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The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw

timothy posted about 12 years ago | from the difference-engine dept.

Science 514

stemnitsa writes: "Michael Ruse is, somewhat unusually, a professor of both philosophy and zoology. In this book he looks at how evolutionary thought developed between 1830 and 1875. The book was originally published in 1979; the text has not been revised for the new edition but Ruse has included an Afterword in which he looks at new research that has come out in the intervening years. There has been an immense outpouring of publications about Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution since his book first appeared but it still merits an honourable place, both for its insights and for its readability, enhanced by touches of humour. To some extent it covers the same territory as Peter Bowler's "Evolution: the history of an idea", but its focus is narrower in time while providing more in-depth discussion of the philosophical and religious ideas of Darwin's contemporaries." The remainder of stemnitsa's review follows; this book sounds like a good one to pair with Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, reviewed last week by Danny Yee.

Ruse is particularly good on the personalities of those involved. They were indeed a colourful bunch. They included William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, Baden Powell (father of the founder of the Scout movement), John FW Herschel (son of the famous astronomer William Herschel), Charles Lyell, Richard Owen, and Charles Babbage, better known for his invention of the calculating engine, as well as Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley. Many of these, especially those belonging to the older generation, were clergymen; it was impossible to be a Fellow of a college at Oxford or Cambridge at the time unless one was in Holy Orders. This inevitably coloured their views on evolution, though not always in the way one might expect.

Popular accounts of the debate about evolutionary thought in the nineteenth century often convey the impression of a straightforward conflict between secularism and religion, in which scientific secularism emerged triumphant. As Ruse makes clear, this is a considerable over-simplification: the relation between religion and science was in fact very complex, and in some ways religion actually helped the cause of science. Other factors, philosophical and social, were also involved, and Ruse's claim is that all of these elements have to be given due weight if the development of evolutionism is to be understood.

That profound changes in intellectual attitudes occurred in the nineteenth century there can be no doubt. In 1844, when Robert Chambers published his "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation", in which he argued the case for organic evolution, hardly any serious scientists accepted its main message, but when Charles Darwin published "The Origin" in 1859 his main claim was quickly accepted by almost all scientists concerned with the origin of organisms. In part, this was a consequence of the difference in the scientific standing of the two authors, but there were other reasons as well and it is these that Ruse seeks to elucidate.

First, there were scientific reasons to accept evolution. It made sense of the geographical distribution of species, such as finches and tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, which Darwin described and which was hard to explain on any other assumption. Also, by the 1860s more was known about the fossil record than had been known in 1844, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to doubt that progression had occurred during geological time. Darwin was therefore able to draw on a more ample arsenal of scientific facts; indeed, he had made significant contributions to that arsenal himself.

Of course, Darwin was not merely advocating evolution as a process, he put forward a mechanism by which it could occur. Chambers had not provided a plausible cause for evolution, but Darwin did, with his mechanism of natural selection. However, this idea had its problems: estimates of the age of the earth seemed not to allow enough time for evolution, and many people doubted if natural selection could be powerful enough to produce new species as opposed to mere variations. Even T.H.Huxley, "Darwin's bulldog", was relatively uninterested in natural selection and tended to downplay its importance. But field naturalists such as Henry Walter Bates found it invaluable as an explanation for insect mimicry and his work was cited by Darwin in later issues of "The Origin".

The second area of change was in philosophy. Many of the older scientists were idealists, Platonists, who favoured the view that species were immutable Types. Huxley, on the other hand, was not a Platonist and criticized his older colleagues on that ground. This change was both a cause and a consequence of other changes, in religious thought and in society at large, that were occurring at this time. Ruse points to innovations in the educational system leading to a reduced emphasis on the Classics and a weakening in the influence of religion. Not surprisingly in view of his professional background, Ruse pays considerable attention to the philosophical principles espoused by the main participants in the debate. There was a prevailing assumption, to which Darwin himself largely subscribed, that physics, and especially astronomy, provided the explanatory model to which other sciences ought to aspire.

The third class of change affected religion. Chambers had been attacked on religious grounds: he was held to have threatened the special position of man and to have left no room for God's design. Similar criticisms were made of Darwin but less strongly. However, religion, Ruse believes, also helped Darwinism. The argument from design prepared people's minds for evolutionism, while thinkers such as Baden Powell thought of God as working through unbroken natural laws rather than through miracles.

In the 1830s and 1840s religion was a thorny problem for many people. Partly this was a reaction to science; Ruse thinks that the attempt to reconcile science and revelation was a particularly British preoccupation (as perhaps it still is). And conventional religion was also under threat from another source: German Biblical criticism. As a result, some prominent clergymen, including Lyell, had moved a long way towards Deism (natural as opposed to revealed religion).

Lyell is a particularly interesting figure in the present context. His "Principles of Geology" accompanied Darwin on his voyage in the Beagle and had a major influence on his thought. As a Deist, he was unhappy about introducing miracles to explain the origin of species; unlike Whewell, who thought it was compatible with science. Ruse sums this up neatly by saying that Lyell wanted a world left alone by God, in which organisms struggle for survival under the threat of extinction, whereas Whewell wanted to see God hovering protectively over his creation.

Fourthly, there were social and political influences. In the 1830s there was a real fear that revolution might spread to Britain from abroad; by 1860 this was no longer the case. And in the second half of the century it was possible for a man to become a professional scientist without private means and without taking Holy Orders: a change that helped to weaken the influence of religion.

It is difficult to describe all these developments without falling into circularity, because each type of cause influenced, and was influenced by, the others, but in a way this is precisely Ruse's point. He insists that there were many different threads intertwining among themselves and that it is misleading to oversimplify the argument by concentrating on what appear to be the "real" issues. I think he makes a convincing case for this claim. He finds no need to alter his views in this reissue of the book, as he explains in the Afterword, though I was glad to see that he softens his earlier criticism of Huxley, whom I have always rather liked. I was even more glad to read that he strongly dissociates himself from "social constructivism" in the history of science. He states emphatically that "Charles Darwin was telling us real truths about a real world". There is no question of organic evolution being a human-created fiction.

Ruse is, however, rather despondent about the present position of evolution studies as an academic discipline. He is concerned that evolution is often seen to be "popular science" and is usually linked with ecology, instead of being accorded the importance it deserves. There is indeed a paradox here, which Ruse perhaps fails to bring out fully. He mentions that in the USA today there are ten times as many departments of molecular biology as of evolution, but he does not point out that it is impossible to understand molecular biology adequately unless it is seen in an evolutionary context. The interesting question, therefore, is why this fact is not always recognized.

