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Gerald O'brian


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Evolution: "just a theory". Scientific caution is sometimes confusing.

The fact that our best available theories are still speculations misleads some people to believe that these ideas are not founded. Hence, some people suppose their uneducated opinion is just as bad, or as good, as the mainstream scientific hypothesis.
This trend is probably led by the way science has been taught, i e as a flawless method that offers facts about reality.
And by pre-scientific philosophy, still strong in our modern societies.

Evolution is "just a theory" the way Notre Dame is "just a pile of rocks", isn't it?


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    Jun 7 2013: To clear things up, the term "just a theory" is irrational. A SCIENTIFIC theory is the final confirmation in science. We use laws to make theories, theories do not make laws. There is always a slight "if" but the title "theory" states that it has no record of the if and that it is unlikely it will ever happen. If science had a systematic hierarchy of titles, which it doesn't and that's what is nice about science in contrast to religion, theories would actually be HIGHER than laws.

    Laws describe, theories present the information to claim better information. There is a LAW of gravity AND a theory of gravity. The law of gravity states that there is gravity, the theory EXPLAINS it. (I'm hoping the case sensitivity is hopefully getting this through to you.) The law of gravity is just that things attract things. Einstein's theory tells HOW.

    the·o·ry noun ˈthē-ə-rē, ˈthir-ē plural the·o·ries
    Definition of THEORY:
    the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another

    (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

    If I still have not convinced you that evolution has seen great triumphs from hypothesis to theory, here is a list of things that are also theories to scale with evolution, and tell me if you dont believe in these:

    1. Planetary Motion
    2. Universal Gravity
    3. The Cell
    4. Germs
    5. Atoms
    6. Big Bang
    7. Climate Change
    8. Vaccination
    9. Plate tectonics
    10. Radioactivity
    11. Electromagnetism
    12. Thermodynamics
    13. Conservation of Mass and Energy
    14. Molecular Bonds
    15. Evolution

    Now, are you really not going to believe evolution alongside these. Denial of evolution is equally as bad as saying germs don't explain disease, nor do atoms explain radioactivity, special relativity, molecular bonds, or any other thing on the atomic scale.
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    May 30 2013: When scientific principles are repeatedly demonstrated, we accept them as fact and build from there. The theory of evolution has been upheld and strengthened by all applicable and relevant branches of science. In the presence of overwhelming evidence and in the absence of contradictory information, this scientific theory must be perceived as fact. But why is it that we generally accept as uncontroversial the theory of relativity, electromagnetic theory or germ theory (in the transmission of disease), but cannot come to grips with the theory of evolution? One word: religion.
    • May 31 2013: I agree most wholeheartedly!
    • May 31 2013: Positivist The really odd part of all this is that Evolution was never a big problem for Catholics, since because of their History , and Papal continuity, they do not need to rely on "The Bible" for Legitimacy, whereas , of course, most Protestants definitely do. It is a big crisis for them to discover, in modern times, that it is physically impossible to locate a "True copy' of the "Bible", since before printing presses, they were transcribed by hand, and there is literally not a single word in it that is unquestionably the "right " one, ie. the same in all versions. The more Dead Sea Scrolls discovered , the more intractable their problem becomes.
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        Jun 1 2013: Church of England also accepts evolution. It is mainly evangelicals and koranic literalist muslims etc

        They simply refuse to accept anything that clashes with a literal interpretation of their religious books. If the bible was true, then Yahweh is one of the all time great mass murderers and a donkey talked etc.
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        Jun 1 2013: Catholics are no less vulnerable to the snare of “divine causality” than any other group who insists that a deity acts, or acted, and that the human race exists as a result. Evolutionary theory threatens any system that depends on a providential entity that would, at some point in the process, install a soul, immortal or otherwise. Darwin begs the question, “At what point in time did these ‘souls’ evolve?” Did early hominids like Lucy have one? Or did souls only become a feature of later pre-human species? Did Neanderthals have them, or were only Homo Sapiens granted this “divine spark,” as if one could even point to the “first” member of what we are pleased to call the human race! Further, if we were evolved from lower forms, there could not have been Adam’s original sin, the price for which was the “Plan of Salvation.” Nearly all Christians, Catholics or otherwise, can see the logical end here—evolution undermines faith.
        • Jun 2 2013: Positivist: Your limitations on the power of the Divinity seem a little farfetched. Are you suggesting that God is somehow constrained by the Bible, or by the Pope?!
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          Jun 2 2013: shawn, the biblical concept is constrained by the bible.
          And the Catholic god concept by all the catholic dogma.
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    May 24 2013: Most people don't seem to understand what theory means in science, as opposed to colloquial use.

    Not sure about your wording "still speculations". While not absolute and always subject to revision in the face of evidence, science has remarkable predictive and explanatory power. It is the best method we have to explain and understand a lot, and when applied gives us amazing technology.

    I was never taught science was flawless or about facts. It is about increasing our knowledge and understanding based on evidence.
  • May 22 2013: well you have to understand scientific language. Scientists use the term theory differently than do we in everyday life. A scientific theory is a hypothesis that has been verified time and time again and recieves a great degree pf scientific merit. Trust me if you review all the evidence supporting evolution you would have no doubt that the Theory has an enormous ocean of support behind it. I mean there is enough evidence for evolution that there is no other logical conclusion you can make while taking all the evidence in account.
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      May 22 2013: No other logical conclusion than what?
      • May 22 2013: Evolutionary theory
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          May 22 2013: Evolutionary theory is not a logical conclusion, it is a not-yet falsified theory.
      • May 22 2013: how do you figure?
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          May 22 2013: Not everything about the theory of Evolution qualifies as logical, therefore it is not a logical conclusion, nor is it a valid conclusion, in fact it is not a conclusion. It is a theory which continues to undergo experimentation. Some predicted results are seen and some unexpected results are seen. In case of the latter the theory is altered to deal with the discovery (falsification) and new experiments are run until results always match predictions.
      • May 22 2013: well are understanding of evolution changes in light of new evidence however there is an overwhelming consensus that evolution by the means of natural selection has occured and all animals are share a common ancestor. You think scientists ever expect to discover an ape fossil in the same sedimentary layer as a trilabyte?
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          May 22 2013: I don't know about "trilabytes." But I know Evolution is just a theory and the cathedral of Notre Dame is not just a pile of rocks.
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          May 24 2013: Edward even the science you agree with are called theories.
      • May 22 2013: clearly you disregarded my initial comment about Theory in science meaning something different. go do your research. Evolution is a theory just like Heliocentric theory. I mean the earth revolving around the sun is just a "theory" right?
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          May 22 2013: Right. Everything is a theory according to Relativistic philosophy. Nothing can be known "for sure". I do not accept that epistemology. It is not a theory that the Earth orbits the Sun. It is just a theory that all life on Earth came from one common ancestor and has naturally selected beneficial mutations over eons of years to bring us to the vast species of our present day. I did not disregard your initial comment Keith, I oppose it.
      • May 22 2013: What a renegade contradicting scientific truths. How can you oppose the fact scientists use the word theory differently than in other settings. Your entitled to your own belief but scientificly speaking your wrong and evolution is accepted with a great degree of certainty amongst the scientific community
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          May 22 2013: I do not dispute that evolution is "accepted with a great degree of certainty amongst the scientific community." That is off the point here. Are you arguing that Evolution is not a theory (as defined by Science)? If so please state your belief so a simple mind like mine can understand it.
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      May 26 2013: There are several definition of the word theory:

      the·o·ry [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee] Show IPA
      noun, plural the·o·ries.
      1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.
      2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.
      3. Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
      4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
      5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.
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    Jun 10 2013: Obey,

    Is that what the bible really says? If it is a chronicle of the Jews from their escape from Egypt through the life of Christ, then it was about people and how they lived and died. Christians, Jews and Muslims are all believers in one God, the God of Abraham. So, you either accept this theology or not. There are other theologies; Africa, Asia... there are a number of ways that mankind has connected with his spiritual side or not. It is not wrong to believe as you believe. You may be chastised for criticism of others. It's just not playing nice.
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      Jun 13 2013: Mike,

      I don't know which comment you are referring to.

