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Why Evolution is True PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

coyne_book

As an astronomer, my familiarity with the details of biological evolution are about on par with that of an interested layman (though being trained scientifically helps with that understanding, adding insight to the process of the scientific endeavor). I'm familiar with the concepts of descent with modification, genetic mutations, natural pressures for adaptations, and the like. I'm less familiar with other aspects, like allele frequencies, how specifically pressures can change adaptations, and what transitional fossils are in the record, but I can probably hold my own against your run-of-the-mill creationist.

That's why I loved the book Why Evolution is True by biologist Jerry Coyne. This is a clear, easy-to-understand work that shows you - with no compromising and no backing down - that evolution has occurred, the evidence is overwhelming, and that no other explanation fro what we see around us makes sense.

He goes through many, many arguments about this: how we do see adaptation to changing environments, how the DNA records support the change in the genome of life with time and environment, how fossils support evolutionary change.

Moreover, he shows that the scientific theory of evolution by natural (and in some cases, sexual) selection makes clear predictions which are borne out by observations. And on top of that he shows why these conclusions make no sense at all if you think there is some Creator that made us the way we are out of thin air (or dust, I suppose).

I was particularly struck by the concept of geographic isolation and how that affects evolution (perhaps because I spent more than a week last year touring the Galapagos Islands). Species isolated on islands adapt genetically and morphologically (or vice-versa) to the environment, and you can see how there are changes in those species as they radiate out to other nearby islands. We only see species on those islands that come from nearby land masses, as you'd expect from natural methods of dispersion over long time periods (but not what you'd expect for a Creator to simply pop life into existence). And all of this fits in with what geologists see by way of plate tectonics and continental drift.

Creationists love to try to pick apart evolution, looking at minor details in isolation and saying it doesn't make sense. But they're wrong: evolution is a beautiful tapestry, a complex fabric of countless threads woven together into a grand picture of life on Earth. And it all holds together.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in evolution, or the manufactured controversy of creationism. Coyne's work is complete and convincing, slamming the door firmly closed on young-Earth creationism. If you have to deal with creationists in your life, this book is something you should keep very handy.

Bonus: my friend Joel Parker interviewed Coyne on his radio show How on Earth (you can get the MP3 through this direct link), and another friend D. J. Grothe interviewed Coyne on his podcast Point of Inquiry.

And I'll leave you with this, Coyne's perfect summation of the situation (from pages 222-223 of the book):

Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper of the scientific literature... and every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. Despite innumerable possible

explanations that could prove evolution untrue, we don't have a single one. We don't find mammals in Precambrian rocks, humans in the same layers as dinosaurs, or any other fossils out of evolutionary order. DNA sequencing supports the evolutionary relationships of species originally deduced from the fossil record. And, as natural selection predicts, we find no species with adaptations that benefit only a different species. We do find dead genes and vestigial organs, incomprehensible under the idea of special creation. Despite a million chances to be wrong, evolution always comes up right. That is as close as we can get to a scientific fact.
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written by starskeptic, April 15, 2009
"Species isolated on islands adapt genetically and morphologically (or vice-versa) to the environment"

this seems to say that species could adapt morphologically BEFORE genetic adaptation...which would mean that Lamarckism is making a comeback ...cool- Lamarck's stories are much more interesting than Darwin's...
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written by God's right parietal lobe, April 15, 2009
And, as natural selection predicts, we find no species with adaptations that benefit only a different species.
However, we can find some species that have adaptations that only benefit them because these benefit another species that benefits them. People might almost be excused for not noticing the difference.

Actually, as long a non-beneficial adaptation (if you'd still call it that) doesn't come at a cost, natural selection could not give a damn whether another species benefits from it or not. On the other hand perfectly neutral adaptations are rare, so this isn't saying much.
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written by Viergacht, April 15, 2009
"Truth64", if you're talking about where life began, that's abiogenesis, not evolution. And if you're talking about how the universe began, do yourself a favor and read a book.
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written by MJG, April 15, 2009
So you are a fan of "Yes or No" answers eh truth54? How about this one "Have you stopped torturing puppies yet?" Just answer Yes or No please.
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truth64
written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
Abiogenesis is not part of Evolutionary Theory so there is no elephant in any room. Evolutionary Theory describes the process, as best we can know it, of how life evolves - not how it started. On the other hand, there are hypotheses about the origin of life on Earth and they aren't as far-fetched some people would like to characterize them. For instance, how could DNA have come about? "It's impossible" is the usual response. It's impossible if you don't understand the sheer astronomical numbers and permutations involved. We're talking about a billion years and quadrillions of atoms and ridiculous numbers of interactions (10^10 or more) that probably ocurred over that vast time span. Amino acids, the building blocks of DNA, are very, very, very common (to drive the point home). They have even been found in comets and asteriods.

As for the universe, our theories speculate more about the universe's beginning and how it proceeded from there. Similar in ways to Evolutionary Theory, most of them donot include as what the universe started or what proceeded it (if one can talk in those terms even). Some speculate 'infinitessimal point' or 'nothing' but it also begs the question. To extend a bit here, Einstein's formulas led to a 'singularity' in the center of black holes. That doesn't necessarily mean that there is an infinitely dense point there. It just means that the mathematics results in a singularity (is undefined).

With a username like 'truth64', you sure don't seek it very well. The information on abiogenesis, evolution, and universal origin can be found in books, journals, and online in vast quantities. Anyone looking for truths (there is no 'absolute truth') should start by using that organ in the skull and learn. Here's a great place to start:

http://www.talkorigins.org/
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MJG, Kuroyume, Viergardt, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Life, the Universe and Everything
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
The famous Miller-Urey experiments in the 1950's demonstrate how amino acids (building blocks of DNA, RNA, proteins, etc) can be formed where there is no life.

Similarly, theoretical physics talks about quantum singularities which do seem to be something from nothing.

And while origins are a fascinating topic, and possibly the last "gap" for the "god in the gaps" theories, just because we do not know NOW how life and the universe began does not mean we will not learn it later.
If, as your name & topic title imply, you are inferring a creator, where did the creator come from? And how did a creator from outside our time, space, and matter create anything? You have merely transferred the problem and added difficulty, not provided a solution.
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
It's actually a simple question, "Do YOU believe the universe came from nothing?" Why wont/cant any of you give me your simple yes or no? Seriously, why wont you answer?


Actually, it is not a simple question. First, I don't believe anything. I think that I know or don't know things. Second, no, personally, I don't think that the universe came from nothing. I cannot say whether there was a 'creator' or not and, as has been mentioned, it begs the question of where the creator came from. If the question were, "From where do you think that the universe came?" then I'd say, "I don't know." At least that is an answer that doesn't pretend knowledge and admits ignorance - being agnostic (without knowledge) isn't always reprehensible.

The question on the origin of life on Earth, while still difficult, isn't quite the same as that for the origin of the universe. While there are no fossil remains of very early simple lifeforms and it has been quite a long time (3.5 billion years, give or take a day), we can use many facets of science to reconstruct the best model of how it might have actually happened. On the other hand, scientific inquiry and methodologies break down and cannot be used to investigate the 'pre-universe'. We may be able to infer things indirectly but we cannot examine it directly whatsoever.

My simple question back to you is: "Do YOU think god came from nothing?" Simple question, justify your answer.
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Truth64
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
You are reducing complex issues to false binary statements and then demanding a choice. Computers work on 1/0, the universe doesn't.

And to say god is eternal, has always existed, always will -- please demonstrate evidence. Doesn't that just push things back one level -- if everything has to have a beginning, why not god? How do you know god is eternal? What does eternal mean? If outside of time, how did god create anything in time? What was the agency? How was this accomplished?
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written by Alan3354, April 15, 2009
I've argued with religious people who say there's no evidence of evolution.
A simple refutation is the change in the flu virus every year. So far, none of them have thought of a comeback.
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written by Alan3354, April 15, 2009
Why does kuroyume put quotes around believe?

Not long ago, most people believed the earth to be flat. That didn't make it flat.
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written by Alan3354, April 15, 2009
We can't disprove the existence of god(s). But the bible god is a real asshole. I want nothing to do with him.
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written by Trish, April 15, 2009
Here's why I think creationists ask questions like "How did it all begin" - the ancient texts on which they base their beliefs describe creation of the world as basically a single event occurring over a short period of time, with a pre-determined end result. That's why they either describe evolution as being the equivalent of a tornado blowing thru a junk yard & assembling a 747 or dismiss the changes that drive evolution as just random chance.

In evolution changes build upon previous successes - amino acids, sugars and other stable collections of molecules eventually form structures that can influence other structures to form, like a snow flake forming around a speck of dust.

Once the increasingly-complex organic structures aggregated to structures that could respond to their surroundings & reliably reproduce similar responsive structures, the line was crossed from organic compounds to life. Life didn't come from nothing, and the processes that drive life have a lot in common with chemical processes that occur in nonliving chemicals. Life came from the materials already available, not the breath of some invisible sky creature.

Once life came about, evolution was influenced not only by which molecules &/or compounds could stick together, evolution was influenced by the actions of the living & aware creatures now inhabiting earth. So evolution isn't just random, and choices do enter into it - which mates are chosen is probably the most important factor influencing the shape of generations to come.

Evolution could be analogous to events in a junk yard, but instead of a single tornado, it would be innumerable creatures rummaging repeatedly. Parts of a toxin-injector are repurposed as a flagellum motor. An eyespot gets a new, crater shape, so it senses not only light, but direction.

One other thing I'd note, is that creationists ignore important parts of the description of "creation" - the solid, inverted-bowl-shaped firmament covering the earth, the stars are just twinkly lights [not giant nuclear-fueled structures], woman was born out of the side of a man's body, and full-grown wives just appear when the 2 sons of the only people are old enough to marry.
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written by Geezer, April 15, 2009
@truth64 When it comes to how the Universe began what anyone person belives is really irrelevant in the end, what matters is what does the evidence show and not show.No evidence has been found supporting a god theory none zilch nada,there is evidence of a big bang (background noise, red shift, etc) but what caused it will be quite hard to prove but in the end the truth is what the truth is no matter if we find it or no.

So my answer to you is simply "I do not know"



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written by Geezer, April 15, 2009
@truth64 again, I forgot...why do you refer to your god as a he?This leads me to belive you adhere to one of the Judeo-Christian religons, if so have you considered that the Hindus might be right?
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written by Willy K, April 15, 2009
Hey truth64... 64 is your IQ? Tell the truth. smilies/tongue.gif

Your arguments and comments are less intelligible than those of an average four year old child. You should do something about that... if you can. Ignorance can be fixed with knowledge, the pitfalls of low intelligence can be moderated with guided training, arrogance will trump any gains mentioned. smilies/cry.gif

P.S. Have you found that dragon in your garage yet?
P.P.S. Get a dictionary and look up the words you utter. It won't hurt, I promise
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written by GusGus, April 15, 2009

Even though some of the latest attempts at the Theory Of Everything are twiddling around what happened before the Big Bang, in my opinion the question is meaningless. Whatever preceded the Big Bang is not part of our universe.

