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A Life Examined PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Milton Mermikides   

(Editor’s Note: We have the distinct pleasure this week of publishing the winning essay from the first TAM London scholarship essay contest.)

In November 2004, in a particular English human body, in just one of its 100 trillion cells, a very small event took place. This event was not foretold by any soothsayer, Tarot card, or by the movement of an arbitrary set of stars. It was not intuited on Oprah, instigated by some external entity or punctured effigy; nor was it justified by any sin in this life or any previous.

And yet it happened.

In one blood cell, specifically a precursor T-cell lymphocyte, one section of chromosome 9 and another from chromosome 22 broke and changed places. This translocation reordered a sequence of DNA, creating the BCR-ABL fusion protein, in that one cell. This silent, miniature drama, occurring in a lymphocyte less than 7 micrometres across, a tenth of the width of a human hair, would alter drastically the course of my life.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia allows immature lymphoblast cells to multiply exponentially and crowd out the essential function of platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells. Thus, on November 22nd 2004 I, a non-smoking, non-drinking, healthy 33 year old nerd, was isolated in hospital with bruising, shortness of breath, over 400 times the normal level of white blood cells and the intriguing feeling of being about to die.

No crystal, incantation, hand-waving or water with excellent memory skills could help at that point.

Two objectives needed to be met:

1) Stop the growth of leukaemic cells by killing them

2) Prevent objective 1) from killing me.

A busy schedule of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, monitoring and strategies to prevent infection was ordered and executed by doctors, consultants, researchers and nurses. Medical professionals like these, who I soon got to befriend, admire, learn from and entrust with my life, are rarely honoured and often undervalued. Moreover they are insulted and condemned as close-minded for not hugging the fuzzy blanket of pseudoscience or drinking from the soporific fountain of woo. And yet, they work on the front line making real differences to real people. Such is the widespread unjust vilification and under-appreciation of reality and science.

During treatment I was offered, by well-meaning friends and deluded strangers, advice on homeopathy, apricot seeds and mystical intervention. All of this I politely but firmly refused and ignored. When asked by a family friend, how the homeopathic medicine she left me was helping – which was in fact somewhere deep in the London sewage system presumably collecting some new and pretty intense memories of its own- I truthfully answered that I found “Nothing worked as well”.

When a whole church congregation in Greece insisted on praying for me at the time of a particularly important and difficult treatment, I gave them a phony time, date and place at which to aim their psychic energies. In fact, I directed them to a 2nd division football match of which I had no interest. A dull, goalless draw, I later discovered. Others were nastier with their advice, a woman, who I did not know, insisted that I save myself by “accepting Jesus before I crossed over”. I wrote back politely, thanking her for the top tip, but saying that I would also be checking out the Devil, as my mother always taught me to look both ways before crossing over. I refused obstinately to appeal to an imaginary higher power, even at the lowest and most precarious moments, of which there were several. I chose to observe and engage with the sharp, hideous, beautiful reality rather than hide behind the veil of cowardly religion. I’m not particularly brave but simply put, I have no faith, Pascal’s wager doesn’t take my fancy, and I have no aspirations to make it on to some celestial guest-list.

The doctors deemed it a good idea for me to have a full bone marrow transplant: A hard reboot of my blood system, For this, I needed to destroy my existing one with total body irradiation – the most intense allowed, followed by the introduction of donor bone marrow. To prevent the donor’s immune system from attacking me, the ‘host’, it is necessary for this donor bone marrow to match my own. (This knowledge was of course gained through medical research; study of Haemotology and from the poor people who succumbed to blood cancers in our medical records. Not even the most flexible semantic contortionist could gain any relevant knowledge from any sacred text). When I asked my consultant, a highly respected Haemotology expert, how the new marrow finds it way from a catheter in my vein to my bone marrow, he simply answered, “We have no idea – but we are working on it”. This is a testament to the humility but perseverance of science.

My only sibling, my sister Alexandra, was tested as a match for my blood. Not by psychic cards, divining or the swinging of a crystal but by HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) testing. Of course we knew the chances of a match, thanks to our understanding of genetic inheritance. While waiting for the results I made a point of not hoping or praying for this 1 in 4 chance. In fact I remember as I entered the consultant’s office, I uttered a quiet but clear ‘Fuck you, God’ just to make sure I hadn’t, in the tiniest probability of his existence, inadvertently pleased him.

We matched.

The bone marrow transplant and subsequent recovery, although difficult, precarious and complex, worked. And here I am, 4 years on, my blood type is switched from O-positive to O- negative and I have female blood. (In fact the engraftment was tracked by using an X and Y- chromosome dye, and simply counting...) I am healthy, busy and skeptical; science has afforded me a few more precious years to be in this world.

Since my transplant, I have released 6 albums, scored 2 movies, judged the world air guitar championships, received a PhD, played guitar for the Queen of England, laughed until my sides ached, taught hundreds of students, wasted precious time debating with anti-vaxxers and creationists, learned a tiny fraction more about the universe and touched the hem of George Hrab’s suit. Now that’s an objective reality to which I don’t object.

I am in no way special or chosen, my life may not be important in any way other than to my wife, Bridget, my family and close friends. But it is the only one I have, and I am grateful for every second of it.

Objective reality exists. Yes, even if it happens to include multiple dimensions and a time that is bendy. The relativists’ argument – as O’Reilly limply tried on Dawkins – that all truth is subjective collapses in on itself. The logic of expressing the objective truth, that all truth is subjective, is doomed from the start. Yes, there are different beliefs, and interesting questions about determinism, electron clouds and string theory, but ultimately we all live in an objective reality that affects the bodies of the pastor and heretic alike, a truth that still exists no matter what we, or anybody decide about it. Furthermore, understanding objective reality holds great power.

Which creationist would have the courage of Neil Shubin, pointing at a small area of rock in inhospitable Arctic Canada and making the falsifiable claim that somewhere within it should lay the fossil of a creature no human had seen before? Which psychic has ever made such a clear, accurate and impressive prediction as this – (certainly worth a cool million) – A tetrapod fish in this particular layer of rock in this tiny corner of the globe? And there it lay, undisturbed for 375 million years, patiently waiting, twiddling its newly evolving thumbs, until we evolved to be smart enough to look for it. Yet the intelligent design movement hardly batted an irreducibly complex eyelid. But a growing number of us do see the wonder, power and beauty of objective reality. Long may it continue, as we learn to shrug off our evolved propensity for delusions, solipsism and self-importance. The understanding and developments that lie in our future will stagger our already overwhelmed minds.

