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.
  • Keith W

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    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 -

      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 . 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 ""
      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)
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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.
    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!
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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.

        Start on this page and find a link you might recognize. Or better yet, go to 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 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......
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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. (
    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"
  • May 22 2013: "The fact that our best available theories are still speculations ..."

    That statement is wholly inaccurate. Saying that a scientific theory is speculation is just plain wrong.

    "This trend is probably led by the way science has been taught, i e as a flawless method that offers facts about reality."

    That statement represents a myth. No one who is knowledgeable about science would teach this.

    You have clearly demonstrated that science is misunderstood.

    People who argue that Evolution is "just a theory" are confusing the common and scientific meanings of "Theory".

    Please refer to the Wikipedia article on "Theory" and to the Wikipedia article on "Scientific Theory".

    There are very few fields of study (if any) where our knowledge is complete. Some people consider this incompleteness as a major weakness in science. Some fields are much more complete than others, and it is much easier to lump them all together with a label like "speculation" than to deal with the much more complex reality of the situation. Fields like meteorology and biochemistry are very incomplete. Fields like fluid dynamics and inorganic chemistry are very well understood.

    The Theory of Evolution is fairly well understood. The fact that it is not completely understood should not be used to create an issue about the validity of the core of the Theory, which is very well established.

    The arguments about scientific knowledge are often about the quality of the knowledge under discussion.. Unfortunately, we do not have a measure or even a standard vocabulary to use to describe the quality of knowledge. On a scale of one to ten, one representing extremely weak certainty and ten representing "as certain as possible", the core concepts of the Theory of Evolution would be rated at ten.

    Isaac Asimov's essay, "The Relativity of Wrong", addresses the quality of knowledge. You can read it here:
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      May 22 2013: "No one who is knowledgeable about science would teach this. "

      I couldn't agree more.
      Thank you for the interesting comment that got me thinking some more. Judging from various comments, I seem to be slightly misunderstood, due to my poor skills at explaining... stuff. I'll try to explain a little bit better.
      I'm not insisting on the speculative character of scientific theories to say that scientific theories shouldn't be trusted. Au contraire, I believe speculation is the best method of inquiry we can tackle reality with.
      I agree with you that "speculation" is not the propper term to define the effort that comes with, say, a theory as hard to dismantle as that of Evolution.
      I never liked to use the word "science" when trying to convince someone, because of the analogy with other academies of absolute knowledge we're so fond of in the JudeoChristian world. Ideas should be judged on the amount of understanding they bring and that alone. And although it's true that there is only one way of figuring things out _ the honnest way _ unscientific scientists have abused the reputation of science to the point that I don't trust anything that mentions "science" anymore.
      Isn't everything supposed to be science, as soon as it aims to explain something?
      • May 22 2013: I reserve the word science to refer to the use of the scientific method in gaining knowledge. There are a variety of other ways to gain knowledge which we practice every day. Some methods are more reliable than others. The scientific method is considered to be the most reliable and most thorough, but it is limited. The scientific method is only applicable to phenomena that are repeatable and can be tested (falsified) in the here and now. Strictly speaking, you could argue that many of the ideas in the Theory of Evolution cannot be tested by experiments, and are not supported by the scientific method. Nevertheless, the supporting evidence for evolution is extremely convincing.
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    Jun 19 2013: Have we come to the consensus that evolution has passed the test and can be raised to a level above " just a theory"?
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      Jun 19 2013: It's somewhere between "the truth" and "just a theory". I still don't have a name for that place, so I go with "thorough explanation"
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      Jun 20 2013: PhD Scientists, from Physicists to Biologists to Mathematicians -- agree that Darwin's theory of Natural Selection, &, by extension, 'Evolution' is proven as fact. It is up there with the "Law of Gravity" in terms of its utility. For a theory to have scientific utility, it has to pass rigorous testing over time. That testing entails two things. First, explaining natural phenomena as they are observed; and Second, passing the scrutiny of every, rigorous attempt to disprove the theory outright by even the most trivial of observed discrepancy. Just one discrepancy in the theory is enough to cast significant doubt as to the utility of the theory as a whole.

      We know enough now to know how it works and why. And to the minds of many, that ends the debate at the level of the 'ivory-tower-academic.'

      The fact that I say this here won't make me very popular here (or a few other places I have been). But the notion of evolution has become almost inescapable. Scientists see evolution at work in too many places. If you try to major in Biology working towards your B.S. degree -- good luck trying to tell any of your professors that "Evolution is JUST a theory!" If you assert that 'Evolution is still unproven!' as a biology major, most places you'll be invited to go major in Social Studies or Communications instead of Biology.

      What I say above is probably NOT the case at Oral Roberts University . . . but that's the exception rather than the rule.
  • Jun 19 2013: It is important to keep the conversation in the context in which it was written...there are other theories that do not do such a good job of explaining the diversity of life: Lamarckian evolution, spontaneous generation, to name two. True, those have been discounted by any credible biologist, but the ideas, i.e. explanations, i.e. theories, still exist.
    • Jun 19 2013: Here's where you go wrong: the ideas, i.e. explanations, i.e. theories.

      Explanations and ideas are NOT theories. They are in "regular language" when I cassually say that I have a theory about something. But a scientific theory is MUCH stronger than "an idea / explanation".
      As the concept of a "theory" is defined by Karl Popper.

      The hypothesis still exist (aka the idea) and the explanation still exist (as explanation although it's been refuted).... the scientific theory does not.
  • Jun 18 2013: Point taken, Gerald, and the best explanation for the diversity of life currently on the planet, and the diversity in the fossil record is evolution.
  • Jun 18 2013: Opposition to evolution is assumed to be a religous creationalist point of view from observations on these boards. When in fact I have read a simple fact that there are no absolutes including science and that is why they call it a theory. It may have all sorts of evidence but it is not a law like gravity. This is simply because it can not be entirly proved correct and neither can creationalist to any level of satisfaction of opposition parties.

    So as for your question: It is a theory.
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      Jun 18 2013: Its not a law because it can not be reduced to a mathmatical statement
      • Jun 18 2013: Ehmmmm? That doesn't matter.

        Stuff was called a "Law" before Popper and a "Theory" after. As a theory > Law.

        Aka Newton's Laws < Einstein's Theories.
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          Jun 19 2013: it does matter. even if everyone agreed there was overwhelming evidence for evolution it would still be a theory not a law because of its scope.

          i guess we may have different ideas about what a laws and theories are in modern science.
        • Jun 21 2013: Hypothesis

          A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

          A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis.


          A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'.
      • Jun 19 2013: You also seem to be confused as to what is called a "law" and what is called a "theory" in science.
        I think you too, from a philosophical point, should read up on Karl Popper.

        Many "laws" have been improved upon by "theories".
        There is still a large gap between "observation" and "theory" though.... but a theory should be consistent with every observstion. Meanwhile "laws" don't have this issue.

        That there is gravitation is an observation.... Newton made a fairly accurate guess (law) as to how to calculate it's force.... That then got improved upon by Einstein (theory).
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          Jun 19 2013: Actually we generally seem to be thinking along the same lines. There is the historical aspect and then there is the scope aspect.

          Theories have more explanatory power. You can not reduce evolution to a mathmatical equation Or relationship that predicts observations. It is broader than that.

          Theories are supported by testing and can be disproven by contradictory evidence
      • Jun 20 2013: Like I've said a few times already in the thread... people should read up on Karl Popper especially on his "Falsifiability" but he's made a few more philosophical points, about science, which are worth noting.
    • Jun 18 2013: You need to read my reply below.

      A scientific theory > scientific law.

      We have theories about what we observe, but it doesn't change the fact that we observe something happening.

      "Evolution" is observable beyond any form of doubt.
      As to WHY it happens... Well we have a theory that explains ALL of our observations about the observations.

      The only reason I use " " around evolution is because that which we observe as evolution doesn't strictly need to be named evolution. But the phenomenon "evolution" is explained (as to why it happens) through the theory of evolution.
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        Jun 19 2013: richard perhaps in some cases understanding the position of theories in modern science under mines some positions so it is ignored.
        you try correct, some prefer to argue against the false strawman

        fingers in ears going la la la, i dont want to hear this
        like the endlessly repeated false interpretation that evolution says humans evolved from chimps. it doesnt matter how many times you try to correct, it is deliberately propagated like a sound bite.
    • Jun 18 2013: Opposition to evolution is most of the time due to religious creationist misinformed points of view. This is not an assumption, but a well informed conclusion from lots of experience.
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      Jun 20 2013: And it only takes ONE proven 'exception' to the theory to call everything into question. Newtonian physics was supreme until Albert Einstein took a few instances here and there where Newton's theory seemed to 'break down.' Einstein evaluated those 'exceptions' and then published E=M*Csquared. Newtonian physics is now DEAD as a stand-alone theory. Newton's theories still work in Physics 101. But when you start sending man-made-objects costing MILLIONS of Euros into Space, you'd better know something significant about Mr. Einstein & HIS theories.

      So in the 'Space Age,' Newtons' theory is DEAD. And, apparently, so is a significant amount of Albert Einstein's later "conjectures" about a Unified Theory. Now given what we now know about Quantum Mechanics.
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    Jun 18 2013: Jimmy,
    Still molecular activity on the quantum level at absolute zero... speed of light ends in a number of zeros, Absolute or are we faced with the the last number of Pi syndrome? this is hard.
  • Jun 18 2013: Wow, there is a lot wrong with the question. First, theories are not speculations in any way. I might speculate that there the stock market is going to rise (or fall). I might speculate that my spouse will be mad if I come home late again. A theory is not a speculation, it is the best available explanation of some observation, or set of observations, of the universe or some part of it based on tested evidence. It is speculation that, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It is a well tested theory that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago in a single event that resulted in the all we see today. Evidence for this includes the expansion of the universe, the existence of predicted cosmic microwave background radiation, and the temperature of deep space (about 3 K), again, as predicted by the theory.

    Second, I'd like to know where science taught "as a flawless method that offers facts about reality." I am serious, where is this being done? If it is taught this way, it is not science it is dogma, which is antithetical to the concept of science. Humans have invented many filters for truth: religion, astrology, alchemy, science. By far the most successful method for determining truth is science. That does not mean it is a flawless method that offers facts about reality, rather, it is a self-correcting method that, over time, leads to a better and better understanding of the nature of reality, but acknowledges that it will never lead to absolute truth. Quantum theory teaches us for example, that the best we can do is know the probability that we are right, and that we will never know for sure the exact nature of what we are observing. The act of observing changes the outcome.

    There is as much evidence for evolution as there is for any other valid scientific theory. Evolution is the cornerstone of biology, and without it biology is just a set of unrelated facts. To explain biology, understand evolution.
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      Jun 18 2013: " it is the best available explanation of some observation"

      No it's not. It's just one explanation. the best available theory is the best available explanation.
      • Jun 18 2013: Depends on your definition of theory.

        In science the "theory" should always be the 'best available explanation'.
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          Jun 19 2013: SHOULD?
          So how do you call a second-best explanation?
      • Jun 19 2013: Well 2nd best would imply that there are cases in which "the best explanation" does a better job at predicting what will happen.

        Therefor there are cases where the 2nd best is 'wrong' and thus it doesn't hold up as a scientific theory.

        If both theories are equal in predicting then we have Occam's Razor which sais that the most simple explanation is probably best, but then we cannot discard either of the explanations.
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          Jun 19 2013: Well argued. So what's a better name for the "Big Crunch theory", since it's been blown to pieces?
          Not a misconception, since you'd agree, I hope, that our best theories remain misconceptions. And that the Big Crunch used to be a theory itself....
      • Jun 20 2013: well if a theory is 'blown to pieces' it usualy remains a concept or gets known as a false hypotheses.

        I wouldn't say that our best theories are misconceptions though.
  • Jun 17 2013: I think we are all convinced that what we know (from an individual standpoint) is THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH to the exclusion of all others. Even if THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH one believe in is: There is no absolute truth.
    • Jun 17 2013: I lay down a challenge ... If I could spend a week with any theist who is prepared to be genuinely open minded, I would convince him or her that they were wrong and the overwhelming probablity is that there is no god.
      • Jun 17 2013: I'm prepared to accept your challenge, though there are logistical problems with meeting. Assuming that we're not in geographical proximity, of course.

        I'm curious as how you determined any theism in stating the Law of Non-Contradiction applies to undermining principals of all worldviews.
        • Jun 17 2013: Craig,

          Your last sentence is impossible to understand:

          "I'm curious as how you determined any theism in stating the Law of Non-Contradiction applies to undermining principals of all worldviews."

          What are you asking?
      • Jun 17 2013: Apparently replies only go so deep in the message board, unless I'm missing something.

        I should have used the word "discerned" instead of "determined". Sometimes my mind gets ahead of what my fingers are doing.

        What I was asking: How did you connect my post to any sort of theism? Is stating that the philosophical Law of Non-Contradiction applies to worldview statements some means of indicating a theist worldview on behalf of those making said statement?
        • Jun 18 2013: Oh the theism was easy to discern. The moment someone talks about absolute truth, most probably theist. (Most probably.)

          You're sentence is still very hard to parse. But I think I've got it.

          (Yes, replies only go so deep.)
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        Jun 17 2013: Dave could I have some of that? I am not a theist, bu I am not willing to say there is no God.
        Is that good enough? Does your offer include room and board?

        I love conversations about absolutes, ever since I heard that there is even motion on the quantum level at absolute zero.
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        Jun 17 2013: Dave,

        I like your confidence but I think that you're in for much more then a week. There's a lot of information to present and it takes time for people to digest that information. And the more read up they are on incorrect theories and facts the more you have to first prove that they are wrong and then teach them how it really is...

        If people are truly open-minded they are already agnostic and then you just have to teach them statistics...

        But good luck!
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        Jun 20 2013: Yes, good luck to all of us . . .

        Revision 0.06
        These are the 4 Postulates of God:

        1. There will always be more that is unknown than known.

        2. No supernatural phenomena will ever be discovered or validated by science.

        3. The Scientific Theory of Mind + logic, leads to a very 'Agnostic' Theory of God

        4. Religion/God is a “default theory,” with persuasive scientific utility. Science will never replace God as the Default Theory, of absolutely everything.
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      Jun 17 2013: you don't know that.....
      • Jun 17 2013: It is not necessary to possess absolute knowledge to know absolute knowledge exists.
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          Jun 20 2013: No, it's like Evolution and the revisions that Quantum Mechanics is making to Einstein's theories. If you keep looking. And everywhere you look the theory proves its utility. You are stuck with the theory.

          You have to keep the theory so long as it keeps working w/o exception. When you find the exceptions to your theory -- where the theory breaks down -- that is when you have to go back to work.

          Sometimes you can modify the existing theory to fit the new facts. Sometimes you find yourself in the shoes of Mr. Einstein. He took a lot of heat before the 'Big Players' accepted that Einstein was right and Newton wrong.
    • Jun 17 2013: Is it an absolute truth that there's no absolute truth?
      • Jun 17 2013: Merely pointing out that those who claim there is no absolute truth are false in their absolute claim.

        If one states absolutely: There is no absolute truth. Does the statement apply to itself? If it does, then the statement is false. If the statement does NOT apply to itself, then self-denial is evident and one actually believes there is absolute truth.
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      Jun 17 2013: Not so sure, Craig, There are two absolutes I can think of... death and taxes. Of course, death doesn't get worse every time congress is in session.....

      I love that line... Thank You, Will Rogers.
      • Jun 18 2013: Then we're in agreement that absolutes are indeed absolutes. Death and Taxes.
      • Jun 18 2013: I'm glad we are in agreement on some physical constants of the universe as constants (nearly so in the case of C because it's been manipulated in the lab), but I'm afraid this thread is confusing fact with truth.
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    Jun 15 2013: Prof Jerry Coyne does an excellent job discussing the "just a theory" issue in the first 10 minutes or so of this great lecture "Why Evolution is True" and answers many of the questions posed in this thread...
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    Jun 14 2013: Mike a god that is part Jesus is not a god that is not part Jesus.

