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10/3/09

Ardi, Our Uncommon Ancestor?

Please note that this essay will now be housed in True Freethinker at this link

52 comments:

  1. ...Ida was the missing link...

    No. There's no such thing as a "missing link".

    ...as they do not know to whom Ardi gave birth, if she did at all.

    Wha..? It doesn't matter if an individual gave birth or not.
    The Theory of Evolution deals with populations, not individuals.

    ...to the possibility of interpretation being literally responsible for the manipulation of evidence via self-serving reconstructions.

    Do you have any actual evidence that the reconstuctions were faulty or...are you just indulging in wishful thinking? Throwing a bit of mud around and hoping it will stick? Shame on you.
    If you have actual evidence that the reconstruction could be done better then...write a paper on it and submit it to those who are the experts.
    Peer-review? Hello?
    Otherwise, you are just spouting ignorant nonsense.
    Oh and speaking of ignorant nonsense...

    Try getting your science from...actual scientists.
    Current scientists. Doing active research.
    Join the 21st century.
    Live a little.

    If you did then you'd understand that scientists discovering things and then arguing furiously about them is, well, part and parcel of the standard scientific process.
    Scientists happily argue about biology and some of the mechanisms of Evolution all the time.
    There's no dogma. No orthodoxy.
    Just investigation and research and work.
    Lot's of scientific work.
    That's how we discover new stuff.
    Like Ardi and Tiktaalik.
    Exciting, really.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Okay you really don't see his point do you?

    Can I get a clueless here?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Okay you really don't see his point do you?

    Oh, has he got a point beyond promoting ignorance about scientific discoveries?
    Wonderful.
    Do tell.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My theology professor said,"if you throw a rock into a crowd the one who yells the loudest probably got hit." From the tone of your response I'm wondering if you didn't get hit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. From the tone of your response I'm wondering if you didn't get hit.

    By what?
    You mentioned a point before.
    What was it?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm with Cedric on this -- which is to say, clueless, as per brave Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Is the point of this lengthy disquisition that scientists disagree, often vociferously, about the meaning of the fossil record? That scientists might actually tweak data to make "facts" comport with "theory"? That the line between fact and theory is often impossible to discern? Is that it? If so, then . . . well, yeah, o.k., so what?

    Or am I missing some deeper irony, accessible only to Christian Apologists who speak fluent Aramaic? Perhaps the clue to understanding Ardi's significance lies in the re-interpretation of some heretofore unexamined verse from Genesis, or Revelations or the Gnostic Gospels. Do tell . . . .

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  7. Dear Mariano,

    thank you for your well put comments on that topic. There is indeed a large room for speculation when interpreting fossils. The preconceptions and paradigms of the researchers matter. Evidence speaks not for itself. I remember for example the dispute about alleged dinosaur 'feathers' (Feduccia et al. 2005: "Do Feathered Dinosaurs Exist? Testing the Hypothesis on Neontological and Paleontological Evidence.") and when I start to think about the amazing ammount of variation in living organisms I cannot help myself but to remain very careful. 'Ardi' is a composite specimen made of 110 parts from 30 different individuals. Making sense of that data is hard scientific work. High regard for that type of work! However it comes with its own limits and it is reasonable to ask critical questions (as the quoted experts above do). That of course is something that goes beyond the scope of much of the popular media coverage on 'Ardi'.

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  8. I dunno but maybe your just the ones who are ignorant here. Also maybe it never occured to you that there can be more than one anonymous poster? If not then I can understand how you missed his point. Which despite its self-evidence you are missing brilliantly.

    Go ahead and guess what it is please. Enlighten us with your superior intellects. (Sarcasm should be evident but since you have missed so much already well I guess I should help you along.)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I guess I should help you along...

    (Waits patiently)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear ignorant Christians,

    Creationism makes no sense. Deal with it.

    Cheers,
    Anonymous (different from above)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I too was baffled as to Mariano's point, but let me take a stab at it.

    Mariano provides examples of the speculation that often accompanies a fossil find or any new piece of evidence the doesn't fit existing theories. He properly points out that in such cases, the speculation is based as much on the scientists own biases as it is on the evidence.

    But then Mariano wants to take this example and wants you to draw a very broad conclusion from it. He wants to claim that scientific theories are unreliable for two key reasons:
    1) They all rely on scientists, who interpret evidence via their biases.
    2) They are subject to change. Theories accepted in the past have been revised or discarded.

    By painting science in this way, Mariano can relieve his cognitice dissonance of believing in the absolute truth of a book that contradicts scientific evidence. It also justifies his self-imposed ignorance about the theory of evolution. Why waste your time studying something that by philosophical necessity will always be tentative? "Science du jour", as Mariano would say.

    But Mariano fails to recognize (or, at least, wants his readers to ignore) that different scientific theories are supported to varying degrees, from wild speculation to hard fact. Our common ancestry with chimpanzees is hard fact. Details about Ardi are speculation at this point. Even if Ardi turns out to be an outright fraud, there is still a moutain of evidence to show that human beings are apes that evolved from simpler life forms over billions of years. If you want to learn about the evidence, a couple of easy entry points are:

    "The Greatest Show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins
    and
    "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne

    If, instead, you want to be deluded, listen to Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and Ben Stein, as Mariano encourages you to.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Even if Ardi turns out to be an outright fraud, there is still a moutain of evidence to show that human beings are apes that evolved from simpler life forms over billions of years.

    Oh yeah, Mr Smarty-Pants?!?
    Oh yeah??
    Well, if we is all come from a monkey then...jest how come there is still monkeys?
    ;)

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  13. "It also justifies his self-imposed ignorance about the theory of evolution."

    Oh, come on. What a cheap shot! You may disagree with Mariano’s position concerning evolution, but it simply disingenuous to claim that he is ignorant of the subject matter.

    Did anyone else actually bother to read this post all the way thru to the end?
    The last sentence states,”… this essay is merely as preliminary as the reports which are just now surfacing…” I am not claiming to speak for Mariano, but it would appear that he’s not saying anything more than, “Hey look, another pile of bones.”

    But, there is one other point that you can take from this article. We are supposed to believe in evolution because of the mountain of evidence that supports this “theory.” (Case in point, the comment by ScienceisReal “...there is still a mountain of evidence to show that human beings are apes that evolved from simpler life forms over billions of years”) Although he doesn’t explicitly make this point, Mariano’s post illustrates how every bone in this mountain of evidence is based upon the same type of speculative thinking. The one overwhelming fact about evolution is that all of the “hard facts” aren’t fully cured yet. They’re still very pliable in the hands of articulate and imaginative paleontologists.

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  14. We are supposed to believe in evolution because of the mountain of evidence that supports this “theory.”

    Why the scare quotes around the word "theory"?
    The word "theory" doesn't mean just a hunch or a guess.
    Pick up a high-school science text book.
    Read.
    Scientific theories are vital to our understanding of reality.
    Theory of Gravity. Germ Theory. Plate Tectonics Theory. Helicentic Theory.
    The Theory of Evolution is part of the pack.

    There really and truely is a mountain of scientific evidence for evolution.
    Honest.
    Nobody is cooking the books.

    There is no global scientific conspiracy that has lasted for 150 years.
    The biologists and the palentologists and the microbiologists and the genticists are not all out to get you.
    Drop the paranoia. Get an education.
    TalkOrigins.org is an excellent resource to understand the silly claims that creationists make.

    P.S.
    Just in case you are one of "those", the Earth is not 6000 years old.
    Sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  15. @ Cedric Katesby: Why the scare quotes around the word "theory"?

    You are correct when you say that the word "theory" doesn't mean just a hunch or a guess. Without opening my high-school science text book, I would say that a theory is a particular framework that best describes something about the world around us. This framework is generally not accepted as a viable theory until a body of knowledge that supports it has been firmly established with empirical data. With respect to science, this data is supposed to be observable, repeatable and falsifiable.

