Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

Debating a Creationist

Posted by on February 14th, 2009 Comments (3,575)

To mark Darwin’s birthday, AM640 radio in Toronto had a quick discussion about evolution and creation between evangelical minister Ray Comfort (the atheists nightmare banana guy) and Scott Campbell, a member of the Centre for Inquiry.

Scott hammered it home, and really showed that Ray has no idea what evolution really is.

Why Ray Was Wrong

  • Ray constantly tried to tie evolution and “Darwinism” in with atheism, and they really don’t have anything to do with each other.
  • Thinks evolution produced species to species transitions
  • Says that evolutionist say that “nothing created everything”, which Scott points out is NOT the scientific position
  • His example of the heart forming again shows that he doesn’t even understand how evolution works, thinking that blood and the heart and vessels would all form separately, and how could one exist without the other
  • Ray spent time calling insulting Scott rather than proving his point
  • Ray said that “atheists don’t want moral accountability to God”, which is a non-sequitur

Why Scott Was Right

  • Supporting the scientific evidence of evolution is not the same as being an atheist; you CAN be a believer and support evolution
  • There is a myriad of scientific evidence
  • The myth of the “gaps”
  • Multiple transitional fossils
  • Points out that creationists beleive that the Bible is the word of God and that science HAS TO conform with it – this is really the best point to be made and show why creationists do what they do and don’t do real science
  • Creationsists use God as the answer to the gaps
  • When science says “I don’t know”, it’s an apportunity. When creationists say “I don’t know” that means that God did it.
  • Points out why the argument is bogus about a Ford truck has a creator because it exists so therefor must nature, such as the Watchmaker analogy
  • Humans have an incapcity to estimate odds, makes a great analogy about playing cards

You can listen to the discussion here…

AM640 Discussion

Tags: , , , Category: Atheism & Agnosticism, Christianity, Creationism, Critical Thinking, Evolution

Evoluton in Action

Posted by on February 3rd, 2009 Comments (5,675)

Science wins again.

Long legs and skittish behavior are recently evolved traits that allow fence lizards in the southeastern U.S. to co-exist with lethal and invasive fire ants, according to a new study.

Over the course of about 70 years, these fence lizards evolved to have  longer legs to protect themselves from the fire ants, which would attack their under belly. The longer legs allow them to shrug the ants off.

Observable, verified evolution over the course of only 70 years. I thought that God created all creatues as is?

Tags: , , Category: Creationism, Evolution, Science

Sweet victory! Reason prevails over ignorance in Texas.

Posted by on January 22nd, 2009 Comments (5,089)

Thank the good Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven above,

The drama over the potential inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in Texas biology curriculum is over for now as a coalition of six Democrats and two Republicans defeated an amendment that would have maintained discussion of evolution’s “weaknesses.”

Textbook publishers cater to the influential Texas market, so whether or not science books continued to kowtow to creationism is of great interest nationally—changes to Texas’ science curriculum will likely be echoed across the land. The exact issue was whether to re-incorporate the phrase “strengths and weaknesses” into the discussion of evolution in state biology curriculum. The loathsome Discovery Institute had it’s scaly hands all over this fail.

The big deal about referring to “weaknesses” in evolution is that there aren’t any. Creationists are trying to introduce controversy and suggest that gaps in evidence equal flaws in the theory. We’ve seen those gaps steadily filled in as knowledge and technology increase. There’s no reason to think knowledge won’t continue grow, unless of course the Discovery Institute has its way.

This is a vote on the science curriculum, not theology or philosophy. It’s certainly not an issue of free speech; I doubt high school kids have been doing research and uncovered a dramatic flaw that’s being suppressed by wily biology teachers. There are no “sides” to be on; within the realm of science this theory is the accepted one, due to overwhelming evidence, for the diversity of life.

Here are some of the reasons those who understand the process and results of science “believe” in evolution:

Tags: , , , , Category: Christianity, Creationism, Culture, Evolution, Movies/Music/TV, Science, Seperation of Church & State

Holy wars: governments of faith

Posted by on December 11th, 2008 Comments (8,550)

People sometimes take a don’t ask-don’t tell policy with religion, and wonder why atheists have to get in other people’s business about it. It doesn’t really affect you if I believe in God, does it? Unfortunately it does, if my religious agenda spills over into the foreign and domestic policies of the major world players.

Larry Beinhart writes over at AlterNet that we’re experiencing a bit of a renaissance in crusader mentality, with trillions of dollars flowing into the grandaddy of all faith-based initiatives, the Iraq war.