    A god that did not provide a third revelation via the Koran can not be a god that did provide a third revelation via the Koran.
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      Jun 14 2013: Obey, don't take this too personal, but you are getting too wrapped up in the axle of the Bible, Koran and the books of Moses. Are you a student of these religious works? I'm not. People who know about these things tell me about them and answers questions I might have and that satisfied my need to know. What I have learned is not the wild eyed religious zealot you seem to find annoying. So, I can't really address your concerns. Everybody has beliefs and are welcome to those beliefs. Their beliefs are not yours?. So what? Why are you so upset? They don't agree with you either and neither of you are going to convince the other. So, as I see it,
      all this mental energy you've expended would have better used whizzing in the wind.
      This talk is about Evolution which I interpreted as the evolution of our entire universe since it wasn't defined
      and I have had fun talking about it. I especially liked the pile of rocks reference..
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        Jun 15 2013: If you don't get it, no problem. It seems fairly obvious to me. I'm not denying the connection between the Abrahamic religions, just logically they are different gods. Or lets say different beliefs of the same god i.e. 3 different god beliefs. Agree off topic. Too much coffee.
  • Jun 14 2013: If I can make such mistakes, surely nature can also
  • Jun 14 2013: Sorry!!! wrong web addres
  • Jun 14 2013: Most people accept evolution, but some of us question that it is driven by random-mutation-and-natural-selection. If evolution is driven by individual organisms striving to adapt, evolution can be defined as intelligently organized. Each organism would be a participant in such an evolutionary process, with the genome merely being a recipient of such persistent efforts, rather than initiating change. Such a concept would be much closer to the thoughts of Lamarck than Darwin. The human mind is the organ currently in the process of dramatic change, and perhaps all mental illness, including autism, are merely nature's less successful attempts at such reorganization.
    Berthajane Vandegrift
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    Jun 10 2013: Gerald, science as both method and body of knowledge, discovers facts, but we probably shouldn’t go so far as to say it is “flawless.” Terms such as reproducible and valid, for instance, would seem more appropriate. On the other hand, the dictionary defines the word "fact" as, “something that actually exists; reality; truth.” So it is somewhat redundant to say “facts about reality.” Facts ARE reality, and evolution is a fact.
  • Jun 10 2013: Evolution is in the endeavors of every child.
  • Jun 10 2013: What about Lamarkian evolution? I don't think the basic premise holds water, but I do think environment influences evolution. Phenotype drives genotype. The idea that random mutations, for example, drove dolphins and whales from land creatures to sea creatures is hard to understand. However, if living in an aquatic environment droves the changes, nostrils on top of the head and blowholes, it makes more sense. I have no thoughts on the mechanism that drives these mutations, but think somehow environment influences mutation. Any thoughts?
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      Jun 10 2013: Yup, that's Epigenetics for you!
    • Jun 13 2013: I doubt many people doubt evolution, but many people question that it was driven by random-mutation-and-natural-selection. (premature death doing something to genetic accidents). It is easier to imagine that each organism exerts its own effort to adapt, and if persistent over generations, such adaptations are eventually incorporated into the genome. Thus evolution is closer to Lamarck than anything Darwin suggested.
      Berthajane Vandegrift
  • Jun 8 2013: Evolution is more than a theory. It's a process. How it works exactly has been posited in theory which may not be entirely accurate. "Natural selection" has had holes for me. "Facilitated variation" addresses some of those holes. But it crawls so scientifically close to the vest as to be irritating. I have a theory on how it works but it would probably set a scientist's hair on fire to hear it. It involves the nature and role of "sleep", conscious versus unconscious "perception", hormones, neuroplasticity, adaptive articulation in DNA.
  • Jun 7 2013: Evolution in thoughts may be acceptable because our thinking and resultant conclusions do change with new inputs, however, evolution in living beings is absurd and just untrue. Allah created every living being and plant in complete perfection at once. He says that when He intends to do a thing, He just says,"Be done, and it is instantly done." He does not require evolution process for achieving perfection in any specie. Have you ever heard of human beings changing their present shape into some thing new? After all millions of years have gone by in the present form. No, this evolution is just not true. Yes similarities in some respect between species are there, but that's all. There is perfection in his creations every where, there are no deficiencies or defects any where at all. This indeed is the biggest sign of His existence as one Supreme Being, our Creator, our Sustainer and our Master. He has created every thing for particular function(s) and it will continue to live and flourish till He wants it to stay. The instant end of all things is just near now.
    • Jun 7 2013: Dear Muhammad Ali,
      How can you explain 98.5 percent similarity between DNA's of humans and of Chimpanzees?
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        Jun 8 2013: We have to breath the same air, eat the same food,drink the same water, plus the fact,of course, we were designed by the same designer. Human beings are more than the machines we walk around in.

      • Jun 8 2013: Dear Mahdi, the similarity may be 98.5 % but not 100 %. The first human being Adam and his wife Hava were created by Allah in one go in complete perfection. Both of them lived in Heaven for some time. Then they were sent to this world on this planet for a given period of time. Only they were the first parents of the entire human race except Christ who was created through mother only (without the intervention of father) by the Grace of Allah. Hence Champanzees are not our forefathers, these are not humans though they look similar to us. Let us not forget that a few thousands years ago, many humans like us were converted into Champanzees or similar animals by Allah as punishment, the scientists may be talking about such converts who may have close similarities. We are the best of creations of Allah, animals are not our forefathers. We are a separate specie right from start. All the scriptures including Al-Quran have been always saying so as well.
        • Jun 9 2013: If you knew more about the science of evolution you would know that nobody ever said we descended from chimps. Chimps and ourselves descend from an earlier hominid along similar paths. We tend to be more sucessful is all.
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          Jun 9 2013: Timothy,

          That apparently wont help, but i applaud your effort.
    • Jun 7 2013: No defiencies? no defects? I suppose you religious types explain birth defects as sins of the father, or other such tripe. I am sorry for such bald language, but diversity in humans is as easily seen as skin colour, or sickle cell anemia. There is absolutely no sign of any God.
      • Jun 9 2013: Our body is a wonderfully packed bio- factory in which thousands of life-giving chemical reactions take place all the times. Our Pancreas does not let the level of sugar in our blood go beyond certain limits. The heart pumps blood to each cell of the body untiringly for the entire length of its life. It beats around 40 million times a year, about 3 billion times in an average life span, without needing repairs. God? Not there? All this is automatic? Isn't it absurd? Can water enter our mouth without our effort?
        Who made such a perfect machine each organ of which functions distinctly but all aim at keeping us alive and healthy? Who made such a rugged pumping system? The cells die in millions and are replaced with fresh ones in millions from within the body. Who has designed and programmed all such automatic functions? Dear, there are many such questions to be answered by non-believers.
        • Jun 9 2013: The reason that all things function the way they do is because if they did not, they would cease to be, and that creature would die out. Look at the fossil record, it clearly shows many organisms that couldn't compete, or adapt. This does not show God, but uncompassionate nature. I used the vestigal leg bones in whales to show that adaptation is all around us, very plain, very clear to see for those with the eyes to see it.
  • Jun 7 2013: I want to ask all of those not believing in revolution to consider the simple question why unlike other creatures humans walk on their foots. As far as I know there is no answer in any religious. However revolution theory has a very simple explanation for this. How can we deny revolution when 60 % DNA of any kind of life being is similar.
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      Jun 7 2013: I heard that some distant ancestor found reproduction was more fun if the parties involved were face to face. Attempting to achieve this position, the pelvic girdle gradually shifted forward and walking upright followed.
      It amuses me to think that sex was a primarily force in human evolution.

      Being reminded that I am 2/3 earthworm does nothing for my sense of self worth, or self importance, or sense of mental acuity.
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        Jun 9 2013: hhhhh sorry but your comment really made me laugh.
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        Jun 9 2013: I think that that was just a friends hear-say. I know of no theory supporting this.

        There are 10 theories on Wiki, none of them concerning face to face sex.
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          Jun 10 2013: Yes, but when all is said and done, doesn't my theory sound best or at least better then some straight laced scientists?
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          Jun 10 2013: Jimmy, life exists because living creatures procreate. Living creatures procreate because they have sex. They are driven to have sex because they get pleasure from it. So, why do you deny that having more pleasure from sex is not a driving factor of evolution? And why is this explanation any worse or better than the other 10?

          I think, we can find 2000 reasons why having our hands free has evolutionary advantage - from having face-to-face sex to being able to pick our nose. Do any of them really explain why we walk on 2 legs or are we, as usual, trying to find the reason for something that already exists without any reason for it?
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        Jun 9 2013: Reminds me of another theory I heard ages ago.
        Men were excited by bottoms, so evolution made a bottom-like structure on the female chest. He was very serious. File it with Darwin's swimming bear that became a whale.

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        Jun 10 2013: Mike,

        It's a beautiful idea. Better... not really.

        It's the problem of cause and effect and I find it more probable that the face to face sex is an effect, not a cause.
        But who knows...
        I do however find many of the other theories more likely.
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        Jun 10 2013: Arkady, yes sex is a necessity for life.

        There are some dominant theories out there, it is not valid to just have them tested against me. If you think that you've found some true explanation you should have it tested and verified, it will widen our knowledge of many things.

        But I still think that the thesis is invalid, mainly because I've never heard of any scientific explanation and I haven't been able to find one.

        Tell me, do you think that the scientific method is the best way of finding truth? If not, we really shouldn't be discussion this because it will lead nowhere.
    • Jun 7 2013: Ostrich walks on its feet. Also almost all the birds "walk" on their feet when not flying. And when a bird isn't flying, its wing are usually point downward, just like a pair of human arms. Also, a kangaroo uses only its hind legs for moving its body by skipping.
      • Jun 7 2013: Walking ostriches is another proof for revolution. Because they can observe predator's existence on their foot more easily.That's why they equipped with long necks. Revolution modifies ostrich's shape in this way which is absolutely compatible with their surrounding and increases chance of survive. That is exactly what has happened to humans through 2 or 3 million years. When our ancestors lived on trees, After eating all foods they had to descend from the tree and wend a little on the ground to find another food resources. But the ground was filled with pernicious animals and the distance between trees was very high due to climate condition of that time. Therefore, nature forced them stand on their foot to have a better picture about their surrounding. Through thousands of year and revolution they gained the ability of running to evade predators. About the birds, I think their foot's shape helps them in landing or taking-off process. Having extra foots or hands increase a bird's weight which makes flying impossible for them.
  • Jun 7 2013: As far as playing with semantics goes, I won't tread there. I do know that gravity is a law [when you do this, this will happen] and there is gravitational theory [ when this happens, we think it will do this] the only difference that I see is the variables. We know how gravity works on this planet most of the time, hence it is a law, when you leave this planet, other things come into play. The same holds for evolution, we just don't have all the answers for this planet yet, and I mean yet, so it remains a theory, not someones imaginings.
    • Jun 7 2013: What is interesting is that we know a lot more about how evolution works than how gravity works.
      • Jun 7 2013: I agree. although we have some, [ I hesitate to call them absolutes but] absolutes about gravity, it still has the ability to mystify, and challenge the most intelligent out there.
  • Jun 6 2013: Sounds good to me
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    Jun 6 2013: If you'd like a bunch of examples on observable evolution it happens that I managed to Google it and not click the top link that lead to the Institute for Creation Research (I say no more)...
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      Jun 6 2013: Jimmy,
      Thank you for researching Google for a reference. A lot of folks in the conversation have provided such references. But, more important is what do you think?
      Most all of us can Google, but more important is a person's opinion, based on some rational logic.
      I do it all the time. The worse that can happen is someone will come back and say you are full of crap.
      It happens all the time to me. Sometimes they are right....even.
      You sort of gave a clue to your views with the comments on Creation Research.
      So, is creationism a problem for you? Can you find some rational in their beliefs?
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        Jun 6 2013: Hey Mike,

        If you ask I'm going to be very harsh against creationism, and you asked so I will give my uncensored opinion on it.

        Creationism is not only a problem for me but for the entire world as I view it. (I'm going to take a beating for this)
        Firstly to answer your question; it is irrational. I don't think that you can be somewhat irrational so it's completely irrational in that that it has a false ground-stone, it is not logic, it is anti-logic aka faith.

        The reason that it is not only my problem but the worlds is that is supports:
        Irrational thinking.
        Dogmatic thinking.
        Lies, or really stubborn ignorance.
        Skepticism towards towards the scientific method and belief in ancient writings.
        Cultural and religious divide, it's all about us and "them".
        Demeaning attitudes against women, which is key to world prosperity.
        Maiming of children's genitals (and maiming in general).
        Depriving children of curiosity.
        Holy war.
        Spreading of (sexual) decease.
        And more.

        However it's important to notice that I don't necessarily feel that way about PEOPLE, just like I don't blame the politician for being stuck in a faulty system.

        So come on apologists, have at me!
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          Jun 6 2013: Well, did I open a can of worms.
          The list of atrocities, etc, that you have attributed to people believing in creationism may also be attributed to a number of others/groups,etc.
          Which begs the question, have you personally ever been treated in such a manner as any of those listed by a "creationist"?
          I ask because there are people who have been so treated and that is another entire situation and discussion.
          But, many people have only read, heard or seen on TV, stories of such atrocities attributed others who may or may not have held strong convictions about the validity of the book of Genesis.
          Now to these, I ask did those bad things happen because these people were creationist or is it that some of these bad people simply also believed in creationism. You can see the subtlety.
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        Jun 6 2013: And as most do you misunderstood me I have no inherent quarrel with the faithful, my problem is with the institution and the ideals it promotes.

        Yes, it may be attributed to other groups and so on. But it isn't closely to that extent as the religion does all of the above. I have been met with ignorance, dogmatism and irrationality, once again by many people but never to the same extent.

        I was actually in a somewhat-brief (3 months) relationship with a christian girl some years ago so I have been in that world and I have been well treated by those that I've met. However all (yes all!) of them were almost foolishly ignorant of knowledge that I since long take for granted AND my girl said that "She wasn't sure if dinosaurs had really existed!". I laughed SO hard. It was an instantaneous reaction and I couldn't help it because my brain directly perceived it as the greatest joke ever, the way she said it...

        Now that's personal from my very own experience.
        Would you like facts on atheist-religious percentage of TED speakers or TED audience. Or academia?

        There is no other force fighting science, it actually fights rational thinking. If you believe in creation I'm talking about the "God did it in 6 days and slouched around on the seventh" then you don't believe that science is true. You don't believe in geology because it says that Earth has tectonic plates that have and are moving about the planet and have been doing that a long time.

        So, my position is this I am a militant atheist (2.0). I agree with Hichens, Harris, Dawkins and Dennett. If you wish to hear my position please youtube them.

        I realize that this post only covers the first three statements

        Irrational thinking.
        Dogmatic thinking.

        But it'll have to do for now.

        Would you like to hear about child genitals or religious prostitution next?

        You choose any topic actually.

        But it takes a lot of time wring these things (what to share, limited spac) I really wished you'd just watch some Youtube
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          Jun 7 2013: I am glad you don't have problems with individuals.... my goodness.
          Youtube is nice, but.... a waste of time. Most referenced are mostly opinionated. I have enough opinions of my own...
          But, I did google institutions that had creationism in their details. None had policies
          you've alluded too.... So a short list of those institutions that you hold in such contempt, then I will be on the same page.

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          Jun 8 2013: My my; & I thought Creationists were just ordinary people who looked at the scientific evidence from a different angle. Do I detect a little bias ?

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          Jun 8 2013: You make a good point Peter.

          Perhaps that is what it comes down to.

          We have all this information consistent with descent via DNA, fused chromosomes explaining why we have 27 pairs and other apes have 28. You can look at the physical and biological similarities. You can see the tree of life mapped out humans, great apes, mammals, vertebrates etc.

          Some look at all this and it is consistent with evolution. They make predictions that a semi-aquatic precursor to whales would exist at a certain time. Then they look for fossils in those layers and find fossils of an animal with a bone structure consistent with this hypothesis.

          Creationists look at this and believe god just made everything this way and evolutionists are just grouping the DNA/traits or fossils according to their presuppositions.

          If it is possible for a universe creator god to exist then it could set the universe up this way. In fact it could have made it 5 minutes ago, with our memories from earlier preloaded. I can think of many other super natural possibilities with equal evidence.

          Peter would you at least agree that there is the appearance of descent in terms of DNA and physical similarities. 98% common DNA with chimps. Less with gorillas etc. Similar bone structures, brains, respiration, organs, 4 limbs, sexual reproduction, immune systems etc. Would you agree that it is not completely ridiculous to consider descent?

          I guess a lot comes down to interpretation. Science works in the natural world. Creationists look to fit observations to their supernatural beliefs and their particular scriptures and interpretations. However in some cases such as radiometric dating my understanding is the creationist memes are incorrect.

          I guess some have presuppositions that a supernatural being did it and is perhaps active behind many natural processes. Others recognise a super being concept could be used to fill any gaps but don't assume a one exists without sufficient evidence.
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        Jun 7 2013: The "policies" will not be found on those websites. They are in the holy scriptures. Have you read the bible?
        Would you like quotes from the holy scriptures supporting this statement?
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    Jun 6 2013: Ben jarvis:
    Yes, the there is little help for the deluded and their numbers are great.

