Charles Darwin Day

Today is Darwin’s 205th. birthday.  He turned our world upside down, and was one of the greatest scientists of all time.

I raise my glass and drink to his memory.

Ramen

Baylor University and Evolution

Baylor University in Waco, Texas is the largest Baptist University in the world, and has a pretty good science department.  I always thought the Baptists were creationists/fundamentalists…

From the Biology Department at Baylor University:

Statement on Evolution
“Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biology, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence and is accepted by the vast majority of scientists. Because it is fundamental to the understanding of modern biology, the faculty in the Biology Department at Baylor University, Waco, TX, teaches evolution throughout the biology curriculum. We are in accordance with the American Association for Advancement of Science’s statement on evolution. We are a science department, so we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously.”  http://www.baylor.edu/biology/index.php…


From the Baylor University Geology Department:

“Whether biological evolution occurs has NOT been a matter of scientific debate for more than a century. It is considered a PROVEN fact. The specific mechanisms of biological change over time continue to be a topic of active research, and include mechanisms proposed by Charles Darwin as well as more recently developed ideas based on our growing knowledge of genetics and molecular biology. Using the methods of modern science, our knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms of life has grown enormously since the initial characterization of the role of DNA in reproduction, inheritance and evolution in the mid-1950s.”   My emphasis http://www.baylor.edu/geology/index.php…

DOWNLOAD the 1 MB PDF file Evolution and the Fossil Record by Pojeta and Springer.
http://www.agiweb.org/news/evolution.pdf

Happy Darwin Day

Tomorrow is ‘Darwin Day’

Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin.   Charles Darwin was born  in 1809 and first published his ‘On the Origin of Species’  on November 24, 1859

Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution.

Today the Theory of Evolution still stands very strong…despite all the lying rhetoric constantly thrown at  it by religious creationist types.

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Vandalize Cars If Displaying Darwin Symbol

Apparently religious zealots have decided that biology teachers at the University of Florida needed to be humbled and shown that religion, not evolution, rules in Gainesville, Florida.   Of course Christians have doing this kind of crap for many, many years.  Our US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who happen to be atheist (yes there are atheists in foxholes) have been beaten up and denied advancement.  I haven’t heard about any deaths yet, but it probably will happen at some point.

“Letters, nails, and vehicular sabotage haven’t kept two University of Florida biology professors from expressing their belief in evolution.  In a string of events occurring over the past four months, the professors’ cars, which were parked in the Bartram-Carr Hall parking lot, were vandalized.

First, religious letters were left on the cars, and then pro-evolution bumper stickers and Darwin-fish emblems were scraped and torn from the vehicles. Most recently, nails were put into the tires.”   Independent Florida Alligator:

Yeah those God Lovin’ Christians just can’t stand someone who doesn’t agree with their magical sky-God.  And they keep that falsehood going about how nice and loving their religion is…not like the Muslims.  Thing is when Christianity ruled the Western world it was every bit as bad as Islam is now…don’t look now, but the Christian right (Republicans) are trying to re-establish Biblical rule
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Intelligent Design and Science

Interesting find while surfing this morning. The ID people keep claiming they’re all about science, but the never reveal any.

ISSR Statement on the Concept of ‘Intelligent Design’

The authors of this statement constitute a group set up for the purpose by the Executive Committee of the International Society for Science and Religion. Through a process involving consultation with all members of the Society, the statement has now been accepted by the Executive Committee for publication as a statement made on behalf of the Society.http://www.issr.org.uk/images/line.gif

The International Society for Science and Religion is a scholarly society devoted to ongoing dialogue between the sciences and the community of world faiths.  It was established in 2002 for the purpose of promoting education through the support of interdisciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion, conducted where possible in an international and multi-faith context.

The society greatly values modern science, while deploring efforts to drive a wedge between science and religion. Science operates with a common set of methodological approaches that gives freedom to scientists from a range of religious backgrounds to unite in a common endeavor. This approach does not deny the existence of a metaphysical realm but rather opens up the natural world to a range of explorations that have been incredibly productive, especially over the last 400 years or so.