      They are not believers in the same god. Yahweh is not the same thing as the Trinity or Allah. They believe in different gods that did different things.

      Same origins, but the Jewish religion just believes in Yahweh and nothing to do with Jesus or a triune god or Muhammads revelation. My understanding is the Jewish faith does not accept that god has anything to do with what is written in the new testament or Koran.

      Most Christians seem to believe Jesus was also an incarnation or aspect of God. The Jewish religion and Muslim religions don't think Jesus is god or part of god

      The muslim god got an angel to reveal more after JEsus, and JEsus wasn't a god but a prophet.

      The later 2 kind of evolved from the first. But homo sapiens are no longer homo erectus. French is not the same as the Latin it evolved from. Christianity is not the same as the Judaism it evolved from.

      The Jews, Christians and Muslims can not all be correct in their different beliefs about what god is and what he did and wants.

      God can not be the Jewish god and the christian god and the Islamic god at this same time. It is one or none.

      I hope I am mostly critiquing the beliefs and ideas being asserted not calling people names. Pointing out issues with particular arguments is not the same as directly criticising or attacking the person.

      There are many theists far smarter and wiser than I in many areas. I just think the arguments I am aware and lack of evidence for a god don't stack up as below.

      If I said I thought someone torturing their child or an adult for a day with fire was cruel, no issue right. But if I say a god who tortures its creations for eternity is cruel as per some doctrines, that's not nice?

      While I think I was foolish being a Christian for so long, I understand how sticky it is and how hard it is to look at it objectively when you are in the middle of it.

      Is debating the issues not nice?
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        Jun 13 2013: Hi Obey,
        I am not sure of your source, but all the "theist" I know seemed to agree that the God of Abraham was the God of Christians, Muslims and Jews. They did refer to Him with differing names as you noted and they did interpret His message differently. Paraphrasing here.
        So, my real question is:
        People have different beliefs then you, so what?
        My belief that the moon is made of green cheese, how does that harm you?
        More so, Why would you care?
        You think I am wrong. OK. You say " I don't agree" That is all that is needed. You have no reason to justify your reasons to me.
        I keep insisting on TED that I am right and you are wrong. I am being a bore and you don't have to respond.
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          Jun 14 2013: The problem with beliefs are that they are false and ignorant. Belief in a green cheese moon is just as ignorant as religion. People care because we just want people to know truth. Atheists aren't evil ya know. Theists want to spread the word of god, we want to spread the word of truth.
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          Jun 14 2013: Mike,

          I think you are missing a subtle distinction

          Islam and Christianity claim their god is the god talked about in the Jewish bible.

          However, the fact is that they can not be the same god if they are believed to have done and said different things. As far as the Jews are concerned Yahweh did not send Jesus or the angel Gabriel to dictate the Koran.

          If you believe in a God that sent Jesus or revealed the Koran then you are believing in a god that did things that the Jews don't believe there god did. He can not be the same god.

          Or simply if you believe JEsus is a god or part of a triune god, you believe in a very different god to the Jewish religion and Muslims.

          This is supposed to be a debate. If you want to just state your opinion and not defend your beliefs that is your choice but you may be misunderstanding what a debate is.

          If others want to challenge my ideas or others they are welcome too.

          What is wrong with questioning people, or making arguments for or against ideas? No one is being burned at a stake for disagreeing.

          If someone asserts that an invisible being is responsible for the diversity of life we see, what is wrong with a bit of debate on the topic, especially if they post their views in a debate?

          If we are interested in the truth then we will test ideas and look for evidence.

          Promoting false information and some aspects of religious beliefs and behaviours are potentially harmful.

          I suggest that any religion that causes people to believe it is good to kill homosexuals or infidels is not benign.
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          Jun 14 2013: Let me put it this way.

          Some believe Bob wrote just one book
          You believe Bob wrote two books
          Others believe Bob wrote 3 books

          (I'll leave out the Mormons for simplicity)

          It is impossible for the same person to write just one book, or just two books, or just three books.

          If you believe in a Bob how wrote two books, you are believing in a different Bob to those who believe he wrote one or three books.

          IF the Jews are right then God had nothing to do with Jesus, the new Testament and the Koran. So if you believe in a god that has something to do with JEsus its not the same god as the JEws believe in.

          Jews believe in F for Father

          Christians believe their god is the god of the Jewish bible but that he revealed more and JEsus is also an aspect of god. Lets call him FSH

          Muslims don't think Jesus is part of God. A god that includes JEsus is not the same as a god that doesn't. They also believe god revealed more stuff. LEts call him F+

          F does not equal FSH or F+

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          Jun 14 2013: Yes they all start with the god of Abraham but they go on to claim this god did different things and in one case incarnate as a human.

          A god that incarnates as a human is not the same as a god that didn't.

          A god that provided a further revelation in the Koran is not the same as a god that didn't.

          It's a subtle point.
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        Jun 14 2013: Brandon,
        What truth?
        Who said that beliefs are false and ignorant?
        I have never said that Atheist were evil.

        As far as I know, theist believe in God and Atheist believe there is no God. Both say they are spreading the word of truth. I say good. Your telling the truth, they are telling the truth, everybody is telling the truth.
        Who am I to disagree with either group. They are both telling the truth.
        I don't have to be convinced because I don't care.
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          Jun 14 2013: Mike, I'm aware. It is just quite annoying to me that most christians feel it is their duty to persuade others into accepting Jesus and that atheists are the spawn of evil instead of just keeping it to themselves. I am just retaliating to the vast majority of religions that feel this to be their duty. I'm sorry if I offend you, in fact it's humble of you to disregard persuasion and not taking part in it.
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          Jun 14 2013: Some define atheism as not having a belief in gods and goddesses

          Not just the monotheistic gods.

          Basically being a non theist.

          This is not same as believing or asserting to know there are no gods or goddesses.

          I personally believe there is no compelling evidence for any god or goddesses concept worthy of the name, so I don't believe in them the same way I don't believe in invisible dragons. But I don't claim to know they do not exist.
  • Jun 10 2013: I just want to remind every one of Gregor Mendel an oft under appreciated genius.
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      Jun 10 2013: I think that you may not only need remind them but perhaps also teach those who don't know.
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      Jun 10 2013: Mendel? Isn't he the guy that got this whole GMO thing going?
      • Jun 10 2013: Nope. GMO is much older than that. Going back thousands of years to the domestication of dogs, wheat, corn, et cetera ...
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    Jun 9 2013: To be honest, - no offense and don't take it personal, I do believe in the freedom of belief - EVOLUTION Theory is the most illogic and irrational theory I've ever heared of! If you visit my profile you'll notice that I'm muslim and you'll probably judge me on that, but I'm also an engeneer and I DO think scientifically. So, how on earth can a chimp evolve to be a man ?

    why did they stop evolving? we still see them, right !

    Can we assume that each creature that has 98% DNA similarity with another creature has evolved from that second creature ?

    If we assume that evolution theory is true, where did the first chimp came from? how did it start in the first place ?!!!

    I'm ready to change my belief if anyone could convince me and proved me Evolution is RIGHT !
    • Jun 9 2013: my dear friend you have the freedom of belief :-) just listen to what i know about evolution nd decide for yourself, what you find more closer to truth.

