Sebastian Helenius

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Human Evolution

Evolution is one of the most tested theories present in the scientific community today. The fact is that it appears to be hardening into substance - more fact that theory.

Modern evolutionary theory discusses two principle pathways of evolution - punctuated vs. gradualism.

So who are we, the humans?

Our rate evolution is beyond understanding in comparison to pretty much all other species.
Or is it?
I believe that yes it is and that there lies something bizarre hidden in the facts of our evolution.
I short summary of what we have accomplished as since homo sapiens in 50,000 years -

traveled the globe.
settled across the globe.
brutally slaughtered all our relatives or absorbed all other directly related species into our gene pool (theories differ).
developed a diverse network of cultures.
built skyscrapers.
built spaceships.

Now, i hate to sound pretentious but are we not one fantastically competent species? Give yourselves a pat on the back! No, don't. really.

Anyway, the question is how have we achieved this feat of evolution? Other animals require millions of years before they are able to fly.

I would like to hear some opinion.

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    Aug 24 2012: To my view humanity has railed out of the evolutionary process by becoming independent from surrounding and circumstances.

    As hominids learned to speak they became human. They could trick out nature and were less and less bound to any ecological system.

    We can change anything overnight and to fly we don't need to grow wings but fabricate a flying machine.

    If evolution is driven by survival of the fittest it has changed into the survival of the smartest but in the end the odds to survive are more on the side of insects.
    • Aug 25 2012: Hi Frans !

      I agree with you, that probably we have been on the path to 'anthropocentric vanity' ( as Matthieu put it ) since language has come into being. Maybe since then we have been in a man-ego dominated cycle.
      But humans are not independent , nothing is .
      WE ARE the environment.
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    Aug 18 2012: I believe the key to evolution lies within our brains. Some people argue that you can affect your body through thought alone. If this is true, then consider how drastically we've changed WHAT we constantly look at as examples (I'm not talking about models and handsome actors.) Now, more than ever, our minds are bombarded with conflicting imagery. We're constantly trying to process more information than ever before, but unfortunately, most of the information is irrelevent to the growth of your brain. Some might argue that this stunts our evolution, however, it's my belief that it's just a different direction on the same path. Don't get me wrong; a future engulfed in ignorance is not what I desire, but it seems that the "intelligence gap" is widening among us all. It's no secret that many people from developed countries (the U.S., being in the lead) are rapidly developing a barrage of diseases and ailments derived from sedentary lifestyles and improper diets. These diseases are beginning to imbed themselves in our DNA. It won't be long before humans branch off again. As was noted throughout history, the "new" human eventually drives the weaker branch to extinction. We can currently see the physical differences between humans in developed and third-world countries. In no way am I trying to be inhumane in my observations, it just makes sense to me that it's a possible direction we're heading in.
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      Aug 19 2012: Thank you for your response. I especially appreciate the comment, "As was noted throughout history, the "new" human eventually drives the weaker branch to extinction".

      I pray that I am one of the new humans!
  • Aug 18 2012: Journalist Richard Milton states, that Darwin's theory of evolution does not stand up to logical scientific scrutiny.
    Here is the link :
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      Aug 19 2012: A lot of talk, not much evidence of anything he talked about and didn't really back anything up with facts
      • Aug 19 2012: Milton doesn't claim for a new theory; he just reminds that TE is a THEORY not a fact and it is supposed to be questioned by definition.
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          Aug 19 2012: No, he literally says that, and then fails to make any serious points to back up his view. He uses the peppered moth falsely, it's never claimed that it could cause speciation just variation. The tools found in coal are a lot easier explained by the fact that they were most likely dropped in between two slabs of coal during mining and it's been proven that water is enough to seal the coal and trap the tool.
          He fails to mention that the uranium decay which he says is useless for dating because it also decays into helium and not just lead, only makes up for less than 0.2% of the uranium isotopes. 99.8% of all uranium decays into lead which he failed to mention, convenient?
          Also ufo tv doesn't instantly strike reliable source into the minds of people.
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          Aug 20 2012: Actually in science, theories are a higher level than facts.
          Theories explain and predict and organise the facts.
          Atomic theory explains hundreds of facts and observations.
          So does the theory of evolution.

          Newton's theory of Universal Gravitation is just a theory too, that explains facts.
          Einsteins theory of relativity, just another theory.

          I guess all theories are useless because they only explain facts, but they aren't facts.

          And like all science they can be refined and improved and built upon or thrown out if we develop better explanations of the facts.
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          Aug 20 2012: Science isn't perfect or complete, it doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but I'm picking up a real disdain for science.

          Science and the tools it has led to have revolutionised our lives.

          If you ever have an operation or a tooth out, thank science for the anesthetic.
      • Aug 21 2012: Stewart ,
        Maybe you are right challenging ' uranium decay' argument. Frankly, i don't know, and it was not that attracted me.
        Don't you experience a kind of a cognitive dissonance when you are suggested to believe that life emerged from a random mutation out of primordial soup under the dubious and controversial circumstances, which can never be recreated and tested ? Don't you think that it requires the same degree of ' belief ' as religion does ?
        In QM the Newtonian physics is viewed as a ' limited case ', maybe the theory of evolution is the similar limited case in the process where consciousness is the major player and totally not taken into account in TE ?
        Re "This fully depends on what you define as consciousness "
        I don't define consciousness, as far as i know, nobody does. Or did i miss something here ? In my own understanding it is something/everything that do not think , but where all thoughts came from.
        Einstein thought that the whole Universe was conscious ( Spinoza's version ), I don't think that he would be flattered to know, but I do share this vision :)
        Thanks for responding !
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          Aug 21 2012: This Is the exact technique these frauds use, they claim something doesn't work, never back up this statement with any facts and just leave people to hopefully believe him and not actually research it themselves
          And no i dont feel weird when considering if I came from one cell. And no it doesn't require the same amount of belief as a religion, simply because the methods of evolution have been proved to work and that there is no reason to think it hasn't happened in the past. Also fossils showing primitive structures. Then there's gene similarity and there's just so much evidence which all points towards a common ancestor it's incredible
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          Aug 21 2012: "That life emerged from a random mutation out of primordial soup under the dubious and controversial circumstances, which can never be recreated and tested"

          that is not evolution you are describing. Evolution describes how species vary and give rise to other species. It doesn't have anything to say about how life arose. Having said that, there's nothing particularly shocking about self-assembling proteins coming into being. Chemistry is all about bonds and repeating patterns with reactions leading molecules to more complex compounds.

          I submit to you that your cognitive dissonance comes from an unfulfilled expectation to have the answer ready made. It wasn't until 1859 that the idea of evolution was put into words, why should we already have the answers regarding the genesis of life? You can't arrive at your destination while the tracks are being built (and you won't know until then if it's testable or reproducible and believe me there are people who are testing ideas all the same) You want to quench your thirst, why don't you have a look at all the hypothesis that have been formulated and that are compatible with the knowledge we have accumulated (instead of throwing it all away like Mr. Milton).
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          Aug 23 2012: That is a good question Natasha.

          I guess it depends on your perspective. I wonder how (1) people can latch onto specific god ideas with such confidence when even if there is a god the odds are not good their view is correct and (2) that people don't see that assuming some god or supernatural force or agency is involved doesn't answer anything - its just a big magic plug for ignorance and (3) that people can not clearly see we are mammals and so similar in so many ways to other animals. The evidence for common descent seems so intuitively obvious to me but not others.(4) that so many think this magic force or agency is still intervening in our lives and revealed and knowable yet is invisible, intangible, immaterial extremely elusive and virtually unrecognisable from a delusion.

          While I don't rule out there being something more, I don't have any issue if we are the results of natural processes with no other agency involved. For me, when I see the physical and even behavioural similarities we seem to be smart animals, obviously physically related, we have a mechanism via genes and DNA and natural selection that explains the changes and adaptation actually occurs in front of our eyes in a relatively short time. I can extrapolate that back easily for all vertibra. The further back you go, it gets less intuitive and obvious for me, but I see no reason not to accept a natural explanation is most likely. I mean we don't need gods or supernatural agencies to explain anything we have figured out in detail - lightening, earthquakes etc.

          I would be careful saying never recreate or reproduce. We've confirmed DNA in the last 50 years and only mapped the human genome recently. What we will know in another 50 years or 5,000 or 5 million?