Science investigates phenomena based on their physical attributes. Anything else is outside the purview of science. You are welcome to believe in a god or gods, but there is no evidence for their existence other than what was transcribed in ancient books from even ancient-er(!) oral traditions. Religion and science are two mutually exclusive disciplines. Religion is based on faith/beliefs with no scientific basis, and you are welcome to believe anything you want to. Science has to be based on physical evidence. If it isn't, then it is no longer science.

Editorial comment: Think about this - at MOST only one of the multitude of religions is "True". Or in some sense are they all True? Or all False?
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
Why does kuroyume put quotes around believe? Not long ago, most people believed the earth to be flat. That didn't make it flat.


I distinguish between believe and think on how the inflection is intended. Believing in something expresses trust, emotional response, or coming to a conclusion without actually knowing or it being evidenced (many religious people equate belief with the latter form: blind belief). Thinking about something expresses coming to a conclusion by thought, evidence, or experience. Not that the two don't overlap in definition and common usage but that in the world of religious belief and skepticism, one must be careful not to fall prey to common usages and be caught out on semantics (id est: "So, skeptics believe in evolution just like we believe in god" - no). You'll learn the hard way if you don't careful word your thoughts.
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written by Willy K, April 15, 2009
I'm puzzled why religulous folks always describe their deity as always making mistakes.

Why not proclaim that your deity made a universe that is so complex that it would take billions of years for a sentient species to arise and it takes the combined effort of millions of this sentient species hundreds of thousands of years to figure out how the universe actually works?

Why do you feel that your deity could only make a universe that a four year old child can comprehend?
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
Anyway, it wasn't me with the quotes around believe. It was truth64. I italicized believe and think to make a distinction. My point from just before is exemplified in truth64's tactful work. smilies/wink.gif

@truth64: I "believe" that God is eternal. Has always existed, always will. Before you attack that, remember that the only other alternative is that the UNIVERSE is eternal.


You believe it. But have you thought about it? What does 'eternal' imply? How does something that existed, exists, and will exist forever in time decide to make the universe and when? Did this god 'think' (hehe) to itself while yawning from eternal boredom, "Well, it has been an eternity since I created a universe. Hmmm. Maybe I can find time to do so now."? Does the absurdity (or the bit of humor) of this even sink in?
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
Why do you feel that your deity could only make a universe that a four year old child can comprehend?


Worse. Given all of the omni-this and omni-that attributes (including 'eternal') given to god, why would god stop at one universe? What? Is there something stopping it from making an infinite number of universes, say, to see every permutation that can ever be? That just demolishes the idea of 'special creation' now doesn't it? Makes one feel really small and insignificant - since that what we are.
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written by Alan3354, April 15, 2009
It's obvious god loves us, he created polio, malaria, and many other diseases.

If that aint love, what is?
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written by tmac57, April 15, 2009
It's always interesting to me how a true believer can hijack a topic thread, and become the center of attention. I don't really believe that they want any real debate, just the attention. I wonder what would happen if we just ignored their comments? Just a thought.
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Don't Feed the Trolls - and I mean You, "truth"64
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
One of the blogs I frequent has a cartoon picture of a troll, stolen from the charming "Gnomes" book by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet), with the caption "Don't Feed the Trolls"

The point is that there are spoilers who will lurk at blogs and websites, post messages, entangle people in fruitloss dialogue (fruitless because we seek truth, they seek to propagate an agenda)

Truth64 is such a troll -- s/he has posted several comments, has enveloped several of us in dialogue, which we mean sincerely, but to which truth64 has failed to genuinely respond (e.g., my questions regarding the origin of god and the agency of creation).

This is a person with a faith-based agenda who will not or cannot use reason, science, nor logic to respond. It is a waste of time for the rest of us to engage.

It's actually rather pathetic, and I feel sympathy for truth64 -- the great Fathers of the Church, like Anselm, Augustine, Acquinas, would dismiss him/her in seconds -- and they shared his/her belief in divinities.
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written by Amos M., April 15, 2009
I'd say truth64 is actually right on at least one thing: either god is eternal and made the universe, or the universe is eternal. Obviously you could also take it further and assume that some other god made god, who then made the universe, but the point is that at some point we end up with a conundrum. This is where Occam's Razor comes into play, truth64: the idea that, when all other things are equal, the simplest explanation is best. Either we have to accept that god is eternal AND somehow created everything from nothing, or simply that the universe, in some form or other, has always been around. One explanation involves two incomprehensible cop-outs, the other involves only one.

Beyond that, if we decide for some reason to go with the dual-cop-out answer, we still do not have a confirmation of any one religion's ideology. Which god(s) created the universe? Was it Uranus and Gaia? Is it the product, as one Egyptian myth asserts, of a bird having sex with a mummy? Perhaps YHWH made it in six days before taking a nap, or, of course, it could have been the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Each of these possibilities is mutually exclusive, and each has the same amount of solid evidence supporting it (none), making an already unlikely possibility even more questionable. For a concrete comparison, it would be much easier to prove that a lake has fish in it, by showing someone a fish from the lake, than that a lake has precisely 253 fish in it, which would require you to count every fish. Until the final tabulation, each possible number of fish in the lake would be about equally valid, reducing the validity of claiming with certainty that there are 253 fish.

So, while the absolute origin of everything is still pretty well up in the air, and logically, it is arguable that a god had something to do with it at some point, the argument that everything just IS, without a creator, is far more solid. If you take it the extra step of choosing a specific god, the god side of the argument is absolutely clobbered, because you have increased the pool of competing ideas, none of which have evidence, and all of which are more complicated than the "no god" possibility. So, yeah, as best as I can tell, either the universe came from nothing, or it's eternal. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's logically the best explanation there is: all the other ones make less sense.

I guess you're probably just here to yank our chains, but I really hope you're asking those questions because you genuinely wonder what the answers are. If the latter, I hope my response explains a little. I remember being a christian, and for awhile after that being "spiritual", so I know how much a straightforward explanation about why someone believes (or doesn't believe) something can do. Even if you're not ready to give up on god yet, maybe you can at least get skeptical about something else.
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
The universe (the one we live in and can observe) is not eternal. We've established that rather well. But that doesn't mean that the universe didn't sprout out of something eternal (many current hypotheses go this route); something of a metaverse. But as someone else noted, there is little use speculating since such things lie outside the realm of scientific investigation.

@StarTrekLivz: Yes, definitely a troll. But it is fun to hunt and bag trolls for sport once in a while. I am in no way even breaking a sweat replying to truth64's insipid posts. Like riding a bicycle. Too bad good advice goes wasted though.
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Parting Shot - Matter Eternal, God Not So Much
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
from "truth"64: My point is that if MATTER can be considered eternal, why is the concept of an eternal God not considered?

Because there is evidence for matter, none for deities. Why do you limit yourself to one god? Why not Krishna and Vishnu and Kali and Thor and Odin and Zeus and Baal and Anat and Isis and Horus and Ra? You really are limiting yourself.
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written by Steel Rat, April 15, 2009
Back to the actual topic, for once. Aren't ALL fossils transitional? Species are always changing, whether outwardly perceptibly or not. So either all species are "transitional" or none are and the concept is false.
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written by nelson650, April 15, 2009
truth64, Odin created it all, with help from Zeus, Allah, and Zod.
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Creation
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
nelson650, please do not forget the invaluable assistance of Ishtar, Astarte, and Cybele. Not to mention Mithras, Dionysus, and Asklepios.
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Transitions
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
Steelrat is right, evolution has not finished; we humans are transitional, and possibly in the future paleontoligists will dig us up ....
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
At first superficial look, there are no transitions. We see a bunch of different flora and fauna which apparently never change but do work in their environment like they were 'designed' to do so. As we found more and more of these, we saw that there were characteristics between certain groups of them which led to Lamarkism and the idea of traits and categorization. But it was Darwin who saw not only characteristics and traits but adaptations to environments in a way that defied or challenged one-time creation, exemplified by his exploration of the inhabitants of the Galapagos islands.

Due to the relative stability of our position (humans probably won't survive a future major evolutionary change)*, the discovery of transitions from species to species (and such) was really only found in the fossil record. Now the hunt was on to see how different lifeforms were connected and what connected them - something that Darwin could only speculate about. Remarkably, in just a mere 150 years, we have gone from a hypothesis to the most successful scientific theory ever devised and a firm knowledge that evolution does occur - it is a fact and only blinding oneself can lead to denial. And the scientific evidence to support it is just massive and ever-increasing. Those who deny it are usually stuck in the 19th century and ignoring all of the effort since. DNA, geology, paleontology, archaeology, medicine, infectious disease research, even cosmology and a host of other fields and subfields continually shovel heaps of evidence onto the foundations of Evolutionary Theory. I feel sorry for those that would actively ignore this preponderance of ever-accumulating evidence.

*I'm in the Stephen J. Gould camp of "Punctuated Equilibrium" when it comes to major evolution (at least). There is probably some median between fast adaptation to major environmental changes and slow improvement to, let's say, fine-hone adapative traits. Dinosaurs exemplify this. They became one of the most successful groups of animals due to adaptations that best benefited the changing environment over other animals but continued to change and grow (into megafauna) under minor environmental changes/locations and other pressures.
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
Humans have evolved and will continue to do so barring an extinction event. The Homo Sapiens Idaltu seems to show a slight pre-modern human form - though still under a bit of controversy. And I'm just riveted to the mtDNA study between modern humans and Neandertal which shows that interbreeding was, if not very infrequent or without viable offspring, not possible. The differences are more akin to humans and chimpanzee than occipital and caucasian. This puts the Neandertal, hypothetically, into a completely unique subspecies group. They were a separate hominid evolution with the same 'promise' of full sentience and world domination but maybe too specialized to the particular climate conditions (ice age). And interbreeding may not have been viable to save them as the ice age ended.
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Implications
written by StarTrekLivz, April 15, 2009
Evolution isn't over. It is arrogance to assume we are the "height" of evolution, or the goal (teleos) of creation. There is more to come!

For some, that thought is frightening -- I find it exciting.
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Please read...
written by Alencon, April 15, 2009
If you haven't already, read "The Last Question," a short story by Isaac Asimov. It's relevent to this question of "how did it all begin" and I suspect that everyone (except truth64 perhaps) will enjoy it.

It's been my experience that the difference between the religious and the skeptical is that skeptics aren't afraid to say "I don't know." The unknown doesn't seem to scare us as much as it seems to scare the believers.
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written by Mully410, April 15, 2009
You must be psychic, Phil. I just had a discussion with a creationist yesterday. I figured out that I need way more ammo. I ordered this and the highly touted Blind Watchmaker.
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written by TripTheWave, April 15, 2009
I know I'm in the minority around here, as I do believe in a creator, but I always thought the "Creationism vs. Evolution" argument was, frankly, silly. You're comparing Apples & Oranges in that Creationism is an explanation (admittedly neither the main nor the only explanation) of how life began, while evolution describes how one type of life-form changed over time. A belief in Creationism does not negate the fact of Evolution; in fact one could argue that the book of Genesis (where the Earth forms, Water recedes, simple life develops, then animals and finally Man) describes Evolution. Religious differences aside, it's silly to blindly ignore facts because they do not fit into ones current belief system.
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written by Kuroyume, April 15, 2009
Creationist mythologies are usually about how the universe, world, life, and, especially, humans were created. There is a special problem between creationism and evolution. Through evolution, humans are just one happenstance branch on a large tree of life - not designed, not purposely created. Whereas, in creationist mythologies, humans are special order by god for a purpose. That's what sticks in the creationist craw: that evolution shows, quite thoroughly and effectively, that humans are just sentiently evolved 'monkeys', are not specially designed, and almost assuredly don't have souls destroys the religious tennants upon which the creationists depend.
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written by Caller X, April 15, 2009

written by tmac57, April 15, 2009
It's always interesting to me how a true believer can hijack a topic thread, and become the center of attention. I don't really believe that they want any real debate, just the attention. I wonder what would happen if we just ignored their comments? Just a thought.