      First of all you are incorrect in stating that man has evolved from chimp. We share same ancestors with chimpanzees, rhesus monkey, gorillas, orangutans and the chimpanzees. Actually we share same ancestory with all other living beings, however we are closer in relation to chimp.

      yes they are still evolving, just like every other organism in this world, however there life span is of about 60 years , so it would take thousands of generations to observe evolution in them by a human being (with life span of around 80 years). However living beings like moths have an age span of week or two nd are easier to observe for evolution. And so happened in london. Pre industrial london had whiter barks, so mostly one could observe only light colored peppered moth. Dark colored peppered moth were born, but they were an easy catch for the birds. However industrial population caused bark to darken by pollution , nd the same most hunted dark moth, could not be seen at all nd the light colored moth became very rare.
      Wiki link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppered_moth_evolution

      Evolution is much more complex,however there are some basic things-
      1. There is limited food and space
      2. The living beings divide at an exponential rate
      3. In each generation there is some genetical change from previous generations , which can be transmitted to the next one
      4. genetical changes or mutations can be good or bad,depending upon the environment
      5. if it is excellent of the survival ,it becomes the majority, nd viola, you have your evolution.
      6. environment is ever changing nd mutations always occur, so evolution never stops
      7. however its so slow,that to an individual of the species its non existant

      Hope it helps you. Do read in detail, you will love it :)
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        Jun 10 2013: Changes in gene frequency in populations due to natural or other selection drivers e.g. sexual selection.
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      Jun 10 2013: There are few things I like more then a person being ready to change their mind using reason and facts.
      I do however feel that my input isn't needed here right now since Sooshrut put it so eloquently.
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        Jun 10 2013: Re (below): "You're a pantheist then. But still cite from the Christian scriptures, I find this very contradicting as in one version God is in the form of man (or the other way around) and in the other God is everything, everywhere, formless.
        Or do you simply enjoy the rhetoric of those scriptures?"

        I don't see why we need to put ourselves or each other into nicely labeled "bins". I am simply trying to understand why Bible has been a bestseller for 2000 years. What's the meaning of all this? And I do find some interesting things there.

        It seems to me that the main idea of the New Testament is to remove the "curtain" separating humans from God. We are not supposed to worship Jesus as a man, but as a "spirit". And the spirit of God is supposed to "dwell" in us as it did in Jesus. When we start to analyze these things with words, the logic breaks down and things seem to contradict each other. E.g. worshiping Jesus as a man is idolatry. Saying that "everything is moved by the Holy Spirit" is pantheism. And looking into the sky in search for a "Father who art in heaven" makes no sense either. All analysis comes down to some sort of "chicken-and-egg" circular argument. A lot of people reject the whole thing for that reason, but their own ideas about "universe from nothing" and what not have same contradictions. Contradictions don't mean that ideas are useless.

        The only way for me to understand all these opposites - body (or matter in general) and spirit, yin and yang, as one - "self". I came to this idea some time ago and then, by accident, have read a few quotes from Alan Watts. I love the way he explains these things - have you watched the video in my post below? It's impossible to tell what comes first because opposites grow together from "self", like the flower in the video or like a tree from the mustard seed. In this context, the name of God (I am) or "self" makes a lot of sense. I'm not sure if that's Christianity, pantheism, or Buddhism.
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      Jun 10 2013: Abdelbari,

      Perhaps, you have a problem with evolution BECAUSE you are an engineer. Engineers tend to put things together from parts. But that's not how living things are put together. They GROW. I've recently watched this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P78hrdZutsI . It explains the difference in the mindset between "creating" something as an engineer and something growing from within.

      Human life is too short to see an evolutionary change. These changes take multiple generations. We are looking but at a snapshot picture of the universe. People live less than 100 years which is nothing compared to billions of years that the universe, possibly, exists. This is why we don't see species evolving in front of our eyes. But we do know of species that are no more (dinosaurs, mammoths, etc.)

      Where did the first chimp come from? Perhaps, from a creature that was similar to a chimp, but, perhaps, more primitive. And the first multi-cell organism came from a single-cell organism or organisms, and a single-cell organisms, perhaps, combined from some molecules that had carbon, water, and other stuff found on Earth in great abundance.

      You may say that the probability of non-living molecules combining into a living molecule that is capable of reproduction is very, very, very small - almost non-existent. But don't forget that there are billions upon billions upon billions of these molecules on Earth. So, the probability of, at least one molecule self-creating at right conditions, may be very large.

      And if you consider that there are billions upon billions upon billions of galaxies and stars in the universe, it becomes almost certainty that there's got to be, at least one planet at the right distance from the star, with the right elements and the right conditions for life to appear. The fact that we are living on such planet is no more surprising than the fact that you were born from your own mother and not from any of the billions of other women.
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      Jun 10 2013: All of what I say does not exclude the existence of God. There is nothing wrong to believe that all this abundance appeared by the will of God.
      • Jun 10 2013: which god do you mean?
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          Jun 10 2013: The "only one" I suppose, I've never heard a person on TED referring to Thor or Zeus as "God".
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          Jun 10 2013: Ben, when you say "I am", what do you mean by "I" and what do you mean by "am"? It's impossible to define this basic phrase which we use every day. And, you might know that "I am" is the name of God (Exodus 3:14). As we reflect on it, trying to understand its meaning, we define who we are, how we came to be, and how we relate to everything else.

          "You don't look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you." -- Alan Watts.
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        Jun 10 2013: Assuming a generic Deistic type god, if it is possible for such a thing to exist (we don't know) as conveniently defined as immaterial outside time and space, virtually non existent and unverifiable by us, this magical being or billions of universe creators existing in some other dimension are compatible with evolution. In fact evolution and science in general has little to say about any magical beings.

        I tend to disagree however, about there being nothing wrong with believing life and the universe is due to the will of some hypothetical magical being. I have no issue with people having the freedom to believe in any gods or goddess or other dimensional speculations they want, as long as they don't force this and related dogmas on other people or harm others.

        I just suggest there is no good reason or evidence to believe that any gods or goddesses exist, let alone ones capable of creating universes. Ignorance is not a good reason to suppose a god exists. Conflicting religious writings, conflicting and subjective personal insights and so called revelations are not a good reason. Not being able to disprove the existence of something that is probably just a human conceptual construct and defined as being outside the reality we can test is not a good reason.

        I don't know how many different god and goddess or related supernatural type beliefs there have been. Probably millions once you get into the details. But I guess most of them must be wrong. At best one is correct, or there may be something more but none have come close. Just why give credence to any without sound reason or evidence. Chance are if you have a particular god belief you are wrong and no way to tell if one revelation is more reliable than another when it comes down to what can not be verified or tested.

        So much circular thinking, fallacies, and reliance on intuitive subjective personal insights, so little reason to believe other than the benefits unrelated to the actual whether it is true.
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          Jun 10 2013: Obey, when we view God as something external to ourselves, the idea makes no sense whatsoever. Existence of God is not a scientific fact. Belief in God to me is simply a way of looking at the world. There are other ways. None are "right".

          To me, God is not "out there". God is inside me and inside every other human, thing, or process. God is the principle driving the growth of the universe and putting all these "random" events together into powerful things like galaxies, hurricanes, viral epidemics, and evolution.

          Re: "I have no issue with people having the freedom to believe in any gods or goddess or other dimensional speculations they want, as long as they don't force this and related dogmas on other people or harm others." I support this idea.
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          Jun 10 2013: Arkady,

          You're a pantheist then. But still cite from the Christian scriptures, I find this very contradicting as in one version God is in the form of man (or the other way around) and in the other God is everything, everywhere, formless.

          Or do you simply enjoy the rhetoric of those scriptures?
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        Jun 10 2013: Thanks Arkady.

        I agree none are right as far as we know. That is why I don't believe in anything worthy of the name god.

        If I understand correctly your definition of god is more a principle or driving force rather than a person or mind. I'm not sure exactly what you mean to be honest or how we could distinguish it from natural processes and perceiving patterns and change.

        I'm not sure there is any absolute or specific meaning to hurricanes, galaxies, other patterns or change in general.

        I get the sense that "god" is just a sense of awe and wonder at the universe for some people. Not sure if your views are a bit similar to this.