So as I sit here writing, and sipping my coffee – the caffeine molecules lovingly preventing the docking of sleep-inducing adenosine in my neural receptors, creating a mild but delicious euphoria – I have the privilege of reflecting on my life.

I owe my life to Science – not a divine plan, but that is not why I admire it, nor why I see it as the pinnacle of civilization and evolution. The scientific method is the only mechanism by which we can circumvent our confirmation biases and propensity for self-delusion and understand our tiny, but truly awesome place in the universe. It is valuable because it simply does not care what results we want from it, it gives us the truth regardless. We have written ourselves out of the equation.

The examination of everything: the tides, the stars, bacteria, Stevie Wonder’s groove, photons, blood cells and galaxies, serves to enrich and extend all our lives, in ways that no religion or pseudoscience could begin to dream. Why lower our heads and claim to have easy answers, when we can look up to the skies and tackle the hardest questions? It is only through this humble but insatiable curiosity, skeptical examination, rational reflection and furtive unweaving, that the rainbow becomes yet more beautiful.

 

Son of a CERN nuclear physicist, Milton was raised with wide artistic and scientific influences, an eclecticism that remains with him today. He has a BSc from the London School of Economics, a BMus (Berklee College of Music) and a PhD in music (University of Surrey), and holds commendations for his education and charity work. Milton now lives in London (UK) where he enjoys teaching, performing, composing, producing and writing about music. To learn more please visit miltonline.wordpress.com

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written by Marcus, February 22, 2011
Astonishing. The stupidity of creationists knows no bounds - what kind of lack of reading comprehension would lead someone to make that comment after an article that specifically includes an example of a brilliant prediction based on evolutionary theory?
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written by redsky, February 22, 2011
What scientists form from observation, hunches and curiosity are hypotheses. Those are tentative, proposed explanations for natural phenomena. Hypotheses are not taught to schoolchildren as fact.

"Theory" can be a confusing term. In the scientific sense, a theory is (from American Heritage Dictionary):

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

This differs from "theory" anti-evolutions use it (also from the AHD, and similar to my hypothesis definition above):
An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture

These two, very different definitions can cause a lot of confusion. I think most anti-evolutionists who have spent any time reading about it know this. In general, people who are both right and clear thinkers do not need to obscure (through contranyms, vague language, etc.) their points to "win".

You seem to have totally missed the boat on "predictions" as well. In the article you are criticizing, the author writes about Neil Shubin, who predicted the location of Tiktaalik, then found it. This example is just a striking, recent one. Predicitions based on evolutionary theory have been made and confirmed in many different fields of study. Darwin predicted a moth with a 12 inch tongue (nothing close had ever been observed) after seeing the Comet orchid. Geneticists predicted they would find 2 centromeres and an area corresponding to telomeres in the middle of our chromosome 2 (indicating 2 chromosomes merged in the past), to explain the fact that we have one fewer chromosome than the other apes.
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@Marcus, Lowly rated comment [Show]
popsaw: You're missing the point
written by addams013, February 22, 2011
popsaw: The writer rightly endorses scientific cures but then gets straight to his true purpose. Attacking religion, a worthy target (for the most part) to be sure. He then goes on endorse the scientific method. As I understand,The “scientific method” is as follows:
Observe what happens;
based on those observations, form a theory as to what may be true; test the theory by further observations and by experiments; and watch to see if the predictions based on the theory are fulfilled.
Now I ask, Is this the method followed by those who believe in and teach evolution?


Yes, though it may be less correct to say "believe in" than to say "accept". We can observe many things about the structure of organisms, their genes, their structures, their cellular machinery, and the fossil record, and based on those observations, form a theory as to what may be true.

This theory should be easily falsifiable (as evolution is), so that it will predict what we can expect to find in new organisms and fossils, and what we should never find. (Evolution has many of these. I can give you some examples if you like.) Thus, further observations and experiments test the theory, and we can see if predictions of the theory are fulfilled. An excellent example of this is provided in the essay above.

What, precisely, is the theory of evolution missing that disqualifies it from following the scientific method?

What specific falsifiable predictions does creationism make that would elevate it to using the scientific method?

popsaw: It is stupidity and an act of faith to assert a theory such as Creationism or Evolution is an actual fact since neither has been definitively and irrefutably established and both fail the scientific method.

Science does not establish anything irrefutably. To assert that this level of proof is necessary misses something important about how science works. You cannot both establish a theory "definitively and irrefutably" and find it using the scientific method; they're mutually exclusive things. Your insistence on this betrays a deep level of confusion.

That said, science does establish some things to such a high level of confidence that it becomes perverse to withhold acceptance. The theory of evolution is one of those things; it's established to more confidence than just about any other theory science employs. It may be pedantically correct to say that the provisional nature of science guarantees that it is not an "actual fact"(1), but this only holds weight if one also understands that it is not an "actual fact" that the Sun will rise tomorrow.

It is also worth pointing out that evolution is a fact in that we have directly observed it, many times; "evolution has happened" is thus on the same level of factual status as "dropped tennis balls have fallen".

(1) What the heck is an "actual fact", and how does it differ from a plain old fact?
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Evidence, Part One
written by addams013, February 22, 2011
popsaw: Which evolutionary observation/s is supposed to inspire similar confidence in the 'fact' of evolution that only a fool would not see it?

Every gene, every organ, every structure, every organism, and every biological molecule. Each one has to be consistent with the rules of inheritance as dictated by common descent. Even though it's relatively easy to imagine a specimen that would be inconsistent with the notion of common descent, no exception has yet been found.

This is no trivial thing. Thousands of new species are discovered every year. On top of that, protein and DNA seqences are drawn from species never before examined and published in peer-reviewed works, at an exponentially-growing rate currently at about 275,000 species per day (or about 100 million per year, according to the National Institute of Health). Each and every one is a test of common descent. Find one species with a sequence that doesn't fit common descent, and one of the major tenets of evolution utterly collapses.

Or you could find an organism that is not part of the phylogenetic tree. For that matter, you could find that the tree derived from studying structure development (homology) is markedly different from the tree derived from studying genetics, or that either is markedly different from the tree derived from studying molecular biology, or that any of those trees is markedly different from the tree derived from studying the fossil record. The strong consilience of these independently-derived trees seem to hint that something is going on here. Falsifying the idea would be as simple as finding an organism, a gene, a molecule, or a structure that doesn't fit.