He posits that we might want to invest in a bit of sociological investigation into religious fanaticism if we want to understand the people “we’re” up against. Suicide bombers are not your usual cup of mentally sound tea.

God, religion, faith, spirituality — whichever face of the prism we are looking at — runs like a vertical pillar through all the levels of our lives. Our international policies are fixed largely around this war on terror. Our most volatile domestic political issues — regulating our sex lives, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, separation of church and state — are rooted in our religious views. Our social circles, our family structures, our individual lives, our world views, how we live and die, our health and happiness — are organized around our spiritual views, or lack thereof.

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So, who are these faithful Easterners God instructed George Bush to liberate? What do they think of, say, man’s descent? Salman Hameed, a professor of astronomy & religious studies (nice combo!) spoke with New Scientist about Muslim belief in evolution. It ain’t pretty, and it ain’t particularly reasonable.

In Turkey, one of your more secular Islamic nations, belief in evolution is down around 25% (the US boasts a shameful 40%). The Koran doesn’t offer much in the way of creationist stories, so why the rejection of science over there?

Hameed thinks evolution, which hasn’t really been on the radar in the middle east, is equated with atheism.

Evolution becomes a symbol for Western dominance and a sign of modernity. Evolution can act as a lighting rod, as a symbol of the West and everything that is bad about the West – usually translated as material culture or materialism.

Muslims respect science and think of Islam as a scientific religion, so as long as atheism isn’t brought in to the debate, there’s an opportunity for understanding to spread.

Tags: , , Category: Evolution, Islam

Yes, my grandmother was a monkey.

Posted by on November 8th, 2008 Comments (4,559)

Tears of rage will probably run down your face when you watch this creationist liar indoctrinating children to reject evolution. How far from child abuse is it to permanently limit someone’s worldview, or leave them with a lifelong struggle with guilt and anxiety as they attempt to overcome the lies on which they were raised?

In antidote to that, let’s cleanse our palates with Aronra‘s 10th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism, in which you will receive a blessedly fact-based account of phylogenetics, “the most compelling and overwhelming evidence of evolution and our place in nature.”

It doesn’t matter if you believe we were descended from the same ancestor as apes, because we were. It’s a concrete truth of biology. We are animals, primates in fact. This body of information is the reason evolution is taught in biology class, and creationism isn’t.

Tags: , , , Category: Christianity, Creationism, Evolution, Science

Creationist trouble in Texas

Posted by on October 28th, 2008 Comments (4,522)

When Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, asks for something, you just have to help out. And yesterday the Bad Astronomer asked people who care about science, reason, and defeating creationist attacks on education to blog about the what’s going on in Texas.

The Texas State Board of Education is working on nominations for a six-member panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards. Half of the nominees are anti-science creationists. Not just any creationists, but among them are the vice-mac daddy of them all: Stephen C. Meyer, VP of the loathsome Discovery Institute, who isn’t even from Texas. Texas Citizens for Science notes that

Texas has hundreds of highly-qualified professional scientists who could have served on the review panel.

These nominations are no coincidence. “Intelligent design advocates on the state board have been maneuvering for months to undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes,” according to the Houston Chronicle. TCS agrees:

It is unfortunate that some SBOE members have such a poor regard for the education of Texas science students that they must resort to pushing their own anti-evolutionist and Creationist religious ideologies into the science standards revision process. What the Texas SBOE is doing perfectly matches what the Kansas SBOE tried to do: force its anti-science ideology onto the students and teachers of our state’s public school system. All Texas citizens who care about education and wish to ensure that their children receive the best science education they can get in a world that requires scientific knowledge and technological skills should be appalled by the reprehensible actions of some of our State Board of Education members.

This one’s for you, Google: the Texas State Board of Education has a creationist agenda.

More odious, perhaps, is that Meyer’s interest in sitting on inter-state science education committees is about more than just pushing the Bible on innocent children. He’s the lead author of Exploring Evolution, a despicable scienceless Trojan horse intended to infiltrate elementary schools and release an attack of nonsense.

Discovery Institute fellows have been attempting to have their arguments against evolution incorporated into the US public school system. EE appears to be part of (that) strategy. In June, Louisiana became the first state to enact a law specifically enabling the use of supplemental materials for the critical evaluation of evolution; similar legislation has been introduced in several other states. EE appears to have been intelligently designed to be the sort of supplemental text that’s appropriate under the Louisiana legislation, and so it’s likely to be making an appearance in classrooms there. But EE may appear in other states, as the approval process for supplementary material is often far less strict than that governing textbooks.

