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Jack Dear

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Creationism. Why? and thoughts..

Increasingly we have evidence to favor evolution over creationism, which tells us the world is around 4.5 Billion years old.

In certain education systems in the UK and America they are teaching that the earth is around 10'000 years old. Typically this is because of religious funding in these schools.Surely this is a dangerous thing to teach in a Science class without any evidence?

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  • Jun 23 2011: My view is that both Creation and Evolution should not be taught in a science class. Both deal with history, and are not provable, testable or quantifiable. It is fine for us to take what we know about the world around us today, and hypothesize about what "could" have happened, but to state as "beyond a reasonable doubt" is, in my view, arrogant, and foolish.

    To really develop this dialog we need to go back to some definitions:

    What is science? What are it's limitations?
    What is a fact?
    What is a hypothesis?

    From what I have been hearing, these definitions have changed over time, and that is adding a lot of confusion to this discussion.

    This debate is heavily influenced by assumptions, and we need to understand what these are, otherwise we are simply arguing within our own frameworks. One assumption evolutionists have is that the similarity of creatures leads to common decent. This is an assumption, and if you listen to many evolutionists, they will use this assumption to justify their conclusion. This is circular reasoning.

    It's as simple as this. Can you prove to me that we come from a common origin, or that information came from non information. If this is not possible, it is speculation, and is not pure science.

    I am not saying we should stop "exploring" the evolutionary theory. I say go ahead, but don't state as fact what is not fact, and leave room for others with different assumptions to peruse these.

    Evolutionary scientists have strayed away from science, and have put on the hats of philosophy, and history. This is fine, but call it what it is.
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      Jun 23 2011: I like how you failed to reply to the thread in which I engaged you in and proceeded to start a new one. You're completely and utterly wrong of course and the fact that you think that you're an authority on what constitutes science baffles me as you have no training in the sciences whatsoever. This is a typical thing for Creationists to assert, as was the whole "evolution and creationism are worldviews" canard (which all Creationists believe but which no observer of good science would)

      There is a methodology in science that is followed by all great theories to date, evolution included. For a hypothesis to access the level of theory, it must be falsifiable (it must make claims that are theoretically testable), it must make predictions and if some of its finer details are found at fault, it must be revised. If something is found that completely defies the hypothesis, it is obviously discarded. That's the modern science methodology, there's no confusion to be had about it.

      The proof of common origin came with the development of the field of genetics and the discovery that all living beings share the same replication molecules which they undoubtedly inherited from a common ancestor. One of the principal ideas to come out from Darwin's evolution hypothesis is that all living beings should have a common ancestor. This was indeed predicted by genetics, what's more these discoveries were made after Darwin's death. We can also extrapolate this conclusion from the fact that different family of organisms all share common traits which suggest a common ancestor. For example, most eukaryota organisms (that includes humans) have mitochondria in their organism suggesting that they are all descended from an organism that took in another living bacterium that became mitochondria (Endosymbiosis theory).

      Now the assumptions that Evolution is built upon are the assumptions of modern science. Namely that the laws of nature are fixed. That's worked pretty well so far...
      • Jun 23 2011: I would like to have a dialog with you, but you must respect my views ,as I respect yours. Your first paragraph is an unfounded attack on my intelligence, and authority. My argument should be able to hold it's own regardless of my formal education. I will not engage in a discussion that is not respectful. I will only discuss with you if you are open to the possibility of changing your views, as I am. If you are not, than we are simply wasting time.

        Yes, I did not make up the arguments I present, in the same way that you did not make up the arguments you present. We both have people that we respect, and have convinced us that their point of view is correct.

        Your second point is precisely what I am talking about. The theory of evolution has changed considerably over the years, as strong evidence has caused it to have to shift to stay logically sound. This is the way it should work. I am simply stating that evolution is not a provable theory, and there are a number of large holes in it. Perhaps one day, they will be patched, however at the present time they are not, and from my perspective looking at biology from a "engineering" perspective is much more helpful. I am sure you yourself, know that there is a growing interest in look into at biological systems from an engineering perspective.

        No one would deny that many living organisms share similar traits, but to then say that these traits "had" to have come from a common source is an assumption with no prof behind it, as far as I know. If you have proof of this, please let me know, and I will gladly change my view on this.

        If you read over your 2nd last paragraph carefully, you will see that you provided your own reinforcement of the assumptions that you hold, but did not provide any evidence for it.
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          Jun 23 2011: Wow, pulling the persecution card so early on? You want me to be brutally honest with you? It's true, I don't respect your views at all. Creationism is an idiotic Bible literalism that not only contradicts the theory of evolution but also contradicts modern theories in geology, astronomy, radioactivity and all sorts of sciences. While all sciences tend to be consistent with each other (fossils consistent with evolution, but also consistent with continental drift, with ages consistent with radioactive dating...), creationism just takes some passages of the Bible and some half-assed calculation of the age of the Earth based on a Biblical scholar's work on genealogies in the Bible and tries to elevate that to the rank of a scientific theory. When that fails, bring down evolution to its level. You're not even conversing with me. Some of the arguments you have used are explicitly addressed in the link I sent you (you asked me for that link! Use it!) You make claims about Evolution like you know what you're talking about. A theory, by the way, is something that has been proven to a great degree of accuracy. A hypothesis may be unproven.

          I respect you as a fellow human being. But I genuinely think you're being dishonest about how intent you are to learn about evolution. And you understand what you'd like to understand (like you have with my 2nd point, nothing you have conjectured from my 2nd point was in fact there).

          I was not talking simply about common traits. I specifically took an example that goes beyond that for fear that traits would not sway you. The mitochondria in Eukaryotes is assimilable to an independent bacteria. If all those organisms do not share a common ancestry, shall we assume that the endosymbiosis took places as many times as there are eukaryotic species? Let's be reasonable, that is completely far-fetched.
      • Jun 26 2011: Atta boy Matthieu!! Perfect response I say! This is everything I wish I could say on my own!!
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          Jun 26 2011: I prefer being brutally honest rather than bending backwards and saying things that I don't mean in the sole attempt of being conciliatory. I find that if you start saying things you don't mean, it'll be used against you. I'll only give creationism the credit it's due which is not very much, it's on an equal footing with astrology and other such nonsense.
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      Jun 23 2011: As for your point about information, it is truly, in my opinion, an analogy gone horribly wrong. We've heard too many comparisons between DNA and computers that we've forgotten what information is and think it only in the context of code. Absolutely ridiculous! Look around you! Light is information. How else would you be able to construct an image in your without this information? What is it that you feel? The atoms that hit the palm of your hand? Information. The whole universe is information.

      We're leaving the realm of the theory of evolution now but this might still be relevant. Let me ask you, is it so hard to imagine, given what you know about chemistry and physics, that a molecule could have the kind of conformation that would allow it to make copies of itself just like that? Would you call that information being passed around? Whether you'd call it information passing or not, this is in essence what DNA does (only much less sophisticated as we're talking one very simple molecule). The truth is you can call what genes do the passing of information or you can see it as a series of reactions. The analogy with modern technology passing information is only meant to make it more approachable, it's an abstraction in some sense which you Creationists seem to think reveals the flaw of evolution (when it only reveals the flaws in your thinking). I've been reluctant to explain this point because to most people this is pretty much a given. The idea that information cannot be exchanged naturally is a travesty. We talk about information loss when talking about black holes or information horizons when talking about the speed of light and how long it takes for a part of the universe to affect another given the general theory of relativity. Want to put the theory of relativity into question too...oh no wait! You already do by saying the Earth is only thousands of years old when some of the stars we see are million of light-years away.
      • Jun 23 2011: I would respectfully disagree. I do not see light as information. Just as a rock, an electron, or a bacteria is not Information. Information does not exist in the physical world. It is us as humans that super impose information into the world. I think this is a very critical point.

        Information is meaning

        If you look at a computer screen, what is the difference between an image of a cat, and an image of random pixels? Technically not a whole lot. We superimpose meaning into that image with our minds.

        This could be another case of semantics. I would like to know your definition of information.
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          Jun 23 2011: If that is your definition of information, then DNA and RNA do not contain information, problem solved. Thanks for your critical point.
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          Jun 23 2011: DNA is digital information.
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          Jun 23 2011: oh yes I agree with you. Check the conversation. But Steve Bruno's definition of information is too restrictive: "Information does not exist in the physical world. It is us as humans that super impose information into the world."
      • Jun 23 2011: Thanks for the recommendation Jim I will look into that book.
      • Jun 23 2011: I should have explained what I meant by information a little better.

        What you may call information, I would separate into two categories: "data" and "information".

        You are correct, it is a restrictive definition, this is purposeful, as I believe there should be a distinction between the two. Data is something we can quantify, and qualify. Can we really experience information with our sense?

        Granted it is a philosophical concept, but I think it does carry significance to this discussion.
      • Jun 24 2011: Part 1:

        The English language is difficult to explain precise concepts because we use the same word to mean different things even if they may be related.However, for the purpose of a specific discussion it is important to specify the precise definition of the word. Unfortunately the word "information" falls into this category. In your post above, you were using the word "information," in the sense that everything has attributes that can be described. So we can say some thing is red and round. So yes, in this sense, I agree with you that information is everywhere.

        However, when I say that the DNA molecule contains information, I am going beyond the "information" of it attributes..I am talking about the fact that the sequence of the molecule contains the code for what will eventually be decoded into a protein. There a number of observations to be made here.
        One observation is that the sequence of the molecule is arbitrary. That is, the laws of physics and chemistry do force it to be in any particular sequence. This is quite different then say a crystal structure where the physics and chemistry force it to conform to a particular shape. Because of this rather unique feature, it makes it ideally suited as an "information" carrying device. So in this sense it is not much different to a computer memory chip or hard drive.
        If we think about the words in this post, you derive meaning for them, however, the meaning of the words can be attained by studying the physics and chemistry of the pixels. We as humans have established arbitrary rules to which we all agree that are layered on top of the physical world. In other words the letter "D" could have any arbitrary meaning. It is our choice as to what it will mean. This is one of the ways we perceive intelligence. When we see a sign on the side of the road, we instinctively know that some human agent was behind it because the "meaning" can not be explain by the physical or chemical properties of the sign.
      • Jun 24 2011: Part 2:

        Similarly, when we say that the DNA molecule is an information rich system, we need to ask ourselves how did this come to be. What is significant here is that the sequence is not determined by the forces of physics and chemistry. And yet it contains information that performs specific functions.