Much the same failure to take account of Darwinism exists within medicine. The origins of many diseases can only be understood from an evolutionary viewpoint (Charlton BG; Nesse RM, Williams GC). Immunology, which is basic to modern medicine, is an evolutionary science through and through (Tauber AI). And yet "Darwinian medicine" is hardly a dozen years old; even today, few doctors are familiar with the term. There is a sense in which the Darwinian revolution has still hardly begun.


You can purchase The Darwinian Revolution from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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could it be ? (-1)

Captain Peacock (549525) | about 12 years ago | (#4169985)

maybe

ALL PAGANS GO TO HELL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170079)

Just thought I'd remind the heathens in the audience. Hope you enjoy your stay...

Re:ALL PAGANS GO TO HELL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170097)

It's your hell...You burn in it :)

Re:ALL PAGANS GO TO HELL (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170120)

There is only one hell. For everyone, for all time. You may think that not believing in it means it doesn't apply to you. BZZZT! You're wrong...

Enjoy your eternity, jackass.

THIS is Hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170231)

The black iron prison created by the false god is the real Hell. You have to find your way out to the real world.

The Roman empire never end.

It Takes All Kinds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170296)

God only holds you accountable for for
the values of your religion. If your one
of those terds that claims one religion,
but borrows from other religions- you
get punished in both of them

As for the theory of ebolution,it hasn't
applied on earth for 500 million years.
Earth is now evolving on a group level, hence
such anti survival mechanisms as a
personal conscience,parental protectiveness,
law, etc where the individual acts to save
the world group in preference to personal
agrandisment.
SPQR

Re:ALL PAGANS GO TO HELL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170334)

Anon, why do you turn away from Zeus? I'll tell you why. It's because you don't want to take responsibility for your actions.

Denying that hades exists wont' help you when your time comes. I'll pray for you.

first post :) (-1, Offtopic)

liquid2k2 (604890) | about 12 years ago | (#4169991)

first post :)

Re:first post :) (-1, Offtopic)

windex (92715) | about 12 years ago | (#4170005)

I have a 5 digit UID, as such, I am greater than you.

Re:first post :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170035)

Slashdot golf!

Lucifer is an asshole (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170004)

Yes he is.

It's been 19.99 seconds since you hit 'reply'!

x - Infinity (1)

RebelTycoon (584591) | about 12 years ago | (#4170006)

Statement:

I will be a zillionaire
-------------------
x -> Inifinity (time)

With an infinite amount of time... Evolution is possible...

and that's BULLSHIT! Hence so is MACRO evolution!!!

Re:x - Infinity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170025)

go fuck yourself you christian fundamentalist fuck wad.

Re:x - Infinity (0)

akaina (472254) | about 12 years ago | (#4170089)

Dude I agree, but with a twist.

If indeed we have had infinite time, and infinite combinations are irrelivent within a body of matter during that infinite duration, we must admit that not only will evolution happen just by chance 1 time, but an infinite amount of times. Furthermore, it must all come to an end in the middle of the 1960's by way of a random pink elephant an infinite amount of times as well.

But my problem isn't with the elephant, or the odds of that happening (no matter how huge).

Here's the real question: Where did the matter come from, and who the hell is controlling this massive bruteforce matter-based algorithm we call the third dimmension????

Think outside the mobeus strip.

Re:x - Infinity (1)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | about 12 years ago | (#4170186)

controlling, no... set in motion, yes... made the clock, wound it up and let it go... only interferring when absolutely needed...

Re:x - Infinity (0)

akaina (472254) | about 12 years ago | (#4170286)

kiduv like a programmer... or atleast the ones I'm used to.

QuantumFF@GOD$gcc -dumpmachine | /usr/ssl/man/misc/human_life.out

COMMON SENSE WARNINGS WHEN DEALING WITH A UFO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170009)


This is guide is written by slashdot readers for slashdot readers. Got a suggestion? suggest it by replying this discussion thread

Useful Advice:

1. Do not touch or attempt to touch a UFO that has landed. Passing through the Earth's atmosphere the skin of the craft will be hot. There is also a possibility of radiation. There is also a chance of steam being produced from the heated hull at the landing site.

2. Do not stand under a hovering UFO at low altitude. There is a possibility of radiation danger.

3. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CONTACT ALIENS if they appear, any movement on your part may constitute an act of aggression. If possible, back away VERY slowly. Make no gestures what so ever.

4. Note the shape and size of the craft, use nearby objects for a size comparison.

5. If you can take some photographs but ... BE VERY CAREFUL. Flash photography may be seen as an act of agression, and could even have harmful effects on the aliens. The use of a tripod might also be confused with a dangerous weapon.

6. Do not touch any artifact from an alien spacecraft, the artifact may be dangerous, leave this to the authorites.

7. Do not attempt sex with the aliens. Alien fluids might have acid or other undesirables. by TrollBurger #575126

8. Get away from the area QUICKLY. Inform the local authorites or the military.

9. If you a wound or illness, present it to the aliens in a manner that shows you are hurt. Many aliens have healing powers in their appendages. by scotch #102596

10. Do not attempt to shoot at alien craft. Not only is this a direct act of agression, but many alien ships employ powerful sheilding which can deflect a bullet or shot directly towards you, which may lead to injuries.

Less Useful Advice:

1. Offer the aliens a burger. They've just been on a trip that must have taken many millions of lightyears, they're probably hungry. by TrollBurger #575126

2. Don't tell the aliens about Slashdot, Jerry Springer, and America. The aliens are probably trying to find intelligent life.

3. To aid future human/alien dialog, attempt to communicate the rotation period of an electron in a hydrogen atom, using dance. This is the intergalactic Roseta Stone.

4. Attempt to sneeze on the aliens. This is just to show that "War of the Worlds" was a CROCK OF SHIT!

5. Explain to them about area 51, and how we shot down, and experimented on one of their own. (THIS MIGHT BE DANGEROUS).

6. Offer to show them an anal probe (if you have one handy). (OPTIONAL)

7. If the alien seems upset, offer to rub its head gently. Not only will this ease a tense situation, it will bring you good luck. by scotch #102596

Of course it didn't come first (2, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | about 12 years ago | (#4170011)

I believe that Lamarck was the first to postulate Evolution in the sense that we are familiar with it now. Namely, that if a trait is beneficial to a species that it will be passed on from generation to the next.

Re:Of course it didn't come first (1)

AyeRoxor! (471669) | about 12 years ago | (#4170055)

"Namely, that if a trait is beneficial to a species that it will be passed on from generation to the next."

That is not evolution. this is a COMMON mistake that should be dealt with accordingly. What you have referred to is "selective breeding" or "selective processes," sometimes referred to confusingly as "selective evolution." This is what has given us thousands of breeds of dogs, all from the original wolves. But they're all still canines. This states that a species will get stronger, but it cannot explain how a species would turn into another species, such as a lizard into a bird. That's just people who say they're alike, and then try to find stuff to back that up, non-objectively.