Or, if you want to undermine common descent, find a transitional form prohibited by common descent. We have dozens of transitional forms already; remarkably, evolution proves a highly accurate model in predicting where and when they should be found. (Why are these predictions so lucky, if there's no evidence to support evolution?)

Or show that the timing of intermediates is wrong, phylogenetically or stratigraphically. Or show that these two independent areas of study give results that are inconsistent with each other.

Show that proteins that can be coded many, many ways (e.g., cytochrome-c) appear in organisms in a manner inconsistent with the laws of heredity as relates to common descent.

Again, we see evolution happening directly. This inspires tremendous confidence, and makes your strange stance seem like someone who insists that tennis balls have never been observed to fall, and who demands to know which observations inspire confidence in the idea that they do. It requires a great deal of denial to assert that all these directly-observed instances didn't happen, unless you have an explanation for why the speciation events and such we have witnessed aren't what they seem to be.

The rates of genetic, molecular, and morphological evolution in the field and in the fossil record are consistent. There would have to be some serious explaining if they were not.

Life has not always been as it is now; there are definite patterns as one gets deeper into geological strata. Why do these patterns exist? Why does it appear as though life has not always been as it is now?

DNA does not seem recalcitrant to change (or reverse change) at any arbitrary barrier that would prevent evolution from occurring.

We see many examples of suboptimal functionality. Remarkably, even these suboptimal structures are consistent with common descent and heredity.

Parahomology.

Analogy.
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Evidence, Part Two
written by addams013, February 22, 2011
Besides everything listed before, the principles of evolution work in many different fields. We use evolution to tell us where the fuel is; what mutations we need to prepare for as we treat disease (especially with vaccines and antibiotics); how to grow better food and more of it; about the virulence of parasites; how all of biology is related (thus removing it from being a series of disconnected facts and suggesting new areas of research); how bioinformatics (a billions-of-dollars-per-year industry) works; how fisheries can be managed for higher yields; how to induce beneficial mutations in plant stock; how to create better pesticides; how to retrieve species from the brink of extinction (e.g., the kakapo bird); how to shape public health policy; what unknown genes do; where disease reservoirs lie; how, step by step, disease is transmitted; how to identify micro-organisms that cannot otherwise be identified; how to create and enhance flavors and pigments that depend on biology; how proteins and enzymes fold and function; how to create genetic algorithms, which have applications in architecture, data mining, electrical engineering, finance, geophysics, astrophysics, aerospace engineering, pattern recognition, military strategy, robotics, materials engineering, and systems engineering; how to use countless statistical analysis techniques, including linear regression analysis and analysis of variance, which are used in innumerable ways to study many other things -- its analysis techniques can be applied, for example, to determining the history of manuscripts and languages; and, in a non-trivial sense, how to satisfy some kinds of curiosity and inspire others. If evolution isn't true -- or, more saliently, if it is merely accepted as a matter of faith -- why does it work so well across so many different scientific and technical disciplines, and why does it work so well? Does creationism have even one practical application (other than keeping professional creationists employed)? Has it ever generated a useful technical prediction, or even suggested new avenues of research?

There is an awful lot you need to deny directly to deny evolution, but there is even more that you need to deny indirectly, since similar reasoning to that used to discover, study, and test evolution is used in many other disciplines in completely unrelated matters. If this reasoning is invalid for evolution, why would it be valid in every other technical and scientific discipline on the planet?

popsaw: To accept evolution is one thing but the theory rests on an impossible foundation, life from non life.

Why is it impossible? Do you have data to demonstrate that the various proposed models of abiogenesis cannot happen, especially since we've observed many necessary steps directly, lending the evidence that you seem to think doesn't exist? (More than mere say-so, I mean.) More to the point, why does the diversification of species -- something we can test on its own -- require a viable model of abiogenesis to even consider?

popsaw: Belief that living things came from nothing requires faith similar to religious faith in a deity.

From nothing? Who's saying that? And, again, why is it a necessary component of evolution?
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Could it possibly be?????
written by Willy K, February 22, 2011
Could it be that poopsaw is actually Randi testing the intelligence of the contributors to this blog? smilies/wink.gif

What better way to test a group of rational thinkers than to post totally irrational, rambling, one-dimensional troll-isms?

- - - - -

Attention Milton! I'm looking at your website, the light gray text on a slightly darker gray background of your RSS feed is difficult to read. Not enough contrast. I'm using Firefox 3.6 and IE 8. I shall continue to read it and I'll add your site to my "AntiDelusion" bookmarks. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by kenhamer, February 22, 2011
"I didn't say I was a creationist or any other 'ist'"

However, I'll happily say you are a moron. And I have proof.

Or is that mornonist?
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Ignorance is bliss, apparently...
written by Radwaste, February 22, 2011
Popsaw. Go look at "the Lenski Affair". You don't even know what's going on, yet you are confident of something. You shouldn't be.
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@Radwaste
written by popsaw, February 23, 2011
I read the "Lenski Affair" as you suggested. It appears to me to be another of the many differences of opinion regarding the definition of the word 'evolution'. The facts of the study are not actually at odds with any biblical teachings since the bible teaches that animals were created individually and will reproduce according to their 'kinds'. This is reproducing according to 'kinds' also harmonizes with science.
What I was hoping for in the article you asked me to look at was an answer to the question of how life came from non life, an impossibility that evolutionists put faith in as fact.It is the elephant (or mammoth) in the room!
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written by ThinkTank, February 23, 2011
At the risk of straying dangerously back on-topic, I thoroughly enjoyed this article. A very moving story, but in a lighthearted style - I may have to borrow the "look both ways before crossing" line!

And incidentally Popsaw, "life from non-life" is not an impossibility. It is a possibility with a 100% occurrence rate, because life exists! The only question is HOW it arose, whether by natural processes/God/Cthulhu/Invisible Pink Unicorn/whatever.
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Evidence, Part Three
written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: The burden of proof is on the claimant, the claim being that life can come from non life.

Agreed. And ample evidence already exists. Now that that evidence has been supplied, it is up to you to explain why it is inadequate. Simply ignoring it and/or simply declaring it inadequate is insufficient.

It is also up to you to explain why a theory attempting to explain the diversity of species must rely on abiogenesis to even be viable.

popsaw: I say it is impossible in the context that it has not been observed, it has not been demonstrated scientifically and all scientific tests to create life have failed.

It has not been observed from start to finish, true. But it is easily extensible from things we have witnessed directly, as well as extensively tested related principles that we understand.