        The point here is that whenever we observe information rich systems, the source is inevitably, an intelligent agent. Someone may argue that this just came about by chance, however I would argue that we have never observed this. When we have two hypothesis, to the best of my knowledge, we choose the one that is best supported by the observable evidence.

        I cannot think of an observable example of an information rich system that we know of, that came about from random chance (other than the DNA molecule, as this is the subject of our discussion).
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          Jun 24 2011: Hi Steve
          Let's no forget that the DNA only holds the data; RNA then transfers that data to what can be likened to a cnc machine, which in turn produces the physical protein. So we have a 'sender' of the message, & a 'receiver' of the message who have to speak the same 'language'.

          Like you, I am an engineer (mech). The comparisons with our engineering practices are astounding, except that biology is centuries ahead of our abilities. I am sure that as time passes & more is understood, biology & engineering will merge, & we will look to biology to assist in designing our engineering products. The Air Force has been trying to design a plane to match the housefly for years, but can't quite make it.

          I find it astounding that anyone still believes in the evolution scenario, but I guess old habits die hard. Especially if you've just spent years getting a PHD.

          :-)
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          Jun 24 2011: Your whole argument is based on an analogy gone wrong. You've let yourself carried away with it. You're narrowly comparing the information systems which human beings have created with the processes behind transcription and translation in DNA and RNA. Well of course if you make that comparison, you can then claim: "Aha! The first one is motivated by an intelligent being, the second one must be too!". Your whole argument is based on an abstraction, it suffers the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. To take another example, artificial selection is a good way of understanding natural selection. That is when human beings look to breed specific traits in particular animals. There, we have now compared natural selection to a human controlled process, shall we now make the same 'logical leap' that you have done and say that natural selection be inspired by some intelligence? (although undoubtedly you believe that, you get my point I hope) You've framed this whole idea around an analogy which you brandish as the winning argument when so far it's been the weakest. It's easy to argue anything when you move the goalposts at your ease. Your concern with irreducible complexity was much more compelling and would have been powerful if it had any truth in nature. I'm not even going to comment on the number of assumptions you make from your premise to your conclusion.

          I am myself a computer scientist by training. Being a bioinformatician too, I can honestly say your comparison of DNA and transcription with memory chips and hard drives isn't that compelling.

          You're right about choosing the hypothesis with the most observed facts (most compelling are those facts that are described AFTER they have been conjectured rather than before). Evolution reigns supreme in that. You're not right about there being a choice between two hypotheses though. Let it be understood that in the unlikely event that evolution is found at fault, you don't get a default victory for creationism.

          Over and out.
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          Jun 24 2011: Hi Matt

          "I can honestly say your comparison of DNA and transcription with memory chips and hard drives isn't that compelling."
          Here is your chance to sort out any misunderstanding in the analogy. I have listened to many experts on the process & can't work out what is wrong with it. I could go off & do a degree; but it is not a critical part of my life; just interesting.

          My analogy :-
          The draughtsman designs a component on his computer. (DNA)
          In my day, this is downloaded to a floppy disk, & the disc inserted in the cnc machine.(Transcription)
          The cnc machine decodes the disc & manufactures the component. (Translation)

          If this analogy is faulty, please help me to understand where. Modify it for me or provide a different one that non-biologists can understand. That would save me frustrating lots of biologists with my stupidity. Go for it !

          :-)
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          Jun 24 2011: Since we're on the subject of smart Christians, let me just point out that Kenneth Miller, the guy who ferociously debunked the idea that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex, is a Christian. The thing is only misguided Christians and Muslims actually think that evolution and religion are incompatible. Most people, religious or otherwise accept the product of science. Even that wicked man that is the Pope accepts it. It is a puzzle to many of us in Europe why there are so many Creationists in America, when the numbers here in Europe is so damn insignificant (even though you can find the occasional quack living in the confines of Scotland who thinks evolution means black people are inferior...isn't that right Pete?) You don't need to invest in a PhD to accept evolution, you only need to invest in your brain.
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          Jun 25 2011: Jim/Matt
          Is my analogy accurate or not ?
          :-)
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          Jun 25 2011: Not really. Transcription isn't actually a DNA copying process per se. Transcription is not the copying of an entire DNA molecule, nor is it the copying of most of it. DNA is copied during another process during which the two DNA strands unzip and each provide a template for the construction of another DNA strand by complementary base pair association. (very much like my protein conformation example from earlier). This leads to the multiplication of copies of one's genome, but at no point does it lead to the making of protein. Now what transcription really does is turn specific short sequences into mRNA which are translated into protein. The transcription process is activated at different loci on the DNA via promoter sequences (which are never transcribed as they play another purpose) at different times depending on the presence or not of either activator or inhibitor molecules. These proteins might then serve a purpose in the body or otherwise be activator or inhibitors themselves which lead to the use of other sequences in cascades of reactions. This is quite a watered down version of what happens, but at any rate, it shows the limitations of your analogy. This is without even delving into the world of non-coding sequences such as introns, activator sites and junk DNA. Let's face it, it's an analogy anyway, it's not supposed to bear out any new insight on genetics, it's supposed to make the concepts approachable to the laymen. Only Creationists would try to defend ideas about a biological system on analogies alone. It is ill advised to use an analogy beyond its purpose as one could totally miss its limitations and extrapolate wildly. Another difficulty with your analogy is that it supposes that the outcome of the whole process of transcription to translation always produces the same result (like your machine does given a certain blueprint) whereas the way genes are used very much depends on stimuli from nature.
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          Jun 25 2011: Thanks guys

          This is why we need analogy, because the process is so involved. But hey! if we delved into the workings of the computer et al, then the analogy would be complex as well.

          So let's discard the 'draughtsman', after all that's biology. The design computer comes with all the necessary programing & data. I understand that the mRNA only uses parts of the code; I'm trying to keep it simple.

          So the floppy is loaded with the data to make the component; is loaded on the cnc, & the component is produced.

          The floppy gets loaded with more data, but some of it gets muddled, & produces a slightly different component. If this component is better than the original, then this data is used again, if not then the data isn't used until it gets muddled some more. Then a third different component is produced & judged.
          There of course needs to be a feedback loop to let the design computer know how it's doing.

          Can you see why I have a problem with this ? Can you give me a SIMPLE analogy to explain why you think mutation & selection can drive evolution ?

          :-)
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          Jun 25 2011: This is a prime example of going to far with an analogy.
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          Jun 25 2011: Hi Jim

          {{"The mammalian brain is an MPS". I suspect that Matthieu and I would agree with this broader claim, but that Steve and Peter might disagree. Am I right?

          I believe that Creationism is largely motivated to protect the belief that humans are special (e.g. only humans have souls) and ID shares some of this motivation. I would love to hear what Peter and Steve have to say in response to this specific claim.}}

          On the brain thing I can only give my viewpoint; which of course is probably wrong.
          As I see it the human brain is a flesh & blood component, & as such is probably just a monkey brain Turbo GT. It fulfills a function in us just as all our other 'bits', & will cease to be of use when we die.

          The bible tells us that God is a spirit, & that we are made in His image. I believe that we all (humans) have a spirit which is similar to God, although nothing like as powerful. This spirit is immortal (just like His). The spirit has no material component. If you are following the latest scientific thinking you may agree that time only affects material entities. As a spirit is non-material, it is reasonable to imply that it is eternal; ie outside time.

          That's what I think ! :-)
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          Jun 25 2011: I'll supply you with an analogy. Say you have a cube and this cube can make other cubes just like it with the occasional error (a mutation). Each cube has to pass through a hole with a specific shape (an environment). Now at first, this hole is nicely square and so the cubes don't meet much resistance. They go through, reproduce, their replicates go through and so on. Now the hole changes to a circle so that, while the cubes can still go through, they're slowed down by their edges scrapping against the hole and have to exert much more force to go through. Some of them break and therefore can't replicate, some of them don't and so go on.

          Now imagine that a cube gives birth to another cube that is only slightly rounder at the edges than the other cubes. That cube will need to exert less force to go through the hole and will be less likely to break and thus more likely to replicate. Since it has a higher success rate of replication, this cube will go on to become more numerous in the population of cubes. If another cube arises that has a mutation that makes it bigger, it won't go through at all and thus will end the streak of this deleterious mutation. The attempt cubes make to go through the hole and their success is like natural selection. No need for a feedback loop for the slightly curved cube to become more prevalent in the population.

          Again this is a simple analogy and you cannot infer more than its purpose, but it illustrates mutations and natural selection somewhat.

          Now what about speciation? The process by which two different species are born. Simple. Take our original population of cubes, imagine that by some event (eg. geographical separation) they are separated into two populations indifferent environments, for one population the hole is a square, for the other the hole is a circle. Over some time, the first population will become very square and won't be able to reproduce with the circles because of that. Speciation!
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          Jun 25 2011: "As I see it the human brain is a flesh & blood component, & as such is probably just a monkey brain Turbo GT. It fulfills a function in us just as all our other 'bits', & will cease to be of use when we die.

          The bible tells us that God is a spirit, & that we are made in His image. I believe that we all (humans) have a spirit which is similar to God, although nothing like as powerful. This spirit is immortal (just like His). The spirit has no material component. If you are following the latest scientific thinking you may agree that time only affects material entities. As a spirit is non-material, it is reasonable to imply that it is eternal; ie outside time."

          So our brains would be the product of evolution but not the soul? You're completely entitled to believe that. I don't believe we have souls, but you can believe we do if you like, it doesn't contradict evolution as long as you accept that the brain itself developed via evolution. Can you accept that as a possibility?
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          Jun 26 2011: Matt & Jim

          Matt, I like your analogy, it's neat & covers most of the bases .
          Let's say our cube has the ability to make cubes of varying shape from the get-go. Surely that would work as well. The most appropriate cube would get through whichever hole was presented. The ones that couldn't get through the hole would eventually die off from neglect.

          Isn't this what we see in dogs (eg). Mongrels have cubes for all lengths of hair (say). They live in a cold climate that favours long hair. Soon all the dogs have long hair, & the cubes for short hair are lost. Surely this is the opposite of evolution ? Eventually the population may lose the ability to breed with other dogs; again this is a loss, not a gain.
          If for some reason the dogs needed even longer hair that would be too bad, as they have no cubes for it. The variation is limited to the cubes in the original mongrel. Is this not what current science accepts as fact ?

          I don't believe that our brain is evolved from a lower one; I believe it was created as-is. Naturally it has similarities; it was created for the same environment, from the same chemicals, by the same guy.