Re:Of course it didn't come first (1)

mofolotopo (458966) | about 12 years ago | (#4170098)

"This states that a species will get stronger, but it cannot explain how a species would turn into another species, such as a lizard into a bird. That's just people who say they're alike, and then try to find stuff to back that up, non-objectively."

Wow, that's a blatant misstatement of fact. The relationships between organisms are almost entirely determined by statistical methods which examine the differences in molecular makeup these days. The methods are far from perfect (it's an extremely nasty NP-Complete problem), but they're also far from arbitrary or subjective. Systematics as you have described it hasn't been in common practice for thirty years or more.

Re:Of course it didn't come first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170290)

Please tell me what fact your referring to?

And where it's stated to be a fact?

Sorry for AC, but 2 of my on-topic posts today have been modded down. Kids must be out of school.

Re:Of course it didn't come first (1)

mofolotopo (458966) | about 12 years ago | (#4170065)

Not only that, he actually had evolutionism in his blood. Check this out:

"Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves...
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth"

That's part of a poem written by Darwin's grandfather Erasmus long before Chuck himself was born. Fascinating, huh? Anyway, as you mentioned, it's really not even remotely correct to credit Darwin with the advent of evolutionary thought. His contribution was the mechanism of natural selection, which stood up to criticism much more successfully than Lamarck's ideas.

Re:Of course it didn't come first (1)

blue trane (110704) | about 12 years ago | (#4170303)

Aren't we (humans) now experiencing Lamarckian evolution? A useful technology that someone invents is passed on by writing...

Re:Of course it didn't come first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170093)

Wasn't his name Larmack? John Larmack, specifically.

Re:Of course it didn't come first (1)

ProlificSage (564094) | about 12 years ago | (#4170328)

I believe that Lamarck was the first to postulate Evolution in the sense that we are familiar with it now.

IIRC, at least one of Lamarck's theories was discredited by anthropologists/biologists because he postulated that if a creature developed a (non-inherited) trait which was beneficial, that trait would be passed on to offspring directly. This is not the case.

Example: If I spend all my time working out and developing my physique, that developed trait is not passed on to my offspring. If my son never lifts a weight, he's not going to be as muscular, because that was a trait I developed during my lifetime, not one with which I was born.

Not sure what other theories Lamarck may have had on the subject.

Hopefully someone more up-to-date on current anthropological thought can back me up.

Basically, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170014)

the theory of evolution has evolved. A lovely tautology for those interested in defending it against creationism, I guess.

Holy poo! (3, Informative)

mofolotopo (458966) | about 12 years ago | (#4170018)

I just started my fall semester, and this guy is my history and philosophy of science teacher! Neat. He's funny as hell in person, by the way. If you ever get a chance to see him lecture, take it!

What the hell? (-1, Offtopic)

AyeRoxor! (471669) | about 12 years ago | (#4170037)

Didn't slashdot just post an evolution book review less than a week ago? How is this pertaining to slashdot? I suppose I should be waiting for the third book this wednesday.

Re:What the hell? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170071)

WHAT?

How is that overrated, you stupid fuck moderators? God, this place is filled with fucking moron moderators. Sad sad sad...

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170276)

WHAT?

HOW the FUCK is A POST whose SUBJECT is THIS STORY OFFTOPIC?

GOD DAMN you STUPID FUCKING MODERATORS are on SOME SHINY NEW KIND OF CRACK!!!!!!!!

Is school out today? That's the only reason I can think that so many 10-year-olds are out moderating.

I love Slashdot (-1, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | about 12 years ago | (#4170039)

I really do. It has great stories on Technology (as well as Windows, haha) and Science. But occasionally Slashdot goes awry, such as when they post crackpottery such as that life ring or anti-gravity claims. When they do this, I literally weep with frustration over the young minds being led astray.

I think the problem is when programmers or even science/engineering types with no knowledge of the field the article is referencing try to sound knowledgeable. I wish we could have some way of identifying people who were informed on topics that most of you have no clue about.

Such is the case today. Evolution? Are you still going on about that? Nobody seriously believes that stuff anymore, it went out with phrenology. Haven't you noticed that the main recent proponent of evolution, Richard Dawkins, hasn't even published a book in decades? The future is in intelligent design, baby.

troll allert (2)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | about 12 years ago | (#4170070)

Such is the case today. Evolution? Are you still going on about that? Nobody seriously believes that stuff anymore, it went out with phrenology.


Go away, troll. Go read Dennett's book 'Darwin's dangerous idea'. Don't come back until you are done.

Oh, and I suppose that the fact that none questions or discourses on the fact that 1 + 1 = 2 makes it no longer true any more?

And BTW, if 'Nobody seriously believes that stuff anymore', what is the replacement scientific theory that explains the diversity of life better?

knee-jerk "troll alert" alert (-1, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | about 12 years ago | (#4170094)

You see, this is what I'm talking about. You've read Daniel Dennett's book. Wow. One book. By an armchair philosopher who's probably never seen the inside of a biolab.

Of course 1 + 1 = 2. Perhaps you could provide similarly simple and intuitive proof of evolution actually occurring in nature?

I've already mentioned what that prevailing theory is in biology: intelligent design. The complexity of life simply cannot be explained any other way.

Re:knee-jerk "troll alert" alert (1)

mofolotopo (458966) | about 12 years ago | (#4170135)

"I've already mentioned what that prevailing theory is in biology: intelligent design. The complexity of life simply cannot be explained any other way."

You are out of your farking mind. This must be a troll; I don't see how anyone could seriously believe that crap. I've been a bio student at three universities now, and have yet to meet ONE biologist who buys into intelligent design. The idea that natural selection can't explain the degree of diversity found in the world is an old one, and has been amply proven to be a load of hooey. Grant and Grant (a married research team from Princeton) showed natural selection proceeding at a rate of 2000-3000 darwins (the unit used to describe the rate of evolution) in a real-world situation. The highest rate necessary to explain the FASTEST change ever observed in the fossil record? Ready? 0.1 darwins. Parsimony mean anything to you?

Re:knee-jerk "troll alert" alert (2)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | about 12 years ago | (#4170188)

You've read Daniel Dennett's book. Wow. One book. Um no, I've mentioned reading one book. I've read others, trust me on this.

By an armchair philosopher who's probably never seen the inside of a biolab. You don't know much about the author, do you? Have you looked for other books in this field? Hint: slashdot has reviewed 2 this week.

Of course 1 + 1 = 2. Perhaps you could provide similarly simple and intuitive proof of evolution actually occurring in nature?