          If we were designed, what a crappy design, and we must have been created to look evolved. Its a dog eat dog world. Animals live by eating other life.

          Wherever there is water on Earth we find life, even in the underwater volcanic vents.
      • Aug 21 2012: iow , you are fully satisfied with existed model. OK, then :)
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          Aug 21 2012: I'm fine with where the theory stands, but I still want gaps plugged. I'd love for within my lifetime someone to work out how to tell which genes are new etc and get as many fossils as possible and really start fleshing out the tree of life
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      Aug 19 2012: you lost me at "journalist"
      • Aug 19 2012: If you don't want to listen to anything that runs against your paradigm, ignore it :)
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          Aug 19 2012: Well in a perfect world with unlimited time, I migth just give some of my time to the opinions of a journalist on a youtube channel called UFO tv with a history of contrarianism . I could also try and devise ways of testing every quack idea someone on TED conversations will have about the speed of light or time or 'why' particles. I could do all those things, but maybe there are much better things to do. Evolution isn't a paradigm. There are paradigms within evolution such as the selfish gene view of evolution and the multi-leveled view of evolution, but putting evolution into question is a tired tactic of those with motives other than scientific ones.

          I would also argue it is bad practice to let the video do the conversation. Maybe you should give some sort of summary of the video. That will show both that you watched it yourself and that you understand enough of it to comment about the validity of the claims that are made. If you can't do that, you're commiting the argument from authority fallacy by assuming that Milton knows best. Not a scientific approach.
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        Aug 19 2012: I love what you say about video summaries. And I take it on a philosophical level.
        It's just too lazy to copy-paste a link to somebody else's idea. Summarize it, make it your own.
        Valuable knowledge is open-source. It's not Darwin's idea anymore. It's mine.
        I wish more people made summaries, made things their own.
      • Aug 21 2012: Matthieu ,
        I don't think that being interested in other people thoughts on the subject in question is a bad/lazy practice. Why i should have an opinion in the first place ?
        I have questions instead.
        As to my experience in TED conversations, those who have unshakable opinions or strong beliefs ( which is pretty much the same ) seem to have arrived to the place of destination and entertain the idea that they know the truth. I prefer to stay open and opinion is the last thing i want to have. Though i have some :)

        Thanks for responding !
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          Aug 21 2012: In the interest of actually having a conversation about the topic, I've replied to one of your comments above. I will say however that your original post does not contain questions either.
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      Aug 19 2012: Hi Natasha.
      Interesting link. Thank goodness for people who are willing to think for themselves. Sooner or later the truth will out.

      • Aug 19 2012: Hi, Peter !
        Frankly, I don't think that Creationism holds the truth.
        If you mean that truth :)
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          Aug 19 2012: Hi Natasha,
          I wouldn't expect you to fall for that :) Creationism is a belief. The truth is that evolution is having to resort to court cases & gagging orders to quench negative investigation. This must eventually become apparent to all.

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          Aug 20 2012: Seriously Peter, if there is a better scientific explanation than evolution to explain the different species, I suspect there is a Nobel prize in it. They gave one away for the discovery of DNA.

          The court cases I have read about are about keeping religion and creationism out of public schools and stopping special interests teaching something that does not stand up scientifically.

          Science deals with unusual or novel hypotheses all the time. They ultimately progress or not on their merits, on the evidence.

          Evolution doesn't disprove gods. Science and evolution has nothing to say about the existence of god. It just explains things better and better over the years. If your particular beliefs don't fit the explanations, then the choice is yours how to proceed.

          Do you really think all the god fearing Christians who are biologists or geologists are part of some grand conspiracy to trick everyone about whether we evolved or the radiometric dating of fossils and rocks? Do you think it is just their presupositions that the universe is old that leads them to interpret the data on the distances of stars and how long it took the light to reach us. Are they supposed to ignore that because it can not be because of the bible so they must be interpreting it wrong or something supernatural happened to make it look like it took a long time.

          I'm not helplessly committed to evolution etc. We might some better explanation one day. We might be able to prove spirit energy exists or what ever.

          The difference is I'm not committed to a book being absolutely right. I'm okay saying we don't really know

          Meanwhile I support public and scientific debate but not slipping in non scientific beliefs into school science.

          I actually support teaching about all the religions and general spirituality in schools, their historical development, similarities, the fact they are based on faith, on revelation, scripture and authority and critical thinking. The challenges of origins and consciousness
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          Aug 20 2012: Hi Obey.

          You really need to watch 'Expelled' if you want perspective on this. You may well disagree with it, but in my attempts to educate myself I hear over & over about scientists getting into hot water over this. Here in the UK our schools are banned from teaching anything that disagrees with mainstream science. This is a really strange way to stimulate enquiry, which is the bedrock (or should be) of science.

          You will get Expelled 1of 10 here. I found them all up to 9, so you may miss the end. (The butler did it).


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          Aug 20 2012: @Peter: I watched Expelled a few years ago. At best it's a good exposé of how to dupe gullible people by heavily bombarding them with suggestive nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia footage whilst talking about evolution and atheism to let people make false associations.

          Ben Stein is as dull as a doorknob and his grasp of evolution sucks. I watched it to get a good laugh, but it wasn't even funny bad, it was just bad. The only funny bit was when a cartoon Dawkins is pulling all the slot machines to illustrate the improbability of beneficial mutations (which of course also illustrates how creationists make the same mistakes over and over and over and over again when they talk about evolution). This is essentially the error behind William Dembsky's whole reasoning.

          I'd recommend everyone not waste their time watching this unless they want to see propaganda at work.
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          Aug 21 2012: Hi Matt.
          I agree you can take or leave the window dressing. Mr Stein has an odd sense of humour. However real scientists are losing real jobs over this, & the testimonies given should invoke some concern in anyone with a sense of fair play.

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          Aug 21 2012: Once you find out why they really lost their jobs, there's no sympathy left.
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          Aug 23 2012: Hi Peter, I had a look at the expelled. Some reasonable concerns raised although the style, the cut aways to Khrushchev hitting the table and other visual propaganda diminished the delivery for me.

          I support questioning and testing out novel ideas. There has been lots of discussion on ID. But from what I understand of ID it just does not cut it as a scientific explanation.

          It is hard to comment on some of the specifics of the case from a distance. I don't know exactly what happened or whether he should have been sacked.

          In Australia an anti discrimination commissioner got sacked for expressing a discriminatory opinion. He is welcome to his opinion, but it probably wasn't appropriate for his job.

          I suggest ID is so bogus, you might question the competence and motivations of someone in a senior scientific role publishing this junk. If I can work out ID is a flawed and discredited argument, unless they have some new stuff, I question the competency. But again I don't know enough about the specifics to have a firm opinion.

          Again, no issues with the debate in public. No issue with scientific discussion and debate. But I hope you can see the difference between rejecting something that has been thoroughly debunked and rejecting something controversial that has merit.

          I've read up quite a bit on ID, because I though they might be on to something. Now I have more information and its a bit like someone is saying 1 + 1 = 5, this has been reviewed and rejected, yet the campaign continues. If a maths professor publishes an article saying 1 + 1 = 5, you would question his suitability for the job.

          I'm not rejecting ID because it disagrees with evolution. Potentially it could be compatible, if they had convincing evidence that some bits and pieces could not evolve. Its just they have no evidence left after it has been examined.

          It fails on lack of evidence, before questioning if going from we don't know to god/creator/designer did it is even logical or verifiable.
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          Aug 23 2012: Peter,

          There may be a gods. Jesus may have resurrected. There might be heaven and hell. Or Buddha could have been right about reincarnation. Or LRH about Xenu.

          Super beings may have evolved in a previous big bang and created our universe.

          There could be a spirit realm and intangible beings.

          It is just science can't test these things.

          Also, we know enough that evolution is a robust theory. God could have helped it along in places, perhaps even kicked started it. We just can not test that unless there is some evidence and so far ID has none that has stood up to scientific scrutiny.