If you had free will you could certainly do that. Why not give it a try? Just a thought. Here, I'll show you how by making this my only comment in this discussion. Just a thought.
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@ TripTheWave
written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
I know I'm in the minority around here, as I do believe in a creator...
Does "believe" here mean "blind faith".
...but I always thought the "Creationism vs. Evolution" argument was, frankly, silly.

Then you cannot be THAT type of creationist.
You're comparing Apples & Oranges in that Creationism is an explanation of how life began, while evolution describes how one type of life-form changed over time.
Yes, you are that OTHER type of creationist.
A belief in Creationism does not negate the fact of Evolution;
The type of creationism implied by this article is definitely incompatible with evolution.
in fact one could argue that the book of Genesis (where the Earth forms, Water recedes, simple life develops, then animals and finally Man) describes Evolution.
Read the account again. Genesis is in conflict with the known sceintific facts on many important points (only some of which are actually facts about evolution)
it's silly to blindly ignore facts because they do not fit into ones current belief system.
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BillyJoe
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written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
I knew i'd stuff that up. smilies/angry.gif
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@ truth64
written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
Do you believe the universe came from NOTHING? Yes or no?

Simple direct answer...

Yes.

But I have absolutely no idea how something came from nothing or how this is even possible.
But the alternative is that the universe extends infintely back into the past, and that is inconsistent with known scientific facts.

BillyJoe
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@BillyJoe
written by TripTheWave, April 16, 2009
Since you were kind enough to reply (to my first post here ever)...

Does "believe" here mean "blind faith"?

No, it means "believe". I will be the first to admit that a "belief" is not a "fact", and I certainly understand that those who look at the facts and do not believe as I do.

Yes, you are that OTHER type of creationist.

Not quite sure exactly what that means, but OK smilies/grin.gif.

Read the account again. Genesis is in conflict with the known scientific facts on many important points (only some of which are actually facts about evolution)

I'm sure most rational creationists (if you can take on faith that they exist smilies/smiley.gif ) look at the amount of metaphor in the Bible (or the Torah, Koran, or insert the origin document of your religion here) and come to the conclusion that the "6 days" mentioned in the "first week" was most certainly not literal 24 hour periods as we know them.

I'm reasonably sure that we're not going to convince each other over the existence/non-existence of a creator (in whatever form that creator is. I suspect that "The Universe just sprang into existence for no reason whatsoever" concept is just as absurd to you as it is to me), but I still maintain that those of faith simply cannot ignore evolution with their fingers in their ears going "La-la-la-I'm-not-listening" hoping it will go away. Evolution happened (and indeed, is happening as we speak). I chose to learn facts to better understand the world around me, and if my belief system can't stand the introduction of more facts... well... then it wouldn't be much of a belief system, would it?
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written by God's left occipital lobe, April 16, 2009
written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
But the alternative is that the universe extends infintely back into the past, and that is inconsistent with known scientific facts.


I don't think that's entirely accurate. We can't say much about what (if anything) happened before the big bang, but whether the universe has always existed or not, is an open question. The big bang would have erased all observational evidence if there was a "before".
There's several theories on the 'origin' of our universe that involve a universe that always existed, some of which are described briefly on http://www.talkorigins.org/faq...tml#origin
Of course, if you have facts that irrefutably show the universe can't extend backwards, I'd gladly hear them.
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written by mazyloron, April 16, 2009
Yes, you are that OTHER type of creationist.

Not quite sure exactly what that means, but OK.


Not to presume to speak for Billy Joe, but I'm guessing he means you're one of those mythical "rational creationists" that you yourself refer to. The thing is, many people who self-identify as "creationist" tend to be more of the Biblical literalist flavor. As in: "humans didn't evolve, god created us exactly as we are. Horses didn't evolve, god created them exactly as they are. Birds didn't evolve, god created them exactly as they are. Etc. Because the Bible says god created each animal unto its kind, so they have always been exactly as they are now, and never have and never will change, not ever ever ever." These also tend to be the same people who, when discussing evolution, will change the subject to abiogenesis or the big bang theory, and ask questions like: "how come evolution says that the universe came from nothing?" ...and think they're making anything but a fool of themselves.

So, it's a subjective question, I guess. If you believe that the creation accounts of the Abrahamic god are literally true, or of any other major religion with a creation myth that states that god(s) made life in the form in which we see it today, then Creationism & Evolution are very much mutually exclusive. If, however, you are the type of creationist who just credits abiogenesis to god(s), rather than as a natural process, then your belief and evolution have no direct conflict. Likewise with the origin of the universe: evolution has nothing to say about the origins of the universe. But, there are conflicts with the other disciplines of science, and the same general evidence-based principles apply to all scientific disciplines, not just evolution. Evolution is just easier to study than abiogensis or the origin of the universe, as we have a fossil record to work from.
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written by J.C. Samuelson, April 16, 2009
@ truth64

"...the only other alternative is that the UNIVERSE is eternal."


With respect to "eternal," what do you mean? Do you mean having infinite duration, seemingly endless, or existing "as-is" forever and ever amen? Sounds like a silly question, right? Never fear, I shall explain... smilies/wink.gif

The thing is that matter & energy are interchangeable in the sense that one can be converted to the other. For matter --> energy conversion, it's often more spectacular (i.e., explosions, supernovae, etc.), but energy --> matter happens too, at the tiny scale of particles. Since energy cannot be destroyed (c.f., 2nd Law of Thermodynamics), it seems plausible that all the matter and/or energy in the universe has always existed in one form or the other. Maybe not in it's present form - in fact, there's no reason to suppose that the universe as we know it is "eternal" in any truly meaningful way - but the raw materials thereof certainly seem capable of having an "eternal" existence based on what we know about physics.

So, the raw materials at least might be "eternal" in the sense that they exist for an infinite duration or just seem to have an endless existence. Neither they nor the universe made up of them seem to 'exist "as-is" forever and ever amen,' though. BTW, I say all this with one caveat: To my knowledge, it's not considered possible to combine particles of matter into more complex forms (e.g., atoms, molecules), so it may be that particles of matter don't even qualify as "raw material." Not for universe-building, anyway. This does not, however, take away from the apparent fact that matter & energy could always have existed. Besides, who knows what the LHC will turn up?

Note that we still haven't really dispensed with the problem of infinite regression, but maybe that's too much to tackle? I digress.

Since you're a creationist, I suspect you are referring to the last definition. I would simply ask, what evidence do you offer that something - anything, much less your god - can 'exist "as-is" forever and ever amen' other than your personal confession that you "feel" or believe it to be so? Don't bother offering the Bible - it's an ancient book like any other ancient book (OK, a compilation of books, edited & redacted ad nauseum over the ages) with respect to the validity of its claims about existence. If you have none, then perhaps you should heed St. Augustine (see http://www.pibburns.com/augustin.htm).

For your other remark --

"Your minds are not as open as you claim..."


While I can't speak for everyone, having an open mind does not mean giving unearned allowances to claims that violate known physical laws. Not to sound smarmy or arrogant, but to be honest, to get a hearing for your hypothesis something meaningful in the way of evidence is needed. So, if what you're looking for is to engage in a debate over evidence, fine. Bring it, I say! But if all you're looking for is a venue for sharing the Gospel, then I'd say you probably shouldn't expect a warm welcome.

Then again, maybe you're just looking to find confirming evidence that skeptics are closed-minded jerks. If so, then I suspect you're already off telling your friends just that.

@ TripTheWave

A belief in Creationism does not negate the fact of Evolution; in fact one could argue that the book of Genesis (where the Earth forms, Water recedes, simple life develops, then animals and finally Man) describes Evolution.


Perhaps not. But then, one can always explain away the deficiencies of the Bible when it comes to describing physical phenomenon accurately. Partly because the language is sufficiently ambiguous to leave room for interpretations like the one you offer here, and partly because an unwillingness to let the Bible be wrong is inextricably linked to having faith in it. Not trying to be confrontational, but are you willing to let the Bible be wrong?

I chose to learn facts to better understand the world around me, and if my belief system can't stand the introduction of more facts... well... then it wouldn't be much of a belief system, would it?


But are you willing to change your belief system in light of new evidence, up to and including wholesale rejection? If the answer is no, then you're not really learning with the intent to understand, are you?
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@Truth64
written by Raindoggy, April 16, 2009
As has been explained to you, your question is invalid. The question is not did it come from nothing or a creator, but rather, did it come from anywere at all? does it need to come from somewhere? Also, the universe is mostly nothing anyway. Even matter is made up of insubstatial quanta, so, ina way, you can say the universe IS mostly nothing.

As far as matter being eternal and why cant we accept an eternal god: The is just as much evidence that a god or gods created the universe as there is that Bob Hope did.
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written by Orion_109, April 16, 2009
I agree with a previous post, ignore the troll. This is a semantic argument which will never produce any real resolution. No one will suddenly change what they believe (or think) based on the arguments put forth here. With respect to where it all began, no one can go back in time and prove their POV is correct nor can they prove the other POV is incorrect.

However, there IS an interesting point to ponder. What’s next? What’s next for our species in particular?

Sometime within the last half million years or so, hominids appeared. After what seems to be several brief iterations, the Neanderthal rose to dominate for somewhere around a quarter million years. Then, about 50 thousand years ago Cro-Magnon man (we) appeared and, although not immediately, subsequently the Neanderthal became extinct. The logical conclusion to be drawn is that there was a major evolutionary shift due to the end of the most recent Ice Age which resulted in the evolution of Cro-Magnon man who, either directly or indirectly or both, very soon thereafter extincted the Neanderthal. I know I’m painting with a broad brush here, just humor me for now and continue reading.

As has been mentioned previously in this thread, there is no evidence to suggest that we are the pinnacle of evolutionary progress. To think so would be the ultimate in arrogance. So I’m now back to my original question, what’s next for our species?

My hypothesis is extinction. Think about it in terms of climate change. We all hear the doomsday predictions of global warming. Perhaps the predictions are correct, after all, there IS evidence to support global warming. Now, as to the controversial issues surrounding global warming, namely the cause, it doesn’t really matter. Whether the cause is human activity or just a natural process continuing from end of the last ice age or some other unknown factor or some combination of all, again, it doesn’t matter. The point is, something is changing and it doesn’t bode well for the human body in the long run (or, for that matter, the majority of the fauna currently inhabiting the planet).

A look at the fossil record suggests extinction is our fate. We’ll be replaced by a species which has responded to the changing environment, as will most of the other species now inhabiting the planet. It’s been happening for billions of years, it would be naïve to think it won’t continue.