        Its a fairly loaded word "god".
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          Jun 10 2013: I don't think, God can be "defined". Perhaps, "understood", but not in a sense of "analyzed" - broken down into parts like some machine, but in a sense we understand how a flower grows or what happens when a water droplet falls onto a water surface. We just perceive those things and they, kind of, "make sense", although it's impossible to put it into words what happens first and what happens next and what causes what - the droplet causes ripples or the ripples cause a new droplet. And what really happens is not what we see:


          I think, Alan Watts explains it quite nicely.
      • Jun 10 2013: i didn't want to assume. many people speak of god as in a non-descript deity, rather than specifically the god of the bible. i think this is actually where you fall, since you talk about god as being a way of looking at the world, rather than an actual figure who created the world and everything on it as the god of the bible did.
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          Jun 10 2013: Well, again, to you, there is "the god of the bible" and there is some other "deity" which is not "the god of the bible". I think, "the god of the bible" is that deity. I know, it's hard to understand how the same deity can be seen as "loving and forgiving" in one passage and pouring sulfur onto cities, drowning the whole world, and ordering genocide in others. So I cannot understand how the same person can be a criminal and a loving father at the same time. It makes no sense, but that's the point.

          One cannot create a "figure" or an image and say "that's God". That's idolatry.
      • Jun 11 2013: i can understand how a man can be a criminal and a loving father at the same time, his circle is limited to his family, similarly to the way people can love their countrymen while killing people of another country. when you're talking about a god who is supposed to love all, it doesn't work though. if he doesn't know that group punishment is wrong then he's not a god.
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          Jun 11 2013: Yes. Judging God and dictating to God what he is supposed or not supposed to do and what is right or wrong (otherwise he is not God or does not exist) is fairly common. I think, it comes from inflated self-confidence (a.k.a. pride). We know better than God, don't we? (See Genesis 3 regarding the origins of this attitude.) We treat each other likewise and then wonder why people go to wars with us.

          But you see how contemplating the bible lead to some interesting conclusions about ourselves. You just pointed out that our attitude towards people and things that we identify with is different from our attitude to people and things that we do not associate with ourselves. It has to do with our sense of "self". When we erase this invisible line between "me" and the rest of the world, tear down this curtain, the morals become self-consistent - we treat the world the way we treat ourselves and we cannot hurt the world without hurting ourselves.

          I can only repeat what I said: what we say about God we say about ourselves. It's like talking to the mirror. It reveals our own nature. While God simply remains "I am who I am".
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      Jun 10 2013: I don't see it's a matter of evolving from a chimp... at all
      what's not convincing to me, how much time it takes for one cell to mutate. this is only one cell, how about the human brain that is full of billions of cells, functioning in an incredible way...

      if I suppose the evolution is correct... just for a monkey to become a rational human being...

      now what is to consider?, is it the time consumed to evolve only one cell or the "luck" to find this wonderful combination of mutations?

      to me, I am convinced nothing comes from no where, though it's been a while for humans to live on planet earth, I don't think I have ever heard of an evolution for a monkey but on youtube same as aliens

      I don't know, I am not convinced...
      the best documentary I have ever watched is "http://youtu.be/ioONhpIJ-NY"
      more possibilities, more options... this where we live, no body knows the truth... I think
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        Jun 10 2013: Imagine you could go back in time. Go back 10,000 years and your DNA and physical attributes will be similar to your ancestors. So similar you could reproduce with them.

        Go back 100,000 years and there may be more differences but perhaps still able to reproduce.

        Go back far enough and the differences will be such that you may not be able to reproduce with your ancestor population.

        Parts of the ancestor species populations didn't suddenly change into a different species. Its change over time.

        And not all groups of the ancestor species followed the same path. Some stayed more in the trees. Our ancestors may have spent more time on the ground, where standing and walking on two limbs may have been beneficial. While we can stand upright better than other primates our knees and joints are not perfectly adapted to upright posture. Back issues, worn joints, etc.

        On the development of the human brain, do you accept we are not the only animals with brains. Do you accept that chimps have more similar brain capabilities to humans than other species.
        Can you see the similarities and development mapped out in the tree of life science points out.

        Do you understand how via DNA and genes multi-cellular life could adapt and change via natural and other selection drivers.

        Do you notice how even humans vary by region. Darker skin with more sun and lighter skin in lower sun areas, except for recent migrations.

        It hasn't been a straight line of one species population changing over time to one homogeneous population to another to another. Some groups have branched of in one direction and changed a lot and others less so.

        Some fishlike creatures stayed in the sea, others may have been more amphibious.You can see the remenants of this progression in the species that have not changed that much. We still have fish and reptiles. We still have single cell DNA based life, and even RNA based viruses.

        For me the evolution of the animals is not hard to grasp. Other parts are harder.
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        Jun 10 2013: Mohamed,

        Can I ask you this, are you looking for the truth or are you sure that no one has any truth to offer?

        Because if you're not looking I'm not going to try to convince you. If you are looking for truth I can direct you to it but you'll have to do some reading and studying on the matter, it will take some days of study to understand coming from your standpoint.
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        Jun 10 2013: Some fishlike creatures stayed in the sea, others may have been more amphibious and certain traits or genes would have improved their ability to survive and reproduce over time. These genes and traits eg fins that are slightly more suited for pushing along the beach increase in frequency. Gradually more and more changes in gene frequency over time see a clear split between the fish in the ocean and the ones that found a niche living amphibiously.

        Also even though there are white Americans that descended from Europeans, there are still Europeans.
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      Jun 10 2013: Its a bit sad when so many who say they oppose evolution really don't have a reasonable understanding of the actual theory and observations it explains.

      I guess our education systems let us down. But some of it is our own responsibility. I guess some prefer to argue strawmen.

      I'm not a biologist so I defer to any with more expertise to correct me, but my understanding on a few of these misconceptions:

      As stated so many times evolution is not claiming humans evolved from chimps, rather we share a common ancestor some millions of years ago, that is neither chimp or homo sapiens.

      Its false to assume evolution is all about the development of humans.

      A particular species may spread out, over time different groups may undergo more change than others up to the point they can no longer breed with others sharing a common ancestor species.

      The lack of a basic understanding how the primates share a common ancestor group, back further mammals share a common ancestor, back further we share a common ancestor with all vertebrates, and ultimately with all DNA based life. Look at all the basic similarities of vertebrates.Skeletons,four limbs, sexual reproduction, respiration, camera eyes all from fish-like ancestors. You can also see a progression of brain type. Reptilian, mammalian, and the neo cortex.

      Mohamed, my understanding is there are a few mechanisms behind evolution that is basically about changes in gene frequency. A mutation may occur in the genes of a sperm or egg. Not every cell in the body needs to mutate. Another factor is just changes in frequency unrelated to mutation. Taller individuals in a species in one region may survive more often to reproduce because they can reach more fruit, so the population becomes taller, until further height becomes a liability, such not being so agile, or requiring more energy to survive etc. In a dense forest smaller individuals may do better.

      There are plenty of websites that explain evolution. Just avoid the religious
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      Jun 10 2013: Okay, so I do have one suggestion. It managed to convince a large portion of the world that evolution was true.

      Read the book "On the origin of species" by Charles Darwin (it's really good) if you truly want to understand evolution you should begin with the original source.

      *Edit: Here's a link to the Ebook (free) http://manybooks.net/titles/darwinchetext98otoos11.html
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      Jun 10 2013: Since you're an engineer you may also want to play some evolutionary simulations that are out there meant to teach and test evolution.