Naah, other have done that better, if you'd bother to educate yourself. See Dawkins and above references. It hasn't been disproved yet.

BTW, you don't have to believe in evolution: it believes in you. Disease bacteria aquire resistance to antibiotics, and closing your eyes won't make you well.

I've already mentioned what that prevailing theory is in biology: intelligent design. The complexity of life simply cannot be explained any other way.

Really. Would you mind giving me figures of how and by how much this theory prevails? For a start, what % of biological researchers believe it? And where they think the 'intelligent design comes from'?

-1 Offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170144)

PhysicsGenius's post is funny and talking about the article. The parent post is slinging mud. I thought we've moved past the McCarthy era of labelling people you disagree with.

Re:I love Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170084)

The future is in intelligent design, baby.

You only say that because it's the only theory that isn't full of holes.

Evolution hasn't been proven in any lab, like physics or astronomy, but it has logical underpinnings that can't be brushed away with a simple "God did it".

Complicated things come from simpler things, that's why an environment in equilibrium generally degrades into a chaotic state. That's why it's possible for simple atoms to bond into molecules and for molecules to bond into acids and acids to bond into proteins, and so on until you reach the world we live in today.

It starts with Physics, it's a wonder you don't know more.

Re:I love Slashdot (1)

mofolotopo (458966) | about 12 years ago | (#4170175)

"Evolution hasn't been proven in any lab, like physics or astronomy"

While I appreciate the general thrust of your statements, that part isn't true. Evolution by natural selection has been proven in the lab many many times. It's why bacteria and other nasties develop resistance to drugs, and crop pests develop resistance to herbicides and insecticides. There was even a guy who tracked the genotypes of his intestinal fauna via poo samples every day for a year to study how his changing diet etc. affected the balance of genes in the population. That in itself is a measure of natural selection. The idea that selection is too slow to be observed hasn't been prevalent in biology in a decade or more, but it still persists in popular perception. That's really not all that surprising, though, I'm sure if you watch this thread you'll see arguments that were refuted a century and a half ago!

Re:I love Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170311)

Not quite true. Natural Selection has been demonstrated in labs. But the other half of evolution, the increasing of information in DNA via random mutation, hasn't been demonstrated (yet).

Fuck lucifer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170046)

Please /. this asshole.
Open irc.mircx.com
then type /msg lucifer Fuck off and die
Type this repeatedly as fast as possible. Please kill this anus humper.

Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170047)

1) Where are all of the transitional fossils?

2) How can you explain the presence of young comets in a solar system that is supposed to be "billions" of years old? (Of course, if the SS is only a few thousand years old, comets are easy to explain.)

3) What caused the Big Bang? What happened in the first 10E-38th of a second after the Big Bang happened?

4) How do you explain the relative thinness of the layer of dust on the Moon? It should be much deeper if the Moon is billions of years old.

5) How do you reconcile the perfection of Scripture with the hoaxes and embarrassments of science (i.e., Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Lucy, etc.)

6) How do you counter the charge that modern Information Theory (IT) renders evolution all but impossible?

Heh, ask these questions, and you'll get uncomfortable feet-shuffling and red faces. Be prepared to be called a "zealot."

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (2)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | about 12 years ago | (#4170118)

1) Um, not all creatures leave fossils. Absence of evidence is not proof of evidence.

2,3,4,5) Nothing to do with Evolution of life on Earth.

6) Perfection of scripture: hahahaha. No, *which* scripture??
Bhudist, Shinto, Hindu, Judaic or Moslem scripture?
Hoaxes: So how does that dispove anything except the hoax concerned?

6) Like this: You have a *very* long row to hoe here, and you could start with a proof not a charge, and start that be describing just what you think this 'modern Information Theory (IT)' is in your opinion. I've certainly never heared of it.

My face is not red, my feet aint shuffling, but you, old buddy, are a trolling, know-nothing zealot.

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (2)

pubjames (468013) | about 12 years ago | (#4170141)

Is there actually any point in my addressing any of your questions? Is there any point in someone who believes in evolution discussing it with a Creationist at all?

You have blind faith. You can answer any question with "God did it!" You don't have to give any other reason. The rest of us however need to think about our beliefs, and we can't just fall back on blind faith.

Or actually, may be that's the best response. May be you could understand that. So here's my response to your questions:

I don't have to answer your questions because I have blind faith that evolution is true. I don't need any proof and I don't need to explain things, just my blind faith that it is true. ;-)

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (1)

El Neepo (411885) | about 12 years ago | (#4170174)

well I can answer number 5.

The Bible is far from perfect. Assuming God told someone what to write, the information was filtered through an imperfect human who, most likely, per their own nice little spin on things. Also, do you honestly believe God would sit down Moses and tell him the entire process of which the Universe was created?

Well I personally I don't believe the estimated age of Everything (tm) is as long as people say, but even a shorter amount of time allows for evolution and since most of your argument depends on shorter time, well, all your questions have been answered.

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (2)

hyacinthus (225989) | about 12 years ago | (#4170211)

3) What caused the Big Bang? What happened in the first 10E-38th of a second after the Big Bang happened?

I'd just like to point out the obvious, that the theory of Darwinian evolution, and the science of biology in general, have about as much to say about the Big Bang as they do about whether it will rain in Seattle on Labor Day. Biology asks the question, "OK, there's life on this planet, so how does it work?" How the planet got there in the first place is not a question relevant to biology.

6) How do you counter the charge that modern Information Theory (IT) renders evolution all but impossible?

When did you stop beating your wife?

hyacinthus.

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (0)

Gleng (537516) | about 12 years ago | (#4170212)

- 1) Where are all of the transitional fossils?

In rocks that haven't been found yet. Lack of evidence of one thing is not proof of another.

- 2) How can you explain the presence of young comets in a solar system that is supposed to be "billions" of years old? (Of course, if the SS is only a few thousand years old, comets are easy to explain.)

Do you actually know how comets are formed?

- 3) What caused the Big Bang? What happened in the first 10E-38th of a second after the Big Bang happened?

I don't know. Do you? Once again, lack of evidence of one thing is not proof of another.

- 4) How do you explain the relative thinness of the layer of dust on the Moon? It should be much deeper if the Moon is billions of years old.

Should it? Why?

- 5) How do you reconcile the perfection of Scripture with the hoaxes and embarrassments of science (i.e., Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Lucy, etc.)

How can you possibly compare the blind and unfounded faith of religion with the achievements of science? Prayer didn't magic that computer you're using out of thin air, you know.

- 6) How do you counter the charge that modern Information Theory (IT) renders evolution all but impossible?