    Additionally, a theory is generally formed from an initial hypothesis. The initial hypothesis is proposed as an explanation for a particular observation. This is where evolution is stuck. Evolution is not observable, not repeatable, and not refutable; therefore it does not qualify as a theory.

    That’s why I used quotation marks when applying the word “theory” to the hypothesis that is evolution; because I am a linguistic purist and I think it’s a misuse of the word. At this point, it’s probably not even proper to apply the term “hypothesis” to the idea of evolution. Evolution is not self-consistent and it is not consistent with the other well-established scientific theories that you mentioned.

    Now maybe you see why Mariano wrote this post. The “mountain of evidence” that supports your pet theory is little more than pure speculation.

    Oh, and thank you for the advice on getting an education. Unfortunately I got my education at a state university. I hate to think of how much time and money I could have saved if I had followed your path and gotten my education from YouTube.

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  16. This is where evolution is stuck. Evolution is not observable, not repeatable, and not refutable; therefore it does not qualify as a theory.

    This is not true.
    You are either ignorant or simply a liar.
    If you are only ignorant then a biology text book could help you out.
    Read.

    Evolution is not self-consistent and it is not consistent with the other well-established scientific theories that you mentioned.

    Nonsense. Scientists from other disciplines outside of biology have no problem calling the Theory of Evolution a theory.

    Oh, and thank you for the advice on getting an education.

    It's good advice. You should take it.
    Spouting idle rubbish on the internet by saying that the the theory of Evolution is "speculation" displays your ignorance.
    There is no international conspiracy of scientists who are just pretending that Evolution isn't speculation and hoping the general public won't notice.
    Evolution is an actual scientific theory.
    Has been for a long time.
    Deal with it.

    By the way, how old do you think the Earth is?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow, Cedric. You thoughtful, insightful and expressive answers are inspiring.
    “This is not true.”

    Is too. (yeah, I can see where this is leading)

    Not only have I read what the scientific establishment has to offer, but I have also read the dissenting viewpoints. The fact is I probably understand evolution better than you do. I understand its limitations and its shortcomings. And that is why I reject it.

    Your education will start will you stop limiting your intake of knowledge to only those things that agree with your viewpoint. And when you start considering knowledge beyond what you find on YouTube.

    You remind me of the Mormons that come to my door. You really believe that the church of science has taught you everything that you need to know in order to stump those silly Christians. And then you just parrot what you’ve heard.

    **SQUAWK** Read a science book! Read a science book!
    **SQUAWK** Christ is the Anti-Dawkins **SQUAWK**

    Give it a rest.

    ReplyDelete
  18. @ScienceIsReal

    Our common ancestry with chimpanzees is hard fact.

    While I'm impressed with your mind reading skills (you read Mariano like an open book) I'm going to try out mine by stating that you're going to commit affirming the consequent fallacy in your next post.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You thoughtful, insightful and expressive answers are inspiring.

    At last we agree.

    The fact is I probably understand evolution better than you do. I understand its limitations and its shortcomings.

    Nonsense. If you really understood evolution then you would know that it's a scientific theory.

    And when you start considering knowledge beyond what you find on YouTube.

    I use the videos as an illustration of the science. Nothing more.

    Any high school biology text book will support the fact that the theory of evolution is indeed a scientific theory.
    Check out any university science department you like, they will confirm it.
    This is basic stuff. There's nothing surprising or radical about this.
    You have nothing to offer except hand-waving.
    You have no evidence to support your position.
    The only people that have a problem with evolution are the ignorant.
    Dispell your ignorance.
    Read a science book. Live a little.

    You really believe that the church of science....

    How silly you are. Science is not a religion.
    It operates via investigation, not revelation.

    So how old is the Earth, William?
    Is this a...hard question for you?
    (giggle)

    ReplyDelete
  20. @tremor

    Affirming the consequent takes the form:
    1) if p then q.
    2) q.
    3) therefore, p.

    If I committed this fallacy, please tell me what p and q are.

    I assume q is "Our common ancestry with chimpanzees is hard fact." But then, what is p? I didn't intend to use q as support for any conclusion. I merely stated it as an example of something that is well-established by scientific evidence, to juxtapose it with the speculation over the details of Ardi. If you want to know why it is a fact, read one of the books I referenced-- or a Biology textbook.

    I'll apply my superhuman mind-reading skills and guess that perhaps you think that p is something like "Scientific evidence is reliable." But do you really think that my intended argument was: "Science is reliable *because* we share a common ancestor with chimpanzees"? That would indeed be a strange argument, but not at all the one I was making.

    The confusion is probably the following. I certainly asserted #2: we share a common ancestor with chimpanzees. It is also obvious that #1 holds (although I did not assert it explicitly) because common ancestry relies on scientific evidence. And although I believe p to be true and would like to convince you of it, I did not make statement #3. There was no "therefore". At no point did I say that we should conclude scientific reliability from common ancestry.

    If you have a different p in mind, I'd appreciate if you told me. Otherwise, I hope that I have convinced you that I did not commit a logical fallacy.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Science is not supposed to be a religion, but that is what you make it out to be by your dogmatic adherence to naturalistic explanations even when they fly in the face of the evidence.

    So how old is the Earth, William?
    Is this a...hard question for you?
    (giggle)

    Giggle? How old are you? Twelve?
    Why are you trying to bait me with this question? This is not the topic of discussion. There are plenty of books that discuss this issue. Take your own advice: read one. In fact, read several. Although your religious leaders would advise you to stick to the accepted texts, I would recommend that you make your selection wide and varied. Who knows, maybe you can find something on YouTube.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Let me help William out. The earth is around 4.5 billion years old. It's not a hard question.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ScienceIsReal

    My bad, I forgot to ask you to support your statement ;). Fail. You're a nice guy so instead of playing games I'll put the coffee on the table.
    What is hard fact? an event known to have happened or something known to have existed. For the simplicity of discussion let's leave off subjectivity of perception and all that epistemological stuff (you can't argue about facts with solipsist).
    Do we know that said common ancestor existed? Is it undeniable?
    If you point at ERVs, fused chromosomes, genetic and morphological similarities you need to exclude every other possible explanation for those to not to commit the converse error. But, as they say, you can't prove the negative.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Science is not supposed to be a religion...

    Nor is it. There is no "Church of Science".

    ...dogmatic adherence to naturalistic explanations...

    Nope. There is no "dogma" in science.
    No "orthodoxy". No priesthood.
    Science operates differently from religion.
    What do you mean by "naturalistic explanations"?
    Is there another option?
    Do tell.

    ...they fly in the face of the evidence.

    What kind of evidence are you talking about?
    "Naturalistic" evidence or is there some mysterious other kind?

    Evolution is not self-consistent and it is not consistent with the other well-established scientific theories that you mentioned.

    Do you have any way of supporting this assertion of yours? Care to cite your sources? Or is it all just hand-waving on your part?

    Why are you trying to bait me with this question?

    Why are you dodging it?
    Asking somebody about the age of the Earth is a simple way to gauge a person's sanity.

    YEC'ers have all the brain power of drain hair.
    They reject all the physical sciences just to prop up a 6000 year old Earth.
    Not much point in discussing Evolution with somebody who thinks The Flintstones was a documentary.

    So tell me, William. How old do you think the Earth is? Or do you want to dodge again?
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Cedric,
    I really don't have the time we need for this debate, so would direct you to David Berlinsky's latest book for a good argument as to how science operates like a religion.

    Now to your question; the ole' SLTQ (Sanity Litmus Test Question). Well, I will answer your question if you answer mine.

    Do you believe in spontaneous generation or do you agree with your pope, Richard Dawkins, that it could have been … (giggle) … ALIENS?

    ReplyDelete
  26. @tremor

    I won't bother listing the supporting evidence for common ancestry, since you have already done so (at least in part). It's good to know that you are aware of the evidence.

    To answer your question, I do think that common ancestry is as undeniable as other things that I would call facts like: the existence of black holes, time dilation in special relativity, etc. That is to say that I would be equally surprised if any of them turned out to be false.