    Fertility: Some animals band together and under go systematic, patterns of reproduction. There is not always a cooperative effort by the male and female in raising the young. In man this has been shown to not be the case. Both male and female take responsibility for rearing the young. Unlike most animals, man can find better protection for their young (higher intelligence). I assume that if some monkey discovered the use of a stick as a weapon, they might not be too tolerated by the monkey klan and be driven off. To stop this would require a small army of smart monkeys. So this smart monkey goes off but finds some lady monkey to bred with. They teach their monkey children the use of the stick. I think this also creates and atmosphere of closeness with the male and female monkey. They are forced to meet the challenges of the environment on their own. They might grow more protective. Having the intelligence to use a stick as a weapon could lead to other human attributes evolving like emotions, perhaps, the idea of love and affection (through a sense of protectionism and isolation from the klan). With no real mentors other than mother and father, they young monkeys would only know about singular attributes of social interaction. This could make the young monkeys less tolerated in the general monkey social order and they too could be driven off. Being intelligent, they would probably lie on the outskirts and seize opportunities to steal mates. From their vantage point of singular vs clannish rearing, the might continue this closed order and reproduce in greater numbers. forming a more intelligent monkey klan, with the weapon stick as their flag of domination. As their numbers grow, they soon out strip the local monkey clans and take over large tracks of territory, creating the first human like nation of intelligent monkeys. "not enough space. Will write and put on website."
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    Jun 5 2013: So, it's not dumb luck, nor a plan by someone back 14.5 B years ago, but a third option I didn't see. The "it just happened" scenario.
    Look, I know it is nearly impossible for some to acknowledge that there maybe a God or Divine entity or or or out there that put this all together. Many believe there is as a matter of faith. Many believe there isn't as a matter of science, or at least they can't prove there is or isn't. For me, the coming together of the universe and all that it means as a series of random events just boggles my mind. It is just easier for me to think that there is a plan. Everything just better comes together. As I said before, we don't really know all there is to know about what's happened since the big bang. Until we know all that happened since, we won't know what happened before.
    Our universe is in an aquarium in some really big kid's bedroom.
    • Jun 6 2013: "as a series of random events"

      And that's exactly your problem. You see this as either a god or complete randomness. That there's no gods does not mean that therefore all is random. The universe has a way of functioning. Yes, random events do play a role, but there's more to how things work than that. Gravitation is not random, magnetism is not random, energy flow is not random, et cetera, et cetera.
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        Jun 6 2013: All that none random stuff..... but there is no God or I D.. So, the big kid works for you?
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          Jun 6 2013: Mike, I think that all of us at some point have longed for an answer that "comes together." It's much less demanding to believe in a designer with a plan, than it is to keep digging for clues on our origins. But one of the benefits of disposing of Paley's watch is that the question then shifts from "why" to "how." The former is impossible to answer, the latter just takes time.
    • Jun 6 2013: Again, that it's not random does not mean that it's ID or that it's a god or a bunch of gods. It just means that that's the way they are. Why can't reality be what it is just because that's the way it is? Be very clear please, because I see no reason why things shouldn't work the way they work without gods being involved.

      I don't know about any big kids. If that's some kind of idiom I don't know it.
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        Jun 7 2013: The big kid reference is attributed Gene Roddenberry.
        What I can't deal with is how can it be not random and not be following a plan. Random means without order, so not random should mean order and order demands a plan, or schedule or.... some intelligence.
        Is there any evidence? No. Is there any evidence that there isn't? No. So, there is the dilemma. I lean to the I D because it answers more questions then not. BUT... The majority of those who dismiss this possibility do so with such venom concerning the existence of a Intelligent designer, or God or or, it the borders on the maniacal. I can understand if someone doesn't believe but the names called those who do is beyond belief.
    • Jun 7 2013: Hello Mike,

      I don't see any reason why if things are not random they should be therefore "planned." It's a non-sequitur. After all if I fell down a precipice the gravitation pulling me towards possibly some broken bones would have been planned. Sounds just ridiculous to me. I don't see why if we see some metal been attracted by some magnetic field we should think that such event was planned too, and so on. It all looks to me like that's the way things work, and that's it.

      ID does not answer any questions. It only gives you the feeling that it does. For me to consider such a proposition I would need evidence that there's an intelligent designer in the first place. But just because somebody finds it difficult to believe that if something is not random it's therefore planned sounds, sorry, ridiculously wrong. That things work some way we see every day. We see nothing that should lead us to conclude that for things to work the way they do they had to have been planned to do so. Nothing. I see no dilemma.

      I dismiss the possibility for many many reasons. I don't despise those who do consider it except those who "proposed" it, who are nothing but propagandists who were trying to disguise their religious inclinations behind some science-sounding slogans. I despise those who think that such religious doctrines should be taught in science class without going through the proper route, which is scientific validation. Example, endosymbiosis as the origin of mitochondria. It did not just go immediately to science class. A lot of validation had to happen before it could be part of the curriculum. If ID had any scientific merit, then that would be the proper route into the curriculum. That they try via politics and lawyers means that they have no merits, that they are mere propagandists.
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    Jun 5 2013: OK, I have flaws,weakness and limitations, too many to count and.... I lean to intelligent design, a little. I D is a tough one. At best, all we can guess is that about 14B years ago, there was a massive release of energy... and the results of that big bang is our entire universe with everything in it that we know and so much more we don't know. One of the most unique things that came from the explosion is a biomass that is self replicating and evolved on this planet a diversity of life that boggles the mind. There seems to be two schools of theory on how all this happened.
    1. It was freakin' dumb luck that all this came together so we could all be talking about it 14B years later.

    2. Someone smarter then me put all the plans, designs, code, whatever into a bomb and pulled the pin some 14B years ago and all this is the way it was supposed to be... and I don't think that he cares if humans figure it out or not.

    So, did we win the lottery and I can't even imagine those odds.Or, is all this part of some scheme?
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      Jun 5 2013: What if we were that one in a trillion, trillion, trillion chance. We don't have any way of knowing how much time has passed or how many "attempts" were failed before we came into existence. Just a thought.
    • Jun 5 2013: Hi Mike, Im going to try to refine your comment a little bit and hopefully give you a better understand of the big bang theory. About 14B years ago, There was a rapid expansion of energy.. No explosion... I dont know the specifics of why this expansion began but I understand what happened after. The energy began to cool and form simple matter... protons/hydrogen atoms. Basically the big bang didnt create self replicating molecules or anything near biomass. In fact it didnt create anything other than Hydrogen. After a long period of time, The gravity of the hydrogen molecules caused stars to form. Through pair-production and gravity, helium was also created.

      As the Stars died, they exploded (supernovas) and the force of the explosions created bigger atoms (carbon/oxygen/iron/gold etc..) After a Long time gravity created our planet. Billions of years later we began to see the first self replicating molecules and biomass form on Earth. We don't know entirely how yet or where it came from but we have a few theories. We most likely will never know for sure because we weren't there and there is little evidence.

      Hopefully you understand the theory a little better now and acknowledge it as reasonable coming from your perspective as a believer of Intelligent Design.

      And one more thing, its not like winning the lottery. Considering there are billions of galaxies each with billions of stars and planets, it is very likely that there is other life in space. We just haven't found any yet.

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      Jun 5 2013: I don't believe in dumb luck, nor do I believe in a creator. If there was a creator, why would he make us in the worst part of the world near a mid-aged star and create sin in the first place?

      The actual theories of how we got here are all theories on how DNA came into place. There is no theory of God, He is just a belief. Some believe that lightning strikes created a freak molecule that over time had to adapt to survive.

      Your idea of biomass is completely wrong. It's more likely that there happened to form just one molecule that kept self replicating, and over billions of years kept adapting to where it could survive and given around 4 billion years, here we are now.

      Very recently however, the foundation of RNA which can turn into DNA and back into RNA again was found to be very different in absence of oxygen, a key point to how life came about.,0,7718358.story

      Just because there are gaps in science does not mean its right to fill them with God. When people saw the sun, they made a sun god, when they saw rain they made a rain god, and then they were clever enough to make a god for everything and origin knowing that we could never prove everything nor origin. But that has yet to be discovered.
      • Jun 5 2013: Very well put Brendan!
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        Jun 5 2013: Well put Brandon,
        I can address a couple of your points. Maybe people were put on this backwater planet because we didn't turn out like He wanted and he just couldn't put us to sleep. The kindly God theory.

        The asexual molecule that just wouldn't quit playing with himself... That's even farther out then God.
        Yes, there are gaps in science. What I am saying is that if there is/was an Intelligent Designer, a lot of the gaps fill in.
        And one word of warning... stay away from reading about DNA and genes and all that biology stuff. I found out we are all 5/6 earthworms genetically speaking, Not a pleasant thought.
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          Jun 6 2013: haha i agree that dna is some creepy stuff. dolphins have more convolutions in their brains than us and yet aren't developed into civilization yet. whether its lack of thumbs, hands even, or progression, dolphins just aren't capable of humanized things. i guess that humans just chose the smarter route.
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        Jun 12 2013: I believe in Dumb Luck! First, it is DUMB! There isn't much that is intelligent about it. Second, it's Luck. That means this: One day you wake up and are favored by random chance! Ta Da!

        I doubt that prayer will do anything to help me choose BETTER lottery numbers . . . but if I do win the Lottery, I'll make much bigger donations to my church (Just in case . . . ).

        "When you add everything in the universe up, you get 0" -Michio Kaku Great quote! I've heard that Michio Kaku is an anomaly as far as Cosmologists are concerned. He is a "believer" in God. Except I just checked it out on-line and he is NOT. He is accused of defending (or deflecting) these questions by quoting Einstein. Cosmologists have no choice but to be very careful. Nobody wants to be the Physicist who gets quoted by Christian Evangelicals in their Sunday AM sermons.

        Also, where did you get the plastic Jesus photo that you use to identify yourself? I'd like to know the history of where THAT THING is! Is that from one of the Jesus Theme Parks in Florida?
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      Jun 5 2013: 2 its just dumb luck that a universe creating being came to be and made a universe intending for us to evolve ?

      Is it more mind boggling that biological life arose without agency, or that a being capable of creating universes arose without agency?
    • Jun 6 2013: Any apparent unlikeliness, on the one hand, cannot be substantiated in the absence of evidence for extraterrestrial life's existence or non-existence. Without that knowledge, we've no baseline from which to think about our unlikeliness.

      And on the other hand, it's not a crippling point if true. No matter how unlikely it is, it obviously happened. After all, we're here to talk about it. It may well be that life is so unlikely that the only way it can happen is if while floating aimlessly around a lifeless world the chemical and mineral components just happen to fall into the shape of a simple organism capable of reproduction. It might be so unlikely that it will only happen once in a trillion universes, or more than that. But, so long as the chance of it happening is greater than zero, it will happen given enough time, and given that there's a universe for it to happen in.

      And, as has been abundantly pointed out here and elsewhere - an intelligent designer is no less unlikely. I'm not sure whether it is MORE unlikely - scenarios have been thought up that make a good case for some kind of I D - simulated universe for example, or the idea that this is a dream we may wake from at any moment. The proof, however, is scarce either way.
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        Jun 12 2013: Nice thought. But no cigar! Cigars are bad for you anyway! So check out this link:

        It is pretty disturbing stuff. So don't watch without smelling saltz or an ammonia ampule to revive yourself.

        But, to tell the truth, I'm open for anything that will ever permit people to just get along. If 'Intelligent Design' can become an idea that makes Terrorists & Al Qaeda & all the rest stop killing us? Yeah! Any idea that gets us there is a very Good Idea in my view. But Intelligent Design is NOT that idea (yet). So lets' keep thinking and keep looking for that one good idea that will do it. Let's motivate people to be good to each other! There is too much "out there" that will kill us. We just don't need to be so heavily invested in killing or hurting each other in the meantime.
        • Jun 12 2013: Compared to all the potential manifestations of the universe that are even more hostile, we've got it pretty good. It could be better, but the fact that it's this good is incredibly unlikely. Yes there are many things that can kill us, but in the absence of the specific conditions our universe has, we may not be here to die in the first place.

          Neil knows this, he's not attacking the fine-tuned universe concept, just the concept that the universe is so perfect that it must be the result of intelligent design.

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        Jun 12 2013: Well, if all universes are possible . . . I just want to live in the Universe where I am the one who gets to win the lottery and go fishing for the rest of my life!
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      Jun 12 2013: Yeah - like Mom & Dad hooked up just by Dumb Luck! Except for one thing . . . Dumb Luck (or Bum Luck) is just how it goes sometimes. I mean, how correct is it that some guy (any guy) wins the 514 MILLION dollar lottery and is set for life. All because he spent a buck on one ticket?

      Are the WINNING numbers magic? Is there something magical about his numbers? Let's see, Mom's birth date. Dad's age. Last night's basketball score; add the numbers and average to get one number (since the right team won!). The year I graduated from high school. The last two digits of my licence plate number. Some number that has to do with Tom Cruz. Another number that has to do with Taylor Swift. Why? You ask? Why NOT? I answer. "I mean, like, they are the two coooooolest people ever!"

      That's seven numbers. Is that enough for a lottery ticket? "I mean, MAAAAN . . . can't lose!" And then when those numbers win? "I must be special! God helped me pick those numbers!" Sure, more proof that God is a Scientologist. Win the lottery? Guaranteed! Just join up w/ Tom Cruz and the Scientologists! Yea!

      Cosmologist are really uncomfortable with the question of "Why" things have happened the way the have. But I have to take my cue from Neil De Grasse Tyson.

      Professor Tyson has a point. Check out the link.
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    Jun 5 2013: Ben Jarvis said: "nope. both we and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor that was similar to but different from both chimpanzees and humans. to say we evolved from apes or chimpanzees is to say that you came from your sister, when actually of course it was your mother."

    But Ben, My sister came from my mother. If could be said we both came from our grandmother. I think your logic, thought well meant, is a bit flawed, genetically speaking.

    I've heard the common ancestor story. It' still to be proved, I think. It would be cool if we could prove exactly how man arose on this planet, but most of what we really know about modern humans starts with the Cro Magnon people.

    "The gorilla and chimpanzee diverged around the same time, about 4-6 million years ago, and either Sahelanthropus or Orrorin may be our last shared ancestor with them. The early bipedals eventually evolved into the australopithecines and later the genus Homo." ~wikipedia.

    According to this information, We, Apes, Chimpanzees, and man, all shared a common ancestor, making us, at least, cousins of a sort.

    So, how did we beat them off, so to speak, and manage to gain the upper hand? Something amazing happened. The Human female was able to stay fertile year round. Perhaps we out populated them. One ape with a stick is tough company. But 30 or 40 apes with sticks, working together, that is impressive. Add fire to the mix and you have the makings of a civilization.

    I wonder, does thinking about applications for a stick make the mind grow bigger? Once the process of thinking took off, did it continue to progress while the body found a niche in this environment? Because we think so hard, is the brain still growing? they say we only use a small percentage of what we are capable of with our brains. If our brains stop expanding, will the body catch up? What will we look like 100,000 years from now?
    • Jun 5 2013: you've misunderstood. we didn't come from chimps in the same way you didn't come from your sister. both humans and chimps came from a common ancestor, just as both you and your sister came from your mother.

      it's not still to be proven. it's been proven genetically as well as with physical evidence.

      we didn't beat them off, and year-round fertility isn't exceptional. the reason modern humans flourished while neanderthals died out is more to do with musculature.
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        Jun 5 2013: "we didn't beat them off, and year-round fertility isn't exceptional"
        Apparently you don't realize how important this is.

        Sorry I misunderstood your mommy sissy thing. I misunderstand a lot these days.

        I'm afraid you would have to prove to me it what has been genetically, proven.

        That is an excellent article provided by your link. I enjoyed it. According to Professor Holliday, Neanderthal died off due to climate change. Other than that, they were pretty much as smart and practical as modern humans and had excellent singing voices.
        Ben, I have a good handle on how mankind evolved over time so you can get a bit more complicated if you like. I've studied Genetics at Udacity and have a great layman's' grasp of the science, especially the biochemistry. I personally recommend that everyone take this free, online course. "Introduction to Genetics and Evolution". It's an eye opener and gives you some terminology to use when debating such things as Evolution.

        The author of this question states: "...uneducated opinion is just as bad, or as good, as the mainstream scientific hypothesis."

        With so many sources of education, designed to offer fast and comprehensive information, combined with the easy access to the internet, such a notion is no longer practical. To enter into debates without the proper education is to demonstrate a sense of uncommon laziness, or youthful ignorance.
        This is, of course, my opinion and not shared by everyone. But I'm stoic in that way.
        • Jun 6 2013: it's important yes, but not exceptional, many mammals (actually i think most) are fertile year-round, as were many non-mammal ancestor species. could you elaborate on what you mean by the importance of this? it sounds like an interesting topic.

          agree on uneducated opinion, though for me it's always the deluded that are the most difficult - the uneducated that think they're educated. my own studies in biochemistry were over a 10 years ago now, and i have to keep refreshing things otherwise i tend to get them mixed up. mixed up light diffraction and diffusion the other day! appreciate the recommendation very much, i'll check it out when i've got a bit more time.

          as for genetic evidence of evolution, basically it's clear just from comparing genes, ours are extremely similar to other apes, and both our dna and the dna of other apes about about the same difference from quadrupedal mammals, and we're all about the same different from reptiles, fish etc, so when you plot these differences you get a nice family tree that just happens to agree perfectly with the fossil record. there have also been interesting studies on mitochondrial dna, which is easier to follow back in time since it is passed on only from the mother (whereas of course nuclear dna is a mix of both mother and father and it's not clear which part came from which). this video shows an interesting single case among that wider proof:

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    Jun 4 2013: I think there are two camps as how life got started on earth:
    1. Meteorites carried (among other things) reactive phosphorus or Phosphite. This chemical is necessary to start pre-biotic life.
    2. Comets carried life forms to the earth and through evolutionary processes, life became what life is today.

    A key question of the anti-evolution crowd is: If evolution is responsible for life on the earth, why aren't new life forms springing up all the time? Has the process of evolution stopped or is it only a viable process after life forms are created?