      Here are some sources that I've Googled

    • Jun 10 2013: I keep seeing people talking about evolving from chimps, really, if you are not going to put in the effort to understand the evolutionary process, and just jump to the same blatantly wrong assumption that has followed Darwin's "Origin", then why even waste your time on this talk? Isee this as yet another attempt to dissuade people from using evolution as what it is, a scientific theory that should be taught because it is correct. Bringing Allah, God, Or the flying pickle-weasel into this discussion will only degrade it. I am beginning to see why Dawkins refuses to debate with religious zealots, you could show them the sky is blue and they would refute it in the name of their God.
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      Jun 11 2013: 1. They didn't stop evolving.
      2. yes
      3. it came from whatever animal before that
      4. the start was whatever organism came first.
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    Jun 2 2013: I'd like to quote Tim Minchin here:

    “But evolution is only a theory!”, which is true, it is a theory, it’s good that they say that, I think, it gives you hope, doesn't it, that - that maybe they feel the same way about the theory of gravity… and they might just float the f*** away.
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    May 30 2013: If you question whether what follows is on point, read it! "It challenges as prideful an anthropocentric world-view." That is, the attitude embraced by modern and post-modern practitioners of Science. "

    From: An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2428
    Quote follows from Wikipedia:

    The Essay on Man is a philosophical poem, written in heroic couplets and published between 1732 and 1734. Pope intended this poem to be the centrepiece of a proposed system of ethics that was to be put forth in poetic form. It was a piece of work that Pope intended to make into a larger work; however, he did not live to complete it. The poem is an attempt to "vindicate the ways of God to Man," It challenges as prideful an anthropocentric world-view.

    From: An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope.

    III. Heaven from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
    All but the page prescribed, their present state:
    From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
    Or who could suffer being here below?
    The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
    Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
    Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food,
    And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood.
    Oh, blindness to the future! kindly given,
    That each may fill the circle, marked by Heaven:
    Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
    A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
    Atoms or systems into ruin hurled,
    And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
    Hope humbly, then; with trembling pinions soar;
    Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore.
    What future bliss, He gives not thee to know,
    But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
    Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
    Man never is, but always to be blest:
    The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
    Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

    Yes, Notre Dame is just an elegant pile of rocks! Right!
    • W T 100+

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      May 30 2013: This is a nice piece Juan, thank you for sharing it.
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        May 30 2013: And thank you for appreciating it. Real Literature can do a lot to make these debates more interesting. Sometimes they can be either unbearable or unreadable or both. So, if you would, take a cue from Alexander Pope.

        If you enjoy reading great literature. Try adding great literature to TED conversations.

        Here is a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_literature#English_literature_since_1901

        Start on this page and find a link you might recognize. Or better yet, go to www.gutenberg.org and look up your favorite work by your favorite author.

        Then cut & paste. It makes a big difference. It get's awfully hard to argue with, say, Wm. Shakespeare -- when he's the one you quote and he is right on point.
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          May 31 2013: Juan Valdez.....ok now I get your name.....A java connoisseur.....welcome to the club.
          I used to wear a tshirt all through college that said: "No Coffee, No Workee".

          Juan, quoting great literature....or really literature in general, is indeed very wonderful to incorporate into conversations.

          When one is an avid reader, then one has alot of beautiful words stored in one's mind...or in my case, stored in notebooks.

          Thank you for the great links. I will read through them and store the information in my reference works...

          I am one to use plenty of virtual scissors and glue when talking online.
          Hope you are able to find something valuable in one of my contributions in the future.

          Nice to meet you BTW.
  • May 22 2013: It's not caution Gerald. That evolution is "just a theory" is a cartoon perpetrated by creationists by equivocating what the word theory means in scientific parlance, with what the word means colloquially. Yes, there can be flaws in science, and there's true caution. But calling evolutionary theory a theory, is not part of such caution. Caution is when we say: "so far the main factors contributing to evolutionary change are natural selection and genetic drift." If means that there might be other yet to discover factors, but we know that evolution is real. Evolutionary theory is the body of explanations of this kind of phenomenon.
  • Jun 19 2013: Scientifically, Richard, hypotheses are educated guesses to be tested, theories are explanations that make predictions that are to be tested, and laws describe nature.
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    Jun 15 2013: ....
    Prof Michael Gillings tries to help the truly curious understand evolution
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    Jun 15 2013: In today's world, the materialisim has taken a major part in our lifes that it wouldn't let any theories to easily flow under the brains of human beings, not only scieneific hypothesis but also religious told stories unfortunately that's how today's world work, while in all the holy scriptures it's mentioned that human beings has only gotten a drops out of the sea of unknown knowledges. I believe one day there shall be some links between a thing being relegious and scientificly applicable, we just need to keep going forward.
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        Jun 15 2013: Thanks Juan for the elaboration, I believe I've never mentioned something that says there's no contradiction between faith and science, yes I confess that there's is a contradiction at least theoretically, and I think it's our responsibility to do shorten the proximity between them, to answer all the unanswered questions. I'm just having my own hypothesis that they're both inline together the issue is how can we figure that out.
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          Jun 15 2013: Hi Abdulatif,
          Sorry, I did not express myself clearly. YOU, I AGREE WITH. I honest believe that the proper view is one that accepts a harmony between Science and Faith. You will seldom find AGREEMENT between the two, but a harmony between two vastly different paradigms is always to be aspired to . . . as a goal. When Faith & Science both get it right, it almost hits a musical note for me. I experience that as a harmony.

          My view is one of ACCOUNTABILITY, in that I am accountable before both in terms of what both require of me! I see that as the RESPONSIBILITY of an Apologist. For as an apologist, I respect the AUTHORITY of both. And there's lots of room there to get really smashed between the two. That can be very uncomfortable at times.

          Rather, I was responding to a very militant thought-movement that REJECTS all expressions of faith out-of-hand. I really wasn't aware of how prevalent/prominent that idea-set has become until I started spending time on TED (of-all-places). That really comes through in many of the talks.
      • Jun 17 2013: All should respect that wisdom

        I find it hard to believe you talk about respecting wisdom that some don't believe in, and then say that they shouldn't be militant about their beliefs. Respecting a persons beliefs is understandable, discussing those beliefs you will find that others do not share them, and will act accordingly. I see militants on all sides as humans are always willing to inflict their ideas onto others with or without proof.
      • Jun 18 2013: sorry if I misinterpreted what you said, just tired of all the atheist, God fights.
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          Jun 18 2013: Thanks for your response. I get tired of the fights as well. Please do spend more time here on TED. I like it here because I feel I learn so much.
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    Jun 15 2013: ...
    An idea worth spreading, and something infinitely more awe inspiring and profound than all the childish crap the god crowd floods us with

    we are star stuff
    • Jun 15 2013: wonderful talk as always, glad you put it up!
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      Jun 15 2013: Why is it childish crap from the God crowd? Why are your beliefs more valid then theirs?
      And don't tell me that the evolution of the universe has been 100%, positively, absolutely been determined in it's origin. You have belief on how it could have happened and the childish God crowd does too.
      Beliefs are beliefs.
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        Jun 15 2013: But not all beliefs are correct or equal in terms of the evidence in support of them etc.

        If it is true, it is kind of cool that the atoms in our body are from an earlier generation of stars. Sounds like Moby.

        I'm not aware of anything much being absolutely proven. Maybe some maths but that is kind of trivial and the laws of logic seem to be a necessity.
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          Jun 15 2013: And that's the problem. Beliefs are beliefs. There is no need for evidence. Beliefs are something we hold that does not require evidence. There are many things that people believe that there is no need for evidence. The point I haven't made is that your beliefs are no more or less valid that anyone else's. You are not required to accept other beliefs and they don't have to accept yours.
          But, you say you have facts to support your beliefs. All of your beliefs or just parts of some. The strange part of that anomaly is others will have facts to support some of their beliefs.
          Isn't life wonderful?
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      Jun 15 2013: Careful about characterizing anything as: ". . . Childish god Crap!" Real people are very much invested in that " . . . Childish God Crap!" just as you might be in your "Ridiculous, childish & amoral Atheistic/Agnostic thinking!" I am not taking sides here. Because my issue has to do with mutual respect of people for one another.

      I believe that people can and should believe what they want. I also believe that we should respect those differences. I've been in lots of places where no one wanted to hear about my Faith or anyone's Faith. I've also been in places where THAT (Faith) is all that mattered, and nothing else. I may be unique in that respect. But the people who disagree the most on these issues -- are also the same ones who haven't done much by way of traveling. And by that I mean either physically or mentally "traveling." Traveling means going places you've never been before, either physically or mentally. They just haven't been to the same places I have been.