What is the alternative evolutionary response? Some sort of bio-mechanical being ala Star Trek’s Borg, like some futurists suggest? Not likely as this sort of evolutionary path requires an active role in the process and evolution isn’t something which has responded in the past to active participation by the species involved and there’s certainly no evidence to suggest it will start now.

Another question is when will this happen and how long will it take? Although at first glance these seem to be separate questions, they’re probably more closely related than one would first think. Looking at the fossil record, evolution seems to take leaps in spurts rather than a consistently steady progression of change. Perhaps because species hang on as long as possible until their environment no longer can sustain them and then the pressures trigger a brief period of rapid (relatively speaking) change. Sort of like plate techtonics, the earth remains relatively stable for long periods, however, pressure continues to build, until the pressure becomes to great to sustain the status quo, then a rapid change results in an earthquake after which the earth returns to its state of equilibrium and stability. The ratio of time of stability to time of change (earthquakes) is tremendous. An earthquake lasts only minutes or seconds while the stable period can last years, decades, even centuries or longer. Perhaps evolutionary change is a similar process.

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written by Orion_109, April 16, 2009
(I had to split this post because it was too long, sorry)

My hypothesis as to the when/how long question is within the next 1000 generations or sooner. Without making judgements as to the state of society, et al., just look at how far we’ve progressed as a species since our appearance 50 thousand years ago. The resources we require to exist factored against our rate of population increase suggests that at some point we’ll reach a pressure point for change. Factoring in our changing environment only accelerates the process. Something will have to give, our species will be forced to evolve and evolve it will. Once this evolution occurs, history tells us that hominids will only allow one species to survive. Either the new species will require less resources to survive in the new environment and will simply wait out the ultimate demise of our species or they will recognize our species’ ultimate fate and help our extinction along or a combination of both.

It again would be naïve to assume our own sense of charity to one another would be passed on to the new species or that the new species would somehow evolve an even greater sense compassion. Any such notions are also arrogant as they assume our only point of evolutionary improvement is intellectual. Evolutionary pressure will most likely occur during a time in which we’re in survival mode, i.e., our intellectual pursuits will take a back seat to surviving until the next day. The new dominant species which will emerge from these ashes of our current civilization will be the one which is most able to survive on a base level. In other words, sentient life will be back to the kill or be killed scenario of the Neanderthal vs. Cro-Magnon era. The only difference being that the next change will occur within the remnants of the Cro-Magnon civilization. Only after the new dominant species emerges without any competition will it be seen how far it will progress and how successful it will be.

I could go on but, I’ll stop here. I’ll just conclude by stating this is my vision of the future of our species. What do you think?
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@ truth64
written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
you say even though its impossible, the universe "came from nothing". Why would one make that claim/assumption and then pounce on anyone who believes in a Creator?

I didn't actually say it was impossible, I said "I have absolutely no idea how something came from nothing or how this is even possible". That's pretty close to "impossible" but not quite.
Also I didn't pounce on you or any one else for believing in a creator. Scientifically we cannot prove there is not a creator so that remains a possibility. However, if there is a creator, that would raise further questions (about the creator that is). So that wouldn't be the end of our enquiries.

BJ
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@ TripTheWave
written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
I'm sure most rational creationists (if you can take on faith that they exist smilies/smiley.gif ) look at the amount of metaphor in the Bible (or the Torah, Koran, or insert the origin document of your religion here) and come to the conclusion that the "6 days" mentioned in the "first week" was most certainly not literal 24 hour periods as we know them.

Perhaps there's metaphor, perhaps the authors meant it literally, I don't know, but there is also internal inconsistency and contradiction; and disagreement with evolution as far as the sequence of events are concerned


I'm reasonably sure that we're not going to convince each other over the existence/non-existence of a creator (in whatever form that creator is.

Science cannot disprove the deist god at least.

I suspect that "The Universe just sprang into existence for no reason whatsoever" concept is just as absurd to you as it is to me)

I have a real difficulty with the something from nothing scenario. I cannot see a solution to this problem at all. But perhaps we are like ants trying to understand newtonian physics.

...but I still maintain that those of faith simply cannot ignore evolution with their fingers in their ears going "La-la-la-I'm-not-listening" hoping it will go away. Evolution happened (and indeed, is happening as we speak). I chose to learn facts to better understand the world around me, and if my belief system can't stand the introduction of more facts... well... then it wouldn't be much of a belief system, would it?

I was right. You are the OTHER type of creationist. smilies/smiley.gif

BJ
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@ billyjoe
written by truth64, April 16, 2009
Thanks for the clarification on the "impossible"- also, I didnt say that were pouncing, just the majority of folks on here who dont like a differing belief.
As to your comment that if there is a Creator bringing up more questions, I couldnt agree more. It would certainly bring up more important questions.
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
I don't think there is much for us evolutionarily speaking.

Our day to day lives are no longer governed by our environment (we turn on the AC when it's hot, the heat when it's cold, put on more clothes, remove clothes, etc), people with disabilities and diseases who would not survive in the wild long enough to pass along their genes are nurtured to adulthood. Instead of becoming resistant to disease through survival of the fittest, we get vaccinated (well, everyone except Jenny McCarthy), we eradicate diseases and disease vectors, we make sure food is provided instead of having to go hunt and forage (no survival skills needed), etc...

And if gene manipulation ever became popular, everyone would be born perfect, further reducing the variety of the gene pool.

Of course, I'm no scientist, these are just observations of a very average person.
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@truth64 (yes, more feeding)
written by Kuroyume, April 16, 2009
Reality and science aren't beliefs. That's why it is so hard for people with beliefs to understand what science is about. I don't believe in science, blindly or otherwise. I accept science as a process that works - because it has been shown for over four hundred years to work beyond any other methodology ever invented by humans. It is also possible that science will be replaced by an even better methodology - but it is doubtful that this new methodology would just replace science outright. It would probably supercede it by adding to it just as Aristotlean observation and hypothesizing were superceded by scientific methodology which added independent testing to validate hypotheses.

Reality is reality. Our observations of reality can be subjective and flawed. But the scientific method works to remove subjectivity and reduce flaws with objectivity and rigorous repeatability. The data says overwhelmingly that evolution occurs to the lifeforms that exist on Earth. You haven't had much to say on that - actually, you've said nothing on it. So far, the main thrust of your argument has been going about trying to establish a so-called 'creator' from a strawman called 'something from nothing' so that you can then beat us about the ears about it and feel vindicated.

How about getting on topic or discontinuing your divergent tact?
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@kuroyume
written by truth64, April 16, 2009
You are correct- science and beliefs are seperate. The problem is that assumptions, agendas and bias along with the practice of ostracizing any theory or concept that dares question the theory of evolution is called "science". Thats the same principle that homeopaths and the like practice! If evolution were held to the same scrutiny that any other scientific theory was, it would fold like a cheap tent. The digestive system, circulatory system, nervous system etc etc cannot be explained by evolution. If one chooses not to believe in creationism that is their choice, but please find an alternative better than evolution.
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
But Creationism doesn't explain anything at all. At least Evolution makes the attempt. And I'm sure a qualified biologist would differ that the biological systems you mentioned aren't explained by Evolution. Perhaps you'd care to explain why you don't feel they're covered?
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@steel rat
written by truth64, April 16, 2009
Lets take the circulatory system.In order for the circulatory system to function properly, at least five things must be present: (1) a respiratory organ (lungs or gills) that can enrich the blood with oxygen; (2) hemoglobin or hemophlegm to bind the oxygen; (3) red blood cells to carry the hemoglobin to cells throughout the body; (4) blood vessels to transport the red blood cells; and (5) a pumping mechanism (heart) that can transport oxygenated material throughout the body. How functional would each of these be without all components present? What good are respiratory organs if the oxygen cannot be bound to hemoglobin? What good are vessels without a pump? What good is hemoglobin if it cannot be carried to all parts of the cell? Any step-by-step scenario evolutionists propose would immediately cause this entire system to be ineffective. I mention this one system. The same type problems exist on the other biological systems. No more room to continue for now.
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@truth64
written by Kuroyume, April 16, 2009
Evolutionary Theory is held to the same scrutiny as any other scientific theory. It's just that it is, pardon the pun, 'evolving' towards a clearer picture slower than non-biological theories such as Relativity, Gravity, Electro-Magnetism, and so on. Compared to the complexity of life (built from quantum particles that make up atoms which constitute molecules which represent molecular chains (like RNA, mRNA, DNA, and so on) which are grouped into biological systems which together work symbiotically to create, grow, and allow an organism to live), a theory of gravitation is child's play. The current high-order organisms on this planet are probably some of the most complex things we may ever encounter in this universe. Such complexity can indeed be explained - but not in a single equation or by a simplistic model for sure.

My example here is always the human brain and artificial intelligence. In the beginning smilies/wink.gif, there was Turing with his test of what would comprise an artificially intelligent system. The community that jumped into the study of designing A.I. systems proposed very optimistically that they would beat Turing's test in ten years (back in the mid 1940's remember). Here we are more than sixty years later with computers that make what was available even in the 1980s look like abacuses and, looking about, I still don't see any human-level A.I. systems. Part of it is that one cannot condense the human brain into a simple (or complex) set of logical procedures or just fill it full of data. That was demolished decades ago. Another part is that one cannot simply have a very dense generalized neural network. Even then, recent discoveries have shown that the most complex neuron model used in neural networks is magnitudes (don't forget to look that up to distinguish between 'many times') too simplistic to emulate a real human brain neuron.

What does my example represent? It shows that attempting to deal with complex things requires complex models, deep knowledge, and time. Evolution is, by far, one of the most complex systems we have ever encountered. In the past one hundred and fifty years, the progress has been phenomenal. But it may take another three hundred years for it to be so concrete so as to be as simple as Newton's theories are considered today. But to suggest that it has massive failures is to caricaturize it from opposing realms with vested interests and incorrect information. There are very few 'big' problems in Evolutionary Theory. Eyes, digestive systems, circulatory systems, nervous systems, brains, speech, immune systems are well enough explained and researched that such references belie use of bad sources of information.

Again, I implore you to study about evolution and Evolutionary Theory from sources other than those provided by creationists. If I were arguing positions pertaining to, say, the Bible, I wouldn't just take information from one source but from as many as possible. And that is exactly how I do it. I've read the book from cover to cover, have done some biblical scholarship, followed historical accounts, learned about archeological finds, and read both the pro and con sources on it. I've also read a few books and plenty of articles about the opposing side of evolution.
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written by Kuroyume, April 16, 2009
Lets take the circulatory system.In order for the circulatory system to function properly, at least five things must be present: (1) a respiratory organ (lungs or gills) that can enrich the blood with oxygen; (2) hemoglobin or hemophlegm to bind the oxygen; (3) red blood cells to carry the hemoglobin to cells throughout the body; (4) blood vessels to transport the red blood cells; and (5) a pumping mechanism (heart) that can transport oxygenated material throughout the body. How functional would each of these be without all components present? What good are respiratory organs if the oxygen cannot be bound to hemoglobin? What good are vessels without a pump? What good is hemoglobin if it cannot be carried to all parts of the cell? Any step-by-step scenario evolutionists propose would immediately cause this entire system to be ineffective. I mention this one system. The same type problems exist on the other biological systems. No more room to continue for now.