    One answer to that question is that the conditions that created pre-biotic life no longer exist on the earth. Phosphorous is one of the key elements that give credence to this hypothesis.
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      Jun 5 2013: Yes, these are two possibilities. I have read that ancient astronauts came to earth, showed the resident monkeys how to evoke and left all kinds of stuff for mankind to come into being. I am not being glib.
      But, the processes that would have to occur even at the quantum level for various elements to come into a biomass that would eventually evolve into the variety of life forms known and guessed that inhabit the earth is only a touch more then the plausibility of ancient visitors. Now, I see evolution. But, I lean more to an intelligent design then the 'it was all a freakin' accident' school of thought. Maybe lean is too much.... tilt might be a better word.

      All great conversation. Yet, none of this has anything to do with the failure of our public school systems.
      Regardless of creationism or evolution, US public schools are not doing well... and I am being kind in my comments.
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        Jun 5 2013: Oh... I don't know Mike, sounds like it lacks depth and soundness to me :)

        I fail to see where you miss the intelligence in tossing meteorites instead of lighting bolts or uttering the word of creation.

        I used to be a fan of intelligent design until I ran into the roadblock of who educated the intelligent beings, what space university they attended, who mentored them before they created everything and wither or not they gave it any real forethought before doing it. I'm real interested in who critiqued their work and gave them the nod of approval: " is good".

        Your kindness is noted. I would suggest:

        Am I correct in assuming you lean towards intelligent design?
      • Jun 5 2013: we are not at all intelligently designed. we contain many basic design flaws, for example our respiratory system is backward, but just right for a fish. makes perfect sense if we inherited it from them.
      • Jun 5 2013: Okay, I have heard this take on creationism before, it lacks one thing, who created the creator? All things being equal, the chances of the building blocks of life coming into being by themselves are greater than the chances that there is a supernatural being that has always been. That being said, I am not entirely an atheist, call me a lucas fan but I believe a life force, [or quantum mechanics] explains things much better. More of a line of force pushing towards something than a creator that wants to build in his own image. This force runs through all matter organic and inorganic, so maybe Yoda was right.
      • Jun 5 2013: Mike, I would offer one more thing about public schools not doing well, lets face the fact that they are not only under attack by religious zealots that do not understand that teaching creationism is anathema to science, but that you have religious zealots themselves teaching in the public arena, and teaching non-science to science classes. I caught one of these teaching my child several years ago, and was not happy. The reason our children are falling behind is religion, and the stifleing effect that it has. I live in Indiana where our own politicians want to give equal time to such fantasies as creationism, and intelligent design, thereby holding our childrens education hostage so they can further their religion.
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      Jun 5 2013: 1 and 2 could be, but at some stage self replicating molecules had to occur somewhere first.
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        Jun 5 2013: Of course, this is without a doubt. The idea of self-replicating molecules and folding proteins is a fascinating subject. Question 1 refers to Phosphorous, which is necessary for all life on earth. The big deal is that phosphorous is not usually found in it's active form on the surface of the earth so the creation of new life forms is not an on going process today. The earth is a different place than it was when life first formed.

        2. Is sometimes used by creationists to implicate how life could arrive on the earth.

        The creationists, have sowed the seeds of their own destruction when they decided to use science to demonstrate how a God(s) cold create life on this earth via the means of evolution. Evolution, in my opinion, is more about survival, than about how life began. Take any life form and move it to another location and it has to survive, evolve to suit the new environment.

        Because of the rigorous demands of Science in demonstrating ones natural opinions, the youth who live in a creationist, religious environment, will come to understand that Science will prevail over the religious notions they are being taught in the creationist schools. In the end, science will prevail. In other words, if you spend too much time in Rome, you might turn into a Roman. :)
  • Jun 4 2013: that's a good point, and in my experience this unfounded idea is furthered by the media who always treat every issue as if opposing viewpoints are equally well founded. i think it's not just about research science though, these days ordinary people think they know better than their doctors, and i'm sure there are other examples i can't think of at the moment.

    it all seems to stem from the phenomenon of people being oblivious to their own ignorance. i personally can't make a comment anywhere on the internet without first verifying that i'm not in fact mistaken, and it seems that innate doubt isn't actually shared by all as i just assumed it was when i was younger.
  • Jun 4 2013: I have just one question. If the theory of evolution is true (for example humans evolved from apes) then why are there millions of apes(our so called ancestors) present today on earth and billions of us humans while the middle men are missing.If true then monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees,etc shouldn't exist nowadays.
    • Jun 4 2013: you have misunderstood evolutionary theory. we did not evolve from apes.
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        Jun 4 2013: How many never understood your point. Which goes to the education provided in the theory of evolution.
        • Jun 5 2013: Nope. It goes to the misinformation provided by creationist propagandists.
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        • Jun 5 2013: nope. both we and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor that was similar to but different from both chimpanzees and humans. to say we evolved from apes or chimpanzees is to say that you came from your sister, when actually of course it was your mother.
      • Jun 5 2013: Indeed we evolved from other apes. But we are still apes ourselves.
    • Jun 5 2013: Just like if I am the descendant of my grand parents, then why do I have cousins? If the theory that I am a descendant of my grand parents is true then I should have no cousins. Check mate atheists!
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        Jun 5 2013: My favourite is

        if the white Americans are descended from Europeans why are there still Europeans.

        If people struggle with homo sapians being apes and descended from an ape precursor, when we are so similar, they may really struggle going back further to marine vertebrates etc.
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      Jun 5 2013: evolution can also provide a halt. Not everything evolves, which is also the reason why there are still fish and bacteria. And the leading theories to why there are no middle men (neanderthals) is that we ate them all! That or they died of starvation... (I'm more content with a theory that shows humans aren't as weak as presumed :) We developed brains faster and well... they missed out. The leading theory as to why we are so much more diversified than the apes is that we spread out in more directions than one, including routes from both northeast Africa and southeast Africa and kept spreading out. There are more of us because we are capable of tools, while they just have intimidating screams.
      • Jun 5 2013: Actually and factually wrong. Every living thing evolves. Don't mistake living forms whose first members appeared longer ago, or that keep some ancient characteristics, with lack of evolution. Fish appeared much longer ago than mammals. But fish of today are not at all like the fish of yestereon.
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          Jun 5 2013: By halt i don't mean genetically incapable... those select few have no need to evolve so they did not. that's why evolution takes so long. Only the select few who need it get it. People who live in mountains have larger lungs due to the lack of oxygen, and people around the equator are darker because its sunny down there. Therefore, people who havent had any of these changes are on a "halt" for now..
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          Jun 5 2013: Entropy, if it were true that we are continually evolving, why do the genetic markers that make us humans, stay the same. Is there any difference, genetically speaking, from us and the first modern humans in Africa? How have we continued to evolve? I'm not speaking of simple variation.

          Also, how is it that the simple Paramecium is still as it has been for millions of years and so many other bio-forms for that matter? Do all life forms continue to evolve or is evolution frozen in place?
      • Jun 6 2013: John,

        Genetic markers are chosen after checking some samples. In other words, our genetic marks are chosen on the basis of what's conserved among humans. That we still evolve as populations and as species does not mean that nothing is left conserved within the population. After all, what defines us as a population in a single species is genetic congruence. Not only that, our genome is almost identical to the chimp's genome, yet nobody would deny that both the human and the chimp populations have evolved ever since the populations leading to either separated from that single population of our common ancestors, right?

        Some organisms look the same physically, but how would you know if whatever paramecia existing millions years ago had the very same physiological characteristics as any of the species alive today? How would you know if they are genetically compatible/coherent with today's paramecia? Lots of Bacteria alive today look identical under the microscope, yet they have very different physiologies and genetic make-ups, to the point of belonging to very different lineages.

        There's no stoping changes in the genetic material. Therefore evolution continues even if shapes and even if most characteristics stay mostly "static."
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    Jun 3 2013: Also, if somehow the core tenants of evolution were falsified, that would not offer evidence of a creator.

    Conceptualising something outside time and space that could explains why it is undetectable is not the same as evidence.
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      Jun 4 2013: Bigger question is... does evolution deny Genesis?
      Could a Creator have caused the "big Bang"?
      Cosmologist for the most part say that they believe there was a big bang and in the mass or energy that "exploded" was all the information needed to assemble the universe and everything in it including life on a minor planet, part of a nondescript solar system on the outskirts of a really ordinary galaxy. That's a lot of stuff to happen in a short 14 billion years when you think about it.
      But, if it is part of a bigger plan which we don't understand, it would make better sense.
      The question begs, if it is outside time and space would there be evidence?
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        Jun 4 2013: Hi mike,
        I suggest evolution, geology, cosmology etc conflict with a literal interpretation of genesis.

        If you define something as not existing in our physical universe but capable of anything, basically magic, then of course it could be responsible for anything. It could be creating universes all over the place. It could be holding every atom together and micromanaging chemical reactions and gravity. It actually there might be billions of these magical beings in this magical realm that we don't know exists. There could be billions of them sitting on my computer right now doing anything I care to imagine, because they are defined as being capable of anything.

        Being able to conceptualise something does not mean it exists as other than an idea. Everyone can speculate all they want. Where is the evidence these god concepts actually exist? The invisible magic ones are undetectible. Being defined as being able to be responsible for anything and everything, is not evidence. Subjective personal experience is not proof. Not having answers to everything is not proof. The god plug is not proof and has no explanatory power.

        I don't see why the existence of the universe has to make sense from a human perspective. That assumes in a way that it is all about humans. I understand humans trying to make sense of it, but our minds are limited, its amazing through science how much we have been able to explain well enough to develop technology that works in a reliable way. This is in great contrast to spiritual intuitive insights that often seem to disagree as they are not based on evidence.
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          Jun 4 2013: You said it in the first sentence. Literal interpretation of Genesis.
          The descriptions are metaphoric if anything.
          My question...
          How the ancients describe the evolution of the universe and earth in about the same order that our scientists today say it happened. Who told them? How did they figure it out?
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        Jun 5 2013: Hi Mike,

        Strong coffee and thinking more about your question - is it possible a god created the universe via a big bang?

        I don’t know, because I don’t know if a universe creating being that exists independent of the universe is possible.

        Actually once you are open the door to magical solutions, there are many possibilities, with an equal amount of evidence.

        The universe could have been created 5 seconds ago as is with pre-packaged memories of our lives leading up to this time.

        In Tolkien’s middle earth mythology a supreme god created major and minor gods that sung the universe into being. There is just as much evidence for this as there is for fantastic creation stories in religious books.

        This universe may have been created as a bi product of some action in another dimension.

        I know some point to the big bang as evidence that the universe had a agent to cause this, and then fallaciously propose an uncaused cause as the only solution. I suggest the big bang may have been the start of this era of existence of the universe as we see it now. We know very little about before time as we know it came into existence. It is difficult to comprehend. Perhaps there is some timeless state or natural preconditions to the big bang. I don’t know.

        To answer how the universe came to be as it is, with the concept of an invisible agent not part of the universe but capable of creating universes, is about as circular an argument as there ever was.
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        Jun 5 2013: Mike I see a great difference between ancient assertions about the nature and origins of the universe and what we have learnt through the scientific process.

        I doubt the ancients figured out much accurately in regards to the origins and nature of the universe. Probably evolved as per language with different mythical ideas and traditions floating around, new ideas and interpretations by men at different times that resonated or not, or perhaps as commanded e.g. When a Pharaoh decided the Sun was god.

        There are a lot of themes in the old and new testament and christianity similar to older or contemporary beliefs, Babylonian traditions, resurrection and renewal, Female gods/Mary, afterlifes, Bacchus cults, Olympian traditions etc

        Many Christians take the genesis stories in the bible literally - a universe less than 10,000 years old, Adam the first man and Eve made from his rib. I mean it is not written in the scriptures that they are metaphorical. Who knows whether they authors intended them to be literal? My understanding is there are well established Jewish commentaries and traditional interpretations on the Torah, but these often conflict and are not the same as a commentary by the authors.

        I guess many Muslims feel the same about the Koran.
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    Jun 3 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.
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      Jun 6 2013: Magnetism is created by the spin of the electron.

      Certainty: +99.99%

      Would you like to read up upon it or do you only trust a few sources?
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    R H

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    Jun 3 2013: let me offer something from a different perspective, so please bear with me: in astronomy, Ptolemy proposed that the earth was the center of the universe, came up with the most sophisticated explanation of his day, and convinced everyone of it's validity. Copernicus came along centuries later and held that the sun was the center, not the earth (just our solar system), demonstrated his argument with sophisticated calculations of his day, and convinced everyone of his accuracy. Planck came along again centuries later and demonstrated that there is no such thing as 'earth' or 'planets' and that everything is energy and what we see is an interpretation of limited view. If I throw a chair through a window we say "the window is broken". Any reasonable person would say that's 'fact'. Planck would've said 'there is no window'. Therefore, although it is reasonable to say that 'we have proven in multiple experiments that evolution exists', and that it would be considered 'fact', is that the whole picture? Or have we only seen a 'limited view' of phenomenon that we have perceived? From another viewpoint, faith-based belief systems have been talking about bi-location for centuries. Science is now perplexed with the observation that a particle can appear to be in 2 places at once through quantum theory. Science laughed at the idea that there is a 'heaven' or there are 'angels' or 'beings' from other dimensions. Yet, the scientific conversation today regarding multiple dimensions, alternative universes, or 'other humans' is commonplace. Don't get me wrong (I'm not a professional writer), I have tremendous respect for scientific achievement and the miracles it has brought us, I just have trouble with the air of 'infallibility' that 'scientifically proven, documented theory' has over our minds and perspectives. I'm merely trying to point out that it's very possible there's more to the story.
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      Jun 4 2013: Hi R H
      Not content with all that, we now have the scientific possibility (again) that we are the centre of the universe.

      And of course we have the assumption that 95% of the mass in the universe is " Dark", undetectable stuff. Yep, there is more to the story, & talk of scientific facts seem somewhat premature in some areas.

      • Jun 5 2013: Peter,

        In your comment below mine to Jonathan you linked to something about Haeckel. There I left you this message:


        I would appreciate if you read and verified carefully what I am saying instead of assuming that I am talking about Haeckel's work. This way you would not introduce unnecessary confusion into the conversation.

        To get you started, please find me the place where I talked about our embryos going through evolutionary stages or anything even slightly similar to recapitulation. If you don't find anything like that, then you would owe me an apology.

      • Jun 6 2013: Peter,

        Even if you were not addressing me your comment makes it appear as if what I said was based on Haeckel and thus introduces confusion into the conversation. You were addressing Jonathan about my comment. Therefore my request stands. Either you find where I am talking about recapitulation or you owe me an apology (deleting your offending comment would work too). If you find that I did talk about recapitulation I will apologize. How about it?
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        Jun 6 2013: Peter,
        Would it help you understand Dark matter better if we renamed it? to say... "Gravity radiation"? You know that radiation can't bee seen and you know that gravity can't be seen. Jumble them around a bit and you have "Gravity radiation", I have tons of proof for it as well, it's just for some reason those scientists call it "Dark matter" as if it were evil or something.
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    Jun 2 2013: Gerald, it is inaccurate to state that scientific theories are speculations. The word “theory” is one of those curious English words, like “cleave” and “oversight,” which have opposing meanings. The AH Dictionary has as its first entry: “A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.” But its sixth definition is at odds with the first: “An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.” When someone says, “only a theory,” in reference to evolution, odds are they’re using the latter definition in favor of the former, and what we're left with is a simple problem of semantics.
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      Jun 2 2013: I don't think it's just semantics. I think the problem is that a lot of people don't understand scientific philosophy.
      Evolution theory is great because it is "based on limited information", because it's a conjecture.
      See, Creationism is not a speculation, for instance, it's wishful thinking.
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        Jun 2 2013: I agree wholeheartedly; people don't understand the scientific method, although I would hesitate to use the word “conjecture,” which connotes a level of uncertainty that a proven (and re-proven) theory such as evolution should no longer carry. That said, one of the tenets of scientific reasoning is that knowledge is provisional—what we know today is open to re-examination and revision. Religion, on the other hand, requires an acceptance of "knowledge" provided in "holy texts" that are, for the most part, not open to re-examination, and it asserts that everything one needs to know (for their "salvation") can be found in their iron age palimpsests.
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    Jun 2 2013: Shawn, what I was trying to say is that the theory of evolution—more than any scientifically proven theory—challenges the faith of Catholics in the same manner it wreaks havoc with the creationist. Simply put, many religions—certainly the monotheistic ones—collide with Darwin, and they cannot be reconciled without modifying one or the other. I would add that, to the extent any believer forsakes the unenlightened doctrines of his/her faith in favor of reason and scientific knowledge, he/she is a little less identifiable as a member of his/her religion. Finally, the question about limitations is a non sequitur, as one can neither truly constrain nor empower an idea or concept, which is all that God is, as he/she/it is unobservable and indefinable—in short, unknowable.
  • Jun 1 2013: First of all, there is now experimental evidence to confirm the existence of evolution; I believe these studies have involved consolidating populations of bacteria or other simple organisms and freezing them at different stages, then observing adaptive changes that have occurred over time in such populations. Because of this relatively knew knowledge, the "theory" of evolution is no longer just a theory. But even in the days when it was unconfirmed and only believed to be very probable, it would have been foolish to dismiss it on the grounds that it had yet to be confirmed. The experiments reveal that there is a 100% chance of its existence, and before this, the probability was probably around 95%...there isn't a huge difference, and to refuse to act on a very likely and theoretically stable prediction would have always been stubborn.
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    May 31 2013: although i have to leave now, i will check in on this conversation later, probable tomorrow. Thank you all for the comments and arguments, i have enjoyed them all. And, don't think it hasnt given me something to think about. I even had to research some points along the way for this one. Again, Thank you
    • May 31 2013: I expect to clarify some misconceptions that you might present, and for you to try and understand the points. Nothing else. I am far from wanting to convince you that evolution is true. I might convince you, though, that we don't accept it without reason.

