Friday, 12 October 2007

Evolution

This forum, I think, may be a "catch-all" for discussions of science, but with a focus on the theory of evolution. As this is an atheist blog and most Creationists like to debate the theory of evolution I found it necessary to create this forum as they like to think that the theory of evolution discounts the existence of a creator (however much I disagree that it does).

Personally, I find the debate not to my liking (or pointedly; not within my rapport), but I find it very interesting to follow these discussions none-the-less.

Rules: Commentary or query involving the topic of the theory of evolution (or any other science-based theories) are welcome.

Evolution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In biology, evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population from generation to generation. These traits are the expression of genes that are copied and passed on to offspring during reproduction. Mutations in these genes can produce new or altered traits, resulting in heritable differences (genetic variation) between organisms. New traits can also come from transfer of genes between populations, as in migration, or between species, in horizontal gene transfer. Evolution occurs when these heritable differences become more common or rare in a population, either non-randomly through natural selection or randomly through genetic drift.

Natural selection is a process that causes heritable traits that are helpful for survival and reproduction to become more common, and harmful traits to become more rare. This occurs because organisms with advantageous traits pass on more copies of these heritable traits to the next generation. Over many generations, adaptations occur through a combination of successive, small, random changes in traits, and natural selection of those variants best-suited for their environment. In contrast, genetic drift produces random changes in the frequency of traits in a population. Genetic drift arises from the role chance plays in whether a given individual will survive and reproduce.

One definition of a species is a group of organisms that can reproduce with one another and produce fertile offspring. However, when a species is separated into populations that are prevented from interbreeding, mutations, genetic drift, and the selection of novel traits cause the accumulation of differences over generations and the emergence of new species. The similarities between organisms suggest that all known species are descended from a common ancestor (or ancestral gene pool) through this process of gradual divergence.

The theory of evolution by natural selection was proposed roughly simultaneously by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and set out in detail in Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species. It encountered initial resistance from religious authorities who believed humans were set apart from the animal kingdom. In the 1930s, Darwinian natural selection was combined with Mendelian inheritance to form the modern evolutionary synthesis,[6] in which the connection between the units of evolution (genes) and the mechanism of evolution (natural selection) was made. This powerful explanatory and predictive theory has become the central organizing principle of modern biology, providing a unifying explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.

14 comments:

tina said...

I think Modus and DRD will like this one. I wish I could join in on the conversations they have, but I'm not too schooled in science and the like. :(

Modusoperandi said...

tina, I'm just about done with trying to explain evolution to...anybody.

I look at the geologic column and see, starting from the bottom; simple to complex, with various "lines" growing and changing, dying out, then some other lines growing and changing (like the dinosaurs. From the lumpy odd beasties of 230,000,000 years ago to the majestic giants of the Cretaceous. Wow. Just wow. It's like I'm eight years old again. Yes, I was the dinosaur kid in your class. Also, I wore galoshes until grade 6. I call it emotional baggage. *sniff*). Others see God doing it all at once, before scattering these same beasties all at once.

Shrug. I'm no scientomologist. That's not a real word. That's how far I've come; I've forgotten just about everything. I have retained too little, I fear, to adequately describe the beauty (and sheer scale!) of the tree of life (the figurative one, not the Genesis one).

Now, if there were people who didn't believe in staring off blankly at nothing in particular...that I can do.

tina said...

You are very smart in my book. :)

Modusoperandi said...

tina, I don't care how much smoke you blow up my butt, young lady, you aren't getting the keys to the car for your date this Friday! You didn't top off the tank before bringing it back last time, and your mother found underwear in the back seat.

Also, thank you.

tina said...

Awww..but...

drd said...

Mod,I am finally responding to your post, which you were aplauded for, on another thread, and I would like to begin to answer the many inaccuracies.
I have choosen the evolution thread, as it will lead to that as we progress. (or should I say, it will evolve into a discussion on evolution in some measure)
Your post was so long, I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony, I just don't know where to begin.