In a similar vein, we have not witnessed a complete orbit of Pluto around the Sun -- yet we have substantial confidence as to the parameters of that orbit. Is the very idea that Pluto orbits the Sun invalid simply because it hasn't been directly observed from start to finish?

The fact of the matter is that it is impossible to view every instance of a theory, but that does not prevent a theory from being widely understood and treated as established. For example, it's impossible to test the theory of universal gravitation for every single mass (and every single possible mass) and every possible distance in the Universe. No scientist would take this as evidence that acceptance of the idea ought to be withheld, or even that it should on this basis be seriously questioned.

There are also some other bits of evidence that I forgot to mention last time; I'm sure others will come to me.

Atavisms.

Endogenous retroviruses.

Noncoding DNA.

The very fact that life fits in a nested hierarchy. Things that make copies with potential for variation fit into nested hierarchies (e.g., languages, religions, and documents); separately and specially created things do not (e.g., cars, aircraft, and cell phones), since eventually, some kind of "horizontal" feature comparison is needed. Linnaeus, after successfully creating a nested hierarchy for organisms, attempted to make one for minerals -- and failed miserably. The very fact that a nested hierarchy exists at all (and not some other sorting mechanism) ought to give pause.

Now, given all of this evidence, which you have not seen fit to address or even acknowledge, how can you honestly claim that acceptance of evolution is "based on faith are not testable and are only theory"? What evidence does creationism have going for it?
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@ popsaw
written by ithacaartist, February 23, 2011
"Comparing the two theories"

Above, an attempt was made to straighten out this semantic glitch for you. Simply repeating an idea with its roots in misunderstanding does not help your point. Given that to truly communicate, people must have at least come to reasonably common definitions of terms, my unsolicited advice here is to try to catch up with the terminology as it has been explained. My grandmother, among others, used to say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."--in this case, not because of linguistic high ground, but to communicate. Skeptics are human, too, and can, indeed, become a little cranky when someone insists on wasting our time. I find it useful to use the Jimmy Carter technique when I think of a name to call someone, as an ad hominem attack (itself belaboring the obvious) does nothing to advance an idea.
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: the bibles account of creation (Genesis)(Each animal producing according to its kind)seems more plausible and fits with what we observe.

Actually, popsaw, it doesn't, for two main reasons.

First of all, we observe that organisms don't always produce "after their kind", for any meaningful definition of "kind"; we have directly witnessed organisms crossing entire cladistic kingdoms. The idea doesn't "(fit) with what we observe" at all.

Second, your assertion isn't even accurate. The phrase "(organisms)(reproduce)(after their kind)" doesn't actually exist anywhere in the bible, never mind Genesis(1). (I put grammatical units in parentheses for which substitutions might be acceptable.) This is a phrase that creationists have taught their followers exists there; but these teachers do not have a great track record when it comes to teaching the truth.

So far, in demonstrating that evolution and creationism are both "based on faith are not testable and are only theory", you have not addressed the testable parts of evolution, and the only vaguely testable things you've shown in creationism aren't even accurate. You haven't demonstrated knowledge of either field with respect to their testability. Why are we supposed to believe your assertion about the nature of these things?

(1) The closest you might come is Genesis 1:12, but the careful reader will see that producing seeds "after their kind" is not the same as describing reproduction -- especially if one compares how the phrase is used elsewhere in the bible. A careful grammatical deconstruction will also show that this passage is not describing how plants reproduce, but how the land produces vegetation.
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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011
And ample evidence already exists. Now that that evidence has been supplied, it is up to you to explain why it is inadequate. Simply ignoring it and/or simply declaring it inadequate is insufficient.
Evidence is not proof and can misinterpreted, hence the disagrements between creationists and evolutionists.

In a similar vein, we have not witnessed a complete orbit of Pluto around the Sun -- yet we have substantial confidence as to the parameters of that orbit. Is the very idea that Pluto orbits the Sun invalid simply because it hasn't been directly observed from start to finish?
The analogy certainly provides an example of confidence based faith I agree.

Now, given all of this evidence, which you have not seen fit to address or even acknowledge, how can you honestly claim that acceptance of evolution is "based on faith are not testable and are only theory"?


Because it relies on the impossibility of Abiogenesis, as Darwin himself conceded that the theory of evolution...
Darwin evidentially recognized how serious the abiogenesis problem was for his theory, and once even conceded that all existing terrestrial life must have descended from some primitive life form that was called into life “by the Creator” (1900, p. 316)


Pretty much the same evidence that evolutionists have, only they say that it is the work of a creator. Neither side proof though which is required though to claim as fact!




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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: Evidence is not proof and can misinterpreted, hence the disagrements between creationists and evolutionists.

Let me try a different explanation. The evidence is consistent with specific predictions of abiogenesis. How is it consistent with specific predictions of creationism? Can you demonstrate that this evidence is misinterpreted, more than just simply saying, "This isn't what you think it is"? If not, why should we take your word for it? How does this fit with the notion that "the burden of proof is on the claimant"?

popsaw: Darwin evidentially recognized how serious the abiogenesis problem was for his theory, and once even conceded that all existing terrestrial life must have descended from some primitive life form that was called into life “by the Creator” (1900, p. 316)

Isn't this evidence that evolution does not rely on abiogenesis? That one can discuss evidence for and the validity of evolution without relying on abiogenesis, as Darwin did?

(I also should point out that organic chemistry and molecular biology have come a long way since 1900.)

popsaw: Pretty much the same evidence that evolutionists have, only they say that it is the work of a creator.

All I see is denial from you that the evidence that exists to corroborate evolution is valid, without any reason to consider it so. I have not seen any valid evidence from you to corroborate creationism at all.

popsaw: Neither side proof though which is required though to claim as fact!

Not so. A directly-observed phenomenon can be claimed as fact, until and unless someone provides evidence that this observation was mistaken.

I note again that we have directly observed evolution. "Organisms evolve" is as much a fact as "dropped tennis balls fall".
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clarification
written by addams013, February 23, 2011
me: All I see is denial from you that the evidence that exists to corroborate evolution is valid, without any reason to consider it so.

Let me explain what I mean by this.

This is evidence that precisely fits what evolution would predict. How does it precisely fit creationism? That is, what reason do we have to consider any of it evidence for creationism? Why would creationism specifically anticipate any of the evidences listed?
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Addams013
written by popsaw, February 23, 2011

is not describing how plants reproduce, but how the land produces vegetation.(1) The closest you might come is Genesis 1:12, but the careful reader will see that producing seeds "after their kind" is not the same as describing reproduction -- especially if one compares how the phrase is used elsewhere in the bible. A careful grammatical deconstruction will also show that this passage is not describing how plants reproduce, but how the land produces vegetation

This is evidence that precisely fits what evolution would predict. How does it precisely fit creationism? That is, what reason do we have to consider any of it evidence for creationism? Why would creationism specifically anticipate any of the evidences listed?