      Great to read that you are having a good time. Apologies if I come across too harsh.
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    May 31 2013: so, first came the atom, then abiogenesis made them want to attract to each other in a specific way to form either amino acids or nucleic acids, the evolution took over from there. that is your argument?
    • May 31 2013: Nope. I have no arguments. I follow the evidence. Abiogenesis is not a person, but a process. Atoms have their own characteristics. these characteristics make them react with each other in certain ways. This way of working is what attracts them to each other in different ways depending on circumstances. That's how amino-acids and nucleic acids form in such odd places as asteroids or comets.

      Evolution is what happens once there's molecules that self-replicate.
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    May 31 2013: ok, then how did carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and nitrogen, combine to make up DNA. Atoms, for all the millions of years they have been around, didn't evolve.
    • May 31 2013: That's a different question. Evolution is one thing, abiogenesis is another thing.

      But let's try part of an answer: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and nitrogen exist naturally in several non-biological combinations, some of these compounds, when they react under several different, non-biological, conditions produce nucleic acids. Under other conditions they produce amino acids.
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    May 31 2013: then why aren't there any new species forming?? Just species becoming extinct. Evolution should have taken care of the problem of extinction, aging, why humans can't fly, why lots of animals can't fly...
    • May 31 2013: Says who? There's species constantly forming. We have witnessed several such cases. There's more extinctions than anything because of the way we humans treat the environment, and because evolution is not perfect. What else would you expect?
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    May 31 2013: Light's speed is not constant near a black hole, ( or any object with an extremely massive gravitational pull). The theory has been modified to account for this. but einstein had no way of knowing this back then. My point being, scientists "theoreticall facts" have been wrong since they began putting them out as facts. It just takes more than their lifetime for technology to catch up in order to disprove them.
    • May 31 2013: Maybe, but evolution remains true. Only the theories about how it happened change to account for further processes involved. Theories of gravitation have changed, but there's no denying that gravitation is true. Theories of evolution have changed, but there's no denying that evolution is real. Asimov had a nice explanation about "science being wrong":

      Highly recommended.
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    May 31 2013: Let's clear something up. Theory=/=Imagination. Theories are based on evidence. Just like string theory, evolution IS based on properties of the world, but it cannot be tested -since we don't have a time machine to lead us to the birth of life. The scientific process goes like this; theory=>experiment=>proving the theory true/proving it wrong. Until the theory is tested, we can't say whether it is right or wrong (dare I say that it is in a quantum superposition!) There are extremely many clues FOR evolution and none against it. It is the only rational explanation of life proposed so far. Thus, it seems true.
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      May 31 2013: I watched a talk with Stephen Hawking on TV a few months ago. He stated that the reason there is a difference in the known mass of the universe when it is calculated is because the black holes exist in some realities and not others, in some dimensions and not others. He is a leading scientist in all things, sciency, (i dont know a better way to say it, but he is Stephen Hawking) Giraffes, as evolution goes, shouldn't exist. the blood flow to their brains, when the bend down to drink, should kill them. Yes, they have a valve, but the "pre-existing evolutionary missing link" would have died off millions of years ago. Also, no scientist has been able to explain the pre-Cambrian explosion. The point in earth's history when there was a populatoin explosion of land based animals.
      • May 31 2013: Jonathan,

        Nothing impossible about giraffes. They would not have evolved unless valves were possible. For one, vascular valves have existed for eons. Giraffe ones are modified valves, not suddenly appearing ones. There's plenty of fossils that show intermediary anatomies between a less "problematic" neck and the giraffe one. There's enough evidence to show that the giraffe neck, and the necessary modifications for such a neck, evolved from simpler necks.

        The Cambrian Explosion did not produce any land dwelling animals. Not a single one. What was "spectacular" about the Cambrian Explosion was the appearance of many animals, all marine, with enough hard materials that more of them than the pre-existing "softies" could leave fossils behind. Scientists have been able to show that the softies existed before, only they left fewer proportion of fossils, and harder to find, because soft tissue has a much lower probability of leaving any traces behind.
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          May 31 2013: apologies for the specification of "land based animals", however, the relative "quickness" of which they appear still baffles scientists
      • May 31 2013: It does not baffle scientists enough to doubt that there was no magic involved. It was a surprise indeed. But then scientists started finding previous fossils, finding evidence of environmental changes strong enough to "inspire" an evolutionary "radiation," and the mystery is not that big any more. Still very interesting though. Also, the process was relatively quick, but still some hundreds of millions of years in the making.
    • May 31 2013: Of course that evolution can be tested. We cannot repeat the whole process, but we can test different hypotheses about how it happened. For example, the idea of random mutations and natural selection has been tested and it works. It has been applied in computer science, in optimization problems, in problems too hard to solve by exhaustive searches. Some circuits have been "designed" by random changes and selection of variants doing at least part of what engineers want their circuits to do. Very often the engineers build these circuits, demonstrate them to work, yet they are unable to explain how these circuits work!

      There's also the field of experimental evolution, where scientists have changed the original activities of proteins to do something else. Yes, by random mutation and selection. Much faster if they allow the most successful mutants to recombine with each other. Contrary to what Jonathan above said, we have witnessed speciation with adaptation when some populations of animals and plants have moved into new environments, like some isolated islands.

      All of those are tests about how it works. But there's also the tests for what we find. We can check fossils, and, as technologies advance, we can add to the tests we can perform, check the anatomies, and so on. Someone thought that, well, whales are mammals, ok, how do we test if they share ancestry with land-dwelling animals? Maybe the embryo in development can offer clues, and it did. It showed legs starting to form, then the legs behind started reabsorbing. But the embryo looked like a land-dwelling animal embryo for a while. Then there's genetic tests ... Anyway, the message is that experiments are possible even for something like evolution. Not being able to repeat the whole thing does not mean it can't be tested.
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        • May 31 2013: Not really. They look somewhat like chicken embryos, but for very little time, but they look much more and for much longer like chimp and gorilla embryos. Looking carefully we find that our embryos have much more in common in the process, and development to mammals, for example, than to birds (such as chickens). It is not a stationary comparison that is made. There's much more to it, much more dynamism, than simply saying "they are similar."

          In the whale example what's important is how much more the development process looks like that of land-dwelling mammals than of fish, or amphibians. That it shows legs about to be developed but then they don't develop much further (except in cases of atavisms), just like some humans might develop a tail, when in most human embryos, though the process to develop a tail starts, it stops and the tail bones instead fuse and form a coccyx. This is not mere "similarity." It's way more interesting and convincing than that.
        • Jun 5 2013: Peter,

          I would appreciate if you read and verified carefully what I am saying instead of assuming that I am talking about Haeckel's work. This way you would not introduce unnecessary confusion into the conversation.

          To get you started, please find me the place where I talked about our embryos going through evolutionary stages or anything even slightly similar to recapitulation. If you don't find anything like that, then you would owe me an apology.

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          Jun 5 2013: @ Entropy.
          I wasn't addressing you, but Johnathan.

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        Jun 5 2013: My apologies, you did not say anything to the effect of Haeckel's work.
        • Jun 6 2013: Thanks Jonathan. You are a true gentleman. People like you make me think that there might be hope for humanity, and inspire me to try and be better myself.
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      May 31 2013: The aim is disproval and you have to be objective to come up with the ideas to disprove something. A scientist can prove his/her hypothesis all day long, it is when another scientist disproves a hypothesis that the orignal scientist has to go back to the drawing board.
      • May 31 2013: With this I agree. We try hard to prove hypotheses wrong. But a theory is much bigger and much more important than a hypothesis: theories in science are not the same as hypotheses. Theories, in science, are explanations about some kind of phenomena. The theory of evolution is the set of explanations about the facts of evolution. The theory consists of the best tested ideas about what we think was involved in the processes leading to what we witness in nature.
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      Jun 1 2013: You can make predictions about evolution and test them. Check for similarities in DNA, predict the age at which we might find fossils of semi aquatic precursors to whales, then go and find them.

      f we evolved from a common ancestor to chimps. but we have one less chromosome then we should find evidence of a fused chromosome in humans. We look and we find it. Etc etc.

      We preduict the orbit of pluto will take hundreds of years, but we haven't known about pluto for that long, but we can make reasonable predictions and check these versus the evidence. We don't have to observe the entire history of the universe to make reasonable claims based on evidence.

      No one saw the sun and earth form either. So by your way of thinking we can not make any conclusions about how they came about.

      You weren't alive 100 years ago, so you can't make any conclusions about history. We didn't see the Europeans come to America so we can't know how it happened?
  • May 31 2013: Scientific theories are not just speculations as you stated. I am not sure if you were just looking for a reaction, or if you truly believe this. The real problem does lay with the word theory, and how it is used. I have a real problem with people that say evolution is just a theory, just like creationism is just a theory. Evoltuion has tons of proof, creationism by definition is a belief system that has no proof. I suggest that anybody that thinks that any "theory" [and I use that word loosely] that allows for beliefs, the supernatural, or a supreme being, should go back to college and get a real scientific education so that they can see the error of their ways.
  • May 31 2013: As a poetic idea, the right brain , left brain dichotomy might be ok, but it seems to me, this this whole scheme is very new, high tech, and totally derived from what you might as well call Science. Years ago, before brain scans, I don't remember hearing about it at all. Also, I don't know about you, but I would be hard put to tell anyone just which side of the brain I am using at any particular time. Science did pretty well for years without this.
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    May 31 2013: Nice to meet you, Ms Mary M.
    You are so sweet in every conceivable way. By the way, what's your flower photo? Name Please! if you have one. This is the season for flowers outside my home. That flower looks familiar. I thought Oleander initially, but that flower has five solid pink petal rather than six bicolor petals. It is really pretty.

    Now for the secret of coffee. One of the Profesores de Medicina y Cirugía at the Universidad de la Facultad de Medicina gave me the secret of coffee for old guys like me. We have every kind of coffee here except Starbucks. That kind is just for the tourists. The doctor said that any kind of coffee is good.

    The older I get, the more it hurts! I have "Myofascial Arthritis" which is what I convinced my English doctor to call my fibromyalgia. "Fibromyalgia" is a real syndrome that causes lots of suffering for some like me. The English & American doctors think that Fibromyalgia is a sickness for crazy women. And that can cause problems with my Seguro Nacional de Salud. I am not a crazy. But I wake up at 5 a.m. and everything aches. My Spanish Doctor told me not to worry. The Spanish doctors know that coffee will make that better. And it does. The Spanish doctors know all the secrets. If I wake up at 5 a.m. and my muscles hurt, the Spanish doctor said go drink hot, black coffee. And have as many as three cups. And you know, it works every time. I get up at 5 and make coffee. And I drink three big cups! It is a small coffeemaker, so three big cups is all it makes. But the coffee tastes better now than ever in my life. I sit quietly and I drink coffee for two hours sometimes. Sometimes I watch the sun rise with my dog. If it is cloudy, I stay inside. But at 7 after my wife gets up, I can go back to bed. Or maybe I can have more coffee. But when I go back to bed, I sleep good! No pain. All relaxed. The Spanish doctors know all the secrets. You should see one, but only after you get old. JV
    • May 31 2013: Juan, you're driving me crazy. Yet, I could do nothing but imagine the pleasure of preparing three cups of coffee and slowly sip coffee waiting for the sunrise.
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      May 31 2013: Speaking of is interesting to read about the evolution of coffee.
      It's history, and how it was marketed to get into every household is quite fascinating.

      Thanks for the heads up about Spanish doctors.
      Spanish because they are from Spain, or Spanish because they speak Spanish?
      I am of spanish origin myself......

      The lovely flower, from a friend's garden, is a clematis....isn't it lovely?

      As for the secret of coffee....I heard that the coffee doesn't really matter....but the water does!
      So, tap water, or spring water, or filtered water....which do you use?

      And, Starbucks is way over-rated.....we confirmed it in a conversation about over-rated things here on TED.

      Oh, and I'm already old Juan.....reached the I'm on my way down the other side.....

      GERALD, my apologies for the off-topic ramblings of us old folks. Evolution has not helped us in the slightest.

      I am enjoying this conversation on evolution though.
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        May 31 2013: Amen! And my "google translate" Spanish w/my charming semi-fiction stories about myself, is how I "channel" Earnest Hemmingway. He used to go hang out in Cuba, pre-Castro. He lived there for a while. He didn't write nearly enough though. Whist-full yearnings for a life I can only aspire to.

        But I am off-topic. I use tap water. I think water is more important for beer. For coffee it's the bean and the grind. But I generally just buy what's cheap. We add cinnamon at my house. Now that is good!

        They are quite fond of Evolution and Charles Darwin in Cuba. Darwin & Marx were contemporaries and knew of each other's work. But I can't say they ever met or cared much for eachother. The "official atheism" does little to change the "Spanish Catholicism" of that beautiful little country. The two exist side-by-side. Just like in Russia with the official Communist Party and the Russian Orthodox Church. Even Stalin knew better than to take on the Russian Orthodox Church!
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    May 30 2013: it proven fact genetics geologic fossil record and plain o conman sense by looking at the fossils the body plans
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      May 31 2013: You said it James...."conman sense".
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    May 30 2013: When we go deep inside of our conscience, we realise that there is just the present moment, and every thing that we call knowleged is just a ilusion, we have direct contact just withe theorys about reality and not withe reality.
    • Jun 1 2013: "every thing that we call knowleged is just a ilusion..."

      Not by my definition of knowledge. If it consistently works, its knowledge. If it doesn't work, its illusion.
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        Jun 2 2013: What do you know? Do you know who you really are?
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        Jun 2 2013: Look, this last question is not to be answered, is just to you reflect about, you are more than any label or group of thoughts.
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    May 29 2013: Indeed it is, but in the main, it is provable and confirmable. Does pre-scientific philosophy have a place in society today? Yes, it permits us to understand how we go to here.
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    May 29 2013: Gerald, evolution theory can be tested this is why it has been elevated to a theory.
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    May 27 2013: Sorry replying here!
    I'm still not sure as to why you compare them for you cite "good without truth is dead, and truth without good is dead", what does this exsactly mean? Considering that (in my opinion) the truth sometimes isn't necessarily "good". Or have I misunderstood?
    Out of interest, what gain do you believe you achieve (through religion) that you can not gain through secular society? I say this because to quote you "So to be "born again" means nothing else than getting a new will or 'heart'". I find this interesting, are you saying that once you experience God you become "born again", or that you finding God gave you the ability to get a " new will or 'heart' "?
    • May 28 2013: Yes, sometimes it is hard to find a way to connect. But please feel free to send me an email if you like. Then I can send you a book.
      I am not so much comparing good and truth as saying they (should) make one. So, one without the other is like loving soccer but not seeking the knowledge to play or participate. Or as they correspond with our heart and lungs. They are quite different but very much relate to each other in their use to the body. And we do need both :)
      This is to give you an idea of how universal and applicable this concept is. As universal as "substance and form." This is one of the many paragraphs in the book Conjugial Love (Married Love) regarding good and truth. If you'd like to research this more,

      "In the next chapter we will demonstrate that conjugial love comes from the marriage between good and truth. We only introduce the concept here to show that this love is celestial, spiritual and holy, because it comes from a celestial, spiritual and holy origin.
      In order to show that conjugial love originates from the marriage between good and truth, it is useful that something be said about it in brief summary here. We said just above that there is a union of good and truth in each and every created thing. And union does not come about without reciprocation, for union on one side and not on the other in return, becomes undone.
      Now because there is a union of good and truth, which is reciprocal, it follows that there is a truth of good, or truth from good, and also a good of truth, or good from truth. In the next chapter we will show that the truth of good or truth from good exists in the male and is the essence of masculinity, and that the good of truth or good from truth exists in the female and is the essence of femininity. We will also show that there is a conjugial union between the two."

      It is also mentioned that truth is a more known concept because it shows itself while good(ness) is internal.
    • May 28 2013: "..what gain do you believe you achieve (through religion) that you can not gain through secular society?"
      Only religion based on Revelation can tell me anything about a life after death, who God is and what He would like. How we are our mind, not our receiver the brain. The difference between spirit and matter.