          So the magic world is still available except where the magic beliefs make claims that clash with what we reasonable know to be correct. The sun is not being pulled by a chariot and humans share 98% DNA with chimps and natural selection happens.
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    Aug 17 2012: There's a simple explanation and I'll illustrate it in simple terms. It relates to almost everything you've listed. Say you're a human being born in a fairly modern country with skyscrapers and spaceships, travel agencies and education. Now this, you advance, is all the product of a freakishly rapid evolution of man and wow how amazing our feats are, that evolution could have hardcoded this ability in us in such a short period. Now imagine that before you're made very aware of the world you're plopped in a jungle somewhere and somehow you survive to adulthood. Would you be able to build a skyscraper, an airplane? Of course not and that's an unfair illustration because you'd argue that even in today's time, you'd have to have the skill and you'd have to be a group of people. Fine, might you then develop basic skills like agriculture or writing? No, you can only make stone tools? How very early human of you. The truth is, none of the human prowess of the last thousands of years is hard-coded in your genes. The thing that makes for our fulgurant advance is simple: cumulative culture.

    With most other animals, they have a lifespan to learn and then they die with no means to pass on their knowledge as efficiently as humans do. With humans, every successive generation carries the wisdom of the previous generation, even more so when writing appears. You see, throughout history, as cultures of human come into contact a sharp increase takes place in the lesser advanced culture's ability to deal with certain problems. That doesn't mean that one population magically made the other population evolve much faster, it's just culture has been passed on.

    All stems then from a rather unimpressive change in humans, the increase of our brain size. So of course flying takes millions of years, it's not a learnt behavior, you have to evolve the whole gear through trial and error!

    Humans have in fact evolved very little in the last hundred thousand of years.
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      Aug 18 2012: I am impressed. You concentrate on the concept of culture to be in fact the driving force of our development.
      You do not mention our interest in recording information.

      The fact that we have been and remain to be hunter - gatherers is to be the central meditation point of the future. We must remain loyal to the talents inherited through our genes, rather than the skills developed through an extremely short span of history.

      I appreciate your input. Thank you.
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        Aug 18 2012: Recording information is implicit in the power of cumulative culture. The central point is we can pass on culture while other animals can't (chimpanzees might but to a limited point).
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      Aug 18 2012: Hi Matt.
      Long time no see. I agree with you, the technology is learned behaviour. Because there are so many of us cooperating, we all just have to learn our little bit; bricklayer, doctor, astronaut, etc., & we can do wonderful things. I guess the rub is that we need extra brain capacity up-front to achieve this. It is obvious from artefacts like pyramids that we have been smart for recorded history, but only as the population rocketed has this appeared in the technological form we have today.
      Still don't get the evolution thing though (sorry).

  • Dan F

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    Aug 24 2012: Human evolution merits special distinction from other species -- we have a boat. It is this boat that profoundly sets us apart from other living species. The boat is reflected in an independent Cultural Evolution of ideas, products, etc., which has emerged due to our existence and has increasingly changed the natural world and artificial world in an amazingly short time span.

    This human productivity sets us apart from all other species because it has enabled us to alter the natural world so dramatically. These changes have provided us with incredible benefits and achievements all brought about through the evolutionary and cultural development of our brain and brawn. This capacity is associated with negative costs which can and do affect our well being as pointed out in so many talks offered by TED.

    I think TED serves us well by providing talks that reflect on the aspects of life that help us better understand and perhaps better address the challenges we face, especially those of our own doing.
  • Aug 21 2012: Sebastian: "OK. However the point of this debate is to search for ideas regarding reasons for the rate of human advance in comparison to the evolutionary pace of the wilderness."

    I think that OBey No1Kinobe and Matthieu Miossec have provided very good reasons, basically humans' ability to communicate technological and cultural knowledge.

    If you are questioning why other species do not have this ability, that is very difficult to determine, both logically and scientifically. As a general statement it is very difficult to point out something that is missing and then find an actual reason why it does not exist. Without hard evidence, we can only speculate. I do not follow anthropology closely, but the last time I read an article about Neanderthals, there were still questions about why Neanderthals are now extinct. We have hard evidence that Neanderthals existed and know much about them, and still the questions remain.

    My best guess for our status as the only species that developed reading and writing is that we killed off any other species that developed a level of communication that exceeds that of the other great apes that still survive. This is just a guess, but it is based on our ability to conduct war. Warfare is so prevalent throughout history that it seems reasonable to assume that it developed very early. We still have ethnic conflict today, so it seems reasonable that its roots go back to our early millennia as a species.

    So my guess is that "one fantastically competent species" killed off any related species that were not competent enough to kill us off.

    By the way, I believe that concepts like "mental evolution" or "psychological evolution" are useful only as analogies and are confusing in a debate that includes biological evolution.
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    Aug 20 2012: The Mayan calendar follows the evolutionary progression from the big-bang to the present with surprising accuracy. It is as if life was supposed to follow the path that it has taken.
    first stage; big-bang to cellular organisms.
    second stage; cellular organisms to mammals dominating the land.
    third stage; mammals to primates with family oriented traits.
    forth stage; primates to hominids in hunter-gatherer groups.
    fifth stage; hominids to homo-sapiens in first civilizations.
    sixth stage; first civilizations to development of nations.
    seventh stage; nations to planetary issues.
    eighth stage; planetary issues to galactic awareness.
    ninth stage; galactic awareness to universal awareness.

    Each stage is exactly 20 times shorter than the one that preceded it, so it wasn't adjusted to fit the geological record. It fits for reasons that we can't account for.

    It was adopted 2000 years ago, long before any concept of globalization could be realized, and yet it is right on schedule. What we are experiencing today is just what the Mayan calendar suggests should be happening. I am not suggesting that some supreme being is in charge, just that the universe itself seems to be following a pattern that is ordered from the beginning. It is reductionism in reverse following a cyclic and predictable pattern. How many times has it happened prior to our present universe? Possibly more than we wish to count.

    Throw the akashic records into that, and it gets pretty mind-boggling. What happens, why and how it happens, is probably more complex than evolution alone can account for.
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      Aug 20 2012: The Brahman is not a Being!!!
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        Aug 20 2012: My point exactly. What modern religions are teaching are words of scripture but no meaning beyond the words. The words were meant to convey a meaning that takes you into higher realms of understanding. Christ is the seventh energy chakra. When I go to various churches, I feel like I am in a one room schoolhouse and you never get past first grade.

        I have had spiritual experiences that led me to a study in Eastern philosophy. I was surprised to see how many connections I could make between the Judeo-Christian tradition and Eastern philosophy, but none of it is explained in the modern Christian church. I wrote a book to reflect this observation. You can find in on my profile.
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      Aug 21 2012: "The Mayan calendar follows the evolutionary progression from the big-bang to the present with surprising accuracy."

      No it doesn't, in fact, people like Neil de Grasse Tyson like to point out that we shouldn't worry about the end of the Mayan calendar because they got the dates for the beggining of the universe so abominably wrong.
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    Aug 19 2012: Sebastian,
    I am intrigued by your statement, ". . .there lies something bizarre hidden in the facts of our evolution." If I guess what it is will you tell me? I think you are referring to the unique abilities and resulting accomplishments of Homo Sapiens ( Science; Religion; Technology;etc.). There is something unique about Man. No other living creature is known to have, or to have had, many of man's abilities. Without using subjective terms like "better", "smarter", or "superior", is the 'bizarre something hidden in our evolution' illustrated by our development and use of critical thinking; mathematics; written language, etc.? Man seems to conform to an image not conveyed in any other living things. Thank you!--Edward
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      Aug 19 2012: That's it! We've branched off somehow to a level at which we're actually responsible for the maintenance of our eco-system, if not the biosphere in general.
      I cannot think of any other animal that possesses such responsibility. They are, instead, entirely at the mercy of it.
      Also it appears to be only humans that perform the act of handing down knowledge to the subsequent generation.
      In other words, our potency is outer-worldly.

      So explain that in the context of evolution!
      • Aug 19 2012: Agreed !
        It's a great embarrassment to the TE that it can't account for human consciousness, because after all the human consciousness produced the theory of evolution.
        There is a significant failure there.
        Without a purpose we, humans are totally out of business here.
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          Aug 19 2012: This fully depends on what you define as consciousness
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          Aug 20 2012: I note that most non scientific explanations for consciousness don't actually explain much. They just say god made us with spirits or similar. Does that explain anything? What are spirits, how do they work, how are they made. Duh?

          A few hundred years ago we couldn't explain lightening, or disease, or how physical traits are passed on. Must be magic.

          I guess because we don''t know everything, science is a failure.

          Yet it is thanks to science we have vaccines and computers to winge about science on.
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          Aug 21 2012: I think you have preconceived notions of consciousness and those are incompatible with evolution. Your subjective preconceptions only embarass evolution in your mind.