The small amount I've read on Information Theory seems to be extremely naive and, for the most part, incorrect.

not really an answer, but I'm curious... (1)

thefirelane (586885) | about 12 years ago | (#4170241)

3) What caused the Big Bang? What happened in the first 10E-38th of a second after the Big Bang happened?

Evolutionary theorists don't have to explain the big bang. For all they can God did cause the big bang, or even set up the universe billions of years ago. All they care is that No matter how the universe was created it was created with a framework that allowed evolution.
Now of course, as you might immagine, many people who believe in evolution also believe in other scientific theories, such as the big bang, but they do not require eachother, and refuting one does not refute the other. See what I mean?

4) How do you explain the relative thinness of the layer of dust on the Moon? It should be much deeper if the Moon is billions of years old.

This seems to make sense, from a limited perspective: ie. "My house gets dusty really fast, therefore really old things should have a lot of dust" Until you ask the simple question... why? IANANE (I am not a Nasa Engineer) so I don't know much about moon dust, but I just want to ask this question, because it is the basis of your point: Why should the moon have a lot of dust? I mean, there is little gravity, atmosphere, or water. These are the primary forces that lead to the creation of dust on Earth (errosion) so what would cause it on the moon. Like I say, I'm just curious, because often times people (in all branches) will use arguments because they sound correct, but never really examine them thinking "hmmm, now why is this correct?"

5) How do you reconcile the perfection of Scripture with the hoaxes and embarrassments of science (i.e., Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Lucy, etc.)

You realize of course, that this is not really an argument, or a provable point. In fact, it merely begs the question. You are saying "The scriptures are perfect, because God made them, and they are perfect". Do you see how this is circular? Anything taken on faith is "perfect" because you can not disprove faith. Of course Science, like any human institution, has been wrong about things in the past. We do not, however, give up scientific persuit anymore that you have abandoned religion because the world isn't flat or the center of the universe.

Like I said before, these are not really replies to your questions. My goal is more to probe your sense of beliefs, and examine the logical structure of your argument. I happen to not believe in creationism. This does not require that I not believe in God however. My reason is as follows:

My problem with creationism is that ultimatly, it doesn't give God any "credit." Why is it so difficult to believe that as an omnipotent being, God could have created a system so complex, beutiful, and functional as evolution. This system truely shows the amazing prowess of God, as it is a system so dynamic and creative that it has created all we see and know today, yet so complex that full understanding of this mechanism elludes us to this day. I find it much easier to accept than a simple "God created everything the way it is, that's it." Give God credit for being more creative than that.


---Lane

P.S. No, I usually don't reply to anonymous cowards, but I understand that being a creationist has a certian stigma and probably warrented the anonymous posting

Transitional fossils (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170242)

1) Where are all of the transitional fossils?

Try looking around your church on Sunday morning.

Sorry, I know that's less than constructive, but arguing with creationists is so damned futile that I wonder why anybody even bothers anymore. I know, I know .. people who aren't educated might listen to them and somebody has got to set them straight, but still. These tired old arguments about "moon dust" and comets and transitional fossils have been thoroughly explained and debunked time and time again, and yet you people keep bringing them up.

It's interesting that you mention Piltdown Man. Yes, Piltdown Man was a hoax. But you know what? It was revealed to be a hoax by -- wait for it -- scientists. Furthermore, I defy you to find me a biology book written after 1950 that refers to Piltdown Man in any context other than it being a famous hoax.

Constrast this with creationists such as yourself, who continue to use the same bogus arguments (and in many cases outright lies) even after they have been thoroughly debunked. Ask yourself this question: is there a reason why you have to be intentionally (and in some cases maliciously) dishonest in the service of your faith? If so, what does that say about its value?

Not a flame, just an honest question.

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (1)

spanky555 (148893) | about 12 years ago | (#4170273)

What a clueless ass you are.

Obviously, your mind is made up, so why even throw out these red herrings and strawmen?

Anyway, to your "points":

1. No one is looking for "all" of the transitional fossils, but many have been found.

2-6. Totally irrelevant to evolution, really. You are mixing up your theories, but that's no surprise given your obvious fundamentalist leanings.

Lastly, evolution is fact. We have witnessed radical changes in our recorded history, and in labs. There is no doubt of the fact of evolution in any but a few American fundamentalist mules like yourself. The only point being argued by educated people is the finer points of the process of evolution.

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170314)

These are fairly common creationist arguments. Creationists sometimes think they can define what an "evolutionist" believes so they can come up with clever postulates to "disprove" evolution. Evolution is a science, and you can't define what an entire community of scientists believe simply to support you disbelief. Science is a process, not a religion.

And if you truly want answers to your qeustions, glance through any current issues of actual scientific journals from the past decade. I would suggest the last year or so of Scientific American as a good start.

As for the charge that there aren't any transitional fossils, check out the digs from China in the past couple of years. The young commets argument seems a little far fetched as I don't think we don't have any "commet material" to test for age do we? The Big Bang? Well since theoretical high energy physics is another science that is full of competing theories, all of which would be impossible to prove at the present, I don't think that's a valid argument. The dust on the moon argument has been around since the 60's, and its the classic, "Evolutionists say this, but that proves they are wrong" argument that I've heard many creationists use. As far as Piltdown Man as proof for creationism, I don't buy that one either. And I have to say this is the first time I've ever seen someone use IT to say that evolution is impossible, that one made me laugh.

I don't think I'm a zealot anymore than any other practitioner of the scientific method. I would ask that you please try to practice a little tolerance for people who do not think like you and for ideas that you do not agree with just as the rest of us must do when interacting with you.

Thanks.

Re:Questions evolutionists don't want to answer (1)

warrior_on_the_edge_ (605123) | about 12 years ago | (#4170338)

6) How do you counter the charge that modern Information Theory (IT) renders evolution all but impossible?

Simple...
Modern Information Theory is full of bugs........

Creationism (3, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | about 12 years ago | (#4170052)

This story will no doubt generate some Creationism vs. evolution debates.

I have a question. Do creationists realise that their beliefs are really only a USA phenomenon? I've not seem much evidence of creationism anywhere else in the "first world". Just thought I'd ask because perhaps some American creationists think this is a hot issue all over the world. It's not.

Re:Creationism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170128)

This is not all that surprising, really.

The question of creationism is essentially a question of morality; it asks a people if they think they are here because of the actions of a loving Creator or if they are a cosmic accident, in which case life (and morality) have no meaning. It should be no surprise that the idea of special creation is not welcomed in post-Christian Europe or in East Asia, where mysticism and New Age-type tomfoolery is encouraged instead of traditional values.

So yes, I would agree that you are right. It is unfortunate that the United States is the only nation left in the world that is willing to take morality seriously. But when you say that creationism is a US-only phenomenon, I say that's something to be proud of, not something to be embarassed about.