    Have I excluded every other explanation? Have I considered, for example, that God might be sitting at various spots in the universe twirling stars around to make it just appear as if there is a high gravity invisible object? That could be what's happening, but black holes make other predictions that turn out to be true-- so much so that their existence is very well supported. It's the same with common ancestry. It predicts where we are likely to find fossils, and of what age, and with what morphology. It predicts what we will see in the DNA of modern apes. I just haven't heard an explanation that puts all of the pieces together as well as common ancestry does. If you know of such an explanation, I hope that you will share.

    I can think of lots of ways in which life on earth could appear to have a common designer but not common ancestry, and yet of all those choices, God chose the design that would allow for an explanation that would render him unnecessary? What a strange thing for someone to do if they want you to know them.

    I can't prove that God does not exist. I can't prove that we're not living in the Matrix. All I can do is try to be consistent in my credulity, wherever I draw that line. I think that you would be inconsistent if you reject evolution, while accepting other scientific theories.

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  27. Hi William,

    Sorry to butt in, but I'm happy to answer your question(s):

    Do you believe in spontaneous generation

    No. "Spontaneous generation" has not been a viable theory since the 17th century.

    or do you agree with your pope, Richard Dawkins, that it could have been … (giggle) … ALIENS?

    Yes. It *could* have been aliens or gods, but I don't know of any evidence to support those claims, so I reject them.
    As does Richard Dawkins.

    So what's your answer to the question, "How old is the earth?"

    ReplyDelete
  28. ...so would direct you to David Berlinsky's latest book for a good argument as to how science operates like a religion.

    Nobody cares what David Berlinski has to say and nobody should have to buy any of his coffee-table books to find out.
    Reading a biology text book to find out about biology and the Theory of Evolution is fair and reasonable.
    Reading Berlinski's mumbo-jumbo so that he can make a profit from the royalties is not fair and reasonable.
    If Berlinski has anything scientific to say, he can write a peer-reviewed scientific paper backed up by real work.

    "Evolution is not self-consistent and it is not consistent with the other well-established scientific theories that you mentioned."

    This is just an unsupported assertion on your part. Pure handwaving. Cite your sources please.

    Do you believe in spontaneous generation or do you agree with your pope, Richard Dawkins, that it could have been … (giggle) … ALIENS?

    Well, firstly, Richard Dawkins is not anybody's pope. Nor indeed is he a high priest or minister or preacher or a bishop or a witch-doctor or shaman or oracle. He's not even a lay-preacher or a tele-evangelist.
    Science books are not holy writ.
    Peer-reviewed science papers are not burning bushes.
    Laboratories are not churches with bottomless collection plates pleading to be filled.
    Science is not a "ism" nor a creed. It has no dogma nor tenents of faith.
    Now, hopefully, we have reasonably covered all the religious similies and metaphors.
    Perhaps we can now move on? Hmm?

    Do you believe in spontaneous generation?

    This is your "stumper" question?
    How sad.
    (smirk)

    My answer is.....(drum roll please)...."No".
    Indeed, I would be shocked to hear of any scientist nowadays who does believe in it. ScienceIsReal is quite correct in pointing out that it hasn't been seriously promoted for a very long time.

    Read the link carefully. You will notice that it does not mention the Theory of Evolution.
    Not once. Not at all.
    Why do you suppose that is?
    It does however mention a special word.
    Abiogenesis.
    Can you say that?
    Do you understand why they mention Abiogenesis in connection to spontaneous generation but they don't mention the Theory of Evolution in connection to spontaneous generation?
    Too hard to figure out?
    No problemo. I have dealt with the home-schooled before.
    This should clear up your woeful lack of understanding.
    Learn.
    (P.S. The pretty background music is by a man called Beethoven. He was a foreigner.)

    So again, "No". I do not believe in spontaneous generation.
    I have no problem with giving you a straight answer to that question. No need for me to repeatedly dodge. Unlike yourself.

    ...that it could have been … (giggle) … ALIENS?

    Well darn, ScienceIsReal has beaten me to it.
    Curse you ScienceIsReal!!
    (Shakes fist vaguely at computer monitor)
    :)
    When I want to find out what some famous person has said, I always go to the source. I never rely on second-hand information. That way I can avoid the shameless creationism tactic of "quote-mining".
    So when Dawkins talks about "aliens", then "Yes", I suppose it could. I really, really, really doubt it. Yet one has to allow for the slightest of possibilites.
    However, this very position which is promoted by the Intelligent Design charaltans, creates it's own problems.

    Now on to the good stuff.

    William said...Well, I will answer your question if you answer mine.
    Ok, I will take you at your word.
    Let's have it.

    ***How old do you think the Earth is?***

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow, Cedric. You were feeling quite talkative there. I must say that I do enjoy you biting wit and sarcasm. It makes this “debate” far more interesting.

    Before I answer your question, “The Question”, I would like to address some of your other comments.

    With respect to what you said about David Berlinski … well, that’s exactly what I would expect from a fundamentalist such as yourself. If someone doesn’t agree with you, then of course they must be wrong.
    “Nobody cares about what he says! David is a just big dummy trying to make money! He should write a science book.” **SQUAWK**

    Concerning Dawkins; You got me. I haven’t watched Ben Stein’s movie (I’ve wanted to, but haven’t found the time.), so I can’t say that I have really tried to find out what was said. Stein is intelligent, but so is Dawkins. And I can’t imagine that he would be able to trap Dawkins so easily. But if he did, that would be tremendously funny. So, I’ll concede the point about Dawkins and aliens. I admit that I was just trying to push your buttons. And, it was a red herring.

    Now, let me see….where is my high school science book? Here it is!
    Spontaneous generation … Chapter 2 … spontaneous generation is the theory that life arises from non-living matter. This idea was proven false by Redi, Pasteur, Spallanzani and others in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Now, what’s that big word that Cedric used? A…bio…genie-something. Oh, here it is. Chapter 9 … abiogenesis, also known as chemical evolution, is the study of how life on Earth could have arisen from inanimate matter. Wait…wha … ???

    Spontaneous generation …life arises from non-living matter…
    Abiogenesis … life on Earth could have arisen from inanimate matter…
    Hmm it would appear that spontaneous generation = abiogenesis.

    And it does. In fact, I doubt that you can show me one dictionary entry that doesn’t equate the two terms either explicitly or implicitly. The only place that you will find this distinction is in your imagination and in some of your precious religious texts …er … uhm …science books. This is just a game of semantics that Thomas Huxley and others started, and you continue, in order to muddy the waters. If you want to use the term abiogenesis to label the process by which chemicals organize themselves into molecules that eventually come to live, well that’s fine. But at the end of the day you are still trying to get non-living matter to come alive; and that is spontaneous generation.

    I have to admit that my curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on one of you YouTube links. (I mean, come on. You’ve thrown a dozen of them at me. One of them was bound to get me.) I am familiar with Dr. Szostak’s work (yawn) and I remain unconvinced. Surprised? Of course not.

    I am constantly chasing down these scientific “proofs” only to find more speculation and conjecture. You guys are starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf. Come on, just show me something that doesn’t read like guess work: “We believe….”, “It’s possible to conceive…”, “There must be a….”, “Every now and then it might….” Look, just read some scientific papers outside of evolutionary biology, get a good idea of the kind of language that I am talking about, then go find it for me in your texts.

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  30. Alright, alright. I am going to answer your question. (I do have some integrity.) I know that you guys are just dying to start ridiculing me, but my ramblings were too long to include everything in one post. (Sorry, Mariano.) How old do I think the Earth is? Maybe 4.6 billion years; maybe, but I really don’t know. My education concerning the age of the Earth is limited to nothing more than what I was taught in high school and college. I have nothing else on which to base my answer. So, you get the default public-education answer. Maybe if I stop wasting my time reading about the myth of evolution I can turn my attention to some current work on that subject.

