Tag: Evolution

Rejection of evolution across the pond

February 1, 2009 | By | 38 Replies More
Rejection of evolution across the pond

Great Britain is catching up to the U.S. when it comes to the rejection of evolution by natural selection.  Consider the following from The Guardian: Half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22% preferring the theories of creationism or intelligent design to explain how the world came about, according to […]

Share

Read More

More information is not necessarily better

January 27, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
More information is not necessarily better

I thought it was just me.

Over the past few months, while reading some of the comments here at DI and at several forums that I frequent, I’ve been noticing that there seems to be LESS consensus on the hot topics of our time rather than more.

That doesn’t seem right. With the wealth of information on the internet literally at our fingertips shouldn’t we all be better informed than ever before?

Not so, says Clive Thompson in a recent issue of Wired magazine. In fact he has the stats to back it up!

Share

Read More

The body is not a machine

January 13, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
The body is not a machine

Pyschiatrist Randolf Nesse is a gifted writer who I have followed for many years. I first learned of Nesse’s work when I read Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine. Nesse is one of the many respondents to this year’s annual question by Edge.org: “What will change everything?”

Nesse’s answer: RECOGNIZING THAT THE BODY IS NOT A MACHINE

As we improve our knowledge of bodies, they don’t fit very well within our venerable metaphor of the body as a “machine.” One of his points is that we can describe machines, whereas a satisfying description of bodies seems so elusive. The complexity of the body is, indeed, humbling:

We have yet to acknowledge that some evolved systems may be indescribably complex. Indescribable complexity implies nothing supernatural. Bodies and their origins are purely physical. It also has nothing to do with so-called irreducible complexity, that last bastion of creationists desperate to avoid the reality of unintelligent design. Indescribable complexity does, however, confront us with the inadequacy of models built to suit our human preferences for discrete categories, specific functions, and one directional causal arrows. Worse than merely inadequate, attempts to describe the body as a machine foster inaccurate oversimplifications. Some bodily systems cannot be described in terms simple enough to be satisfying; others may not be described adequately even by the most complex models we can imagine.

[Related DI post: The Brain is not a Computer]

Share

Read More

Belief based on evidence vs. authority, and the appropriateness of extrapolation

January 7, 2009 | By | Reply More
Belief based on evidence vs. authority, and the appropriateness of extrapolation

Richard Dawkins once wrote a letter to his ten-year old daughter, explaining the difference between belief based on evidence versus authority. This letter addresses the appropriateness of extrapolating from evidence in making solid scientific conclusions. The title of this article from a book of Dawkins’ essays entitled “A Devil’s Chaplin,” is “Good and Bad Reasons for Believing.”

And I do believe that any reasonable ten year old who keeps an open mind can see the difference. After all, we do informal science all day every day. The problem for some of us is when we start discussing the undeniable reality of humans as animals, thus highlighting our kinship with “lower” animals and suggesting that our creation was natural (and is ongoing).

Understanding this basic point made by Dawkins doesn’t require great intelligence. It requires intellectual courage. It requires that one quits screwing around with the burden of proof when testing propositions.

Share

Read More

What does it mean to be a primate? One of many paths through the phylogenetic tree.

January 6, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
What does it mean to be a primate? One of many paths through the phylogenetic tree.

Strap on your seat belt and learn about the reality of primates:

“Primates” are collectively defined as any gill-less, organic RNA/DNA protein-based, metabolic, metazoic, nucleic, diploid, bilaterally-symmetrical, endothermic, digestive, tryploblast, opisthokont, deuterostome coelemate with a spinal chord and 12 cranial nerves connecting to a limbic system in an enlarged cerebrial cortex with a reduced olfactory region inside a jawed-skull with specialized teeth including canines and premolars, forward-oriented fully-enclosed optical orbits, and a single temporal fenestra, -attached to a vertebrate hind-leg dominant tetrapoidal skeleton with a sacral pelvis, clavical, and wrist & ankle bones; and having lungs, tear ducts, body-wide hair follicles, lactal mammaries, opposable thumbs, and keratinized dermis with chitinous nails on all five digits on all four extremities, in addition to an embryonic development in amniotic fluid, leading to a placental birth and highly social lifestyle.

See here for the full transcript.

This video constitutes a highly condensed summary of some of the basic principles of evolutionary biology so often overlooked by creationists. The author goes to pains to point out that scientists don’t just make claims about evolutionary development because they want to make these claims. Rather, the conclusions of evolutionary biology are compelled by an elaborate well-documented scheme of development based on massive collections of evidence, verified by thousands of scientists over hundreds of years, including more than a few scientists who were conservative Christians. Using this evidence, we can trace the development of a species from antecedent related species , but the phylogenetic tree of life . . . can be just as objectively confirmed from the top down when re-examined genetically. This is why it is referred to as a “twin-nested hierarchy.”

Share

Read More

No more nature versus nurture

January 2, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More
No more nature versus nurture

The next time you hear people arguing about nature versus nurture in the area of neuroscience, tell them to cut it out.  Nature versus nurture is no longer a meaningful debate, according to Mriganka Sur, wriging in the Dec 12, 2008 edition of Science (available online only to subscribers): Among developmental neuroscientists the debate between […]

Share

Read More

Proposed change to DI comment policy re: scientific method and evolution

December 23, 2008 | By | 17 Replies More
Proposed change to DI comment policy re: scientific method and evolution

Topic:  Proposed change to comment policy concerning ill-informed comments regarding A) the scientific method and B) evolution by natural selection. At DI, we’ve had a wide-open comment policy.  Until recently, I have rarely rejected comments.  The ones I have rejected consisted mostly of preaching (see the current comment policy).  I’ve also rejected a few ad […]

Share

Read More

George W. Bush: The Bible is probably not literally true.

December 13, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More
George W. Bush: The Bible is probably not literally true.

Now that he doesn’t need the evangelicals to get elected (and now that John McCain doesn’t need them either), George W. Bush can safely say the the Bible is “probably not literally true.” In a recent interview on ABC with Charles Gibson, Bush freely admits that Muslims can go to heaven. CHARLES GIBSON:Do Christians and […]

Share

Read More

Texas “Intelligent Design” results not quite overwhelming enough.

November 17, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More
Texas “Intelligent Design” results not quite overwhelming enough.

Less than 1% of the 464 biology and biological anthropology faculty members who responded to a recent survey approved of the following proposition: “Modern evolutionary biology is mostly wrong. Life arose through multiple creation events by an intelligent designer, although evolution by natural selection played a limited role.” The biologists included those affiliated with “all […]

Share

Read More