I hate to be really succinct here: Behe was wrong.

To be less succinct: Behe's Irreducible Complexity hypothesis has been thoroughly dismantled in logical, modular, exemplary, and experimental terms. An eye need not be a 'complete' eye like that of a human or eagle to function as an 'eye' in some capacity (see light, see variations of light, then see a particular band of light in the EM spectrum).
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Too complex?
written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
truth64, you're assumption might have merit if something was claimed to have sprung fully formed out of nothing (hey, like genesis), but it's not a scientific argument by any stretch of the imagination.
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@kuroyume
written by truth64, April 16, 2009
For the sake of brevity I chose the circulatory system. I am aware that "an eye need not be a complete eye, etc" but we are talking about a complex and mandatory system. Are you stating that all components need not be fully developed and functional to survive, must less to reproduce, etc? If so then please expound upon how the circulatory system can function properly if even ONE component is not 100% contributing to the process.
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written by TripTheWave, April 16, 2009
@J.C. Samuelson

Perhaps not. But then, one can always explain away the deficiencies of the Bible when it comes to describing physical phenomenon accurately. Partly because the language is sufficiently ambiguous to leave room for interpretations like the one you offer here, and partly because an unwillingness to let the Bible be wrong is inextricably linked to having faith in it. Not trying to be confrontational, but are you willing to let the Bible be wrong?

It's not a question letting the Bible be right and/or wrong... the Bible is not a textbook or a thesis paper, it's a collection of letters, anecdotes and diary's from people who lived 2000+ years ago (and in some cases, quite a bit longer) attempting as best as they could to record what they perceived as the Divine... it is subject to the same potential failings as anyone else's powers of observation. I do not claim the Bible to be infallible, nor do I need it to be in order to have faith in it or understand what it is and is not ( I have a calculator in my Operating system that I KNOW is flawed... It rounds after a certain point at can be documented to make mistakes. I still have faith it can add 2 + 2)

But are you willing to change your belief system in light of new evidence, up to and including wholesale rejection?

Certainly... as, I assume, are you.

@BillyJoe

I have a real difficulty with the something from nothing scenario. I cannot see a solution to this problem at all. But perhaps we are like ants trying to understand newtonian physics.

Perhaps... I hope that never stops us from trying smilies/smiley.gif

I was right. You are the OTHER type of creationist. smilies/smiley.gif

Well, I'm not going to ambush people, quote them out of context and make a crappy movie about it if that's what you mean smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
For the sake of brevity I chose the circulatory system. I am aware that "an eye need not be a complete eye, etc" but we are talking about a complex and mandatory system. Are you stating that all components need not be fully developed and functional to survive, must less to reproduce, etc? If so then please expound upon how the circulatory system can function properly if even ONE component is not 100% contributing to the process.


Lower organisms don't have as complex circulatory, sensory, nervous systems as mammals, reptiles etc. I'd say many worms do quite well with much of their circulatory systems removed, primitive nervous systems, no eyes, etc. You apparently don't understand what Evolution means, or are purposefully obtuse.
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@steel rat
written by truth64, April 16, 2009
You say its "not a scientific argument by a long stretch"? I will tell you what is not scientific- that life can arise from non-life. Scientists used to say that frogs spontaneously appeared under logs etc. What is the difference between that and what evolutionists are saying today? They admit that life had to have come from inanimate objects. An absurdity to say the least.
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@steel rat
written by truth64, April 16, 2009
Lower organisms???? Tell me at what point can a "higher" organism survive without the main components?
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Truth64
written by elitecoder, April 16, 2009
The difference between self-replicating molecules appearing from inanimate objects is vastly different from frogs appearing from under rocks.

To what extent a higher organism can survive without "main components" is irrelevant since higher organisms gradually evolved from lower organisms. You seem to think evolution builds each part one-by-one like somebody would build a watch. This is not how it works.

If you are more than just a troll I highly suggest you actually look up the answers to these questions on the internet as they have been answered many times before. TalkOrigins has addressed everything you have brought up. If you have a specific question about their explanations I'm sure people will be happy to answer it.

But please, get a basic understanding of what the theory of evolution is before you start making arguments against it. Any idiot can counter a strawman argument.
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
You say its "not a scientific argument by a long stretch"? I will tell you what is not scientific- that life can arise from non-life. Scientists used to say that frogs spontaneously appeared under logs etc. What is the difference between that and what evolutionists are saying today? They admit that life had to have come from inanimate objects. An absurdity to say the least.


As someone pointed out above, you're comparing two different things, Abiogenesis and Evolution. Let's stick to one thing, shall we? This thread is about Evolution.
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
Lower organisms???? Tell me at what point can a "higher" organism survive without the main components?


When did they need to???? (see I can do a lot of question marks too) They EVOLVED. Less complex organisms evolved into more complex ones over hundreds of millions of years. You seem stuck on insisting that higher organisms can't have popped into existence without all the "main components". I completely agree, and only the Babble says they have to.

So YOU explain to ME why Creationism is a better explanation...
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
You say its "not a scientific argument by a long stretch"?


I actually said "by any stretch of the imagination". It's pretty clear you have a reading comprehension problem.
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
Scientists used to say that frogs spontaneously appeared under logs etc.


Could you like, show me where "scientists" said that? And how long ago are we talking about? And if it did happen, my response would be that such a sentiment didn't last very long, unlike the Sky Daddy myths. Their proponents keep telling the same old tired stories, without evidence, indeed in spite of evidence to the contrary.
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written by J.C. Samuelson, April 16, 2009
It's not a question letting the Bible be right and/or wrong...


Sorry. Probably clumsy communication on my part, but I did not mean to imply the entirety of the Bible could be proven simply wrong or right. In this context, I was referring specifically to its claims about the physical nature and origin of the world and its particulars.

I do not claim the Bible to be infallible, nor do I need it to be in order to have faith in it or understand what it is and is not( I have a calculator in my Operating system that I KNOW is flawed... It rounds after a certain point at can be documented to make mistakes. I still have faith it can add 2 + 2)


Here's a question: How do you know which parts to keep and which to reject? Is it a matter of preference or education, or is there a specific standard you follow?

The reason I ask is that, as you probably know, a software calculator follows certain specific (and objective) rules that are set within the code, and it does not deviate. In other words, whatever flaws exist are actually only in the program code, and the output is merely the outward indication.

With respect to the Bible, however, it does not follow a specific, objective code does it? All we can do is make a subjective judgment as to the applicability of any particular passage and whether it applies to us (which is fine and dandy for private worship, I suppose). Is there any reason to adopt its teachings if all we're doing is making our own judgments anyway?

Certainly... as, I assume, are you.


Naturally. Actually, I came to where I am today by exactly that route. smilies/smiley.gif

@ truth64

Scientists used to say that frogs spontaneously appeared under logs etc.


If, by scientists, you mean Aristotle, yes. Guess who put spontaneous generation to rest? Scientists. How? Doing science.

Get a grip on reality, dude. And an education.
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written by TripTheWave, April 16, 2009
@J.C. Samuelson
Sorry. Probably clumsy communication on my part

It's cool.. admittedly the Calculator analogy I gave was not the strongest either (In my defense, I'm on hour 10 of my work shift... I'll think of something brilliant tomorrow, it promise :-D)

Here's a question: How do you know which parts to keep and which to reject? Is it a matter of preference or education, or is there a specific standard you follow?

A little like any other eye witness testimony... you take it for what it is. The Bible is not the sole basis of my faith, nor is it the primary basis of my faith. You could prove tomorrow that the Bible was written in 1903 as a mis-translated cookbook and it wouldn't change the fact that everything I've read, studied and observed tells me that there must have been a catalyst for the Big Bang, and that life began with the required ability to change over time as needed. I also believe (and note that I'm separating my belief from fact) that that was not an accident.

(quick disclaimer: Note that I'm not saying that evolution teaches us that modern life is an accident... I don't want to cloud the issue by getting into the tired debate about what evolution doesn't say).

@J.C. Samuelson and BillyJoe,

By the way, I just wanted to thank the both of you. Usually wen I get into debates with my fellow skeptics (and yes, I do consider myself a skeptic on many, many topics) and I mention my belief in a deity I'm usually instantly labeled:

1) an idiot
2) a zealot
3) a victim

or some combination of the three. Both of you have been very respectful, and I appreciate it, and I hope I have returned the favor.

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written by BillyJoe, April 16, 2009
I don't think that's entirely accurate. We can't say much about what (if anything) happened before the big bang, but whether the universe has always existed or not, is an open question. The big bang would have erased all observational evidence if there was a "before".

Well, of course, I'm talking about this universe which commenced at the big bang. As you say, we can know nothing about what happened, if anything, before the big bang.

There's several theories on the 'origin' of our universe that involve a universe that always existed, some of which are described briefly on [url=http://www.talkorigins.org/faq...tml#origin
]http://www.talkorigins.org/faq...tml#origin
I'll check it out, but I doubt it will any ideas I haven't already come across.

Of course, if you have facts that irrefutably show the universe can't extend backwards, I'd gladly hear them.

The usual scenario is of a series of universes extending backwards in time, each separated by a big bang. But even these have to have started at some point in spacetime. If not, this is as much a conundrum as something from nothing. There is also the idea of time cycling back on itself as if that solved anything.

BJ
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written by Herc, April 16, 2009
So some animal had a mutation and grew wings and could fly, giving it an advantage so it spread it's genes? You guys will believe anything. Obviously a creator gave evolution a hand.
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written by Geezer, April 16, 2009
@Herc
It's not that a lizard woke up one day with wings on the back or gave birth to a offspring with fully formed and functional wings.You guys always forget to consider the timespans involved, We are talking big timescales here.So lets imagine that a offspring is born with a mutation that gives it a membrane between upper "arm" and torso, this could lead to it being just a little better at leaping and thus having a little easier to find food.
Now over a short period (let's say a year) it won't make a noticable difference but over thousands of years this can favour the mutation so much the membrane will get more and more efficient (bigger, better shape for gliding etc) than if you take the offspring of the original animal without the mutated gene and compare it to the mutated one, they can now no longer be considered being of the same species.
Then lets say that the climate changes food gets scarce, the animal that now can glide can move over larger areas to find food will survive much better and the animal with the "original" configuration might fare quite poorly and perhaps even go extinct.Small differances might have large impacts on survivablity compare the neanderthal to modern man we lived in parallel for a looooong time, the neandethal only went extinct some thirty thousand years ago (give or take a few millenia) The evidence seems to show that Modern man was better able to adapt to the changing conditions than the Neanderthals but there isn't much difference between us, we seem to be close enough that we're not really certain if we could interbreed with them or not. DNA comparisions show that it looks like there were very little to no interbreeding taking place but that may or may not be a coincidense.
After all horses and donkeys can interbreed and produce living offspring but is there a case recorded of it happening in the wild?

Note that evolution does not always mean the "newer" species replaces the old ones, far from it.

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"Something from nothing"
written by medains, April 16, 2009
I've been skimming some of the debate here, and I think there's been an assumption made that needs clarifying.