          There is a fundamental difference between 'can't account for' and 'is not explained by'. 'Can't account for' would mean an incompatibility between consciousness and evolution. Is there such an incompatibility?

          No for the simple reason that we know very little about consciousness. If you can name me one definite propertly of consciousness that makes it incompatible with evolution, I'm ready to hear it, but I'm not sure you more than anyone have a clear idea of what you mean by consciousness. Make sure that in your mind there is a clear separation between what we call a conscience and what we call a soul. The second is a completely unproven notion and if that notion is influencing your notion of consciousness, than the incompatibility is there, not in evolution.

          The penultimate chapter of Nick Lane's "Life Ascending: The 10 great inventions of evolution" is dedicated to consciousness and illustrates what we know and what we don't know about it.
      • Aug 23 2012: Matthieu !
        Maybe you are right 'Can't account for' is not a good choice; 'not paying due attention' would sound better, but it is not accurate either.
        Nobody can define consciousness but it doesn't make it less real. And i don' t think it's possible to overestimate its importance. What if everything is conscious ?
        There are different levels of consciousness as a different degree of condensation of the same indefinable ' stuff '. The flower is conscious where the sun is, the matter itself is conscious or is the manifestation of consciousness ; taking into consideration that nobody knows what actually matter is, why not ?
        All attempts to explain how particles get their masses have brought no plausible answer so far. You may say that some day we will manage , and maybe it's true, but something prompts me, that we will, if we change the Paradigm. We should accept that indefinable consciousness conducts the performance.
        Would you agree that TE is perfectly compatible with Newtonian physics and was produced by Cartesian mindset ?
        Is TE is compatible with QM ? The word 'wired' is the most common in description of QM processes. Causality shatters: the effect is observed as prior to the cause ; particle behaviour is context dependent and each electron in the universe could be the same one... the list of wired things is quite long. QM brings the idea that the phenomenon starts to exist when defined, described as a probability. It challenges the very word ' objective '. What the objective reality could possibly be is often described as a 2D field of information. What is mutation/selection here ? A humble servant of something we don't have a name for. Don't take me wrong, no Holly Other or clock watcher is involved, there is no need for anything external here, but life per se must have meaning ...
      • Aug 23 2012: Cont .

        To cut the story short, the biology should come in congruence with QM,( should is a wrong word , skip it :) i guess it is already happening. You are a scientist in the field, if you are familiar with any trend of this kind and can provide me with a link, I'll be grateful.

        Thanks for responding !

        P. S . thanks for the name Nick Lane, i've googled it, what i see on the screen is interesting, really !
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          Aug 23 2012: I'm not saying consciousness isn't any less real. It's definitely describing something. What I am saying is that something that is still being understood cannot be used to demonstrate the falsehood of something else. It would be like assembling a model out of 999 pieces and deciding the model was wrong based on the weight of the box containing the 1000th'piece.

          There are a few things that make me think that you're not entirely clear about what consviousness means or describes, which makes my previous point all the more poignant: "What if everything is conscious" sounds more like a metaphysical question than a serious scientific one. "The flower is conscious where the sun is" The flower's ability to capture sunlight is done in a purely mechanistic way. Perhaps, rejoining your previous comment, you want to advance that solar panels are conscious too. I don't take that all too seriously sorry.

          Saying that we don't know what matter is is a bit sly. We do know that all matter is composed of particles themselves composed of sub-particles. We are not sure what makes those particles, but I wouldn't call that not knowing what matter is made of.

          All attempts to explain how particles get their masses have brought no plausible answer so far? So the LHC's Higgs Boson, what's that all about then?

          Evolution is compatible with Newtonian physics insofar as it takes place in a world bound by those laws (or more strictly Einstein's relativity). I would on the other hand reject that evolution follows the Cartesian mindset. Evolution to me quite clearly destroys the barrier between mind and body showing them for the one entity they really are.

          I'm going to stop you right here, quantum mechanics has become an excuse for the layman to try and defend all sorts of nonsensical ideas. There is no challenge to objectivity, there is a challenge to subjectivity because quantum mechanics challenges our subjective understanding of the world. Objectively, that is mathematically, QM makes sense
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          Aug 23 2012: and it has real world applications (we're all on computers that use quantum mechanical properties). Quantum mechanics has been arrived at despite its weirdness through scientific rigor and objectiveness, not armchair physics. If anything, qunatum mechanics is the most damning idea for those who think they can shake up paradigms just by pure thought and no experimenting. Quantum mechanics couldn't have been devised from just thinking about it.

          Let us be clear on another thing, the processes that take place in evolution can and are observed at our scale. DNA, genes, individuals, species are all things that are on a higher scale than the quantum mechanical scale. To concern ourselves about what quantum mechanics has to say about evolution might be interesting but it terciary. You don't need quantum mechanics to decide if a bridge is solid enough to take a flock of cars.

          Frankly, I don't know how you made the leap from QM to the humble servant. You'll have to clarify that.
      • Aug 24 2012: Matthieu !
        Re : To concern ourselves about what quantum mechanics has to say about evolution might be interesting but it tertiary....You'll have to clarify that.

        "Nothing has independent existence from anything else"
        If you accept it, there is nothing to explain, if you don't i have to write a book to explain and most likely won't succeed.
        Anyway, thanks for the conversation, i do appreciate your time !
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          Aug 24 2012: What I mean by that is that, at the end of the day, we all have to deal in abstractions. What we see at the macro-level is inevitably governed by what happens at the quantum level, but the theory of relativity describes it all just find without having to resort to quantum mechanics. You don't need to know the spin of every electron in a body to calculate its trajectory and it would be hellish to incorporate that bit of information and you would get virtually nothing out of it.

          It's the same with evolution. Quantum mechanics can hardly teach us something new about evolution. An evolved organism could tap into a quantum mechanical property, but that's a whole other matter entirely. I'm sure you don't need to know which pixels are being used on your screen to decipher my words, you only need to interpret the grey symbols at a higher level. Knowing what pixels are on or off would give you little more and could never contradict what you're observing at this level. Level would still be written the same whichever level you look at it.
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        Aug 24 2012: So we evolved a brain and a mind that allowed us to do all this human stuff, while still eating and defecating and living and rutting and letting out gas, and having babies, growing old and dying.

        Amzing ability to reasaon but still a lot of instinct and biology in there.

        Also walking upright at some stage and freeing up our hands was helpful too.

        Watch this space thoough. What will we be capable off in 100 years, or 1000 or a million.
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    Aug 18 2012: I'll rephrase your question to how or why did our science and technology improve exponentially in such a short biological timeframe. Please correct me if wrong.

    I'm no expert in this but will have a go.

    I guess it started with our body and brain. We developed our senses. We started moving upright freeing our hands which became pretty good for making and using tools. We developed a sense of awareness of self and our environment. Our neo cortex grew especially after we started eating meat. Maybe fire helped also get more energy intake to suppotrt a brain. Our ancestors were also group animals. We learned to cooperate. We developed language. We had the capability to think abstractly, to solve problems, to develop tools. We could pass this knowledge onto others and build on it. Eventually we developed agriculture and specialisation and writing and economies and trade etc. War was ever present and we have always been good developing weapons. Over time people tried to figure stuff out just for the sake of knowing I guess. We are curious problem solvers seeking meaning. Over time we developed the scientific method, maths etc. Our population grew, our specialisation increased including science and universities, breakthrough technologies fire, wheel, printing press, electricity, communications etc More education of the masses, a greater talent pool, discovery building on discovery and increasing our ability to make new ones. Throw in some geniuses like Newton, Einstein etc. More recently computers. The world now is interconnected, We have knowledge at our fingertips like never before.

    But as you point out we still carry our instinctual drives and behaviours, to compete and cooperate, to fight, flee, freeze, feed, and one more F to reproduce. We are still caught between instinct and reason.
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      Aug 18 2012: I like your answer. Nicely written.