          I know lots of folks believe in theistic evolution. If we take the Christian Bible as our guide, then it is incompatible; you really have to re-interpret scripture so much that all meaning is lost, but that's another subject.

          The irreducible complexity videos. Yes this scenario may well be possible, but it is speculation derived to reinforce a pre-existent assumption; it is not empirical science. In my opinion the whole evolution theory exhibits a similar philosophy. The 'get-out-of-jail' card is of course that it all happened over billions of years, but that requires faith.



          :-)
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          Jun 26 2011: Well Jim has said it all so I won't revisit what has already visited. I will had this though: If there is a conflict between the theory of evolution and your literal reading of the Bible, then I'm sorry because evolution has a mountain of evidence whereas your belief shows jackshit.

          I'm going to echo Jim in saying (and this is something I've brought up at least three times with Steve but he has failed to comment about it even once) that your literal interpretation of the Bible does much more than contradict evolution. Indeed your belief in a young Earth goes against cosmological evidence, simple astronomy, geology (for example plate tectonics), archeology and all matters of science. We can chose to ignore the blatant errors of science in the Bible like the Moon being a light and bats being birds, you still have this 6,000 years old Earth figure, calculated by some obscure religious scholar, that clashes with our modern understanding of just about anything. Your one book against the bulk of modern scientific achievement over centuries of experimenting, I wonder which side is more potent?
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          Jun 26 2011: Next time you get antibiotics, be sure to remember that, according to your belief, this shit doesn't work.
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          Jun 27 2011: Jim/Matt

          Jim I totally agree that things change through loss of genetic information. However if we have had evolution from a single cell to where we are today, then the majority of evolution must (statistically) have been by the addition of information. Examples of this sort are extremely rare; if any. Certainly I have never come across a clear-cut case, & if they were out there I feel this problem would be solved. Perhaps you can give the example that Dawkins so famously couldn't.

          If you read Luke 3 v 23 -- 38 you will find the lineage from Jesus back to Adam. Can't remember exactly, but its around 40 - 50 generations. Pick any age you like for a generation & you'll come up with thousands rather than millions. There are many different ways of doing the same job biblically, which all come to similar conclusions. This is sunday school stuff & why men of letters can't get their heads around it is a mystery to me. You can have evolution OR the bible; but both....?

          By all means talk about the age of the earth; I just love that stuff.

          Matt ditto you. Age of the earth is a great subject, but I guess you have to have a specific question to get an answer, I'm sure Steve would respond to that.

          Plate Tectonics :-
          {Gen 1:9 Then God said, "Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear." And that is what happened.}

          So we originally had all the water in 'one place', be definition this puts the land together in 'another place'. It's all split up now, so something moved.

          I'm rusty on antibiotics, but have read about them & don't think there was any sign of evolution in a positive direction. Correct me if I'm wrong.
          http://www.cross.tv/63080
          :-)
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          Jun 27 2011: Peter, we know that Africa and South America were once connected as one piece of land. We also know with which speed the different plates move and thus from it we can calculate exactly at what time the plates were together based on the number of kilometers that separate them. I once did that calculation and to be fair to my creationist correspondent, I chose the highest estimate speed and the closest points between the two continents. Even with these very optimistic figures, I got an age of a few tens of millions of years, so nowhere close to Creationism's pathetic 6 000. If that's not enough, we know exactly which geological strata corresponds to the time when these two continents were one and we can see that not only do they contain the same kind of fossils (as opposed to when having been separated long enough), the radioactive dating displays an age that agrees with the calculations given for the separation of the two plates. There's a specific term used to describe when multiple fields of science converge on the same answer.

          And what to make of stars? Kudos to Edhuard Guir, your fellow Creationist, who tried to answer this point but failed miserably (at least he tried unlike two people I know). There are stars which we can see that are millions of ligh-years away. Now given that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, how are we able to see them? Surely if the universe is 6 000 years old, we should, at best, only see stars that are maximum 6 000 light years away. Explain how you reconcile your biblical views with the above.

          "You can have evolution OR the bible; but both....?" It looks to me like its more of a choice between science OR the bible given the above.

          Both Jim and I know how you calculate the age of the Earth Pete, men of letters or not. Doesn't stop it from being really stupid. You base your whole appreciation of the age of the Earth on one book? The different jobs come to the same conclusion? Of course! It's one same book!
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          Jun 27 2011: Hi Matt

          First off; the bible is not one book, it is 66 books written by 40-odd authors over 1500yrs or so.. These books are without doubt the most poked & prodded books in all history, & they still come out smelling of roses.

          You are into science, you must know that the speed of light cannot be considered a constant over the longer term.

          http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/1999/02.18/light.html

          Everything else is degrading, there is no reason to assume that light is any different. I don't have the answer, but a much greater light speed at creation is one possibility.
          Another might be the solar system being in an event horizon, where time would crawl while the rest of the universe sorted itself out.
          Why should we expect to understand these things. This is a universe creator at work; like I said before, my goldfish don't know a whole lot about the Stock Market.

          We know the speed of the Plates today. Maybe they are just grinding to a halt. Much of the description of Noah's Flood sounds exactly like catastrophic Tectonic Activity.

          There is much work going on in this field trying to work it out, but just as the BB theorists, we will probably never know; it's a matter of weighing the evidence.

          What's your theory on this.
          http://img.wallpaperstock.net:81/coyote-natural-bridge-wallpapers_4810_1600x1200.jpg
          How did it get there & why hasn't it worn flat ?

          http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/carbondating.html (radiometric dating)

          {I'm rusty on antibiotics, but have read about them & don't think there was any sign of evolution in a positive direction. Correct me if I'm wrong.}
          Does that mean I'm right ?
          :-)
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          Jun 27 2011: Peter, you're not teaching me anything new. Light, like everything can be slowed down by matter, that's obvious. But when we refer to something travelling at the speed of light, we're talking maximum. I can guarantee you will not find anyting about light travelling faster than the accepted speed of light. It's kind of sad that I have to explicitise what I mean by the speed of light.

          As for that link on radiometric dating, short from being an idiotic lie, it doesn't take in account that different methods of radiometric dating have some overlap and when objects are dated in these overlaps, results come out the same.

          When I talk about antibiotics, I'm talking about acqired resitance, not sure exactly what you're talking about with positive direction (not sure you know yourself).

          I won't bother replying to your next message by the way. If you can't even accept any of the findings of the scientific method but instead prefer to put all your trust in one book with 40-odd authors I think this conversation is over. By the way, it only comes out smelling like roses for people like you. I see Jesus' last words changing from one Gospel to another and let's be honest, the animals went in two by two in a huge arch? I'm not even going to go into the details of the fact that all the inbreeding would lead to the death of every single species on board because the story on its own is ludicrous. You seriously believe that? By the way, catastrophic techtonic activity as you call it creates mountains and volcanos, not great floods. There isn't even enough water in the world for a great flood.
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          Jun 27 2011: @Peter

          Your assumption that light is slowing down only makes the creationist view more wrong... That would suggest the Universe is actually older than we (rational people) suspect.

          Light travels slower through a medium other than empty space. Stick a pencil in a glass of water and you can actually see this happen. The pencil appears to be bent because of this.

          The Harvard study you linked says just that; light slows down when moving through a medium other than space.

          **EDIT** My bad, wasn't paying attention haha........ My apologies to Jim, I appreciate your intelligence.
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          Jun 27 2011: @Andrew you mean @Peter. Andrew, don't bother starting a conversation with Peter, don't feed it and all that.
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          Jun 28 2011: Hi Jim

          I think you are getting mixed up between the bible & church leaders. Many men have twisted what the bible says to suit their own ends. The Pope seems to agree with evolution at present, but does that matter ? The bible has been around for a couple of thousand years; it hasn't changed, & many millions have had their lives improved by it. I read it a lot & I have never seen anything about the earth being flat, or the sun going round the earth. Sure, many atheist sites will cite scripture that they claim says that, just as the Pope may find evolution. If you really want you can find just about anything, if you 'interpret' it that way. I just read what it says & take it largely at face value; apparently that makes me a raving fundamentalist.
          We don't interpret other history books, we just read & learn, why should the bible be any different ? You don't hear folks getting all worked up over 'The Rise & Fall of the Roman Empire'......Interesting...

          :-)
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          Jun 29 2011: Peter, here's an interesting question. Why the Bible? Why not the Bhagavad Gītā? Is there any reason why one scripture is more powerful than the other in revealing the truth?
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          Jun 29 2011: Jim/Matt

          I haven't read the Rise & Fall, but if I had I would be tempted to believe it as it was written. I would not feel the necessity to 'interpret' it. I would have no compulsion to prove it wrong or make a mockery of others who had read it.

          When I was seeking I read the main doctrines of all the main religions and came to the conclusion that they were all deviations from the Judeo Christian beliefs. I confess I didn't read all the 'Holy Books', I don't think you need to read the manual to drive a car.

          After 25 years as a Christian I trust the bible totally. It is so intricately woven through the 66 books that it would be totally impossible to fabricate. Christianity has inspired many positive features in our society, & if, at the end of the day, there is no afterlife then where's the harm? The bible itself says that most folks wont accept the truth of it, so even in that it is correct. Millions have accepted it though so that's encouraging.

          :-)
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          Jun 30 2011: The Bhagavad Gītā is certainly not derived from Judeo-christian ideas, only the Abrahamic faiths are (three religions out of many many more). This is without mentioning all the polytheistic Gods that came before Christianity like the Borse Gods or the Egyptian Gods.
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          Jun 30 2011: Hi Matt.

          The very idea of God had to come from somewhere. Most traditions have a flood of some sort. It makes more sense to me that there was a real flood & that the tale gets embellished in the telling. Ditto the God idea. We then get into a discussion about which came first.
          However (for me) the bible makes sense; it seems to be historically, & archeologically accurate. It is spot on in describing the time we are living in. It's reality, & the very fact that there is a great effort to rubbish it speaks volumes.

          :-)
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          Jun 30 2011: That's interesting, I don't see that at all.
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          Jun 30 2011: Let's say there are 100 gods, & 100 flood myths(?).
          Is this likely if there was never a flood, or a god ?