Truth64 - you state that the universe must have been either created (by a deist god) or popped into existence "from nothing". This makes the basic assumption that there is TIME before the universe existed. As I understand it, since the universe is by definition space AND time - there is NO BEFORE. Time did not exist in the form that we know it, and thus it is impossible to make any statement about what there was "before" - so a Big-Bang theoretical physicist will say "I don't know" and move on to answerable questions.

It's rather like a closed system - imagine that you are a waterborn single celled organism in a drop of water, you have neither the senses nor the terms of reference to speculate about what is outside the drop or how the drop came into being, though you can adequately describe the inside of the drop and its behaviour.

So our universe could be (as some sci-fi authors have speculated) merely part of a larger "universe" in the same way that an atom is part of ours. This raises many more questions, but ones that neither science nor religion can in any way answer since our senses are unable to extend beyond the confines of our universe.

Absolutely nothing to do with evolution of course, but an interesting aside smilies/wink.gif
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
You guys always forget to consider the timespans involved


They don't forget. They either don't believe the time spans are that long, or just purposefully ignore that part of the argument.
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written by Herc, April 17, 2009
The time span makes little difference to the argument.
What came 1st? Wings or the advantage that wings give.
It's a chicken egg dillema you haven't solved.
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written by Blonk, April 17, 2009
@Truth64
If I can't explain how it all began, that counts as proof for the existence of god? This is a logical fallacy known as the argument from ignorance.

@Herc
Time span makes a lot of difference. The backbone of evolution are gradual changes, and gradual is relative to the complexity of the organism (i.e. bacteria can evolve much faster than the average mammal).
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written by bosshog, April 17, 2009
"It's actually a simple question, 'Do YOU believe the universe came from nothing?' Why wont/cant any of you give me your simple yes or no? Seriously, why wont you answer?"
My answer: NO.

The idea that something can proceed from nothing is absurd. It is sensible only in the grammatical sense. Only religion could take such a preposterous notion seriously.
I'm not as well versed in current cosmological theories as most of those posting on this item, but I find no difficulty in accepting the idea that, in one form or another, all that exists has always and will always exist. I DO however find it impossible to accept the idea that an anthropomorphic consciousness capable of creating an entire universe out of nothingness did so for no other purpose than to confront me with impossible moral dilemmas then torture me for being unable to resolve them.
I'm just not that full of myself.
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Where is the assumption?
written by BillyJoe, April 17, 2009
"Something from nothing"
This makes the basic assumption that there is TIME before the universe existed.

I don't see that assumption being made at all.
No time and no space (or no spacetime if you will), gives way to some space and some time (or some spacetime).
Where's the assumption that there was time before something existed?

As I understand it, since the universe is by definition space AND time - there is NO BEFORE.

Nothing -> Spacetime
Where's the assumption that time exists before spacetime began.

Time did not exist in the form that we know it, and thus it is impossible to make any statement about what there was "before" - so a Big-Bang theoretical physicist will say "I don't know" and move on to answerable questions.

Nothing -> Big Bang
Where's the assumption that time exists before the Big Bang?

BJ

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@BJ
written by medains, April 17, 2009
Where's the assumption that there was time before something existed?


So you take nothing and FROM it you get something - this implies a some kind of causal temporal process, there has to be some "time" in which there is nothing.

You may not be making the assumption, but by not addressing it in your arguments you allow the religious to repeat the mantra "if you don't know, then there could have been god before the universe".

I think it's James Hartle and Stephen Hawking who have built on Einsteins work which seems to suggest that before the Big Bang there was no time, and yet in a non-intuitive quantum fashion there is also no such thing as the "first moment" - fascinating and yet brain meltingly complex stuff.

It's the intuitive grasp of cause and effect that we all possess that leads us to question "what caused the universe?" and then on to "so what was there before it?" - stepping out of this into the realization that there was no "before" and so our understanding of cause and effect does not apply is quite a large mental leap, and one that it is difficult to make (or even illustrate) when debating with a creationist who is stubbornly holding on to their known world of physical interactions.

Ok, my head hurts now - time for more coffee smilies/wink.gif
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@ bosshog
written by BillyJoe, April 17, 2009
The idea that something can proceed from nothing is absurd.

I'm not sure that "absurd" is the right word.
There are two possibilities:
1) Something from nothing.
2) Always something.
Both are equally "absurd" if that's the way you want to put it. Since one must be true, I prefer to say that I have absolutely no idea how something came from nothing or how there could be always something or how either of these alternatives is even possible.

I find no difficulty in accepting the idea that, in one form or another, all that exists has always...existed.

I have no idea why always something is more acceptable to you than something from nothing?

BJ
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@ medians
written by BillyJoe, April 17, 2009
So you take nothing and FROM it you get something - this implies a some kind of causal temporal process, there has to be some "time" in which there is nothing.

Nothing means no space and no time.
(and no quantum mechanics smilies/wink.gif )

If you like for an instant before there was any spacetime there was nothing.
(How long is an instant? The duration of an instant is zero.)

Another way of seeing the difference between something from nothing and always something is that with something from nothing it all starts off with an infinitesimally small amount of spacetime, whereas with always something this does not apply.

BJ
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hijack
written by mazyloron, April 17, 2009
Why is it that evolution threads always wind up discussing origins of the universe?

Oh, right, because of people who don't understand evolution well enough to separate the two.
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@hijack
written by truth64, April 17, 2009
evolution threads always end up discussing origins because its fun watching evolutionists say the most ridiculous things: "Life arose from non-life", "the universe has always existed", "the universe has not always existed".........
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written by J.C. Samuelson, April 17, 2009
@ Herc

What came 1st? Wings or the advantage that wings give.


Your question assumes first that wings are inherently advantageous. It's not that simple. Whether an adaptation confers a survival advantage or not depends greatly on the environment, predators, and a few other factors. Wings are not necessarily an advantage in every environment or against every predator, and don't always have the same result (i.e., the ability to fly). The same could be said of almost any mutation you can think of.

Another way of putting it might be to say that conditions dictate whether mutation X is an advantage or not. So, in an imperfect sense the advantage came first because the conditions permit a particular mutation to be advantageous in a certain context and not in others. Wings don't, for example, necessarily confer an advantage when it comes to procreation, and animals that don't mate don't pass on their genes. More importantly, if the birth rate does not match or exceed the death rate, extinction is a possibility. Just take the American Passenger Pigeon, for an example. Its reproductive habits could not overcome the destructiveness of its predators (us). Ergo, the bird is extinct in spite of the fact that it had wings.

@ TripTheWave

You could prove tomorrow that the Bible was written in 1903 as a mis-translated cookbook and it wouldn't change the fact that everything I've read, studied and observed tells me that there must have been a catalyst for the Big Bang, and that life began with the required ability to change over time as needed.


Honestly, that sounds like deism with a Christian flavor, and if that floats your boat I'm OK with that. Not that you need my permission, of course. smilies/wink.gif However, I still think it's unreasonable to say that the Bible "describes evolution" when it clearly does not. In other words, if you don't need to believe that part of it, why bother defending that part of it?

Both of you have been very respectful, and I appreciate it, and I hope I have returned the favor.


You're welcome and you have. Thanks to you as well. smilies/smiley.gif
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@truth64
written by Orion_109, April 17, 2009
Thank you for your response. The personal attack, although not altogether unexpected, was unnecessary.

Your irrationality renders your opinion irrelevant to me thus, consider yourself ignored.
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@everyone debating truth64
written by Orion_109, April 17, 2009
Folks, save yourselves while you still can.

Although well intentioned, each of you have fallen into the trap of the true believer.

Let there be no doubt, truth64 is a true believer, this person has swallowed the Kool Aid and no amount of rational explanations will change his or her mind. In fact, your elaborate and detailed explanations and rebuttals are exactly what is luring you into the trap. Your explanations will continue to be picked apart in detail and you will continue to respond in ever more detail until you slip up with a fact or mis-word something or whatever and then suddenly the “Ah Ha!! I told you so!!” will come and then this person will disappear.

I know what I’m talking about, I was raised in a Pentecostal environment and immersed in the dogma from birth. I have rejected the dogma for as long as I can remember, however, I have a detailed understanding of their beliefs and methodology for refuting science.

If there is one thing in this world of which I am absolutely certain it is the fact that once a person has been converted to a true believer, that person will be a true believer for life. I’ve seen it time and time again and it never fails to be true. That’s not the worst of it, what makes these people truly dangerous is that they will not rest until they have converted everyone with which they come in contact to true believer status. They have no tolerance for a non-believer.

Your best efforts against a true believer is to be indifferent to their dogma. Set aside the notion that you can teach them, you can’t. Forget about some sort of détente or an agree to disagree resolution, it will never happen. Simply ignore them and spend your time on more meaningful and productive intellectual pursuits.

Need proof of what I’m saying? Watch the flame I get for this post. Even knowing I’m expecting him top behave badly, he won’t be able to resist the urge to attack.
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@orion
written by truth64, April 17, 2009
easy there, big fella. If I'm accused of a personal attack on you (or any specific person) I would sure like to know when and what it was. If you want to see personal attacks- look at the names I have been called on this thread. Seriously, if I have offended you personally, I apologize.
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@Orion_109
written by Kuroyume, April 17, 2009
Yes, most definitely. I was part of these types of 'debates' for nearly ten years back in the 90s. Those explaining evolution write volumes of information and links and references. And those arguing against it say "yeah, so?" and continue to spew ignorance and lies without ever batting an eyelid to learn and understand. It can go on for weeks or months and, as you wrote, eventually the true believer yells "I WIN!" and runs off to proclaim his or her victory (that religious ignorance can trump intelligence, that is) over the land.

I don't mind leading them on for a bit but after a while it is better to go back to other things and ignore their ignorance (ignorare - Latin "not to know", so as they are ignoring us we should ignore them). Ignorance and ignore are very appropriate, don't you think? smilies/smiley.gif
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written by tmac57, April 17, 2009
BillyJoe-"The usual scenario is of a series of universes extending backwards in time, each separated by a big bang. But even these have to have started at some point in spacetime."
I always liked the idea of a universe expanding and contracting infinitely, but if I understand current cosmology, they believe that there isn't enough matter to overcome the current expansion. What do you know about this?
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written by TripTheWave, April 17, 2009
@ J.C. Samuelson
if you don't need to believe that part of it, why bother defending that part of it?

I wasn't so much defending the Bible (and I don't feel that it needs defending, as I stated before); I was talking more about how silly it was for even those of faith to deny evolution.

Those of faith need to accept the fact of evolution, and that growing in your understanding of how the world and the universe works is not a bad thing.

And if I may, the notion that "Well, evolutionists don't believe in a creator, therefore they believe that the universe came from nothing, which is absurd, therefore I'm right" is asinine. Not knowing what created the universe is not the same thing as believing nothing created the universe. There are those of us who believe that a God had a hand in the origin of the universe, but you're not going to convince anyone who believes otherwise by misstating their position and insulting their intelligence.
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written by TripTheWave, April 17, 2009
The rest of that was to the forum as a whole, not directed at you JC smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Willy K, April 17, 2009
@TripTheWave
...I mention my belief in a deity I'm usually instantly labeled: 1) an idiot 2) a zealot 3) a victim...