    I’m sorry fellas if that answer disappoints you, but it’s an honest answer. I do have a life outside of this blog-o-sphere and I simply don’t have time to read everything. In fact, have precious little free time. I’m starting to feel guilty for spending so much time arguing with you. But it has been fun.

    OH LOOK! Someone found a “pre-Archaeopteryx troodontid theropod from China with long feathers on the metatarsus.” Let’s go see if this one is real, or if some more Chinese farmers just got rich at the expense of some foolish American scientists. But wait, I really should pursue this age of the Earth thing. Nah…put a pin in it. I’m going outside to play ball with my boys.

    ReplyDelete
  31. (Part One of Two. Apologies to the host for the length.)

    With respect to what you said about David Berlinski … well, that’s exactly what I would expect from a fundamentalist such as yourself.

    No. I am not a fundamentalist.
    Nor do I consider Dawkins to be my pope etc, etc, etc ad nauseum.
    Science is not a religion. Ask any scientist.

    If someone doesn’t agree with you, then of course they must be wrong.

    Not true. I know that I have been wrong about many things in my life.
    I firmly believe in the value of keeping an open mind.
    However, I do not want to keep my mind so open that my brains fall out.

    Berlinski has no credibility.
    I've read some of his articles and listened to a few of his lectures.
    He has nothing interesting to offer.
    He is only a shill for the pseudo-science of "Intelligent Design".
    When I do my reading, I like to aim a little higher than Berlinski.

    So, I’ll concede the point about Dawkins and aliens.

    Thank you. That's very honest of you. That's not like a typical creationist.

    Hmm it would appear that spontaneous generation = abiogenesis.

    Well, sorta. As I mentioned before, the link to spontaneous generation had a further reference to abiogenesis.
    However, that's not the important point.
    Abiogenesis is not the Theory of Evolution.
    One does not rely on the other.
    Creationists conflate the two.
    Scientists and informed people do not.

    If you want to use the term abiogenesis to label the process by which chemicals organize themselves into molecules that eventually come to live, well that’s fine.

    It's not important. Abiogenesis just happens to be the term used by scientists.
    Spontaneous Generation is a discredited idea that nobody has used for a very long time.
    If you have a problem with that then...go talk to a chemist who knows more about it than I do.
    If you feel that there is some fatal flaw that the world of chemistry has not understood then you have a duty to share your discovery with the scientific world. Don't waste your time on the Intertoobs. Get started now on that peer-reviewed scientific paper that will change the way humanity understands chemistry. Your Nobel Prize awaits.

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  32. (Part Two of Two)
    ...I clicked on one of you YouTube links.

    You watched one? I'm impressed.
    Usually, your average creationist is so fearful of "Da Debill" that they simply go "Lalalalalalalalala" and refuse to watch ANY of them at all.
    You are officially ahead of the game.
    After all, if you don't watch the videos, how can you know of what you stridently disapprove?
    Glad you saw your way clear to watch one.

    I am constantly chasing down these scientific “proofs” only to find more speculation and conjecture.

    No. Science does not deal in "Proof".
    It deals in evidence.
    It's a high-school science text book thing.

    (...blank stare of incomprehension...)

    Never mind. Let's just forget it and move on.

    ...just read some scientific papers outside of evolutionary biology...

    Evolutionary biology produces research.
    Scientific research.
    This research is published in peer-reviewed papers.
    The same scientific method that governs research in evolutionary biology is used in all other branches of science.
    No exceptions are made.
    If there was some secret under-the-table process that gave biology papers a free pass then the creationists would be all over it by now.
    The ruthless process of peer-review covers all scientific papers. Evolutionary biology, molecular biology, paleontolgy, microbiology, genetics, medicine are not given special treatment over other fields of science.
    Scientists from different fields are happy to share a table with evolutionary biologists at your local university cafeteria.

    "Evolution is not self-consistent and it is not consistent with the other well-established scientific theories that you mentioned."

    You have been asked to support this assertion of yours.
    You have not. Let's drop it and let it die a quiet, unlamented death.

    How old do I think the Earth is? Maybe 4.6 billion years; maybe, but I really don’t know.

    Good answer. The USGS agrees with you.
    YEC'ers will deny scientific evidence to the death.
    I am glad that you are not a YEC'er, at least.
    They are totally nutty.

    However, if you are prepared to accept the physical sciences when they demonstrate the age of the Earth then...why do you reject those same physical sciences when they demonstrate other theories like Evolution?

    Let’s go see if this one is real, or if some more Chinese farmers just got rich at the expense of some foolish American scientists.

    America has some of the best scientists in the world. They are human and capable of making mistakes but when those mistakes are made, they are discovered and corrected by...other scientists.
    That is because…science doesn’t work like a religion.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I would call facts like: the existence of black holes, time dilation in special relativity, etc. That is to say that I would be equally surprised if any of them turned out to be false.

    Have I excluded every other explanation? Have I considered, for example, that God might be sitting at various spots in the universe twirling stars around to make it just appear as if there is a high gravity invisible object? That could be what's happening, but black holes make other predictions that turn out to be true-- so much so that their existence is very well supported.

    It's the same with common ancestry. It predicts where we are likely to find fossils, and of what age, and with what morphology. It predicts what we will see in the DNA of modern apes. I just haven't heard an explanation that puts all of the pieces together as well as common ancestry does. If you know of such an explanation, I hope that you will share.

    Your conclusion is only as good as your premises (if no logic fault was made).
    In case of black holes we have: good mathematical models and lots of empirical data to support their existence (and no contradicting data AFAIK). Mathematical theorems predated actual discovery so it was an easy guess.
    Premises for common ancestry of men and chimps are not in the same category. Fossil record? Number of frauds, lies, storytelling and controversies in this subject is way above number of such events connected with any other scientific topic (dinosaurs to birds evolution would be the second). Skull 1470, mentioned by Mariano, used to be undeniable evidence for ape to human transition in discussions like ours. It's not Homo rudolfensis anymore, it's Kenyanthropus rudolfensis (ape from Kenya).
    Morphologically the most similar to men are ... orangutans.
    What about genetics?
    Robertsonian fusion - it doesn't change much here, it only makes our genome a little more distinct from apes. ERVs are the most dangerous argument, because they're supposedly "shared error", but not a definitive one (yet).

    I can think of lots of ways in which life on earth could appear to have a common designer but not common ancestry, and yet of all those choices, God chose the design that would allow for an explanation that would render him unnecessary? What a strange thing for someone to do if they want you to know them.
    If God wanted us to know about Him - He would just have revealed Himself directly. The way things are now - we're free to believe in Him or not.

    I think that you would be inconsistent if you reject evolution, while accepting other scientific theories.
    I take most theories for granted because I don't care. I could reject them and it wouldn't have changed anything in my life.
    However our supposed common ancestry with chimps has serious implications also outside of field biology that I particularly don't like thus I'm resistant so far and remain as such for a while because, after all, science is tentative. It's its strength, but it also undermines any particular scientific theory, even if it's widely accepted. Imagine all those losing faith because of skull 1470, Lucy, Piltdown Man and stuff like that.

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  34. @ tremor
    Sorry for butting in but...

    However our supposed common ancestry with chimps has serious implications also outside of field biology that I particularly don't like thus I'm resistant so far..

    I can understand you not wanting to lose you your faith.
    Religious people can make an impossibly strong emotional investment that can dominate a life-time.
    To ultimately reject it all and build anew after possibly decades of giving lots of money and bringing up your children to also believe is a very, very hard choice.
    Sometimes it's just much easier to go with what you've been taught, to go with what's comforting.

    Imagine the emotional struggle that a life-time Mormon (for example) must go through when confronted with molecular biology. If anything challanges The Book of Mormon, it's DNA. With archeology running a very close second.