The intelligent-design (ID) movement began in the late 1980s as a challenge to the perceived secularization of the scientific community, which leaders of the movement maintained had been coloured with the philosophy of atheistic naturalism. ID theorists have focused their critique primarily on biological evolution and the neo-Darwinian paradigm. They claim that because certain biological features appear to be “irreducibly complex” and thus incapable of evolving incrementally by natural selection, they must have been created by the intervention of an intelligent designer. Despite this focus on evolution, intelligent design should not be confused with biblical or “scientific” creationism, which relies on a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language.  Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of “irreducible complexity” in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be “irreducibly complex” today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

Scientific explanations are always incomplete. We grant that a comprehensive account of evolutionary natural history remains open to complementary philosophical, metaphysical, and religious dimensions. Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels.  In many religious traditions, such as some found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, the notion of intelligent design is irrelevant. We recognize that natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science – just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism). See the website: Here

Intelligent design is nearly universally condemned as science and as a concept. Most people recognize it for what it really is; a wedge devise to sneak WASP religion into our school systems. The only support for it is from evangelical fundamentalists, Young Earth Creationist (YEC), and some Old Earth Creationist (OEC).

Now proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) are using ‘Stealth Candidates’ who are running for positions on local and state school boards without declaring or admitting that they will advocate teaching ID in schools when elected. They just don’t get it…and they will try anything, including dishonesty, to achieve their goals. That they would use dishonesty in the furtherance of their religious sect speaks volumes about the true value of their faith.

Most people don’t analyze this battle enough, and don’t seem to realize that the ultimate goal of the religious right is to take over our country and remake it into a religious society; kind of like the Dark Ages in Europe when the Catholics ruled, and the strength and direction of your belief…decided whether you lived or died.  A lot of people don’t realize that the religious right has taken control of the Republican Party.

Cognite tute-think about it/use your head.

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Creationism and Science and Change

Science and Religion have…until recently, publicly fought over two issues.  Once, in the early 1600’s when Galileo Galilei dared to contest the Catholic Churches belief that the Sun revolved around the Earth.  The Church of course lost that battle, although it took hundreds of years before they admitted it, and they imprisoned the poor man for challenging their authority.

The second confrontation was on the subject of Evolution. When Darwin published his book On the Origins of Species, in 1859, I think every church in the world went bonkers in denial, and of course the Catholics were at the forefront of the condemnation.  This lasted until about 1950 when Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Humani generas declared that evolution and faith were not in conflict. That was followed, in 1996, by Pope John Paul II, in his message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, explicitly endorsed the findings of evolutionary theory.  So in essence what happened here is the Church just gave up, and in, because once again the preponderance of Real World evidence supported the side of science.

Now unfortunately the Catholic Church, although the largest, is not the only Christian congregation out there, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of evangelical fundamentalist gnats flying around the bones of religion.

They are scrambling for dominance in the Protestant world and they are gathering souls and helping the best and brightest of their ilk to earn PhD’s and to write papers for their creationist journals where they argue that magic and the supernatural are true and ‘scientific.’ They want magic to be accepted in our school systems, all the way through college level, as how our world and universe was brought about.

They want to teach our children, our future generation, that the earth was created 6,000 years ago, and that dinosaurs walked the earth with Adam and Eve and Noah.  They want to teach that Neanderthals never existed and there was an ice-age after ‘The Flood.’  They propose to take the accumulated scientific knowledge of the human race and deny it’s truth, they want to tell our children that the scientist don’t know what they are doing…and are lying about their findings, and are probably in cahoots with Satan.

One cannot just listen to their rhetoric and say, “Well, maybe there’s something to it.”  You have to follow through with their assertions and question their motives.  They want nothing less than completely gutting our educational system, and by extension, our secular form of government. They literally want the Bible to be the ‘LAW’ of the land. They want their Christian Protestant church to rule over ALL of us.  They want their worldview to be controlling our destiny.  Even if you don’t believe their version of religion, they think they are right and should rule over you. They want an end to secular government and for theism to control all.

That’s damn scary.

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Religious Attitudes in Mexico

Antonio Lazcano is a biology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico in Mexico City. He has studied evolution and the origins of life for more than 30 years and as a student at the university he majored in prebiotic evolution and the emergence of life. He has authored several books in the Spanish language, including ‘The Origins of Life’, published in 1984, that became a bestseller in Mexico. He has also been a professor-in-residence or visiting scientist in France, Spain, Cuba, Switzerland, Russia, and the United States He was reelected president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, in 2005, the first Latin American scientist to occupy this position.