      One point to add is that it is communication that is teaching us rather than trial and error. In general.
      The more we communicate the faster we learn, and the faster we therefore psychically evolve.
      • Aug 23 2012: 'The more we communicate the faster we learn, and the faster we therefore psychically evolve'

        I wouldn't equate increased technological know-how with evolution, I don't evolve when I read a book, nor have the 4 generations before me evolved in the period when virtually all technological advancements we use today were invented.
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        Aug 24 2012: Thanks and agree being able to learn from previous generations is a key attribute.
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    Aug 17 2012: Our evolution has not been fast at all. The development of humans goes back to the first organisms on earth. Genetic mutations occur occasionally in evolution that either yield a stronger or smarter creature. Humans have made an advanced leap in intelligence which has allowed us to do amazing things and has artificially put us at the top of the food chain.
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      Aug 18 2012: Yes the evolution of all organisms go back to the first organisms on Earth, however I was attempting to be more directly associative of the branch into our present day form as homo sapiens.

      Have you actually inspected the summary or have you simply glanced at the title?
      You have at least not answered any of the questions that were listed.
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        Aug 18 2012: Sebastian I have to agree with Kevin. Our knowledge, science, tools and technology have developed quickly, our society more complex, but our bodies and brains have probably not evolved that much in the last 100,000 years or so. Very little change also in the last 30,000 or even 5000 years when most of the technological progress has been made. Our bodies have not changed much say in the last 2,000 or 500 etc

        Suggest you don't equate recent technological development with biological evolution.

        You take a human baby from a few thousand years ago send them to school today and they might end up a scientist or engineer or unemployed given the GFC just like anyone else.
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          Aug 18 2012: Yes you make the same points as Matthieu Miossec, who I agree with.

          The question that Matthieu answered perhaps more carefully was how our brains, or at least thoughts, have evolved so rapidly.
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    Aug 17 2012: "Anyway, the question is how have we achieved this feat of evolution? Other animals require millions of years before they are able to fly. "

    But we didn't suddenly become globe-travelers and ruthless competitors with rival carnivores. Homo erectus, a milion years ago, had this already.
    There must be something about tool use and the need for passing on complexe traditions that did exert a lot of pressure for selecting brain power. So I suppose we did evolve quite fast from our common ancestor with modern chimps.
    However, the amazing things we do now come from very few years of effective innovation we've had. Traditionnal cultures have no innovation, or very little.
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      Aug 17 2012: Could it be as simple as those who ran really fast and took their tools with them held grudges and killed those preditors next time they saw them and the girls all swooned?
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        Aug 17 2012: Perhaps! And in the military we are all taught to never leave our equipment behind.

        Splendid! Long live the military. Thanks to it we have girlfriends.
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    Aug 17 2012: I thiink we talked to each other and that we shared information.
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      Aug 17 2012: Perhaps, however there is a MAJOR dilemma in your presentation. That is= how were we able to talk to one another and share information when the world contains hundreds of different languages.

      It is not, in my opinion, possible that a single tribe has conquered the Earth in pre - ancient history, uniting the entire jumble of humans behind some common secret to evolutionary advance. Or is it?

      Do you believe in the presence of extra terrestrials?
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        Aug 17 2012: Nope, but I do believe in linguists like Chomsky and Pinker who could really answer this question.
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        Aug 17 2012: The development of myriads of languages came as a result of humans diversifying into lots of cultures after we conquered the world.

        It was not exactly a single tribe of humans that conquered the Earth, but it was a fairly small group. You're speculating on things that we have information on. Please do your homework.
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    Aug 27 2012: I find it hard to be so self-congratulatory about my species.
    When being chased by a tiger, it is not the first guy accross the line that wins - it's the last guy that loses.
    Evolution does not hand out gold medals, it merely cleans up the edges.
    The planet we live on determines just how deep those edges are.
    We can get excited by our wonderful achievements, but all our gold medals are inconsequential.
    When the time comes for the "edges" to deepen, it won't be just humans running.

    It seems to me that our wonderful mastery of toolmaking and language has done little more than make us our own predator. All that big brain dedicated to the service of surviving ourselves.
    And in the process, we've divorced ourselves from our environment.
    After surviving each other, our remaining energy is turned to pushing back the "edges" our planet presents. But this is mere deferral - the edge goes back and back, and we tighten our sphincters in hope that some new technology will push it back even further. But, ultimately, the rubber band will snap. At that time, we may well find that the "edge" goes all the way into the middle, and there will be no human winners.

    Well, yes, but look at the etymology of the word "competent"=competition-prone.
    In a system that does not care who has a gold medal, the word "competent" seems more pejoritive than congratulatory.
    It could easily be replaced by "self obsessed" or "pathologically deluded".

    In the world of hominids, I think the Bonobo species is actually the "pinacle", we are a transitionary step.
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    Aug 24 2012: Every day, tens of species are getting naturally extinct from nature.

    One day, it will reach humans. Earth will live happily ever after, go into an ice age cycle, and what the heck, maybe throw in a couple of dinosaurs here and there, they once ruled the earth, no reason why they cant again. The circle of life, and evolution.
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      Aug 24 2012: Am I hearing social Darwinism? They say that without people the planet would restore itself in 50 years.
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        Aug 24 2012: Deb, your hearing is impeccable.
        As an amateur environmentalist, I'm a bit ambivalent about the 50 years. On one hand, i was hoping for something more than 50 years (dramatic purposes and to show just how much we really messed things up during the last 100 years of running around like a headless chicken with consumption and technology and limited foresight). On the other hand, I'm glad earth is one tough cookie.
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          Aug 24 2012: Its a good point. It is hard to think continuous growth is sustainable, although there are smarter ways to have less impact on the environment. LED's to not driving so much or not having a car - less consumption etc.

          I'm optimistic we will find a way.

          Suspect some sort of virus or bacteria whether natural or human made, or an asteroid, or nuclear obliteration is more likely.

          Ultimately the sun will burn up the earth.
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    Aug 21 2012: Why are humans the dominant species on the Earth? Because we're the latest model in a long line of mammals and a big asteroid wiped out the reptiles. If not for that we really would be tweeting each other all day.
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      Aug 22 2012: Probably more bacteria than humans.
      Maybe more insect and plants.
      It depends on your criteria for dominant.
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        Aug 24 2012: Novel thinking that adds new thoughts!
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      Aug 22 2012: We are the dominant species...according to ourselves using criteria that give us favorable odds. Objectively, in terms of evolutionary fitness, humans are not dominant or at least share the prize with a vast array of species, one could say almost all living species. Arguably, it might not even make sense to rate evolutionary fitness unless we're talking living vs. extinct species. A very tiny population of specialized beetles in a jungle somewhere is doing as much of a good job propagating its species onward into the future as are more than 7 billion humans.
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        Aug 22 2012: From an alien perspective you could quite easily conclude that plants are the dominant life form. They would certainly look dominant from space, especially to an organism that is no more like us than they are like the plants.
        • Aug 22 2012: I'm sure aliens would perceive themselves as more like us, considering they would need to be sentient beings with a high order of intelligence, and with functioning limb like structures required to operate their groovy UFO, unless they had even groovier telekinesis powers, or were linked neuronally with their craft, in which case they could operate a super-groovy brain powered UFO without limbs and so could look like trees if trees had central nervous systems. Well, the point of this story is... I forget. But the moral is..... I forget that too..... I like stories.
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        Aug 22 2012: They might not need space craft Andrew. They might be so different to terrestrial life that they percieve us as just blobs of dirty water. Remember almost all life on Earth is DNA based, so we are all close relatives on a cosmic scale. There may be "beings" out there that store and exchange information in non-chemical ways.
        • Aug 23 2012: That's an interesting viewpoint peter, although we have not observed any substance in this universe that is capable of storing information (transmitting yes) that is not to our understanding physical.

          Although other methods may exist in theory, these beings would have to have been spontaneously created out of this unknown substance as a basic self replicating unit a la abiogenesis and evolved in the same way (i.e. random mutation in some form) implying that this substance would have to have the same properties as matter without the aid of technology forming it, unless.... they were intelligently designed by the flying spaghetti monster using matter that does not exist in this universe.
          By jove I think I've got it!! I have rationally explained the origins of extra-terrestrial life forms from other dimensions. Now if someone could just enlighten me on what created the flying spaghetti monster I'll be on my way.
        • Aug 23 2012: Andrew !
          " So God created man in his own Image..."
          King James Version 1611

          Don't you recognise the pattern ? :)
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        Aug 23 2012: There are seven whole dimensions that are completely unobserved at this point in physics. And that doesn't take the Higg's field into account. I think there is plenty of room for methods of storing information that we can't perceive yet.
        • Aug 23 2012: Ahh, but in science one does not think, one feels (Hence my almost complete certainty in the flying spaghetti monster, may his noodly appendage fill my heart with the bolognese of love).