          Why would you forge a dollar bill if there was no such thing as a genuine dollar ?
          I guess we would both answer differently.
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          Jul 1 2011: The same thing can be said about dragons. They come in all sorts of forms through various tales. Let's turn the question around, let's say there were 100 pieces of evidence all relevant in their fields but also convergig towards one unifying concept. Is it likely that these are wrong?
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          Jul 1 2011: I have often wondered about dragons. Can you tell me the difference between a dragon & a dinosaur ? There must be over 100 stories about encounters with dragons down through the ages. Are they all fables ?
          There are undoubtedly over 100 lines of reasoning that would lead to evolution; however they may also lead to creation. Both concepts undoubtedly colour our interpretation, it's just the way we reason.

          :-)
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          Jul 1 2011: They may lead to creation in the mind of an individual who decides to ignore everything that goes against his beliefs which includes the bulk of science. I'm sure you know what the difference between a dinosaur and a dragon is.
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          Jul 1 2011: Flood myths? Well, I don't know, maybe civilizations flourished around rivers or big bodies of water, maybe those flooded sometimes heavily giving inspiration to such myths?

          Dragons? Could it be that people found some fossils and imagined them to be fire-breathing monsters? Could it be that volcanic eruptions were imagined to be huge monsters of fire?

          Maybe people love a good story, maybe we tend to idealize stories, add to them, compose them to teach lessons, recompose them for pure pleasure, recompose them because we forgot something, exaggerate for effect. Maybe tribes sat in circles to hear both traditional stories, and the beginning of new ones based on the adventures of the last hunting expedition. Real things have been inspiration for fantastic stories for as long as humanity has been around. This is true today. Who does not know some amazing story teller in their own family who can adorn the stories with fantastic events, unbelievable characters. Who hasn't noticed that a strong man became so strong in the stories that he could lift huge rocks, later he was capable of moving mountains. This is so part of humanity that the myths of civilizations are among the most important features studied by anthropologists. Myths are a hallmark of humanity, and there is no reason to think that the stories we read and hear today, which we know to be fantasy, are any different from those told and developed long time ago.
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          Jul 2 2011: Hi Guys
          No Matt, no-one has ever told me the difference between a Dragon & a Dinosaur; leaving me with the impression that it may be the same thing.
          There are quite a few examples. Take Bishop Bell, who died in 1496. Round his grave in Carlisle Cathedral England is a brass border with various carvings including what looks like sauropod dinosaurs. Since the word 'dinosaur' wasn't coined until 1841 it seems unlikely that the carvings are associated with actual bones. How then did the artist get his information ?
          http://creation.com/bishop-bells-brass-behemoths
          :-)
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          Jul 3 2011: Sometimes Peter, I seriously wonder if you're just pulling our legs. So you can't differentiate a dinosaur and a dragon, but you know what a sauropod looks like? Interesting. Those carvings do look remarkably like dinosaurs...if you're extremely gullible that is. But yea, I guess I'm wrong and sauropods used to roam the Earth in the 1420s.
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          Jul 3 2011: Boy; it's like pulling teeth, why can't folks answer my questions ?

          WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DRAGON & A DINOSAUR ??

          :-)
      • Jun 25 2011: @Jim:


        Yes, I would agree that DNA is an IPS, and the human brain is an MPS. I would assume then that you would agree that we are intelligent agents, because we have an MPS brain.

        So let's start off with our observations. In all of life, every life form consists of cells, each of which contains the DNA IPS. The only other examples of IPS that we are aware of are the products of our intelligent MPS brain.

        Modern biology has discovered the first instance of an IPS system for which we do not know it's origin. So the question is, how do we account for the arisal of this IPS system? Would it not then be logical to at least hypothesise that the source of the DNA IPS is also an MPS of some sort?

        I am not saying that the MPS "has" to be the source, or that it "proves" that it is the source of the DNA IPS, I am simply saying that our observations support this as a credible option.

        After this point, it is likely our presuppositions will lead us one way or another. If your presupposition is that an intelligent agent was not the origin of life on earth, than you would begin look for a non MPS source. If however your presupposition allows for an intelligent cause, than you would see this as evidence to substantiate your presuppositions.

        So then, at this point it is not our observations that are driving our conclusions, but our presuppositions. At this point in time we do have observable evidence for the intelligent hypothesis. On the other hand we do not have observable evidence of a non-MPS source creating an IPS.
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    Jun 30 2011: Steve Bruno,

    There are too many things wrong with the way you are approaching the problem. So I wouldn't know where to start. I am trying a bit anyway:

    You said:
    "I cannot think of an observable example of an information rich system that we know of, that came about from random chance (other than the DNA molecule, as this is the subject of our discussion)."

    No, that's not the subject of the discussion. Natural laws are not random. Evolution is not random. Some elements in this natural process can be thought of as random, but not the whole of it.

    Also, before you said that information does not exist in the physical world, yet DNA, RNA, and proteins are part of such physical world. Thus?

    Then, this one:
    "The point here is that whenever we observe information rich systems, the source is inevitably, an intelligent agent."

    False. We witness information rich systems appearing all the time with no intelligence involved: any living being reproducing is an example. It is very anthropocentric to think that because we can produce information rich systems using our intelligence, thus those other things we observe in nature doing it all by themselves have to be produced by intelligence as well.

    Now information does indeed exist in the physical world, otherwise none of us would be here. Put some equations together, solve the algebra, and you get a formula that transforms bits of information into calories or any other measure of energy. I leave it there for you to ponder. After all, you will read an excellent book recommended by Jim.

    Can I show you common descent? How deep do you want the evidence to go? Is it enough if I show you that we share ancestry with the other apes?

    ----

    Peter, I spent a lot of time showing you that it is very easy to increase information with rounds of random variation, selection, and reproduction. Faster if we add recombination. I find it offensive that you would just "rinse and repeat."

    ----

    Jim and Matt. Great job guys!
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      Jun 30 2011: Thanks. I think it's good that Steve show a willingness to discuss the issue at hand, it makes the conversation worth having. I don't think there's much more that can be said to Peter though, he seems to reject the bulk of scientific evidence for a collections of books. You can't play chess without someone who doesn't play by the rules.
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      Jun 30 2011: Well said Gabo
    • Comment deleted

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        Jun 30 2011: Hey Jim,

        I hope I did not appear to be attacking Steve that hard. :)

        Sure. I am surprised at observing that he seemed to listen, even if just a little bit. We will see if he appears later making the very same false claims that he surely took from creationist charlatanry, or if he learned something.

        As for respect. I respect his right to believe as he wishes, but I don't respect his claims at all. He has the right to speak them up, but just as well I have the right to criticize them with as much strength as I wish. Most importantly if they come from a nonsensical and dishonest representation of the facts, of scientific endeavours, and of scientists themselves. I think that the dishonesty comes from Steve's sources, and that he believed them out of ignorance, but even if so I still feel the same about such claims and I will still treat them as the rhetorical and dishonest garbage that they are. (I don't think I can respect his philosophical position either, but I respect his right to hold to it.)

        I hope that did not came out too violent either. I prefer a direct approach, rather than try and be too kind and thus allow for confusion. (I think Matt said something very similar.)

        I agree with you. Intellectual honesty indeed matters.

        :)
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        Jul 1 2011: Heck, not left out by me my friend. You are always welcome.

        I would share those espressos and beers with both of you and have a fantastic time too, actually. :)
    • Jul 1 2011: "The point here is that whenever we observe information rich systems, the source is inevitably, an intelligent agent."

      "False. We witness information rich systems appearing all the time with no intelligence involved: any living being reproducing is an example. It is very anthropocentric to think that because we can produce information rich systems using our intelligence, thus those other things we observe in nature doing it all by themselves have to be produced by intelligence as well."

      The reason why you think my statement above is false, is because you are taking it out of it's context. That statement was made in the context that every information rich systems where we know the source inevitably leads to an intelligent agent as its cause. The example that you mentioned above is an example of a system that already has information that then creates another system that has information. We have to follow this process back in time to the initiation of this information. The problem with using life to support your argument is that we do not know how the original information came to be. I am assuming that you believe that the DNA information rich system spontaneously generated in the early earth. In order to prove your premise conclusively you need to create a simulation of the early earth and watch it spontaneously generate an information rich system. I am not saying this is impossible, I am simply saying that at this time we have not been able to observe this or achieve this. All I am trying to point out is that if we do observe information rich systems as a result of an intelligent agent, we have to at least consider it as a possibility. I am not claiming that it necessitates or proves that the source of life is an intelligent agent, but that we should not rule this out as a viable hypothesis.
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        Jul 1 2011: Hey Steve,

        Nope, it is not taken out of context at all. Reproduction produces information, that's new information even if almost identical to the parental one, the parents are the source, and such information is not produced by an intelligence. You can't deny that this is so.

        Now, for your point, if this information is imperfectly copied, it means that new variation is produced each time organisms reproduce, no intelligence needed. Then think selection. We have witnessed [natural] selection changing species, for instance, from meat eating lizards to plant eating lizards, within a few generations, and with new structures in their intestines. That is new information not produced by any intelligence. We have done experiments (look for directed evolution), where random variation, plus selection, plus reproduction (sometimes with recombination), do produce new and much more complex information. Example, some circuits have been evolved in computer simulations. They work, yet electronic engineers have a very hard time figuring out how they work. See? Very complex to our understanding, yet produced by a simple set of mechanisms and rules. Since we can see that nature has the ingredients for doing such a feat (evolving stuff), we have no problem understanding why nature is enough.

        But suppose that we didn't know any of that. What gives us the right to believe that because we produce information rich systems using our intelligence, it has to be also by intelligence for systems in nature? Well, nothing. That's the very problem. The only reason we start with us is because we are us, thus we believe everything has to be like us, only much bigger. If we forget about such self-centered view, then we can start by studying nature and get some real answers.

        I could also talk about natural information rich systems other than life, but they require you to break free of some misconceptions. I'm out of space for such a task now and I rather let you digest this.

        Best,
        --G
        • Jul 2 2011: Part 1:

          Thank you for taking the time to explain your position Gabo. I can now see where you are coming from. I can see that by the context in which you use the word "information," that with every offspring, we observe a new/different set of information in the sense that each one has a new, unique DNA sequence.

          Could you point me to a source that would describe the process by which you quantify the amount/nature of the information in the DNA molecule?

          You have helped me to realize that some of the statements I make, that appear to be true to me and false to you are in part due to the differences in our philosophical presuppositions. Due to this, I need to be more precise in the way I frame my arguments.

          Regarding my statement that "Information is not part of the physical world,"
          In hindsight, I can see that it does not clearly describe the concept I wished to convey.
          So let me take another stab at it...