I am afraid I do not get what you are driving at here although if you state a specific example I may understand and be able to address it.
In the context of the Genesis account, the word kind refers to groups on plants and animals and not the building blocks such creatures or organisms, acids, cells proteins or other.

The above statement is inaccurate since Genesis 21 onwards reads...
” 21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

me: All I see is denial from you that the evidence that exists to corroborate evolution is valid, without any reason to consider it so.
I do not deny that evidence exists, I deny that it proves evolution especially as evolution starts with an assumption of abiogenesis, an impossibility scientically.

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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011

Isn't this evidence that evolution does not rely on abiogenesis? That one can discuss evidence for and the validity of evolution without relying on abiogenesis, as Darwin did?
Are you now saying that there IS a place for creationism in evolution? If not, the only alternative is abiogenesis!
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: Are you now saying that there IS a place for creationism in evolution?

I am saying what I have been saying all along: one can consider the evidence for and validity of evolution without needing to justify abiogenesis, which is the opposite of what you have claimed. Darwin did exactly what you are claiming is impossible, and you quoted him to try to support your point.
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: The above statement is inaccurate since Genesis 21 onwards reads...
” 21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.


I know how it reads. It is valuable to note the sentence structure in each. Verse 21 tells us that "God created... according to their kinds", not that these organisms were created to reproduce according to their kinds. That is a meaning entirely created by creationist teachers, and does not appear in the text itself. This is also true of verse 25. Please pay attention to the words in front of you. Diagram the sentences if it helps you to determine the subject and predicate in each case.

I also note, again, that direct observation contradicts the idea that organisms reproduce "according to their kind". If you want to assert that the bible makes more sense on this matter, it should at least be true.
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Seriously?
written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: I do not deny that evidence exists, I deny that it proves evolution especially as evolution starts with an assumption of abiogenesis, an impossibility scientically.

You have not demonstrated that evolution starts with an assumption of abiogenesis; to demonstrate this, you even cited a place where Darwin specifically did not assume abiogenesis right in the middle of his discussion of evolution! You also have not demonstrated the impossibility of abiogenesis; again, the burden of proof is on the claimant (which is especially odd in light of the fact that the available evidence indicates its possibility).

Are you keeping track of what you're arguing at all?
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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011
I am sure you know of the difficulty of disproving a negative yet you ask me to disprove abiogenesis. That is absurd and clearly an evasion of the issue, that being that there is either abiogenesis or creation as Derwin acknowledged or shall we now say that the burden of proof is on you to show there is no creator?
Since you have dismissed creationism, only abiogenesis remains. Neither however can be proven and all scientific attempts at abiogenesis in lab conditions have failed miserably.
Regarding the Genesis verses which I quoted as supporting the view that animals reproduce only according to their 'kind' the 'sentence structure' dictates that the context be understood to mean reproduction...
24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” This surely refers to reproduction, particularly when read in the context of the preceeding verses Genesis 1:11...
"Let the land sprout with vegetation every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: I am sure you know of the difficulty of disproving a negative yet you ask me to disprove abiogenesis.

You asserted it. In fact, you asserted it as evidence of something. If proving a negative is impossible (which it is), this negative should not be used as evidence for regarding something as valid or invalid. That's my point.

popsaw: That is absurd and clearly an evasion of the issue, that being that there is either abiogenesis or creation as Derwin acknowledged or shall we now say that the burden of proof is on you to show there is no creator?

Speaking of absurdity and evasion: I have neither affirmed nor denied a creator. I have simply stated that it is not necessary to demonstrate the validity of abiogenesis in order to demonstrate the validity of evolution.

popsaw: Since you have dismissed creationism, only abiogenesis remains.

On what basis do you make this assertion? One can claim many things that deny creationism (the idea that all "kinds" were created, in some sense, from scratch) that do not assert abiogenesis (the idea that all life can be traced to the reproduction of simpler molecules that would not be considered "alive"). Assertion of abiogenesis is irrelevant, in any case, to the evidence for evolution.

popsaw: Neither however can be proven and all scientific attempts at abiogenesis in lab conditions have failed miserably.

Again, we have not demonstrated the entire process, but there is a lot of territory between "not producing the entire process" and "all attempts have failed miserably". There is substantial corroboration for abiogenesis. Your simple denial does not cause this corroboration to cease to exist.

popsaw: These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.

This was added by a commentator, and does not appear in the text. While this understanding can arguably be based on the writing, it does not appear in the writing. Moreover, reality itself demonstrates that the derived idea of things reproducing "after their kind" is untrue through direct observation. Since it is not true, it cannot make more sense than another idea that has yet to be falsified.

Reproduction is clearly within the context through orders to multiply and such, but that does not mean that the sentences including "after their kind" should be understood to refer to reproduction when they do not even mention it.
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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011
On what basis do you make this assertion? One can claim many things that deny creationism (the idea that all "kinds" were created, in some sense, from scratch) that do not assert abiogenesis (the idea that all life can be traced to the reproduction of simpler molecules that would not be considered "alive"). Assertion of abiogenesis is irrelevant, in any case, to the evidence for evolution.
"Does creationism have even one practical application (other than keeping professional creationists employed)"


These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.

This was added by a commentator, and does not appear in the text. While this understanding can arguably be based on the writing, it does not appear in the writing. Moreover, reality itself demonstrates that the derived idea of things reproducing "after their kind" is untrue through direct observation. Since it is not true, it cannot make more sense than another idea that has yet to be
falsified.

This is a reference to the verse I quoted from the New Living Translation. the words were not an added commentary but rather they were a translation of the actual verse. An older translation (King James) reads, Gen 1:11...And God said Let the earth bring forth grass the herb yielding seed and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind whose seed is in itself upon the earth and it was so ...clearly conveying a reproduction of a kind. A fig tree producing figs etc. The following verses regarding animals should be understood in this context for instance verse 24 (king James) 24 And God said Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind



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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011
Please disregard my prior post which came through mixed up. This is the intended post (I hope)

On what basis do you make this assertion? One can claim many things that deny creationism (the idea that all "kinds" were created, in some sense, from scratch) that do not assert abiogenesis (the idea that all life can be traced to the reproduction of simpler molecules that would not be considered "alive").