Trip, would you consider that your belief in a deity has nothing to do with whether a deity exists or not? I assert that your belief in deities is simply an artifact of the Human brain. This artifact is probably not explicitly recognized by individuals because there is no evolutionary benefit (yet) for Humans to actually understand how their brains work. Does anyone actually see/feel the Krebs Cycle working within them?

Consider how similar your belief in a deity is similar to others belief in Santa Claus, psychics, mediums, other deities, etc. The list of things people believe in for which there is no evidence is long!

To paraphrase something someone else said here, the complexity of life makes Quantum Mechanics seems like child's play. I contend that the complexities of the Human brain/mind make abiogenesis also look simple!

The next evolutionary leap for the Human species might well come when they have enough brain power to understand why they think the thoughts they think.
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@ tmac55
written by BillyJoe, April 17, 2009
I always liked the idea of a universe expanding and contracting infinitely, but if I understand current cosmology, they believe that there isn't enough matter to overcome the current expansion. What do you know about this?

I don't mind the idea of the universe cycling though waves of expansion and contraction, but I'm afraid I can't get my mind around infinity.
What it could possibly mean to say that the universe extends infinitely into the past? How could we possibly get to the present if the unverse had no beginning (extends infintely into the past)? Think about that. Even into the future. It either stops st some point in the future or it just keeps on going for the time being. It can't actually extend infinitely into the future.
But, you are right, the rate of expansion of the universe is actually increasing. This universe is going to die. smilies/sad.gif

BJ
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written by LuigiNovi, April 17, 2009
Truth64: It's actually a simple question, "Do YOU believe the universe came from nothing?" Why wont/cant any of you give me your simple yes or no? Seriously, why wont you answer?
Luigi Novi: Because issues in science do not conform to your arbitrary whims for how others should answer your questions. The universe did not come from nothing, as it came from an quantum singularity, and Kuroyume mentioned this. Comments like this one by you demonstrate not that others cannot answer your question, but that you deliberate ignore the answers because you cannot refute them.

Alan3354: I've argued with religious people who say there's no evidence of evolution. A simple refutation is the change in the flu virus every year. So far, none of them have thought of a comeback.
Luigi Novi: Well, creationists tend to argue that that would be an example of “microevolution” instead of “macroevolution.”

Truth64: My point is that if MATTER can be considered eternal, why is the concept of an eternal God not considered?
Luigi Novi: Because it is not falsifiable, not testable, offers no predictions, and because there is no evidence for it that cannot be explained through more natural means.

Truth64: And if so, an impossiblity to comprehend, must less explain how He works.
Luigi Novi: You have to establish that he exists before explaining how he works.

Truth64: You are correct- science and beliefs are seperate. The problem is that assumptions, agendas and bias along with the practice of ostracizing any theory or concept that dares question the theory of evolution is called "science".
Luigi Novi: No, that is not what science is. Science is a methodology of examining naturally occurring phenomena, using criteria that distinguish it from non-science or pseudoscience. It is not based on bias, agendas or mere assumptions, and it does not “ostracize” anything. Theories that “dare question” established science are actually welcomed—provided that those who form and promote those theories play by the rules of the Scientific Method. Creationism is not taken seriously because it does not do this. Not because of “agendas”.

This is proven by the fact that any time a creationist is questioned on their knowledge of or fidelity to science, they typically show complete ignorance of what it is, particularly as distinguished from pseudoscience, engage in intellectually dishonest behavior during such discussions, or evade the question altogether. Here I’ll show you an example:

Truth64, you posed a question to us, and we answered. I now have one for you: Can you explain to us your understanding of the Scientific Method, what criteria are used to distinguish scientific from non-scientific ideas, and how evolution and creationism conform to those criteria?

Truth64: I am aware that "an eye need not be a complete eye, etc" but we are talking about a complex and mandatory system. Are you stating that all components need not be fully developed and functional to survive, must less to reproduce, etc?
Luigi Novi: The human eye is not mandatory. Many organisms have far less sophisticated eye systems, missing many of the components of the human eye, or have no eye systems at all, and they have adapted perfectly well to their environments, complete with reproducing. Ditto for the circulatory system.

Truth64: Scientists used to say that frogs spontaneously appeared under logs etc.
Luigi Novi: Really? Can you document this claim?

Truth64: Lower organisms???? Tell me at what point can a "higher" organism survive without the main components?
Luigi Novi: This is a non sequitur. Lower organisms indeed have less sophisticated systems than we do. What does this have to do with a “higher organism surviving without the main components”? What does this even mean? Higher organisms survive with the components that evolved in them.

Herc: The time span makes little difference to the argument. What came 1st? Wings or the advantage that wings give. It's a chicken egg dillema you haven't solved.
Luigi Novi: Only in your mind. Wings evolved gradually, and they stayed because the organisms that they evolved in gained an adaptive advantage with them.

Truth64: evolution threads always end up discussing origins because its fun watching evolutionists say the most ridiculous things: "Life arose from non-life", "the universe has always existed", "the universe has not always existed".........
Luigi Novi: And who here has said any of these things aside from you? No one here has said these things, and in fact, have repeatedly corrected you by pointing out that none of these things have anything to do with evolution. So the only one acting “ridiculous” is the one repeating these statements after he’s been corrected, and pretending that everyone else is the one making them.

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@ LuigiNovi
written by BillyJoe, April 17, 2009
The universe did not come from nothing, as it came from an quantum singularity

Where did the quantum singularity come from?

BJ
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@luignovi
written by truth64, April 17, 2009
Luig,I used to be JUST like you. Thinking I had all the answers while having none. I'm ahead of you now, but come join me. Its a fun ride, I promise. You'll see what I;m talking about. Dont believe the pseudo science. Explore the real science. Cheers
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@luignovi
written by KMar10, April 17, 2009
I think truth64 made your point very well. You were very meticulous and organized in your comments and truth64 completely ignored all of them. The TRUTH of the matter is science can not answer everything and does not pretend to do so. Science attempts to answer these questions. Science has a built in checks-and-balances system. Scientists in any given field are not "yes" people. They attempt to cover every angle of a theory, to prove and disprove until the evidence is overwhelming - and "if" something new comes to light that ultimately disproves a theory and shows that it cannot stand up to the scrutiny and evidence, it is discarded. This is the major difference between science and religion. Religion has continuously discarded the facts when they disagree with the theory. Science is certainly not perfect, but it allows questions and offers answers. When religion discovers a more plausible theory on where it all began than a god created it all and we don't need evidence because it's all about faith, I will take it more seriously than I do. As for now it seems more like superstition and myth than a serious inquiry into where it all began and where it's all going. I am often asked by Christians if I can be presented with enough evidence to change my mind about not believing in a god? My answer is always yes. I have never had a theist answer in the affirmative when posed with the same question turned around. Truth64, you would be taken more seriously if you adhered to the same standards you hold those you question to. It is more than difficult to see you any more than someone trolling for comments. You have stated more than once that you are "ahead" of someone and that is an elitist attitude. If you are ahead of all of us and have found truth, why are you lowering yourself by joining a predominantly atheistic website that promotes evolution and questions religious dogma so often? Should you not be happy and content with the knowledge that you are right and are one with your god? Continuing to pose questions you refuse to hear the answers to and continuing to ignore those asked of you makes you look like you are trying to be antagonistic, not helpful or guiding. It looks as though you enjoy antagonizing people. The god of the Old Testament would probably appreciate that if he/she/it had the same failings and emotions as us lesser beings - but it seems to be less likely that Jesus would give it the thumbs-up. I could be wrong and often am, I just think you could spend your time in a more godly pursuit than baiting and antagonizing your fellow man. I have never posted on a religious website to declare that people were "duped" and just generally tried to start an argument. If you mean well and really wish to debate, then follow the same rules you ask of everyone else. Allow then to answer and kindly answer them in return. That is a debate. Asking over and over again without answering is not. Acknowledge when someone makes a valid point that you have no answer to. This will go a long way to giving yourself credibility on this forum. Anything else and you look like someone only trying to get a rise from everyone. I hope this helps.
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Seems LuigiNovi has gone missing :(
written by BillyJoe, April 18, 2009
I asked him:

Where did the quantum singularity come from?

Physicists ultimately put "something from nothing" down to "a quantum fluctuation". The problem with this is that when there is nothing there isn't any quantum physics either. So the question reduces to "Where did quantum physics come from?"

Which really is another version of the famous question:
"Why is there anything at all?"

BillyJoe
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written by Skemono, April 18, 2009
Dont believe the pseudo science. Explore the real science.

That's what this entire thread is about. Refuting your pseudo-science and exploring real science.
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written by tmac57, April 18, 2009
BillyJoe- "What it could possibly mean to say that the universe extends infinitely into the past? How could we possibly get to the present if the unverse had no beginning (extends infintely into the past)? Think about that. Even into the future. It either stops st some point in the future or it just keeps on going for the time being. It can't actually extend infinitely into the future."
I guess that the human mind has a problem with infinity because we have no reference or analog for it. It seems to me ,though that it is just as unfathomable to imagine no time, no space, no matter. There is no possible way for me to apprehend non-reality. I can say it, but I can't wrap my mind around it. Most people when presented with this notion will say " well what was there before the beginning of the universe? To me that question has no meaning whatsoever.
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One more for the road...
written by J.C. Samuelson, April 18, 2009
Well, the thread seems to be petering out. Maybe just one more response to TripTheWave:

I wasn't so much defending the Bible (and I don't feel that it needs defending, as I stated before); I was talking more about how silly it was for even those of faith to deny evolution.


Be fair, now. In your April 15th post you were implicitly positing a defense of creationism as an "apple" compared to the "orange" of evolution (no fruits were harmed or given preference in the writing of this comment smilies/wink.gif), that "creationism does not negate evolution," and suggested that Genesis could arguably refer to evolution anyway. What was your objective if not to cast the Genesis text in a more reasonable light? That's what some people call "apologetics," my friend. smilies/smiley.gif

While you certainly did say that people of faith need to learn to accept evolution, your first reaction was to defend something you hold dear. There's no shame in having a chink in your sceptical armor. smilies/wink.gif

Creationism actually does seem to explicitly deny or conflict with evolution. If you're using "creationism" as a synonym for "abiogenesis," you're not really talking about the same thing. But here's the rub: if you follow the logic of evolution in reverse you're bound to wind up talking about abiogenesis. After all, one central idea within the ToE is the notion of common descent, and our common ancestors had common ancestors of their own, reaching back in time to the first stirrings of life in the universe.

This is one reason why I think evolution is seen as such a threat (note that creationists don't seem to have much of a problem with any other science) - it puts direct pressure on one of the remaining gaps into which one or more gods have fit so nicely for so long.

Cheers!
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@ tmac57
written by BillyJoe, April 18, 2009
I guess that the human mind has a problem with infinity because we have no reference or analog for it.