          There is one definition for information that goes as follows: "Information is a message sent and a message received." I can depict this as follows:
          message -- encoding process --> medium -- decoding process --> message

          Let me make the following assertion and then I will illustrate via a historical example:
          "If one does not know the 'decoding process,' one cannot determine, with absolute certainty, the intended message, simply by studying the medium."
        • Jul 2 2011: Part 2:

          To put it in the form of a question: Is it possible to determine with absolute certainty, the intended message if all I have is the medium?

          If the answer to the question above is false, then I believe it is reasonable to conclude that the message is not an intrinsic property of the medium. In "networking" literature, the medium is defined as the carrier of the message and not the message itself. We can illustrate this point more forcibly if we consider that one can change the message without changing the medium simply by changing the encoding/decoding protocol. Because of this, a medium that is not altered in any of its physical properties can be the carrier of any number of messages. It is precisely for this reason that the same English word can convey conflicting meanings to different readers.

          Historical Example:
          Not long ago explorers discovered Egyptian hieroglyphics. They knew that they were not the product of the raw forces of nature. For this, and other reasons, it was concluded that they were the result of a previous intelligent culture and that they conveyed "information" to the original readers. However, no one alive knew the encoding/decoding protocol. Because of this, no one was able to unlock the intended message.

          Let me propose that the reason for this, is that there is an "abstract" relationship between the medium and the message. The link is an abstract protocol which transcends the physical properties of the medium itself. Normally, the ability to create this type of abstraction is associated with intelligence. When we were young, we where told that various objects were "red." However, after a while, we were able to abstract the concept of "red"
          without associating it with a physical object. Again, we normally associate this ability with intelligence.

          Is it surprising then, that when we see an example of such abstraction, for which we do not know its origin, that we pursue the hypothesis that its source is an intelligent agent?
        • Jul 2 2011: Part 3:

          To complete the analogy, archeologists were only able to understand the message after discovering the Rosetta stone.

          Inscribed on it was a message in hieroglyphics. However, in addition, the stone contained the same message in 2 other known languages. Thus, they were able to reverse engineer the encoding/decoding protocol, which unlocked the intended message of the authors.

          In the same manner, I see an identical "abstract" relationship between the sequence of the DNA molecule and the protein that is ultimately manufactured from it. This "abstract" relationship transcends all of its physical attributes. Is it surprising then, that when I observe this process, that I hypothesis that its origin
          could have been an intelligent agent? Of course, I cannot say very much about this agent and definitely cannot conclude
          that it is any known "god", Christian or otherwise.

          Further, a system that contains this type of process can indeed operate without
          the intervention of an intelligent agent. A computer program or a car manufacturing plant
          could conceivably run without human beings, however, I think that the creators of both of these products would be
          insulted if we were to therefore conclude that this "proves" that an intelligent agent was not the original cause.

          From observation we have deduced the encoding/decoding protocol, but there is no encoding process of which
          I am aware. We only have the decoding process. So someone would argue that the molecule and the decoding process spontaneously arose.

          This is certainly a possibility. However, when I observe the process of DNA transcription and translation, I have a difficult time
          disassociating it from intelligence. Perhaps you are correct, that I have this difficulty because I am human and
          thus view the world from an "anthropic" perspective. But is it not possible that perhaps I could be right? Am I not free to
          at least pursue this as a viable hypothesis?
        • Jul 2 2011: Part 4:

          Here is another example illustrate the point that this is indeed a valid option to pursue. Lets consider the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. It is believed that if we can detect a non-random, non-repeating radio signal, that this is evidence of extra terrestrial intelligence. If they were to receive a signal, say in the form of a Fibonacci series, would they not conclude that this is overwhelming evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence? Would not the bulk of the scientific community agree with their conclusions?

          If my prediction is correct, I am inclined to wonder why they would so easily accept this conclusion. How many hours and resources would they spend to investigate the possibility that this signal had emerged from the background of the universe via a process that is yet unknown? Would they argue that this is only our "anthropic" perspective?

          Is not the DNA molecule an example of a non-random, non-repeating sequence? Has it not been called the "language of life?" Why should we consider this any different than a non-random, non-repeating signal from space?

          TO conclude, I agree I have no "right" to conclude that the source "must" be an intelligent agent. If you read my previous statements again,you will see that I never said or implied this. Seeing that my philosophical presuppositions do not rule out the possibility of an intelligent agent, do I not have a "right" to at least pursue this as an option? Especially in the light that at this point in time we have not actually observed, nor even clearly defined a model of how life could have spontaneously arose in the early earth.
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        Jul 2 2011: Hi Steve,

        First and foremost, I thank you for such depth in your answer, despite I was initially displeased to see that it contained four parts. :)

        Sadly this conversation is about to expire and will cut us short. I don't think I come back often enough to justify my starting a new one. We still would have to talk about information (which you will learn a lot from that book recommended to you before); then about abstractions, and how they are actually physical despite dictionaries. For instance, every abstraction in the DNA to protein process is physically and chemically mediated, just as every abstraction in your computer is. Otherwise we would not be able to build computers. The connections between media containing messages and their meaning might be *arbitrary* (which is not the same as abstract), but there is no magic in such arbitrariness.

        I think I might also have chosen the wrong words. Of course you have the right to pursue any hypothesis. My point should be that it has to be honestly pursued will full awareness of the bias induced by our own humanity and the failed philosophy of starting with us and how we do things, rather than asking how does nature do it. From an unbiased perspective (I tried to include a line like this before, but had few characters left), if the conclusion were an intelligence, then so be it. But so far nothing seems to suggest such thing (failures to explain things don't mean intelligence is the answer).

        I was about to ask you what you believe. But I rather note that despite differences in how we have both conceptualized "information" and "abstraction" your arguments at most might fight the idea of the origin of life by natural means. But think carefully, and you will notice that they do nothing against evolution as in common descent. Remember that "from microbes to man," both the medium and the decoding system are already built.

        We should start by steps. Which step and which forum/conversation?
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        Jul 3 2011: Steve,

        I see you added something about DNA non-random, et cetera, after I posted my answer. Well, first and foremost, that is not how scientists are trying to find extraterrestrial life. That is but one filter towards that goal. But then they have to consider all the ways in which non-random, non-repetitive radio signals could occur. Did you see "contact"? There was something about prime numbers. That because so far we have no examples of long lists of prime numbers found in the proper sequence in nature. So, not as simple as you thought.

        Second, DNA is extremely repetitive. Awfully so. This is one reason why scientists have not been able to properly put the DNA of our genome together into complete chromosomes (this happens to be part of my field of work). It is also hard to actually find the meaningful parts of a genome such as ours. Bacterial genomes are somewhat easier because they contain less repetitive sequences, and we know why, and the phenomena explaining this have no intelligence connotations. So, even for bacteria, we would not consider their DNA to be similar to a radio signal because we know how they evolve and thus how those bits of non-randomness are added into their chromosomes. Also because we expect some real beings to be behind those radio signals, while for bacteria we don't have anywhere to see an intelligent being doing anything. If we have not met any intelligence operating here on Earth but ours, and we know we did not build the bacteria, then why suppose an intelligence there? Now add what we actually know about natural processes, et voilà.

        Best,
        --Gabo
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    Jun 25 2011: I don't want to get into a huge debate, as we have very strong debaters here already.

    I would just like to point out that in cultures that have non-Abrahamic religions (i.e., other than Judaism, Christianity, Islam), this dichotomy of science and religion is seldom seen.

    I was taught to be scientific and rational. I loved science & math because of their simple & result-oriented & logical approach. I am an engineer. I was also taught Bud'sm, Hind'sm, X'ianity, Judaism & Islam. Most practitioners of Eastern religions see scientific beauty as another expression of divinity, just like aesthetic beauty, poetic beauty, musical beauty, etc. There is divinity in numbers and equations.

    Mythology serves a different purpose than science. In questions of factual truth, science is held up. In questions of emotional satisfaction, mythology is held up. Suppression of any one aspect of our psyche is insincere and unbalanced. In this debate I see people veering all the way to one or the other extreme side. We all have the inner urge to tell stories, listen to stories and create stories. This is what mythology does. Stories vary in their truth content, but mostly are symbolizations of the truth. Stories are poetic. Taking stories as fact is fallacy.

    However, to take up arms in the name of sheer facts is to ignore the human elements. This tramples upon the thousands of years of human artistic expression and creativity. This is what makes us human, more than anything else. Strip away all the logic and math and science, but retain the appreciation of art and aesthetics and story-telling, and humanity is retained. It is not knowledge that is of essence but expression. Even bees can build perfectly engineered hives, spiders can weave geometrically perfect webs out of material stronger than steel. But only humans can recognize beauty in them.

    So I say, do scientific research to discover the objective truth, and read and enjoy mythological stories for subjective entertainment! :-)
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    Jun 22 2011: I think you need to think about the philosophical implications. People don't care about evidence people care about feelings.

    If creation is real then there is stuff to look forward to after death. Otherwise I think people understand in the back of their head there's no real reason to life and no one is willing to accept that emotionally.
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      Jun 23 2011: I think that's part of the reason yes...creationism is something that's easier to take in emotionally, which is why I suggested being exposed to evolution early in ones education. It comes late in many Western countries and in in other countries it's only briefly touched upon (even though it's the most important topic in biology!)
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      Jun 23 2011: @Jordan
      There is a neurologist, and forgive me for not remembering his name, who believes the concept of god is a cognitive manifestation brought about by our conscious realization of death. We are, perhaps, the only species that is aware of our finite existence.

      @Matthieu
      It could be that the social factors play a more significant role than education. Exposing an elementary student to evolution seems like it would work, but then that student must go home and battle the institutions of family and church. Ultimately I agree with you though.
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    Jun 22 2011: I'm an American, and so far no public schools teach any form of creationism, legally. But creationism is the old terminology, it sounds too religion-like. The new movement is called "Intelligent Design."

    PZ Myers gave a great powerpoint presentation on the subject.

