Tag: Evolution

Personal ads indicate you’re not as free as you want to believe

August 9, 2007 | By | 5 Replies More
Personal ads indicate you’re not as free as you want to believe

Are you sure you want to be “free”?  Freedom is such a strange concept. I’ve never understood it in the context of personal decision-making.  Americans claim to love “freedom,” but how much freedom can you stand?  Freedom implies occurrences that are unhinged from naturalistic laws.  Freedom implies a mechanism that is not hooked into the […]

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How much money is enough? You’ll never have enough.

August 6, 2007 | By | 12 Replies More
How much money is enough?  You’ll never have enough.

Unless you learn to let go of your materialist cravings things, that is.   On Sunday, The New York Times published an article called “The Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich.”  in this article, you will meet lots of millionaires from Silicon Valley.  They have net worth measuring in the millions of dollars, sometimes tens of […]

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Beware of simple yet false explanations for religion

July 29, 2007 | By | 82 Replies More
Beware of simple yet false explanations for religion

It’s not because I am obstinate, though I can be obstinate.  Rather, I simply can’t believe things like: “A virgin had a baby” or “A man who was dead later became alive” or “This piece of bread is really a man’s flesh.”  I can’t believe such things because these things are simply not true.  To […]

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New Facts Could Disprove Evolution

July 24, 2007 | By | 15 Replies More
New Facts Could Disprove Evolution

This is the title of a newspaper commentary column that I stumbled onto recently. It was less annoying than I thought it would be. The “New Facts” turn out to be mainly the testimony of Ken Ham’s Creation Museum (Here’s my earlier post about that). One gripe I have is the idea of testimony as […]

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Pope says all other religions are defective

July 18, 2007 | By | 10 Replies More
Pope says all other religions are defective

I wouldn’t make this up. It was reported on MSNBC today. Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches. How does the Pope know this?   Hey, he just knows.  Just […]

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Origins, Worms and Germs

July 15, 2007 | By | 7 Replies More
Origins, Worms and Germs

I recently visited New York City, where I attended a business conference.  After the conference was over, I was able to spend three hours at the American Museum of Natural History. It was well worth a visit for numerous reasons.  For instance, the ocean life exhibit contains a full-size model of a blue whale hanging […]

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Humble scientists with a sense of wonder

July 2, 2007 | By | 3 Replies More
Humble scientists with a sense of wonder

I am tired of reading creationist accusations that scientists are robotic, dogmatic and unfeeling know-it-alls, unredeemable determinists incapable of having any sense of wonder regarding the world. This general accusation that scientists lack any sense of wonder is untrue based upon my own acquaintance with scientists who I know personally as well as those who […]

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Dawkins cuts Behe apart and throws him to the dogs

July 1, 2007 | By | 2 Replies More
Dawkins cuts Behe apart and throws him to the dogs

This NYT article by Richard Dawkins is just too much fun to not read. And when I mentioned “dogs,” I meant it.  If mutation, rather than selection, really limited evolutionary change [as Behe argues], this should be true for artificial no less than natural selection. Domestic breeding relies upon exactly the same pool of mutational […]

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Ancestors along the highway

June 30, 2007 | By | 10 Replies More
Ancestors along the highway

[This idea was born as a comment here, but I decided to create a separate post out of it].

What if your mother stood right behind you, and your mother’s mother stood right behind her? Then your great grandma and then your great great grandma. Imagine them all lined up, one foot apart, stretching out into the distance. If a generation is deemed to be 25 years, a line of your ancestors as long as a football field (300 feet) would stretch backwards 7,500 years. The woman at the end of that 300 foot line would have lived during the time when agriculture just began in ancient Egypt. You’d still recognize each of your ancestors in that 300 foot line to be fully modern humans, biologically speaking.

Isn’t it amazing to think that you could run along side that entire 300 foot line of your ancestors in only 15 seconds (I’m assuming you’re not an Olympic caliber sprinter) to end up standing next to one of your own ancestors who was alive 7,500 years ago?

Now think even further back. In An Ancestor’s Tale, Richard Dawkins calculated that 20,000,000 great-grandparents ago, our relatives were small shrew-like animals living at the end of the Cretaceous period. What if you spaced out your relatives one foot apart to extend all the way back to these shrew-like creatures? That line would be 3,787 miles long. That’s about the length of highway running from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri to Anchorage Alaska. Imagine speeding alongside that line of your relatives at 60 mph, seeing the generations of your relatives whizzing by, more than 5,000 of them every minute.

It wouldn’t take long to reach the last of your relatives who looks like you. In fact, your trip would have barely begun. Biologically modern humans (those whose bodies are the functional equivalent of our own bodies) came onto the scene between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. Driving at highway speed parallel to that line of your own relatives, you’d run out of your biologically modern human relatives less than one-minute after beginning your trip. That’s only 4,000 generations.

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