          Instead of thinking based on no evidence, you should feel based on the abundant evidence of your gut (which, if you had the FSM in your life, would be full of the meatballs of omniscience).

          As for the 7 undiscovered dimensions, there have only been 4 dimensions with any non-theoretical evidence, 3 of them being space and one being time. However if you read the tortelora, it is stated in the book of flying spaghetti that the 7 ethereal dimensions were created by the 7 angel haired spirits of the noodly one, who went by the names of Cannelloni, Tagliatelle, Linguine, Fettuccine, Tortellini, Gnocchi and of course Dopey.

          May your time on earth be spent in his glutinous presence.
      • Aug 23 2012: Matthieu !
        This is exactly what the theory of evolution urges us to believe : Objectively, in terms of evolutionary fitness, humans are not dominant . But the story which is unfolding is totally different.
        We can drive mad/ extinct beetles in a jungle by ruining their habitat or starting to hunt them for food or for any other reason. The opposite can take place only in Hollywood, under Sir Alfred Hitchcock supervision. We are dominant species de facto, whether we like it or not .
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          Aug 23 2012: The ability to drive other species to extinction is not an argument for dominance. Talk of dominance is purely anthropocentric vanity.
        • Aug 23 2012: Hi Matthieu, I agree that talk of dominance is anthropocentric, however I'm not so sure about the concept of vanity.

          Unless there is an objective way to measure dominance or survival fitness, it is by its nature a purely human concept and therefor subjective.

          According to Wikipedia (which we all know is infallible) "Anthropocentrism is the position that human beings are the central or most significant animal species, or the assessment of reality through an exclusively human perspective."

          As unfortunately we cannot assess reality through any other perspective it is by necessity that our concept of what is dominant is anthropocentric, and at the risk of sounding anthropocentric, I believe as the only earth species with any chance of colonising foreign planets to avoid cataclysmic events it can be said from a survival perspective that we are the most dominant (assuming we eventually do colonise foreign planets before ours is destroyed).
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          Aug 24 2012: @Andrew: Ah! Interesting way of putting it, hopefully we'll get to that point. If we colonise other planets though, we'll have to bring a lot of co-dependent species with us. Surely that's a win for them too.
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        Aug 26 2012: Andrew weren't you even a little bit impressed that they predicted the Higg's boson and then found it. The only reason they looked for it was because a page full of math suggested it should be there. And there it is!
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    Aug 21 2012: Why it's easy to imagine.

    Smaller bodies use less oxygen,slower metabolic rate as we adjust to living indoors twenty four hours a day,pasty white B12 deficient skin,hairless,bald,zero muscle mass,technological intervention to increase cranial size,a crazy fad that goes wrong and we end up with huge slanted pupil-less eye's,other crazy genetic fads take hold and we end up with almost no noses and thin lips also due to our decreased physical exercise our skin takes on a pallid greyish look and Wa-La!

    Then we discover timetravel so we decide to go back and warn ourselves what is going to happen but find out no one believes we exist.
  • Aug 21 2012: A note on terminology. And respect.

    There is nothing in my dictionary that would prevent a theory from also being a fact.

    A fact is a specific instance of objective reality. 'The sun will rise tomorrow' is a fact. People can disagree with the statement 'the sun will rise tomorrow'. People can disagree with "'The sun will rise tomorrow' is a fact." Disagreement does not change objective reality.

    Please do not state that a theory is not a fact as a general statement. This is a matter of understanding the definitions of the terms. Some theories are facts and some are not. The theory of Relativity is not compatible with the theory of Quantum Mechanics, so stating that either of these theories is a fact would be misleading (at least). Acoustic Theory is a fact, and arguing otherwise would have the same validity as arguing that the sun will not rise tomorrow.

    IMO, the Theory of Evolution, as it is understood by most laymen, is a fact. You certainly have the right to disagree with this statement, argue and make a case for why you think this statement is false. I have a right to my opinion as well. In addition to you and me, there is the scientific establishment. The following is a true statement: "Science considers the Theory of Relativity a scientifically established fact." You are still free to argue that the Theory of Relativity is not a fact. If you do make this argument, you should not expect that your opinion will be respected by people who respect science.

    Whether someone respects your opinions or not, WE SHOULD ALL SHOW EACH OTHER RESPECT AS PEOPLE.
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      Aug 21 2012: Dear Barry,

      So what is your opinion regarding the 'Theory of Evolution', and forgive me for being a layman?
      • Aug 21 2012: I am a layman too.

        "IMO, the Theory of Evolution, as it is understood by most laymen, is a fact."
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          Aug 21 2012: OK. However the point of this debate is to search for ideas regarding reasons for the rate of human advance in comparison to the evolutionary pace of the wilderness.
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        Aug 24 2012: If a scientific theory or part of it is correct, it or part of it is correct.
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    Aug 18 2012: In this video Ridley states that Neanderthals had bigger brains then we do, apparently that is not it.

    He does state the difference between us and the critters who get around on 4 legs
  • Aug 18 2012: Juan Enriquez "Will our kids be a different species"
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      Aug 20 2012: Sam, my understanding of evolution is that it is very unlikely that the next generation will a different species to their parents. Near impossible.

      Imagine you could go back in time 10,000 years. You would be able to interbreed with our direct ancestors.

      Go back 100,000 years, you could probably interbreed.

      But go back far enough and you wouldn't be able to make babies with our direct ancestors, or the offspring might be infertile.

      Donkeys and horses have a common ancestor but they have diverged enough that their offspring, mules are infertile. Horses also share a common ancestor with tapirs, but further back. There has been more divergence and they can not interbreed.
  • Aug 18 2012: This makes sense to me.. But I still view it the following way; there is a common ancestor for man and chimpanzee, how did the presence of man cause the extinct of the hominids between this common ancestor and man, despite the fact that these were very developed primates, relatively very intelligent, capable of using tools, assuming upright position, thus capable of using there fore limbs freely. Please note that I did not ask about a missing gap in less developed species like birds and reptiles, I'm specifying the dilemma to the extinct primates, although less developed monkeys are still present and surviving. I think there must be a scientific explanation somewhere, even if we do not know it yet, efforts must be done to find it.
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      Aug 18 2012: most likely we out sorced Homo erectus on the african plains and sapiens began to dominate leading to their extinction.
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      Aug 19 2012: Imo,i think the early humans hunted them as an extra food source.
  • Aug 18 2012: I understand that we share a common ancestor with chimpanzee and that we did not evolve directly from them. I still cannot understand why are the stages between this common ancestor and Homo sapiens totally extinct. Similarly all the stages between the common ancestor and the chimpanzee totally extinct ?! I'm not attacking evolution, I believe in evolution and need to make by belief more solid. I do not find a convincing explanation for the absence of those intermediate stages.
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      Aug 18 2012: See the box -- below -- . I have offered a suggestion to your question.
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      Aug 18 2012: Hi Mahmoud.
      Don't you find it strange that you are required to 'believe' in what is supposed to be an established 'fact'?
      Surely if you have to believe, then it is a belief, in the same way as you would believe in a god.

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        Aug 19 2012: So Peter you believe what is not fact, but you don't believe what is fact? Anything you know to be fact, you also, by definition, believe. I believe you're Peter Law because it's a fact. Mahmoud can legitimetaly use the word believe in this context.
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        Aug 19 2012: Evolution explains the facts.

        Whereas you really need creative contortions to explain why marine mammals have residual hind limbs, or why do humans have redundant egg yolk sacks develop during pregnancy when we don't lay eggs. Perhaps we evolved from something that did or god jut played a joke or made a mistake.

        Just look at the physical and genetic similarities. Funny how most vertibrates have 4 limbs and remarkably similar skeleton structures and eyes etc. Why not 6, 8, 10, 12. Why not compound eyes on vertibrates or camera eyes on squid. You can choose to ignore all this and just say design efficency or its just that the creator made it look like vertibraes evolved.

        Funny how the creator made us breast feeding mammals that reproduce and eat and defecate and grow old and die just like the others
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        Aug 20 2012: And you are required to believe in talking donkey's and global floods and virgin births and walking on water and that genocide ordered by a so called loving god is okay.

        In a god that tells his chosen people to chop a bit of their penis off.

        In a book that tells us when a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owners property.

        In a god that for a time at least permitted no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

        A lot of science is difficult. Atoms are not obvious just from looking at something. But we look for evidence.