      "..are you saying that once you experience God you become "born again""
      Just an experience does not do anything, unless we interpret it right and allow it to change us. Even a NDE does not guaranty that :) "Being born again" is nothing else than having a new character, new and better (more loving) motives for doing things.
      We grow up with four loves. The love of self, the love of the world, the love of the neighbour and the love of God. In that sequence. To be born again means the total reversing of that sequence of loves, and applying that to our life.

      "or that you finding God gave you the ability to get a " new will or 'heart' "?"
      Yes, religion, in my view, means 'a relationship with God.' He is the creator and in my religion we are taught that He created this world for the soul purpose of creating a heaven from the human race.
      So in order to have a loving relationship with God I study the books about the Bible (which books we consider the Second Coming). We cannot have a loving relationship with anyone or anything we know nothing about or even misinterpret.

      And this is where Evolution comes in. Humanity has evolved from, as it were, the stone age to the electronic age and Revelation has kept pace. By means of the Old Testament, the New Testament and now the Second Coming through the Writings of Swedenborg.
      Humanity has evolved and God has adjusted His Revelation to our 'conditions' like a parent. Although God appears quite different in all three, He is the same.
      A parent starts by saying do this, or else..
      Then the parent says, do this out of obedience and love,
      At last the parent says, do this because you love and understand me
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        May 28 2013: Please send me the name of the book (by email).
        It would be much appreciated!
        "Second Coming through the Writings of Swedenborg"
        What does this mean? (It seems quite worrying to me).
        Out of interest, I am uncertain as to why the parent couldn't skip to the last part ("do this because you love and understand me") considering "God" (as portrayed in the old testament) wasn't the nicest of people (killing all first-born in Egypt).
        Why do you hold the Bible so highly? (Why not the Koran (or Quran)?) Considering it is only one of many Holy Books. Take Zoroastrianism ( one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world. Which was based upon certain scriptures. However now only has 190,000 followers in the world today. While in Persia from 600 BCE to 650 CE it was one of the most powerful religions in existence.
        So what am I trying to say?
        What makes you perception (or experience) of God more "correct" (is this the right word?) than others?
        Considering Psychologists can explain "God" quite well nowadays ("Is God an Accident? By Paul Bloom" : What say you?
        • May 29 2013: Hi Bernard, I'll send you an email with a link to such a book. An additional way is to Google "Swedenborg Second Coming"

          Why is this worrying to you? This Second Coming, as the last step of spiritual evolution, opens up new ways to understand God and relate to Him. It does not change anything or force anything on anybody. I love it because it actually unifies science and religion. After all the are from the same Source :)

          --"the parent couldn't skip to the last part..."-- because we cannot approach a 2 or 5 year old like we would connect with a teenager or adult.

          --"Why do you hold the Bible so highly?--" Because of the spiritual level (Second Coming) of the literal text. The text is like the body and the meaning is the spirit.

          --"What makes you perception (or experience) of God more "correct" "--
          It makes it better, more sense, applicable FOR ME. There is not just one correct way to love and connect with God. In fact the more variety exists the more perfect heaven becomes. Just like a picture, the more variety in pixels the better the picture.

          That's quite an article by Mr Bloom. He ends my saying "But the universal themes of religion are not learned. They emerge as accidental by-products of our mental systems."
          Which I do not agree with at all but that is another story and subject. But in that whole, long article he does not explain one aspect or item of "God"
          Again, I'll send you an email and it is great to connect.
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          May 30 2013: Bernie,

          Please keep selling that December 2005 article from the Atlantic. I wonder what Professor Paul Bloom has been doing since. Here is a link I found on Wikipedia of a science review he did in 2012. I'd like to read the article, but, alas -- I am unemployed/retired and I lack the resources to purchase the article on-line.

          Hopefully, my "employment deficit" will resolve itself shortly. Hope, (like faith and all the other irrationality about God!) springs Eternal. "Hope Springs Eternal!" And since I quote Alexander Pope: An Essay on Man; here's a link:

          I like Project Gutenberg. It's free.
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          May 30 2013: Juan, is this the article you wanted?
      • May 30 2013: God has created all his children in his image. who to say, the human raise is his only children, when they are other species that have personality and are conscious. the flesh is just a bio-mechanical body for your conscious that consist with multiple configuration that make up who you are as a unique person. GOD is a unbodied conscious. we are his children not by the flesh but by his image of consciousness. How awesome is that, we are related to GOD.
      • May 31 2013: Adriaan: It is very hard to follow your thinking. You assume so very much of the Christian complex. "The Afterlife"?! What makes you so sure that there is a basic difference between "Life " and the "Afterlife"? Maybe not. If Consciousness, for the sake of illustration, should be something like what Buddhists believe, i.e a "Field" in the Electrical sense, then "God" could be identified with it, and so would we.. The same "Thing" . So Afterlife would have no primary meaning. Salvation, Sin , Evil, etc, etc. would be seen to be no more than natural outcomes, rather than some important "Thing".
        • Jun 3 2013: Hi Shawn, sorry for the late reply but we had a last invite for a great cottage.
          I'm really sorry it is hard to follow my thinking. May English is still, kind of, my second language.

          --"What makes you so sure that there is a basic difference between "Life " and the "Afterlife"?--"
          I don't think there is. Life is life and is spiritual, now and after our body dies. In fact when we 'wake up' on the other side we'll be (spiritually) where we were before our body died. Because right now we live in two worlds at the same time, but without being aware of the spiritual side (for most of us). Did you ever read Life after Life? or the many that followed after, about NDE's? My wife had one as a young girl.

          I can really only recommend one book about this life and the next and that is Heaven and Hell. In my view, it is all about evolving from a natural to a spiritual person.

          That effort and process gives meaning, reason and thus pleasure to our life here.

          Everything has a use. Down to the smallest detail, whatever we have in our house has a use or we throw it out. A person in society who does not perform a use, is looked down upon, unless they are incapable.

          The very reason we can evolve is because we have been created in God's image and likeness. That gives us the tools, but just having the tools does not do it. We have the freedom to use them in a good way or in a bad way.

          The fact that we are born more stupid than a rabbit has a reason. Most animals can run around and look for food and sometimes even defend themselves within hours.
          Humans are born with a clean or empty slate. We have to learn every single thing and make it our own, or not. Whatever we end-up loving is our choice and effort and makes us different from each other.

          This whole image and likeness idea is presented in this book.

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    • May 30 2013: you are right mankind is capable of doing its own natural selection with DNA, but also DNA can easily go back to what it was originally written to be. you must perfectly put the dna together correclty so it wont return back to its original DNA. but also, DNA must be written before life is accured in full form, for if you take a way a gene from DNA when body is at full form, the body will decay and die.
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        • May 30 2013: what you learn in school is what mankind has discovered and has to offer you, but what i learn is not from the discoveries of mankind. what you spoke of the microwave is the obvious of what causes things to work and or happen, what i know is what make up the "microwave" for it to be even present, and what makes up the particles that make up what makes what you so call "microwave". you know only as much as what mankind has discovered, for you go base on there understanding of thing. use your own perspective of things and rediscover or discover new things. i denied school my whole life because i can discover and rediscover the things scientist have. here is a video on my perspective of how i discovered how many particles make up the protons without spending $10 billion dollars on a machine.
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    May 26 2013: I love this TEDTalk for helping to understand "life."
  • May 25 2013: It remains a theory, but not "just" a theory. Its success has been great with a vast amount of evidence to its credit. Hoever, it has also been overused in fields where it does not belong and its practitioners have found ways of adapting the theory to be able to survive even when evidence stands against it. A similar thing happened with the old theory where the earth was at the centre of the universe.
  • May 25 2013: Evolution is on the way all the time,Of course it is doing on the zigzag
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    May 24 2013: Evolution is both fact and theory.

    The fact is we evolved, the theory is what is the nature of the evolution! Thus the scientific theory of evolution is valid.

    It's a giant joke to me at times... Evolution has said to be a fundamental element of the universe for thousands of years. The idea of 'water' - all is change - in relation to the other elements, provides a framework for evolutionary philosophy.

    The whole 'science' debate today, of what is 'science' is so... distracting from real issues LIKE WHO GETS TO SAY THIS IS A FACT OR NOT or SCIENCE OR NOT. It is not a unified, collective and coherent process. Politicians have always had a say in what to pass along as far as knowledge... And now, in America, that process may be more influenced by politicians than ever before..

    So keep your inquiries limited of what is and NOT how is... see where that gets society...
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    May 24 2013: I don't know if anyone already brought up another example of a "theory," but gravity is still (I think, unless that Higgs-Boson particle was discovered or something) just a "theory" as well.
  • May 22 2013: Evolution, when seen as the start of the universe, is an excuse to not believe in a God. There exists no (scientific) proof about whatever happened millions of years ago, it is all interpretation, opinion.

    Evolution does exist, but is no more than an adjusting to life's situation, to survive or lead a better life. This applies to finches as well as human beings.

    As human beings we can go with whatever approach we feel most comfortable with.. That freedom will never be taken away from us, never.
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      May 22 2013: Why would one need an excuse to not believe in God?
      • May 23 2013: I can't answer for someone else but the most basic reason, I think, is ignorance about what God is and how He operates. Could be a basic aversion for authority. One's upbringing and inherited mind-set is a big issue.
        Many people have to 'brake the cycle' just to become bearable to society around them.
        The 12 steps that AA uses is based on Swedenborg's writings and one big point or step is to accept the existence of a higher power.
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          May 23 2013: Is there anything wrong with not believing in God?
          Do you think aversion for authority is a bad thing for someone living in today's world?
        • May 31 2013: Everyone has a relationship with GOD, even if you choose to not believe in GOD that is your relationship with him, but no-one has the true knowledge to speak what is to happen to non-believers and believers only the Father our GOD. But what i do know, every person is innocent of birth. we were not asked to be alive. Just say to yourself right now... i am me, im alive, i am aware of myself. we are innocent of birth. This makes sense why GOD became man to die for our sins, and showed us how to live. is it only fare? for GOD to become man and die for our sins so all who believes in Christ may be saved through him. its a ticket to heaven. GOD does not play it by ear, everything has already been written and we are living the book GOD has wrote. im not trying to convince anyone of anything only sharing you the TRUTH.
      • May 24 2013: Hi Gerald,
        "Is there anything wrong with not believing in God?'
        Every human being believes in some 'god,' whether that is seeing oneself as god, or nature or money or prestige etc.

        Anyone without a belief in a higher power, regards whatever he believes as truth and regards whatever he loves as good.
        As we may know, it takes us about three seconds to justify any, and the worst action.

        A belief in a God enables us to do good for goodness sake, and believe truth for the sake of truth. Not in order to become rich or famous, etc.
        One question, who do we give the merit for the good actions we do?

        "Do you think aversion for authority is a bad thing for someone living in today's world?"
        If I was running a company I would not hire someone that had an aversion to authority, that could not follow instructions.

        Humility is the best basis for growth and connection with the world around us and God. As He said, in order to go to heaven we have to become as little children. That does not mean letting go of all we know. It means a willingness to be led. By no means thoughtlessly and blindly, but to give authority to those that deserve it.

        If there is any interest in a belief in a God, this greatly helped me because it goes into the details.
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          May 24 2013: I see myself as a human being, a mammal with the most developed brain/mind we know of.

          I do not see myself as something deserving to be labelled a god.

          Are you asserting that if you do not believe in an external god then by default you are or assume yourself to be a god? Big call.

          How do you define god?
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          May 24 2013: "Anyone without a belief in a higher power, regards whatever he believes as truth and regards whatever he loves as good. "

          Not necessarily. Whether it's God or reality, do people really claim to have absolute access to it?
          And is there really a difference in humility between the monk figuring out the universe as God created it, and the atheist figuring out the universe as something which origin is part of the mystery?
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          May 30 2013: "A belief in a God enables us to do good for goodness sake, and believe truth for the sake of truth. Not in order to become rich or famous, etc....."

          I don't see the need for a God to do any of that...I can do good because I know it is a positive influence in the world....not because it'll get me eternal brownies points, as many Theists argue it will.
      • May 24 2013: Hi Obey,
        --"Are you asserting that if you do not believe in an external god then by default you are or assume yourself to be a god?"--
        What do you mean with external?? God is infinite, omnipresent. That means everywhere and always, in time and apart from time. Humans are finite and in time and space (and some are totally attached to time and space). Those that totally disregard the God-side of life, I assume, want to be gods themselves. "Big call" indeed.

        How we define God?
        This is from Wikipedia about Swedenborg.
        "Swedenborg saw creation as a series of pairings, descending from the Divine love and wisdom, that define God and are the basis of creation. This duality can be seen in the pairing of good and truth, charity and faith, God and the church, and husband and wife. In each case, the goal for these pairs is to achieve conjunction between the two component parts. In the case of marriage, the object is to bring about the joining together of the two partners at the spiritual and physical levels, and the happiness that comes as a consequence."

        God is divine Love and divine Wisdom, which combined produce Use. Use is love.
        As images and likenesses of that, and receivers of life, we have a will so we can receive His love, and we have an intellect to receive His wisdom. IF WE WANT TO!!

        By combining, balancing and using our will and intellect we CAN become useful human beings. We can if we have the humility to see God as the source of the truth we believe and the good we do.
        As soon as we see ourselves as the source of all that, we think we are god.

        Can animals decide to love their enemies, can they meditate? If not, is that all because of their electical connections or lack of neurons maybe?
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          May 26 2013: I'm confused as to why you compare 'good and truth' together.
          Please explain?
          Is this because the 'truth is good?' Or 'goodness is truth?'
          How do you define 'truth' (Is truth a belief which reflects reality?) and 'good'(Is 'good' obeying God's Will?)
          Kind regards,
      • May 24 2013: --"How do you define god?"--

        You mean you really would like to know??????

        Then please read the link just above, if you dare LOL
      • May 25 2013: Hi Gerald
        --"Whether it's God or reality, do people really claim to have absolute access to it?"--

        Do you mean absolute access to reality? Yes, because if we do not believe in a God we can create our own reason for being. Set our own limits of what is allowed and reasonable. Love others, or anything, depending on the amount that those others help us. If a clerk makes us mad, we have every right to shop-lift.

        But don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that as soon as we believe in the existence of God we're perfect. This is generalizing very much. I'm just saying that it is easier to become and angel when we have the humility to follow the instructions in the Bible on a spiritual level. And as things are now explained through the Second Coming on a spiritual level, it all makes sense. No more mysteries and blind faith.
        As our daughter used to say, "sitting in a pew does not make us a better person."

        --" is there really a difference in humility between the monk figuring out the universe as God created it, and the atheist figuring out the universe as something which origin is part of the mystery?"--
        I don't see any humility in figuring out what life is all about from our own perspective. Not one single soul can gain the slightest awareness or knowledge from their own intelligence or reason. The only source of information regarding God is Revelation.
        As I said before, we have to become like little children. Which means to have the willingness to be led. To have the trusting attitude "It is true because God says so."

        We'll never know what infinite love is, or what omniscience feels like, etc.
        • 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 True power, unless it was given to you from the Father our GOD"
    • May 22 2013: Which of all the gods ever imagined has to be disbelieved by mistaking biological evolution with the beginning of the universe?

      There's tons of evidence about things that happened millions of years ago. It is not all "interpretation, opinion."
      • May 23 2013: It is indeed a mistake to see biological evolution, out of nothing, as the beginning of the universe.

        The one god that has to be disbelieved, of all the gods ever imagined, is the concept that we are god. Then we regard as good whatever we love, and regard as truth whatever we know.
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      May 24 2013: I don't need an excuse not to believe in gods and goddesses, ghosts, faerie, nature spirits, demons, goblins.

      I just need compelling evidence that one actually exists. Yet none exists as far as I can tell.

      Also there are about as many detailed definitions of gods and associated dogma and beliefs as there have been believers in gods and goddesses.

      which is what you might expect given no reliable evidence on the existence let alone the nature and motivations of any gods.
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        May 24 2013: RE: "Even the science you agree with . . . " Really? Are gravity, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics theories? I think they are infrangible Laws. Simply reclassifying all knowledge as theory is not very scientific. There is a difference between Evolution and Laws. There is a need for the Law of Conservation in Physics because some quantities can NEVER change. Not everything is just a theory, some explanations are FACT. Just about everything has changed in Darwin's Theory and there is no reason to accept it as a Law, as the only possible explanation of life on Earth. There are too many holes in it for the scientific community to be duping the public into embracing it as the answer to all questions about life. Too many holes. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
      • May 24 2013: --"I just need compelling evidence that one actually exists."--

        You want to be forced into believing something you obviously do not want to believe??

        The moment God were to appear next to you, you would only wonder how Hollywood pulled this one of.

        As humans (and only so) we have free choice. That will never, ever, be taken away or compromised. Even after death, or a NDE does not force us to believe in the existence of God.

        If we were forced in any way (about anything) we would only hate it and try to change things and still go our own way. That's being human (with the option to become worse than animals).