On the basis of these quotes which caused me to assume you dismiss creatioism
Assertion of professional creationists employed)"
"Does creationism have even one practical application (other than keeping professional creationists employed)"
"What evidence does creationism have going for it?"
"The evidence is consistent with specific predictions of abiogenesis. How is it consistent with specific predictions of creationism?"



"These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came".
This was added by a commentator, and does not appear in the text. While this understanding can arguably be based on the writing, it does not appear in the writing. Moreover, reality itself demonstrates that the derived idea of things reproducing "after their kind" is untrue through direct observation.


This is a reference to the verse I quoted from the New Living Translation. the words were not an added commentary but rather they were a translation of the actual verse. An older translation (King James) reads, Gen 1:11...And God said Let the earth bring forth grass the herb yielding seed and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind whose seed is in itself upon the earth and it was so ...clearly conveying a reproduction of a kind. A fig tree producing figs etc. The following verses regarding animals should be understood in this context for instance verse 24 (king James) 24 And God said Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: the words were not an added commentary but rather they were a translation of the actual verse.

To be technical, they are a paraphrase, not a translation. But it is quite beside the point to argue minutiae in the text, since reality itself disagrees with your understanding of it; and understanding of a text cannot be considered evidence for the source of species diversity in any case.

In other words, you're evading. Where is your evidence?

popsaw: An older translation (King James) reads, Gen 1:11...And God said Let the earth bring forth grass the herb yielding seed and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind whose seed is in itself upon the earth and it was so ...clearly conveying a reproduction of a kind.

Again, you can see this is not true with a grammatical deconstruction of the sentence. But arguing semantics of a text is completely irrelevant to your point. You said that evolution has no evidence, and I produced much; you have failed to show how this evidence can be understood as being specifically consistent with creationism. Your stated "evidence" for creationism -- an idea that we ought to see in the real world -- is, in fact, contradicted by what we actually see directly in the real world.

Do your ideas connect to reality at all? Where is your connection to reality?
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: On the basis of these quotes which caused me to assume you dismiss creatioism

Let me rephrase, which is to say, let me repeat my original question: Why do you assert that establishment of abiogenesis is necessary to take evolution seriously?

You still haven't answered this. All I mean to point out is that your notion -- that evolution rests on abiogenesis -- is utterly false. It doesn't require any model for the origin of life at all in order to discuss its evidence and validity.
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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011
popsaw: the words were not an added commentary but rather they were a translation of the actual verse.

To be technical, they are a paraphrase, not a translation. But it is quite beside the point to argue minutiae in the text, since reality itself disagrees with your understanding of it; and understanding of a text cannot be considered evidence for the source of species diversity in any case.

On that basis, the whole bible is paraphrased. Do you not accept the concept of 'translating'?

In other words, you're evading. Where is your evidence?
I have not made any claims for which to produce evidence! I merely stated that the Genesis account seemed more plausible than evolution to me and I quoted a couple of verses from the account.

You said that evolution has no evidence, and I produced much; you have failed to show how this evidence can be understood as being specifically consistent with creationism.

I did not say that. I said there is no proofof evolution but that does not stop its proponents from calling it fact not theory.As I have said, evidence is open to interpretation.
I have not stated support for creationism so why should I be required to produce evidence of it? I merely say that neither evolutionists nor creationists should call their theories facts.

Let me rephrase, which is to say, let me repeat my original question: Why do you assert that establishment of abiogenesis is necessary to take evolution seriously?
Because this is the big question that cannot be avoided although it can be ignored
To avoid this question is like coming across an alien spacecraft in the desert and pondering the question of how it was constructed, whilst avoiding the more important and interesting question of how it got there.
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And the winner is.....
written by Willy K, February 23, 2011
addams013
This writer is obviously Human. This writer develops a progressive line of reasoning.

popsaw
This writer is obviously a machine. It reboots after a certain number of responses and return to its original assertions, undaunted by clear logic and evidence provided by other writers. In other words, it does not learn.
To paraphrase Alex Trebek, "Popsaw, I know Watson and you're no Watson."

Alan Turing smilies/wink.gif
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: On that basis, the whole bible is paraphrased. Do you not accept the concept of 'translating'?

To be precise, I do not accept an interpretation of a text -- translated or paraphrased -- as evidence of empirical phenomena. As our debate has illustrated, translating and even reading are by their nature interpretive acts. The only things that can determine whether or not an explanation is consistent with empirical phenomena are experiment, discovery, and observation.

Which is why I must repeat that your understanding of organisms reproducing "after their kind" is contradicted by direct observation.

popsaw: I have not made any claims for which to produce evidence!

You claimed that creationism and evolution are on equal footing with respect to evidence. I showed that the specific evidence for evolution is voluminous. On what basis, then, can you claim that creationism can still enjoy equal footing with evolution, if evidence isn't it?

popsaw: I merely stated that the Genesis account seemed more plausible than evolution to me

Again, we have watched changes in "kind" happen directly. Why is an understanding that is contradicted by direct observation "more plausible"?

popsaw: I said there is no proofof evolution but that does not stop its proponents from calling it fact not theory.As I have said, evidence is open to interpretation.

It's telling that I keep trying to point to the natural world to explain why evolution attempts to explain things the way it does -- note that the evidences are all natural phenomena or objects -- whereas your "evidence" boils down to whether or not a given interpretation of a block of text makes sense to you, personally. Doesn't that tell you something?

popsaw: I have not stated support for creationism so why should I be required to produce evidence of it?

You stated that creationism and evolution enjoy equal footing with respect to evidence. Since voluminous and highly specific evidence exists for evolution, this is tantamount to saying that voluminous and highly specific evidence exists for creationism, whether or not you personally support it -- an assertion I challenge. Where is it?

popsaw: I merely say that neither evolutionists nor creationists should call their theories facts.

What should evolutionists call their facts?

What should creationists call their... oh, that's right. No creationist has witnessed a repeatable act of divine creation. They don't have any facts. Never mind.

(You seem to miss that even though the theory of evolution is strongle corroborated enough to consider it fact, there are also instances of directly-observed evolution. It has happened, while we were watching. It is repeatable. It is fact.)

popsaw: Because this is the big question that cannot be avoided although it can be ignored To avoid this question is like coming across an alien spacecraft in the desert and pondering the question of how it was constructed, whilst avoiding the more important and interesting question of how it got there.