    However, I want to point out that science has nothing to do with atheism.
    Specifically, biology and evolutionary theory have nothing to do with atheism.
    There are plenty of excellent scientists out there who do solid scientific work that also happen to be very religious.
    Take Francis Collins(Evangelical), for example.
    Or Ken Miller (Roman Catholic).

    It's entirely possible to fully accept the latest scientific discoveries and at the same time to have furious, drag-out, bare-knuckled arguments with your local heathen community about beliefs in god/gods.

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  35. @tremor

    If God wanted us to know about Him - He would just have revealed Himself directly. The way things are now - we're free to believe in Him or not.

    I was really surprised you made this statement. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you're saying that hard evidence of God would violate our free will ability to accept or reject him. If that's what you believe, then you must think that the pursuit of Intelligent Design is a lost cause because if it succeeded, we'd no longer have the ability to reject him.

    If this is how you feel, then why the resistance to common ancestry? As Cedric was saying, there are plenty of people who accept common ancestry and still believe in God. What are these "serious implications" you speak of? From what I can tell, the implications of common ancestry are basically that YEC is bunk and that the world appears in such a way that while God may have created it, it could have happened without a god. Therefore, we can choose to accept or reject him. What's wrong with that?

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  36. @Cedric
    I can understand you not wanting to lose you your faith.[...]
    Sometimes it's just much easier to go with what you've been taught, to go with what's comforting.

    I was taught that the TOE and abiogenesis (sic) are true and church doesn't mind. It would be much easier for me if it stayed that way.
    I discovered creationism a couple of years ago and found culture wars very interesting. My faith is not and never was correlated with specific scientific theories or literal creationism.

    However, I want to point out that science has nothing to do with atheism.
    If so, why's DeGrasse Tyson so worried about theists in NAS?

    Specifically, biology and evolutionary theory have nothing to do with atheism.
    Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist - Richard Dawkins.

    It's entirely possible to fully accept the latest scientific discoveries and at the same time to have furious, drag-out, bare-knuckled arguments with your local heathen community about beliefs in god/gods.
    Homo sapiens had so many ancestors that I'm lost. Should I accept Ardi that confuses even diehard evolutionists? Meanwhile only one fossil of chimp was found that consists of 3 teeth (you can't reconstruct hominid with that).

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  37. it sounds like you're saying that hard evidence of God would violate our free will ability to accept or reject him. If that's what you believe, then you must think that the pursuit of Intelligent Design is a lost cause because if it succeeded, we'd no longer have the ability to reject him.
    I didn't put it correctly and confused you: we wouldn't be amongst the ones who didn't see but believed. Still there would be some degrees of freedom in case of direct appearance of God (many Jews rejected Jesus despite witnessing His miracles) and many more degrees if naturalistic TOE would have been turned down and ID eventually would prevail.
    For example some people take panspermia theories quite serious.

    What are these "serious implications" you speak of?
    Believing that we're just apes affects people thinking, and what follows, acting. And I'm not saying here about idiotic ideas like giving chimps human rights. It's about explaining out rape, physical or psychical domination, brutal competition with evolution. It's about believing that natural selection and primordial instincts are driving forces of social and individual life. Finally it's about closing eyes on what makes us different, what makes us men.
    As Ann Coulter put it:
    <<The path between Darwinism and Nazism may not be ineluctable, but it is more ineluctable than the evolutionary path from monkey to man. Darwin's theory overturned every aspect of Biblical morality. Instead of honor thy mother and father, the Darwinian ethic was honor thy children. Instead of enshrining moral values, the Darwinian ethic enshrined biological instincts. Instead of transcendent moral values, the Darwinian ethic said all morals are relative. Instead of sanctifying life, the Darwinian ethic sanctified death.

    So it should not be surprising that eugenicists, racists, and assorted psychopaths always gravitate to Darwinism. From the most evil dictators to today's antismoking crusaders, sexual profligates, and animal rights nuts, Darwinism has infected the whole culture. And yet small schoolchildren who know that George Washington had slaves are never told of the centrality of Darwin's theory to Nazism, eugenics, abortion, infanticide, "racial hygiene" societies, genocide, and the Soviet gulags.>>
    It might seem just an emotional rant, but, for example, praising Hitler neonazis are still active, they believe to be better than other races, and put what their preach to practice by murdering men with different skin color from time to time.

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  38. If so, why's DeGrasse Tyson so worried about theists in NAS?

    You watched the video? Thank you.
    DeGrasse Tyson is passionate about science literacy. He looks at the theists in the NAS and asks why they don't think the way he does.
    Cognative dissonance and all that.
    In opposition to this, you would have Steven Jay Gould's NOMA.

    Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist - Richard Dawkins.

    Yes, I personally would agree with this but...another atheist might easily disagree.
    The next atheist you meet might dismiss Dawkin's statement completely.
    You can reject The Theory of Evolution entirely and still be an atheist.
    Take the Raliens for example.
    Atheists don't have a doctrine of teachings or a system of behaviour that they all must follow in order to be "real atheists".

    Christians, for example, are given a long series of rules and regulations on how to order their lives. Go to Church on Sunday. Give money to the priest. Shun the homosexual. Make sure you wear good clothes when you go to your church etc.

    Atheists don't have anything like that.
    In fact, an atheist could follow those self-same rules and still be an atheist. There won't be an "Atheist Elder" knocking at his/ her door to admonish them from straying from the straight and narrow.
    The atheist could go to their local church and gives money to the priest etc. and still be an atheist. They may have very good personal reasons for doing so.
    Perhaps they are married to somebody that is a "true believer" and the atheist spouse doesn't want to risk their marriage?
    Could happen.

    Homo sapiens had so many ancestors that I'm lost.

    I don't understand exactly what you are referring to. I hope you are not suggesting that if you are lost or confused over a science subject then that means that subject is wrong just because you personally don't fully understand it.
    That would be a very unfortunate thing to believe.
    I personally don't understand astrophysics at all but that's probably because I have not spent 8-12 years of my life pursuing a Phd program on it.
    Maybe you are lost simply because you have not done a biology course at university?
    No, I'm not saying you are stupid! Not at all.
    For all I know you are a fantastic painter and utterly brilliant computer programmer...yet maybe biology doesn't happen to be your field.

    Should I accept Ardi that confuses even diehard evolutionists?

    Well, firstly, I don't know what you mean when you say "diehard evolutionist".
    When you use that term, its like you are trying to turn science into something that is political or religious.
    What's wrong with the term "scientist" or more specifically "biologist"?
    As for biologists being "confused" about Ardi, well, once again, I don't know what you are talking about.
    There's a lot of excitement about Ardi, sure.
    There will probably be many disagreements among scientists about the significance of Ardi...but science thrives on disagreement.
    That's normal. That's healthy. Scientists disagree with each other all the time.
    That's because science is not an orthodoxy.
    One scientist can easily challange another scientist's work and be praised for it.

    Meanwhile only one fossil of chimp was found that consists of 3 teeth (you can't reconstruct hominid with that).

    I'm not sure what you are talking about, to be honest. You don't give any references.
    Please remember that there is no Holy Writ in biology. If anybody wants to do an experiment or somehow demonstrate that there's some terrible problem with the Theory of Evolution then the field is wide open, yet creationists never do this.

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  39. DeGrasse Tyson is passionate about science literacy. He looks at the theists in the NAS and asks why they don't think the way he does.
    Cognative dissonance and all that.

    In other words: God is redundant - science can explain everything.

    In opposition to this, you would have Steven Jay Gould's NOMA.
    Which is pretty much hypocrisy.

    I still don't think that science has nothing to do with atheism.

    You can reject The Theory of Evolution entirely and still be an atheist.
    Take the Raliens for example.
    Atheists don't have a doctrine of teachings or a system of behaviour that they all must follow in order to be "real atheists".

    In theory yes, sure. In practice majority of atheists have inclinations towards scientism. It isalso common theme amongst them to believe that science dissected and debunked religion (i.e. Christianity).