    I would appreciate if a creationist... erhm, I mean Intelligent design-ist would define irreducible complexity for me.
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      Jun 22 2011: i think the correct term is "cintelligent designism"
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        Jun 22 2011: Call it what you want, it is still a load of bologna. Bad bologna....
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          Jun 22 2011: The worse part is, they didn't even come up with irreducible complexity, Darwin did, so that he could then proceed to demolish the idea.Verily the intelligent design advocates haven't come up with any arguments that haven't already been explored.
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      Jun 22 2011: Andrew...............I think we can talk about this without resorting to sarcasm. Don't you ?
      I for one believe in evolution. I see God as an intelligent force and I don't tell that Force how it should order the universe. I believe that Force designed the universe by implementing laws to make order out of chaos. And randomness is part of this complexity. Tell me do you understand it all ?
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        Jun 23 2011: Would you say that the Force surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together?
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          Jun 23 2011: Matt................As I see it..the Force animates not just the galaxy but the universe and beyond if there is any beyond. The Force having established the laws which govern the universe, then does not interfere with physical momentum of its ordering The Force does not change its mind. Regards
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          Jun 25 2011: BTW M....... are you also hiding behind the identy of Andrew ?
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        Jun 23 2011: Ok, but would you not agree that the force is like an energy field created by all living things.
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          Jun 23 2011: Matt.................When did life begin in the universe ? If living things create the force that sustains everything where did they get life from. I am really confused.
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          Jun 24 2011: OK Matt..................Since you are having fun at my expense, and I was serious and naive enough to take you seriously. I really don't know much about Star Wars but now I know enough to steer clear of you .I notice you did not bother to address my question. That has happened before.
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          Jun 23 2011: Jim...........Actually I do not equivocate on the definition of "God" Actually I hate to use the word "God" because it is so loaded with meanings. My Force is ineffable. I like the Paradoxical Logic of the Chinese which separates the material from the spiritual.The Force does not mess with the material world. It runs on its own. But what about ideas ? Is it not possible that the Force has a way, which we know nothing about, to present to our consciousness weird ideas like the Theory of General Relativity". Please do not misunderstand me, as I am not saying that E was presented a complete picture but something came together for him that no one had thought of.
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          Jun 24 2011: Totally with you there buddy, even though I'm not completely distraught by the prequels as some are, I find that I prefer to ignore certain things that are said in the new movies like the whole midi-chlorians thing. It ruins the whole mysterious, unfathomable side of the Force. I guess I'm allowed this little crime of denial because it's just a movie (did I just dare say just? I take it back!). I think sadly the wielders of the force of everyday life like Steve fear the midi-chlorians explanation of life. They fear it. Fear is the path to the dark side. Ok I promise I'll be serious now.
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        Jun 25 2011: I look nothing like Andrew Buchmann, what a weird thing to say. You know people with similar opinions exists don't you? Maybe I'm Krisztián Pintér too. We both have a translator badge...coincidence? Or could it be...
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          Jun 27 2011: Should I be offended???................

          haha
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        Jun 27 2011: Well if we were the same person, you would be offended by yourself! Wrap your mind around that!
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          Jun 28 2011: Talk about personal identity crisis. I don't think Locke or Hume would have an answer for this one. Maybe we should let the cat out of the bag and tell them S.R. is us too..................
  • Jun 19 2011: Hi Jack,

    In my experience Creationism was born by a lack of knowledge, in the sense that there used to be huge gaps in peoples' knowledge about various scientific subjects, and as a result, rather than try to accomplish the huge task of explaining the world around us, these people simply made up a story to help patch over the gaps.

    I agree with you that it is indeed dangerous, as the spreading of ignorance always is, and as we know religion is the force that drives these beliefs, a fundamental belief of religious scripture can never be healthy for a person!

    I follow various blogs of which some are written by proactive atheists where I learned recently that most creationist blogs and similar websites get relatively low traffic compared to the scientific, atheist counterparts. All I can say is keep spreading the good word! Science is the future and the more we can eradicate ignorance the greater we can spread the knowledge and wonder of the world around us.
  • Jun 19 2011: I don't like the atmosphere of this discussion so far. If you are sincere in your pursit for true, then there can be meaningful dialogue on this subject. If your mind is already made up and you are simply looking to "kill" another view point and reinforcing your old worldview, you are bringing us backwards. This is a topic that I have personally been very interested in. Both creationists and evolutionists have been at fault for being arrogant at times, and misrepresenting the other side. As soon as some piece of information comes out that supports their framework of belief, they point to it and make a conclusion without keeping the door open in their mind to other conclusions.

    If you are interested in learning another perspective search around for "intelligent design".
    • Jun 19 2011: "Creationism. Why? and thoughts.."

      Its an open question, not closed. I am interested to hear all viewpoints.

      If you don't like it, well, you know, nobody is making you..... :-)

      I have read a couple of books on intelligent design, and much like yourself I have a strong, studied interest in the topic. But sometimes, there is no greater source of information than other peoples opinions on a forum like TED. Hopefully this discussion will draw this out.
      • Jun 21 2011: Fair enough Jack.

        Here are a few thoughts:

        Irreducible complexity:
        This is a very strong argument in my view for intelligent design. A classic example is the flagellar motor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagellum). This tiny molecular machine apparently has a very specific way to be assembled, with each part fitting into the next to form the final functioning machine. I won't go into detail explaining this. watch a few videos on it and you will hear it explained by those in the field that are much more knowledgeable than I am in this area. Truly fascinating.

        Information:
        What is information? Is it physical? Yes it can be manifested in a physical way (ie. pixels on a screen, 1s and 0s in a computer, but it is intelligence that gives it actual meaning). If we are purely physical, how do you explain this?

        Art and the need to express ourselves, the search for meaning in our lives, the desire to be loved. These do not make any logical sense from an evolutionary perspective. These should hinder our survival rather than help it. We are apparently more advanced, yet we exhibit these amazing characteristics. Where do these abstract concepts come from?
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          Jun 22 2011: Irreducible complexity is something that Darwin himself came up with and indeed if it came to pass that examples of irreducible complexity existed in nature, than the theory would be in difficulty (although would that blow be fatal?). That's a big if. So far no credible example has been demonstrated. Maybe the comment that follows both answers Steve's comment and says something about why Creationist persist in their deluded ideas. I guess when you work outside the boundaries of science, falsifiability doesn't come naturally to you and therefore never does it cross ones Creationist mind to check if ones idea hasn't been proven wrong already. The bacterial flagellum example was struck down, almost as soon as it appeared, by Professor Keneth Miller. Anybody remember the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial? That's when he clearly exposed the total lack of seriousness behind that example. But Creationists won't go out of their way to see that their ideas have been crushed. Some still think the eye is a compelling example of irreducible complexity even though that was dealt with by Darwin himself. Nevermind more than 150 years of evidence in favour of evolution!

          Also, maybe some of you have read my post about misconceptions, not just Creationist ones. Here is a prime example: "We are apparently more advanced, yet we exhibit these amazing characteristics." The idea that we humans are more evolved than all living species today. That is not what evolution tells us. All species today descend from ancestry lines of success and there is no such thing as more evolved and less evolved in the context of modern animals. All living species today are success stories. We just confer too much importance to intelligence. Am I wrong in guessing that Steve also probably thinks that evolution claims we're descended from chimps? Misconceptions often come hand in hand.
      • Jun 22 2011: @ Matt

        Based on your response, I think you may have read into my comments arrogance that was not intended. I appreciate your criticism, however I find the generalizations very unhelpful, and don't believe that they have any bearing on this discussion. I am always open to admitting when wrong. I will definitely look into your claim that the bacterial flagellum example was struck down. I wish I had the time to be constantly reviewing the evidences for and against these theories. Unfortunately I don't, but I do like to research when I have time.

        I have noticed that many evolutionary supporters will point to claims such as "150 years worth of evidence". That claim if not backed by said "evidence" provides no value to this discussion.

        We can remove the term "more evolved" if you'd like. The question still remains: how would these traits have evolved, if they do not seem to serve an evolutionary purpose?

        I was hoping you would have addressed my comment on information as I believe it is an important one. You may be thinking that it crosses into the territory of philosophy, and you would be correct. I would argue that evolution does the same. Whenever you talk about history there are assumptions that have to be made.

        This debate is a debate of worldviews, is has moved much further than just science, and into philosophy. Because these debates touch on the essence of our beliefs, it's inevitable that they will be defended with such intensity (on both sides). I would like to continue to learn why you feel so strongly that evolution is a better explanation on the world we see.
      • Jun 22 2011: cont...

        I will make one last point that may be received wrongly, however I use it to illustrate a simple point. I feel that "some" evolutionary figures today have become similar to the priests of the dark ages. They claim to be the sole keepers of the truth on matters of our past, and our existence. They have created an environment where questioning the established frameworks are quickly silenced.

        I am all for evolutionary scientists continuing their work, however to feel that you have to silence "ignorant" people that are doing science under a different set of assumptions is in my view just as bad as the example I used above.
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          Jun 22 2011: Here since you claim to be short for time here's a link for bacterial flagellum: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13663-evolution-myths-the-bacterial-flagellum-is-irreducibly-complex.html
          In fact, the link I've found strikes down all sorts of misconceptions:
          http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13620-evolution-24-myths-and-misconceptions.html
          Next time you post an argument against evolution, please refer to this to see if your point hasn't already been answered.

          I didn't answer your point about information because I fail to see how our physical nature would stop us from having all the properties you claim we can't have. To me it is an argument from personal incredulity, a fallacy. How do you know that all these properties of the human psyche that you describe aren't evolutionary advantageous or possibly by-products of some other evolutionary adaption?

          This debate is not and has never been about worldviews, the Creationists have framed it this way because so much hangs on the term Creationism. You present it as a science and as a religious view only compatible with certain philosophies.

          Evolution is none of that. the theory of evolution is a scientific theory, no more, no less. It shares the same scientific status as the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. It says nothing about ones religious views. If you find it incompatible with your religious views, that's your problem.

          Evolution is compatible with all scientific fields it crosses into. Creationism is not. Especially Young Earth Creationism which could not begin to account for the light we receive from stars millions of years away or the evolution of plate tectonics over millions of years.

          Please stop making intelligent design advocates look like underdogs, those that are supposedly being silence are not doing science, they're suing school districts after school district, trying to worm their way into classrooms. That's not doing science. Just like denying the holocaust is not doing history.
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          Jun 22 2011: Jim, sometimes I wonder if there's a problem with the way TED counts thumbs up because I swear it's been more than a week since the last time I was allowed to give you thumbs up (all well deserved). Maybe I'm more enthusiastic then I realise.
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        Jun 24 2011: Jack.....If some people would post their beliefs as BELIEFS there would not be this caustic attitude on this thread. But as you said if I don't like it stay away, so I wIll stay away because really I don't like beliefs presented as FACTS.
  • Jun 30 2011: "creationism" refers to a wide range of beliefs.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wic.html

    Index to Creationist Claims
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

    a creationist does not necessarily believe all the claims in this long list.
    a creationist can only believe in an uncaused First Cause in chain of causes in universe as a creator of universe.
    a human can be both creationist and evolutionist in the same time.
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    Jun 27 2011: How about biologos? - http://biologos.org/questions/biologos-id-creationism

    BioLogos is most similar to Theistic Evolution. Theism is the belief in a God who cares for and interacts with creation. Theism is different than deism, which is the belief in a distant, uninvolved creator who is often little more than the sum total of the laws of physics. Theistic Evolution, therefore, is the belief that evolution is how God created life. Because the term evolution is sometimes associated with atheism, a better term for the belief in a God who chose to create the world by way of evolution is BioLogos. BioLogos comes from the Greek words bios (life) and logos (word), referring to the gospel of John:

    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” 1
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    Jun 27 2011: I say aliens (E.T) came here 1 billion years ago and started life; in the form of a single cell, to watch how life grows over time, a science experiment observe and catalog.