Whether or not the question is interesting is a matter of taste, and not really relevant to the question of whether certain natural phenomena have occurred or not. Regardless, science does this all the time. We explain gravity as a property of mass, for example, without necessarily having to bother with the question of where mass comes from. We can describe how it behaves based on the evidence without addressing questions about its origin. Likewise, we can describe how life behaves without having to bother with the question of where it comes from.

Evolution is supported by the evidence whether you accept abiogenesis, believe in creationism, or have some other explanation we haven't even discussed.
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written by popsaw, February 23, 2011

To be precise, I do not accept an interpretation of a text -- translated or paraphrased -- as evidence of empirical phenomena. As our debate has illustrated, translating and even reading are by their nature interpretive acts. The only things that can determine whether or not an explanation is consistent with empirical phenomena are experiment, discovery, and observation.
Which is why I must repeat that your understanding of organisms reproducing "after their kind" is contradicted by direct observation.

Nowhere have I mention organisms. The verses I quoted referred to animals and plants reproducing their own kind. I did not say the rule applies to organisms, it clearly does not, neither does the bible say so!

You claimed that creationism and evolution are on equal footing with respect to evidence. I showed that the specific evidence for evolution is voluminous. On what basis, then, can you claim that creationism can still enjoy equal footing with evolution, if evidence isn't it?
Since I have not used the term 'equal footing' I cannot reply without knowing the specific quote to which you refer. However, this is not critical to my main assertion that neither creationism nor evolution can rightly be called fact.

You stated that creationism and evolution enjoy equal footing with respect to evidence. Since voluminous and highly specific evidence exists for evolution, this is tantamount to saying that voluminous and highly specific evidence exists for creationism, whether or not you personally support it -- an assertion I challenge. Where is it?
No. You are saying those things. I said..."It is stupidity and an act of faith to assert a theory such as Creationism or Evolution is an actual fact since neither has been definitively and irrefutably established and both fail the scientific method. I accept nothing as actual fact that is as yet unproven."

What should evolutionists call their facts?
The facts should not be interpreted to suit preconceived ideas.Encyclopaedia Britannica describes evolution as , Biological theory that animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations. http://www.britannica.com/EBch.../evolution is this incorrect in your opinion and are you now stating evolution is a fact?

We can describe how it behaves based on the evidence without addressing questions about its origin. Likewise, we can describe how life behaves without having to bother with the question of where it comes from.
The question of where we came from is of supreme importance to me, far more interesting and important than what happens when we are already here. It is perplexing that people evolutionists spend much time discussing, debating and pondering the mundane stuff whilst ignoring the ultimate question that (I assumed) everyone wants to know. How did I get here?
I will not be able to reply further until tomorrow but thanks for your time today and best wishes.
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw: Nowhere have I mention organisms. The verses I quoted referred to animals and plants reproducing their own kind. I did not say the rule applies to organisms, it clearly does not, neither does the bible say so!

Plants and animals are organisms.

popsaw: is this incorrect in your opinion and are you now stating evolution is a fact?

No, it is not incorrect. Evolution is both theory and a fact, just as atoms are both theory and a fact, or germs are both theory and a fact, or the heliocentric model of the Solar System is both theory and a fact.

The theory of evolution and the fact of evolution refer to slightly different things, even though the matters with which they are concerned are interrelated.

popsaw: It is perplexing that people evolutionists spend much time discussing, debating and pondering the mundane stuff whilst ignoring the ultimate question that (I assumed) everyone wants to know.

Fine. It's perplexing to me that people would prefer an interpretation of a book blatantly at odds with directly observable fact to explanations consistent with reality, and that they would consider that an answer in any respect. But to each his own. Personal preferences have nothing to do with which phenomena have occurred, or which explanations are consistent with directly-observed fact.

Sorry, I missed this before:

popsaw: I am afraid I do not get what you are driving at here although if you state a specific example I may understand and be able to address it.

You've been given several specific examples of evolution being corroborated by evidence and have completely failed to address them with anything more substantive than denial. Why would I expect that your reaction to further bits of evidence would be different?

popsaw: In the context of the Genesis account, the word kind refers to groups on plants and animals and not the building blocks such creatures or organisms, acids, cells proteins or other.

Sez you. This distinction seems like stacking arbitrary "because I said so" rules on top of "because I said so" rules, which still attempt to make absolute assertions without even trying to demonstrate any connection to reality. But even if you happen to be right, plants and animals are organisms. An organism is any living thing. So I repeat: We have directly-observed examples of organisms (or, if you prefer, "living things") crossing the broadest categories (or, if you prefer, "kinds") that biology knows. Yes, even animals.
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written by addams013, February 23, 2011
popsaw, you still have not explained exactly how evolution fails the scientific method.
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Don't take it Literally
written by SelfThought, February 23, 2011
I'm not trying to get on anyones bad side but there are too many people using big words in this discussion which to me sounds like huffing and puffing.

So let me try to explain it in layman's terms... like it was explained to me long ago.

25-30 years ago I attended a Christian Brothers College where the majority of the teachers were Christian Brothers. One day in my first year there (year 7/Form 1 it was called at the time), I had a Science class and that days' class was about Evolution (taught by a teacher which was not a Christian Brother, not that it matters). The very next period - and I don't know if it was on purpose or just coincidence - I had a Religious Studies class (with one of the Christian Brothers) and it was about... you guessed it, Where we came from, the beginnings of earth and Adam & Eve, and on the first day... and on the 7th day he rested etc.

Having the 2 clases one after the other confused the s*&t out of me. So I put up my hand and asked: "I just came from a science class where we learned about Evolution and now you're telling me we instead came from Adam and Eve?".

He smirked and said something to this effect (it was nearly 30 years ago so I am paraphrasing the whole conversation).

"Don't take it literally!!"

I didn't at the time understand what 'literally' meant so he explained further.

"When the bible says we came from A & E, it doesn't mean there was an actual A & E. They are just characters in a story which (our) religion uses to explain where we come from. At the time the bible was written, there was no theory of evolution or the big bang and the only way to explain the unknown was to tell them in a story that everybody understood."

"So there was no talking snake?", I asked.

"Of course not" he explained. "The snake just represents 'evil and temptation'. If there literally was a talking snake, then why aren't there talking snakes today???"

"So God is just a story then? And you don't really believe in God?" I asked.

"Not exactly. It's a bit more complicated than that." he said. "That's called faith and everyone has their own beleifs and faiths. My faith leeds me to believe there is a God of some sort and everyone has their own thought on it."

He then went on to explain that that was outside the scope of the class on where we came from and left it at that.

Thinking back now I think this was my first lesson on critical thinking even though at the time I didn't realise it.