[The above quote was from Ars Technica's excellent and thorough review of Exploring Evolution, "A biologist reviews an evolution textbook from the ID camp". The review explains in depth the core of the creationist argument against Darwin's tree of life, in favour of an orchard (ie the idea that not all life descended from the same source. Man, for instance, was put here by God on the sixth day). Read this if you were hoping Expelled was going to illuminate anything about the intelligent design position.]

So there, Bad Astronomer, another voice is added against the creationist ideologues. What they’re doing is embarrassing and ludicrous. Texas, if you don’t want to be ridiculed as backward hillbillies (or if you don’t want your children to become backward hillbillies), please make a lot of noise about this to your elected officials.

Tags: , , , , , , , Category: Creationism, Evolution, Politics & Law, Seperation of Church & State

Scientists indicate protein mutation may have given rise to human thought

Posted by on October 15th, 2008 Comments (4,584)

A mutant bit of protein called type II neuropsin has been identified as unique to humans, and therefore a likely culprit as the mutation that preceded thought.

A study shows that a certain form of neuropsin, a protein that plays a role in learning and memory, is expressed only in the central nervous systems of humans. The scientists conclude that this critical difference originated less than 5 million years ago.

This protein’s no-show in the prefontal cortex of old world monkeys and lesser apes had already been established, but chimps and orangs are now also confirmed neuropsinless. These species are recently diverged from humans (5 & 14 million years ago, respectively, which is what we mean when we say they’re “more closely related”), placing a potential genesis of ‘thought’ at 5 million years ago.

What is the agnostic view of consciousness—what does this mean for those who don’t believe in God?
It’s a strong piece of evidence for evolution, but it could certainly bring recently-defected theists up short. It suggests that thought, consciousness, and the complex brain that makes us feel like we have a soul began because of a rather unromantic protein mutation. That certainly doesn’t seem very special. But in fact, it is incredibly special.

If you are used to thinking that God made our species in His image, it can be tough to accept that we’re the product of mutation and selection. But what a fantastic product we turned out to be!

What could evoke more wonder and reverence than the accident that gave us consciousness? Survival saw that thinking, learning and adapting was advantageous, and the thinkers bred. Don’t you feel lucky to be here?

What is a former theist to do with the lump of ‘gratefulness’ that brings to the throat? Let your heart swell with gratitude towards nature and the amazing world we come from. Treat it as the creator that it is.

Tags: , , , , , Category: Atheism & Agnosticism, Evolution, Science

570 million year old animal tracks found: oldest animal with legs yet recorded

Posted by on October 6th, 2008 Comments (2,945)

56,994,000 years before Sarah Palin thinks they walked…they walked. At least 30 million years before previous evidence indicated, the fossilized tracks of an aquatic animal show it walked on legs, redefining science’s conception of pre-Cambrian life.

Tags: , , , Category: Evolution, Science

Creationism rears it’s ugly head in North Carolina & gets bitchslapped by Board of Education

Posted by on September 23rd, 2008 Comments (2,814)

Image by Derek Chatwood. Check out his pop-comic inspired artwork on Flickr, or maybe buy a print from him.

Go, North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction, go. The school board of Brunswick County, NC, led by hillbillly Joel Fanti, petitioned the Board to allow creationism to be taught alongside evolution.

“The law says we can’t have Bibles in schools, but we can have evolution, of the atheists.” drawls Fanti.

Darwin, of course, was an agnostic at best.

The NC Board of Education (go on, give their website a little hit), God bless their souls, steadfastly adhered to the letter of the law and insisted that we have to teach facts to our children.

The Brunswick County school system does offer a “Bible as Literature” course in high school, but that would be super boring, so nobody signed up for it and it was cancelled this year.

BONUS: Interactive map from Scientific American on state-by-state creationism controversies.

Tags: , , Category: Christianity, Creationism


Posted by on September 14th, 2008 Comments (3,518)

This is a banner day for science, reason, atheism, knowledge, and sensible people everywhere. Rejoice! The Church of England, 126 years after Darwin’s death, has issued an apology for misunderstanding and fighting his research.

In the vein of the tragically absurd Galileo apology of 1992, begrudgingly offered 3 years after a spacecraft was launched in the scientist’s honour, the C of E has decided to align itself with the truth – and in so doing, distance itself from creationism. This is a bold line in the sand in a time where the potential American VP wouldn’t shy away from the discussion of creationism in schools. Respect to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The C of E website has a whole new section devoted to Darwin, including the apology penned by Dr. Malcolm Brown, who appears to be the Church PR liaison ;)

Tags: , , , Category: Christianity, Creationism, Evolution

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