    Me: Homo sapiens had so many ancestors that I'm lost.
    I don't understand exactly what you are referring to.
    In short: paleoanthropologists tried to support common human ancestry with apes so hard that they lost any credibility in my eyes. There was a time that new hominin fossils were greeted as "missing link" and previous one was moved to dead end branch. This is favorite topic on any creationist site like scienceagainstevolution.org.

    When you use that term, its like you are trying to turn science into something that is political or religious.
    [...] Scientists disagree with each other all the time.
    That's because science is not an orthodoxy.
    One scientist can easily challenge another scientist's work and be praised for it.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but it's hard to graduate in biology and not believing in TOE, even if one graduates she has hard time to find a job in any scientific institute and when she finds one - won't get grant money for research in the field if she aims at questioning evolution. And after all, if she somehow releases a paper or a book - it's very likely that she'll lose her job.


    Me: meanwhile only one fossil of chimp was found that consists of 3 teeth (you can't reconstruct hominid with that).

    I'm not sure what you are talking about, to be honest. You don't give any references.
    I'm talking about this find.

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  40. Apologies to the host for the length.
    (Part one of Two)

    God is redundant - science can explain everything.

    Well, the nice thing about science is that it is continuously working on what we don't know.
    It doesn't try to plug up the unknown with the unknowable.
    That continuous striving for knowledge produces tangible results and pushes us further and further away from the Dark Ages.

    I still don't think that science has nothing to do with atheism.

    Well, before you became a creationist you apparently belonged to a mainstream religion that accepted the science of Evolution and Abiogenesis.
    Do you really believe that those of your former congregation were atheists? Surely not.

    You may have disagreements on theological grounds with Catholics, for example, but they hardly qualify as atheists by any stretch of the imagination.
    Even if you want to invoke the "No True Scotsman" defence, Catholics simply don't qualify as atheists. Heretics? Maybe.
    Atheists? No.

    In practice, majority of atheists have inclinations towards scientism.

    "Scientism?" Hmm. Well, from the link you gave, Daniel Dennett said it best when he said that "when someone puts forward a scientific theory that [religious critics] really don't like, they just try to discredit it as 'scientism'".
    For my money, that sums it up well.

    Whatever the majority of atheists may or may not believe, atheism does not lead you to science nor away from it.
    It's probably very common that many atheists are science-friendly, sure, but the same can be said for religious groups.
    One could be very spiritual and non-scientific yet not subscribe to the existence of any particular god/gods. Buddhists, anyone?

    I would like to think that the majority of atheists are normal, law-abiding people who get along well with their neighbours but...those admirable qualities have nothing to do with their atheism.
    It would be nice but...
    (shrug)

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  41. (Part Two of Two)

    This is favorite topic on any creationist site like scienceagainstevolution.org.

    Well,...yes. It would be. There are other creationist sites that will tell you that man lived at the same time as dinosaurs and that the Flood really happened.
    It's not a good idea to get your science from creationist sites. When I want to know something about a science topic, I like to get my science undigested by third parties with vested interests. I always skip the middle-men to avoid spin and go straight to the source. That way you nip "quote-mining" in the bud and you get the big picture rich with details. There are plenty of science blogs that cater to the interested layman.

    ...it's hard to graduate in biology and not believing in TOE...

    Well, to be fair, it would be hard to graduate in Astronomy and not believe in the Heliocentric Theory either.
    ;)
    Scientists don't "believe" in theories because "The Establishment" orders them to.
    They accept them because they are useful. They help them do their job.

    she...won't get grant money for research in the field if she aims at questioning evolution

    There are plenty of very rich Creationists who would happily throw money at somebody (anybody!!) who claims they could do research that would overturn Evolution.
    Yet they all fail.
    Take Michael Behe, for example. He has tenure at a university. Can't be fired. Has made heaps of money from his ID coffee table books. Access to a fully equipped lab.
    Yet, he has done next to nothing since launching his books. No actual ID research.
    The Templeton Foundation offered the Discovery Institute money on a platter to produce scientific research. The ID people couldn't even come up with a proposal on paper.
    They do no work. They never will. Over twenty years of nothing.

    ...one fossil of chimp was found that consists of 3 teeth (you can't reconstruct hominid with that...

    Thanks for the link. It doesn't look like the scientists involved are claiming anything unreasonable.
    They have found fossilised chimp teeth.
    Ok. Well, that's fairly easy to estabish. Chimpanzee teeth have distinctive characteristics. They make no claim of reconstructing a hominid with them. I don't see anything strange or objectionable to their claims.

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  42. It's not a good idea to get your science from creationist sites.
    I think I went through majority of talkorigins.org, have no problem with reading about controversial subjects on pharyngula or panda's thumb.
    Anyway criticism of human evolution research in XX century from creationists is in most cases based on evidence.
    I stopped watching video at 0:48 when it says: << scientific method MUST start with observation.
    To quote prof. Lewontin:
    << it is repeatedly said that science is intolerant of theories without data and assertions without adequate evidence. But no serious student of epistemology any longer takes the naive view of science as a process of Baconian induction from theoretically unorganized observations. There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become "observations" we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited. In the 1930s well-established and respectable geneticists described "dauer-modifications," environmentally induced changes in organisms that were passed on to offspring and only slowly disappeared in succeeding generations. As the science of genetics hardened, with its definitive rejection of any possibility of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, observations of dauer-modifications were sent to the scrapheap where they still lie, jumbled together with other decommissioned facts.>>

    They accept them because they are useful. They help them do their job.
    <<Good science need not have any application beyond satisfying curiosity >> sums it up well. BTW, I hope it's clear that whenever we debate TOE (and specifically human and ape common ancestry in this discussion) it clear that we think about TOE that says that ontological and metaphysical reduction of macroevolution to microevolution is warranted. Usefulness of this reduction is questionable but it made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

    OK, ID movement and creation science is a big topic so we'd better not even start (or stop here).

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  43. ...have no problem with reading about controversial subjects on pharyngula or panda's thumb.

    Glad to hear it. The vast majority of creationists I have encountered never seem to bother. People hesitate to criticise a plumber doing his/her job because plumbing is complicated and most people aren't qualified plumbers. Yet those same people passionately criticise biology without ever actually opening a biology text book or seriously checking out the science blogs devoted to biology. I've never understood that kind of thinking.

    ...criticism of human evolution research in XX century from creationists is in most cases based on evidence.

    It fine to criticise any theory as long as it's based on evidence. However, there are two points that are important to mention.
    Firstly, you don't have to be a creationist to criticise scientific research. Scientists criticise theories all the time, ToE is no exception.
    Secondly, criticising one theory does not magically produce another alternative theory.
    If every single last bit of the Theory of Evolution vanished in an instant, that would not demonstrate that there must be a god/gods.

    ...I stopped watching video at 0:48 when it says: << scientific method MUST start with observation.
    To quote prof. Lewontin...


    One can begin to define the scientific method with:
    1)Define the question
    2)Gather information and resources (observe)

    ...but I have also seen explanations of the start of the scientific method in reverse order.
    What came first? The chicken or the egg?
    I'm fine with either version.
    Take a wild gamble and continue watching the video. It's very well put together.

    Good science need not have any application beyond satisfying curiosity

    Oh yes, I fully agree. Yet the standard creationist meme is that the theory of evolution is useless, without practical application.
    Scientists are not acolytes sworn to adhere to "Darwinism" or "scientism" or any other sort of "ism". They don't accept the ToE as a creed, they use it as a tool.
    Come up with a better tool and the ToE will fall by the wayside like all other superceded theories.

    I hope it's clear that whenever we debate TOE (...) it clear that we think about TOE that says that ontological and metaphysical reduction of macroevolution to microevolution is warranted.

    Metaphysical? ToE? I don't follow you. What do you mean?

    ...one fossil of chimp was found that consists of 3 teeth (you can't reconstruct hominid with that...

    Did you want to comment further on this in light of my observations?