Lets start here:
drd "Either way, we are voting our belief structures, and in America, for now, we can do that...until Shiite law gets passed because of the onslaught of muslim extremism."
Islamists and Sharia law scare you? Theonomists and theonomy of any stripe scare me. In other words, congratulations, you've just summarized exactly why secular humanism is so very necessary (not to mention the steadily eroding separation of church and state).

This is due to a huge misunderstanding of Christianity. If you got it, you would not fear its influence on government. I will not defend all of fringe Christianity's incursions, as some are absurd, and I am sure you will focus on these. However, its Christianity's influence on all culture that has done away with atrocity in every corner of the globe, it has never been an atheistic movement to deal with atrocity.
As the motto of atheism proclaims:
If god is not, all things are permisable.

drd said...

Next area:
drd "The universe declares the Glory of God...its overwhelming in science...
Because the heavens declare the glory of God...its very very easy to see when looking at the constant laws of nature as it relates to the Cosmos."
Although that gets you to deism (if it turns out that the universe requires a cause. At this point, some theory to the contrary, it's still an argument from ignorance), it's an enormous step from that to it being god X. It doesn't, for example, make Genesis literally true, as its parallels to the history of the universe are weak, if not directly contradictory. Gen1:3 equaling Big Bang and Gen's Adam and Eve vaguely equaling our own "Adam" and "Eve" noth withstanding, Genesis still has God making plants before stars, land plants before sea life, the Earth before the Sun...all dead wrong. If God's word is only partly right, what does that make God?


This part of your diatribe has a point here, and a point there..and a lot of bull in between.

Lets start from the bottom up. The Bible does not put planets before stars, or earth before the sun..this is a misreading of Genesis. The verb use in the 4th day can be rendered a past tense verb, such as "had been made" or an action done in the past.
If you check with Gleason Archers "Workbook of the Old Testament" you will see how good ancient Hebrew linguists can help you with your exegetical mistakes.

Next, your assertion that its a big leap from a created Universe to theism is nonsense.
If there is a being that made the universe, then its a Being of Personal intention and will or it would not have "created" something with purpose..hence the step from deism to theism is a very short one, not a leap at all.

drd said...

Oh, I forgot, on the last one...I think Genesis can be rationally and "legally" proved to be true, and all of Gods word is intact.

BEAST said...

"As the motto of atheism proclaims:
If god is not, all things are permisable."

Pardon me, but as an atheist for more than a decade, this motto seems to elude me for some peculiar reason. Can you quote who said that?

Beast

Modusoperandi said...

drd "This is due to a huge misunderstanding of Christianity. If you got it, you would not fear its influence on government. "
As long as people who want biblical law won't divulge exactly what that entails, I don't want theonomy, Christian or otherwise. Just check out how widely their definitions vary; from "love thine neighbor", to the three commandments that Paul remembered, to the Ten Commandments (while ignoring the O/T punishments for breaking most of them), to some of the Mizvahs (only the ones that involve other people, generally), to proscribed roles for women, to shunning homosexuals, to banning homosexuality, to stoning homosexuals. Then, once they finally agree on just exactly what they want, I'll still be against it, because it goes against the grain of a pluralistic, egalitarian society...even if it's simply "love thine neighbor", which sounds nice, but a system of law that runs on that and only that would fall apart ("You, drd, are hereby charged with two counts of 'Not loving your neighbour'. How do you plead?"...what's the punishment for that, anyway? Forgiveness?)

As long as religion focuses of fucking instead of the environment, sanctimony over the economy, fear of "them" over our common future, I don't want theonomy, Christian or otherwise.

As long as religion yearns for the end to come, I don't want theonomy, whether Jesus-centric or 12th Imam or other. The future of the Earth is important. It's the only reality-based place we've got.