The jist of the story? Don't take the bible literally!! It's just a mechanism to explain what was/is unknown.

And if everyone thought like a creationist, we'd never had thought outside the box and we'd all still be living in the dark ages. I'm pretty sure God didn't create this blog.
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written by popsaw, February 24, 2011
Plants and animals are organisms.
All animals and plants are organisms but not all organisms are plants or animals. The Genesis account specifiies animals and plants when it refers to kind. How do we know this? It uses the worse vegetation, beasts and animals. You are going beyond what is written. If the account meant organisms why would it use the words 'plants', 'beasts' and 'animals' when organisms would suffice?

No, it is not incorrect. Evolution is both theory and a fact, just as atoms are both theory and a fact, or germs are both theory and a fact, or the heliocentric model of the Solar System is both theory and a fact.
If you are proposing as a factthat life evolved, there is where my contention lies since facts can be proven whereas evolution relies on evidence which is open to interpretation.

Fine. It's perplexing to me that people would prefer an interpretation of a book blatantly at odds with directly observable fact to explanations consistent with reality, and that they would consider that an answer in any respect. But to each his own. Personal preferences have nothing to do with which phenomena have occurred, or which explanations are consistent with directly-observed fact.
I have examined both sides with the ultimate purpose of gaining understanding as to where we came from and why we are here. I continue to examine to that same end. What is the basis of your interest in evolution? I ask this because evolutionary considerations seem frivolous and pointless if they do not address this issue, a bit like reading only the last few pages of a great novel.

You've been given several specific examples of evolution being corroborated by evidence and have completely failed to address them with anything more substantive than denial. Why would I expect that your reaction to further bits of evidence would be different?
As I say, I am not aware of any such example though I will respond to any single example that you cite.

So I repeat: We have directly-observed examples of organisms (or, if you prefer, "living things") crossing the broadest categories (or, if you prefer, "kinds") that biology knows. Yes, even animals.
And I must repeat that I am not what you say about organisms. I am saying that according to the Genesis account, a restriction is in place in regard to the organisms called Plants and animals. This restriction of reproducing according to kinds in plants and animals, is what we have observed. A dog will always produce a dog and a fig tree will always produce figs.

popsaw, you still have not explained exactly how evolution fails the scientific method.

Because the claims/theories regarding evolution's claim that 'kinds' (such as bovine, equine, feline,primate etc) evolve into other kinds, cannot be tested or observed. The Biblical “kinds” seem to constitute divisions of life-forms wherein each division allows for cross-fertility within its limits. If so, then the boundary between “kinds” is to be drawn at the point where fertilization ceases to occur.

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written by addams013, February 24, 2011
popsaw: All animals and plants are organisms but not all organisms are plants or animals.

No kidding.

popsaw: The Genesis account specifiies animals and plants when it refers to kind. How do we know this? It uses the worse vegetation, beasts and animals. You are going beyond what is written. If the account meant organisms why would it use the words 'plants', 'beasts' and 'animals' when organisms would suffice?

Does it matter? We have directly observed changes in "kind" for plants and animals. Clearly, if you expect the bible to be true, your understanding of it is wrong.

popsaw: If you are proposing as a factthat life evolved, there is where my contention lies since facts can be proven whereas evolution relies on evidence which is open to interpretation.

Finally, yes. If you are willing to take directly-observed instances of things as facts, then evolution is a fact as well as a theory. If "tennis balls fall" can be accepted as fact because we have seen instances of tennis balls falling, then evolution is a fact because we have seen organisms evolving. (Some of those organisms are plants and animals.)

The fact of X says that X happens at least sometimes because we've seen it. The theory of X is a general explanation for the circumstances that dictate how X happens.

popsaw: What is the basis of your interest in evolution? I ask this because evolutionary considerations seem frivolous and pointless if they do not address this issue, a bit like reading only the last few pages of a great novel.

Does it matter? Determining whether or not something is true should not depend on one's motives for seeking that truth.

popsaw: As I say, I am not aware of any such example though I will respond to any single example that you cite.

History disagrees with you.

popsaw: And I must repeat that I am not what you say about organisms. I am saying that according to the Genesis account, a restriction is in place in regard to the organisms called Plants and animals. This restriction of reproducing according to kinds in plants and animals, is what we have observed. A dog will always produce a dog and a fig tree will always produce figs.

I repeat: This is not what we have observed. Even in the plant and animal kingdoms, for any meaningful definition of "kind", an animal of one "kind" does not always produce an animal of the same "kind". We have observed this. This "restriction" is untrue, regardless of where it comes from.

Funnily enough, one of your examples trying to prove your point -- "a dog will always produce a dog" -- is exactly one of the directly-observed instances contradicted by direct observation. We can say with confidence that a dog does not always produce a dog.

If you're expecting to find the truth behind the matter of species diversity, pinning it to an arbitrary interpretation of some book that doesn't reflect reality is a poor place to start.

popsaw: Because the claims/theories regarding evolution's claim that 'kinds' (such as bovine, equine, feline,primate etc) evolve into other kinds, cannot be tested or observed.

popsaw, listen closely: It. HAS. Been. Observed. Multiple times. Directly.

Your claim that it "cannot be tested or observed" is difficult to support, since it has. Again, you sound like the person who claims that the claims and theories that "tennis balls fall" are invalid because it cannot be tested or observed.

popsaw: The Biblical “kinds” seem to constitute divisions of life-forms wherein each division allows for cross-fertility within its limits. If so, then the boundary between “kinds” is to be drawn at the point where fertilization ceases to occur.

This -- a phenomenon known as "reproductive isolation", where a new species arises as a subset of a different species' population -- has been observed many, many, many more times than a mere change in some ill-defined "kind". You're digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole. This idea that seems more likely to be true because it makes sense to you, personally, reflects the real world less and less the more you talk about it.

Given this evident lack of concern with whether or not your ideas reflect reality to seem true to you, why should I take seriously your ideas about whether or not acceptance of evolution is "stupidity" or an "act of faith"?
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We Get It, and Thank You
written by Jim Shaver, February 24, 2011
Dr. Mermikides, thank you for this well-written and well-reasoned essay. It may not be obvious from the primarily single dimension that the comments section has taken, but I think that most of us in the skeptical community, by far, get from where you are coming, precisely.
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written by addams013, February 25, 2011
Agreed, Jim. I want to apologize for my part in keeping things so tangentially and trivially related to a message of strength, intelligence, and hope. Dr. Mermikides, thank you for sharing your story and your courage with us.
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