Re:Creationism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170270)

[...] or if they are a cosmic accident, in which case life [...] have no meaning

Based on my observation, that's the reason why people want to beleive in a god of some sort. They can't stand a reality where life actually has no meaning. I'm still trying to figure out why life must have a meaning.

It is unfortunate that the United States is the only nation left in the world that is willing to take morality seriously.

It is also unfortunate that people are willing to think that morality requires a god. The way I see it, some morality is required to live in cooperation, and humans wouldn't last long without cooperation.

But hey, I don't expect to sway anyone - I've learned that it can't be done.

Re:Creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170131)

Amen, my friend. And it's usually localized to some areas even there. It's not really a hot issue on the East coast.

I was literally FLOORED (I come from the East coast) when I found out that Kansas banned the teaching of evolution in its schools. I didn't even realize it was even controversial anymore. Where I grew up and the types of people I associated with (educated people) probably had a big influence on my thinking that it was a non-issue in the modern world, and that the controversy ended as far back as the 1950's in America. Boy, was I wrong. Now that I live in Colorado, I know a lot more "fundies" who have the concept of what evolution is and what a scientific theory constitutes all wrong. It's amazing to me. It's not that these people are stupid or uneducated, they are just so sheltered, and whenever the subject comes up, you can almost see their mind snap shut.

Re:Creationism (4, Insightful)

alienmole (15522) | about 12 years ago | (#4170140)

Do creationists realise that their beliefs are really only a USA phenomenon?

That's a tough one, since US creationists are only vaguely aware of the existence of a world outside the USA, and what awareness they do have tends to be about which parts of it need to be carpet-bombed to eliminate the infidels (oops, I mean pagans, getting my religious extremism confused there...)

Re:Creationism (2)

Nomad7674 (453223) | about 12 years ago | (#4170147)

Do creationists realise that their beliefs are really only a USA phenomenon? I've not seem much evidence of creationism anywhere else in the "first world".
As someone who considers himself, if not a creationist at least a skeptic about evolution, I was not aware of how Europeans see the issue. Is the difference cultural or philosophical? i.e. Is the lack of a phenomenon reflective of the protestant/evangelical movement in the USA or is it due to some element of philosophy unique to the American mind?

This is something I'd like to hear more about.

Re:Creationism (4, Insightful)

mikeplokta (223052) | about 12 years ago | (#4170198)

As someone who considers himself, if not a creationist at least a skeptic about evolution, I was not aware of how Europeans see the issue. Is the difference cultural or philosophical? i.e. Is the lack of a phenomenon reflective of the protestant/evangelical movement in the USA or is it due to some element of philosophy unique to the American mind?

It's cultural. Biblical literalism is not a widely held belief in any Western country other than the US. And creationism is a desperate kludge intended to explain the natural world without having to give up biblical literalism -- without the pre-existing belief, it's no more likely that anyone will take creationism seriously than that they'll take phlogiston or epicycles seriously.

Re:Creationism (2)

pubjames (468013) | about 12 years ago | (#4170227)

It's cultural. Biblical literalism is not a widely held belief in any Western country other than the US.

I'd agree with this. There are lots of people who believe in God in Europe, but most don't find any conflict between their religious beliefs and science.

Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170321)

A very accurate description of the situation!

Re:Creationism (4, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 12 years ago | (#4170153)

You are correct. The data about the demographics of Bible literalism [atheists.org] are pretty discouraging: between 32 and 40 percent of Americas subscribe to a literal reading of the Bible, versus 7 percent of the British. There's other interesting data at that link. What's most striking is that American belief in creationism is around 45 percent for most of the population, but only at 5 percent for scientists.

Just to clarify (2)

David Wong (199703) | about 12 years ago | (#4170200)


That's 5 percent who believe in a literal Biblical account of creation (Garden of Eden). The percentage of scientists who believe in a personal God (one who could answer prayers) is around 40% at last check, the percentage who believe in some kind of creator is higher than that.

Albert Einstein, for instance, was one of them.

Re:Just to clarify (5, Informative)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 12 years ago | (#4170317)

Albert Einstein, for instance, was one of them.

Sheesh, not this old myth again. Here's one of the many pages [2think.org] that kill it. To quote Einstein,

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein in Albert Einstein: The Human Side

When Einstein used the word "God", he used it as a methaphor for existence.

Re:Just to clarify (2, Informative)

Laura J. (89654) | about 12 years ago | (#4170320)

Albert Einstein, for instance, was one of them.

Not so. This is taken from "Albert Einstein - The Human Side",a selection of his letters, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press, 1979.

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

I think we can take his own words to be the truth of the matter.

Re:Creationism (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170155)

When you say Creationism, do you mean Old Earth Creationism or New Earth Creationism? There is a pretty big difference. New Earth Creationism is very fundamental (i.e., the earth was created by God at 9:00 am GMT on October 23, 4004 BCE or something like that). Old Earth Creationism is the view that God created the world, but did this over billions of years rather than literally as described in the first couple of chapters of the Bible. (i.e., don't tell me a lightning bolt hit a puddle of primoridal soup and we got DNA).

Please don't assume all Christians (or all Creationists) are Old Earth Creationists.

Re:Creationism (-1, Troll)

akaina (472254) | about 12 years ago | (#4170172)


ya... our bad. I guess we should rely on what the 3rd world countries think for innovative theory. We should challenge ourselves daily to think more inside the box of pre-existing commonly believed ideas. Then we'de have it all figured out, wouldn't you say?

Side note: These days, creationists are fighting for the same rights evolutionsts fought for to get evolution in public schools (scopes monkey trial). Does anyone else notice the pendulum swinging?

Re:Creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170177)

I'm an European and I think that the Europeans are not in general creationists. However, I think that in Central and South America a lot of people are creationists just because evolution is not learned in schools, or is presented as a sin. This is obviously because of the (negative) influence that Catholic Church has in the less developed coutries. But we are surprised that creationism can still be so important in a place like USA, where science and technology are so important.

Re:Creationism (1)

j0hn_paul (571365) | about 12 years ago | (#4170216)

The Catholic Church preaches evolution as fact NOT creationism.

Re:Creationism (2)

pubjames (468013) | about 12 years ago | (#4170269)

The Catholic Church preaches evolution as fact NOT creationism.

Is that true? If it is then it is a fairly recent phenomenon. I remember that a couple of years ago the Pope kind of hinted that Catholics need to have an open mind about evolution, but some people I know who went to Catholic schools were taught that evolution was wrong.

Re:Creationism (1)

budalite (454527) | about 12 years ago | (#4170206)

Creationism will go away when religion goes away. Religion will go away when fear goes away. Fear will go away when selfishness goes away. Selfishness goes away when the pursuit of truth becomes one's only goal. (Well, that and a truly secure wireless network...)