When Jesus comes back, tell him to give me a ring. When we've discussed his plans for governmental reform, I may or may not decide to vote for him. Or more likely, I won't get a vote. In the meantime, hurrah for democracy!

drd "I will not defend all of fringe Christianity's incursions, as some are absurd, and I am sure you will focus on these."
Damn straight. As long as people see faith as a virtue and evidence as vice, as long as people see an unmeasurable supernatural as more important than the reality-based reality of reality, as long as people think that god wants them to prevent other people from using condoms (or they think that god wants them to commit the sin of omission by saying that "condoms spread AIDS", rather than "abstinence is the only way to be sure to avoid it"...an idealistic if impossible to achieve idea), as long as people think that god doesn't want us to know about X (whatever X may be), as long as people think that god wants them to ready the world for the end of the world, and as long as people think that god won't let them wreck the environment, or that he will, but will be back soon enough that it won't matter (2,000 years and counting), I'll be up on the bulwarks, bullhorn in hand. As well should you. Bring coffee, we'll be there for a while.

If I go on TV and say that 9/11 or Katrina happened because we tolerate fags, I'd be eviscerated (metaphorically) by just about everyone with half a brain and a trace of empathy. If I go on TV as Rev. Modusoperandi and say the same damn thing, people would flock to my church, fill its coffers, gather 'round my feet and ask me what god wants them to do. Is it bad that people are such suckers for "blame the other guy/fear difference"? Yes, it's tragic. Does religion help? Your Jesus might (I haven't met him), "theirs" doesn't (I have). Theirs tells them that they are an oppressed majority (that, it must be said, has never known oppression), but that they'll get to stand on some necks eventually (or that Jesus will while they have cocktails in Heaven. Their story is muddy).

That's why God, whether real or imagined, is so dangerous; he stays silent and lets the stupidest, most small-minded, bigoted, paranoid assholes speak for him, loudly and profitably. For a despot he certainly isn't much for moving his earthly chess pieces around.

To sum up: an atheist jackass is simply a jackass. A jackass with religion is a "value voter".

drd "However, its Christianity's influence on all culture that has done away with atrocity in every corner of the globe,"
Yes, Christians that focus on the good parts of the bible have done good. Ones that focus on the bad bits (or midrash what Jesus would've said about video games or the morning after pill had they been around when he was) haven't (or the good that they've done has been undone in other ways by the damage).
People who behave in a christian manner do good. That's not exclusive to Christians (indeed, it's not even a requirement, what with faith and grace being two anchors of Protestantism). Virtually every advance we've made (including those by Christians) has been opposed by other Christians (generally as "interfering with His will" or "against scripture"). It's only after the fact that the majority that was against it is re-remembered to being for it. For an example, witness the Quaker (with a smattering of other Christians) anti-slavery movement becoming the Christian anti-slavery movement.

Am I anti-religion? No, believe what you want.
I am, however, anti-totalitarian and anti-irrational; two strains endemic to religion.

drd "...has never been an atheistic movement to deal with atrocity."
Have you seen atheists? We're all over the map, politically. Just getting us to agree on whether to split the bill or to go with separate ones takes forever.
We're getting our act together. Will we ever be a single block? God, I hope not. My own leftie/mild-socialist/atheist leanings would clash considerably with those of an atheist member of the American Libertarian Party, for example. Probably to the point where we'd be clawing each other's eyes out in short order. "Fuck the poor" (their motto, I believe) is a bad way to go.
That being said, we're not much for explicitly atheistic organizations. Charity is charity, IMO, whether it be Doctors without Borders, the International Red Cross, the Mustard Seed, or other (providing that "other" isn't on a mission to spread the good news before it spreads food and shelter), not to mention UN service by military and civilians alike. Even parts of the Salvation Army, until recently, operated in an essentially secular manner.

drd "As the motto of atheism proclaims: If god is not, all things are permisable."
Oh, you. You know that we don't have a motto. If we did it certainly wouldn't be a mixed up misquote from the Bros. Karamazov. Russian lit is ever so dreary.

