creationist websites still cite this as a proof that evolution doesn’t work. They are being deliberately dishonest and you should factor this dishonesty in when trying to find explanations for how life develops.

    As for the origins of life itself, evolution doesn’t deal with this. It only deals with how life progresses. No one knows how life started in the first place but there are some pretty good theories. Saying ‘Goddidit’ doesn’t get us anywhere (like with the example of the bacterial flagellum).

    If you are genuinely interested in whether evolution by natural selection is a good explanation then I suggest you look at all the evidence. I’ve done so myself (I was once a creationist) and have found that the evidence for evolution by natural selection absolutely overwhelming. But don’t take my word for it; go look for yourself and see which explanation best matches what we can observe in the real world.

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  120. @ IDK:

    In the scientific community we very often hear the phrase “I don’t know.” After all, giving an answer based on faith, not evidence, helps no-one. I would say that this approach is probably the most characteristic feature of good science.

    (Incidentally, it is also a common approach amongst those who have rejected religious ‘faith – Losing faith, gaining humility)

    However, it doesn’t stop there. “I don’t know.” is usually followed by “But let’s find out!”

    One of the most important results of scientific effort is ‘ignorance’ – the realisation of what we don’t know. Scientists just love this – it keeps them in a job searching for evidence-based answers.

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  121. Yea thats all fine and good. But it seems like the attitude is “well science prooved it so there must be no God”. Although the existence of God can not ever really truly be disproved/proved. Some say science just reinforces God’s awe.

    It’s all very confusing.

    I guess unless someone can come up with how it all began I have to think there must be something to the whole “God” thing.

    I don’t see how that flagellar motor could do without any of it’s parts though? It wouldn’t work if any parts were missing. Do you have an article you can cite that I can check out?

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  122. Take a look at this clip. It’s a talk by Kenneth Miller (a Christian) on the ‘reducibility’ of the bacterial flagellum.

    On this point too; there are a lot of Christians (more than not in many countries) who accept evolution as the explanation for how life develops. America’s Christians are a bit odd in this respect but there are still plenty who have no problem with it (they just don’t talk as loud as the fundamentalist creationists).

    Evolution doesn’t say anything about the existence of God. It does have a lot to say about the creation story if the story is taken literally.

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  123. Cool, I’ll check it out.

    Yea,I’m not saying, or ever said, that I think evolution in bunk from a-z. There are a few aspects of the macro part of it that I think there’s a “let’s make the evidence fit our theory” type of thing going on.
    I think there are things that happened so long ago that no one can ever really know what happened.

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  124. Yea thats all fine and good. But it seems like the attitude is “well science prooved it so there must be no God”. Although the existence of God can not ever really truly be disproved/proved. Some say science just reinforces God’s awe.

    That’s an interesting misperception. Most of the people who make that claim, that science says there is not God, are preachers. Scientists rarely discuss the issue among themselves, and there is not a single research paper I’ve ever found that makes the claim. If one were to read research papers, one would not encounter a claim that denies God.

    So, why do preachers keep repeating that old canard? Repeated often enough, a lie gains credence.

    Ironic, no? Preachers establish the claim that science says there is no God. Do they know what they’re doing?

    One more chunk of evidence of the vacuity, and harm, of creationism.

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  125. @ Eric Green:

    Eric (if you’re still here) you might be interested in a blog which is reviewing Strobel’s book The Case for a Creator. The author is Carlo Artieri a Canadian biologist. He will probably deal with your issues case by case.

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  126. Pingback: “It’s a miracle!” « Open Parachute

  127. And The Onion is a well-known satirical site…

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  128. Hi Damian,
    Yes I checked out Kenneth Miller’s clip – fascinating . . . but why take away only 40 proteins? To my mind the fact that certain combinations are common to different creatures points to a common design rather than common ancestry.

    Hi Ken,
    I did look at Carlo Artieri’s review of “The case for a Creator” he certainly pins his colours to the mast before his totally unbiased comments.

    Of course we all look at life from a given standpoint and I still have to agree with earlier comments that until Darwin’s conjecture can account for how it all began I shan’t be too interested since I clearly believe that a very intelligent designer brought about intelligent life and keeps it going.

    The God I worship has revealed himself to his creation, explained how he did it and does, yes does, want a close relationship with his creation. And Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey – what kind of failure by the religious leaders of their day is that?

    Of course there are Christians the world over who believe in evolution. Most have never tried to suss it out – after all, belief in origins is not crucial to salvation but for me their God is too small.

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  129. Of course we all look at life from a given standpoint and I still have to agree with earlier comments that until Darwin’s conjecture can account for how it all began I shan’t be too interested since I clearly believe that a very intelligent designer brought about intelligent life and keeps it going.

    As a non-sequitur, that’s just spectacular! Similarly, you should avoid saying you’re a Christian until the Bible can explain the Marfa Lights, string theory, and the designated hitter rule! You clearly can’t believe in an intelligent designer until such things are laid out, in scripture.

    Darwin’s theory is a theory of evolution by natural and sexual selection. Abiogenesis is not a necessary prerequisite, and is not part of the theory at all.

    The God I worship has revealed himself to his creation, explained how he did it and does, yes does, want a close relationship with his creation.

    Lucky you. We Christians are stuck with mystery — sweet mystery, but mystery nevertheless. Are you Scientologist? Zoroastrian? I must admit I’m unaware of any faith where the claim is made that the creator has explained how creation was done. Just what faith are you?

    And Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey – what kind of failure by the religious leaders of their day is that?

