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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 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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