    If the universe is as old as astronomers theorize... there could be life that is much older than us, perhaps human-like.

    I think this lesson in science class would just shatter the other creation stories. It's way better.
  • Jun 25 2011: @Jim:

    Yes I would agree that every MPS is an IPS, but not every IPS is an MPS.

    Yes the MPS must have existed before the IPS.

    I agree that we have two alternatives if we peruse this MPS hypothesis. The eternal regression option does not seem logical to me either. And yes, I do believe that there is another type of MPS that in it's very being is self existent. This is my personal belief, and not one that can be proven, or falsified.

    The alternative to my belief is that an IPS can spontaneously arise within the constraints of the laws of physics and chemistry. If it could be demonstrated that this is not possible, than your hypothesis would be proven false. At this point we have not observed an IPS spontaneously arising from a non-IPS/MPS source, so I must presume that it is your presuppositions that lead you to choose this option. However it is interesting to note that there is no evidence for the evolution of the first IPS in the fossil record. The very first appearance of life contains is a fully functioning IPS system. This observation lends credence to the MPS hypothesis.

    At this point in our discussion, it is not science that is driving our position on this matter, but it is our presuppositions. I see that this discussion has lead us to agree to disagree.
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      • Jun 28 2011: Part 1:

        "Can I ask you a philosophical question? Suppose in our lifetime some lab creates some kind of self-replicating molecules that can survive in conditions similar to what we believe existed 3.5B years ago. Would you consider that sufficient evidence?"

        I need to underline that the core premise of your hypothesis is teh concept of spontaneity. This implies that no intelligent agent was involved in the process. So to validate this, we need to devise this experiment, we need to devise an experiment that is devoid of any human involvement.

        Then as an example, a valid test for this could be to simulate the original conditions of the earth, and then observe the spontaneous generation of life without human intervention. You may say this would be virtually impossible, and that may be correct, but I do not see how else we can test this kind of premise. Your example of a biologist creating a self-replicating molecule does not test the core premise of spontaneity.

        Lets suppose hypothetically that we were able to spontaneously observe the arisal of life. And if my only reason for believing in an original MPS was to provide an explanation for the original IPS, than I would abandon my position because it is unnecessary. However I have multiple reasons for believing in an original MPS, and this particular argument is only a recent addition.

        Earlier you pointed out that my hypothesis has implications. I would suggest that both of our hypotheses have far reaching implications. I believe it is for this reason that this topic is so hotly debated.

        Since your hypothesis proposes the spontaneous arisal of the IPS, and that you do not belief in an original MPS, than you must account for the existence of the universe in order to have a logical consistent end-to-end model.
      • Jun 28 2011: Part 2:


        If you believe in a steady state universe, than you must introduce a new hypothesis that the universe is self-existent and eternal. If, like most physicists, you believe that the universe originated at the big bang, than you must account for the origin of the universe. I see at least three possibilities here:

        1) The universe came from absolutely nothing (I do not consider a quantum vacuum nothing)
        2) An eternal regress of universes
        3) Introduce a new hypothesis that there is another type of universe that is self-existent and eternal

        Seeing that you do not belief in an eternal regress of MPS's, you would not likely believe in an eternal regress of universes. This then leaves us with two broad possibilities. Either absolutely everything came from absolutely nothing, or absolutely everything came from something that is self-existent and eternal. The first option does not seem logical to me. That leaves us with the second option. At this point then, I see that both of our hypotheses leads us to almost the same point, except that, yours is non-intelligent, while mine is.

        Seeing that we live in a cause and effect universe, it would seem to me that an original MPS would more likely be the cause of what we observe, than an original non-IPS/MPS.

        Some of my thoughts have come from a book by John C. Lennox titled: "God's Undertaker, Has Science Buried God?", and book by Antony Flew titled: "There is a God". You may be aware that Antony Flew authored a number of books providing a logical defence for Atheism. Recently he has changed his position, and has adopted a belief in some sort of supreme being, largely because of recent discoveries from the scientific community. Specifically the big bang, and the DNA molecule.

        Let me conclude that I have enjoyed and learned from this discussion, and respect your position.
      • Jun 28 2011: I completely agree with you Jim. Believing that an MPS could have started the whole process does not prove the God of The Bible.

        I simply wanted to show that a belief in a supreme being is a perfectly rational, and philosophically sound position to take.
  • Jun 24 2011: @Jim:

    "Steve, what you are saying is a commonly held view in popular culture. But no serious scientist holds anything close to that view."

    In response to the above, let me say the following: Darwin, in his book "The Origin of the Species", was attempting to define a mechanism that could explain the common origin of life. One of the main arguments is "natural selection". And it is true that though Darwin was not aware of genetics, Gregory Mendal was discovering it at the time. If we look at just natural selection alone, we see that it is a process that eliminates individuals that are weaker in a gene pool. Therefore natural selection alone is a subtractive or pruning force. We know that in certain cases where a part of a gene pool may depart from the general population, the diversity of the gene pool could decline over time, and in extreme cases, come to a standstill, because the gene pool has no diversity. This would be called a "pure-bread".

    So we need a process by which we can add new diversity into the gene pool, in order for his proposition to be plausible.

    In his book, Darwin mistakenly believed that the environment affected the descendent of a species. What I mean by this, as an example, if someone were to exercise, his children would be more muscular. He cited the example of a wingless bird to illustrate this point. He believed that the bird, sometime in the past flew, but because flying was no longer a necessity, the descendants lost the ability to fly.

    We now know that because of our knowledge of genetics that this is not true. Therefore biologists has to revise the theory of evolution in order to compensate for this deficiency.

    At some later point in time biologists revised his theory by replacing the additive mechanism with random mutations.This is commonly referred to as "Neo-Darwinism", therefore the theory of evolution has changed over time. I am not saying this is nessisarily a bad thing, but it is important to be transparent.
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      • Jun 25 2011: I appreciate your honesty here, and your point is well taken. Even though Darwin may have been in error in some aspects of his book, his idea of natural selection has contributed to our understanding of biological systems, and should be recognized.
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      Jun 25 2011: The Origin of Species is about the mechanism that brings into existence diverse species, not really about the origin of life on Earth which is the field of abiogenesis. The idea that all species are derived from one common ancestor is not a premise, it is conjectured from the rest of the hypothesis. The theory of evolution concerns the natural selection of random varying replicates.

      Also if you're going to accuse Darwin of Lamarckism, please quote the passages in the origin of species where this is said. The theory of evolution doesn't begin and end with Darwin, that's a given, but I very much doubt that this is what he said. Your own words betray the possibility that what he really meant was that in the past, it would have been disadvantageous for a bird not to be able to fly so natural selection exerted a force on flight, but because of the change of environment, natural selection no longer exerted the pressure of selection on birds born with impaired wings and therefore that genetic tendency increased. This makes much more sense. Even in Lamarckian terms it would make no sense to pass on flightlessness simply by not using your wings, you would still inherited the wings and not a stunted version of wings like many flightless birds do have.

      Finally, the modern synthesis of evolution you refer to as neo-Darwinism is a synthesis of the theory of evolution with the field of genetics which was not prevalent in Charles Darwin's time. It does not affect the core principles of evolution, it only changes details, linking certain conjectured behaviours with genetics. We're not talking about a radically different theory. The difference is nowhere as glaring as say the difference between Newton's laws of gravity and Einstein's general theory of relativity which builds upon it.

      Yes, theories aren't completely fixed, otherwise there would be no point to science. What nonsense to think that an increase in scientific precision means a theory should be thrown out completely.
      • Jun 27 2011: Darwin's discussion on this point can be found in his fifth chapter entitled ""CHAPTER V. LAWS OF VARIATION." You
        can read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. However, I have extracted the section regarding the flightless bird for your convenience.

        You will find the link and excerpt below: http://www.online-literature.com/darwin/originofspecies/6/

        "CHAPTER V. LAWS OF VARIATION....
        From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be no doubt that use in our domestic animals has strengthened and enlarged certain parts,
        and disuse diminished them; and that such modifications are inherited. Under free nature we have no standard of comparison by which to judge of the effects
        of long-continued use or disuse, for we know not the parent-forms; but many animals possess structures which can be best explained by the effects of disuse.
        As Professor Owen has remarked, there is no greater anomaly in nature than a bird that cannot fly; yet there are several in this state. The logger-headed
        duck of South America can only flap along the surface of the water, and has its wings in nearly the same condition as the domestic Aylesbury duck:
        it is a remarkable fact that the young birds, according to Mr. Cunningham, can fly, while the adults have lost this power. As the larger ground-feeding
        birds seldom take flight except to escape danger, it is probable that the nearly wingless condition of several birds, now inhabiting
        or which lately inhabited several oceanic islands, tenanted by no beasts of prey, has been caused by disuse."
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          Jun 28 2011: I read this passage and I feel completely vindicated, there's not one trace of rampart Lamarckism in the whole passage. It's like every second I was reading this I was expecting to fall on a passage that might be ambiguous enough to be construed as Lamarkism. But no, this is standard evolution through and through. I don't get where you saw any Lamarckism although my guess is that it's not something you've found yourself but more something that has been reported by some Creationist website (the same undoubtedly that think the bacterial flagellum remains an example of irreducible complexity). If you want to find serious information you're going to have to look at proper peer-reviewed research by credited institutions (although, I forget, you think evolution is a worldview rather than a scientific theory).
      • Jun 28 2011: " I read this passage and I feel completely vindicated, there's not one trace of rampart Lamarckism in the whole passage."