      Mostly, hard statements like that tell me that people are not listening to one another. And there is the core issue. Ancient wisdom is real. Here is an example. Social Psychology is a true Scientific discipline. They use the same experimental methodology as Physicists or Chemists. They test to the same degree of rigor. Only now is Social Psychology, in the studies of 'reciprocity', sustaining in Science what Jesus taught (about 'reciprocity'). None of the studies cite "Jesus" as an academic authority on 'reciprocity' - but his early work on the subject is worth a measure of academic review and respect. People who listen have a chance of hearing that. People who don't or won't listen - will never get it; EITHER science or religion either one!

      If you don't believe that this can happen, look up "Gregor Mendel" on Wikipedia. He was an Augustinian Friar who is considered the Father of Modern Genetics (Modern Genetics includes DNA etc. THAT is Science!). He was a Catholic Father 1st
  • Jun 12 2013: The direction you take this idea of "just a theory" is very misleading in a many ways. People always take theory as just an idea. The idea of evolution itself has been around for thousands of years, but as you probably know Charles Darwin himself provided many questions, analyzations, and facts. Although many questions still remain to this theory, the general base of it has already been proven whether people like it or not. For example in mainstream media, people insert factual claims and their own opinions to make others either lied to or confused. That's my professional opinion.
  • Jun 12 2013: The strength of evolution as just a theory is related to the diversity of what it explains. As more evidence is gathered, so that accuracy in the predictive model improves over time; this increased accuracy corresponds to an increase in scientific knowledge. Since it is a continuing phenomenon, we are gathering continuing to gather information. Once evolution stops,
    We can say it is no longer a theory, but a fact.
  • Jun 8 2013: I see A LOT of people making the same 'mistake' as you are making Gerald.
    Which is that they don't know what the word theory actually implies.

    A theory is NOT speculation. A theory is a valid explanation of all observed (/tested) facts up till it's invalidation.
    (The theory may also only apply on a subset of observed facts for instance "for all reptiles it holds true that....." or "everywhere on earth gravity is dependant upon....")

    Now this means a lot of things. But I'll restrict my post to just the 3 most important ones.

    First of all it means that any theory can be shown wrong if we come across new facts about the world.
    (Usually this leads to adding another premise to the observed facts. That is that we restrict the theory to a subset of our observed facts... which heavily weakens the theory but allows us to progress on our search to an even better theory. Of which newton to einsten is by far the best example I've come across).

    Secondly it means that up till now no such fact has been observed in enough detail to disprove the theory.

    Thirdly whatever we come up with to explain a fact, there might be an unobservable person/force/fairy/god/evil alien race/whatever somewhere who creates the illusion of the fact to each observer.
    But a theory just describes the observed fact. Which is it's only limitation (given that there are no premisses given with the theory).
    So a theory is actually THE strongest word science has to describe an observed fact.

    Side note:
    People also think that a scientific "Law" like the "law of gravity" is somehow more true than a theory. While the "theory of relativity" is true in many more cases than "Newtons law of gravity".
  • Jun 7 2013: If you believe in creation, then you believe that God/Allah created everything perfectly, then you believe that God / Allah created DNA and that God /Allah ordained sexual reproduction. DNA and sexual reproduction GUARANTEE evolution. So NOT to believe in evolution is a blasphemy because God / Allah's creations are perfect, so evolution is the perfect way to create living diversity. Any religious leader who preaches otherwise is commiting a blasphemy and by so doing is misleading people like Muhammad Ali.
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      Jun 7 2013: I am not sure that all major religions are fixed on that interpretation of creationism. Didn't the Church in Rome recently come out and state that evolution is scientific theory and creationism is a theological precept?
      This would imply some separation of religious theory and science is appropriate. Works for me.
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        Jun 9 2013: When in conflict (as they often are) only one of them can be true though. You cannot believe that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh AND believe that the universe was created 13.7 billion years ago and all the things that came out of it formed by natural law.
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          Jun 9 2013: Why not? Who says that God's days are not over 2 billion years long. Theology is not science.
          Much of the book of Genesis is based on legend. Language of the day was not liberally sprinkled with descriptive adjectives as I understand.
          Who is to disprove that "Natural" law is God's law. I can't.
          So, is Genesis absolutely true, I don't know
          Is it all science? Again, I don't know, but I have to think that all the information to create the universe and all that is in it was in that little ball, whatever, that exploded to create the "big bang". How did it get there.
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        Jun 9 2013: Oh Mike,

        "Who is to disprove that "Natural" law is God's law. I can't. "
        Can you disprove Strobls' law (1st edition) that says "No gods exist or have ever existed"?

        You're just making the scriptures match what you already believe. Who says that Gods days ARE two billion years?

        There is no way to "disprove" that something that hasn't been proved is false. and God has NOT been proven.
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          Jun 9 2013: Can't prove God exists or never existed. Strobls (?) he sounds so sure of himself. Nobody is usually that sure unless they are wrong.

          And who says God's days aren't. But if they are, it all kind of falls into place..

          Never said He was, never said He wasn't.
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        Jun 9 2013: So, what's your take on psalm 137:9? What does it really mean?

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          Jun 9 2013: Let see, about 600 bce the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and really wiped the floor with them.... Think of the invasion of Poland in '39 and multiplying that exponentially. OK, the surviving Jews were a tad upset. So, 137:9 is saying that the Jews would be happy if they could take babies from Babylonian mothers and kill them.
          So, what does it mean... It means that those Jews were really ticked off.
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        Jun 9 2013: And while you're explaining the true meaning of the bible would you care to give your take on these verses and tell me what they really mean?

        "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet." (1 Timothy 2:12)
        "Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses." (1 Samuel 15:3)
        "You shall not let a sorceress live." (Exodus 22:18)
        "When the men would not listen to his host, the husband seized his concubine and thrust her outside to them. They had relations with her and abused her all night until the following dawn, when they let her go. Then at daybreak the woman came and collapsed at the entrance of the house in which her husband was a guest, where she lay until the morning. When her husband rose that day and opened the door of the house to start out again on his journey, there lay the woman, his concubine, at the entrance of the house with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, 'Come, let us go'; but there was no answer. So the man placed her on an ass and started out again for home." (Judges 19:25-28)
        "And the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity." (Romans 1:27)
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          Jun 9 2013: They probably mean what they say. Man's relationships with his fellow man is and always has been "challenging". Rape, murder, mayhem.... They killed witches back then and in Europe just a few hundred years ago. The bible first and foremost is a history of the Jews and subsequently the Christians. I don't know the "true meaning " of the bible, that's for theologians.
          I do think that we shouldn't rule out an intelligent designer in the creation of our universe
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          Jun 10 2013: I agree with Mike. I think, Bible is a mirror for humanity. It has stories ranging from the highest degree of self-sacrifice down to the lowest depravity. (You missed child cannibalism in Kings 6:6 and eating human feces in Ezekiel). No wonder, so many people don't like what they see in the Bible. I think, most stories are there for reflection. Interpretation and meaning depends on what we see in that reflection.
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        Jun 9 2013: Mike,

        "Nobody is usually that sure unless they are wrong." I completely agree. My extreme position is overplayed, but I do it to balance the debate out.
        I'm actually (teapot) agnostic, as are almost all atheists. I take the position of atheism to counter the position of theism. There are hundreds of comments everywhere stating that God exists, is great and all loving. But when one makes the opposite statement people get offended...
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        Jun 10 2013: The church of England also accepts the science of evolution

        The bible god concept is a bit schizophrenic. Kill everyone one day. Love they neighbour the next. Blood sacrifices finally torturing for eternity those who use there brains to figure out there is no reason to believe or are convinced of some other gods
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    Jun 6 2013: Any theory has a probably associated with it. Usually associated with predictability and is therefor verifiable with emperical evidence. I.E. Evolutionary theory is Highly likely, probably approaching 100% verifiable. Creationism is highly unlikely , probably approaching 0% verifiable.
    Being a theory is about as relevant as being a thing. We really need to learn to tell people that they are stupid.
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    Jun 6 2013: As an aside, Notre Dame is just a pile of rocks. Some say that the rocks were piled well, others say... Oh, that's nice.
    As an engineer (retired) I say, How in the hell did they do that. There were no PCs to do calculations, No Lab machines to measure compression or tension of materials. We would be hard pressed today to create such a structure without our advanced technology. So, I thought maybe they were smarter back then as we are today. Now I read that British researchers claimed that we are 14 points lower in I Q then just 150 years ago..
    So, we all should be working hard on new artificial intelligence, robotics, and all technology in that vein as I am concerned that we'll need machines to tend a worldwide garden of human mushrooms.in the maybe near future,
    Now that's evolution.
  • Jun 6 2013: The response of many defenders of evolution to the "just a theory" argument has been something like "no it isn't, it's fact".