Some explain infinity by giving the example of there being an infinite number of points along a line AB connecting points A and B. This is illustrated by dividing the line in half, then dividing those 2 segments in half, then the 4 segments, then the 8 segments in half, etc etc etc. There is never any end to this process (infinity), yet there is the line AB (reality), therefore infinity is contained within reality.
This explanation doesn't satisfy me, though.
Sure, infinity exists as a mathematical construct, but reality seems to be completely devoid of it.

It seems to me ,though, that it is just as unfathomable to imagine no time, no space, no matter. There is no possible way for me to apprehend non-reality. I can say it, but I can't wrap my mind around it.

By "non-reality" I assume you mean nothing.
I'm probably missing something because everyone I discuss this with says the same thing. However, I cannot actually see the problem myself. I agree that it is impossible to think of nothing (i.e. it is impossible to clear the mind of all thoughts) but I don't see the problem of imagining that, at some point, there was nothing. On the other hand, I completely cannot get my mind around that fact that there is something rather than nothing.

Most people when presented with this notion will say " well what was there before the beginning of the universe? To me that question has no meaning whatsoever.

To me, the answer is simple: nothing!
No time, no space, no spacetime if you like, not even physics - and hence not even the possibility of a quantum fluctuation!
But, how something came from nothing, that completely blows my mind.

regards,
BillyJoe
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@ J C Samuelson
written by BillyJoe, April 18, 2009
But here's the rub: if you follow the logic of evolution in reverse you're bound to wind up talking about abiogenesis.

Yes, to me, it does always sound like a bit of a cop out to say abiogenesis is not part of evolution. After all, I'm sure most scientist believe that, just as species evolved from a common ancestor, so life evolved from inanimate matter. After all, even today, there are entities that are not clearly live organisms and not clearly inanimate matter either (eg viruses or, at least, prions).

If there is no clear distinction in the interface between live organisms and inanimate matter; if there is a fuzzy boundary between the two, then it's not so much of a leap to suggest that one has evolved from the other, even though we don't yet know how.

BillyJoe
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written by LuigiNovi, April 19, 2009
BillyJoe: Where did the quantum singularity come from?
Luigi Novi: At present, we do not know.

truth64: Luig,I used to be JUST like you. Thinking I had all the answers while having none.

Luigi Novi: If you ever thought this, then you're nothing like me, and never were, since I know that I do not "have all the answers", and never implied otherwise. I did, however, rebut a number of your statements, and it is the evidence or reasoning that I employed in doing so that any assessment of that rebuttal should be made, just an assessment of any idea or conclusion should be made in matters of reason or fact. If you can refute any of my statements, then do so. The fact that you haven't, and instead rely upon attributing thoughts to me that I do not harbor, and never implied, indicates that you are aware that you cannot do this.

truth64: I'm ahead of you now, but come join me. Its a fun ride, I promise. You'll see what I;m talking about. Dont believe the pseudo science. Explore the real science.
Luigi Novi: And I ask you one more time: What are the criteria by which science is distinguished from pseudoscience? After all, it's dishonest to use a term or phrase if you don't know what it means, right? And you yourself kicked off your participation in this thread by demanding answers to a "simple question," and criticizing others because, according to you, they did not offer you the answer you wanted. So why won't you answer this one? What are the signs of pseudoscience, and how does these signs match up with things like homeopathy, alien abduction, psychic powers, feng shui, dowsing, astrology, string theory, plate tectonics, germ theory, heliocentricity, evolution or creationism? Do you actually know what pseudoscience means, or do you just abritrarily use that word for anything that conflicts with your religious worldview, even though you don't know what it means?

BillyJoe: Yes, to me, it does always sound like a bit of a cop out to say abiogenesis is not part of evolution.
Luigi Novi: It's not a cop-out, it's simply true. They're two different phenomena caused by different natural processes. The fallacy you seem to be employing is that because both occur at different points on a timeline, they are somehow related phenomenalogically. They're not, any more than the science of gravity that explains why a building falls down in an earthquake is part of the same phenomenon as plate tectonics. Two two things caused by natural processes occur in a sequence does not mean that the processes are closely related. To argue this is a non sequitur.

BillyJoe: If there is no clear distinction in the interface between live organisms and inanimate matter; if there is a fuzzy boundary between the two, then it's not so much of a leap to suggest that one has evolved from the other, even though we don't yet know how.

Luigi Novi: It is a leap, if you don't understand (or choose to ignore the fact) that the one is a biological process, and the other is a chemical one.
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@ Luigi Novi
written by BillyJoe, April 20, 2009
BillyJoe: Where did the quantum singularity come from?
Luigi Novi: At present, we do not know.

And it is possible that we will never know.
I agree that this does not mean we stop trying, but we have to accept that it may turn out that we never know how something came from nothing or how there is something rather than nothing.

BillyJoe: Yes, to me, it does always sound like a bit of a cop out to say abiogenesis is not part of evolution.
Luigi Novi: It's not a cop-out, it's simply true. They're two different phenomena caused by different natural processes.

Yes, but they are both types of evolution. The evolution of species by means of natural selection and The evolution of life by means as yet unknown.

The fallacy you seem to be employing is that because both occur at different points on a timeline, they are somehow related phenomenalogically.

They follow directly one after the other on the timeline, and it is impossible to tell where one finishes and the other starts (even if you were there).

Two two things caused by natural processes occur in a sequence does not mean that the processes are closely related. To argue this is a non sequitur.

That sounds like a joke. smilies/cheesy.gif
But, yes, I didn't mean to say any different. The evolution of life is not the same as the evolution of species but there certainly are similarities between them. Follow the evolution of species back in time and you will see it merge imperceptibly into the evolution of life.

BillyJoe: If there is no clear distinction in the interface between live organisms and inanimate matter; if there is a fuzzy boundary between the two, then it's not so much of a leap to suggest that one has evolved from the other, even though we don't yet know how.
Luigi Novi: It is a leap, if you don't understand (or choose to ignore the fact) that the one is a biological process, and the other is a chemical one.

What I am saying is that there is no clear demarcation between what is a chemical and what is a biological process. There is a blurry boundary there through which chemical processes evolve into biological processes.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by LuigiNovi, April 21, 2009
BillyJoe: And it is possible that we will never know.
Luigi Novi: Sure. But to what point do you make this comment?

BillyJoe: Yes, but they are both types of evolution.
Luigi Novi: Only if you use a looser definition of the word that is not the definition employed for most of what this thread has been about. If one wishes to be smart-assed, one could say that how a person grows from a kindergarten student into a university graduate could be an "evolution", or the progress by which the Model-T Ford gave way over the decades to SUV's is an "evolution". But no one would argue that we need to explain those things in order to explain how dinosaurs evolved into birds. To do so would be a non sequitur, and it is why the process of abiogenesis does not need to be explained in order for biological natural selection to be a scientific fact.

BillyJoe: They follow directly one after the other on the timeline..
Luigi Novi: First of all, we do not know that they follow "directly" one after another, especially since what one considers "direct" is subjective. Second, even if we put this point aside, this does not mean that they are the same process, as I pointed out above. Thunder directly follows lightning. That does not mean that the science of sound needs to explain the science of electricity in order for a theory of electricity to be fact.

BillyJoe: But, yes, I didn't mean to say any different. The evolution of life is not the same as the evolution of species but there certainly are similarities between them. Follow the evolution of species back in time and you will see it merge imperceptibly into the evolution of life.

Luigi Novi: If you're going to participate in any type of thread or discussion like this, then you have to recognize the original points for which arguments or statements are brought up, and if your own statements were not brought up with the intention that they are pertinent to that point, then you need to make that digression clear. The original point that Truth64 brought up, from which most of this thread stemmed, and which creationists in general typically bring up, was to question natural selection by asking how abiogenesis occurred.
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@LuigiNovi
written by BillyJoe, April 21, 2009
We don't disagree much.

However, although this thread is about evolution in the sense of evolution of species by means of natural selection, my response was to J C Samuelson's post where he commented:

Creationism actually does seem to explicitly deny or conflict with evolution. If you're using "creationism" as a synonym for "abiogenesis," you're not really talking about the same thing. But here's the rub: if you follow the logic of evolution in reverse you're bound to wind up talking about abiogenesis.

To which I responded:

Yes, to me, it does always sound like a bit of a cop out to say abiogenesis is not part of evolution. After all, I'm sure most scientist believe that, just as species evolved from a common ancestor, so life evolved from inanimate matter. After all, even today, there are entities that are not clearly live organisms and not clearly inanimate matter either (eg viruses or, at least, prions).

If there is no clear distinction in the interface between live organisms and inanimate matter; if there is a fuzzy boundary between the two, then it's not so much of a leap to suggest that one has evolved from the other, even though we don't yet know how.

I know it can be hard to keep track when they occur, but tangents like this happen in many threads and are sometimes worth persuing.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by LuigiNovi, April 21, 2009
Sorry if I misunderstood you. smilies/smiley.gif
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Great book - Presents the breadth of evidence for evolution
written by MDeaver, May 03, 2009
I had followed progress in evolution sporadically for many decades. Late last year I began looking for a book that would bring me up to date on evidence for evolution. Coyne's book was the perfect choice, a fascinating account of discoveries both old and new that provide direct evidence of evolution.

Here are some of my favorites from the book:

* Starting on page 40, recent discoveries of feathered dinosaurs in fossils found in China. Check out the pictures on pages 42 and 43 clearly showing impressions of feathers in dinosaur fossils. Then have a gander at note #8 on page 237:

"Paleontologists now think that all theropods - and that includes the famous Tyrannosaurus rex - were covered with some form of feathers ... It wouldn't bolster the fearsome reputation of T. rex to show it covered with fluff!"

* Transitional fossils clearly show the evidence for land mammals who evolved into whales, as discussed beginning on page 49. Throughout the book there are several more examples of transitional fossils, including of course ancestral human fossils.

* Atavisms, sporadically expressed remnants of normally dormant ancestral features, probably caused by occasional reawakening, during development of an embryo, of normally dormant genes left over from our ancestors. Proving once again the power of a picture, have a look on page 63 at the infant born with a 3 - 4 inch atavistic tail!

* Sexual selection, discussed at length in chapter 6. This is another evolution driver, different from natural selection, and explains why we see male birds are colorful and females are not. Until I read Coyne's book, this was an area of evolution entirely unknown to me.

This book is well worth your time to read. It's rekindled my interest in watching more closely progress in the study of evolution, and it's given me new information I can use to try and move away from supernatural creation explanations those of my friends and relatives who lean in that direction.
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written by GrampOdd, May 11, 2009
Interesting thread and I',m glad I found it but it seems that a number of comments are off topic. I haven't read the book yet (just ordered it) but a nice concise discussion that about evolution is the book "The top 10 myths about Evolution" by Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan. I found it more readable than most books in support of evolution. It also seems to me that people antagonistic to the theory of evolution miss the point. I wrote a small blog on this subject call "It's just a theory" [http://getoddnews.com/2009/05/04/its-just-a-theory/]. People just don't understand (or don't want to understand) what ascientific theory is composed of. It also seems to me that the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming that it appears that some people are suffering badly from cognitive dissonance [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance].
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written by ELITE squirrel, May 12, 2009
I'm naive about the steps and processes of evolution, but would it be possible in the next million years for domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats, to develop more complicated communicative abilities and thus being able to speak with their human counter-parts?
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