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  44. ... Secondly, criticising one theory does not magically produce another alternative theory.
    That's pretty clear. But I think the main reason for criticising ToE by creationists is incompability with some interpretations of Genesis.
    If every single last bit of the Theory of Evolution vanished in an instant, that would not demonstrate that there must be a god/gods
    But it would be harder to be intellectually fulfilled atheist (do I repeat myself?).

    Scientists are not acolytes sworn to adhere to "Darwinism" or "scientism" or any other sort of "ism". They don't accept the ToE as a creed, they use it as a tool.
    I wouldn't put all scientists in one bag here. Think of Dawkins.

    Metaphysical? ToE? I don't follow you. What do you mean?
    I should have linked relevent article on TalkOrigins from John Wilkins.
    <<Metaphysical reduction is the claim that only one kind of thing exists (monism).>>
    <<within the "universe" of biology, one might say that everything biological is best explained by microevolution (methodological), or that all entities and processes of macroevolution are microevolutionary (usually genetic – this is ontological), or that everything that happens (in biology) is genetic (metaphysical). In the metaphysical case, genes acquire an almost mystical significance, and no serious biologist makes this claim, although opponents accuse some (particularly Dawkins) of doing so.>>

    On chimp fossil:
    It doesn't look like the scientists involved are claiming anything unreasonable.
    (Oversimplificating to some degree) Before this find:
    Evolutionists: we don't find chimp fossils, because they lived in areas where fossilization was unlikely.
    Creationists: evos used all chimp fossils to "reconstruct" hominids.
    After first chimp fossil was found:
    Evolutionists: we were wrong, chimps lived also close to early men.
    Creationists: just as we said.

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  45. But I think the main reason for criticising ToE by creationists is incompability with some interpretations of Genesis.

    That would also be the reason why creationists criticise the Plate Tectonics Theory and various other aspects of science. There are many creation stories. If they are not compatible with what scientists find then thats an issue for the believers concerned. It's not a sign that scientists are conspiring against them.
    Hindus have it rough and Mormons must studiously ignore DNA research.

    However, there is no reason for me to believe that the global scientific community has been cooking the books just to undermine the religious beliefs of Hindus or the Mormons.

    I remember clearly the day that I found out that millions of people in America truely believed that the Earth was 6000 years old and that science was lying to them.
    I thought it was a joke at first.
    Once I realised that it was not, I was thunderstruck that people believed that way because of their religion. What kind of a religion would lie to people that way? I found that to be a twisted and dismal corruption. Something to be ashamed of as a fellow human being. I couldn't imagine any religious members of my family or friends or even my extended community believing stuff like that.

    But it would be harder to be intellectually fulfilled atheist...

    I really don't know. That would have to be asked on a case-by-case basis. Personally speaking, I can say that I became an atheist even though I knew little of science and ToE.
    The fact that ToE does not conflict with atheism is nice and, intellectually speaking, it's good to be able to read about science and take it on board without worrying about have to check with any religious text and fretting over the interpretations. However, ultimately, atheism isn't about ToE or science in general.
    Atheists come in all shapes and sizes and backgrounds and hold political, social and philosophical beliefs that cross the entire spectrum of possibilities and combinations.
    There are some atheists that I admire and there are some atheists that I would not urinate on if they were on fire.
    ;)
    Grouping atheists together in catagories is about as useful as herding cats.

    Think of Dawkins.

    I've read a couple of his books and seen almost all of his lectures. He doesn't come across as a religious person to me. Far from it.
    When he states his opinions, he makes it quite clear that those are his opinions or personal philosophy. When he talks about science, I find it easy to follow that he doesn't think science is just another religion. In stark contrast to actual religious people.
    Dawkins is not my "god" or "pope" or any other nonsense like that. I really don't see why creationists think that by labeling him as such that they are saying anything useful.
    (Present company excepted, of course. I'm referring to others.)

    (Oversimplificating to some degree) Before this find:

    I'm sure that's the impression you are left with but I'd have to look at the original links to see for myself.
    In the previous link you helpfully gave, I read the article and thought that the scientific claims made there were reasonable and modest. I did not see anything about reconstructing homonids from three teeth.
    What do you specifically object to in the article?
    What is so special about those fossil finds that you wanted to use them as examples? Examples of what?
    Please note that I am not baiting you. I really would like to know.

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  46. Alright, I have read this over, and what I am about to say may offend BOTH CHRISTIANS AND ATHEISTS. I myself am Christian, but not a militant, and the theory of evolution never has scared me because it is not enough (if it were proven) to prove in scientific terms that there is no God.

    Before I begin though, I would like to give a message from my heart to all of you who read this. Please, for the sake of using logic alone and not having emotions flare up and cloud your judgement, take a moment to calm down and clear your head.

    Just as believing everything you see and hear retards the mind, so does being skeptical of everything. You have to find a balance within yourself, and guard against your emotions when you do.

    CHRISTIANS: As a fellow Christian, and a former militant Christian, I warn you now. Don't totally ignore or blow off what the scientists present to you. The Bible is very hard to understand, and people can interpret things the wrong way. Ask God to help you understand if you see something that makes you quetion your faith. If a certain program is heavily one-sided, like Discovering Ardi was, then dive into further research about evolution. You can try going to different websites and calling or e-mailing Theologians with your questions. Ask them what their scientific view is.

    Just for a second, pretend that evolution was one day proven, without a reasonable doubt. How does this prove that there is no God? The possibility is still there that many people have interpreted what the Bible said in the wrong way. Militant Atheists, who are not true scientists in my opinion, will say, "Ha ha! We proved you wrong! God doesn't exist because evolution does!" Which is totally and scientifically, wrong. There is no scientific proof that God exists or does not exist. They are interpreting what the Bible says for themselves, and assuming they are right. There are, as stated above by some other individual, always two sides of a scientific argument, and evidence for this or against that on every theory. Until something is totally and utterly disproven, scientists themselves have to believe in something, one way or the other. It is an illusion that faith and reason are different. They are actually one in the same, even though trying to find that balance between the two can be difficult at times. In his encyclical "Faith and Reason", Pope John Paul II points out that growht in our Christian Faith requires both faith AND reason. He emphasizes that since both are gifts from God, faith and reason must never be pitted against each other. Faith enables reason to accept what it cannot fully understand. Reason in turn enables us to understand our faith better and defend it against error.*

    *From Beginning Apologetics Volume 4: How to answer Atheists and New Agers. By Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham. Page 15, first paragraph.

    (I have to split this in multiple posts)

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  47. ATHEISTS: As a former Theistic Darwinist (I used to beleieve in God as well as evolution), I was very often confused and frustrated when I tried to follow along the evolutionary process when I was watching documentaries like, Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, and When Dinosaurs Roamed America. I was also very eager to prove my parents wrong about evolution (me being horribly rebellious was probably part of this. lol). As I was watching these programs mentioned earlier, I would pay close attention and follow along as best as I could. The only problem was that some of this never made sense to me, or it seemed sketchy. For example, on When Dinosaurs Roamed America, I was following the story of some small, leaf eating long-necked dinosaur that eventually evolved into a bigger, long necked leaf eating dinosaur. It frustrated and confused me, because it went something like this:

    There goes the smaller species of long-necked leaf-eater. Getting away from predators successfully.....but there was no way it could out run the flood (or some other major disaster). These dinosaurs were now gone, but then appeared the bigger leaf-eating dinosaur, with it's longer neck, and heavier self, as well as different colors and spikes along the back. The smaller dinosaur had evolved into this bigger one, and life goes on as new predators also emerge from the disaster. Bigger, different colors, and better designed for their new environment.

    This was not the only time I noticed this strange pattern. All documentaries of "observing evolution" are like this. I realize that they probably meant that quite a long time after the disaster that these changes occurred, but even then it still seems strange, like a piece that won't fit into a puzzle. If all of those creatures were wiped out, how did they evolve? If a few animals managed to escape or survive the disaster, shouldn't they be the same animal or very similar to how they were before? I don't know about you, but I am seeing gaps in this evolutionary branch. If this is starting to offend you, keep in mind that this is not my intention. Put your emotions away please, and let's only use our heads.