drd "Lets start from the bottom up. The Bible does not put planets before stars, or earth before the sun..this is a misreading of Genesis. The verb use in the 4th day can be rendered a past tense verb, such as "had been made" or an action done in the past. If you check with Gleason Archers "Workbook of the Old Testament" you will see how good ancient Hebrew linguists can help you with your exegetical mistakes."
What version of the bible translates it as such? Various analyses and biblical variants, inevitably, disagree. You don't take it literally enough; others take it too literally. I don't take it as anything other than what it is; a creation myth.

drd "Next, your assertion that its a big leap from a created Universe to theism is nonsense.
If there is a being that made the universe, then its a Being of Personal intention and will or it would not have "created" something with purpose..hence the step from deism to theism is a very short one, not a leap at all."

A deity that started the Big Bang and a deity did it all for a single species on a single planet around a single star in a single cluster in a practically infinite universe are a vast distance apart. A deity that started the Big Bang and a deity that not only made it just for man but cares about you personally are that distance squared.
The deist god, at best, is an observer. The O/T god is not an observer. Jesus is not an observer.

In any event, if a god did start the universe, its intention was clearly to make varying degrees of vacuum.

drd "I think Genesis can be rationally and "legally" proved to be true, and all of Gods word is intact."
Good luck. Six days, Eden (with Adam/Eve and a talking snake), flood, Abram/Abraham, covenant...most of which are backed up by precisely zero evidence. The rest only fit the real world if you make what the words "mean" something other than what they "say" or reduce the scale to the non-miraculous, like a literal "worldwide" flood that's local or an "adam" and "eve" that lived in different places (neither being Eden) 60,000 years apart, with eve not coming from adam and adam coming from dust mooshed together in His image.
As I said, good luck.

Modusoperandi said...

drd "This part of your diatribe has a point here, and a point there..and a lot of bull in between."

If by "bull" you meant "witty asides that are both relevant and humorous", then I'm blushing.

I just went all exegesis on your statement, making what it means different than what it says! Next up, the KGV. Quick, chum...to the BatCave!

drd said...

Mod

Christianity does not 'yearn for the end to come' at least not if Christians understand Gods word.
We are to work to make it 'on earth as it is in heaven'..that is our calling, if Christians are wishing for the end, they are not in Gods will. The end is Gods jurisdiction. You are confusing us with the Muslims.

Next, your assertion about Genesis having no evidence is just plain wrong.

Your assertion that it puts planets before the stars is wrong, and its only a YEC perspective that imposes that on the text.

The order of Creation mirrors the fossil record in a precise fashion.

Adam, and Eve, whomever the first spirit endowed Humans were, could not have lived 60,000 years apart, as you are aware, to propogate a species, you must 'mate' and have offspring...hence, the first 'Adam' had an Eve, and the theory that the 'X chromosomal Eve' lived millenium earlier than Y chromosomal Adam, just does not hold water, from many perspectives.

Next, tell me Mod, when do you believe that "world wide" was actually used as a global term? If you read history, and you seem more up on it than me (I am a science guy), you will note that 'world wide' was not used globally until world travel had become known.

Genesis does fit reality very well.
Consider that early civilization centered on north Africa and the mesopatamian bowl...as scripture says.


Your problem seems to be with miracles, and I understand that issue for sure. However, once you accept that God can create the universe and its laws, then its not too hard to believe He can suspend or supercede them. If you don't believe a god created anything, and random accidents are the real source, then superceding nature is absurd for sure.

The only problem is, believing we are pure accidental organisms, brought together by chance, with random electrical bursts of energy accounting for thought, that has its origins in randomness, and ends in meaninglessness....now, that is what is absurd.