    They wanted to pay homage to someone who had penetrated so much of the mystery of God’s creation. Darwin is interred a few feet from Isaac Newton, who is blamed by some nonthinkers for taking the angels out of the heavens — the church fathers recognized that scientific achievement cannot be contrary to the faith if, as Christians do, one believes God to be the creator, and creation to accurately manifest God’s intentions.

    No failure by the religious leaders at all. Have you ever studied Christianity? I’m sure I can find you a study group in your town, if you’d care to look into the faith.

    Of course there are Christians the world over who believe in evolution. Most have never tried to suss it out – after all, belief in origins is not crucial to salvation but for me their God is too small.

    Quite to the contrary, some, as in the Catholic Church, have spent hundreds of years trying to figure out the cosmos. There’s a session set with the Pope later this year where Stephen Hawking and a number of other bright lights in cosmology, physics, biology and other sciences will spend some time discussing science. The Pope, and the Prophet Seer and Revelator of the Latter-day Saints, and the moderator of the Methodists, and the assemblies of the Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, and most other sects, understand that science does not contradict scripture and in no way denies God.

    Science is a way of increasing understanding. With all thy getting, get Wisdom, the Holy Spirit advises. Christians willingly pursue it.

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  130. @ Eric:

    “And Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey – what kind of failure by the religious leaders of their day is that?” – what do you mean by this? Are you implying that Darwin should not be honoured by his country for his scientific discoveries? Or are you implying that religious leaders should somehow control how this honour is given?

    The fact is that Westminster Abbey belongs to the whole country. And cultural heritages like that are heritages for the whole people.

    We have all inherited these cultural icons from the past – whatever our religious beliefs.

    In the past almost everybody had theistic beliefs – in many ways they had no choice. They certainly didn’t have alternative knowledge. Now we do. We now have a pluralistic society with a number on religious and non-religious beliefs. But we all inherit that culture from the past – it is our culture even though we may no longer accept the beliefs expressed in that old culture.

    Are you going to deny me my rights to that culture just because my beliefs are non-theist? In the weekend I listened to Verdi’s Requium. Should I have been prevented from doing this because the music is considered sacred? Should Verdi have been prevented from writing the music because he was non-theist?

    Are you, or the religious leaders of the day, going to select who inherits our common cultural heritage?

    Westminster Abbey is entirely appropriate for Darwin’s grave. Especially as it is also the final resting place of other great British scientific and cultural personalities.

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  131. Eric,

    …until Darwin’s conjecture can account for how it all began I shan’t be too interested…

    Then you’ll never be too interested because a theory on how living forms alter over the generations doesn’t try to account for abiogenesis. And, quite frankly, I’m amazed that you can even function on a day-to-day basis if that is your criteria for acceptance of a scientific theory.

    But it’s not is it?

    Perhaps this is because this particular theory directly contradicts how you have interpreted the creation story in the Bible? Many of your ideological forebearers held out until their deaths against the scientific notion that the Earth was, in fact, not literally fixed in it’s place (as per an interpretation of the Psalms) for what I imagine are the same convoluted logical reasons you are holding out on the simple observation that life evolves.

    But, I assume that you happily believe that the Earth orbits the sun (or is that too great an assumption?) and I am content in the knowledge that new generations of magical thinkers will find a way to adjust their interpretations of the Bible to allow for observable reality with regard to evolution in the same way you have with heliocentrism. It’s a different kind of evolution but it’s evolution all the same. Your belief system will have to adapt or it will eventually go extinct. Perhaps one day our descendants will visit their museums and fondly look at the creationism exhibits within the “extinct cultural beliefs” section.

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  132. Eric:

    “Yes I checked out Kenneth Miller’s clip – fascinating . . . but why take away only 40 proteins? To my mind the fact that certain combinations are common to different creatures points to a common design rather than common ancestry.”

    To the first, 40 is the case for that particular complex, others have different subsets: there is no “choosing” of “only 40”, etc.

    To the second, the explanation is simple, but it is not easy to see it unless you work through some examples yourself: because there are (random) changes between the proteins, and the genes encoding them, that are poorly explained by them having all species independently start with the same protein then have them independently diverged “in parallel” (as would be the case in “by design”), but are readily explained if the proteins diverged from a common ancestor by descent (as would be the case in evolution by common descent). You won’t see this unless you construct some evolutionary trees and try different models and compare them.

    You can actually see the same thing without “mutations” by simply looking at what types of protein (or their genes) are present in different species. Again, they are readily explained by evolution by common descent, but very poorly “by design”.

    (When I say “very poorly” here, I’m being polite.)

    Thirdly, referring to further down in your post, Darwin’s theory isn’t a theory of “for how it all began”, but of how other species arise from those already in existence.

    There are a number of individuals who, for various reasons, include how life arose from organic matter, but that’s definitely not true of Darwin’s theory, nor is it true of what is usually known as the “modern synthesis” of evolution. (Which is actually not so modern either– its over 50 years old.)

    The origin of the universe is universally–pun intended!–considered a separate issue. Some religious people who insist on telling scientists how to do their business, aside of course…

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  133. Lady Hope visited Darwin 6 months before his death. She found him questioning his own evolution theroy and reading the Bible. He actualy accepted Christ on his death bed. Darwin himself siad it it very possible evolution is false and he did not mean it to become a “religion”.

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  134. Looks like Diana just broke the 9th Commandment.
    Every time you lie, you make magic, invisible sky-man sad.

    Lady Hope visited Darwin blah, blah, blah…

    Google is not your friend.

    Richard Dawkins on Bill Maher Show – No death bed conversion

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  135. Richard Christie

    he did not mean it to become a “religion”.

    Diana, that’s probably the only part of you comment with any truth in it. Who would want their respectable scientific theory associated with any archaic system based in faith and revelation.

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