        All that being said, when we do not recognize the spiritual environment we live in, we do not know we live between good and evil. Then we do not know what is good and what is evil, and where they come from. It is that balance which gives us the choice between God or Mammon.
      • May 31 2013: i hope this will give understanding how godly we are but we are not GOD. GOD has created all his children in his image. who to say, the human raise is his only children, when they are other species that have personality and are conscious. the flesh is just a bio-mechanical body for your conscious that consist with multiple configuration that make up who you are as a unique person. GOD is a unbodied conscious. we are his children not by the flesh but by his image of consciousness. How awesome is that, we are related to GOD by being his children. there is so much i can speak about but i dont want to crash your mind, for what understanding i have the world will deny for they are less understanding than me.
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      May 26 2013: How do "believers" explain the various species of humans, such as Homo Erectus and Neanderthals?
      • May 27 2013: With my limited knowledge on the subject, I could not answer that other than saying it could very well be evolution. Different continents, environments may be the cause of change.

        In his religious writings, I think, all Swedenborg talks about is churches, belief systems that developed at some point, maybe thousands or millions of years after creation. He does compare the human development with the general development of each individual.

        I'll see if I can get some better answers.
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          May 27 2013: Sorry : Replying at top of conversation! It's getting too crowded here.
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      May 26 2013: Adriaan,
      You write...
      "Evolution, when seen as the start of the universe, is an excuse to not believe in a God. There exists no (scientific) proof about whatever happened millions of years ago, it is all interpretation, opinion."

      There is indeed scientific proof about what happened years ago regarding evolution. There is no scientific proof regarding the teachings of religions, which are trying to convince people that there is no such thing as evolution! It appears to be the effort of some religious extremists to convince people that what is taught through religion is "right", and what is taught through scientific experimentation is "wrong".

      Those who believe in a god, generally say that he/she/it created EVERYTHING. That being said, if there is a god, it is logical that he/she/it would have created the process of evolution!
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        May 26 2013: I admit it would be rather odd if all the evidence for evolution was put there by the devil! :P
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          May 26 2013: Interesting theory Bernard.....but would have to believe in a devil to believe he/she/it could "tamper" with evidence:>)
        • W T

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          May 30 2013: "evidence for evolution put there by the devil"

          That would be rather odd Bernard.
          Nowhere in scripture is there such a teaching.

          I think that there is alot about evolution that man is still uncovering.
          From all the past conversations on TED I have come to realize that having an open mind is best.

          Everything around us....spiders, starfish, bees, every living thing teaches us something new and exciting. There is still so much to learn.

          How wonderful that we can freely share our thoughts and our beliefs online, and grow to understand each other. It makes us humans more humane when we are tolerant of each other's beliefs and convictions. None of us have the absolute truth.
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          May 30 2013: I agree Mary, that we are still discovering information, agree that it is good to have an open mind, and also agree that we have the opportunity to learn from everything and everyone around us.

          BTW, I LOVE your new looks like a "Stargazer" lilly, which is one of my favorites....VERY fragrant and a show stopper in the garden:>)

          Freely sharing thoughts and beliefs is one thing. Constantly preaching a certain belief as the one and only "truth" gets kind of tiring after awhile when we see the same information over and over again, as Bernard insightfully recognizes on this thread. This discussion is about evolution, not god and Swedenborg.
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        May 26 2013: To paraphrase my favourite philosopher (Bertrand Russell) : 'It is possible that the Devil created the universe (and its laws) while 'God' wasn't looking'.
        He then went on to mention that this wasn't a theory he was going to go against.
        Yes we are assuming the Devil can tamper with evidence, aren't we?
        It is the Devil after all...
        • May 27 2013: Hi Bernard, I'm responding to your comment above, about good and truth. Sorry about the delay, but was a busy weekend. Great question!

          In very short terms (there are books about it :) Swedenborg says the relationship between good and truth is that good is the spiritual 'substance' and truth is its shape or form.
          This also means that good without truth is dead, and truth without good is dead.

          This is the definition of good:
          Good is defined in the Writings [of Swedenborg] as the affection of thinking and acting according to Divine order. Thus it belongs to love to the lord and charity toward the neighbor, is spiritual, consists in willing and doing well unselfishly, and is heaven with us. That which proceeds from our proprium [what we consider our own] is never good and may actually be entirely evil. However, what we love we call good, whether it be heavenly or infernal, because it is felt by us as good. This is what has given rise to the theory that good is only relative, but the Writings make clear that there is an absolute good.

          Truth is how we apply that good to life.

          We are born with tendencies toward what to love, but have to learn how to apply that to our life. That is what raising a child is all about, which continues to eternity.

          In relation to that, our spirit or mind is made up of a will and an understanding. Our will is what we love and our understanding or intellect is how we give shape to that love. That same relationship is pictured with the relationship between our heart and lungs.
          More about that here

          So to be "born again" means nothing else than getting a new will or 'heart'

          “Everything in the universe that is in harmony with God's plan relates to goodness and truth.”
          New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 11 Emanuel Swedenborg

          And I have a quote right in front of me on the wall
          "Every appearance that is confirmed as a truth becomes a fallacy"
          Divine Providence 310 ES
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          May 30 2013: Yes indeed Bernard, if one believes in a devil, I suppose one can also believe that he/she/it can tamper with evidence...LOL:>)

          Looks like Adriaan is preaching his religion again.
          I thought this discussion was about evolution!
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          May 30 2013: Atheists respect Christopher Hitchens. He was one of them. As a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, I guarantee that Chris Hitchens had more than just a passing familiarity with Alexander Pope.

          From Wikipedia: Christopher Hitchens

          In God Is Not Great, Hitchens contends that:
          "[A]bove all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man and woman [referencing Alexander Pope]. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development.Very importantly, the divorce . . . can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone."

          Curious comment. And good luck with that. But neither Science nor those of us afflicted with "Belief" (as a disease) have managed to outright sustain the conclusions give above by the Late Scholar Chris Hitchens.

          At some point, we might. But not yet. For-so-long as so many of us believe that we gain much of value in our "Belief" -- none of us will bother seeking treatment for the "disease of religion" that they keep diagnosing in us! Do we suffer? We do not see 'faith', as our affliction. So let them rale against us!
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        May 30 2013: Sorry to reply down here!
        I would be (VERY) surprised if it was the Devil though!
        (I swear quite a lot of these religious people (not to exclude atheists), bring the "God debate" into almost every TED conversation, if you don't mind me saying. I sometimes get tired of it myself!)
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          May 30 2013: Yes, some do, and I share your feeling of being tired of it Bernard!
    • May 30 2013: Adriaan: Rationallity is a great tool, as is logic and math.; A great blindness on the part of the "Religious", especially Westerners , is this constant talk about "God", either for or against, with so very many unstated assumptions, one being that " Belief in God" is a more or less coherent concept, shared by everyone. It is not. Religions differ by far more than Names. The history of western missionary efforts reveal just how confused these ideas are, and how blind Christians especially are to their own special unprovable assumptions. Such as the belief in the "Individual Soul"., Salvation, Afterlife, etc. Not to mention A" personal Creator" and all the rest of it. If one starts off with these assumptions, not being aware that you have them, then of course it seems quite simple. But actually , there are drastically different Theories of this Life that we are all sharing, and some of them are much more in tune with Science , and experience, than others.
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        May 30 2013: RE: "Science has been disposing of. . . " I like your choice of words Shawn. . ."disposing of questions" It speaks volumes about the attitude of materialistic, dare I say Atheistic, science supporters toward creationism. I hope you are correct that Materialistic Science is moving closer to the truth about the creation of life on earth, or, as you put it, "how matter gets animated". At some point the trail of investigation must lead to an Uncaused Cause. You actually used the word "disposed" twice in your brief comment. Is displacing ignorance with understanding really tantamount to disposing? Are you suggesting that the culmination of the theory of Evolution will be the total "disposal" of all non-material things?
        • May 31 2013: Edward :
          From your phrasing, I hope I am not doing you an injustice by supposing that your ideas about Christianity are pretty much conservative,and main stream. When I say questions are disposed of, I consider that a more accurate way of saying what is actually happening. I.e., it is not always necessary to answer a question. if you can show that it is the context of a belief system. For example, this idea that the world is divided into "material" things, and
          Spiritual " things is classically Christian. Far from espousing "Materialism", I am proposing that the exact opposite is more scientific, useful , and more likely to be true. Even in the late 19th century Newtonian universe, it was generally acknowledged that"Materials" were pretty much an illusion, since atoms are mostly empty space, "Energy" is not material, and "waves" are just as real as "particles.". That was even before the basic stuff about Radiation was discovered. So it is a legitimate scientific view that "Materialism" is merely a high grade construct, not anything fundamental. Except in day to day life, of course. As for me , I am somewhat puzzle if people think I am an "Atheist", since to give that any meaning would require a good deal of "knowlege" about "God", which we do not have.
      • May 30 2013: Hi Shawn,
        --"Rationallity is a great tool, as is logic and math.."--
        I see science and religion almost as the right and left brain approach to life. We can use either as base to use our rationality, logic and math. Humanity has evolved to the point where things have to make sense in order to be even thought about.

        That is the very basic approach to spirituality by Swedenborg. The usual reaction to what he writes is "this does make sense." In fact the more science we know about e.g. the heart the more we know about love.

        If, however, you refuse to use 'both sides of your brain' and disregard its higher, spiritual realm then you may need a NDE to change your mind. If you could read what Swedenborg writes about the NDE (at a time the most advanced tool of medicine was the use of leaches) it just may open your mind, spiritually.
        And you know what, that is what the first day of the Creation Story is all about, and only that.
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        May 31 2013: Why would being called a conservative, mainline Christian be considered an injustice? Also, what do my personal beliefs have to do with this debate? You say matter is mostly empty space? Have you ever been walking barefoot and stubbed your toe on a mostly empty space chair leg? You say energy is not material? Einstein disagrees with you. He said energy is fluid matter (equal to mass times c squared), and matter is solid energy (equal to energy over c squared). I do not think you are an atheist. I don't have an opinion about your personal beliefs. They are not relevant to this debate. What does "Materialism is merely a high grade construct, not anything fundamental. Except in day to day life, of course." mean? It sounds like you are saying nothing is real except in life, which makes no sense to me because I spend 100% of my time in life. Please clarify sir. Thank you!
        • May 31 2013: Edward: Your reply reminded me of a famous quote from an English Enlightenment era Philosopher , who, on kicking a brick , said "Thus do I refute thee, Bishop Berkeley.!".( Berkeley was claiming that Materialism is all in your Head) Of course, it is no refutation at all. No one is saying that these illusions are not excellent, and serviceable,or are defective in some way, only that they do not at all show that "Material" is as substantial as the Believers like to believe it is.
          When I say that "matter" is mostly empty space, that merely means that , of the volume of an atom, let's say, something like 90 odd percent if it is not "Matter",but space, and also, that in Einstein.s equations, the "M" is Mass, not Matter. In science, personal beliefs are not supposed to carry weight, as to their logic or pursuasiveness. And we all spend all our time in "Life", but perhaps we don't agree on just what the conditions of it really are.
        • May 31 2013: Hi Shawn, I think I've also heard it said that matter is nothing more than clouds :) In a way I fully agree with that.
          I see matter as just a means for our spirit to interact, grow and develop in this 'seed bed' or 'womb' of heaven. There is nothing, no thing, we take with us when our body dies, only our character which is spirit.
    • May 31 2013: Adriaan:
      Could you elaborate a bit on why "Evolution" is an excuse to be an Atheist?. I don't see that at all. Evolution was never a problem for Catholics (they count as Christians, don't they?) Just why could not "God" have decided that Evolution is a dandy scheme to provide, change , interest , and continuity to the "Creation". Why not?
      • May 31 2013: Hi Shawn two things.
        First, I have absolutely no issue with evolution as an adjustment to conditions. I totally reject, however, any thought that evolution was the process that started our existence from nothing, or from whatever.
        That being said, it is possible to see a belief in a God also as an excuse. But that evolves from an excuse, to a reason, understanding and love. Atheist do not have that 'road' to travel.

        I (we) also believe that the Creation Story has nothing to do with this world or universe. Because of the evolution! of mankind the whole Bible is now meant to be taken spiritually, not literally. Each individual is able and invited to go through this evolution process of 7 stages.
        This is that spiritual side as given in the Second Coming,

        Second, atheist are such from choice. There is absolutely no proof, one way or the other, of the existence of a God (for a reason). No one is or should ever be forced to believe something they do not want to believe, and this even applies after death to eternity. So, since there is no proof, I see it as an excuse. Maybe an excuse to give ourselves all the merit of the good we do as atheist...?
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    May 21 2013: Why is Evolution "just a theory"? What other information categories are available in which it could be properly included? Could Evolution be called "The Law of Evolution"? Or, how about "Darwin's Constant"? Is Evolutuion a Rule; an Axiom; a Postulate; a Proof; a Formula; an Equation; a Hypothesis; a Decree; an Edict; a Precept; an Ordinance; a Commandment; a Dictate; or a Ruling? The best descriptor for the suggested explanation of all life on Earth as natural selection of beneficial mutations over eons of time from a common ancestor is THEORY! The Scientific Method affords it that status. Relativistic Philosopy says there is no such thing as Truth so all we can do is allow a proposed explanation to be called Theory. Perhaps a better name for Darwin's proposal is "Darwin's Proposed Explanation of Life on Earth". That would rightly set it apart from other information like the Alphabet, the multiplication tables, etc.
    • May 22 2013: The problem with that expression ("just a theory") is that it assumes a colloquial definition of the word theory. In scientific terms it does not have the same meaning. There's no relativistic philosophy (though science is sometimes contaminated by such a kind of philosophy).

      Theory is science is the body of explanations about some kind of phenomena. This is why the theory of evolution, as a body of explanations, can be modified when new data show that, for example, somewhat random drift contributes a lot of what we see in nature besides natural selection. The theory now includes, for example, work around such things as what happens with different kinds of mutations, and their probability of fixation, rather than assume that only natural selection exists.

      So, for example, it is not that we have no confidence about gravitation, we have theories explaining the phenomena about gravitation, including the deformation of space-time by the mass of objects, and such things. Of course, gravitation is easier to grasp than something like evolution because evolution is more of a result of how life works, rather than some point-definable phenomenon.

      The idea that science is about defining laws is a simplification coming from the times when physics was the main scientific field where things were happening. I still don't understand why it keeps being taught as if the philosophy of science has not been "evolving" ever since. It's good to teach it as part of how science has developed and matured with time, but not as if that is what science is today.

      Also, evolution is not all about Darwin any more than gravitation would be all about Newton. Today many other scientists have contributed to both evolution and gravitation, and both those main scientists of old would agree that their fields of study have advanced way beyond what they contributed.
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        May 23 2013: Roger that Entropy! I'm down with Gravity (no pun intended)! Maybe it's time for the supporters of the Theory of Evolution to publicize their disassociation with The Origin of the Species. Perhaps it's time for a fresh explanation and a new name for what we have all been calling Evolution for the last hundred years or so. Is the process, whatever we name it, still based upon natural selection of beneficial mutations over eons of time from a common ancestor? And, does the "new" Evolution answer the question about how life came from non-living chemicals? Does "neo-Evolution" offer any explanation as to how the DNA code developed? Does "Non-Darwinian Evolution" offer an explanation regarding why genetic mutations, which are overwhelmingly non-beneficial, are said to be the reason for the vast diversity of life on Earth? Also, multiple protein/enzyme components are required for essential biochemical pathways and nano-machines to exist. Does "Evolution 2.0" offer any explanation as to how these components came to be? When a piece of ancient pottery is discovered it is accepted as a designed thing. But, when a new biological truth is discovered do the new Evolutionary Scientists still accept it as not being designed, but rather being a result of natural selection of beneficial. . . etc. etc.?. Has the latest version of Evolution answered Karl Popper's accusation that it. ". . . is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [religious] research program.” ? If Evolution, or whatever it is now called, is not "just a theory", then what is it?
        • May 30 2013: Science has been disposing of, or "answering" ordinary questions for hundreds of years, with great success. We no longer ask, "What Sin had Joe Blow committed that God struck him dead with a lighting Bolt"?. Some simple theories about Electricity kind of solve the problem. And so it goes. Personally , I think we are in the process of getting some answers to your questions about "Non-living Matter", right about now. And it is likely to come in the form of a larger, new "Theory", that Consciusness is a Field, like Electricity. That would neatly dispose of the puzzle about how "Matter" gets animated. Stay tuned.
    • May 23 2013: Hi Edward,

      There's no dissociation with the origin of the species. That is a foundational book. Quite important, only we know much more today than Darwin could have known. He did not know anything about genes, for example. Mutations came much later. He knew about variability and that variability was inheritable, but not about genes or DNA. Your comment has a lot of misconceptions, and I truly don't know where to start.

      For one, evolution has never been an explanation about how life came to be. That would be abiogenesis, and that is still a very hot area of research, where possibilities are still under investigation. Very hard because the evidence is eroded by eons of time.

      The evolutionary process still is about variation and changes in populations, only today it includes other processes besides natural selection, like genetic drift, and the calculation of probabilities for a mutation to survive depending on a range of possible effects. We know that it is not black and white, that mutations might be, for example, from bad to advantageous with everything in between, and we take into account that the size of a population determines how probable it is for mutations to survive regardless of how advantageous/disadvantageous they might be. We know now that most mutations have slight effects, while before scientists assumed that most were bad, we now know that a lot of changes are just drift, inconsequential. So we now know that natural selection plays part, but random drift plays a part too. Much more to say, but little space.