    I understand that scientists have not found everything, and they are working on trying to solve these mysteries themselves. However, I think it would be wise to keep in mind that the branch doesn't seem to be a branch at all. More like a broken twig with crucial pieces of it missing. I would reconsider my beleif in evolution if they were to find something that was between Ardi and Lucy, not something older than Ardi. If evolution was actually gradual, then where are the Ardi's with abnormally long thumbs and not so useful grasping toes? Just a question.

    Another few things I would like for you to remember, again, not with your emotions clouding your judgement, are these:

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics disproves the possibility of spontaneous life occuring from dead matter. Lightning did not strike a warm puddle and create the first single-celled organisms. Even from a scientific point of view, I feel that this is utterly ridiculous. This sounds more like Frankenstein stuff to me. Even Dr. Francis Crick, who with Dr. James Watson discovered the structure of DNA, recognizes the impossibility of dead matter forming a living organism through random process. He started to speculate that aliens brought life here on earth. If that is how some one feels, then fine. But we have no more truly scientific proof or eye-witness accounts for the existance of aliens than we do for God.

    I decided to be a skeptic with an open mind when it came to evolution after discovering all of this for myself.

    That is all I have for both sides to look at. Comments are welcome, as long as they are done in a "cold logic" fashion and not just fuming emotions from either side.

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  48. @Anonymous

    In response to your point that evolution does not disprove God, I agree, but it does defeat one of the key arguments for a god: the argument from design. This argument is probably the one that people find most compelling (along with the argument from morality), so it does some serious damage. I can understand why theists find the theory of evolution so threatening.

    In response to your dinosaur extinction point, consider the following analogy. Imagine that H1N1 wipes out all of humanity except albinos, whom are resistent. Those that survive fruitfully multiple and repopulate the earth. By looking at the before and after pictures of humanity, it would appear as if the old type of person had been eradicated and a new type of person spontaneously emerged. But the "new type of person" was already there in the gene pool, just too rare to be representative of the species. Evolution thus ratchets the species one notch and continues. After a few million years of environmental pressures selecting for traits introduced through mutation, the species is ratcheted to a point that looks very different than the original population. There are no gaps between you and early single-celled lifeforms. So many of your uncles and aunts died before they had a chance to reproduce but your ancestors, dating back billions of years, form an unbroken strand of successful reproducers.

    The second law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems, which the earth most certainly is not. It has this big glowing fusion orb beaming energy onto it constantly.

    And you're absolutely correct that the first single-celled organism was not created from lightning striking a warm puddle. And you won't find a scientist who disagrees with you.

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  49. This is the same anonymous as the one Biogeek answered.

    Thank you for clearing up the confusion with the evolving dinos for me. That was something I wish the narrator should have mentioned in the film a long time ago. I do believe in micro-evolution though (you would be a fool not to since it is observable in a lab), and that sounds more like micro-evolution to me than macro-evolution. Either way though, thank you for discussing it in a calm and mature manner.

    As for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, that was my error and I will research it further. Thank you for correcting me. Although I do wonder how it could be observed in an open environment without previous, already existing life contaminating it. That sounds like a big job. Do you have any ideas on how one would go about doing that? If it is possible, I would like to try it out for myself when I get into college, or at least talk to an expert and this sort of thing.

    Maybe I'm just an odd ball, but my belief in evolution never deterred me from God. Even if it was proven to me today without a reasonable doubt, I would be more excited than scared or threatened. I think some people are just too far on one side to really stop and honestly think about it. That goes for militant atheists as well. It's my belief that being a militant anything clouds your judgment and retards the mind.

    As a matter of fact, I know it does. To make a very long story a very short story, being a militant anything causes more problems than it solves at the very best, and will put you in a mental institution at the very worst.

    I don't run around picking verbal fights with atheists or Christians anymore because I realized how counter-productive it was. This science vs. religion thing has to stop. I am very easy to get along with, and I have many friends with many different religions, but no one would know that if I was still a militant Christian. Science has already proved to me that the earth is much older than 6,000 years. I accepted it without much of a problem. I am seeing that evolution is a possibility, and I am accepting that without a dent in my belief in God.

    FOR MILITANT CHRISTIANS: Please hear me out. It is a mistake to ignore what these very intelligent people have found. Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to see this as a militant and what it means to feel like everything you have ever believed in was a lie. It is very painful, to the point where cutting off fingers with a dull knife wouldn't hurt as much. It can make you fly into a frenzied rage, and it can make you depressed to the point where you want to kill yourself. I know how you feel, and I'm very sorry that you feel this way. But I'm sure you can see this as abnormal behavior for any human being. Being closer to God is said in the Bible to bring joy, not pain. So if you are totally right and these scientists are totally wrong, why do you feel this way? When I stopped to think about this, I felt like God was telling me that I was missing something here. Then I saw the quote above Biogeek's response in italics from my apologetics booklet. That was when my journey back to my previous rationalism started. God gave us Faith and Rational Thought for a reason. He wants us to use both. Going on blind faith can be mentally harmful, which is probably what all militant Christians feel and already know. However, going on reason alone can be just as frustrating when trying to comprehend something that the human mind just cannot wrap itself around. There has to be a balance.

    I myself do not feel 100% balanced, but I am much happier with my life now than I was when I was a militant.

    (Again, splitting this into more than one post)

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  50. A QUICK SOMETHING FOR BOTH SIDES: If it makes you feel a little better, I saw something on TV that shocked me, as well as one of my friends who happened to be an atheist. Sir Isaac Newton hard-core studied the Bible and took it very seriously. Seriously enough that he tried and tried to discover the date for the Apocalypse. His notes showed that he believed time in the Bible was not as clear or as literal as the average Christian during that time believed. He didn't announce any of this when he was alive, because he would have been killed for what people would have seen as heresy during that time.

    Isaac Newton is what I would call a good example of the balance between science and religion. Me and my atheist friend were shocked at first, but couldn't stop talking about it later. If only he were still alive today. Here are a few sites that both Christians and Atheists should take a look at.

    http://www.isaac-newton.org/
    http://www.isaac-newton.org/update.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton's_religious_views

    I think this is proof enough that everyone can find their own balance of both. If someone chooses not to believe in a deity, we should accept it and respect their choice. However, this works both ways. If someone believes in God, that is no reason to automatically think they are stupid or narrow-minded, as a militant atheist would assume right away. We will all know for sure when we die.

    I will come back here one more time in a few days to see what everyone else has to say, but I will more than likely not post again. I encourage all of you to try and find a balance between faith and reason, whatever your definition of faith may be. But more importantly, I encourage both sides to not be too far on one side. It hurts more than it helps.

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  51. @Cedric
    I did not see anything about reconstructing homonids from three teeth.
    This find and conclusions of those who found the teeth are fine. Nothing suspicious here, quite the opposite. What might seem strange is that these are the only chimp fossils found to date. I hope it's clear now because I'm getting frustrated with my inability to explain such a simple thing.

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  52. ...one fossil of chimp was found that consists of 3 teeth (you can't reconstruct hominid with that...

    I found this statement curious because it doesn't seem to be supported at all by the article you provided.
    As you yourself now agree, there is nothing suspicious in the article and nobody is claiming to reconstruct a homonid from three teeth.

    What might seem strange is that these are the only chimp fossils found to date.

    You are making a new claim.
    I have no idea why you think that this is strange.
    Finding fossils is hard. We are lucky to have any at all.
    It's entirely possible that the story of chimpanzee fossils will follow the story of whale fossils.
    Finding little or nothing for a long, long time and then suddenly finding a whole batch stacked up next to each other has happened before.
    Even if we never find any chimpanzee fossils at all, I don't see how that is some awful problem for ToE. We have some beautiful fossil sequences of many other species. Further, evidence for ToE does not being and end with fossils alone.

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