    This is inaccurate, and disingenuous. I don't think it helps. A better response would be to elucidate the nature of fact as best fitting theory.

    Personally I feel that this understanding of the continuity of theory and fact is even more empowering than the understanding of evolutionary theory.
    • Jun 6 2013: I disagree, for creationists and intelligent design champions, the word theory is being misused, and not understood, therefore, it is very relevant. I do not know how many times I have heard the word theory used by these people, thinking they understand science, when they obviously don't. I am not saying they cannot hypothesize there pet ideas, but I want to see quntifiable results before they bandy words like theory. Finally, you can throw "FACTS" at some of these people all day long, and they refuse to see them, that is faith, the same faith that has killed millions in the name of God, Allah, and many other deities.
      • Jun 6 2013: The words "theory" and "fact" are being misused and misunderstood by both sides of the argument.
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      Jun 6 2013: G'Day Lewis,
      I believe there is enough evidence that evolution is more certain then what one can describe as theory. Now, I speak of evolution as the beginning of our universe from the beginning or what most believe was the beginning.
      When we limit evolution to Darwin as many do, it is really like looking for fly poo in black pepper. All this conversation on whether man is a cousin or a brother to chimps. Atheists and Theologians can fight over that one, with biologists saying it's almost to close to call.
      Your acceptance of the power of fact is understandable, but begs the question on the lack of fact. Do we accept the obvious, when we can't verify facts? All the time.
      • Jun 6 2013: "there is enough evidence that evolution is more certain then what one can describe as theory"

        No, it can still be described as a theory. It can be described as a fact also, in the context of fact being a favored and supported theory.

        I don't accept "the power of fact", you've read my post wrong.
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          Jun 7 2013: Sorry,
          But now I am confused. The "theory of evolution" is attributed to Darwin and most biologist seem to think it is no longer theory, but fact. I think of evolution as the evolving universe with all that means. Some of these sciences: cosmology, astronomy, etc. have established a number of facts. Facts make scientists happy. Scientists seem to think facts have power. I always wanted facts to support my opinions. I accept the power of fact, what am I missing?
      • Jun 7 2013: What you are missing is that 'fact' is really just an established and well supported 'theory' about which most relevant experts have, for now, ceased to argue about. Many people miss this point, including some biologists and other kinds of scientists.

        What I'm trying to convey is that whether you call it the 'theory' of evolution or the 'fact' of evolution, you're talking about the same thing, and the difference is really only one of emphasis. To construe fact as a different and superior thing to theory is disingenuous and inaccurate, and a poor argument on the part of supporters of the theory / fact of evolution.

        Some scientists do seem to think that facts have power. I think they're misleading themselves. If there is power here, it lays in the ability to adapt theory to new information. Facts are by their nature provisional and temporary.*

        *It may be that some theories are already so good that improvement won't be necessary within our lifetimes, or even within the lifetime of the universe.. but there's no reason to believe that about any particular theory unless you can see into it's future. One can't remain adaptable if one assumes one's theories are perfect.
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      Jun 6 2013: I agree lewis. Perhaps evolution is the best explanation explaining what we observe in the physical and genetic patterns in all the life forms on earth and the fossil record. Adaptation. Changes in gene frequency. Descent. Etc.

      Science is often intwined with probability.

      Part of the issue relates epistimology, what we claim to know etc.

      We seem to have great confidence that the earth orbits the sun. Some have a high degreeof confidence in evolution.

      Others don't. I personally think it is the best explanation we have.
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    Jun 5 2013: Proving an idea is more about the person's personal beliefs. You can only prove something to someone what they want to believe. You can have all the proof in the world but if a person doesn't believe in it, they'll find a way to disprove your facts. Evolutionist have their proof of evolution, just as creationist have their proof of God. I haven't seen anyone change their mind because of a "proof" that was given by the other party. I think people that do change their mind on this topic do so out of their own intuition, not because of knowledge or facts they've acquired on the subject. Science is fact. Nobody can dispute science, and those that do are so desperate that they'll abandon reason to stand fast in their faith. An analogy I use is the Manhattan Project. Scientist working on the atomic bomb had never seen an atom, but by using deductive reasoning, through exeriments and mathematics (i.e. science), they created hypotheses and proved the atom existed. How? Because the A-bomb worked. Nothing creationist have theorized has ever yielded a measurable result. It happens everyday in science. Doesn't mean creationism didn't happen, just hasn't been proven, I'm a man of little faith, but I think the fact that we're here at all is a mystery. And whether you believe that everything in our universe spontaneously exploded from a singularity that was created from who knows what, or that a sentient all-knowing being that has always existed created the universe, they are both equally ridiculous.
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    Jun 5 2013: Our essence exists everywhere in this universe; just as an electron is "everywhere" on atomic quantum levels.

    We use this planet as an essential organic "stage" in our never-ending journey.

    Evolution is true to the extent that the organic body we use did come from something similar from the past.
    Creation is true to the extent that we became multi-dimentional beings at some point in the past.

    "All the World's a Stage" -William Shakespeare
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    May 31 2013: When Scientist come up with a "hypothesis," and publish it, then the scientific community as a whole tries to disprove it. After many tries, if it is not disproved, it is stated as "theory," or scientific fact. I, being christian, had many problems excepting "the theory of evolution." I looked at the evidence myself. There has been no evidence of an animal adapting to its environment and changing its species classification in this modern era. All the examples i have seen are just of animals that look similar, but have obviously different appendages that make them different among their genus category. Like different birds within the same genus, but different species, and so forth. Science doesn't disprove God, but rather proves His existence at every turn. The Giraffe, as evolution goes, should not exist, nor should a wood pecker. I have done my research and agree with this statement, if you disagree, do the research yourself and become educated. God created all the living things as they are, perfect to do their job within their environment, and beautiful as the Creator can make them. "Even Einstein got the theory of E=mc squared wrong." This is my statement. How did he get it wrong, you might ask? I pose this factoid to you, the speed of light is not always constant.
    • May 31 2013: If God created everything perfect, why do whales have vestigal legs and fingers? You are giving the classic where is the missing link speech, and I do believe there are plenty of educated individuals that have done the research. Look at wolves, look at the DNA, the truth is out there and it isn't God created. By the way, I am not trying to start an argument, but where exactly does science prove Gods existence? There is not, nor has there ever been, any proof of God, only faith.
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        May 31 2013: the word "vestigal" comes from man and is used to explain something that "he" can't explain, like unused limbs, appendidges, etc. How can you say look at DNA and not see God's work. What is the chance that 4 atomic elements can sequence themselves into a chain that holds all the instructions for the human body and get it right in the amount of time it has had to, and create human beings?
        • May 31 2013: Easy: by evolution.
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          Jun 1 2013: How can you not look at DNA and see the machinery of evolution and shared ancestry of all mammals, then all vertebrates etc

          What is the chance you exist out of all the possible combinations of parents. It is minuscule, yet here you are.

          What is the probability of a particular molecule of H2O being is this glass of water. It is minuscule, Yet here it is.