      Popper never accused evolution of being religious.

      Evolution is both a fact, and a theory, but a theory in the scientific meaning of the term. I told you: the body of explanations about some kind of phenomena.

      Running out of space, but no, we don't know everything, but we have enough evidence to know that evolution is a fact. That we share common ancestry with a lot of other life forms, like the rest of the apes.
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        May 24 2013: "Popper never said. . . ?" Look in Unended Quest, An Intellectual Autobiography. Lasalle, Il: Open Court. Page 168. QUOTE: "I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme—a possible framework for testable scientific theories."
        Please stop assuming I don't know what Evolutionists mean when they say "theory". I also know there is a definitive difference between FACT and THEORY. They are not interchangeable no matter how evolutionists want them to be. Thanks for confessing to being non-omniscient, Entropy, that took courage, I'm sure. You do know there is a very real tendancy to let the public think Evolution is a FACT in totality? By the way, we ought not nitpick about the relationship between Darwin and modern evolution. He made some real blunders and seriously over-stepped the limits of his knowledge (like Heredity). I call it disassociation, you call it foundational and quite important. A spade is a spade and Darwin was often wrong. Thanks to its supporters and the lethargy'apathy of the average person, Evolution has a much higher reputation than it ought to. Be well Mr. Driven.
    • May 24 2013: Edward,

      I have seen you making a point about the misuse of language at times. I am therefore surprised that you would think that metaphysical is the very same as religious. Popper never ever accused evolution of being religious. Take a second look at what you said and what I answered. Also of note, Popper's "problem" was not with evolution, but with natural selection (he clarifies that he is talking about natural selection when he said "evolution" before that quoted phrase), and his problem was that because it's obvious that the most fit would survive better then it was not scientific, but it was still a framework useful to build a scientific programme. There's much more, but Popper respected evolution and it's contribution to our understanding of nature.

      Of course there's differences between fact and theory. I told you: there's the theory, the explanatory framework, and the facts that are explained. Unfortunately, the fact of evolution shares names with the theory, which makes it confusing. Most importantly because, unfortunately, we no longer teach philosophy of science to new scientists, which is a sure recipe for confusion.

      I didn't try and dissociate Darwin from evolution. What I told you is that evolution has grown up way beyond what Darwin was able to put together. Darwin was wrong about some stuff, but he was not wrong in the absolute sense that you pretend. Natural selection is a fact. That species are related by common ancestry is a fact. But of course Darwin had some mistakes. If you read his work you would see that he did not overstep anything. When he did not know he would say so. When he was speculating from little knowledge he would say so. He was so careful that I use his work to teach about proper presentation of data and ideas to my students.

      Evolution does not have high enough the reputation it deserves.

      Be well Mr. Long. Happy weekend.
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        May 25 2013: "Popper wasn't talking about Evoultion, he was talking about Natural Selection?" I wasn't talking about TED, I was talking about TED Conversations. I wasn't talking about World War II, I was talking about the Battle of the Bulge. Shall I go on? Please say no! Thanks for the heads-up on the total dissimilarity between the words metaphysical and religion. One problem though. . . they are actually similar enough to be commonly interchangeable. When a scientist/philosopher calls information metaphysical the obvious idea being communicated is that said information is absolutely, positively NOT science. Thanks for confessing that calling Evolution both a Fact and a Theory is confusing. Know why it's confusing? Because the Law of Non-Contradiction says nothing can be both A and NOT A. A clear-thinking mind will be confused by an infraction of this Law. We, astonishingly, also disagree on what it means to disassociate one'self from something. I see such statements as, "Darwin was wrong." and "Darwin had (interesting choice of words there) some mistakes." to be the opposite of support/endorsement/association. Don't the Neo-evolutionists eschew Charlie's name in their new look? Why is that? You can find better models of perspecuity and veracity than Darwin. The man declared that genetic traits BLEND in reproduction!! You willingly excuse such a monumental blunder perpetrated for the sole purpose of making (another of his blunders) Natural Selection appear more plausible? Hardly what I call proper presentation of data and ideas. I see him more as an appropriate example of the careless, hasty, ill-advised presentation of ideas. You also have a pleasing weekend, although I fear I will be preoccupied trying to figure out what phrase you left out of your closing statement: QUOTE-- "Evolution does not have high enough [gap in tape here] the reputation it deserves."
    • May 25 2013: Hello Edward,

      When a philosopher, such as Popper, says metaphysics, they mean it in philosophical terms, just like when scientists say theory they mean it in scientific terms. Philosophers do not mean mystical mumbo-jumbo, but that area of philosophy dealing with such things as epistemology. So, for example, Popper was not saying that natural selection was a fantasy worshipped by some bunch of people, he was saying that it is obvious, and he had a problem with calling the obvious scientific, he would put those things into metaphysics. There's no serious way in which metaphysics could be mistaken for religion. Religion might be an usurper against proper metaphysics, just like it is an usurper against proper science, but religion is not interchangeable with either.

      Look at my words about Darwin please. I did not say that he was absolutely wrong. I said originally: "evolution is not all about Darwin ..."

      Darwin did not propose that genetic traits blend in reproduction in absolute terms. He was careful to suggest such as a possibility (there's a lot of "ifs" in his presentation), that's it. You can't judge that proposition as a dishonest attempt at making natural selection more plausible. After all, all that's needed for natural selection is for traits to vary in a population and be hereditary. In other words, we need variability but offspring should resemble their parents. Guess what? Those things, population variability and similarity to parents, were already known to be facts by Darwin's times. If you think that Darwin was careless, etc., then you did not read his work.

      Evolution does not have high enough the good reputation that it deserves.

      Have a most excellent weekend.
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        May 25 2013: Well I do not have the insight you seem to have into the intimate workings of Karl's powerful brain. I just read what he said and assume he chose the words carefully prior to publication. His intent was clearly, I think we agree, to separate Evolution (Natural Selection) from Science. Make of that what you will, but don't toy with the clear intent of the words. I stand corrected for translating Popper's "metaphysical" into "religion". Thank you for the painless correction sir. I did not insert the word "absolutely" when I quoted your comments about Charlie's lack of accuracy. By the way, is there a big difference between absolutely wrong and just wrong? Does Science allow some kind of partial credit? Linus Pauling suggested the possibility that DNA structure took the form of a triple-helix. That cost him dearly in the annals of Science. Darwin made an equally, if not more, seminal (no pun intended) error regarding heredity and you want to overlook it? Me thinks there is bias in the air. I have read Origin of the Species through several times plus countless dabbling references and I still contend he was careless and jumped to conclusions. Evolution enjoys a far better reputation than it deserves. Thanks for filling-in that gap. By the way, thanks for not playing the "Evolution is too esoteric for the average person" card. Peace.
    • May 25 2013: Hello Edward, I hope you don't mind if I call you my friend.

      I read several of Karl's books (I'm an old-school scientist), so I know that he was not "separating" natural selection from science. After all, he was still proposing it as a useful metaphysical framework for developing a scientific research programme in the book you cited. Remember that Karl was trying to solve the problem of defining a philosophy of science in times when some philosophical problems were being thought about intensely.

      I know that you did not insert the word "absolutely" there, but you seemed to think that if Darwin had something like genetics wrong, therefore the whole of evolution was wrong. That's an absolutist position. Linus, one of the few scientists I admire, was wrong about the triple helix, but that did not cost him his career, it only costed him not being the discoverer of the right structure of DNA. His [other/overall] work was still foundational in fields from basic chemistry to structural biology even if he had that structure wrong. Being wrong about that did not mean that he was wrong about everything he proposed (that's what I meant by "absolutely," sorry if that was confusing).

      I don't overlook Darwin's mistakes in heredity, but I don't see how that mistake would mean that everything he proposed was wrong, as I explained before.

      If after reading Darwin's on the origin of species several times you still think that he jumped to conclusions, then you have very different standards to mine. But that we have different standards would seem obvious if you're inclined to think that being wrong about one thing means being wrong about everything.

      Thanks for the conversation.
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        May 25 2013: Iam pleased to be called you friend. I am not pleased to be called an absolutist. I know everyone makes mistakes, even my main brainiac Albert blundered when he called his Cosmological Constant his greatest blunder. I NEVER said Darwin was wrong about everything. What I wish could change is his supporters perpetuating the image that he was right about everything. Young people are being shielded from the very serious problems associated with Evolution. They are being taught that it is to be accepted as the definitive, comprehensive, factual explanation of all life on Earth. That is not the way it is. Let's lift the rug and see what has been swept under there. Don't be afraid I am trying to replace Darwin with Deity. My motive is far less ambitious. I think we should teach our youngsters the difference between what might be and what is. Evolution is not void of truth but it is brimming with error which has not yet been falsified. We should stop violating the Scientific Method by selling our youth an uncertified product. You are correct that our standards for choosing who should be honored as a hero of applying the Scientific Method certainly differ. I would choose Mendel whose work Darwin disregarded in an attempt to sell his own afflatus dubbed natural selection. Thank you too sir!
    • May 27 2013: Hello my friend,

      I have to confess myself puzzled. I have taught courses on genetics and on evolution at the undergrad and graduate levels, and checked many texts for the courses at the undergrad level on both subjects. No textbook teaches that Darwin was right about everything. I myself have never taught that Darwin was right about everything. Anyway, as far as I have investigated the matter Darwin most probably did not know of Mendel's work. On the side of Genetics it is well known that Mendel's work was mostly ignored. Many failed to understand what it meant until other scientists figured the same principles and in their literature research found what Mendel had done and resurrected that work with its very important implications. Not only that, those studying evolution realized that such discoveries helped extend the ideas behind evolution and after some years of discussions and discoveries a new synthesis about evolution was written. This was many years ago (1940s), but, to tell it simply, Mendel's work greatly helped evolution, for example the area called population genetics, which has enormous explanatory power and helped solve many open problems in evolutionary theory. Thus, Mendel's genetics was good for evolutionary theory, not bad. So I truly can't understand why would Darwin hide something that would have helped his theories.

      There's nothing under any rugs Edward. I truly don't know what you're talking about. Evolution is pretty much a given. There's open problems of course, but not problems about whether evolution is acceptable or not, that was solved many years ago, but rather things like what factors contribute the most, or the needs for extending population genetics to better understand evolution in asexual organisms, and the effects of new things that are discovered, like the prevalence of genetic transfer among different microbial species.

      Have a great week.
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        May 27 2013: Our debate is not about Biology or Cosmogony. We disagree on Philiosopy. As Popper said this stuff is metaphysical. We are butting heads about epistemology and religion. By that I mean I reject an exlanation of life which denies God. You embrace and defend what claims to be an explanation of life which aggressively contradicts, and, thereby, denies God. I come with beliefs founded upon a metaphysical, transcendental trait called Faith. I believe, a priori, and I pre-suppose that it is true that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. You come with different a prori information and pre-suppositions designed by men to explain a godless universe. For either of us to abandon our position is a matter of spirituality. I would have to lose my fatih, and you would have to find such faith in God's Word the Holy Bible. Neither of us can do anything to bring about either of those life-changing experiences. What we can assess is whether or not we share a belief that we ought to teach our youngsters only what we ourselves accept as Justified True Belief. We do them a disservice by inculcating them with unproven theory which we call "fact" or "pretty much a given". Evolution teaches, by omission, that God did not create the heaven and the earth. Supporters of Evolution openly denigrate, and ridicule Creationism as being "mystical mumbo-jumbo". Even the government is biased against Creationism and in favor of Evolution to the point of outlawing the very mention of Creationism in public school textbooks! So, I can continue to present you with what I find under the rug and you can continue to deny, refute, ignore, and explain them all away until the cows come home. Nothing will change. We are talking supernatural , spiritual causes here, Entropy, and we won't solve, or improve things by focusing on Charles Darwin. Thanks friend, and keep learning.
        • 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 True power unless it was given to you from the Father our GOD"
    • May 28 2013: Of course Edward, that our main differences are philosophical. For me, reality comes first. For you your faith comes first. To me, if your god was real, we would not find evidence showing a history of the planet and of life that contradicted this god. Since we find such evidence I conclude that your god is false. This was exactly how it happened to me. I had faith, but the evidence showed it wrong, and I submitted to the evidence.

      In Popper's terms, natural selection was metaphysics rather than science because he had a problem calling scientific something that was evidently true, obvious. Faith on the other hand is neither evidently true, nor obvious. Faith is a very personal thing. So I would have a very hard time accepting that your faith is even at one millionth of the level of something like natural selection. So, even if you want to call your faith "metaphysics," it is a far different metaphysics than the one Popper was talking about when referring to natural selection.

      Yes, we will disagree about what should be taught to people. I am adamant that we should teach what the evidence tells. Evolution is not made up. It is about what evidence exists, and what the evidence means. Evolution is a given for good reasons.

      I would have to ask: since no amount of evidence will convince you, then what is wrong about teaching about this evidence and what it means in scientific terms? After all, people are free to believe otherwise just as you do. It is not as if people never hear about creationism. You were not taught faith in school, did you? Then what's the problem other than your a priori rejection of evidence in favour of your deeply held beliefs?

      Best my friend, and sorry if I offend you. I rather be honest.
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        May 28 2013: No offense taken. I wonder why Popper also said, QUOTE:"It can even be shown that all theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero."-- Conjectures & Refutations; 1965; p192. I am sure he included the Theory of Evolution in the "all theories". Also, what did he mean by, QUOTE: "Science is not a system of certain, or well-established statements; nor is it a system which steadily advances towards a state of finality. Our science is not knowledge (episteme); it can never claim to have attained truth, or even a substitute for it, such as probability; we do not know, we can only guess.The old scientific ideal of episteme– of absolutely certain, demonstrable knowledge– has proven to be an idol. The demand for scientific objectivity makes it inevitable that every scientific statement must remain tentative for ever."-- Logic of Scientific Discovery; p278, 280. You seem to have confidence in knowing what he meant to say versus what he actually said so maybe you can translate this remark of his, QUOTE: "Empiricists usually believed that the empirical basis consisted of absolutely ‘given’ perceptions or observations, of ‘data’, and that science could build on these ‘data’ as if on rock. In opposition, I pointed out that the apparent ‘data’ of experience were always interpretations in the light of theories, and therefore affected by the hypothetical or conjectural character of all theories. … there are never any un-interpreted data experienced by us…" --Conjectures & Refutations; 1965; p387 I claim Popper as my justification for doubting the many theories about evolution being taught to our children as fact. It seems your new god is Science and it has replaced the faith you once had. Be careful. "… we can never have perfectly clean-cut knowledge of anything. It is a general consequence of the approximate character of all measurement that no empirical science can ever make exact statements."-- P. W. Bridgman; The Logic of Modern Physics;page33,34.
    • May 28 2013: Edward my friend,

      Well, in the previous case, I had read the book in question. In this case, I have not read that book. In order to understand what Popper was talking about I would need to have those quotes in their context. Popper could be referring to some position that he then fixed, or he could be talking about his own position about something but some other philosopher has solved it. Without context I can't know.

      Anyway, I have been forgetting to tell you: we don't teach scientific theories as "fact." Check a few textbooks and you will read that they refer to these theories as the best scientific explanations available, not as final answers, reason being that we might discover something that solves the problems better. The best example for this is gravitation. There's no denying the facts of gravitation. However, Newton's theory, as well as it explained the facts, had problems that were only solved by Einstein. Today there's new facts that Einstein does not solve, and physicists are busy trying to find a new theory of gravitation. Same for the theory of evolution, it explains a lot of the facts about evolution, but not all of them. Example, some facts were escaping explanation by natural selection over mutation alone. So now we understand that a huge proportion of mutations fix randomly rather than because of selection, and we have two kinds of selections: negative and positive, where negative avoids changes, and positive selects for better variants (better for some environment). There's also horizontal gene transfer to take into account, and events of symbiosis. So evolution is still lots of facts, only natural selection on mutations is not all there is to it. Therefore we have to teach these as best so far as theories. So that might be what that Bridgman person you quote was saying. After all, Einstein added exactitude to gravitation, but some facts still escape it.

      So I see nothing wrong teaching science as it is, and that's what we do.
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        May 29 2013: I could not agree more. Teaching science as it is would be fine and dandy. But contrary to your experience, I , being a Creationist, am always rebuffed by evolutionists who proceed to argue that their explanation for life on earth is 100% consistent with the Scientific Method (LOL) and while not without gaps, it is without error.This is where you say, "They shouldn't be saying that!", and I agree with you. Nonetheless they do say it, often and regularly. A child growing-up in public school will think evolution is mature, robust, venerated, and the whole truth. They will also hear NOTHING about Creationism. That's wrong Entropy. That's just wrong. Public school should not teach creationism or evolution as the whole, infrangible truth. Whether a child is taught that God created the universe, or that it just exploded into existence from nothing for no reason or cause, is the parent's responsibility, not the schools. Teach science as it is. Amen. (Why haven't we been deleted? I think we are way off-topic). Live long and prosper.
    • May 30 2013: Perfectly on topic my friend. May the force be with you.
      (Of course evolution is 100% consistent with the scientific method!)