Re:Creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170284)

And the basis of most of the world's religions is the pursuit of truth, so the circle is closed.

Re:Creationism (1)

mr. marbles (19251) | about 12 years ago | (#4170315)

Oh please people don't just fear other people. The origin of religion is the cave painting, you think those people were afraid cause other people are selfish? Fear is a part of life, deal with it.

Fuck lucifer! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170059)

Please /. this asshole.
Open irc.mircx.com
then type /msg lucifer Fuck off and die
Type this repeatedly as fast as possible. Please kill this anus humper.

Fuck lucifer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170074)

Please /. this asshole.
Open irc.mircx.com
then type /msg lucifer Fuck off and die
Type this repeatedly as fast as possible. Please kill this anus humper..

Sad news ... Stephen King dead at 54 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170083)


I just heard some sad news on talk radio - horror/fiction writer Stephen King was found dead in his Florida home this morning. He was 54. There weren't any more details. I'm sure the slashdot community will miss him; even if you're not a fan of his work there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Another Troll Article: -1 Flamebait (2, Insightful)

caffeineboy (44704) | about 12 years ago | (#4170086)

So what, when there is a drop in traffic to Slashdot you just post an evolution story and watch the flamewar?

For how long is plinking back and forth with people who have no remote intention of taking even a second to contemplate the argument of the opposition's viewpoint?

Well, here's the OBLink to Talk origins [talkorigins.org] .

Let's find a more interesting flamewar, OK?

Its slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170091)

Heres a mirror [shatai.org]

Mod parent up! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170101)

+5, informative.

Great book... (2, Interesting)

Meat Blaster (578650) | about 12 years ago | (#4170103)

I was left with a few questions, though, that I was thinking it'd be cool if he (or someone else) would follow up with:

  • Why did the scientists originally take up the study of evolution?
  • How have different cultures and nations gone about studing evolution?
  • How are studies into evolution funded?

Re:Great book... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170291)

1)Why did the scientists originally take up the study of evolution?

Scientists have always attempted to overthrow God in the hearts and minds of the populace. They do this by claiming to seek "Objective Truth". With the advent of Evolution as a scientific theory, scientists realized that they had the means to undermine Christianity to its core. How could they say no?

2) How have different cultures and nations gone about studing evolution?

Though the Cold War has been won, most of Europe has fallen under the spell of Marx and Engels. Marx, who said that religion is the opiate of the masses, would have been at the front of the line to toss religion on its ear. Modern Socialist states indoctrinate their children in Evolution from an early age, so the belief in unaided Evolution is rampant throughout Europe.

As for cultures like India and Southeast Asia, they are steeped in the belief of a Creation, but performed by Hindu and Buddhist gods. If not for the primitivity and savagery of these beliefs, they would be similar to the Christian doctrine of God's Creation.

China, Japan, and East Asia practice animistic religions (like Shinto) that have Creation stories involving giant turtles and moon gods. It is clear that as far as their general understanding of modern scientific thought is as backwards as the uneducated masses in Africa and the jungles of South America.

3) How are studies into evolution funded?

Mainly through Universities who receive funding from the government. It seems unlikely that you'd find scientists with the resources to concoct evidence to support their pet branch of evolution outside of academia.

I'll take Rael over Evolution (1)

g_bit (253703) | about 12 years ago | (#4170113)

I'm sure everyone's seen www.rael.org [rael.org] already, don't you like his ideas better?

Re:I'll take Rael over Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170306)

Rael is a fag. And a racist. Have you ever seen a black Raelian? Nope? It's because in his books Rael states whites are the superior race.

And all that free-sex shit is only if you're good looking and rich... just like in 'normal' society. Surprise! If you're just ordinary, all the fat chicks converge on you. Surprise!

Rael is full of shit.

Re:I'll take Rael over Evolution (2)

pubjames (468013) | about 12 years ago | (#4170335)

I'm sure everyone's seen www.rael.org [rael.org] already, don't you like his ideas better?

Now, that's a cool site. I'm converted!

Fuck mongo! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170149)

Please /. this asshole.
Open chat.walkers.org
then type /msg mongo Fuck off and die
Type this repeatedly as fast as possible. Please kill this anus humper.

Slightly Off-topic (1)

CoolToddHunter (605159) | about 12 years ago | (#4170159)

Not really to do with evolution, but...

Where does the reference "red in tooth and claw" come from?

Re:Slightly Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170210)

Try google:

red in tooth and claw [google.com]

Re:Slightly Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170234)

If I recall correctly, it comes from Hobbes (Leviathan, I think). The phrase as it's most often quoted is, "Nature, red in tooth and claw," and was originally in reference to the necessity of society (i.e., without the presence of social order, we would subject to the hostile forces of the natural world).

The inevitable Creation vs. Evolution debate (4, Interesting)

David Wong (199703) | about 12 years ago | (#4170160)

This is always such a strange subject; to me, science observes the physical process of evolution, the church offers a philosophical explanation of what was behind it. But it is a philosophical point, not a scientific one. Or, to quote one commentator [christianfaq.com] :

...if Christianity is true and if the nature of God is as they say, then you will not be able to observe God interacting with the physical world by any kind of scientific measurement.

As in, if God were to miraculously bring a thunderstorm on you for some reason, a scientific examination of the event would reveal only that air currents and moisure combined in a certain way to create the storm. God's touch would be invisible to the materialist observer.

...It is the same with creation. I can point out how fantastically unlikely it is for creation to snap itself into existence on its own; but this does not thwart the scientists. A scientist's job is not to examine causes beyond those in the physical world. A scientist can only observe the physical circumstances of creation and make statements based on those observations.

Whether or not there was a greater meaning behind the events is and always will be left undiscovered by the scientists. This is not a fault of the scientists; that simply is not their job.


If God set evolution in motion to bring about man, so be it. I find the subject of evolution fascinating, but I believe in God for reasons completely unrelated to it (that is, regardless of the exact method of creation).

Re:The inevitable Creation vs. Evolution debate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170225)

Creationism, and its agnostic cousin, Intelligent Design, gains acceptance through an age-old technique, that most faith-based beliefs center around.

They challenge you to prove a negative. Which is a logical fallacy.

While biologists study actual fossil records, and try and gather evidence for evolution, Creationists simply sit and say 'Quit trying to prove yourself right, and prove us wrong'. Sadly, too many intelligent individuals fall into this trap.

For example, prove to me that life wan't placed here by an alien race from the planet Blingbat 7, and we're all being raised as a synthetic food source.

I wont listen to any alternate theories until the above is proven wrong.

This is the crux of creationism.