He has an article in the journal ‘Science, which is a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, wherein he comments on the acceptance of evolutionary sciences in Mexico and it’s relationship to the dominate Roman Catholic Church.

He relates that Mexicans in general have a commitment to the idea of evolution, as the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII endorsed the evolutionary principles that Darwin had proposed, in the mid-nineteen hundreds. So, contrary to many peoples belief, the people of Mexico do not suffer under a strong anti-evolutionary theocratic peer pressure. The Church realizes that the science behind evolution is valid, and tends to not interfere with peoples secular beliefs.

He comments that opposition to his teaching of evolution is practically nonexistent, and he has only been challenged twice. “Only twice during my 30 years of teaching about evolutionary biology and research into the origins of life, have I encountered religious-based opposition to my work. In both cases, it came from evangelical zealots from the United States preaching in Mexico.” He continues. “One of the little recognized U.S. imports into Mexico is a small flow of creationists, who, through religion, are trying to impose their fundamentalist beliefs and hinder the teaching of Darwinian evolution in all levels of schooling”. My emphasis.

I would add that this is a good example of the ‘Ugly American’ in action. How much arrogance and self-conceit does it take for these fools to interfere with another countries scholastic standards? What craziness do they posses that makes them think that…they alone…have the all answers, and must climb in other peoples face to spread their insanity?

Professor Lazcano says that their history has not recorded any major controversy over the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, in 1859. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not advocate the literal reading of the Bible as the evangelical fundamentalists do, probably contributes to this.

Places that have a predominately Catholic background such as France, Spain, Italy and most Latin American countries are secular in their outlook and politic, and are able to maintain an extended form of secularism while also being able to support religious freedom. Catholics in Mexico do not read the Old Testament as literal truth, but as a way that creation may have happened. Thus it is possible for Catholic Bible readers to believe in a supernatural origin of life and not have to reject Darwinism in order to maintain logical consistency in their theocratic scheme.

Professor Lazcano says that he and his associates are often invited to speak about life origins and evolution in public and private schools, including those run by Catholic nuns and priests. He says that students and professors see no doctrinal conflict between their own personal faith and Darwin’s scientific ideas. “They even found hilarious the idea of teaching creationism based on biblical literalism.”

He feels that most Mexicans find it hard to understand the hold that religion has in America, and many are baffled by the lax attitude of American politicians to the religious right that manage to influence and undermine the public educational system. “In contrast, Mexico still maintains some anticlerical attitudes, and public education bears the secular trademark of the Enlightenment, whose introduction into the country was facilitated by some prominent priests and Jesuits.”

His closing sentence is particularly relevant to the creationist / evolutionist argument. “Our understanding of the origin and early stages of biological evolution still has major unsolved problems, but they are recognized by the scientific community as intellectual challenges, and not as requiring metaphysical explanations, as proponents of creationism would have it.” My emphasis Amen

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Answers to Life Redux

Hi Phil, Hope you don’t mind that I am using the main column to answer you instead of leave-a-reply area.

Last things first.
Phil: Also, forgive my ignorance, but you have me confused on your last statement. I couldn’t figure out what naturalists questioning the flood in the 1700’s has to do with Christians giving evidence for said flood in present time. Any objection on any topic is directly or indirectly related one to another, right? Only the evidence (or lack there of in an objection) matters in validating said objection or debunking the original claim.

I only mentioned the Naturalists in the 1700’s because they were the scientists of the day. From what I can gather in histories, they were mostly religious, and yet they were coming across evidence that did not support a Biblical, pre-historic, worldwide flood.

At the time I don’t believe they thought much of it, but as more and more of their brethren naturalists noticed some of the same things, or supporting evidence of same, the word spread. I am not saying that this proves the matter…just that real doubt was happening early on, in the scientific fields.

I believe that Darwin himself was schooled in a religious college (University of Cambridge), but when he got out in the real world and started to practice his trade, he too started to see the incongruity of his beliefs vs. reality, in the physical world.