        Matthieu, first I would like to remind you that my post never stated that Darwin held Lamarckin views. However rereading my original post, I can see why you may have thought that, in the following statement I made: "Darwin mistakenly believed that the environment affected the descendent of a species.". When I made that statement, that was not my intent. I wanted to simply state that Darwin believed that forces external to the reproductive system could affect the descendants of a species.

        In chapter 5 he states how use and disuse could have an affect on their descendants. If I were to strike out that sentence, would you be satisfied that I then correctly represented Darwin's views?

        Incidentally I did not come to my views as a result of a creationist site, but I came to my own conclusions after reading his book first hand. Of course I am open to correction if my understanding is incorrect.
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          Jun 28 2011: "Darwin believed that forces external to the reproductive system could affect the descendants of a species

          Yea, it's called natural selection.
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          Jun 28 2011: Jim, why are you insisting that there is a mistake on Darwin's part? We all agree that Darwin as a human being will have made mistakes here and there, tentatively suggesting possible outcomes of this theory that turn out to be a little more subtle when studied carefully. But I really do not see any mistake in the particular passage that Steve has quoted in full (4 posts up). It seems to me to say exactly what you've described in your second paragraph.

          Steve, since we're on the subject of wingless birds, I think it's time we turn the tables and you explain to me how a Creationist theory would account for flightless birds.
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          Jun 29 2011: I'm not sure that's what Steve Bruno was hinting at. Well we agree on that last point anyway. What matters is not the man but the theory. Another aspect that separates science from religion, we don't take arguments on authority. Albert Einstein was no fan of quantum mechanics, but experimentally it is verified.
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    Jun 24 2011: I'm a student and I wasn't taught creationism at my public school. I'm shock to hear that others still do though. Maybe they teach that in religion class if students go to a religious school that requires them to take religion? Hopefully, it's not taught in science class till this day!
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      Jun 24 2011: Do you get taught about evolution though. The thing I worry about is that evoution isn't covered well enough and yet it underpins all of modern biology. "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" -Dobzhansky
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        Jun 24 2011: Yes, I was taught about evolution. I took biology and the whole course centered itself on the understanding of evolution. I don;t know about how well i was taught considering public high schools in American aren't that organize in their teachings.
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    Jun 23 2011: I went to a catholic school and they teach creationism in religion class, not science class..
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      Jun 24 2011: Nick..............Me too and I was not taught creationism as science. Many cosmogenys are available for consideration. I see them as examples of trying to explain the origin of the cosmos not as scientific data.
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        Jun 27 2011: They just call it "natural philosophy" or "logical reasoning" instead of science. In a general sense they are all of the same principles. Understanding the universe does not come from fact, but continuous pursuits of facts.

        The problem is Helen, conversation like these come into play when things do become logic. Because in logic, it is either yes or no. Now if one is a proud logician, I imagine one would think in "yes or no" often. This is how "grouped learning" takes place Helen! People group information together that is general under one topic!

        Religion, creationism, and universe. Are often taken into personal usages and perceptions, speculations, and belief systems. This is how the human mind works, we think in patterns, we are mechanical thinkers. When we make logic out of "grouped knowledge" we relate to other authorities who believe, taught or study the same information.

        Grouped knowledge is so vague, but it is like how the new culture of "atheist" exist. People who are fed up with fundamental religions needed a label, needed a powerful word to stand behind, and who ever popularized it, took it right from religion itself. Another "ism" another belief system, another philosophy...

        So anyways, life is not what we know, it is what we do not know yet! Must constantly 1. change, 2. adapt, and 3. receive information. In all respects in life for their to be positive in my opinion. Fundamentalism, rituals, traditions, "heritage" etc are great, but only if they practice 1 of 3 three are they beneficial to life in the masses. Religion is not bad, nor is creationism. What is bad is what gets taught as a story and not fundamentally.

        Christian fundamentalism, is indeed a plaque. From everything I learned from Abrahamic religions, Christianity and sub-cults are monstrous at times. Judaism and Islam are philosophically beautiful, but fundamentally old fashioned in modern times.

        Live life, is the moral of the story.

        Just my opinion to Helen!
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          Jun 27 2011: Nick...........Thanks for the post....Very insightful...Just one thought. Logic for sure demands a yes or no. I encountered paradoxical logic first in a little book written by the esteemed psychologist, Erich Fromm, "The Art of Loving". And now I see it in the Tai Chi.
          Fromm says in his book thart he never uses the phrase "it is nothing but" because it is so limiting and does not allow for further exploration. Just for you Nick, my friend. Regards
  • Jun 22 2011: If god is/are superior beeing with unlimited powers , why would he or she or them create something so unperfect like we are, its step down for him or her or them:D. Its like Mozart making music for some cheap pop artist. iBut evolution is about evolving from simple to more complex and for that there is proof everywhere. It is a dangerous thing to teach in 21 st in Science class !

    God Paradox
    If God can do anything, can He make a mountain which is too heavy for Him to lift?
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    Jun 21 2011: Another related question which would be quite interesting to discuss would "Misconceptions of evolution. Why?" This would obviously contain your question as well as many of the inexactitudes you hear from time to time such as the idea that human beings are at the top of the ladder or that we evolved from the other animals that are alive now, that because we're more intelligent than other species we're more adapted and other such common errors.

    I can answer your question and my hypothetical question with one suggestion as to the "why?" behind it. Unlike other scientific theories, evolution is very much about us and what evolution tells us about ourselves is something that many people don't want to hear or are only ready to hear through their anthropocentric bias (such as "Oh ok we evolved but we're at the pinnacle"). I think the earlier a person is exposed to evolution, the easier it will for them to shake off their natural resistance to the idea.

    On a humorous note, it would also help if movies like 'X-men:first class' didn't propagate the wrong ideas about evolution (I cringed each time I heard 'more evolved' or 'next step'). It's a good movie though.
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    Jun 20 2011: Whilst government control is almost always frowned upon, i think in this situation, even in private schools curriculums should be monitored...Just because its private doesn't entitle the school to install dogmatic illogical beliefs that would ultimately be the lens on how those kids see this world..
  • Jun 20 2011: Creationism... Why not? If those education institutions are privately held/funded, they can teach that the world is flat for all I care.

    People should have the freedom to choose to be ignorant. However people should not be free from the consequences of ignorance.

    In the end, I think that is all that Creationism is, a choice to believe and value one idea or belief system over another. Trying to rationalize faith tends to only yield a headache.
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      Jun 20 2011: Fine teach creationism, flat earthism, what ever, but you can't label it as science. Be up front and say it is a belief that has no empirical evidence. Let children decide for themselves whether they want to adopt the belief, but at the very least it is highly unethical to teach children information that is not science as science.
      • Jun 22 2011: I would never label creationism as science but more as a happy simplistic fantasy.

        I would not necessarily let children decide outright as happy fantasies are more agreeable than cold hard fact to the mind of a child.

        Thus I leave it to the parent knowing full well that some will teach creationism as fact. I will not dictate how parents choose to educate their children.
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      • Jun 22 2011: I agree.

        Certain professions will also require educations rooted in fact dooming creationist educational institutions to the fringes of academia.
      • Jun 23 2011: Hi Jim. You are right of course, maximised diversity is a safety valve put in by nature. Might I add, it also serves the intelligent life with the food of intelligence; stimulation.
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      Jun 24 2011: Bob.
      I sort of agree with you, but not quite. By teaching something you are if not endorsing it but giving it credibility. You can't start a class by saying what you are about to say is fantasy without alienating students. I have no problems with the story of Genesis being taught in schools as philosophy or literature because as such I think it has much to offer. You can easily read it as an allegory about how human consciousness formed around abstract language that was only possible after learning how to write. When teaching such a class historical ideas about writing should be exposed to children. Who wrote Genesis, what were the purpose of it. The writers were not scientist nor were they trying to be. This should not be taught as science for stupid people but a cultural mistranslation
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    Jun 20 2011: I personally believe in creationism in that God creates and sustains all that exists now, all that ever existed, and all that ever will exist. Before I begin, there are a few points that need to be said. 1) Many religions have a creation story, and I can only speak to that of Christianity as that is the only one that I am at all versed in. 2) The current use of "Intelligent Design" theory as an alternative to the other more scientific views of the origins of existence and life is one that I do not support because nothing short of an unapologetic apology for Christian scripture should be attempted by someone who believes in and respects the authority of the Bible. 3) Not every Christian believes in a 7 day creation story, or even a creation story at all.
    That being said, the account of creation in genesis 1 must be read poetically if for no other reason than the sun was not created until the 4th day (vs 16) and we measure a day (until we came up with a 24 hr system) by sun up and sun down. There are several theories within Creationist circles having to do with old earth vs young earth. Old earth creationism is basically everything that all other scientists believe, but that things like the big bang and evolution are the tools by which God created all that is. If religions is the why, than science is the how. Young Earth theory holds that what we perceive as billions of years of natural history are just the created origins. It would be paralleled by the creation of Adam as an adult rather than a baby or something. When God created the earth, much like the adult adam, the earth appears to be adult in age.
    As a Christian I believe God could do either. As a scientist myself, I tend to believe that God gave man among all creation the ability to discern the world around him and would not grant this mind only to confound it but rather to give us a universe to explore and be creative with. We can discover truths of the universe by general revelation.
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    Jun 20 2011: Maybe the answer was already given in Douglas Adams' famous book Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Keywords:mouse, and experiment,
  • Jun 19 2011: Hello Jack. You are right, the world has gone mad. It was only a few years ago when 60% of the population believed in fairies, even people of intelligence, H. G. Wells being one of them. I am with you on this one, but don't let us put all the blame on religion, science has to take its share. What I would like to know is how can a design be attributed to random. I am referring to evolution. Science says it happened by random, religion puts it down to divine help. Random= no purpose so no thinking. Divine help= no thinking. Both words explain everything, but tell us nothing. Both words are used when stumped by the unexplainable. Science uses random. Religion uses divine help.
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      Jun 19 2011: Evolution is not random, it is the passing on of successful traits
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        • Jun 22 2011: I gave you a run down of my theory of how intelligence evolved in the Complex Design thread. I noted that you stopped replying to that thread.

          Something such as the development of intelligence can only ever be a theory at the moment, as the only time it has developed we weren't taking notes. Keep in mind that intelligence is very expensive in biological terms (both in terms of initial cost and upkeep), so probably one of the main reasons that it hasn't developed many times is that it does not always confer a selective advantage. Only in our history has selection pushed us down this route, probably due to a dramatic change in environment (forest to plains), a small population size with a certain dgree of variation and significant competition and predation.
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