Modusoperandi said...

drd "Christianity does not 'yearn for the end to come' at least not if Christians understand Gods word."
Can you explain this to the rapture ready/"Left Behind"/Jesus is comin' back real soon crowd? A bunch of people, you see want Revelations to come true. Now, I don't know if you've heard of it, but in it a lot of shit gets blown up. Then this Jesus fella' comes back. Or he comes back, then a lot of shit gets blown up. Or, some shit gets blown up, he comes back, and the that which hadn't been blown up earlier, is. No matter which way, a lot of people have to die for him to come and establish a 1,000 year reign on Earth (not a democracy, from what I hear).

drd "Next, your assertion about Genesis having no evidence is just plain wrong...Your assertion that it puts planets before the stars is wrong, and its only a YEC perspective that imposes that on the text...The order of Creation mirrors the fossil record in a precise fashion."
Golly. I've got my KJV right here, and its order seems awfully precise, with specific things happening on specific days. A quick perusal of other biblical variants shows that they all seem to read similarly, as well.

Again, I ask, what version of the Bible rejiggers Gen1 to read something along the lines of "... And the evening and the morning were the third day. But not a 'day' day, and a bunch of stuff that's listed on days after this happened before this, because land plants before stars (Gen1:11-12, 13-15), frankly, is silly. And a bunch of other stuff happened too, on this and other days that aren't days. And he saw that it was good, etc."?

drd "Adam, and Eve, whomever the first spirit endowed Humans were, could not have lived 60,000 years apart...the first 'Adam' had an Eve, and the theory that the 'X chromosomal Eve' lived millenium earlier than Y chromosomal Adam, just does not hold water, from many perspectives."
We've already discussed that "adam" and "eve" (our two progenitor lines) started some 60,000+ years apart. As such, "adam"'s tree did intersect with "eve"'s, but "eve" came first. I hear that their wedding was a blast.

drd "Next, tell me Mod, when do you believe that "world wide" was actually used as a global term?"
Moot, I say. All you've done is take the majik out of the flood. A local flood that virtually wiped out the local inhabitants is far different from a global one that wiped out most everything. That being said, a little flood still doesn't make "the flood" true (with Noah & Co., a friggin' enormous boat with its own Petcetera, months and months afloat, etc). That you've also pushed back the date of the flood (some 40-50,000 years, if I remember our earlier conversation) only makes your theory less testable than it was before (and, again, it raises the spectre of stone age man passing the pre-historical story over a time span greater than than which man has been able to write, many times over). While I can't (and won't) say that a four hundred century or so long game of telephone could not end up the same as it started, a cursory game of telephone with even a short phrase (much less than the 31 lines of Gen1) tells me that it's beyond unlikely. Granted, that experiment is anecdotal, but I doubt very much that a scientific doubleblind test on a large scale would vary all that much from it.

drd "Your problem seems to be with miracles, and I understand that issue for sure"
When I see a miracle, I'll let you know. Most, I've found, are either anecdotal or a statistical anomaly.

drd "The only problem is, believing we are pure accidental organisms, brought together by chance...."
We are not random. Sure, the beginning was luck (serendipity, actually), with the primordial ooze being just right to form simple amino acids, but natural selection is not random. While the minor mutations in each generation are random, things surviving long enough to out-reproduce their competition is and pass their minor advantages on to their children is not.

Even the "random" beginning of life on Earth is less of a miracle than a statistical anomaly. Billions upon billions of stars, with several generations of stars, with billions of planets over billions of years will eventually result in one planet with "Goldie Locks" conditions (conditions, it should be said, that still took millions upon millions of years to go from nothing to something). Statistically improbable? Yes. Impossible? Apparently not.

drd "...with random electrical bursts of energy accounting for thought..."
Again, not random. If it was, you'd be dead. The human brain is the most complicated gooey mass in the history of gooey masses. It's far from perfect, but it's far from random.

drd "...and ends in meaninglessness."
No, it ends in death. Use what you've got to live now because, much as you didn't exist for billions of years, after this you will go back to not being for billions more.

drd "...now, that is what is absurd."
You just called reality absurd. That you managed to get reality wrong should help to cushion the blow somewhat.

Modusoperandi said...

Wups, that "...the 31 lines of Gen1..." should be more along the lines of "...the 97 lines of Gen6-9...". More Noah-centric, as it were.