Actually, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170301)

Nobody's asking you to prove God didn't design the universe. We just point out that your theory has too many holes to be accepted as fact at this point. You don't have a complete fossil record to support evolution, and you don't have significant, tangible evidence of speciation. Those are some pretty important items missing from your theory. Kind of like the absence of any tangible evidence of an alien from Bligbat 7, I'm afraid. What you've got is a *theory* and right now, your theory is missing some important pieces of evidence.

My *theory*, on the other hand, has no holes in it. God made the universe as it is. My evidence is in the Bible, which records first-hand testimony from people who have interacted with God and in which He verifies my theory. There are no holes in my theory. The same cannot be said about yours.

But what difference does it make? You and your athiestic clan will just downvote any attempts to contradict your precious, erroneous *theory*, of which you have no real proof. Within 5 minutes, this post will be downmodded to -1, Flamebait, and I'll have proven my point.

Re:Actually, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170337)

You are correct.

Christian rebuttal of evolutionary theory as being incomplete is considered a troll and is modded down, while an atheist saying creationists are idiots/ignorant/sheep is considered insightful. What kind of person finds that insightful or interesting? Maybe there should be a mod category of simply 'I Agree'.

50th post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170164)

Ok, so it's somewhere around there, right?

At least I have a life, unlike those first posters!

Roots of evolution? look to economics. (1)

Zimm (94553) | about 12 years ago | (#4170168)

It never fails to amaze me that the connection between economics and evolutionary bioligy is often overlooked by authors on the topic of evolution. The Link from Darwin to Malthus, an understudy of Adam smith is well know and documented. Gould has stated "the theory of natural selection is, in essence, Adam
Smith's economics transferred to nature." Probably Authors don't really want to step into the political mess that is Adam Smith and capitalism. Still economics is at the roots of evoluion, and perhaps it's big brother.

"The third class of change affected religion" (2, Interesting)

opencode (28152) | about 12 years ago | (#4170224)


I'm about 400 pages into Gould's Structure of Evolutionary Theory, and I'm reminded again and again that "critics" of Evolution/Natural-Selection/Darwinism/viz. are pretty much unaware of the Religion-Science dichotomy: the two do not really intersect, although one may certainly (and easily) affect if not distort the perception of the other.


There's no greater sign of this than Gould's quoting of Paley's Natural Theology, and consistently, most Christians really wouldn't bother to learn what Paley was referring to. Darwin was influenced by Paley's terminology (and Gould even gives Paley some merit on his views); but the two are still in different stratae. I would suspect that most Christians, not knowing Darwin's or Paley's views, would not be able to differentiate the two.


It's as though if it sounds or reads "too much" like Science, it must be Science, and must be countering God's design.


Makes me wanna hollar ....

Related book: _Darwin's Century_ (2)

StefanJ (88986) | about 12 years ago | (#4170230)

Loren Eiseley was a wonderful writer as well as a anthropologist and paleontologist.

His essay collections (The Immense Journey, The Night Country) are primo stuff; entertaining and sobering reflections on science and nature.

One of Eiseley's most important books, however, was Darwin's Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385081413

My review is the lastest (top) one.

Stefan

Wow! Nice review! (1)

stefanb (21140) | about 12 years ago | (#4170233)

I really liked this. It must be one of the best ones I've read so far on/.

Quality-wise, this probably would stand out from, say, a magazine like New Scientist, for me anyway.

Is the Slashdot Blacklist Dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4170282)

I've been on the mysterious Slashdot Blacklist for maybe a year now, and today I was asked to MetaMod... is the blacklist dead, or do blacklisted users just fall off after they've "served their time"???

Fallacy of the excluded middle (4, Interesting)

Bingo Foo (179380) | about 12 years ago | (#4170295)

I only write this because I'm anticipating how this slashdot thread will evolve.... It is far too rare to see a discussion on evolution that admits much room for alternatives between "10000 year Earth" and "Science has disproven the existence of God." Full disclosure: I am a Christian who believes in an 8-15 billion year old universe spawned by a "Big Bang" event. I believe biology is the result of evolution from inanimate, self-reproducing molecules up to and including human evolution, by processes indistinguishable from chance. I believe that human consciousness is the spiritual touch that makes us uniquely "in the image of God."

I got a call this morning from someone asking me to listen to "Focus on the Family" this morning because they were playing a tape of a debate held at Stanford between a creationist and evolutionist. I was immediately turned off because the creationist would make sweeping statements without support, like "evolution is based on bad and shaky evidence." Also, the evolutionist was assumed by the audience to be driven by an anti-God agenda, and gave no evidence to the contrary.

If the reason for holding these "debates" is to foster intellectual honesty in "both camps," then at least they should admit that there are a great number of reasonable people who hold neither of these publicized views. By limiting the debate to these two views they present the undecided with a false dichotomy, and by golly, with as effective as science is elsewhere, that must mean that there is no God!

Molecular Biology (2)

PineHall (206441) | about 12 years ago | (#4170308)

... but he does not point out that it is impossible to understand molecular biology adequately unless it is seen in an evolutionary context. The interesting question, therefore, is why this fact is not always recognized.

Perhaps it is because some molecular biologists (Behe) see a intellegent design in molecular biology and do not see it a strictly evolutionary context.

Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics (1)

limekiller4 (451497) | about 12 years ago | (#4170319)

If you can handle the 800+ pages, Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics [barnesandnoble.com] is a well-balanced point-counterpoint style essay collection on the current state of this movement. Johnson, Plantinga, Behe, Dembski, Dawkins and Gould, just to name a few.

I'm about 300 pages in and so far it's been primarily ID proponents. The general theme seems to be that:
  1. naturalism, the foundation upon which Darwinism exists, is dogmatic at it's core, unneccessarily restricts the boundaries of truth (ie, we don't care if God is outside the realm of the testable, we want to know if it's true),
  2. Darwinism cannot possibly account for complex structures (see Darwin on Trial [barnesandnoble.com] and Darwins Black Box [barnesandnoble.com] ), a certain "irreducable complexity" exists and;
  3. since naturalism is false, an intelligent designer must account for the biodiversity and complexity that we see.

The critics fire back with an examination as to why limiting science to the knowable is fundamental and not arbitrary, easily demonstrate how the IC argument falls apart (in a nutshell, it makes the assumption that (a) only one sequence "works" and (b) only one sequence could possibly do the job). In other words, it's audience is the theists, it was never meant to be taken seriously, which is why they don't publish in peer-reviewed journals.

If you have any interest in this subject, I strongly recommend picking it up. The "neo creo" arguments are not only compelling on their face but this crowd is organized, teaching in major colleges, well-funded, and they have a plan [freethought-web.org] . It would be a mistake to shrug them off as irrelevant.
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