Phil: You said “Whitcomb and Morris wrote the book nearly 50 years ago, did they not?” It is rather unreasonable to render a document or piece of work invalid based on age. For example, the Constitution is still valid (when actually applied…). Also, saying Darwin’s Theory is wrong because it is old would hardly be accepted (there are enough errors to take care of that for me though).

The constitution is not a relevant comparison because it is not a scientific document that is subject to experimentation, or peer review. It is a political statement. (Yes, Bush does have a lot of trouble with honoring or upholding the constitution). I haven’t read the book yet….thank you for your kind offer, but I will decline…however we have a great used bookstore and library system here, and I will be on the lookout for it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that because the book was published in 1961 or so, the science has greatly improved since then, and that is has been discredited because it’s wrong. Following is a quote from talk origins that is related to the book in question:

*Strata in the geological column are sometimes out of order. The mechanisms geophysicists use to account for them are problematic. Thrust faulting would have produced great amounts of debris, which geologists do not see; folding would require great forces for which geophysicists have trouble accounting.
*Whitcomb, J. C. and H. M. Morris, 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., pp. 180-211.
Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 120.

Response

  1. Folds account for out-of-order strata with sequences such as A-B-C-B-A. Faults create sequences such as B-C-A-B-C. The evidence is so overwhelming that these conclusions should be obvious. In many cases, the folds and faults can easily be seen in cross-sections of the strata. In other cases, further geological mapping verifies the presence of the fold or fault. Features such as ripple marks and mud cracks show that the strata were originally horizontal.
  2. Great forces are not a problem in geophysics. First, great forces exist. Earthquakes can move many miles of crust by several feet at a time. Second, the forces act over a long period of time. Rocks, which would fracture, if bent suddenly will deform gradually under hundreds of millions of years of heat and constant pressure. Faults do, in fact, produce a layer of debris along the fault line. Sometimes this layer is fairly thin. There is no reason to expect great amounts of debris along all faults.
  3. The geologic column is never out of order in areas that have not been greatly disturbed.

Sources
1. Numbers, Ronald L., 1992.
The Creationists. New York: Knopf.

2. Ross, C. P. and Richard Rezak, 1959. The rocks and fossils of Glacier National Park: The story of their origin and history. U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 294-K.

3. Strahler, Arthur N., 1987. Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

4. Weber, C. G., 1980. Common creationist attacks on geology. Creation/Evolution 2: 10-25.

5. Whitcomb, John C. Jr. and Henry M. Morris. 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co..

6. Wise, K. P., 1986. The way geologists date! In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, R. E. Walsh, C. L. Brooks and R. S. Crowell (eds.), Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 1: 135-138.

Now I know that the above will not change your mind one iota, but my ramblings thru these minefields of science and religion have shown me enough evidence that some of your brethren, Creation Research Institute and answersingenesis, come immediately to mind, though they are not the only ones, bend the truth, just a little. I can almost sympathize with them, because they truly are losing the argument, as far as the science goes. But I really expected more from religious leaders.

As far as the reference to Mr. Darwin’s theory goes, it only gets stronger as the years go on. The body of evidence has only grown to support him, not detract. Practically every true scientific organization in the world has issued statements concerning Science, Religion, Darwin, and they all support evolution. They support it because the preponderance of evidence is there. Their statements are also available on the Internet if you should choose to inquire.

Phil: In all seriousness, you mentioned advances in radiocarbon to the advantage of an old earth. However, there are many problems with this dating method (amidst the other methods you spoke of) and typically very generous assumptions of a very old earth are made before testing even begins.

I suspect you are a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) by your doubting the old ages found in the earth record. So I know from the get go where you stand on the radiocarbon dating issue, so I will be short on the answer for my position. Like Darwin’s theory; the evidence for the reliability and rightness..?..of radiocarbon dating, stratigraphy, dendrochronology, and other scientific methods of dating grow stronger every year. Creationist, of course, deny it even more…What to do?

Oh, almost forgot to mention. The University town that I live in houses one of the premier radiocarbon dating laboratories and Dendrocronology labs in the country. Have connections.

I suppose the argument will go on…and on…..and on:)

Seriously, I hope all goes well with you in your new position, and arguments aside…Peace to you, and thank you for your reply.

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“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself (or herself) in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.” A. Einstein