          The giraffe and woodpecker are perfect examples of imperfect adaptation. The laryngeal nerve in giraffe goes all the way down to the heart and back. Very inefficient in the giraffe, but not in our marine fish like ancestors with shorter necks.
        • Jun 1 2013: You are playing with the semantics by saying the word vestigal is man created, all language is man created. If you think that DNA is the perfection of God, then you don't understand DNA all that well. As far as chances, the odds are better that it happened naturally than by some sky-pilot. Just because we do not understand everything, doesn't mean God created it, and by the way, we do understand why they have vestigal appendages, we can even see it in the fossil record.
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      May 31 2013: I am sorry, but you are wrong. When a theory is published, the scientific community doesn't try to DISPROVE it but to EXPERIMENT it. If the aim was disproval, science wouldn't be objective -and that's the fundamental value of science; being objective. Not being stuck with your own theories and accepting what is real.
      E=mc squared isn't wrong; it applies well on things that do not approach the speed of light. Like quantum mechanics, matter doesn't behave the same way in all scales. I am not attacking you or anything, I swear. I am just trying to make you see that you are obviously misinformed. You can just as well say that I'm a hard-core-scientific-science-fan, but I am not -I just see reality. And for all I know, science doesn't prove the existence of a white-bearded guru goodie goodie who lives in some superheavenal realm, but even better, the existence of a faceless higher power, which is in fact, the whole existence. Of course, this is my opinion and you don't have to accept it, but evolution IS fact.
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    May 31 2013: Well you can actually observe the founder effect and bacterial evolution take place. The only theory is that speciation occurred in the past, and is only a theory because you can't go back in time and watch it happen.
    But understand, biology is infinitely complex, and the conclusion that life began when a body of matter that was able reproduce itself with chemical reactions and evolved into organisms that can feel is a fairly new concept in science. If you don't understand chemistry this is a pretty radical idea. You can't expect everyone to accept it, only those curious enough to care..
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    May 31 2013: I think the world needs more “evangelical scientists,” although I don't mean that in the traditionally evangelical sense. The only reason anyone doubts evolution is because of religion. If we evolved from slime, especially via the brutal process of natural selection, then the whole personal loving God motif that two-thirds of humanity have come to believe in is right out the window (although it leaves the door open for a loving god in a metaphysical sense though). And those like Francis Collins who try to link mainstream Christianity and Evolution are really lacking any real foundation for their argument.

    When I first heard about evolution it instantly conflicted with what I was raised to believe as a catholic kid, and I hoped it wasn’t true, although it made soooo much more sense than Adam and Eve :-). I started researching the matter, and like most people, I was most attracted to the views that supported what I wanted to hear (i.e., yes to micro ev but no to macro ev). When I read works by scientists they were often too complicated and they had a bad attitude toward those who may not already believe what they were saying, which made them less likable to me.

    I happened to have the personality to persist in the pursuit of truth at all costs and came through the other side, but many don’t. If science wants to win the evolution argument they must learn how to communicate with people who need their hand held through the chasm.
  • May 31 2013: I can't say that I agree with the Notre Dame analogy. Evolution is a truth though. The question is, is it all "natural selection" or "random mutation"? I've heard of "facilitated variation" which to me sounds about right but according to the words of the theory which are so cautious I have my doubts about the text book definition. Then there is Rupert Sheldrake's morphogenetic field. It's interesting but not convincing. I can give you my own theory of evolution but it is limited to beings with brains who sleep. I don't know how they got to have brains but this seems to me to be the engine of evolution. Firstly, the purpose of everything in waking life is to procreate, achieve nutrition and exercise. But sleep is the essential place where evolution takes place. When we achieve delta wave states of sleep, growth hormone is released and deployed. In the past this was thought to only grow tissue or repair injury, but we now know that it facilitates the growth in our minds called neuroplasticity. Dreaming may be the registry where a need registers and the growth hormone facilitates a variation in our genes to achieve the adaptation we need. This happens with all sorts of species--maybe all. Consider how the owl has special tips on the feathers that make it's flight soundless. It can capture mice without detection because it channels air in a special way. Or think of all the animals who have camouflage which are predators. There had to be some perception somewhere of these advantages but none of these animals have the waking intelligence to understand the dynamics. It seems to be in dreams that adaptations are perceived and growth hormone facilitates variation into genes. Other happenstantial models seem unlikely to produce such refined adaptations. Natural selection and random mutation seem way too faulty to just swallow as is.
  • May 30 2013: This trend is probably led by the way science has been taught, i e as a flawless method that offers facts about reality.

    Has it?

    First year you start they tell this = that. Then when move up a year they say, oh yes that's not quite complete, here is it complete. Then you move up a year, then they tell you, Ah you didn't factor in this, now we will. Then you move up a year......
    • W T 100+

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      May 30 2013: Tify, so are you saying that the more science classes you take, the less convinced you are that science has all the answers?
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    May 26 2013: "Science is the worst way of knowing, except all the other methods" - Daniel Gilbert. (http://bigthink.com/videos/does-religion-inform-your-worldview-2)
    The scientific method is one of the best ways to get closer to the truth, and is one of the finest accomplishments of the human raise.
    It gets rid of human biases like the "Confirmation bias" and works by a process of falsification, the mistakes we make (with our theories) bring us closer to the "truth", than any other method we have ever created.
    Scientific method works by these 6 steps :
    1. Come up with a question about the world.
    2. Create a (reasonable falsifiable) hypothesis – one possible answer to the question.
    3. Design an experiment, or find some observational data.
    4. Experiment and collect the data.
    5. Draw conclusions from the experiment, or observational data.
    6. Communicate them to others, and these "others" will try to falsify your results.
    It's worth mentioning that you should try and define (or describe) your terms.
    This is why I think "Does God Exist" is a unscientific question, mainly because no one has actaully defined the terms (to a logically valid way) "God" and "Existence". This is problematic to any scientist. To me it is like asking does "X Y?". I don't know...)
    Considering, as many on TED know, that I have started up debates like "Can you define God? Or in other words what is God?" and "Can we design an experiment to (dis)prove God?". All these answers have basically been "No".
    So I feel any scientist should remain an agnostic about such a question. (Also "God" isn't really falsifiable...)
    However with regards, to evolution. I have no doubt that evolution is the best theory around at explaining things (considering it requires the least amount of assumptions) and have been "experimentally" verified.
    So what am I getting at?
    Evolution is the best theory around (a lot better than creationism) at explaining things.

    P.S : Sorry for deleting my replies. Wanted to make the "perfect reply".
    • May 30 2013: "Science" will not prove GODS existence, because GOD was not created in the universe, GOD is the creator of the universe. GOD was not created by the smallest particles and or elements that are in the universe, science will only prove the existence of everything in the universe by the who, what, when, where, why and how but not GOD. Science is organized knowledge, whos knowledge? GODS knowledge, for GOD has given mankind the "understanding" of his knowledge he has gardened within the universe. without the "understanding" we would not have knowledge. GOD gave us, mankind the power over his knowledge he has gardened within the universe by giving us the "understanding" in birth. "But I speak Thy TRUTH, you would have no power over me unless it was given to you from the Father our GOD"
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    May 22 2013: Gerald Hi,

    Evolution is a theory supported by volumes of data gatherd by scientists after various expeiments and explorations.

    It is not easy to deny it . But nobody can take away your right to question it.

    Any such question will generate much interest if it is supported by substantial facts and studies.
    • May 30 2013: "Science" will not prove GODS existence, because GOD was not created in the universe, GOD is the creator of the universe. GOD was not created by the smallest particles and or elements that are in the universe, science will only prove the existence of everything in the universe by the who, what, when, where, why and how but not GOD. Science is organized knowledge, whos knowledge? GODS knowledge, for GOD has given mankind the "understanding" of his knowledge he has gardened within the universe. without the "understanding" we would not have knowledge. GOD gave us, mankind the power over his knowledge he has gardened within the universe by giving us the "understanding" in birth. "But I speak Thy TRUTH, you would have no power over me unless it was given to you from the Father our GOD"