        But I'm dumbfounded by all of the nonsense and backwardness that is contained in the bible.

        And remember no one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. And this is the divine word of the creator of the universe. Some micromanager.

        Although perhaps some of the proverbs have very powerful insights. But I might avoid telling my wife this one: It is better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby, complaining wife.

        We have a lot of desert in Australia and she might send me packing.

        I suggest a lot of the strangeness is in the eye of the beholder and to think the bible was written by something all powerful and all knowing, well it doesn't meet my expectations.
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      Aug 18 2012: Don't listen to Peter about the belief nonsense he spews out. For instance I believe that gravity is universal and is constant throughout the world, even on other galaxies. now this belief isn't unfounded and it's something I've come to logically there's a big difference between what you might call scientific belief and religious belief.
      Ok the answer is really easy. Evolution is ALL about survival. So the mutation any creature may get will only survive if it helps it survive over it's fellow species. So say you have mice living on an island and one mouse gets a mutation where his teeth grow much larger than normal. This then allows him to eat harder nuts and fruits etc etc and hence increases the chances of his survival. So all he has to do is survive then pass on his genes to the next generation. Meanwhile all the other normal mice are dying younger and less are making it to the reproductive stage of life. Yet the mutated mouse's offspring will have no bother reaching sexual maturity and so they spread the gene further along their generations and get females that normal mice couldn't. So given enough time the normal mice will go extinct. It wasn't a matter of they all suddenly died, but rather a certain mutation got preferred in the gene pool, increased its percentage in the gene pool over time whilst overcoming the normal mice for sexual dominance. I hope that makes some sense I may have worded it awfully.
      Another example is that it is though that homo sapiens completely wiped neanderthals through warfare or by out competing them in survival methods. So in essence, you don't have to actively kill a species for them to die out, just out compete them and remove resources they would have once had.
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        Aug 24 2012: Don't forget variation etc. Its not all mutations.

        Some people are taller, some shorter. If the taller ones tend to survive to have more babies that will carry the genes that make them tall. Over time the population will become taller until other factors start to cancel out the benefits of being taller. Bad backs, more food intake required if you are bigger etc.
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      Aug 19 2012: 99% of the species that have existed are extinct.

      One option is the population was localised and evolved over time into a different species as a whole. They original species didn't die out just changed over time into something else.

      Another is there was divergence in different populations and just the best adapted groups survived.

      There may also have been competition between rivals
  • Aug 18 2012: "Brutally slaughtered all our relatives or absorbed all other directly related species into our gene pool (theories differ)"

    I need you to guide me to those theories. I cannot understand something about human evolution, which is where are the intermediate stages between the chimpanzee, the Homo erectus and Homo sapiens? Why can we not still find intermediate stages living till today? They are supposed to be more adapted than the great apes and more intelligent than them and that's why they evolved from great apes, so why are the great apes present while hominids not?
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      Aug 18 2012: You may be under one of the largest misconceptions about human evolution. We did not evolve from chimps or monkeys. Chimps and humans share a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. Eventually this species got split and sexually isolated and branched off in two directions. We don't see homo erectus because they're all dead and they evolved into us. We don't see chimp ancestors because they're dead and they evolved into chimps.
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      Aug 18 2012: Perhaps there are no intermediate stages. The adaptations made between chimpanzee and Homo erectus, for example, might have been punctuated - that is to say one day inside an embryo the DNA mutated, leading later to greater environmental awareness. This chimpanzee, though looking a little different, was much smarter and soon became alpha male. Over time the alpha male reproduced with the hoards of females in his tribe and spread his genes to begin a new species.
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        Aug 18 2012: Isn't this pure speculation? Perhaps this, maybe that. I thought this was a scientific theory.

        A scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.". (Wiki)

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          Aug 19 2012: Scientific theory is not fact and therefore cannot be determined to be true.

          Be careful in your selection of words when discussing theory.
          It is not appropriate to discuss a theory as being fact.

          The fact that theory is based on fact does not make theory fact.
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          Aug 19 2012: Hi Peter that does not mean we have a detailed explanation for every stage of evolution of all the millions of species alive today. Every bacteria, bird, insect, reptile, mammal, plant, algae etc. Do you need details for all of these before you would consider accepting evolution.

          How many examples do you need. Just one would prove that at least one species evolved and was not created as a kind.

          Do we need to know what Bob the Neanderthal was doing on Thursday 50,001 BCE

          I would question evolution if we found fossil rabbits in the same layers as dinosaurs because they were not supposed to live at the same time.

          Also from your creationist perspective do you require every single existing and extinct species to be explained. Do you know which ones died in the flood and which just went extinct. Do you have a detailed mechanism such as natural selection and genes/DNA that you admit works for micro evolution to explain how all species came into existence or are you still at the god spoke and it happened lack of detail. IE Magic.

          I suspect double standards.

          Actually would you accept anything at face value that contradicts a literal interpretation of the bible?
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          Aug 23 2012: Sebastian,

          Theories have to explain and fit the facts or they get thrown out.

          You can say a theory correctly explains or predicts the facts, some with enough confidence to say as far as we know a theory is true and correct.
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        Aug 19 2012: Hi Sebastian.
        I agree that scientific theory does not equate to fact. Perhaps someone should inform Mr. Dawkins & Co. to stop broadcasting to the general public that evolution is fact.

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          Aug 19 2012: We should also stop telling people that gravity is a fact and still a theory along with germs and the cause of disease.
          What makes it so close to fact is the same reason gravity is accepted. It explains LOTS, it makes predictions which have been verified. It is testable and has been shown to work every time.
          Now if you claim, as you do, that there are still parts to be worked out in the theory, such as the addition of information, well you're quite right that does need to be worked out, and it will be. But because we don't currently know how to add information doesn't mean it can't be done and has been done. Gravity can't explain super clusters or dark energy and germ theory can't explain why being happy helps you to recover from disease but they still work as science why? Because they pass all the tests of being science.
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          Aug 24 2012: If a theory correctly explains things, is it not a fact.
          When we have an understanding of the mechanism, see adaption happening on a human time scale etc
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        Aug 19 2012: Hi Obey.
        There are loads of fossils out of place. Even though the layers are normally identified by the fossils found within them. They are normally identified as 'reworked', or 'washed down', depending on whether they are found too high, or too low. The theory being that the fossils moved somehow.
        We also find fossils that are identical to living creatures. Presumably there is no reason why these creatures could not have left fossils in all the upper layers, but didn't. So the lack of fossils does not equate to extinction, as previously thought re dinosaurs etc.
        So if creatures exist, but leave no fossils in some layers, how can we really know when they really appeared in the first place. This is a mish-mash, & not as tidy as depicted in the books.

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          Aug 20 2012: So sayeth Answers in Genesis.

          Some populations have changed a lot others haven't in the last X millions years. But you think radiometric dating is always wrong

          Not all bacteria evolved into more complex forms. Some fish populations stayed in the oceans.
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        Aug 20 2012: Hi Obey.
        The point I am making is that the presence of a fossil in the strata tells us it was alive when that strata was formed; but, conversely the absence of a fossil in the strata does not tell us that the creature was not around at that time. I am using the evolutionary assumption of gradual deposition over millions of years. I grant that just for the sake of argument.
        Living fossils like the Ceolocanth (?) etc., creatures present in early layers, absent in later layers, but alive & kicking today, prove that the absence of any fossil in any layer tells us absolutely nothing about that fossils state of health at that time. So we really don't know if the dinosaurs died out 65m years ago or not, maybe they just didn't fossilise anywhere since then.
        So even given the millions of years scenario, I don't see how the evolution theory can be gleaned from the ' geological column '.

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          Aug 20 2012: I'm getting a sense of Deja vu

          If I say we have never found a modern mammal alongside dinosaurs you can say that doesn't mean they did not exist at the time, just we haven't found one. Fair enough.
          Yet you will believe a book when it says a donkey spoke, or a man walked on water or was born of a virgin.

          Not all bacteria has evolved into multicelluar life. Bacteria are "living fossils". Some populations have found a niche and not changed much. Not all fish have evolved into reptiles.

          There is an 11,700 year old tree in Africa.

          And you don't accept any radiometric dating.
          And you don't accept the time it takes for starlight to reach us.
          And you don't accept any evidence of redundant genes or remnants or crappy "design"
          And you don't accept the way DNA/genes map out across the species
          And you don't think the 98% similar DNA and physiology and behaviour might indicate some sort of relationship.

          Its tough to argue with your all powerful god made it that way and ignoring anything that doesn't agree with the bible.
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        Aug 20 2012: Hi Obey.
        I conceded millions of years.
        I conceded starlight.
        Have radiometric dating.
        Have your old tree.
        Have crappy design.
        I never even mentioned the bible.
        It still doesn't work; you are always left slagging off the bible. In light of what we have being talking about, ie fossils & the column, what evidence is there that evolution has occurred ?

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          Aug 23 2012: Just things pattern of genes and physical attributes of all living species.

          That what you try to explain by design efficiency is much more likely to be a shared ancestry.

          That there is a mechanism for adaptation via natural selection/DNA.

          That we see adaptation happen in front of our eyes. That small changes over time could reasonably lead to divergence such that many generations later gradually a new species evolved in some populations. You don't give birth to a new species, You just may not be able to breed with other populations that were once the same species or with your ancestors if you go back enough, if you have adapted.

          That if you understand it correctly it makes sense if you have an open mind.

          The high likelihood of what appear to transitional species actually being transitional species.

          The remnants of previous forms, no longer used. The really crappy design that is better explained by evolution.

          That humans have a melded chomosome that was predicted given we have one pair less other primates.

          We are so obviously brainy primates, animals, with the same life cycle, sexual reproduction and development with similarities across other vertibraes etc etc etc
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          Aug 24 2012: Its a pretty cool tree. Must have been created looking 4000 years old.
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      Aug 19 2012: The intermediates for all Great Apes (which includes hominids, we are apes ourselves) are dead. That's why they're called intermediate. 99% of species that ever were died. The ones alive today are the branches that didn't get cut...yet.
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    Aug 18 2012: Mr. Helenius,
    The closing sentence in your post says you are looking for opinion as opposed to answers. I assume, from that, that the question about how "we acheived this feat" is rhetorical. For the record, when you say "Evolution" do you mean Darwinian Evolution, Neo-Evolution, or some other theory? Also, what exactly is the "something bizarre hidden in the facts of our evolution."? Thank you!
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      Aug 18 2012: Dear Edward,

      For the record, I refer to the Evolution described by Charles Darwin. Neo - Evolution is only a spin - off of Darwinism, though it covers more depth.

      Something bizarre... it's a question that leaves the topic open to discussion.

      Finally, do you mean to tell me that you have the definite answer to evolutionary theory? Or do you also only have an opinion?
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        Aug 18 2012: Thank you Sebastian for the two answers. My third inquiry regarding the purpose of your question about how we acheived this feat remains unanswered. Is it rhetoric, or are you inviting expressed opinions?
        Finally, I am a member of the least likely group to have a definite (factual) explanation of Darwinian Evolution. I have only opinions. --Edward
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          Aug 19 2012: Indeed this is a discussion and therefore opinions are relevant!

          We are, after all, not attendees of a classroom listening to the classrooms leader feed us 'factual' information.

          Thank you for your kindness!
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    Aug 18 2012: We actually haven't evolved the ability to fly. We just have fancy tools to fly in.

    I think you have a slightly mixed up argument.

    Our technology is not a feat of evolution. Science and technology is a human endeavour not evolution.

    If you are asking how or why did our science and technology improve exponentially in such a short biological timeframe. That is a very good question. I'll have a go in another comment.
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      Aug 18 2012: Well in stating the question above I was not arguing anything at all, but thank you for commenting.
      As for flying does aerospace not classify as flying enough? I am not imagining that in one million years we suddenly mutate and grow wings.

      As for science and technology being a human endeavor rather than evolution, yes the case has been placed onto the table in previous comments that it is due to our ability to pass forward information from one generation to the next that makes us progress so rapidly.

      The question is why are we the only species able to pass information across the generations. Are we the only species that is able to do so?
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        Aug 19 2012: Its just a confused analogy to compare developing powered flight with evolving wings.

        I think I understand what you are saying. Our technology and knowledge has developed so much in such a short time.
  • Aug 17 2012: Overhere, people neither accept Darwin evolution (from monkey), nor intellectual design(ID---The God);
    Who else ?
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      Aug 17 2012: Humans didn't evolve from monkeys, monkeys and humans share a common ancestor
    • Aug 21 2012: Intelligent design without the intelligent designer.
      Design is the designer itself.
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    Aug 17 2012: As Gerald said, our brains have had millions of years to evolve, and my answer would be that humans stopped physical evolution thousands of years ago and that mental evolution became a selecting factor, so those who could make tools and weapons survived and this continues on and on getting smarter at every stage, and because this doesn't require mutations or lots of death and generations it can happen in a relatively short time
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      Aug 17 2012: However, it has often been noted that warfare is in fact the principle pusher of tool manufacture, and only post warfare do we discover alternative purposes for such tools. Examples include pesticides emerging from stockpiles of chemical weapons agents from the two world wars and tractors from tank design. Not to mention the research into nuclear weapons during WW2 in correlation with modern day nuclear energy programs.

      So is warfare our evolutionary pressure point? It does apply stress to the point at which we must consider the survival of our military machine by outsmarting the enemy, which appears to be our tactic and strategy of favor.
      If it is then bring on some war! Perhaps this is what the USA has caught in on... I wouldn't choose to start a fight with the Muslims though personally, rather the selfish and lazy individuals of society in general - perhaps more of a challenge rooting them out?

      Yes perhaps it is the brain that seems to be spinning forward at an ever increasing pace. Does anybody understand anything about neuroscience? From my judgement it is mostly carbohydrates and certain fish oils that fuel the function of the brain.

      As for traditional cultures, I disagree. Many ancient civilization have presented such feats into our modern day lives as scientific research, via such modes of THINKING as philosophy.
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        Aug 17 2012: I think warfare is one of the greatest pushers of mental thinking, or at least causes a large amount of change in one go. Though just surviving has spurred on ideas such agriculture and fishing. Also we're quite a lazy species so anything to make life easier is always favoured over it's previous version and most cultures dedicate certain people to making life easier by thinking.
        Maybe one of our biggest driving forces is that we've been forced to evolve mentally, if we can't get better physically there's only one other way to evolve. Also there may be a little physical evolution in the shape of the brain as in how wrinkled it is as this is what is thought to be a good judge of potential intelligence. I'd love to know about some research as in to how different cultures may vary with brain sizes and brain part sizes. For example it's found that taxi drivers have a larger part of the brain which deals with direction and for some reason something like 2/3 of females struggle to imagine in 3d
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    Aug 17 2012: Hi Sebastian.
    In my experience the certainty of evolution is held most strongly by those whose living depends on it. I think to get the answers you seek you will need to look elsewhere.

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      Aug 17 2012: Hmm. Perhaps I am all over the internet but at this moment I am in

      Answers? Ideas?

      Peter, your answer was slightly divertive. Kindly contemplate a stronger response.
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        Aug 18 2012: In Darwins day things perhaps seemed fairly simple & straightforward. Today we realise that we inhabit an engineering marvel of almost infinite complexity. To imagine that such a machine came about by chance & selection seems like foolishness to me. Sometimes we are so engrossed in the trees, that we miss the wood.

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          Aug 18 2012: While they didn't know about DNA and quantum physics they knew enough to know life the universe etc was pretty complex. Dissect an animal or look at a cell under a microscope, or just the vast array of life, build a bridge, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics etc they were not as ignorant in simple bubble as you make out.

          Even if it was the origin of species was one of the greatest scientific discoveries ever.

          To assume life's complexity needs a creator is a bigger call today given all the evidence for evolution. Imagining a god is behind all the complexity people don't understand completely doesn't answer anything. It doesn't explain how it happened, how it was done, or anything about how the cause was caused etc. You have to make those bits up too or call it a mystery.

          Peter, why do humans develop yolk sacks during pregnancy if we were designed. Why did god make it look like we have some redundent genes from our ancestors egg laying days

          Without science everything is a miracle.
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          Aug 18 2012: Sometimes I wonder if people seek the truth; or just something that strengthens the foundation of lies that they have built on.
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        Aug 18 2012: Hi Obey.
        This degree of complexity is a miracle.
        The so-called yolk sac in a human is entirely different than in a chicken. It makes the blood for the child before the bone & marrow are formed. Absolutely essential piece of kit; not 'vestigial' as many would claim.